Monday, April 30, 2007


I made my first (and probably last) trek to Talladega (with my sons) this weekend. There were fun moments that I will never forget. On the other hand, I do not think Sodom and Gomorrah could have been much worse (and I am no prude). The weather could not have been better!

It was an awesome place to hear the motors, smell the rubber, see the speed, and feel the wind coming off those awesome machines! The video doesn't totally do it justice!

DAVID WASSON: Classless fans at Talladega? Yes, indeed
Tuscaloosa News
TALLADEGA - You will read and hear today, from various corners of the country, about how classless Talladega Superspeedway racing fans are for their display of emotion at the end of Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.You will read and hear today all about how NASCAR fans are classless hicks, and that those 160,000 that gathered in the Alabama sand hills are at the head of that parade for the beer- and water-bottle shower delivered to race-winner Jeff Gordon.You will read and hear today cheap shots pundits talking about how fences should be raised, and rules changed, and on-track jails built to handle the rowdies.And all those opinions are 100 percent accurate....

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Talladega, here we come!

Readers, I'm taking my boys to a "once in a lifetime" trip to Talladega Sunday! We will be going to bed extremely early tonight, so we can head out insanely (is thata word?) in the a.m. Yo know I will be writing and sharing photos soon. Mike

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Braves in first place

After three weeks the Atlanta Braves are looking good. They are in first place and have taken two series against the NY Mets. I think they are "for real". I must admit, though, that I gave up on them in yesterday's game. When they got down 6-3 after 6 innings and TBS flashed the graphic that showed the Mets' bullpen ERA was 1.10, I started watching the Rangers game and the Cubs game. I hate I missed the excitement, but here's an article about the game from the AJC. Exerpt below:

Kelly Johnson was hitting .150 six days ago, and critics wondered why the Braves seemed intent on having him play second base and bat leadoff. He presumably has quieted those critics. Johnson finished his resounding week by hitting two home runs Sunday in a 9-6 win against the New York Mets, including a tie-breaking, three-run shot with two out in the eighth inning at sold-out Shea Stadium. "Those are the ones that you're going to remember," Johnson said after the Braves rallied from a 6-3 deficit through six innings to win the weekend finale, take the series two games to one and reclaim the NL East lead from the Mets. Edgar Renteria hit a tying three-run homer in the seventh to set the stage for Johnson, who is 13-for-24 in six games to nearly double his average to .297. "I can honestly say, that's my biggest," Johnson said of Sunday's game, which he got started for the Braves by hitting a first-pitch homer against former Atlanta left-hander Tom Glavine. "I'll remember that one for a long time." The decisive homer in the eighth off right-hander Aaron Heilman was Johnson's third hit of the game. He wasn't even sure he would be in the lineup Sunday after going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Saturday. Sunday's two-homer game was his first since June 17, 2005, at Cincinnati in his 15th game. He was an outfielder then. He missed the 2006 season after elbow surgery and was moved to second base last winter. "I told you that sucker was gonna hit," third baseman Chipper Jones said of Johnson, whose .423 on-base percentage ranks near the top among major-league leadoff men. "He's got all the fundamentals and the mental side of it down." Johnson also hit a first-pitch homer to lead off the game on Easter Sunday against the Mets' Orlando Hernandez. The Braves (12-6) are 4-2 this season against the Mets (11-6). They won't face the Mets again until May 22-24 and won't face them again in New York until August. Their nine-game trip continues tonight in Florida and concludes with a weekend series at Colorado.

Weird Al and Paul

Since I posted a link to Paul's new release, I thought I'd share this video I saw this evening on YouTube. This is a fake, but funny, interview.

"Ever Present Past"

A cool new song by Paul McCartney was released to radio stations this past Friday. Listen here!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yes, we had Fun :)

My favorite second baseman!

Baseball season has officially arrived. Tonight I made my managing debut and it was a very inauspicious start. May I mention that our team is made up of 8 and 9 year-olds playing in a 9 and 10 year old league. Only one of my players has played in this age group before. I knew from the beginning that we would probably not win a lot of games. Because of spring break we also were playing with eight players instead of nine.

We lost 14-0.

At the risk of sounding like Mike Shula, we were closer than the score indicated. My pitchers struck out the side and held Holly Pond scoreless in the 1st and 3rd innings. It was the 14 run second inning that killed us. Our pitchers must have had two outs and two strikes on 10 batters but just couldn't get that third strike.

My main concern was our lack of hitting. We had three baserunners; one walk and two singles in three innings.

Coach Dad (that's me) was proud, though, because my son Matt got one of those two hits and got as far as third base.

After a pitching change..."Lets throw some strikes, bud!"

This week's diary...

Thursday 4/12/07
Joe had a practice and I had to be at the park to distribute uniforms. While I waited for parents to pick up uniforms, I gave batting practice using the pitching machine to Joe and Matt. They also played kickball with some of their friends.

Friday 4/13/07
On the way home from work I called all of the parents on Matt’s team, letting them know that our Saturday games with Good Hope had been cancelled due to the expected storms. One of the dad’s called me back later volunteering to hold practice on Tuesday (since I would be out of town) and asked me to call everyone. So I called everyone back and told them about that. The boys and I hung out at the house and played games. They also worked on their clubhouse.

Saturday 4/14/07
The boys slept in and I spent a lot of time paying attention to the weather. At 4 p.m. I took David and Joe to their friend’s birthday party. Matt and I had some really good one-on-one time together. We went to the grocery store and after that we went to pick up David and Joe. We hung out there for an hour before coming home. We were invited to do some paintball in the future. I will need to learn more about that. It sounded fun, though.

Sunday 4/15/07
We left home at 7 a.m. and drove to Atlanta to see the Braves play the Phillies. The Braves won 8-4. On the way home we stopped at Talladega and took a look around the area so that we will be prepared for the upcoming race. We also stopped at Gardendale and picked up a Little Caesar’s pizza. Since I am still on my April diet, I only had one piece. We got home between seven and eight. Joe and Matt played on the Xbox. David helped me do some chores and we looked at our fantasy baseball teams.

Monday 4/16/07
We slept in, did chores around the house such as cleaning the carpet and doing the laundry, and then we looked at our fantasy baseball teams. I got the mower working and Joe did a lot of mowing. The boys also played in their clubhouse. We then drove to visit my parents during the evening. My Mom had a Terry’s Pizza ready for us to heat up. It was an awesome exception to my diet. Speaking of the diet, I weighed for the first time since I began my diet. In ½ of a month I have dropped from 219 to 209. Matt made the comment that since I had reached my “goal” of 209 I could “stop now.” I explained that I made a personal commitment, not so much to lose a certain amount of pounds, but to be on a diet for one month. I like the way he thinks, though. Unfortunately, I still have two weeks to go. I was very pleased and a bit surprised at the results, though. I can also see and feel the difference in my waist.

Tuesday 4/17/07
We hung out at my parents’ house. I spent a big part of the day steam cleaning their carpet. David slept late and we all watched the Padres-Cubs game on WGN with my Dad. Greg Maddux was pitching against his old team. The game ended up going 14 innings before the Cubs finally lost. We also played football down at the park. Matt and I defeated David and Joe 42-28. Those guys are so competitive. I am afraid they may soon have the upper hand on me, but you didn’t read that here. That evening Joe and I grilled out hamburgers and hot dogs. After supper, the boys played NASCAR monopoly wile I finished steam cleaning upstairs. We stayed up pretty late and before going to sleep we watched some baseball highlights on ESPN and an old storm chaser video I had on tape.

Wednesday 4/18/07
We got up fairly early and David and Joe mowed my parents’ lawn. After that we ate lunch and headed off to Monte Sano. I let the boys ride bikes up there for a few hours. We then came back to the house, loaded the car, said goodbye to my Dad, and headed back. I did stop at Best Buy where I learned that my video recorder was dead. I was hoping that it was just the battery, but no such luck. I will have to buy a new one. We had a great laughter-filled fun trip back home to Vinemont. Then I took the boys back to their Mom. Thus ended a really cool, laid back spring break week with the boys.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Braves 8 Marlins 4

Walking to the game from our parking place

Chipper Jones on Third Base

Bobby Cox brings in his closer

Wickman mows 'em down

Yesterday I took the boys to Turner Field to watch the Braves defeat the Marlins 8-4. It was a very cold, windy and wet day in Atlanta. We were experiencing the back side of the storm system that brought tornadoes and severe storms to the South Saturday and Saturday night. By the end of the game the crowd was getting pretty thin. We even had a little snizzle (a few snow flakes mixed in with the drizzle).

One of the best parts of the game for Dad was that we were able to get into the game with $1 tickets. With the croud being very sparse we were able to sit behind the Braves dugout by the end of the game.

The Braves won the game behind the continued strong pitching of Tim Hudson and home runs by Chipper Jones and Andrew Jones. I have attached video of Chipper's home run (as seen from the cheap seats) and video of Bob Wickman ending the game (from behind the dugout). It looks like the Braves may have a great year!

Hudson strong again, Team has best mark in the majors, David Obrien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 16, 2007

The Braves aren't sure when they'll play in warm weather. Or when their suspended utility infielder might show up for work again. Or whether the Mets' pitching will hold up or the Phillies will play like Jimmy Rollins envisions.

But two weeks into the season, the Braves feel confident of a few important things, none more than this: Tim Hudson is pitching like a bona fide ace again.

Hudson pitched seven innings of one-run ball and the Jones Boys each homered to account for five runs in an 8-4 win over Florida on Sunday at Turner Field as Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day.

The Braves (8-3) boarded their charter flight to Washington as owners of the best record in the majors, and Hudson is 2-0 with an 0.86 ERA after three starts.

"These three games couldn't have been much better for me," said Hudson, who has allowed 11 hits and two runs in 21 innings. "This is a good three-game stretch for anybody, particularly for me after the way things went last year."

He was 27-21 in his first two seasons for Atlanta, including 13-12 with a 4.86 ERA in a career-worst 2006 season. The Braves saw infrequent flashes of his prior brilliance for Oakland, where he was 92-39 with a 3.30 ERA in six years.

"The last couple of years, he has had maybe two or three starts all year where I said, 'That's the guy I remember,'" Chipper Jones said. "All the rest were pretty mediocre.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Get your tissue ready for this one!

This is a must see video for anyone who has a heart for children. If you have children of your own, if you have grandchildren, if you are a teacher, or take care of children in any way, give them a hug today and tell them how much you love them!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Egg Hunt

Today was a great day with the boys. We went to church at 9:15, came home, cooked lunch, watched baseball, updated our fantasy baseball lineups, and took it easy for a few minutes. After the Braves beat the Mets, I hid eggs in the yard.

Last night I spent a lot of time enclosing money and candy in 102 plastic eggs. Every egg had change, candy, or both. There were six "prize eggs" each containing a note from me. In order to ensure everyone got a prize, each boy had two notes redeemable for a prize. Whoever found the prize eggs had to give the prize note to the person named on the note.

David found 39 eggs, Joe found 38, and Matt found 21. Yes, if you are doing the math, that means that there are four eggs hidden somewhere in my yard with candy and small change. David ended up with $7.80, Joe had $7.40, and Matt had $6.10.

After the hunt, counting, and a little cleaning up, I took the boys to Wal Mart. David got a 10-pack box of of 2007 Topps baseball cards and a set of four mini skateboards. Joe got a box of 2007 Upper Deck baseball cards. Matt got a NASCAR cap, two toy planes, and three Hot Wheels cars.

It was a great day. I was proud of the boys for their practically perfect behavior today. Matt impressed me with how thankful he was for his gifts. I asked the boys would they have preferred an Easter Basket or what they got. It was unanimous; they liked it the way I did it.

I love it when the days are so blessed and go so perfectly. Thank you Lord!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sammy Sosa

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

My son David's all time favorite baseball player, Sammy Sosa, is back! After a poor performance with the Orioles in 2005, Sammy was out of baseball in 2006. The Texas Rangers were the only team willing to give him a chance to make a comeback this year. They invited him to spring training and signed him to a $500,000 minor league contract.

Despite the opinion of many so-called baseball experts, Sammy did great in spring training and made the major league roster. In the spring he hit over .400 and tied for first with 5 home runs. David was excited that Sammy made it back to the majors, as was I. From what I read it really sounded like he had worked very hard over the winter and that his attitude and body were both in excellent shape.

Tonight I watched the Rangers defeat the Red Sox behind Sammy's first home run of 2007 and his 589th career shot. He tied the MLB record held by Ken Griffey, Jr. and Fred McGriff with a home run in his 43rd Major League park.

You go, Sammy!

Exerpt from AP article by Stephen Hawkins:

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Sammy Sosa pumped his right fist triumphantly as he rounded first base. He crossed the plate with the fans chanting his name.

While Sosa is no stranger to home run trots, this was his first since 2005.

"It feels great. I fought my way up and I'm here, and I'm doing it," Sosa said. "I feel very happy, very pleased."

The first homer in Sosa's comeback, and the 589th of his career, came in the Rangers' 8-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

Sosa hit the first pitch he got from reliever J.C. Romero in the sixth inning into the left-center field seats for a two-run homer.

"I didn't think I had enough," Sosa said. "I guess I was wrong."

With the chants of "Sammy! Sammy!" getting louder after he rounded the bases, the former NL MVP and seven-time All-Star came out of the dugout for a curtain call, raising his helmet to the fans.

"The kids were real excited on the bench, we were too," said Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who was Sosa's first minor league manager. "He's hard not to like. He brings a lot to the game. He's got something going. I told him it's going to get better as we go. ... He's got a lot of confidence. It's good to see that."

It was Sosa's first at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the 43rd different stadium where he has homered. That tied Ken Griffey Jr. and Fred McGriff for the most stadiums with a homer.

The last homer for Sosa was Aug. 4, 2005, a two-run shot at the Los Angeles Angels during his only season with the Baltimore Orioles.

Sosa's 409-foot drive came in a four-run outburst that put the Rangers up 8-3 right after Kevin Millwood (1-1) escaped the top of the sixth with the tying run on third base.

"It's huge," Millwood said. "For him to get off to a pretty good start and go ahead and get his first one out of the way this year, I think it's going to give him confidence, the players around him confidence and it's going to make other teams sit back and know that he's not going to be an easy out."

Texas had gone ahead to stay with four runs in the third, when Sosa singled and scored the final run on a two-run single by Nelson Cruz off Julian Tavarez (0-1).

When Sosa was a rookie for the Rangers in 1989, they played in a different stadium and his only homer in 25 games was at Boston against Roger Clemens. Sosa was traded that season to the Chicago White Sox.

After sitting out last season, Sosa -- fifth on the career homer list and the only player with three 60-homer seasons -- signed a minor league contract with Texas. He made the team after hitting five homers in 17 games this spring.

"Right now, I'm just trying to get comfortable, get one or two hits a day," said Sosa, who is hitting .267 (4-for-15). "Everything is going to come and take care of itself."

We Didn't Start the Fire

Remember the song, "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel? I always liked that song. It is a history lesson in 4:50. Well someone has made their own video for the song and it's pretty cool. I found it on Youtube.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Me, diet?

I've never been on an official diet, but I decided in late March that I would do it for one month, April. Here's my method. I first made a list of food that I will avoid; pizza, ice cream, fast food, most eating out, etc. Then I made a list of health food that I actually like; grilled fish and chicken, green beans, stewed tomatoes, black eyed peas, corn, fruit, spices, etc. I also decided I would drink much more water and much less diet cola. Any bread that i will eat will be whole wheat. Any eating out will be salad or my favorite: a Whitt's barbecue turkey sandwich (4 grams of fat). I will be walking a little more than usual. Coaching baseball helps too. My only exception to this will be if I am visiting family or friends who may happen to prepare a meal for me. I weighed in at 219 pounds on March 31. I have been very disciplined so far. I do not have a scale in the house, so i do not know how much, if any, I have lost so far. I have a goal to lose 10 pounds. I won't be upset if that does not happen, so long as I stick to my plan faithfully. So far, so good!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Just a little update...

Most of my recent time has been highlighted by practicing baseball with the boys. I am coaching Matt's team in the 9-10 age league (but our team is really ages 8-9). Frankly, we are short on talent, but hopefully rich in terms of fun, learning, and opportunity. Since my last post, I have learned the boys' names pretty well, we have had great participation from parents (3 men have been assisting me and one of the mom's has taken the uniform ordering duties and run with it). I am so fortunate because these folks are making my job much easier. I have a good idea now where of generally who i think will pitch, catch, play infield, and play outfield. We have had a few practices lately where we have started to "simulate" game conditions a little more. Opening day id April 14.

Last night Joe had a practice game in Fairview. He did well. In his only at bat he walked. He played left field and did a good job fielding a grounder cleanly and getting it in quickly and accurately. Before his game, I played some basketball with David and Matt. I also enjoyed playing catch with David while we watched the game. Those are precious moments to me. I think that I must have really injured my arm last year. I cannot throw with any velocity with my right arm and if I do much at all it gets very sore and painful for days. I am learning to throw more left-handed to compensate.

One of the best moments lately was last Thursday when I surprised the boys with the news that I would be taking them to the Aaron's 499 NASCAR race at Talladega on April 29th. I am not a NASCAR fan but they are! You should have seen their faces light up. Maybe I can add a photo soon to this post, showing their reaction.

Last weekend we visited my parents. Saturday morning we practiced baseball, Saturday afternoon we mowed, ate a great lunch, then drove to Huntsville. We took the scenic route and the boys enjoyed driving by our old home at Oden Ridge. Later Saturday we washed and cleaned the inside of my car and my Mom's car. Joe also mowed their lawn. All three of the boys worked hard and did a real good job.

Sunday April 1st was the first baseball game of the year, between the Cardinals and Mets. Monday was opening day for the rest of the teams. The Braves won and their new bullpen, with Wickman, Soriano, and Gonzalez appears to be all that it has been advertised. Renteria hit two homers and McCann hit one. The Cubs lost to the Reds as Pete Rose attended the game and sat behind home plate with Johnny Bench. I ordered MLB Extra Innings on Direct TV. It was cool watching Sammy Sosa's return to MLB in the Rangers' loss to the Angels. Fantasy baseball has started as well. I am in a league with my best friends. I also have another league with my sons and my sister.

I recently completed watching the 10 DVD set of "Baseball" which was a 1994 documentary by Ken Burns. Watching it throughout the month of March was a good way to get excited about the upcoming baseball season. My sister and I gave it to my Dad. He watched it in January and February. Generally I give it a "thumbs up". If you like American history, nostalgia, and baseball, you will enjoy this program. My only serious complaint is that it gives way to much attention to baseball in New York and Boston and not enough to the rest of the country. Granted, the history of baseball should emphasize New England and the NY Yankees. I just think it was a little too much. My only other complaint is that the use of baseball as a metaphor for everything in life gets carried a little too far by some of the people interviewed on the program. I wish they would have had more interviews with former baseball players, managers, general managers and owners, and less with "so-called" intellectual fans. Having said all of that, this is a must see for any serious baseball fan.