Sunday, May 31, 2015

Gattis Update

Evan Gattis leads the Astros in home runs (11), RBI (31), total bases (85), and triples (2). Appearing almost exclusively as a DH, his line reads 230/261/489/749. Typical DH numbers that hopefully will improve. At least his beard is in midseason form.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

One of the Greats

Calvin Peete won his first PGA Tour event when he was 36. He won a total of 12 tournaments over 8 years, between the ages of 36 and 43.

During that same age span other preeminent golfers won:

16 Arnold Palmer
12 Jack Nicklaus
11 Raymond Floyd
10 Phil Mickelson (and he’s only 39)
10 Greg Norman
9 Gary Player
9 Lee Trevino
8 Mark O’Meara
6 Ben Crenshaw
4 Fred Couples
3 Nick Faldo
1 Tom Watson

Peete won more tournaments between the age of 39 and 43 than any golfer in history: 11.

9 Palmer
7 Norman
6 Floyd
6 O’Meara
5 Trevino
3 Player
3 Nicklaus

Peete passed away on April 29 in Atlanta. Nice line from Michael Bamberger in Sports Illustrated: “It is sometimes said that Peete was Tiger Woods before there was a Tiger Woods. He was not. He was Calvin Peete.”

Friday, May 29, 2015

Matthew's Concert Debut

After work Thursday I headed over to south Cumming to the Vickery Creek community, a great looking town square filled with businesses with homes for sale behind them. The Cupbearer Coffee Shop was having an open mic night and the place was packed with teenagers. McKinnon delivered two spoken word essays – both short but quite personal and emotional. Quite a change of pace from her normally quiet demeanor. Then Matthew sang two songs – and did quite well (to watch click on "two" and "songs" above). His performance was as good as any other and better than many. M’s cheering section was also the largest, with seven there to see him. On the way home Ceil, Will, and I ate at Chickfila.

Tuesday morning I noticed what looked like a bug bite below my knee. Last night when I put on shorts I had similar bites above my knee. Not sure if there had been a bug in my pants or its varicose veins or a blood clot (nothing serious). Worked until 5:40 Tuesday afternoon. Was going to work until six but just couldn’t. Stopped by two stores on the way home but didn’t get anything. Ceil had felt sick all day but cooked ground beef for burritos. Nothing for her on TV, but I watched some of the Hawks and Braves. Stayed up with the Braves until 11:30 when Markakis spoiled the no-hitter in the fifth. Will studied (his test is in early June) and Anna was at best friend Brittany’s going away party – she’s off to Colorado for the summer.

Not too busy on Wednesday, got a bunch caught up, then swamped on Thursday. Friday was be busy because it is the last day of the month.

PaPa Johns Pizza on Wednesday night. Thursday M had his interview for El Felix. Soon he will begin shadowing as a waiter’s assistant, which is fabulous. Anna also had an interview, but I’m not sure anything will work out for her. She must’ve not looked hip enough.

Bruce called me Friday and we had a nice chat. He’s having some touring banjo brothers from Tennessee perform in his neighborhood Sunday week.

Who will win the NBA Finals?

ROB: Kohl's should have their Hawks shirts on clearance soon. Hopefully the Hawks can build off of this season.  Interesting to see what happens with Milsaps and Carrolls.  The both came to the Hawks at a "discount", but due to their success over the last 2 years, I think the market for both will be greater than probably what they should get.  Bottom line, I hope the Hawks don't overpay for either.

ME: The fellow I met last week at the Braves game was profiled in a North Georgia magazine (pages 10-13).  

As long it is charged up, my Fitbit it tells me how many miles I've walked. Resets every night at midnight. I did have to set it up on the computer, but after that first time I don't have to log on the computer if I don't want. Not sure how long the charge will last. I was just playing with it and discovered it has a chronograph, so I could time my runs if I want. Still can't find out how much charge is left. 

I was just at the store and saw an electronic cigarette for sale. That would probably be too complicated for me. The internet is sure slow and messed up. Not sure if it my computer of the whole company. And since my computer was “fixed” I can no longer auto fill entry forms. Won’t ever win another contest.

I’m not a fan of the Cook Out. People always would rave about stopping off there when they go to NC. Not that great to me. A wide selection of mostly bad food. Even the fries weren’t good. Neither were the milkshakes. Plenty of better places to eat. A Wendys burger is much better, as are the fries and Frostys.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Eliminate These 15 Words recently published the “15 Words You Need to Eliminate From Your Vocabulary to Sound Smarter” so of course I am all over it (for myself). People don’t have time (or the attention span) to read any more words than necessary. If you want people to hear you out and understand your message (and sound smarter), eliminate the following words:  

THAT: unneeded most of the time. My own personal pet peeve. Read any sentence using the word and try the sentence without it. If the sentence works without it, then delete it. Also don’t use that when referring to people. “I have friends that live in that neighborhood.” No you don’t – you have friends who.

WENT: instead consider drove, flew, walked, ran. Went is lazy and doesn’t add to the story.

HONESTLY: people use honestly to add emphasis. But the minute you tell someone this particular statement is honest, you’ve implied the rest of your words are not.

ABSOLUTELY: adding this word to most sentences is redundant. Absolutely necessary doesn’t make it more necessary.

VERY: good adjectives don’t need qualifiers. It makes your statement less specific. Use ecstatic instead of very happy, or depressed instead of very sad. And very cold and very tall means different things to different people.

REALLY: unless you’re visiting from the 1980’s, there’s no need to use this word – as an adjective, verb, or adverb. Pick a different word to make your point. And never repeat really (or very, for that matter).

AMAZING: means “causes great surprise or sudden wonder.” It’s synonymous with wonderful, incredible, startling, marvelous, astonishing, astounding, remarkable, miraculous, surprising, mind-blowing, and staggering. You get the point, right? It’s everywhere – in corporate slogans, Academy Awards speeches, all over social media, pregame and postgame shows. Newsflash: If everything is amazing, nothing is.

ALWAYS: “absolutes lock the writer into a position, sound conceited and close-minded, and often open the door to criticism regarding inaccuracies. Always is rarely true. Unless you are giving written commands or instruction, find another word.”

NEVER: see “always.”

LITERALLY: means literal – actually happening as stated, without exaggeration. Most times the writer actually means figuratively.

JUST: makes sentence weaker, not stronger. Only use as a synonym for equitable, fair, even-handed, or impartial.

MAYBE: communicates uncertainty, makes you sound uninformed and unsure.

STUFF: if what you’re talking about isn’t important enough to be mentioned by name, why mention it at all?

THINGS: see “stuff.”

IRREGARDLESS: doesn’t mean what you think it means. It means – regardless.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Unbreakable MLB Records?’s ten most unbreakable records in MLB history. Like most blogs on the internet, Cheatsheet thinks recent history is better than past history. You’d think a record broken 50 or 100 years ago would be more unbreakable than one just recently set or broken, but you can’t tell youngsters anything these days. Or perhaps they think more readers want to read about Marino Rivera than Old Hoss Radbourn. They might be right, but that doesn’t make the record more unbreakable. A more likely theory is the website numbered the list backwards. But was it on purpose or a mistake?

1. Most Career Saves: 652 by Marino Rivera. Yet by the time he was 25 Craig Kimbrel recorded 186 saves in 4 years. It would only take Kimbrel ten years to break the record. Kimbrel would be 35 years old. Rivera’s last save came when he was 43. Doesn’t sound like the number one unbreakable record to me.    

2. Most Career No-Hitters: 7 by Nolan Ryan.

3. Most Career Strikeouts: 5714 by Nolan Ryan. With the strikeouts per game numbers going up every year, down the road this number could be in jeopardy as well. But not by 26 year-old Stephen Strasburg, who would have to average 200 strikeouts over the next 24 years just to sniff the record.

4. Most Career Hits: 4256 by Pete Rose. Ichiro is only 102 hits behind Rose with plans to play next season. Doesn’t sound like the third most unbreakable record to me.

5. Most Consecutive Games Played: 2632 by Cal Ripken Jr. Cheatsheet says “this may be the most impressive and unbreakable record in all of professional sports.” Then why didn’t they rank it number one? Ripken’s record “equates to just over 16 seasons without missing a game.” Not mentioned was Brett Farve’s comparable streak of consecutive games started by a NFL quarterback, which stretched over 19 seasons – three more seasons than Cal.

6. Longest Hitting Streak: 56 by Joe DiMaggio. Since World War II only three players have come within 21 games of Joltin’ Joe’s record. These days the increased travel across time zones, a majority of night games, and the expanded role of relief pitching makes such a hitting streak all the more unlikely.

7. Most Wins in a Season: 59 by Old Hoss Radbourn in 1884. His 83.1% winning percentage and 1.38 ERA weren’t too shabby either. He finished all 73 of his starts that year – and all 49 of his starts the next season. But that’s not even the two year record… 

8. Most Complete Games in a Season: 75 by Will White in 1879. White completed every game he started in both 1878 (52) and 1879.

9. Most Career Stolen Bases: 1406 by Rickey Henderson – almost 500 more than Lou Brock’s second place total.

10. Most Career Wins by a Pitcher: 511 by Cy Young. In today’s five man rotations a pitcher would have to not miss a start for 23 years, win 22 games per year (2/3 of his starts) to reach 506 wins. Not gonna happen.
Which brings us to a recent record that belongs on the list: Greg Maddux won 15 or more games a record 17 straight seasons – breaking Cy Young’s record of 15 seasons. Maddux also won 18 Gold Gloves, also a record. He is the only pitcher in history with more than 300 wins, 3000 strikeouts, and less than 1000 walks. And he had more sacrifice bunts than any other right-handed pitcher in history. Should I go on?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hawks: One Year Wonders?

The great thing about the Hawks is they shouldn't be one year wonders. They won two playoff series while not playing their best basketball, and should be able to make moves this off-season to only get better. Of course, this year ain't over yet.
Mentioning the Hawks gives me the chance to show off those sweet unis they wore last week in game two.

The Braves went into last night's game with a better record than 18 of the other 29 teams, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Mariners, Pirates, and Padres - despite missing one of the anchors of their starting rotation all season. Looks like all those who predicted a hundred loss season will be proved wrong. Speaking about baseball teams, someone gave Anna a new LA Dodgers cap. When I told Johnny about it he said "Dodgers. UGA. You are Braves and Tech. You're not doing a good job, are you?"

As you know, Tech places very little emphasis on athletics compared to other schools. Pepper Rodgers said when he returned to GT as head coach that the facilities hadn't changed since he was a player. He could've stayed at UCLA and continued to win, but loved his alma mater so much he came back even though he knew it would be harder to win. Naturally, Pepper loves Paul Johnson's offense.

Friday I left work at 11 am after working four hours and drove up to Rome. Stood in line with several guys (and gals) from the bobblehead group. Sat with the retired grandfather from Cumming I had met Wednesday at Turner Field. His memorabilia collection has been written up twice by local newspapers. One day we might have to go out and see it. On my way home from Rome I realized I had gotten a bad sunburn.

Saturday morning Will drove my car to Hilton Head. Good thing I had filled up in Rome. He returned last night. I drove M up to McKinnon's house, a round trip that takes 1-1/2 hours. Anna was dog-sitting for the neighbors. Ceil watched "A Walk to Remember." I did a good job posting things on eBay. Sold two pair of pants and another bobblehead.

Ceil and I went to PCC Sunday morning. Later I had to drive up to Cumming to retrieve Matthew. Back home C, M, and I ate at El Porton. The food there seems to have gone downhill. Anna and Emily went to a graduation party in Dunwoody and church downtown at Grace Midtown.

Monday C and I did a lot of cleaning. I had to drive M up to Zack's house in Forsyth County north of Birmingham. Anna went to a cookout at Brennan's house. Ceil went grocery shopping, then the two of us ate at Willy's. After that I had to retrieve Matthew. In June he will work on getting his license.

Cashed in my Amazon giftcards for a Fitbit Charge. Tracks steps, miles walked, calories burned, and floors climbed. Also hours slept and times awakened, converting those into a sleep score percentage. After wearing it three days around the house it should be interesting to see how much exercise I get on a normal work day. My main sleep problem is out 70 pound dog jumping on the bed in the middle of the night (or when I get up to go to the bathroom) and fighting him for space.

steps/miles/calories/floors climbed
5994...2.8.....2683.....4... Saturday

sleep score/hours slept/times awakened

If I hadn't ordered the Fitbit I probably would've ordered a new baseball glove or sneakers, so I'm thinking I made a good choice. Might've also ordered a book or pair of pants.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Checklist: Southeastern Ballparks

Miles and minutes to southeastern ballparks I’d like to visit. Bold means I already have. Last week I checked off Foley Field and Panthersville Stadium, and this summer I hope to attend games in seven different parks – including five in the span of 21 days this month. Unless indicated, miles and minutes are from my house.

11 22 SunTrust Park Atlanta 25 minutes
18 25 Myrtle Beach Pelicans 30 min from Condo
28 40 Turner Field Atlanta 45 minutes
33 47 Ga State Panthersville Stadium 1 hour
40 43 CoolRay Field Gwinnett 1 hour

50 77 Pensacola Blue Wahoos 1.5 hr from Destin
53 69 Charlotte Knights 1.25 hours from Jefferson
60 72 Florence RedWolves 1.25 hr from Jefferson
62 65 Nationals Park 1.5 hr from Chancellorsville
64 69 Rome Braves 1.5 hours

75 81 Foley Field Athens GA 1.5 hours
100 113 Camden Yards 2 hr from Chancellorsville
109 100 Chattanooga Lookouts 2 hours
116 143 Charleston RiverDogs 2.5 hr from NMB
149 136 Greenville Drive 2.5 hours

150 154 Durham Bulls 2.5 hours from Jefferson
166 152 Birmingham Barons 3 hours
166 167 Carolina Mudcats 3 hr from Jefferson
167 149 Augusta Green Jackets 3 hours
180 162 Montgomery Biscuits 3 hours

192 202 Asheville Tourists 3.5 hours
224 196 Tennessee Smokies Sevierville 4 hours
240 211 Nashville Sounds 4 hours
392 350 Pearl Mississippi Braves 6 hours
451 382 Great American Ballpark Cincinnati 7.5 hr

501 424 Tropicana Field St. Petersburg 8.5 hr
545 461 Busch Stadium St Louis 9 hours

Sunday, May 24, 2015

When In Rome

Friday I worked four hours and headed straight to Rome for the Rome Braves bobblehead day: A triple HOF bobble of Cox, Glassine, and Maddux. After slamming down two crummy Wendys chicken sandwiches and filling up at the downtown BP there were still only four ahead of my in line at State Mutual Stadium.

As the line grew the time passed quickly with several fellow bobblehead addicts club members to talk to: Bobby Myers and I completed a trade. I met UGA fan Dan Fox, who had been to the same games I attended in Athens and Chattanooga. Kevin Martin drove his young family over from Birmingham. We talked at length and agreed to make some future Gwinnett for Mississippi trades. Later we discovered that we had chatted last summer in Gwinnett. When it comes to bubbleheads we are both adamant early-birds. Also met the famous Jay Da Kid Shirley.
When we went in we learned the bobblehead was apt to break, so I had to swap two broken bobbles for future unbroken ones. Though minor league ballparks are a great place to wear my orange Nike KD7 basketball shoes, the bright sneakers don't really lend themselves to passing through the gates several times (each time with a different ticket). 
The national anthem was sung by a special group who really got a kick from their performance, so much so I broke from my usual decorum to snap a photo. Between games the group got to parade around the field. 
I searched the small stadium and tracked down my new friend Johnny Tallant (below), whom I had chatted up Wednesday afternoon in the Turner Field dollar line. After standing out in the hot sun for several hours (and getting a bad sunburn, I later discovered) it was nice to kick back in the shade with Johnny and his older friend. Tallant has a literal museum in his basement in Cumming that has been written up at least twice, including this 2008 article in the Forsyth News. I need to make a pilgrimage.The game went by quickly, with a lot of action - including two triples. Since it was a doubleheader the teams only played seven innings. After the game I went down and introduced myself to usher Bill Kerlin, brother of my Braves batting practice buddy Marshall, the long-time BSU campus minister. Bill and I also had a nice chat.

My ride home was uneventful, save for the two stops for RaceTrac refills to refuel my sun-baked body. Another good haul: $25.00 for parking four tickets, and four bobbleheads. Sold one of the four for $69.00 with hopes to trade the other two (for the limited edition Bob Uecker statue bobble coming out in August and possibly the classic Kent Hrbek/Ron Gant Twins SGA.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Unbreakable NFL Records

Top Ten NFL records that won’t be broken, ranked by the NFL Network:

Honorable mention: Lynn Dickey’s 7 fumbles in one game.

Fred Dwyer’s 2 safeties in one game.

Norm Van Brocklin passed for 554 yards in one game, a record that’s stood for 64 years. In the pass happy age you’d think this record would be in danger every week. The Dutchman’s mark has been passed many times in college football.

10. Derrick Thomas had 7 sacks in one game.
9. Otto Graham quarterbacked Cleveland to 10 championships.

8. Miami Dolphins’ perfect 17-0 season in 1972. Even in the 16 game season with expanded playoffs several teams have some close.

7. Tom Landry’s 29 years as head coach of the Cowboys. Shula coached the Dolphins for 26 years.

6. The 49ers won 18 straight road games.

5. Don Hutson led the NFL in touchdowns 8 straight seasons.

4. Tampa Bay lost 26 straight games.

3. Brett Farve’s streak of 297 consecutive starts stretched over 19 seasons. Some say his streak is greater than Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak, which only stretched over 17 seasons. While Farve played a more demanding sport, Ripken played ten times as many games every year. And it only ranks third on the list? Theory: Farve ranks third because the NFL likes Shula and Brees better.

2. Drew Brees’ streak of 54 straight games with a touchdown pass was broken up by the Falcons. Brees threw three interceptions in the game. Johnny Unitas’ record of 47 straight games stood for 52 years. Many say Unitas’ feat was more remarkable, setting the record outdoors on grass back when passing wasn’t as big a factor in games. Brees averaged 37 pass attempts per game to only 25 attempts by Unitas. Both streaks lasted 3.4 seasons long, since Unitas played 14 game seasons and Brees plays in the era of 16 game seasons.

1. Don Shula’s 347 wins as a head coach. Dolphins fans could have been like Braves fans, who repeatedly called for the firing of Bobby Cox despite him being one of the best managers in baseball. Shula’s postseason record was only 19-17. Fans forget that unless you win the Super Bowl your playoff winning percentage will always be close to 50%. Sometimes the best a great coach can do is to get his average team into the playoffs. In Miami Shula made the playoffs 16 times in 26 years, going 2-5 in the Super Bowl. In the 1970’s the Dolphins went to three straight Super Bowls (and won two straight). Only the Buffalo Bills went to as many, losing four straight in the early 90’s.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The NFL's Most Versatile

The NFL Network’s Most Versatile Players – can you think of anyone else?

Marcus Allen: RB/WR
Gino Cappaletti: WR/PK
Randall Cunningham: P/QB
Marshall Faulk: RB/WR/KR
Doug Flutie: QB plus one dropkick PAT
Lou Groza: OL/PK (HOF)
Dan Klecko: DL/TE
Joe Klecko: NG/DT/DE
Walter Payton: RB/QB/P (HOF)
William “The Refridgerator” Perry: DT/RB
Warren Sapp: DL/RB (HOF)
Tom Tupa: P/QB
Danny White: P/QB

In one game LaDainian Tomlinson (RB/QB) ran, threw, and caught a TD pass – a feat almost as good as the overlooked Harmon Wages (see below).

Bill Curry: C/LB
Frank Gifford: RB/WR (HOF)
Ray Guy: P/PK
Jerry Kramer: OG/PK
Bob Lee: QB/P (shares my birthday)
Billy Lothridge: P/DB/PK (& college QB)
Jim O’Brien: PK/WR
Joe Theismann: QB/PR (HOF)
Norm Van Brocklin: QB/P (HOF)

In one game Harmon Wages ran for a TD, passed for a TD, and caught a TD pass. Charmin' Harmon won number 5 in honor of his also versatile hero Paul Hornung.

Herschel Walker (RB/WR/KR/PR) retired with the third most combined yards in NFL history, and ranks among the most prolific pass-catching running backs and return men in NFL history. He is the only player in NFL history to score a touchdown longer than 80 yards rushing, receiving, on a punt return, and on a kickoff return. Herschel was also a leading tackler on the punt coverage team. His NFL stats are comparable or better than Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk, Paul Hornung, Tom Matte, Brian Mitchell, Walter Payton, and LaDainian Tomlinson – all of whom were mentioned – yet Walker has received scant consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, much less mention on this crappy list.

The NFL Network's Top Ten:
10. Tom Matte RB/QB
9. George Blanda QB/PK (HOF)
8. Brian Mitchell WR/RB/KR/QB
7. Mike Vrabel LB/TE
6. Kordell Stewart QB/RB/WR
5. Troy Brown WR/KR/QB
4. Chuck Bednarik LB/C (HOF)
3. Deion Sanders CB/WR/PR/KR (HOF)
2. Paul Hornung RB/WR/PK/QB (HOF)

1. Sammy Baugh QB/DB/P (HOF). One season Baugh (top) led the league in passing, interceptions, and punting. In 1940 he averaged 51 yards per punt. In one game he threw two TD passes and intercepted four. Baugh even played minor league baseball in the Cardinals organization.

A comparison of Baugh and Ray Guy shows how the game changed in 30 years. Playing 12 game seasons for 13 years Baugh only punted 338 times. Guy punted 1049 times in 14 years of 14 game seasons. Guy, the only punter voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, averaged 42.4 yards per punt. Baugh averaged 45.1 yards – a record not broken until the 2000 season.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Extreme Couponing: Turner Field

Wednesday I left work just after 3 and arrived at the dollar line at four. Never saw John Parkes, which was strange (he has been in the hospital). Talked the next 40 minutes to a nice grandfather and his 8 year old. He has a nice collection of memorabilia and was featured in a small time north Georgia magazine. 
Went inside and chatted with my Baptist friend Johnny (above, leaning against rail). Johnny and his friend Marshall had just watched games in Gwinnett, Chattanooga, Rome, and Atlanta on consecutive nights. Even though I had been way back in the dollar line I was able to go back through and buy a second dollar ticket. 
Got my Javy. He even signed a few bobbleheads for some people, but I didn't see him until he threw out the first pitch. He appeared to be in good shape. Saw quite a few Hawks shirts at the game.
By the end of batting practice only a few Tampa Bay coaches remained in the outfield, including one bulky young strength coach. A Braves fan on the front row started heckling him, much to the amusement of all the fans. The strength coach was good natured and at one point asked his heckler what he did for a living, but the heckler wouldn't answer.

On the way to my seat I stopped for a Coke Zero. I was in line behind this guy who ordered 2 cokes and some pizza. It was obvious he had season ticket coupons to use, but he waited until everything was rung up to hand over the coupons. This made his checkout take three times as long as it should. He was excited to see his bill reduce from $45.00 to $12.00. Extreme couponing at the Braves game. I didn't tell him I had gotten 4 tickets, 4 bobbleheads, parking, and a drink for two dollars.

My free GasSouth ticket was right behind the plate in the upper deck. Much cooler than the sunny left field bleachers during batting practice. The Braves organist is always entertaining and he had plenty of good material with the Rays lineup - especially Sousa, Loony, and DeJesus. He was able to play the Oscar Meyer Weiner song for two players. After the top of the sixth inning I walked downstairs and watched from the tables behind the seats. The seventh inning stretch didn't come until 9:20, and I left after that.

Stopped by Wendys and RaceTrac on the way home, then watched the second half of the Hawks game and David Letterman's last show. Dave's final top ten list was delivered by Alec Baldwin, Barbara Walters, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carey, Chris Rock, Julia Louise Dreyfus, Peyton Manning, Tina Fey, and Bill Murray. I hadn't been watching all the great guests who've been on recently. I hear Bill Murray popped out of a cake last night. I follow a couple of Letterman twitter accounts.

ROB: I don't think the Hawks are dead yet. JR Smith is not going to shoot like that every game. And the Hawks, collectively, should shoot 3's better than they did last night.

ME: I sure hope you are right about the Hawks. Yes if you take away that second half stretch when Smith was so hot is a different game. Even then the Hawks didn't give up. Looked like all the calls went the Cavs way. Radio this AM said LeBron kneed the guy that hurt his knee, but it looked to me like he just came down on his knee wrong. Co-worker Amanda's husband Myers works for the Hawks. He took her to a round 2 playoff game and wanted her to go last night, but she didn't want to - too busy. She is a big football fan.

Bryce Harper may be doing better this year and finally playing close to his potential, but he still appears to be a spoiled, coddled brat and showoff. I was reading an article about Cubs phenom Kris Bryant, who grew up in Las Vegas and played against Harper growing up. Bryant's dad never made The Show but was in a Red Sox spring training camp with an instructor named Ted Williams. Teddy taught him the proper way to play baseball (including to swing slightly upward to hit the ball in the air, unlike today's coaches who teach kids to hit the ball on the ground). So Bryant passed all those lessons on to his son, who plays a completely different game than Harper or Puig.

Several years ago Marshall discovered a display in the Rome Ballpark with inaccurate information, saying the Braves won their first regular season game in Atlanta. They have pointed out the error several times since then but it still hasn't been changed.

Any activity that a child can somewhat master seems to help self-esteem and even though it takes up times, supposedly those more active kids make better grades. M has always struggled in school and only started guitar a few years ago. He wants to play baseball this fall, so we will probably let him.

Before we had kids Ceil and I went on vacation to Chicago. Saw games at both Wrigley and old Comminsky Park. The T-shirts on sale outside the park were cooler than those inside. I bought a "Late Night With the Southsiders" shirt with the Late Night logo on the front and a top ten on the back about how White Sox fans were better than Cubs fans. A little off color, but I wore it for years.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spring Reading List

The Stand, by Stephen King. What happens after a military virus accidentally kills off most of the population. Only my third King book.

The Alexandria Link, by Steve Berry. Second book in the Cotton Malone series. Similar to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series. Berry is a resident of Camden, SC, so perhaps I can run into him someday.
Still Foolin’ Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell are my Keys?, by Billy Crystal. Interesting autobiography made funnier when read by the author.   

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: and all the Brilliant Minds who made the Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, by Jennifer Keishen Armstrong. Inside look at one of the greatest sitcoms ever, with emphasis on the groundbreaking female writers.

The System: the Glory and Scandal of Big Time College Football, by Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict. Fascinating look at the college football machine from several viewpoints, including coaches, AD’s, players, broadcasters, and boosters.

Bruce, by Peter Ames Carlin. Lots of info about The Boss, including how he got his nickname and what he thinks about it.

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places, by Mary Roach. OK funny but not Billy Crystal funny.

Fairy Tale Interrupted: a Memoir of Love, Life, and Loss by RoseMarie Terenzio. Revealing inside look at JFK Jr and his wife Carolyn by John John’s personal assistant.

The MayFlower: a Story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathan Philbrick. Details about the “pilgrims” – like how no passengers or crew from the Mayflower made mention of a rock when they landed at Plymouth Harbor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

All In This Together

Monday night at 8 pm Anna watched the first ten minutes of High School Musical 2. It's my favorite of the trilogy, so I left it on while I worked on the computer even though Anna disappeared upstairs. Matthew watched about 15 minutes of the middle. These days there are so few musicals. All the singing and dancing is fun, and it doesn't take itself too seriously but doesn't drop down to be too campy. Last Thursday night Anna and Brittany watched HSM3.

People can't believe that I never watched Caddyshack. Some people have never seen Star Wars. Or Indiana Jones. I like to watch movies but often never get around to watching movies that I originally intended to. The new Bradley Cooper movie looks good. I am more of a romantic comedy guy than action movies, though I liked the Bruce Willis movie Reds.

Braves beat writer David O'Brien started following me on Twitter. He is a cool old dude into music and food and motorcycles as well as baseball. I'd like to think he'd appreciate my stream of consciousness tweets about a wide range of subjects. The subject had been Charlotte's new minor league ballpark with the great view of downtown, made possible to absolutely nothing in the outfield beyond the ten foot outfield wall - no scoreboard or stands. I replied that any bleachers or jumbotron would take away 3/4 of that view. I meant just a lower deck of stands would cut out much of the view, but he replied how several stadiums didn't have upper decks. I figured he was too busy for a long discussion so I let it go.

DOB often replies on Twitter to fans hitting him with ridiculous suggestions and questions, but also some posters that are in the know. I'd like to think mine was in the latter group. I checked and I don't think DOB follows my friend Rob, who replies to more of DOB's tweets than me. Rob does have more Twitter followers than me (122 to my 81) but he follows 376 accounts to my 44. The more people you follow the more followers you're likely to get, but I don't like to follow so many - I feel like I have to read every single tweet. DOB doesn't follow that many people (444 compared to the thousands who follow him) so I felt somewhat even more honored.

Fool me missed yesterday’s near no hitter. I met a guy at 2:05 near the Marietta Square and he said the Braves were already up 5-0. Matthew was with me so he was manning the radio. Didn’t see your text until I got home. Flipped on Braves Live and read the headline for the news. Heard Jerome jab Jordan about correctly pronouncing Foltynewicz. Now everyone’s talking about how great the Miller/Heyward trade was – except the one “Heyward heats up late” guy.

ROB: Heyward had a better May than his April.  I still think at the end of the year, the Cardinals will still be where the Braves were last year - wondering who and what Heyward is as a player.  I think it will be too big of a risk for a mid-market team to take.

ME: On the way home from the graduation Friday night a car had crashed into a tree at the Andretti Speedway. Anna was out late at a party, so we felt real good (not).  

Saturday M had to be at NPCC at 8:45 to sing in the school choir at graduation. Thought I’d need to pick him up at 12:15 but Ceil did the honors. Only then could I drive over to the Georgia State baseball game to get a Pounce bobblehead. Stuck around for warm-ups but left before the game started. Will and Anna and Joel drove downtown to show the Broadwell girls around. Emily was in town for a work convention and sister Rachel tagged along for fun. They were going to go to the Need to Breathe concert with Matthew but decided to just come for dinner. So all day long the plans kept changing, which is par for the course at our house.

I drove M to the Verizon Amphitheater for the concert. There was another wreck blocking Alpharetta Highway and Mansell just down from the Friday night wreck. Stopped by Kroger on the way home, and we ate spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and strawberry shortcake. Had a nice time catching up with the Broadwell girls. When I went to pick up M at 10:45 up on Highway 9, I could sit in my car and hear the concert from a mile away.   

Sunday there was a ton of laundry to do. Watched Steak Shapiro’s Atlanta Eats. Usually I’m busy and don’t watch. I wouldn’t want to eat at most of the restaurants they profile, places, but it’s nice to find out about places I didn’t know about. Worked on laundry until 1:30 then took M with me to run errands. Will studied all afternoon and evening. Anna went to one graduation party, then came home to take M to a second. Later A and M went to see a movie (Pitch Perfect 2) after I had cooked waffles, and Will went over to the Normans.

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s The Stand, so I watched part one of the 1994 miniseries on Netflix. Gary Sinese, Molly Ringwald, and young Rob Lowe. Another main character is a budding rock star. In his autobiography Lowe wrote about how they wanted him for the singer role but he chose the more demanding role of Nick, the deaf mute.

Cashed in my Amazon giftcards to order a Fitbit Charge. Soon I will know exactly how little exercise I am getting – and how poorly I am sleeping.

It was a traumatic event years ago when Anna wasn’t chosen for the elite dance academy in Lilburn. Would’ve been tough financially and logistically. Turned out to be great – she was tiring of ballet, needing more time to study, and it gave her time to develop her artistic abilities.   

My friend Rob has eaten at several places in that Avalon in Alpharetta. We've just been to El Felix (twice). Actually Anna and Matthew have probably eaten at more places there - the Avalon is one of their hangouts. On Wednesday both M and Anna have job interviews for El Felix. M is friends with the owner's son. They live in a beautiful house near Crabapple.  

Matthew had been into Legos for years and years. He has several Harry Potter sets that sat on a bookcase in the living room for months. The other day I was cleaning up and placed a chair in front of the bookcase. The next day I say in the chair to rest. I leaned back and the chair pushed into the bookcase - causing the large frame resting behind the legos to slide forward - pushing all the legos off the bookcase onto the floors - in a million pieces.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Veritas Graduation

Friday I worked eight hours then rushed home. Anna had to be at FBC Alpharetta at 6:45 and Ceil wanted to eat dinner at El Felix. With Friday afternoon traffic getting to the usually crowded restaurant (that doesn't take reservations), I didn't know if that was possible. We got dressed and made good time on the new Westside Parkway. Such is my life, constantly rushing from one event to the next. Some people don't understand. We were seated immediately and the food came out quickly. El Felix is a fancy Mexican restaurant and the food is ok, but I'd just as soon eat Mexican at Nuevo Laredo or El Porton or Jaliscos where the salsa is better tasting and less fancy. We all made it to the church with plenty of time to spare.
The Veritas graduation wasn't just for Anna's Alpharetta campus but also all the other campuses scattered around metro Atlanta. In all there were over 30 graduates, making for a big crowd. Knowing this I positioned myself near the far door in the crowded, stuffy vestibule. When the doors finally opened at seven the mad dash for seats ensued. Even though I was right by the door the seats I secured were 11 or 12 rows back (there weren't 20 rows in the whole place). The Hargreaves sat behind us and the Waltons were forced to sit in the balcony. Andrew's parents arrived later and also sat in the balcony.
The ceremony was pretty standard: opening comments from the principal, then two worships songs. Students were on stage playing the music but tow old people (my age) came out to lead the singing and sing special music. You would've thought some of the graduates or underclassmen could've been drafted - that's what they do at Matthew's school and Will's old school. The graduated paraded in. The speech was given by State Court Judge Melton, whose kids attend another campus. An engaging speech. For some reason no student valedictorian gave a speech.

When each graduate came forward, the parents walked onstage to accept the diploma to present to their child. It was interesting to see each family dynamic: the hugs, handshakes, where everyone stood. Emily's mom knocked off her daughter's mortarboard, then helped her put it back on. Would've been hilarious if her father had then knocked off the cap again, but he didn't. Most of the applause was polite with the exception of one family who cheered like LeBron James had just thrown down a breakaway dunk. I whispered to Matthew that it must be the family's first graduate. I'd had of several other hilarious comments but kept most to myself, since the strangers in front of me her within hearing distance. But behind me I could hear all the funny quips Robert Hargreaves was telling Trina.

The sequence: the master of ceremonies (a male teacher) would call out each graduates' name, then step to the side. The student's senior picture would be displayed, along with their college they'd be attending and a favorite Bible verse (one student's photo appeared to be a selfie. One boy sat on a skateboard. This got Matthew thinking of possible poses). The student would walk onstage and invariably have to wait on their parents to arrive from their seats. Mom and dad would then take turns shaking the principal's hand, and then the principal would hand the diploma to dad. Then mom would hug their graduate, followed by dad. The diploma would usually be handed to the graduate as an afterthought, instead of being the most important event of the evening. Then the three would (sometimes awkwardly) pose for pictures. All the parents pretty much followed these same rituals.
When it came our turn Ceil and I ambled onstage, and the entire pressure-packed sequence of events went well. Will came forward and snapped some pictures, and we all returned to our seats. So out of the entire 1-1/2 hour ceremony Anna's moment lasted less than one minute. Probably best that my parents hadn't made the 12 hour round trip.

Brittany's turn was next to last. Her picture was with backwards ballcap and flannel shirt. As her parents jogged down the aisle Brittany raised her arms in triumph and moved over to greet them with huge hugs. Mom Krista (who teaches at Veritas) received the first hug, then while husband Randy's back was turned receiving his hug and the diploma from the principal Krista went over and hugged the master of ceremonies. To me it looked like she was cheating on her husband (they were just co-workers, of course).

After the ceremony everyone snaked through the church hallways to the church gym for a crowded reception. The food line was long so I chatted with two of Will's old teachers from Living Science (teachers must love to attend as many graduations as possible). Andrew's parents came over and we had a nice chat. I'd seen Claire's photos of the twins earlier graduation, so they filled me in on that. Also about the whole Disney on Ice deal where Princess Ariel was missed. Later I saw the photo where they met Ariel.

One priceless moment: during the reception I interrupted my older Facebook friend/Living Science receptionist Shirley Gentry as she spoke to Hannah, the oldest Hargreaves sister. I think the world of young Hannah, a most Godly, beautiful young woman who spent the year after high school as a foreign missionary. She had just returned home from her first year at the Moody Bible Institute. Among all the Godly young women I know Hannah ranks at or near the top. She has my upmost respect. Well little old lady Shirley saw me and grabbed my arms and told Hannah "Dave is my friend on Facebook. He says the funniest things!" Like Shirley, Hannah reads my Facebook posts. Usually a subdued but pleasant youngster, Hannah shot me a look that was priceless. I cracked up, partly from embarrassment.

That was some Hawks game on Friday night. At the reception Ceil had left her phone at the table, so Will logged on to watch the last minute of the game. We saw Paul Pierce's shot and were trying to see on the tiny screen. A crowd of boys had gathered in the corner to watch as well. I'd heard the in game 5 the last 5 points scored by Washington shouldn't have counted due to errors by the officials, so even with the Washington home crowd I figured they would go with the replay and give the game (and series) to the Hawks. 

My coworker whose husband works for the Hawks said they were out to eat Friday night with several other Hawks ticket sales employees. As soon as the game ended all their phones started buzzing with emails with people wanting to buy conference championship tickets. But the only way to get them now is to buy season tickets for next year. One person paid $16,000.00.

Ceil and I may be in the minority - we didn't invite a bunch of people to fight Friday traffic to see Anna graduate. We didn't post hundreds of pictures on Facebook of cakes and graduates posing or throwing their caps in the air. Unlike other graduations, the entire Veritas evening was relatively free of parents forcing their 18 year-olds (and the whole class) to pose for countless pictures. Instead of trying to export the evening to social media, everyone was content to live in the moment and enjoy the company of those around us. Right or wrong, for that I am thankful.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Top 25 MLB Catchers?

The Bleacher Report came out with another one of those bogus lists just to generate reader comments, ranking Benito Santiago, Jason Veritek, and Mickey Tettleton as three of the top ten catchers in baseball history – ahead of Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk, Mickey Cochrane (320 career avg), Bill Dickey (313 career avg), and perhaps the greatest hitter in baseball history, Josh Gibson. Perhaps the Bleacher Report placed their 25 in no particular order, though they did place Johnny Bench at the top of the list.

Many of the BR 25 started off as catchers but spent almost as much time DHing or playing first base (Mauer, Torre, Tettleton, Parrish). By this reasoning Dale Murphy should make the list. While journeyman Benito Santiago was a superior defender, he, Varitek, and Tettleton have no business on this list. None rank in the top 475 hitters of all time. They’re only listed to spark debate, or perhaps they were favorites of the writer.   

Perhaps a better ranking is Baseball Reference’s Fan-o-later, which is the second number to the left of each player’s name. As usual players from the media-biased northeast dominate the list.

1 046 CIN Johnny Bench 267 avg 389 HR 14 ASG in 17 yr 10 GG ROY 2 MVP HOF (above)
2 000 NEG Biz Mackey 328 avg in Negro Leagues HOF
3 094 NYM Mike Piazza 308 avg 427 HR 1337 RBI 12 ASG in 16 yr ROY
4 543 SDP Benito Santiago 263 avg 217 HR 920 RBI 987 fielding 5 ASG in 20 yr ROY  
5 396 NYY Elston Howard 279 avg 167 HR 733 RBI 9 ASG in 14 yr MVP
6 238 DET Bill Freehan 262 avg 200 HR 993 fielding 5 GG 11 ASG in 15 yr
7 221 NYG Ernie Lombardi 262 avg 190 HR 990 RBI 8 ASG in 17 yr MVP HOF
8 705 BOS Jason Varitek 256 avg 193 HR 3 ASG in 15 yr
9 073 NYY Yogi Berra 285 avg 358 HR almost 1500 RBI 15 straight ASG 3 MVP HOF
10 485 BAL Mickey Tettleton 241 avg 210 HR 2 ASG in 14 yr, only caught 9 yr
11 107 TEX Pudge Rodriguez 296 avg 311 HR 464 slg 2844 hits 14 ASG MVP
12 265 NYY Thurman Munson 292 avg 113 HR 7 ASG in 11 yr ROY MVP
13 187 DET Lance Parrish 252 avg 299 HR 991 fielding 8 ASG in 19 yr
14 098 STL Ted Simmons 285 avg 248 HR 1389 RBI 2472 hits 8 ASG in 21 yr
15 233 NYG Buck Ewing 303 avg 18 yr, stole over 30 bases 7 times HOF
16 140 CHC Gabby Hartnett 297 avg 236 HR a “reliable option” 6 ASG in 20 yr MVP HOF
17 136 NYM Joe Torre 297 avg 252 HR 9 ASG in 18 yr MVP playing 3B only caught 11 yr HOF (below)
18 148 PHI Mickey Cochrane 320 avg 119 HR 985 fielding avg 100 RBI for 13 yr HOF
19 000 PIT Josh Gibson 359 avg 800+ HR HOF – the black Babe Ruth
20 210 MIN Joe Mauer 318 avg 109 HR 6 ASG in 12 yr 3 batting titles in 1st 6 yr. Hasn’t caught in 2 yr
21 055 NYM Gary Carter 262 avg 324 HR 11 in 19 yr HOF
22 074 NYY Bill Dickey 313 avg 202 HR 11 ASG in 17 yr HOF
23 061 BOS Carlton Fisk 269 avg 376 HR 11 ASG HOF
24 146 BRK Roy Campanella 276 avg 242 HR 8 ASG in 10 yr MVP HOF
25 220 NYY Jorge Posada 273 avg 275 HR 5 ASG 

My Top Ten would include Bench, Berra, Gibson, Rodriguez, Cochrane, Fisk, Dickey, Piazza, Mackey, and Ewing.