Friday, March 31, 2017

March Bobbleheads

List of some of the bobblehead giveaways over the winter that crossed my radar screen. There were more. With the demise of Turner Field’s dollar line, bobbleheads will be more expensive this year. I’ll continue out of habit, but with too many bobbles stacked up around the house already, I know it’s time to slow down. 
Missed out on most of this year’s UGA bobbles as well. Already found the UGA basketball bobble at an Atlanta Goodwill.
Tomorrow: the April list. Rest your eyes, cause it’s long.
11.12 Greenville Swamp Rabbits Stomper mascot BH
12.31 SAT UNCC Mark Price BH (traded for)
1.19 THU Ducks Ryan Kessler BH
1.22 SUN Maryland Brenda Freese BH
1.26 THU Mavericks Jose Juan Barea BH
1.30 THU Colorado Eagles Collin Bowman BH
2.11 SAT GT BBall Matt Harpring BH
2.19 SAT UGA Kelly & Coco Miller double BH
2.25 SAT UGA Kentavious Caldwell Pope BH (got)
3.10 FRI Reds v Rockies Raisel Iglesias BH
3.11 SAT UGA Gymdogs Lucy Wener BH
3.11 SAT Indians v Royals Cory Kluber BH
3.25 SAT Rays Raymond/DJ Kitty double BH
3.25 SAT SunTrust Park Open House
3.29 WED Hank Aaron statue unveiling/fundraiser
3.30 WED  Braves first practice at SunTrust Park
3.30 THU Reds Eric Davis double BH w/ 6 game pkg
3.31 FRI Louisville Bats Adam Duvall BH
3.31 FRI Braves first game at SunTrust Park

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Jeep Sweepstakes: 1st Place!

Came across an email with the picture of a red Jeep. Subject Line: "Our Jeep Sweepstakes: You are a First Place Winner." I remember entering the sweepstakes a week or two ago.

Before I got too excited, I scrolled down. I was one of ten winners of a year's supply of dog biscuits. Barney will be thrilled.
Wednesday's lunch meeting was sandwiches and salad from Jason's Deli. Left work at 4:55 and walked into the JFBC classroom at 5:59. Left just as the video was ending at 7:14. Made it in plenty of time for my 8 pm focus group. I hadn't eaten, but there were sub sandwiches while we waited. Then room was full of un-cool middle-aged men like me. No style. They started calling names, and half the guys went into the discussion group about politics. Typical politics - they'd brought in 16 people to fill eight spots. Eight of us got paid $100.00 (and dinner) just to show up.

I was home by 9 pm. Watched Blackish. Grandma made the kids eat their vegetables. Designated Survivor at ten. Real good. Then Cash Cab and some Jimmy Fallon. He had puppies predict the NCAA winner = Oregon.

Meeting this AM from 8 - 9 am. Rodney brought CFA biscuits and tater tots. Then I spent 45 minutes doing some crucial work, then Brad and I drove to the trade show in the Galleria. We both wore our Ryerson shirts, so we were popular targets at the show.
Ate lunch at Jocks & Jill's in the Galleria, at the foot of the unfinished pedestrian bridge across 285 to SunTrust Park (above). Their business is about to skyrocket. Hope they're ready. Burger was pretty good. Not small. The lunch menu at Jocks & Jill's was very limited. They handed us a heavy 8-1/2 x 11 white sheet of paper with selections typed on one side, kind of like a fancy restaurant.

Ceil was visiting Anna over in Athens this afternoon. After moving Anna in I've visited her maybe once. Guess I need to just take a trip on my own.

See the GT women win? My brother and sister in law went to the game down at Tech. I guess the women's NCAA final four is Friday night and Sunday.

Last day of the month tomorrow. They're bring in Mellow Mushroom pizza for lunch.

In the wake of the I-85 bridge collapse, this is the first call Governor Deal needs to make:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

NIT: Jackets Advance

TECH: I watched the semifinal - had to fight C for the remote and switch during commercials. The whole game I was afraid GT would lose their lead. Lammers’ style scares me on his foul shots. Tech sure has some bizzaro names on the back of their jerseys.

Was reading the GT alumni magazine and posting the football schedule on my calendar. There was an article about Tech traditions. Drownproofing was mentioned. Today current Tech students have no concept of the old Rat Caps. These days only freshmen in the marching band wear them. 
GT plays TCU. MC’s younger brother is a freshman at TCU, and lives and dies with every sporting event. Thinks the world revolves around Horned Frog games. I’ll have to razz him some.
More Al Michaels: when Earl Weaver was his partner on Monday Night Baseball, every Tuesday morning Al and Earl would ride to the airport together. Earl would always be scribbling numbers on a legal pad. Finally one day Al asked Earl what he was doing. Earl was adding in what he’d earned the night before, and figuring how much money he needed so he could retire.
Also Michaels said Cosell thought he knew everything about baseball. He’s always call for a bunt in situations where a bunt would be terrible. Finally Uecker went to great pains to explain why they shouldn’t bunt. Finally Cosell sighed “Uke, I hear what you’re saying. But you don’t have to be so truculent. You probably don’t even know what that means.” Without missing a beat Uecker quipped “Sure, Howard. If you had a truck and lent it to me, that’d be a truculent.” Cosell was speechless.
Michaels called the famous Mary Dekker / Zola Budd 3000 meters race in the 1984 LA Olympics. The next day he was supposed to call another women’s race with fellow announcer Wilma Rudolph, but she got mixed up on the time. OJ Simpson was helping call men’s races, so at the last minute OJ stepped in to help out. ABC had messed up the time, and failed to show Carl Lewis win his record 4th gold medal live. They showed it 15 minutes late. Few noticed, but some did.

The big time: if you missed it, here's the link to my mention in Uni Watch yesterday.    
Busy-ness: I do too much “stuff” and need to cut back and exercise more. Posting to my blog, and researching info on things I’m curious about, then typing it up. I’ve been posting more pictures on my blog, which takes extra time every night. Paying bills. Filing insurance claims. Deleting junk emails, usually on weekends. I’m a member of four on line “communities” that pay me in Amazon gift cards for taking short surveys and making other contributions – 30-45 minutes a week total. My hobby: entering sweepstakes. Keeping up with eBay, which I don’t do enough. I have my reasons for what I do and don’t do. Not all of them are good.
In 2000 I got my first email account at work. Since then internet use has grown and grown, sucking away more time. Hopefully that only takes away from time watching TV, but that’s not really the case. I don’t pay as much attention to TV shows – I’m usually on my phone or laptop at the same time. To a certain extent social media is a time waster, but it helps keep in touch with friends, family, sports, politics, and news. With smart phones and Wi-Fi it’s quicker and easier than ever to get on line. Used to be dial up and slow internet speeds took forever, but nowadays that’s rarely the case. I might be doing more but it seems like I’m doing less – both at home and at work. There’s no real place to keep my stuff at the house.  
Fortunately my phone only interrupts me when I let it. I don’t get many texts or phone calls. Don’t know what to say. Not good at small talk (but you might disagree). I think Hurt is the same way, only because we never talk. He will comment on some of the pictures I post, but he seems to think he’s a bother. He’s not – his comments are always good.
I don’t like interruptions. Often at work it’s one interruption after another. Nature of the beast. Sometimes people are waiting in line. Or I’ll be working away, in my own little world, not even realizing someone is standing next to me wanting to ask a question. I would hate to have to be the person asking question after question. But lots of people at work have it way worse than me – busier, more emails and phone calls, more travel.
Some days are busier than others. A couple of days ago I was so busy I looked up and it was 1 pm. Things have gotten less hectic since we doubled our staff and got things under control. That means less mistakes are made by everyone, and I have to spend less time fixing problems. So I have a little breathing room. I’m able to be more proactive and work on projects I used to not have time for. This will all change tomorrow. Brad and I are going to a trade show across from Cumberland Mall. Friday is month end. Monday I’ll have my first of the month stuff to do. Everything repeats!
When our kids were young I would try and control the chaos. If something went wrong someone had to be blamed. One night we were over at the Normans and things were crazy with a dozen kids, but Steve and Becky didn’t let it affect them. Things just happened. They didn’t get mad or uptight. I saw how I all this stuff had me on edge, and most other people weren’t that way. I wished I could change but it’s hard. I’m better now, but there’s still part of me that worries. Being the worrier and the police isn’t popular with kids or wives.
Being at the bottom of the list is tough for me. I can see others that aren’t high on lists. Some deal with it better than me, some worse. In some ways it can be a blessing. When I’m at the beach or in SC I can do whatever I want and no one cares. But it’s nice to be made a fuss over sometimes. But if I don’t fight to be a part of things – that’s when I get left out. I have no one to blame but myself. W&MC do a good job of striking a balance between both families. The Gilberts have more to offer, but we get time as well.
Over the years I’ve packed personal things up and taken them home, including some Whitaker things. I remember sitting with Danny Morris at Brio at a dinner in Reid's honor. We both said we have stacks of NOLA stuff we were going to bring to a dinner to show how prolific he is. My accountant friend  says he wants to be like Reid when he retires. He already does lots of analysis on the Braves and Hawks. He only has one child.
It’s harder to stay organized at home. Some of my stuff is packed away under the steps. Other stuff is under the bed or in the attic. Got tons of old Cokes and Sports Illustrateds and batting helmets and football helmets and bobbleheads I need to get rid of.
At night and on weekends during the school year Ceil works on stuff for her class. She loves it. We are in a rut sitting at home in front of the TV almost every night. We need to get out more at night and on weekends. We’re poor planners and enjoy staying at home. Signing up for the class at JFBC was good. Getting involved in bobbleheads has helped me get out and meet people. But even at games I like to do what I want to do, explore the stadium, catch batting practice home runs, join the parade around the warning track. That’s hard to do when others want to do other things. I know you know about how that is. Sounds like Andrew might as well. He ranks pretty low on that trip!
My friend MB has different hobbies – mainly working around the house and budgeting. Before he retired he still exercised, but his company gave him time to exercise.
If you are like me I do better pecking out an email than talking on the phone. Helps me figure things out to be able to type them out. When I’m talking I forget and leave things out.
Tuesday: Left work shortly after six. Got home and cut the grass. Mowed some of the brush and ivy in the back, having to be extra careful. Wore me out. C cooked stir fry. Jeopardy. The Middle was a rerun so we watched The Voice. I really didn’t pay attention. Later M and I watched Cash Cab.  
Wednesday: pulling double duty tonight. Last JFBC class at six. I’ll have to leave early for my 8 pm focus group, on politics. JFBC member Judson Hill is speaking in our SS class this week. One of the other Republicans attends Passion City Church (Gray).   
The second week of the football season UGA plays up in South Bend. Both teams have been down, so it’ll be interesting to see which one rises to the occasion. The Irish open with Temple, then travel to Boston College the week after hosting UGA. The Dawgs open with Appalachian State, who can be tough.
The only gun I ever fired was a BB gun. W and A fired guns in SC at their Uncle’s farm. C probably shot guns as a kid.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Bits

Reading Al Michaels' book. Learning a lot.
1. Michaels started out broadcasting as a student on the Arizona State radio station.
2. Got to know Sal Bando, Jay Johnstone, and Reggie Jackson at ASU.
3. Moved back home to LA and was hired by Chuck Barris recruiting contestants for the Dating Game.
4. Worked a short stint on LA Lakers radio reading halftime stats, giving Chic Hearn a break.
5. Hired by the Hawaii Islanders minor league baseball team and got to know manager Chuck Tanner. While in Hawaii he also called games for the University of Hawaii, as well as high school games. He also appeared in an episode of Hawaii 5-0.  
6. Hired by the Cincinnati Reds in the early days of the Big Red Machine.
7. Got to know Sparky Anderson and Pete Rose. Hosted The Johnny Bench Show.
8. The first hockey match he called was the Gold Medal game in the Japan Olympics.
9. Hired by the SF Giants and later ABC Sports. Traveled the world for the Wide World of Sports.
10. Called the famous 1980 Georgia/Florida Game, won on Lindsay Scott's long TD reception. Broadcast partner Frank Broyles predicted greatness for Stanford head coach Bill Walsh and Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Clinton.
11. Lots of dirt on Howard Cosell and Bob Uecker. Michaels was originally called the B broadcast, but later replaced Keith Jackson on the main game. 
12. Has owned LA Kings season tickets for 30 years.
13. ABC televised the 1980 Winter Olympics. Michaels and Ken Dryden covered ice hockey - the first time Michaels called a hockey game since that one Gold Medal game years before. During the USA"s second game the chant "USA! USA!" was first used. By the end of the Olympics the chant was a national phenomenon. When the US beat Russia Michaels' "Do you believe in miracles?" call was completely off the cuff. Two days later Team USA had to win again to lock up the gold medal - and they trailed after two periods.
Move over Bobby Cox. Step aside, Tony LaRussa. There's a new king of the pitching change: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. In 2016 Roberts was named manager of the year after changing pitchers a record 606 times. The Dodgers averaged four pitchers a game.

I figured out why the South Carolina Gamecocks made the Final Four. It's gotta be the shoes. When they upset Duke several players were wearing orange-trimmed sneakers. Guess they were paying homage to the National Champion Clemson Tigers. Maybe Carolina was trying to channel Clemson's gridiron success. Photo evidence to follow.

Worked on a big bobblehead trade last night. Black beans and rice for dinner. Also salad. Wheel. Jeopardy, The Voice. The Middle. But I was upstairs most of the time.

Today Uni Watch has links and comments about the pictures I took Saturday at SunTrust Park. A nice write-up. Short, but more than I expected.

Busy day at work.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Next Ted Williams?

Q: The Cubs’ Kris Bryant is the second player in MLB history to hit 60 homers and win a World Series in his first two years in the big leagues. Who was the first?
Bryant played on the same Little League team with Bryce Harper. Years later they would go on to win back to back MVP’s. The Sports Illustrated baseball issue profiled Bryant, drawing comparisons between Bryant and Williams, and DiMaggio. These past eight years have been good to Bryant:
2010 high school salutatorian
2011 college freshman all-American
2012 college all-American
2013 college player of the year
2014 minor league player of the year
2015 NL rookie of the year
2016 NL MVP
2017 married his high school sweetheart
Q: What two teams turned down home court advantage in this years men's NIT ???
I  remember back when first round NCAA losers could get in the NIT. Interesting that Madison Square Garden hosts both the NCAA and NIT. Back in the 80’s I think UNC men and women both made the NCAA Final Four. I think disgraced Olympic track star Marion Jones played on that UNC women’s basketball team. UNC played well on Sunday. That was a good game. SC played tough. Wonder how much familiarity with Florida was a factor. SC fans went crazy. Clemson fans watched, hoping they’d lose. Going into the games I was 9th in at bracket challenge for the Roswell Taco Mac location. Coworker Chris was first at the Smyrna location and 6th overall.
WEEKEND: Didn’t do much Friday night. More leftovers. Last Man Standing. Got a text from work. Parts were needed first thing Monday, so I had to make a few phone calls to work that out.
Cleaned up a little Saturday morning then headed out to an Open House at SunTrust Park. It’s 99% finished but that one percent are lots of little things. Took 150 pictures. When the gates opened I headed to the upper deck to check on the views, which are nice. Took a tour and pretty much checked out the whole place. Had my first Coke and hot dog. Had my picture taken with legendary usher Walter Banks. Saw several friends: Katie, Jonathan, Corrine, Michael, Bobby, Chris, Danny, the teacher from Gainesville, Matt and his parents, and others. Missed Crazy Darrell and Norman.
Afterward I drove up Cobb Parkway and stopped by four stores on the way home. Was tired and sore: my red Nike Air Maxes had a blowout, so I was basically limping around all day. Changed shoes and raked the front yard, but it was too dark afterwards to cut the grass. Spent the evening editing and posting pictures from the day. Watched the NFL Network: Ken Stabler and Steve Young.
Sunday I did more cleaning and picture editing. C stopped by Augusta but just missed MC. W&MC are renting out their extra bedroom Masters week for $1,200.00. After basketball C turned on White Collar. Split a burger at Moxie Burger. Arrived at 8:25, not realizing closing time was 8:30. Dropped C at Whole Foods while I gassed up the CRV.
A: Joe DiMaggio
A: Indiana and Illinois.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

More SunTrust Photos

More SunTrust Park photos: those that didn't make the first cut.
The protective netting shows up in this shot.
Walking up the rise from the left field gate to the 1st Base Gate.
Looking southeast from the upper deck, at Buckhead highrises.
A Braves employee (light blue shirt) snaps a picture.
The Chop House Gate. Photo stolen from Michael.
View from the steps from the 3rd Base Gate looking toward left field.
 Another shot of the indoor batting cage,
as seen from the exclusive SunTrust Club.
 "Art" in the Below the Chop.
 Water element in the batters eye.
When a Brave homers, waters shoots into the air.
 The cows pass by the steps to the Home Depot Clubhouse.
 Art inside the Home Depot Clubhouse.
 Hard to see, but the information center window
is filled with photos of old Braves players.
 "Entrance" to the Monument Garden.
SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta
aren't the only construction projects in Cobb County.
A few miles north, renovation on the Big Chicken continues.
If you missed yesterday's post, more pictures can be seen here.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SunTrust Park Open House

Today was a beautiful day to explore brand new SunTrust Park.
Driving west across the I-75 bridge, the new park rises high on the hill. Note the new pedestrian bridge on the right and the blue-trimmed Delta parking deck on the left. The deck has at least five levels, as does the orange deck on the other side of the stadium. Below the traffic light rises the huge tail of a retired Delta jet.  
The left field gate is just outside the southern exit of the Delta deck.
The Warren Spahn statue faces east.
 Up a slight hill to the north is the 3rd Base Gate. Had to back up almost to the street to include the tail of the jet in the picture.
 Continued my stroll counterclockwise around the outside of the park.
Ran into my friend Katie outside the 1st Base Gate,
quizzing her poor season ticket agent in the green shirt.
Further down the access was blocked, but you could see the shops and restaurants of The Battery taking shape. To the left are the ticket booths. Some were open. In the foreground Katie (right) chats with our fellow bobblehead addicts Jonathan and Corrine, who I knew from games in Gwinnett last year.
Gates opened at noon. Season ticket holders scrambled to find their seats. This week the media questioned whether the grass could thrive in the shade of the nearby skyscrapers, but the whole time I was there no shade could be seen, except for the occasional cloud.
The new mesh seats were installed down both foul lines. 
Panoramic view from behind the first base dugout.
Getting my picture taken with the 1995 World Championship Trophy
gave me a chance to get down near the field and dugout. 
The dugout. As the AJC reported this week, the protective netting extends much further than it did at Turner Field - almost to the far end of both dugouts. It'll be tougher for players to toss baseballs to kids now.
Panoramic dugout view.
Two old-timers. I had the honor of chatting with iconic Braves legend Walter Banks near his regular perch: the President's box. He said that was where he'd be on Opening Day. He talked football and said he'd attended the recent Super Bowl. Said he only lived ten miles away - closer then me.
View from my company's seats: section 36 row 8 seats 1-4.
Nice, but I'll be lucky to get them this year. 
Obligatory panoramic view from the company seats.
Fans sitting down the foul lines have concessions and restrooms nearby, with an entrance near the foul pole.
The area is not too large, but at least it's close.
Extensive selection at the concession stand.
I was interested in checking out the views from the upper deck. They don't disappoint. My phone camera couldn't capture downtown Atlanta,
which you can see between the Galleria office buildings across 285.
Buckhead skyscrapers rise to the southeast,
with Stone Mountain barely visible behind them through the haze.
Kennesaw Mountain rises to the north.
While I snapped pictures on the upper deck,
Bobby Myers was just below me on the third level taking this picture.
These odd-shaped lights shine different colors
on the underside of the canopy.
My friend Lee's former office building. His old office view is now blocked
by the new Omni Hotel and Comcast building.
Also in the distance: the Galleria and Cumberland Mall.
To the northeast: the new pedestrian bridges in the foreground,
stretching across I-75 where most of the parking will be.
Shuttles will run ferrying fans to the ballpark. Braves officials were on hand to answer questions about parking and traffic,
but I'm sure it will take several series to get things running smoothly.
Looking west. In the right field corner is the new two level Chop House,
with rows of seats in front for patrons. Underneath is the field level "Below the Chop" for groups as large as 120. Behind the Chop House is the rotating A, near an observation deck with a food truck-like concession stand in a converted Gulfstream trailer.
Concession stands were open on the first base side.
I like the high ceiling and banners of Braves Hall of Famers.
Our tickets had five dollars of concessions loaded on them.
The new game worn shop is larger and more centrally located.
A fun place to browse.
The Braves Hall of Fame display is located behind the plate,
with new Cooperstown-like plaques.
The display is large, with gloves and jerseys and touch screen videos describing the history of the team and careers of all the hall of famers.
The main attraction will be the new Hank Aaron statue,
to be unveiled Thursday night.
The six main home jerseys worn in Atlanta.
Similar displays for Boston and Milwaukee.
The Boston end of the "Monument Garden"
View from the Chop Shop. Note the special beer coolers.
View from the Chop Shop.
To the left of the TV is the secret stairway to the Bottom of the Chop.
View from the Chop Shop: the Home Depot Clubhouse, and the centerfield batter's eye, with trees and waterfall inspired by Coors Field in Denver.
The Braves bullpen, in centerfield. How'd those fans get in there?
The visitors bullpen, in far left field.
Note the fans in left field will need long arms to reach out
and grab home runs from the outstretched arms of outfielders.
The Chick-fil-a cow looms behind the upper level
of the Chop House, in front of the championship pennants. 
Kid-friendly activities and food, also behind the Chop House.
Activities include a cage to pitch, climbing wall,
zip line, and run to first base.
The new Omni Hotel rises behind the climbing wall.
Looking east from the upper level of the Chop House
you can see down The Battery all the way to Cobb Parkway.
The Home Depot Clubhouse hosts groups of 20-50.
They're responsible for hanging the K's after every strikeout.
View from the Home Depot Clubhouse.
After leaving the Clubhouse I ran into coworker Chris,
who had joined a stadium tour already in progress (the lines to take the tour were too long). First stop: the Bottom of the Chop.
Along the way we passed this dynamic A formed by beer bottle caps. 
Field level view from the Bottom of the Chop.
 In maroon, Chris poses in front of two rows of dugouts benches.
I almost fell in with the drum team, who performed throughout the park.
I'd seen the green metal Hank Aaron logo on the seats.
What I didn't know was there are two other logos on the seats
closer to the field and behind the plate.
This logo below is on the mesh seats.
The white logo stands out a bit better than the all-green logos.
End seats behind the plate have a silver A logo. Except row 9.
Note the lighter green cushioned seats behind the plate.
The various elevator lobbies were decorated with various uniform eras,
with Mitchell & Ness jerseys from each era (not actual jerseys).
This lobby had jerseys from the late 60's and early 70's.
Like at Turner Field,
the SunTrust Club is underneath the stands behind home plate.
Impressive display of Gold Glove Awards won by Braves players.
One of Greg Maddux's record 17 Gold Glove Awards. 
Fans (or should I say "patrons") in the SunTrust Club
can watch Braves players warming up in the underground batting cage,
and watch manager Brian Snitker's postgame press conferences.
Impressive collection of murals grace the walls of the SunTrust Club,
including Dale Murphy.
Chipper Jones
David Justice, and an umpire with a crazed expression on his face.
Also underneath the stands: the Beer Room.
Someone's red shoes are reflected in the stainless steel.
Back outside in the distance: the Renaissance Waverly,
where Clemson stays before playing Georgia Tech.
Continuing clockwise around the park...
...and the Right Field Gate.
A lot of buzz about this place...
Another Bobby Myers photo...
Can't get enough? More photos here on Sunday's post.