Friday, July 31, 2015

Imperfect

Jim Abbott’s book “Imperfect” is a pretty good read - among the best jock autobiographies I've ever read. Addresses growing up without a hand as well as his struggles as a pitcher – his 20 loss season and demotion to the minors. He hits on his feelings and well as tells stories, including his up and down relationship with agent Scott Boras. A month or so ago I saw Tim McCarver interview him on his spotlight show. By waiting 10-12 years after retirement to write his book Jim Abbott was better able to relate his true feelings about the different events in his lefe and career. Some may think him winey but he was honest with his feelings. The writer who helped him with the book was the Angels beatwriter when Abbott played in Anaheim, so he was a witness to many of the events.

Not sure Donald Trump would be the best president based on comments he has made over the years, but he sure has got Hillary and Obama and the media all up in arms by telling the truth, which is a good thing. He doesn’t care who he offends which is also good, but it won’t get him elected President. If he runs as an independent it will shave off Republican votes, allowing another Democrat to win the election.

With social media these days a tiny minority (like homosexuals) can be offended and have more influence than the majority (Christians). It is clear that people aren’t thinking with their heads but instead trying to be politically correct. What does the Bible say that people will be blinded in the End Times? There is outrage over the shooting in Louisiana but nothing about people in Chicago being killed every two hours. Two hours after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage the White House was bathed in rainbow colors but it took five days after the Chattanooga massacre to lower the flag. A lone gunman wrapped in the Confederate flag draws the President to the funeral but a Muslim shooter is labeled internal terrorism.
Another thing about so many people putting down and abusing the Christians. One day (soon?) all the Christians are going to disappear, and everyone left behind is going to wonder what happened. I’m glad I won’t be around to find out. Since Phil Robertson got in such trouble for speaking out (in church!) he went out and published a book – “UnPhiltered” – where he could give his views. I’m reading it now. Read by him and son Alan. Mark Schlabach helped write it.      
  
Anna had her wisdom teeth out last Tuesday and has had a few complications – not 100% smooth. Worked past six last Thursday night. Busy day with both coworker and boss out, plus several others needing help. Almost bought a pair of blue Nike Air Max but just wasn’t feeling it. Too blue. Dinner was black beans and rice. Ceil was watching Fixer Upper on HGTV and helping Anna pack.

Last Friday morning I dropped Anna off at the airport for her trip to Denver. Her first flight by herself. She was flying standby and her priority was lower than current employees and retirees. There was a power outage at another airport, and with it being a Friday in the summer she was lucky to get a seat on the 9:45 pm flight. Anna is smart and independent, but it was a long frustrating day. You may have seen some of her photos, she’s having a great time now that she’s out there. She made it back on the first flight out on Tuesday. Sherryl here at work is a Delta retiree and can check how full each flight is, which helped. She correctly predicted the early flight was the best bet. Sherryl knows, and Will has also learned the hard way about standby flights. I would’ve had Anna plan on flying out Thursday had she shared her plans with me.

Dropped her off at 6:34 and made it to Norcross in 30 minutes, including my usual stop at RaceTrac. Drove to Macon Sunday so I missed most of the HOF ceremonies. I love to tell jokes but if I was being inducted into Cooperstown I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t put on a wig.

Donne made the cover of SI when she was in college but it’s about time for another article about her pro career. She’s too vanilla for ESPN the Magazine. They’d rather have a more controversial player like Brianna Griner to sell more issues. SI isn’t as much like that.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

El Trade-O

Fans beg for a trade and when it turns out it isn't Dan Uggla and BJ Upton for Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout they are outraged. Yet if no trade is made they're still angry. They say if we don't "fleece" the other team the GM should be fired. Was the Dodgers/Braves/Marlins trade good or bad? Not that we can judge immediately – in truth it will take years to determine. Let's look at the principals:
 
Hector Olivera can play 3B, LF, or 2B. Dodgers paid his $28M bonus and Braves only have to pay his relatively cheap $6M salary. This past spring the Braves pursued Olivera but now are paying much less for him. It's not like he's been playing 200 games the past 17 years like most 30 year olds in the MLB. The Braves have scouted him and feel good about him. People say he's injured but it's only a hamstring – an injury than hampers most players sooner or later. Since I've hardly heard of him and have never seen him play (few have) how can I have an honest opinion? He's tearing up the minor leagues this year: 348/392/493/885.
Puig I wouldn't want. The Dodger players dislike him. A cancer both on and off the field. More trouble than he's worth.
 
Michael Morse can also play LF. The Braves also get a draft pick. The key to the deal is Olivera. This trade for offense signals the Braves plan to contend next year.
 
Alex Wood has been ok but nothing more. 1.41 WHIP and .288 average against. The Braves still have Miller, Teheran, Mike Minor, Folty, Wisler, Jenkins, and several other prospects.
 
Jim Johnson will be a free agent at the end of the year. Now Vizcaino takes over as closer. He will probably outperform Johnson. Next year the Braves have closers Jason Grilli and Shea Simmons returning (and others).   
 
Set-up man Luis Avilan has proven to be inconsistent. Having led baseball in appearances the past three years, he's also worn out.
 
Jose Peraza has not excelled in AA or AAA. Everyone loves him but he has yet to meet expectations. Rookie Jase Peterson has been thrown into the fray ahead of schedule and held his own. He may only be hitting 250 but that should improve. There are also other option in the minors.
 
ROB: Wow - a lot of teeth gnashing about the trade. Mark Bradley has a good column about the trade.  I hate to trade 2 young controllable assets for 1 controllable asset.  However, I have concerns about Peraza at the major league level.  I think the bottom line is if Olivera is your starting 3B for the next 5 years and is able to put up an OPS+ of at least 110, then it was a good trade - regardless of what Wood and Peraza end up doing.  That would be tremendous production for the reasonable contract he has.
 
The Braves are going to have a ton of money to spend next year (and the year after as well).  If Olivera can lock down 3B, this narrows their focus to C and LF.
 
ME: Friday night I kept score out at Gwinnett and thought it weird that Snitker pinch hit for the number 9 hitter in his first at bat. Weird that 1B Kazmar moved to SS and backup catcher Yepez pinch hit and stayed in to play first. Saturday night Snitker kept the same lineup. Only later did I realize starting SS Castro was being called up to replace Uribe/Kelly. Two pitchers on the Charlotte Knights' roster: Kyle Drabek and 37 year-old Brad Penny (who spent 2014 in Jupiter and New Orleans. At Gwinnett it's always interesting to see if there are familiar names on the opponent roster.
 
Got Gant's autograph Friday night at CoolRay for bobblehead friend Alex. Gant chatted with me longer than it took him to sign. T told him I remember when he was in Sumter and that got him going. Sugar Ray started but only went three innings. I didn't see Moylan pitch but he had the relievers greet every player on the way out to the bullpen, snaking through all the players stretching on the ground. Snitker has the GBraves wearing high navy hose, but Moylan and one other pitcher wear stirrups instead.
Went back Saturday for the Cox bobble and saw several of the bobblehead regulars. I was sick (sneezing) and didn't feel good so I didn't mind leaving early to pick up M. On the way to my car I found a foul ball. The condos they built in right field gives CoolRay a more homey feel – very nice. Also scored a Todd Cunningham autographed ball. 
After losing Uribe and Kelly I didn't think losing 2 of 3 in St. Louis was too bad.
 
After I said all that nice stuff about the Yankees I started reading the Sports Illustrated midseason report. SI says the Yankees have such an old lineup that they have been lucky to have avoided injuries so far this season, and they'll fade down the stretch.
 
I wouldn't be good on sports talk radio because I would tell the truth and not just say things to fire up the listeners to get them to call in. Those guys keep giving out the number and ask people to call – but rarely take calls because they're in love with their own voices. Saying the Braves should trade for Puig when he's an overpaid team cancer on and off the field. Some of those radio guys aren't even believable.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Share the Road?

On my commute to and from work I bypass downtown Roswell and Holcomb Bridge for two miles on either side of GA 400 and instead cut by the river for about four miles. A very beautiful winding drive with trees hanging overhead. A few joggers and the occasional deer sighting, and very little traffic. Since yesterday I was headed to the library this added another mile or two to the river route. Usually this is a great drive but yesterday I quickly fell behind a pack of 30 or more bicycles. There were too many of them to stick to the bike lane. Instead they spilled out onto the road, so us cars couldn’t pass. Instead we poked along at less than 20 MPH. When the car in front of me turned left on Roswell Road this made me the lead car behind the bikes. Eventually there was no oncoming traffic and the bikes were sufficiently spread out enough to allow me to pass at least some of them. Even then they were fearless, riding alongside me. The pictures I took didn't do the logjam justice. Finally as we were passing the Chattahoochie Nature Center was I able to pass the entire pack. I looked back and eventually the Jeep behind me passed them as well. I see bumper stickers on cars saying “Share the Road” but I’ve never seen one on a bike. “Share the Road” sure seems like a one way street.    
 
BASEBALL: Sounds like the Yankees think they can make a run to the World Series. I hear they’re trying to trade for Kimbrel. Good thing the Nationals or Mets aren’t after Kimbrel. Will ARod win comeback player of the year? Mark Texeira is having a good season as well.
 
The Braves could still make another trade or two. Jim Johnson or Maybin could be moved. Might as well get as many prospects as possible. Or they could decide Maybin is a keeper. Some fans are hoping the Braves make a trade for a hitter. Unless that hitter is Troy Tulowitzki it ain’t gonna happen. The Braves are stocking up on prospects for the future and not trying to plug holes for the rest of this year. Might as well root for the Yankees, huh? Anyone but the Nationals.
 
Everyone complains about the lack of home runs off Markakis’ bat. What do these fans want, to go back to the days of Uggla and BJ? They forget he’s hitting .295. And they forget that he had neck surgery and couldn’t train and lift weights all winter. Next year he should be even better than this year. Last week he threw out a baserunner.
 
Troy Tulowitzki has been toiling in anonominity in Colorado for several years. Great performance but his all-out play has led to several injuries. He’s no longer the young whippersnapper and his production has most probably peaked. His won’t go downhill like a catcher like McCann but whoever winds up paying the rest of his contract (Toronto?) might end up disappointed. Kincaid was arguing this point but also said he’s love for the Braves to give up a talented pitcher so Tulo could play third. Atlanta needs to hold onto Miller and Wisler for sure.  
 
Monday: I couldn’t find the remote to turn on the TV! Worked until 6:15 then stopped by the auto parts store on the way home, then Kroger. Ceil cooked taco salad for us and Will. Later she returned some items to Nancys then picked me up in Roswell where I had left my car at the shop. Turned on the Braves in time to see Avilan throw his one pitch.
 
So Tuesday I leave work at six. Stop by two thrift stores, the library, and gas up Anna’s Jeep which I was driving. Get home and supper’s not ready, so Anna takes me to Roswell to pick up my car from the shop. Then I gas up the CRV. We don’t eat until 8:30. I help Ceil clean the kitchen, watch some Braves, and play on the laptop. Then it’s time for bed.
 
Many sweepstakes ask for your gender. I just entered a contest that asked “I identify as” male or female. At least it didn’t have any other options.
 
Taco Bell is advertising the Big Box meal for five dollars. A burrito with a little bacon, taco, bacon club chalupa, and medium drink. I had to try it and I guess it was ok. Two beefy Frito burritos are plenty for me, so the Big Box was overkill. They opened a new Taco Bell at the corner of Peachtree Parkway and Spaulding (PP) – seemed like a few more red lights than the one on PIB and Pleasant Hill (PH). Both had “fast” service (not too slow). PH 2.3 miles 6 min 3 lights but a busy left turn. PP 2.8 miles 7 min 6 lights but better employees? But they gave me a hard taco when I ordered soft. Sunday the Wendy’s in Macon left off lettuce and were stingy with other condiments, though most Wendy’s do a decent job. So many make mistakes and are so slow that you wonder why they think they deserve $15.00 an hour. The high minimum wage is already backfiring in Seattle, where workers don’t want to make so much money that they’re no longer eligible for food stamps and other government handouts.  
 
I like the 680 morning and afternoon drive shows. Christopher Rude and especially Kris Dimino, who really knows baseball. Not really a fan of Hometeam Leak, who likes to hear himself talk and often talks without thinking about what he’s saying. I hate John Kincaid but Buck Belue is ok. The King of College Football Chuck Oliver knows more about sports than anyone I’ve ever known. When he travels for work he doesn’t go out but stays in his room studying media guides and watching obscure college football games on TV. I like his partner Matt Chernoff as well.
 
While driving through downtown Roswell I saw the refurbished old house they’re making into The Big Ketch. Not far from Claire’s house. I had to look up exactly where that Agave was. Interesting how that area of town has changed and grown. We were down at Oakland Cemetery a few years ago and saw a few restaurants down there then. Another place that’s really picked up is down near where Ponce de Leon Park was, and across the street next to the old Sears building. Also what’s called the Old Fourth Ward, near Little Five Points.  
 
REID: New game. I used to play this on line Putt-putt golf game on line all the time, then I quit. Picked it up again lately. It is more like the real Putt-Putt as opposed to Goofy so I like it. Does have 1 or 2 goofy holes to it.  My record is 28. See if you can beat. www.mini-putt.org
 
ME: I remember this game. I used to play all the time. I got a 37 just now. If I played again I’d probably do better but until I can practice it would be tough to break 30.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Friday on the Farm

 
Photos from Friday night's Gwinnett Braves game against the Charlotte Knights at CoolRay Field.
Didn't take long to spot a familiar face: Norman, a.k.a Chocolate Papa. Later we chatted in the Ron Gant autograph line. I'm usually not one to stand in line for autographs but the whole reason I was at the game was to collect Ron Gant cards for bobblehead friend Kevin Martin.
The former Braves outfielder/second-baseman/third-baseman was quite cordial, speaking at length with every fan that approached.
Since I am a middle-aged suburban white male I didn't want to run afoul of the sneaker police, so I dutifully wore my white leather Pumas.
This was my first game at CoolRay since the rightfield condos were completed. Adds an almost Wrigley-like feel to the park. Looks like a nice place to live. Not sure if there's room, but they ought to build more condos in leftfield to make the setting even better. But I'm sure the GBraves want passersby on busy Highway 20 to know there's a game in progress.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Satan in America

Saturday in Detroit Satan worshippers unveiled the statue that was originally supposed to go near the capitol in Oklahoma City. Details from author Joel Rosenberg:

Here are excerpts from this story<http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2015/07/25/group-to-unveil-satan-statue-in-detroit-during-largest-public-satanic-ceremony-in-history/>, published by the Associated Press and CBS News in Detroit:
· A group is planning to unveil an 8-foot-tall bronze statue featuring a goat-headed Satan in Detroit during a gathering that's being billed as the "largest public satanic ceremony in history."
· The Satanic Temple has said Saturday's private event will be open only to people with tickets, $25 each.
· Invitations to "The Unveiling" summoned guests to prepare for "a night of chaos, noise, and debauchery… Come dance with the Devil and experience history in the making." The event location is not being announced publicly and is known only to those with tickets.
· The group said the bronze Baphomet monument, which weighs about one ton and has never been seen before in public, "is not only an unparalleled artistic triumph, but stands as a testament to plurality and the power of collective action." The statue, which backed by an inverted pentagram and flanked by statues of two young children gazing up at the creature, shows Satan with horns, hooves, wings and a beard.
· The group went on to say the unveiling event "will serve as a call-to-arms from which we'll kick off our largest fight to date in the name of individual rights to free exercise against self-serving theocrats."
· Photography is strictly prohibited at the 18-and-older event unless, of course, you're a $75 VIP ticket holder. Those partygoers will have an exclusive opportunity to be photographed seated on the Baphomet monument.....
· The statue had been planned for the state Capitol in Oklahoma City until Oklahoma's Supreme Court banned a monument of the Ten Commandments on Capitol grounds.
· Detroit was ultimately selected for the unveiling because The Satanic Temple in the city has a "strong congregation," with more than 200 registered members....

It is sobering how rapidly evil is rising in this country, how brazen, how public. We need to humble ourselves. We need to get on our knees. We need to seek Christ's forgiveness and His mercy on this country. We need to do it now, or we will face the consequences foretold in the Bible thousands of years ago.

Consider just one passage of many:

"7 At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. 9 Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; 10 if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it." (Jeremiah 18:7-10<https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jeremiah+18&version=NASB>)

Another example of how a tiny minority (200 there in Detroit) is featured on the national news while so few positive stories are told about the millions of Christians in America. And little is said about to preponderance of Muslims overtaking Detroit to the point the police are too scared to patrol. Instead the area is under sharia law, meaning women can suffer abuse and violence.


WEEKEND: A weekend on the road. Left work Friday afternoon at five and drove north to CoolRay Field. Arrived just after the gates opened. My bobblehead friend loves Ron Gant and wanted the Gant cards the GBraves were giving away. Later I stood in line to get him to autograph the card. I'm not much of a talker but Gant chatted with me longer than the time it took him to sign the card. Something had been said about South Carolina so I said I remembered him from his Sumter days. He said the GM from Sumter was there at the park that night.

After spending all day at the airport Anna finally got a seat on the 9:45 flight that night. She's having a big time in Colorado. M returned from his week in Daytona at Passion camp where Louie spoke.

Saturday morning I cleaned upstairs and later did laundry downstairs. Cleaned some in the garage and yard and blew the drive. All the going back and forth from the outside heat and inside AC had me sneezing uncontrollably. I showered and headed back over to CoolRay.

I arrived at 5 pm and there was already 50 people in line waiting for the gates to open at six. Before I left my car I put to sunscreen, which turned out to be a good choice. I was standing next to a guy with his young son. Bobby Myers came over to say hello, then chatted with the guy behind me: Danny Wilcox, who has over 250 bobbleheads. Several people came over to congratulate him on his week old baby. Nice guy. Then I talked to a guy in a Greenville Braves cap who has traveled around to several minor league stadiums. 

When I left the GBraves games early Saturday night (to go pick Matthew, not because I was sick) I was walking to my car and I found an International League baseball a batter had fouled out of the stadium. Next time I'm gonna get my hand stamped and watch the game from the right field foul pole and chase balls hit out of the stadium.

Last Labor Day was Bobby Cox bobblehead day. Cole Hamels started and the Phillies no hit their opponent. Saturday was Bobby Cox bobblehead day. Cole Hamels started and the Phillies no hit their opponent.

Sunday morning I drove down to Macon. My mom had surgery and is doing better, though she still had pain in her shoulder. The preacher on TV in Macon was listing numerous examples of violations of religious liberty, of unprompted government officials going out of their way to unprecedentedly harass individuals trying to run their businesses according to Christian principles. 

On the drive back I so feared gridlocked traffic that I cut over to 19/41 and came up that way. Was going to get the $5.00 box deal at Taco Bell but they didn't have the special in Alpharetta. Drove up to south Forsyth to pick up M. By the time we arrived home I had driven 300 miles in the past 24 hours.

See where the Falcons just signed former FSU ballboy Red Lightning, the red-haired guy who sprints up and down the sidelines to spot the football?

The Apple desktop is having iPhoto issues, making picture posting problematic. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ranking the AFC Uniforms

Though I am a NFC man, there are a whole lot of good-looking uniforms in the AFC. Jacksonville is clearly the worst, but the Browns’ new unis may give the Jags a run for their money. The Sporting News’ Hecken nails the top five: Colts, Raiders, Chiefs, Jets, and Steelers, in a slightly different order than mine (in parenthesis).  

16 (16) Jacksonville: every do-over gets worse. Maybe the next city will get it right.

15 (9) Cincinnati’s unis are different but better than many. Great helmet.

14 (8) Tennessee’s colors are great, and all the various jersey/pants combos look good.

13 (11) Denver’s unis were a sight to see when new but have quickly aged. Time for a do-over.

12 (15) Cleveland’s ranking plummets from great to terrible. The Browns can’t catch a break.

11 (10) Baltimore’s unis are plain but not ugly. I just dislike the head-to-toe black and purple paired with black.

10 (6) New England: Phil ranks them 10th – far too low. Winning makes average unis look good. Maybe it’s Tom Brady who makes them look so good. Love the shade of blue.
 
9 (14) Houston has the most bland unis, like from a movie. And the huge red neck collar makes it worse. A fashion disaster.

8 (13) Miami’s unis and logos keep getting worse, but the new throwback looks great. Hopefully they’ll wear the old logo with the throwbacks.

7 (12) San Diego’s weird numbers and multiple number trim ugly up what used to be the best-looking uni in football.

6 (7) Buffalo’s unis keep improving. Love the throwbacks, and the regular uni is ok as well.

5 (3) Pittsburgh looks great. One of the few teams with a weird number font that works (the Bears are the other). Great throwbacks as well.

4 (5) Jets: Didn’t the green used to be lighter? A great uni but the facemasks need to be grey.

3 (1) Kansas City is tops for two reasons: classic and bright.

2 (4) Oakland: nothing wrong here, except the actual team.

1 (2) Indianapolis: a close second-best to KC.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ranking the NFC Uniforms

Uni Watch assistant writer Phil Hecken has taken his uniform jones to The Sporting News, where he has published several lists of uniform rankings. Here’s what he thinks of the NFC, from top to bottom. In general I agree, with exceptions noted in parenthesis. Anything to publish one more uniform list.

16 (13) Tampa Bay’s new Nike unis are ranked worst. They take several of the worst features of recent college look at me uniforms. My thing is, at least they haven’t been wearing them for ten years like the Falcons have. That’s why I rank Atlanta last.

15 (14) Phoenix hasn’t had their ugly unis as long as the Falcons. The Cardinals have one of the best helmets in football, slightly better than Atlanta’s.

14 (16) Atlanta’s only saving grace is their simple helmet. Too bad they can’t wear their throwbacks any more. Hopefully new uniforms will come with the new stadium. I would say no new uniform could be worse, but after seeing what Nike did to the Bucs and Jags I’d better hold my tongue.
 
13 (12) New uniforms might be in the works for St. Louis, hearkening back to the glory days of the Fearsome Foursome. The current unis are pretty bland. Another great helmet.

12 (15) Minnesota used to have a great helmet but designers are trying to mess it up. Matte finish is the current trend. I’d like to see the huge horns worn back in the late 60’s. The uniforms are a mess as well, in my book worse than any NFC team save the Falcons.

11 (11) Philadelphia’s wonderful silver wings and striped green jerseys have also been messed up, particularly by the addition of too much black. The rumor is the Eagles will soon switch back to Kelly green. Let’s hope this is the case. Note that my bottom six and top ten are the same as Hecken’s.

10 (6) Like the Eagles, Detroit’s once great uniforms have been uglyed up with too much black. The fancy numbers do not reflect the gritty history of the once proud franchise. Only the Columbia blue and silver colors keep Detroit in the top ten.  

9 (7) Seattle sports my favorite colors: a nice shade of blue and silver, with a tiny smattering of volt/lime green. Unlike Tampa Bay, the bells and whistles on the Seahawks’ uniforms are understated and good-looking. Winning helps as well.

8 (1) Giants: my theory is that New Yorkers like Hecken and Paul Lukas are too familiar with the Giants to appreciate their old school look. They grew up in the late 60’s and 70’s with the white pants – and losing team. To me the thin-striped grey pants and red-trimmed road uni is the best in the conference, a reminder of the early 60’s glory days as well as the most recent Super Bowl championships.

7 (9) New Orleans: gold and black works, but the lack of stripes and black pants and socks (aka the leotard look) deserves a lower ranking. Nice helmet though.

6 (3) Dallas’ uniform has stood the test of time. Simple and understated, and deserving of a high ranking. They wear their blue jerseys so infrequently that they hardly matter.

5 (5) The Redskins have also gone a long time with the same uniform, and have even brought back the yellow pants and striping pattern from the 60’s and 70’s. These traditional uniforms even make the ugly yellow facemask look ok.

4 (10) Not sure why Hecken ranked Carolina so high. Teal may have been the rage back in the late 1980’s but now it looks dated. Used sparingly, teal could be a great accent color, but the teal socks coupled with the white jerseys and pants look terrible. The black jersey does look good.

3 (8) San Francisco has always looked good, especially the helmets. Since the jerseys lost their sleeves the stripes have been barely there. The new all black unis have drawn deserved protests from the fan base, hence the lower than usual rating. Like the Panthers, perhaps my dislike of the quarterback influenced my decision.

2 (2) Chicago has a great uniform, and great colors. Every combo looks good: navy over white and white over navy. Even the throwbacks look good. Number one in Lukas’ book, but Hecken had to be different.

1 (4) Green Bay’s uniforms do look good but don’t deserve the top ranking. Those ugly stripes on the collar are the deciding factor. The green facemask is another reason. Stripes on the socks would be a nice touch. The throwbacks have looked better than their regular unis.   


Next up: Hecken’s AFC rankings.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Worldwide Leader?

REID: My sports talk guy Colin Cowherd is leaving ESPN to go to Fox. He talked about the decision for about 10 min on his show this morning. He said ESPN had been very good to him, gave him his start, and offered him more money to stay. He said it was not about $$, but about fun. He said he is going to be doing some shows on Serius, and doing podcasts, and other stuff.

ME: Your man Cowherd could be making a wise decision. Perhaps guys like you and me should follow.

I’ve been thinking a lot about ESPN lately. When people ditch cable and the satellite ESPN is hit harder than most channels because more cable networks like Comcast all carry ESPN more than any other channel. With all the instant information on the internet there is a decreased need to watch SportsCenter. You can get scores and highlights you want other places quicker without having to first watch all the stories about LeBron or Tom Brady. The only time people watch ESPN is when the game they want to see is on the network. Except for college bowl games, often times the big game is on another network, be it Fox, TNT, CBS, NBC, ABC, SEC, NFL, MLB, NBA, HBO, TBS, Raycom, NESN, the Golf Channel, etc.

With ESPN becoming less relevant they’re having to shout louder to retain their audience. Hence paying athletes appearance fees to attend and participate in a contrived sports awards show: The ESPYs. Hence bestowing an award for courage not to a soldier or a women’s college basketball player fighting cancer but to a former Olympic athlete undergoing a medical procedure that Johns Hopkins stopped performing because they say it causes more problems for the patient than it solves. The athlete’s representative lobbied ESPN for the award. Arthur Ashe and Jim Valvano and Stuart Scott and other award recipients might be spinning in their graves.    

Instead about being about wins and losses, players and coaches, and fun and games – the meat and potatoes of sports, ESPN is all about the glitz and glamour, the dollars and cents, the hype and popularity and ratings points. Those are the stories that rule the day. Unfortunately so many blindly and thoughtlessly follow like the mindless lemmings our society has become.

Was listening to my book on CD but heard on the radio that Cowherd has caused a stir about Dominican baseball players.

CELEBRITY CORNER: In a related note, I saw a list of celebrities who supposedly don’t believe in God, based on comments they’ve made in the press. Most of the comments are completely ignorant and aren’t surprising, based on knowing certain celebrities. Still, I will refrain judgment. The list could be wrong. Still, it makes you think about where people are coming from that entertain and wield influence in America.

Woody Allen, Lance Armstrong, Kevin Bacon, Bjork, Marlon Brando, Warren Buffett, James Cameron (Titanic), Rodney Dangerfield, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, comedian Kathy Griffin, Katherine Hepburn, singer Billy Joel, Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley, Hugh Lawrie (House), Bruce Lee, John Malkovich, Julianne Moore, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Joe Rogan, Howard Stern, Emma Thompson, and Uma Thurman.

MLB: Lots of debate about the four top greatest living players. I say Aaron and Mays are givens but not Bench and Koufax. Others to consider: Berra, Jeter, Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Albert Pujols. Even ARod could be considered, and Pete Rose.
DEWS NEWS: Did a study to determine what uniform numbers Bobby Dews wore for the Braves:

10 in 1979 & 1980
2 in 1981 (Chris Chambliss was acquired)
22 in 1997 & 1998
52 from 1999 – 2003
53 from 2004 – 2006
66 in 2012 spring training (he was 73 years old)

Dews was also a base coach for a short time in 1985 but his number is not recorded. Dews played minor league ball in Daytona Beach, Billings, Lancaster PA, Tulsa, Norfolk, Winnipeg, Jacksonville, Little Rock, and St. Petersburg.

Monday night Ceil fixed taco salad with ground beef. I gassed up my car on the way home and later took Anna’s Jeep for a fillup. Watched the Braves and the Middle. A little American Ninja Warrior. Been shipping out my most recent items sold on eBay: concert tickets, Peachtree Road Race T-shirts, a Russian basketball jersey, Kobe sneakers, Hootie & the Blowfish T shirt, a Hawks T shirt, a Masters shirt, a Transformers toy, and a bobblehead.

Wednesday: Another slow night. Ceil cooked sausage and pasta and salad. Watched Duck Dynasty and packaged for eBay items. Earlier I attended a seminar on paying for college and checked out three library books: American Sniper, pitcher Jim Abbott, and The Butler (at the White House). I had recently seem Tim McCarver interview Abbott about his book. I always remember listening to a Braves spring training game where Abbott batted – he tripled.

Worked past six Thursday night. Busy day with both coworker and boss out, plus several others needing help. Almost bought a pair of blue Nike Air Max but just wasn’t feeling it. Too blue. Dinner was black beans and rice. Ceil was watching Fixer Upper on HGTV and helping Anna pack.

Friday morning I left home at 5:50 to drive Anna to the airport. She’s flying to Denver to see her friend Brittany. Had I known she was planning to fly standby to a Delta hub I would’ve told her to leave Thursday instead of Friday, but of course I wasn’t consulted. The 8:30 and 9:40 flight are packed so she’ll be lucky to get on the 1:30 flight. She comes back on Tuesday. I dropped her off at 6:34 and made it to work in 30 minutes, including my usual stop at RaceTrac.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Beau and the White Shoes

A year or two ago I ruffled some feathers with a comment about how so many middle-aged suburban white men wear white New Balance walking shoes. The comment hit a little too close to home for some of my Facebook friends, but perhaps in some small way their comments made my little corner of the world a little cooler in the long run. Anything to help fight the dreaded global warming.

As a life-long sneakerhead, I am of the opinion that at this time heavily-padded all-white walking shoes are not at all cool to be seen in. Those wearing popular white New Balance walking shoes are particularly culpable. Nothing against good ole Made in the USA New Balance, mind you. Their Minimus line of running shoes are some of the coolest shoes out there. I can go all day wearing my New Balance 990 series running shoes. They are more comfortable than any other shoes I own. I like them so much I own several pair: in black, navy, and a couple of grey pair. But I must admit the black pair do look a little George Constanza-ish. And recently I’ve sadly come to the conclusion that even the legendary grey 990’s can label a guy as  “old” and therefore leaning toward the uncool side of the scale.

What happens with a cool brand like New Balance or North Face or Facebook is they become cool and everyone starts to wear them. Usually first the young urban people make the brand cool, then suburbanites and older people and small town folk join the bandwagon. Then New Balance or North Face decide to expand and start selling not only the original items that made them cool, but almost anything stamped with their logo that these companies think some sucker will buy – everything from all-white walking shoes or highlighter yellow and pink North Face jackets and T-shirts. Since everyone is doing it, it’s no longer cool. By that point the brand has jumped the shark and the cool young people have moved on to The Next Big Thing, like Patagonia or FaceTime or things I’m not cool enough to even know about yet.

For young people this knowledge comes naturally, but us older people are clueless about such life and death matters because we’re watching Fox News, CNN, HGTV, or The Food Network instead of sticking our faces in our iPhones 25 hours a day.

At this point the typical old person would rightly reason “who cares what other people think” and “who cares what’s cool” and “I’m wearing the best shoes and that’s what matters” and “where’s the bathroom?” And they would be right. Just by mentioning all this makes me not cool.

Which brings me to the new story, as told by my 21 year old nephew Beau last week out on the beach. Beau is a people person – a friend to everyone he meets. A great storyteller you can’t help but like.  When us older people were worried about getting to the seafood buffet in time for the early birds discount or getting back to bed at a decent hour, Beau was out visiting friends and hanging out in places where people dance.

Since Beau is a such the people person, he charms a young lady into dancing with him. But when he exaggeratingly dips his partner he accidentally brushes a nearby patron, causing the guy to spill his drink. The patron is miffed, but Beau expertly diffuses the situation with a friendly comment. But what makes the story hilarious is the way Beau describes the guy. “He was this old guy wearing a golf shirt and khaki shorts and white New Balance shoes with white socks.” How old, we asked. “I don’t know” Beau replied, “Real old! He had to be in his mid-50’s!”

I laughed along with the others, knowing my own personal theories had been confirmed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Freddie Hugs Night

Left work a little later than I would’ve liked, and then had to stop by the bank. As usual 85 south traffic stacked up at the 400 merge, so it was after 4 pm by the time I pulled into the unusually full IBEW parking lot in a light rain. I hated to take my long umbrella, but I did. I was sweating like a big as I walked up the steps to the already long dollar ticket line.

I immediately saw two good bobblehead friends chatting with each other: young Kevin Martin from Birmingham and old Bobby Tallant from Cumming. Kevin waved me over so I snuck in line with them. Bobby had already given his card to Kevin. Bobblehead Herb, the Jewish man I’d stood in line with last month, was behind Kevin so I included him in our conversations. Just as I wondered where Bobby Myers was I saw him in line behind us. The dollar ticket window opened 15 minutes early, but then we had to stand in line at the gate. I walked in with John Parkes and went to sit in the shade. Later I went back for a second bobblehead.

At 5:25 John went off on his usual routine so I slipped down to say hello to Johnny and Marshal. Then my dad called and we had a nice long chat. While we were talking the Dodgers started launching balls our way, and Johnny caught one right in front of me. Later for some reason a Dodger relief pitcher cranked up an unleashed a long throw from the left field foul line all the way across to the wall in right-centerfield. There was no Dodger there waiting to catch the throw, which hit off the very top of the wall and bounced back on the field. Had the throw landed just one foot higher it would have struck an unsuspecting fan in the stands. Fortunately the Dodger did not attempt another long throw.
After BP I stopped by the designated driver booth and game used store, then made my way to the upper deck. I walked all the way around and saw this good view of the new Falcons stadium in the distance (above). If they name it the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium the Falcons will never go to the Super Bowl.
I also spotted an interesting parking space right next to the stadium, and asked Bobby Myers if he parked there. He didn’t, but mentioned that Kevin had already collected 18 bobbleheads. I could offer fans ten dollars and make money off them, but I won’t. I settled into a front row seat and checked out my surroundings.
The American flag was at half mast for the Chattanooga shooting victims.

Only five relievers made their way to the bullpen (later closer Jim Johnson jogged out to join them).

As usual, the Chief was holding court in his seat on the front row.

Starting pitcher Alex Wood walked in from the bullpen just as the starting lineups were being introduced. A cameraman walked backwards in front of Wood, but he was never introduced as the number nine hitter. I watched with interest as pitching coach Roger McDowell took his time walking in from the bullpen. Not only did he spot a young girl to hand a ball to, he lingered by the stands to chat and sign autographs even as the team took the field for the start of the game.

Braves hall of famer Ralph Garr, in town for Monday’s Braves HOF induction, was still sitting in the dugout in uniform. That's him leaning forward to the right of number 37. It would be cool if some of his number 48 jerseys made their way over to the game used store, since all the Bobby Dews jerseys have sold out. Still some BJ Upton jerseys for sale, and one for Gwinnett backup catcher Jose Yepez. Note above at the lower end of the dugout: Shelby Miller rocking the high-cuffed pants. 

After negotiating the downtown thunderstorm on the way to the game, dark clouds loomed over west Atlanta most of the evening. It never rained but still made for a beautiful sunset.

During the game I noticed a unique aspect Alex Wood shares with less than one percent of all baseball players (and me) – he throws left and bats right. I spotted an online article saying there are only about 57 others in MLB history. Other BL/TR players include HOF pitcher s Randy Johnson, Carl Hubbell, and Rube Waddell, and former Braves 1B/OF Brian Hunter.

The inning after an Andrelton Simmons Q&A was shown on the jumbotron one they put on the Simba-Cam – dads holding their babies and toddlers high in the air. Beats the Kiss Cam and even the Freddie Freeman Hug Cam, though the Hug Cam would’ve been appropriate on Freddie Hugs bobblehead night.

At one point the Dodgers were threatening with runners on first and second. The batter pulled a one-hopper foul that third-baseman Juan Uribe back-handed. Knowing it was foul the ex-Dodger Uribe let his momentum carry him a couple more steps toward the stands. Instead of tossing the ball back to the pitcher or into the stands, Uribe fired a fastball into the Dodger dugout – most probably directly at an ex-teammate buddy of his. On the next pitch the Dodgers hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double pay (above).

Rightfielder Yasiel Puig came into the game batting .260 with four home runs. I could have done without having to watch him crank a second-inning home run. Later Braves backup catcher Ryan Lavarnway led off the bottom of the sixth and smashed a line drive over Puig’s head to the wall in right field. As the slow-footed catcher rounded first and headed to second I knew what was about to happen: Puig’s throw arrived at second well before Lavarney for the first out of the inning. Had the catcher settled for a single the next batter – pitcher Alex Wood – could’ve sacrificed him to second. Instead Wood struck out, leaving no on two out instead of a runner on second with one out and the top of the order at bat. Rookie mistake.

After the third out I headed out to my car. I had been at the ballpark for over five hours of fun and had stuff to do at home. I listened to the rest of the game on the drive home, stopping at RaceTrac and Kroger on the way.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Greatest Living Players?

The four greatest living players as determined by a panel of experts (or was it a fan vote?): Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, and Johnny Bench. Agree? I sure don’t.

Is Bench even the greatest living catcher? What about Yogi? While Bench had the howitzer arm, the statistics show Berra as the better overall hitter. In 38 more games Bench only bettered Yogi in home runs (31 more) and doubles (60 more) - yet Berra's slugging percentage still edged Bench's. Bench struck out three times more than Yogi. Derek Jeter's career was better than both Bench and Berra. Ichiro, only 81 hits behind Pete Rose’s all-time record, deserves consideration as well.

YR..games..runs.....hits....2B....3B....HR....RBI......BB......SO
17...2158...1091...2048...381...24...389...1376...0981...1278...JB
18...2120...1175...2150...321...49...358...1430...0704...0414...YB
20...2747...1923...3465...544...66...260...1311...1082...1840...DJ
15…2292…1323...2897...336…87...113…0729…0581…0971…IS MLB
24…3243…1981...4175…547..110..231…1258…0965…1304...IS total

AVG..OBP..SLG...OPS...AS.MVP
267...342...476...874...14...2...JB...ROY
285...348...482...830...15...3...YB
310...377...440...817...14...0...DJ...ROY
316…359…409…768…13…4…IS...ROY

Koufax had a great five year run, but was Greg Maddux's overall body of work not far better? Sandy had a low ERA, but compared to his contemporaries did Maddux not separate himself more? Greg also had more wins, strikeouts, gold gloves, and sacrifice bunts, and fewer walks. In fact, divide Maddux's wins in half and they're still more than Koufax.

PL..YR....W.....L......%.....ERA..games..INN...BB......K
S...12...165...087...655...2.76...397...2324...817...2396
G...23...355..227...610...3.16...744...5008...999...3371

PL.WHIP...H9...HR9..BB9...K9...K/BB..CY.AS..HOF%
S...1.106...6.8...0.8...3.2...9.3...2.93...3...6...86.9
G..1.143...8.5...0.6...1.8...6.1...3.37...4...8...97.2

And I am not the only one who thinks Koufax could be over-rated: http://itsaboutthemoney.net/archives/2015/07/15/sandy-koufax-is-criminally-overrated/

Monday, July 20, 2015

As the Braves Turn

What do you think of Fredi's extension? I say they could still fire him after the season, but today Kincaid said something that actually made sense – they wanted to throw Fredi a bone before the veterans were traded and the season really were to go downhill without Grilli and maybe J Johnson and K Johnson and Maybin and AJ.

Last week I compared AJP to Gattis and Maybin/Markakis to Jason/Justin/BJ. The 2015 Braves all had higher averages than the 2014 Braves, strike out less, and play better overall defense. Less conclusive was the Ichiro/Gomes comparison.

And what did you think of the four greatest living players? I love Bench but Yogi's stats are better – and he won more. Same with Jeter. And didn't Maddux have a greater body of work than Koufax? (and Randy Johnson and Pedro and Roger Clemens).

Speaking of DOB – he no longer follows me on Twitter. I'm devastated. I bet the GBraves don't appreciate AM680 throwing a Braves party in Lawrenceville when there's a game around the corner at CoolRay.

Read a great book/story: "A Drive into the Gap" - 70 pages about author Kevin Guilfoile's dad and the bat Roberto Clemente used to collect his 3000th hit.

ROB: The Braves have less than $60 million tied up in guaranteed contracts for next season - including a $4.5MM buyout for Arroryo, Maybin's contract of $8MM and Cuban defector Toscano who may never show up (you should ask DOB about him - he loves fielding that question).  They only have 1 notable player eligible for arbitration (Shelby Miller).  They will have room to make moves.

It is funny that all of the hitters we traded away - Upton(s), Heyward and Gattis are pretty much who we thought they were.  Justin was hot during the spring, but cooled off the last 2 months.  BJ/Melvin looks like the same player he was the last 2 years.  Heyward has rebounded after a dreadful start, giving hope to his fan base that this is the time he turns it around.  Gattis is the most curious case of all.  He still has a chance to hit 30 HR's, with 100 RBI AND and OPS+ of less than 100 (meaning his OPS is below league average).

Still not much to report. Played on computer Friday morning then packed. Left NMB at 230 and stopped in Augusta for gas and to eat. C and A went to Zoe's Kitchen and M and I went to Zaxbys. Got 34.2 MPG on the way home, a record for the CRV. Arrived home at 10:15. 

Unpacked and cleaned upstairs Saturday morning. Watched some British Open. Drove M to Cumming and later went back to pick him up. Watched the Nicolas Sparks movie The Best of Me on Netflix.

JFBC Sunday morning. Watched more British Open. After grilled chicken tacos C took M to PCC and I delivered a bobblehead to an East Cobb buyer.

This morning I had M down at PCC at 6 am to leave on his week long camp. Doctor's appointment at 11:15. Left for doctor at 1010 and listened to 680 until 1100 – getting updated that weren't the best. Got back to the office at 1240. Doctor is taking me off the blood thinner. I go back in November to see if clot has gone away, so I can have the varicose veins treated. 

Beach was good. Will and Mary Clayton were there from Saturday to Wednesday noon, which was good. We got back late Friday night. 

M left this AM for church "camp" at the Daytona Hilton. Anna gets her wisdom teeth out tomorrow and flies to Colorado on Friday to see good friend Brittany, using Ceil's aunt's Delta buddy pass. 

Looks like Ceil will be teaching art 2 days per week at Legacy to cover M's tuition, as well as getting paid for working at Anna's school on Wednesdays. The killer is that all three kids must have their wisdom teeth taken out in the next week - with large out of pocket payments due immediately. It will wipe out the flexible spending account.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Freedom of the Press

Creative Loafing wrote an article about the buildings being torn down a couple of weeks ago, and the story was picked up by a Buckhead publication. One of Jack Worrill's daughters posted it on Facebook. The article mentioned that it was cheaper to tear down the buildings than bring them up to code - a fact not mentioned by the AJC.

Leave it to the evil AJC to stir up trouble. You think they would've published the article had SPdL been a Muslim or gay organization?

And why does SPdL have to provide cheaper housing in Buckhead than anyone else?

Chicken and fish tacos for Sunday supper, cooked by Ceil and Matthew. The girls are cooking breakfast again this morning. Ben is supposed to cook Low Country Boil tonight. That means the two of the next three nights we eat at Bonefish and Provisions in Holden Beach NC.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sun, Fun, Food & Football

Wednesday night there wasn't much going on. Ceil and Teresa took the girls shopping at the newest shopping center then dinner at McAllisters Deli. M and I didn't want to wait so we drove thru Bojangles. I had the BBQ sandwich with slaw on top, which was pretty good. Came back to the condo and watched a little too much of the ESPYs.

Another long day out on the beach today. Ceil cooked a tomato pie but I had a chicken sandwich for lunch.

Tonight 14 of us drove the hour up to Holden Beach NC to eat at my sister-in-law's cousin's seafood restaurant, the Provision Company. We've eaten there the last three years and I've learned the burger isn't the greatest. Instead I got a very good grilled chicken sandwich topped with grilled peppers, onions, and cheese. The large onion rings were sweet and not greasy. I was light on the gas pedal and the CRV got 31.7 mpg on the trip.

EARLIER: Friday departure delayed when M won concert tickets, which I was able to sell.

Arrived in SC about 1145 pm. Saturday I snuck in a trip to McDonalds when gassing up. Usual lunch at Wendys on the way and Saturday pm PaPa Johns pizza. Ceil added two long shopping trips to the grocery, WalMart, and Publix.

Sunday the kids woke up early to fix the breakfast their late grandfather had made them all their lives. Phil and I were the first two out on the beach, as usual. Spent most of the day out there with a sandwich and cheesecake lunch break.

In honor of the SEC Media Days this week, here's a football story from Reid:

I was reading in the paper this morning about Kenny Stabler dying of cancer. It made me think of Alabama football. Thinking of Alabama football made me think of a game that Edith and I attended years ago between Alabama and Mississippi. For years I have thought that the Alabama quarterback in the game was Kenny Stabler. Upon further review, I discovered today that the Alabama quarterback was Scott Hunter. But its a good story anyway.

In 1969, Edith and I were at a point in our lives where we would go to most any game, whoever, whenever, and wherever. So, when Edith's dad invited us to go to a football game in Birmingham between Alabama and Mississippi, I thought I was just going to another game. Turned out to be called by many as the greatest game ever in the Southeastern Conference.

The site was Legion Field in Birmingham which I thought at the time was just another stadium. The date was October 4, 1969. The Mississippi quarterback was Archie Manning. Manning has said recently that he knows Legion Field was supposed to only hold about 70 000 fans. However, he is frequently told by at least 150 000 people that they were at that game. Then they ask if Joe Namath was the opposing quarterback.

The three of us were seated in good seats around the 35 yard line. As the game see sawed back and forth, it seemed like every play was a roll out pass. However, stats tell us that Manning completed 33 of 52 passes for 436 yards and 2 TDs. But he also ran 15 times for 104 yards and 3 TD's. Scott Hunter was no slouch. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 300 yards.

As the game came down to the last few seconds, Alabama was behind and needed a TD for the win. On a 4th down call, it was said that Hunter looked to Bear for the play. Bear could not decide, and yelled to the Offensive Coordinator for the play. He couldn't decide either, as he looked to the overhead booth for the play. Finally, Bear yelled to Hunter to just run the best play he could think of. Turned out to be the right play as Alabama scored and went ahead 33 to 32 and held on for the win.

ABC play by play announcer Chris Schenkel called it the most exciting game of his then 20 year broadcasting career. As I walking to our car I didn't know all the stats, but I now know that it was probably the most famous and exciting football game that I ever attended.