Sunday, April 30, 2017

Shaq vs. Laettner

In 1992 the US Olympic Basketball team was comprised off eleven NBA players, plus one collegian. Christian Laettner was the college player picked, beating out LSU center Shaquille O'Neal. Was this the right pick?
Laettner's Duke Blue Devils had just won their second straight national championship. He'd won the 1992 national player of the year. He had just become the only player in college history to start in four straight Final Fours, playing 23 of 24 possible games, and winning an amazing twenty-one. Many consider him to be one of the ten best collegians in history.

Laettner was born into a family of immigrants, worked on a farm as a child, and later performed janitorial services to work his way through high school. After four years of college Laettner played another 13 years in the NBA.
Shaq played three years at LSU and 19 in the NBA. In college he was a two-time first-team All-American, and was named college player of the year in 1991. Laettner played in 58 more college games than O'Neal: 148 to Shaq's 90.
Both players were NBA vagabonds, playing for several teams. Shaq played in Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland, and Boston. Laettner played in Minnesota, Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, Washington, and Miami. Laettner was O'Neal's teammate in Miami.

Years later Laettner theorized he was probably a better pick as the Dream Team's 12th man because of what the job entailed: carrying the bags of the NBA players, suffering their abuse, and remaining in the background. Perhaps Laettner's NBA career would've turned out different had he not been named to the Dream Team. Then again, Shaq's career may have been different had he been the 12th man on the greatest team in history.     
Above: Laettner on the bench with Jordan, Barkley, Ewing, Stockton, and Bird. I love Laettner's Hauraches.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

SunTrust > Citi?

Last month when I shared my SunTrust Park Open House blog post with Uni Watch readers, one typical Mets fan called SunTrust a Citi Field look-alike. Perhaps he has never actually visited the Mets home field. While there are a few similarities, there are more differences. Here are just a few:
Citi's upper deck (above) stretches all the way to left-centerfield. SunTrust's upper deck (below) only reaches the foul poles. SunTrust's upper deck is more symmetrical, with both left field and right field ending at the same place. Citi's decks are asymmetrical. The view beyond Citi's walls appear void, unlike "suburban" SunTrust's skyscraper-laden panorama. Advantage SunTrust.  
Skeptics complain the Braves fled the city. Purists bemoan ballparks not built in neighborhoods like Wrigley. Yet the Braves built in an area closer to their fanbase. Many, like me, don't have to travel on interstates to reach the park. SunTrust is surrounded by restaurants, shopping, hotels, concert halls, and businesses. Citi Field is famously situated among vacant lots and car repair garages.
Citi Field's fa├žade famously replicates Brooklyn's Ebbets Field - but looks nothing like SunTrust Park. Citi has a canopy similar to SunTrust's, but the roof in Atlanta is baseball's biggest.  
There are things I like better about Citi. The upper deck is bigger, allowing more opportunities for fans on a budget, like me. The light stanchions are more traditional at Citi. SunTrust's lighting is light-years better than at Turner Field, and are interestingly configured. Next time you're at a game, take a look.  
The Mets fan making comparisons may have seen similarities in the two stadiums' seating bowls. A careful comparison of Citi above and SunTrust below reveal SunTrust's to be closer to the field, as advertised - supposedly the closest in all of baseball. There appear to be more field level seats at Citi, as well as the aforementioned larger upper deck.  
As for me, I side with SunTrust. But like the wayward Mets fan, perhaps I'm a bit biased.

Friday, April 28, 2017

David Ross Day

As a fan I didn't fully appreciate David Ross while he was a Brave. 
As a Cub Ross won a world championship, and wore some nice uniforms. 
Ross also pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in Milwaukee.
At Auburn Ross's home run put the Tigers into the college world series.
Nice beard.
Dancing With the Stars.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

McConaughey on Feherty

Two hours’ worth of meetings Monday got me behind, plus a bunch of general busyness to boot. Worked til 6:20. Ceil went for a walk with her friend and told me to take my time. Stopped by two thrift stores and Kroger. Passed on a nice pair of black Chuck Taylors. I look terrible in them.

Ceil cooked homemade pizza. Didn’t eat until 8 pm but it was good. Also salad. Cleaned the kitchen and played on my laptop. Watched the Voice.

At 10 pm I saw where actor Matthew McConoughey was on the David Feherty show. Very entertaining. MM’s father played football for Bear Bryant at Kentucky, then was drafted by the Green Bay Packers.
Worked past six again Tuesday night. So much to do. The afternoon was just packed. Dumped some stuff off on Brad and he worked until six. Monday night Rachel worked til six. Had to stop by Kroger to get Ceil some “organic” half & half. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Finally went to Trader Joes to get it. Didn’t get home until after 7:35.
Watched The Middle and The Voice. Then The Middle some more. Couldn’t find the remote so I left the TV on all night. The volume was kinda loud so I closed the door to our bedroom. M was sleeping over at Frank’s house.
The big news: my new Apple Watch delivered Tuesday. C couldn’t wait for me to open it. Spent a decent amount of time setting it up and figuring it out. You think a cell phone is complicated. Right when I was setting it up I started getting all these text messages. They were coming up on my watch, so I was able to reply to the text using my watch. Got a bunch more to learn. More later.    
Burgers always sound good. You know hamburger talk kills me. I am going to make an effort to cut down on my consumption of BBQ sauce. Last night for a second I thought we were having burgers. Ceil baked French fries, which we usually only have with burgers or dogs. But instead she had grilled chicken and tossed a salad. While we were helping our plates I didn’t see that she had also cooked green beans.
Wednesday was “administrative professionals” day. There was cake, which I skipped, Some people are got lunch.
Left work before six and drove straight home. Cut the grass. Ceil cooked spaghetti and salad. Watched Imaginary Mary, Blackish, and Designated Survivor.  
Hunter Hill is running for governor. I’ll pass his name around. Probably doesn’t have a chance but is running just to get his name out there. Politicians kill me. I could never be one. Saw where Judson Hill is attending the Karen Handel fund-raiser. Special guest Donald Trump. $5400.00 per couple if you want to go. If you RSVP they’ll tell you where it’s being held.
Tonight after work I attended a men’s event at Johnson Ferry. Crawford Lorritts spoke, the pastor at Fellowship Church in Roswell.
Cheeky – I’m not a fan. Salsa tastes like an ash tray. They opened two Cheeky’s in East Cobb. Both closed.

Those King of Pops Sea Salt Chocolate popsicles are good. They’re an Atlanta company that’s done good.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trout > Harper

Whenever you turn on the telly these days it’s hard to miss Bryce Harper. Playing in the nation’s capital, just down the road from the New York media, every move Harper makes is chronicled. Best player in baseball, is what the media shoves down out throats. Is this true?
He did put on a show last week in Atlanta. Home runs. Grand slam. Four hits in one game. Two opposite field doubles in one game. Running catches in the outfield. He’s been putting on a show. Rookie of the year at 19 years old, plus four all-star appearances in five years. One MVP. But is he the best in the game?
Out on the left coast there’s a challenger. Kid named Trout. Also won rookie of the year at the age of 19. Five all-star appearances in six years. Two MVP awards – plus three 2nd-place finishes. That’s like Tiger Woods winning majors, but Jack Nicklaus winning more (18) – plus finishing second another 19 times (and in the top five 56 times, and top ten 73 times). But back to baseball.
162 684 104 162 31  4  31 85  14   7  97 139 BH
162 710 119 184 35  8  34 99  29   5  95 156 MT
Based on their 162 games averages, Trout out-performs Harper in every major category. Harper does strike out slightly less and walk slightly more, but that’s about it. More sacrifice bunts. Trout boasts a higher batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.
282 386  509  895 1223 44  16     9   22  47 BH
307 406  560  966 1723 41  49     0   37  48 MT
Some of the numerical differences are due to injuries that kept Harper out of games, but then again Trout’s durability adds to his superiority. The Angel steals more than twice as many bases, with an 85% success rate compared to Harper’s more pedestrian 67%.
5 676 2853 434 677 128 17 128 354 058 28 404 579 BH
6 832 3647 612 944 182 39 173 511 147 28 486 803 MT
All numbers aside, Harper’s brashness and arrogance detract from his popularity. It’s unlikely he will ever be loved like DiMaggio, Mantle, Ripken, or Jeter. Harper may be the next Reggie Jackson – Sammy Sosa to Trout’s Mark McGuire.
162.293  11    04   11 BH
162 335  08    10   09 MT
Both are must-see, generational players. Today’s DiMaggio and Williams. I never saw Mantle play. This may be as close as I get.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My 30 Years

If I don't get myself fired in the next three months, I will hopefully celebrate my 30th work anniversary on August third. Since there are few people who've been around longer than me, as a public service here's a list of some of the things I've worked on during my 30 years at Ryerson. Written in a format that could be used in a celebratory speech if needed, complete with witty banter and mentions of big-wigs and little people (like me):

Inside sales at RMP: After I was hired, I was sent out in the plant to train. The receiving clerk had surgery so I filled in for a month out there. Back then all tags were hand written. Every day I went home crying. Then the next month I got to – uh, guess I better shorten this up. But a year or two later Todd Harris was hired, so I helped train him. The rest is history.

AS400 development: helped design the quote order entry system. Now you know who to blame. Sat in a meeting room on the mezzanine for months. Brain-numbing work. Ever wonder why F2 is on every screen? I can tell you. Steve Apostel didn't want to go so he sent me. I also worked on the auto-cert program. Another tip: the "AS400" software package is actually called "Metalware."

AS400 trainer: helped convert ten districts to the AS400: Greensboro, Norcross, Little Rock, Lawrenceville, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Tulsa, Dallas, Houston, and Orlando. Now you know why you've never heard of three of those districts. It was in Charlotte where I first met Kevin Richardson. It was my idea to draft Rick Ross and Danny Roberts as trainers, in Chattanooga and Charlotte respectively. Rode roller coasters at Six Flags over Texas with Bobby Rogers and Rick Ross. Favorite quote from someone I was training, after they'd made a mistake: "I thought this system was idiot-proof"

Quality manager: worked with Rob Grogan to make RMP the first Tull branch to be ISO certified. Also traveled the southeast conducting audits. Any popularity I once had went down the drain.

Bar Code Receiving: in the 90's I helped develop the first bar code receiving program in the Southeast. Designed the metal boxes to hold the computer terminals. Despite rumors to the contrary, I did not invent dirt - or the internet.

Scheduling Manager: supervised the team responsible for scheduling all the machines at RMP: tube mills, slitter, cut to length lines. Hired Joy Saxon and stole Patsy Miller from Accounting. It was during this time John Nicol, Rob Grogan, and I were in a fantasy football league – before there was a thing called the internet. My quarterback was ARCHIE Manning.

Charleston Processing: I almost moved to South Carolina to help run Charleston. Not so fast. I did help hire the first batch of employees, including Sam Smalls. Norcross was eternally grateful we transferred Michael Berndt down there.

Work Order Guru: after the turn of the century (boy does that sound old) I helped develop the work order system. Worked so well that accounting ditched the old buyout system. Traveled the southeast again, this time training on work orders. It's taken 17 years and we're still not finished. My popularity soared. Where I first crossed paths with a young outside salesman named Eric McGill.

EZGO: when two people quit at the same time I was given a "battlefield lateral move" to the EZGo team. I've often said handling EZGo is like holding a tiger by the tail. Our team moved from North Berkeley Lake to our current location, then upstairs with the Program team, then back downstairs. Took me a while, but I always found them. Have out-lived at least 19 other EZGo team members. And you thought Rob Grogan was an old-geezer.

More anniversary info to follow as the big day approaches.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Life in the Fast Food Lane

Today is the 12th straight day I’ve eaten out. Gotta cut back. But doing the math, it only comes out to $124.00 for thirty meals for me and family. Hard to eat at home for that. Doesn’t include the year’s supply of dog biscuits I won. 
13th – Bojangles on the way to work (2/$4).
14th – Chickfila in Augusta ($20 for three)
15th – ate in Jefferson ($0)
16th – went out to eat in Augusta with W&MC ($48 for 5).
17th – Bojangles on the way to work (2/$4).
18th – business lunch and supper at the game (both free)
Wednesday: was getting a headache late in the afternoon. Should’ve taken something. Worked past 6:15. Something came up at the last minute. On the way home I stopped by the library and Dollar Tree and Taco Bell ($2). C cooked grits and eggs and ham and toast. Wasn’t feeling good so I didn’t play on my laptop as much as usual. Watched the Braves and The Middle and Blackish. Designated Survivor was on but I went to bed.
Thursday morning I didn’t feel like eating. Was a struggle to drive to work. Waited until I got to work to drink caffeine, which helped. Advil and caffeine (Diet Mountain Dew, not coffee). I had a lot to do so I worked past 6:40 Thursday night. Made it home in 35 minutes but C wanted me to drive her down to Lenox. Listened to the Braves game on the radio. Then we shared a combo platter at Jalisco ($13 with tip). Finally slept good: was dreaming and slept 20 minutes late.
Friday I ate out for all three meals. Stopped by Bojangles again on the way to work (2/$4). Thank goodness that special has ended. We had baked potatoes and salad for our lunch meeting, from Jason’s Deli.
After work we met Anna at the Avalon to swap out a shirt she’d gotten for Easter. Two of her girlfriends had gotten the same white shirt, so she traded her white for a blue. Avalon was packed. We ate pizza at Antico ($20 for three). Afterward I gassed up Anna’s Jeep for her trip back. On the way home I stopped by a thrift store, RaceTrac to gas up my Civic, and the bank. Was after 9 pm before I got home. M went to a prom out in Douglasville.
Saturday morning Ceil volunteered at the Refuge Coffee 5K race in Clarkston. Last year they had 300 participants. This year there were 800. Afterwards C went to Dekalb Farmers Market. I cleaned upstairs until 12:30 pm, then ate lunch and started laundry. Cleaned the kitchen. Got a haircut. Productive day. Saturday night we went to see La La Land at The Picture Show. Had the jumbo popcorn for supper ($13 for dinner and a show).
Sunday we went to the Cumberland campus of Passion City Church. They meet at the Waverly Hotel next to the Galleria in a large banquet hall. Probably 80-90% full. Afterwards we drove through the new Battery and past SunTrust Park. Since we were in the area we ate lunch at Pappasitos (gift card). The large strips of chicken in the fajitas are more tender than at fancier restaurants.
Came home and worked on my laptop. Caught up on emails and ordered my 2016 Christmas present: an Apple watch. Darned thing better get me in shape. Watched the Braves, Hallmark Channel, and Toy Story 1 and 2.
Today we have a lunch meeting. Wraps from Atlanta Bread Company. Saved leftovers for tomorrow – so make it 13 straight days!     
My case of dog biscuits arrived – 12 boxes, plus some other treats, a sticker, magnet, and Wag More cap.
Was Soros behind Bill O’Reily’s ouster at Fox News? For his part O’Reilly has been quiet, as far as I know, meaning the allegations are probably true. But silencing O’Reilley is a huge win for Soros, in his bid to destroy Fox News, and the United States, to eventually usher in a one world government. More and more I’m hearing people talk about global this and global that. Millennials are being brainwashed into thinking these are good things, when it’s actually paving another stepping stone closer to the coming of the anti-christ.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Photos from the Week

Will and Mary-Clayton's official Easter photo.
After work Friday we met Anna at Avalon in Alpharetta. The place was packed, with everyone in their spring finery. With me in all black from work.
A super long line at the new Jeni's Ice Creams.
There's a wait to be cool.

Avalon Apple Store. Where birds come to die. Sorry I didn't do a better job cropping these photos. Nice view of the crosswalk.
Matthew made up this flyer for the Swim Moms house show Saturday night. Publication of this picture doesn't mean the Sac Fly Blog endorses Earth Day in any way.
Thursday evening attention grabber at Lenox Square. 
The year's supply of dog biscuits I won. Barney and Okie are thrilled.
Couldn't resist snatching this Yellow Submarine Hot Wheels.
Called it an Easter present for Matthew.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

South's Gonna do it Again

If you are like me
you were fired up after the January sales meeting
when Eric admonished us to not let up after reaching number one
with the new 2017 motto "Let me see you war face."

Got me thinking that we needed a fight song
but to my knowledge there are no songs written
about letting me see your war face.
so I had to write my own.
Not an easy task to fit Let Me See Your War Face into a song lyric
or find a word that rhymes with TUBE LASER.
But I did it.

Now I'm not a singer.
My son is in a band and I tried to get him to record it.
Instead I will perform a dramatic reading
Much in the style of William Shatner (the Priceline guy)
performing "Send in the Clowns"
- check it out on Spotify.

Sung to the tune of "The South's Gonna do it Again"
by the Charlie Daniels Band

Warehouse-wise - the truck to Centerless is runnin' right on time
And Brad Ford's Boys are fading up in Caroline
Loaders down in Florida can't be still
When Randy Michalski's sellin' down in Jacksonville
People down in Georgia call from far and near
But hate Mack Turner bragging 'bout that big ol' deer

So get paid, get paid for what you do
Sell fab, you can sell fab here
Under promise. Under promise but over deliver.
Let Me See Your War Face
'Cause the South's gonna do it again (and again)

Shane Stewart sittin' on a wooden pail
He ain't good lookin', but he sure can sell
And there's Jhannio, he's a real playa
cause Evan Shirey's runnin the tube laser

So get paid, get paid for what you do
Sell fab, you can sell fab here
Under promise, under promise but over deliver
now Let Me See Your War Face
'Cause the South's gonna do it again (and again)

Friday, April 21, 2017

SunTrust Park Review

Back in college I met Johnny Pierce at BSU conventions. He was campus minister at Southern Tech. Later he officiated Don Lott's wedding. Twenty years later I recognized him sitting next to me at Braves batting practice. We caught up, and have been seeing each other at Braves games ever since.
Pierce (above, right) has jumped into this Braves thing with both feet. As a long time season ticker holder, he's been attending game for years. He often writes about his experiences at games on his blog. This week he reviewed the new ballpark after attending the first four games. Reprinted without permission - hopefully he won't mind.
Several friends have asked for my impressions of SunTrust Park, the new home of the Atlanta Braves. It seemed wise to get beyond the initial experience to give a fair and more complete evaluation.
My first reaction when touring the more intimate, highly-detailed ballpark in its latter stages of construction was to note a similar look/feel to lovely AT&T Park — though, on the outside, no one would confuse Windy Hill Road with the Frisco Bay. 
Yet SunTrust Park is unique in character as well.
My larger impressions follow attendance at the first four games — an exhibition with the Yankees, a college game, Opening Day and Jackie Robinson Day. These experiences included day and night games, enjoying the Battery food and shopping, and parking in various lots as well as staying overnight within walking distance — if you like to walk a good bit, and I do.
So here are some thoughts on six aspects of the new Braves experience:
One: SunTrust Park is very different from Turner Field — in look, location and more. There are many good memories of The Ted. However, the Braves have moved on; so should its fans. (Even if for some of us, they moved further away.)
Two: I experienced nothing of the paralyzing traffic that doomsday prognosticators have warned about since the announcement of the new ballpark. It’s metro Atlanta, folks; traffic is going to be heavy in most every part at any moment. However, varied routes in and out of the ballpark and staggered arrival/departure times (due to good gathering spaces outside the stadium) are proving beneficial.
Three: Parking is very different from my customary hitting the green lot early at the Ted and having easy access to the downtown connector after the game. But the parking system at SunTrust Park is well conceived and very workable when both fans and employees get accustomed to it.
At the exhibition game, WAZE took me directly to my northern lot where I was warmly welcomed. The easy stroll over the pedestrian bridge got me to the ballpark and back efficiently. And access to I-75 was great.
Parking for the second regular season game was not as easy, however, as my assigned lot (though empty and staffed) opened later than the time posted on the web site. This forced me to contribute to the traffic concerns that prepaid parking was designed to eliminate. I’m sure such bugs will be worked out — with published information and lot supervisors on the same page.
One of the challenges is to pick a lot based on arrival plans since the lots open at various times. It is to the Braves’ advantage to get fans into these lots as soon as possible to create staggered arrival times and to bring increased business to the Battery.
Four: Food is everywhere and the choices are many. Concession lines were so long for the sold-out games that I didn’t want to miss a full inning of the game waiting. Those wait times will surely be reduced with smaller attendance and experienced staff.
In general, I found far better food in the Battery restaurants than in the concession stands. For example, I paid $12 for a “bowl” at the Taco Factory inside. It had a small amount of chicken and a few toppings over under-cooked, inedible rice. Before the next game, at The Yard, just outside the Chophouse entrance, I enjoyed a wonderful chicken, penne and asparagus dish for just two dollars more. I returned the next day with my daughter for excellent guacamole and tacos.
With El Felix and Goldberg’s among the new restaurants opening soon in the Battery, I’ll be doing most of my eating before rather than during the game. While avoiding too many comparisons to Turner Field, I must note the tremendous advantage of having so many good food choices around SunTrust Park compared to one adjacent sports bar that once drew a health department score of 58.
Five: Coffee is not generally associated with baseball like peanuts and Cracker Jack (which is singular, whether eating or singing about it). But I’ve long lamented that Dunkin’ Donuts is the official coffee of the Atlanta Braves but unavailable at games. However, DD’s consistently best coffee around is available just a few steps up Cobb Parkway from the Battery. That’s a good pregame stop for those, like me, whose Braves experience keeps them up past usual bedtime.
Six: Inside the ballpark one quickly notes the attention given to thoughtful architectural designs and high-tech enhancements (including an amazingly-vivid screen and impressive lighting), as well as the tributes to the franchise’s storied history. However, there are several points of pedestrian bottlenecking and even dead ends, creating more traffic jams within than without the stadium.
Any inconveniences, however, pale in comparison to the game experience itself, which is superb. When seated in the first row of section 137 with my friends and/or family, there is no place I’d rather be.
The view of game is perfect and the surrounding environment (though as commercial as NASCAR) is spectacular, especially as the sun sets. Speaking of the sun, the larger overhangs protect many fans from the weather and the multi-levels shield the glare from those of us facing the west.
After the postgame fireworks on a winning Opening Day/Night, I simply sat in my seat for a few minutes — soaking it all in and enjoying everything about the experience. I’ve not missed an opening day in Atlanta for more than 25 years. This was one of the best ever. And the tributes and winning ways the following night continued a new and wonderful tradition.
In 1981, fresh from graduate school and starting my first full-time job, I opened a checking account and got a car loan at SunTrust Bank (then known as Trust Company of Cobb County). That branch at the corner of Terrell Mill and Powers Ferry Roads was the closest to my Marietta apartment.
Little could I have imagined that 35 years later a beautiful new home of the Atlanta Braves with its own surrounding multi-use community would rise just a couple of miles away bearing that bank's name. If so, I might have stayed closer by.
However, the draw is strong enough for any efforts required for visiting SunTrust Park as often as possible. It will soon become a familiar and beloved place to devoted Braves fans.
Such familiarity and affection will mean the new ballpark needs a nickname that respects the corporate sponsorship yet requires fewer syllables when spoken and fewer characters when texted. I’ve been giving that some thought.
A few have offered tags like “The Sun” or “The Bank” or “STP.” I’m thinking maybe we should add an “o” to that last one to see if it catches on. 
Then we can “Chop at the SToP.”
Whatever we call it, it will surely call us again and again.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

1st SunTrust Game Part 2

Our aisle, the first past the third base dugout, was used for access to the field for things like that. Nationals coach Chris Speier brought out a handful of bubblegum for on little girl. The little girl who called “PLAY BALL” sat with her sister and father in the front row. During the game each girl was given a ball by a Nationals player. Once Bryce Harper tossed them a ball, only to have a boy - wearing a Bryce Harper jersey – knock it away. Harper walked over to the stands and told the boy to give the ball to the little girl. Later Nats centerfielder Adam Eaton caught the third out, an ran in and gave the ball to the boy in the Nats jersey. By the end of the evening the two girls had collected three baseballs, so one of the girls went looking for another kid to give the ball to.    
Routine ground ball to short in the top of the first, but Dansby lobbed the throw to first. It bounced. Freddie tried to make the scoop swipe, but the ball bounced away E6. The rest of the night I watched Swanson’s throws. He didn’t overcompensate. Only once did he really have to cut loose, on a ball he had to charge. Now if he can get his hitting back on track, though no shame in getting bested by Matt Scherzer (below).

Scherzer kept the Braves bats quiet for most of the night. But red hot Freddie Freeman came into the game hitting .400. He got at least two hits and also walked.
Not an overabundance of nerdowells sneaking down from the cheap seats, though there were a few. I invited fellow bobbleheaders Jon and Corrine down to sit with us. They’d been to every game, so there was a lot to talk about: BP, bobbles, etc. At one point I checked out Jon’s jersey and realized he was the HIGH 5 guy I had seen earlier. 
Johnny sat a few rows behind us in section 137. Two teens came down and snatched seats two rows in front of us, bringing shame to the esteemed school emblazoned on their clothing: the Johnson Ferry Christian Academy. I snapped pictures of the miscreants and posted them on social media as friends of the great Thomas Gilbert. The Chocolate Papa held court in centerfield, with his jester Darrell seated nearby.
The Home Depot Tool Race started right in front of us. I could see my green Gwinnett Braves cap on the jumbotron. The race is longer this year. Jon knows the screwdriver. Other between-innings diversions: the kiss cam, the hug cam, the stolen base challenge, and trying to repeat the words of Ender Inciarte.
The 7th-Inning Stretch hadn’t changed much: Take Me Out to the Ballgame followed by a Southern sounding song. Thank God they ditched The Devil Went Down to Georgia, with the redneck wearing a Braves jersey with the sleeves cut off playing violin.
Forgot to take a picture of the retired numbers all in a row: 3, 6, 10, 21, 29, 31, 35, 44, 47. Jackie Robinson’s 42 is displayed on the far right. When I hadn’t seen 42 in some cropped photos I wondered if they Braves decided to not display 42, but they had. Didn’t have time to check out the Braves Hall of Fame and Monument Park, but there will be other games for that.
No baseballs were to be had. Most popups landed a section or two further away. A player tossed a ball to the obligatory Nations fan behind us. Jonathan tried to snatch it but couldn’t. Late in the game Emilio Bonifacio pulled a line drive over our heads. I chose to not reach for it. Jonathan stood and reached, but it was too high.
The great Harper legged out two opposite-field doubles, the first on a broken bat poke just out of the reach of the not so mobile third baseman Garcia. Later he hit a hard grounder just inside the third base bag, that rolled into foul territory toward where the stands jutted out. Knowing Harper, I feared he might try for a triple. But the ball grounded straight into the glove of an ignorant fan, who fielded a ball in play. Harper stopped at second without complaint. We watched as the “fan” – and his wife – were escorted out of the part.
Foltynewicz pitched well and added a sacrifice bunt. The Nats have started the season strong, with Harper, Daniel Murphy, and Ryan Zimmerman all batting over .340. The ever-hairy Jason Werth provides protection in the order. Catcher Matt Weiters, a Georgia Tech product, stole third base without a throw. Several missed calls by plate umpire CV Bucknor, particularly high pitches called strikes.
Washington built a 3-0 lead before Atlanta finally rallied in the bottom of the ninth. A bases loaded walk put the winning run on first. Harper made a running catch down the first base line, whirled and fired home. Would’ve been a bang bang play. With two out Chase d’Arnaud battled mightily, fouling off pitch after pitch before swinging at a ball in the dirt. Bucknor timidly raised his hands to signal foul ball.  
D’Arnaud slumped his head and headed to the dugout, along with the baserunners and base coaches. The Nats gathered to celebrate the victory as us fans headed for the exits.  Bucknor just stood there. We were halfway to the mezzanine when a buzz filtered through the stands. The umpires were having a discussion. Third base coach Ron Washington had charged over to hold Bucknor to his foul call. The Nats stood around listening. It was decided d’Arnaud had tipped the ball, and the game was not over. Brandon Phillips gestured for Harper to get back in the outfield. We continued toward the exit, but saw the next pitch to d-Arnaud. This time there was no doubt: strike three, game over. Jason Werth charged in from left field and gave Bucknor a piece of his mind.
We made the short walk to my car. Like the stadium, the parking lot was far from full. Traffic wasn’t a problem at all. Took a right out of the lot and drove straight up to Windy Hill, only stopping once. Right onto 75 south to 85 north, looping around the bridge construction at Piedmont. Dropped off Reid and too 400 home, arriving at midnight. A good day.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1st SunTrust Game Part 1

Tuesday I landed some nice tickets to the Braves Nationals game. I’d wanted to get Reid to a game, and this turned out to be a perfect opportunity. At 12:45 I went out for a late lunch with Rodney and Sean at the Medlock Grille. The chicken tenders were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Tiny cup of cole slaw. The fries were good, but I didn’t eat most of them. We were finishing up and paid our bill at the table. We were about to leave and looked around. Not only were we the only customers in the restaurant, but there were no employees to be seen either. An eerie feeling.
Got back to work shortly before 2 pm and worked an hour before heading out. Picking up Reid would be tricky, with 85 closed. I’d seen that 285 was already a mess, making 400 south off limits as well. The best option might be Peachtree Industrial south past Lenox Square, but as I headed south from work WSB reported that it too was closed inside the perimeter – a thunderstorm had flooded both PIB and 285 near Northlake Mall. I jumped on 285 for a mile over to 85 south. Cheshire Bridge was crowded but manageable. Made it to Sharondale before 4 pm.
Picked up Reid and took Wesley to Northside to 75 north, to 285 west. Exited at Cobb Parkway and kept right onto Circle 75 Parkway. Made such good time that I feared the parking lot hadn’t opened yet. At first they turned us around, but then let us park. Lot 11 just across the street from the stadium, at 100 Circle 75.
Walked up to the Left Field Gate and snuck up on Crazy Darrell. With plenty of time we circumnavigated the park, noticing the commemorative bricks were grouped in sections named for various Braves players from the 90’s, from Avery to possibly Zuvella. Halfway between the First Base Gate and the Third Base Gate was a section of bricks with the names of Braves players and coaches who had passed away. Should’ve snapped a picture. We didn’t linger, but I noticed Pascual Perez. Next time I’ll have to look for Bobby Dews.


Continued on and made a left at the Roxy, where The Battery began. People were already gathered in the plaza. Kids tossing baseballs in the grass. The sun had come out, but we found a place to sit in the shade. Fellow walked by with sunglasses on. I was pretty sure it was Mark Lemke. Later I saw the Chocolate Papa talking to him, so I knew it was Lemke. Eventually the Chop House Gate opened at 5:30.
The mezzanine was closed off so we meandered counter-clockwise, through the kids area and under the Home Depot Clubhouse. Sat in the top row of the outfield seats as the Nationals limbered up before batting practice. Johnny Pierce came up the steps to greet us. He said some homers in BP were reaching the upper deck in left field. I noticed a guy down front in a number five Braves jersey, with the name “HIGH” on back. Cute.
While we waited for the mezzanine to open we watched Washington take BP. A line drive bounced into the section on stands next to us, that hadn’t opened. There was no one to get the ball. When the mezzanine opened I strolled over and searched the stands for the ball, but couldn’t find it. Checked out the huge, heavy $300.00 three foot long Mizuno glove. Good strategy to let kids check out baseball gloves to wear. There’s nothing like putting on a baseball glove.
We looked for something to eat, and settled on H&K burgers. Seemed like these weren’t as tasty as the one’s I’s had at Turner Field. Greasy and a bun that hadn’t been properly toasted and prepared. But still good. We sat in our seats and watched BP, and everything else going on.
I hustled off to Guest Relations to sign up to be a Designated Driver. This year you get a plastic bracelet and 12 ounce can of Coke (Zero, in my case). Also picked up two magnetic schedules and booklets on the various eateries inside the park. I hadn’t realized that Guest Relations was halfway around the park, in the right field corner, so the trip took longer than I’d expected.
I dashed inside the Braves Clubhouse Store. There are at least three of these stores around the stadium, and this one was small. I was able to use the $10.00 credits from all four tickets to buy a nice fitted New Era spring training navy tomahawk cap. Sweet.
Had to stand at the top of the steps for the National Anthem, so I missed seeing Reid stand when those who’d served in the military were honored. The fellow in the red Braves #11 LOUDERMILK jersey who’d selfishly stood in front of us during BP had thrown out the first pitch. Turned out he was a Cobb County politician whose son is a friend of my co-worker – so I was able to lodge my complaint.
Missed the Braves relievers walking to the bullpen, but caught the Nats.