Being a Baseball Fan in the Biggest Football Powerhouse Town

Auburn Baseball Plainsman Park
Auburn Baseball at Plainsman Park

What a beautiful game. Game 17, Auburn vs Coppin State. Just another normal mid-season game in the NCAA baseball season.

Imagine if any other collegiate sport played 35 home games, 56 regular season games? Or if any other major professional sports league played 162 regular season games, decided not to keep time on the field, and the person with the ball never scored? Baseball is such an endurance race. A cherished marathon where every footstep is articulated in jaw dropping statistical and artistic beauty.

For me, Turner Field and the Braves are too far away to become an in-person daily routine except on Fox Sports South. To really fully understand the inner workings of baseball’s beauty that this long season provides, it has to become commonplace, routine. Luckily, baseball’s depth provides so many outlets, in so many different leagues, nearly anyone can find a local team to support. I happen to live in one of the greatest college sports towns in the country, so my non-MLB team is the Auburn University Tigers.

Today’s game marks the halfway point in the season and the long schedule is just starting to take on the look of a marathon. Jordan-Hare Stadium is always looming large in the background over it’s Plainsman Park neighbor. The huge majestic concrete pillars hibernating until fall with one reprieve in April, the A-Day Game, when 60,000 people come out to see us play ourselves. Jordan-Hare is always the giant in the room, the most powerful, with the most money, the biggest following, and a stadium that changes the landscape of our entire state 8 to 10 times a year. Plainsman Park, however, providing 35 home games at prices the average person in Auburn can afford, offers something football can’t, accessibility.

On this particular day I am sitting, more like bathing, in the beautiful afternoon sunshine in the south in March. An almost-hot day at the park (did I mention it’s March), where the temp says 69° but really feels more like 80–85° in the sun.

I had no time at all today to get the lineup and score the game as I normally would. My last meeting of the day ended about an hour ago, so there was just enough time to make it to the park and enjoy the setting. Scoring is but just one of the countless aspects that makes baseball unique, poetic. It offers any fan the opportunity to become part of the game being played, and can be done by nearly anyone. The ability to score the game is as much an art form as anything else in life, just as are the many combinations of Auburn Baseball uniforms these days, but scoring really helps to learn the intricacies of the game.

Today Auburn is wearing their home orange jersey and white pants and Coppin State is wearing an Auburn-blue like jersey with gray pants. It’s now 3:30 PM CT and unfortunately on this day pitcher Kevin Davis (#12) only completed 1 full inning and was taken out in the top of the 2nd with no outs. Coppin scored 1 run in the top of the first after he walked three batters, then walked another in the 2nd. Davis was replaced by Jakob Nixon (#8) with 2 men on base and no outs, both runners still accountable to Davis. Finally turning the inning over to Auburn’s offense in the bottom of the 2nd Blake Logan (#1) hit a 3 run homer over our green monster. The homer had to go at least 360′-370′ over the Bosox-like fence that has Bo Jackson’s panorama covering most of that left field wall padding.
This is one of these lazy day games where the sun is just warm enough, especially for this time of year, to allow for a relaxed crowd. Deborah is knitting, and it is quiet enough to clearly hear the sounds of the game, along with various conversations of people nearby.

There is still this one unfortunate state of college baseball affairs at play here. The batters address the pitcher with an aluminum bat, the only real significant travesty in college baseball. There are a handful of other minor indictments one can raise here but I won’t. Although the sound of the aluminum bat is not quite the same as the beauty of MLB wood, it still creates this unique echoing ripple off the green monster and athletic dorms over right field where most of the football players live.

Our world class heckler is here and attentive as always. His job is to make sure the pitcher for Coppin State (or any away team that arrives not expecting a thinking fan crowd) does not get away with anything, and ensures he is rattled as much as any away pitcher could be by a comedic post-Iraq drill Sargent. Our season ticket neighbor came today, along with the normal “retired” season ticket holders. A lady on the stairs walking up into our section came within perhaps an inch of getting beaned in the head with a foul ball, and did not even notice. It’s quite fascinating how someone can come that close to major injury and not even know it happened.
The crowd here couldn’t be more local, and the visitors have virtually no fans attending today other than players family. I love this crowd, and much of it has to do with baseball itself. They are as calm as the pace of the game. Middle class retirees mixed with University staff, and students with an excuse to skip class on a beautiful day. In other words, those who love baseball. It’s a microcosm of our Auburn community. A generally quiet, laid back, friendly southern town.

Top of the 5th inning now and Auburn seems to have this one well in hand. Coppin had to take their starting pitcher out after he was hit by a hard line drive in the ankle (they needed to take him out anyway). Auburn now has an 8–2 lead off 8 hits and 0 errors.

What a beautiful game.

Reasons To Chose to Write or Not to Write

Writing on the iPad
Writing on the iPad

So this is the typical blog away from blog post that seems to grace the pages of almost every blog I have ever read. For the first time in the 10-15 years I have been writing on my blog, I took a year off. Though I did stop writing here for a while, I never stopped writing off-blog posts in my DayOne App (the best journal writing app ever by the way) or on Twitter and Facebook. I had wanted to take this break for a while, to get some perspective, and I did. After being away for so long I kept wondering if I would ever come back, what the purpose is/was, and why it even matters if I ever write another word here in a world already filled with so much noise as it is.

When it comes to choosing not to write, I tried find reason behind these statements.

  1. It takes too much time.
  2. There is enough noise out there already.
  3. No one wants to read every thought that crosses the mind, ever (that’s still the case).
  4. Ultimately, who cares what’s “not created” by a writer.
  5. I had lost the freedom of speech on my own blog.

I doubt those questions have answers for the most part, and it is the stereotypical question and response of everyone who wants to start a blog but never does. Ultimately, what’s worth doing is worth doing, even, or especially, if there is no recognizable audience at the time. Blogging is somewhat like doing life together with the rest of the world. It leaves you open to ridicule, criticism, trolls (see a great article ‘Your Opinion is Obsolete‘), and oblivious objecting observers, when not writing removes those negativities. But the easiest thing to do is not to write.

I was somewhat inspired to get back to writing here after reading Roger Angell’s “Five Seasons” this past off season, the start of the Auburn baseball season, and the honest reflections of another sports writer who recently lost his job. Then for some reason, I became responsive to that inspiration after reading Joe Posnanski’s post about what was on his book shelf. It had nothing to do with the list of books he calls great (which was great), but by his opining about his office and how long it took him to come to the point. Great writing is like that. It’s the journey to the finishing point that creates the pleasures of wading through the details. You almost want the writer to slow down because you know the end is in sight.

As a writer (that is the act of writing something original… I make no claims to be on the level with the likes of Angell or Posnanski), the one on the list that bothered me the most was the last one. Once you start writing to please, or to not offend, the writing becomes less real, contains less of me. I still haven’t figured this one out. I admire those who have found the answer, or have ignored the question all together and just plowed ahead.

In the end, I hate being just a consumer of material. I read countless blogs, news articles, books, and other writings where the authors’ purpose was only fulfilled long after it was written. The purpose of the written word is, to be read, by somebody at some time, even if the knowledge of that purpose is never know by the writer himself. So… I write.

Thoughts on @AUTigerBaseball and Game 17. #WarEagle

Auburn Tiger Baseball
Auburn Tiger Baseball

Game 17, Auburn vs Coppin State. Jordan-Hare Stadium is always looming large in the background over Plainsman Park. Majestic concrete pillars hibernating until fall with one reprieve in April, A-Day, coming soon. It is always the giant in the room, the most powerful, with the most money, the biggest following, and a stadium that changes the landscape of the state 8 to 10 times a year.

Plainsman Park, however, providing 35-ish games at prices the average person in Auburn can afford, offers something football can’t, accessibility. On this particular day I am sitting, more like bathing, in the beautiful sunshine of an afternoon in the south in March. An almost-hot day at the park (did I mention it’s March), where the temp says 69° but really feels more like 80-85° in the sun.

I had no time at all today to get the lineup and score the game as I normally would. My last meeting of the day ended about an hour ago, so there was just enough time to make it to the park and enjoy the setting. Scoring is but just one of the countless aspects that makes baseball unique, poetic. The ability to score the game is as much an art form as are the many combinations of Auburn Baseball uniforms, but it really helps in learning the game. Today Auburn is wearing their home orange jersey and white pants with Coppin is wearing a Auburn-blue like jersey with gray pants.

3:30:05 PM

Unfortunately Kevin Davis (#12) only lasted pitching 1 full inning and was taken out in the top of the 2nd with no outs. Coppin scored 1 run in the top of the first after he walked three batters, then walked another in the 2nd. Replaced by Jakob Nixon (#8) with 2 men on base and no outs. Then in the bottom of the 2nd Blake Logan (#1) hit a 3 run homer over the green monster. The homer had to go at least 350′-360′ over the Bosox-like fence.

This is one of these lazy day games where the sun is just warm enough, especially for this time of year, to allow for a relaxed crowd. Deborah is knitting, and it is quiet enough to clearly hear the sounds of the game, along with various conversations of people nearby. Although the sound of the aluminum bat just is not quite the same as the MLB wood, it still creates this echoing ripple off the green monster and athletic dorms over right field.

Our world class heckler is here and attentive as always. His job is to make sure the pitcher for Coppin (or any away team that arrives not expecting a thinking fan crowd) does not get away with anything, and ensures he is rattled as much as any away pitcher could be by a comedian drill Sargent. Our season ticket neighbor came today, along with the normal “retired” season ticket holders. A lady on the stairs walking up into our section came within perhaps an inch of getting beaned in the head with a foul ball, and did not even notice. Quite fascinating how someone can come that close injury and not even know it happened.

The crowd here couldn’t be more local, and the visitors have virtually no fans attending today. I love this crowd, and much of it has to do with baseball itself. They are as calm as the pace of the game. Middle class retirees mixed with University staff, and students with an excuse to skip class on a beautiful day. In other words, those who love baseball.

Top of the 5th inning now and Auburn seems to have this one well in hand. Coppin had to take their starting pitcher out after he was hit by a hard line drive in the ankle (they needed to take him out anyway). Auburn now has a 8-2 lead off 8 hits and 0 errors. What a beautiful game.

Auburn Baseball Season Opens Today :: Friday Feet

Today is opening day for Auburn Tigers Baseball, and for this Friday, it’s my Friday Feet post. It is always wonderful to see Baseball season roll around again since it usually means warmer weather is not far behind.  Unlike many seasons that start in February, today it was actually in the mid-70’s and one of the most beautiful days of the year so far. Auburn plays again tomorrow along with the Basketball team who plays against Vanderbilt at the Auburn Arena.

Won’t be long before the Atlanta Braves are back from Florida and Spring Training down in the Grapefruit League.  Looking so forward to some real genuine warm weather and longer days.  Obviously the grass isn’t really quite green yet, except for inside the stadium but that will change soon.

My Love of Baseball and Music Come Together :: Throwback Thursday

This is my latest installment for Throwback Thrusday from Vagabondrunn (see Throwback Thursday (7)). Yes, I finally was able to get some images of me. This one of course is me showing off my two passions at the time, baseball and music. Actually, not much has changed, except now I am the one taking the photos. I still love baseball and music (although I no longer play the clarinet). This photo was taken in March 1981 by my mother of course. So there you have it, me at age 11. Have you posted your throwback Thursday photo? Leave a comment below and let me know where to find it.

Scott in 1981 Ready for Baseball

Miami to Daytona and a New Honda Nighthawk

Coming Home From Miami and Daytona

Another thing that Scott and I like to do is go to sporting events. These include, but are not limited to, all major league sports, minor league baseball, and college sports of all kinds. We planned this trip so that we could catch a Florida Marlins vs. Houston Astros game in formerly “Joe Robbie” stadium. This is a stadium that I have always wanted to visit.

It was so hot during the game (mid-day game) that we left after about the 5th inning. You can see from the photo that 90% of the stadium was empty right from the beginning of the game. Heat and a “not so good team” were probably the main reasons for this, but we enjoyed the game none the less.

After we left the game and went back to the hotel to freshen up we found a little place on the ocean to eat dinner called O’Mallys Ocean Pub. The dining was outside, with a live band and the tables were about 50′ from the crashing waves. Magnificent!

While we were on our trip to the keys we decided to get serious about finding Scott a bike so we could ride together. We decided to take the “scenic” route home to Alabama through Daytona in order to pick up new bike bells for each other. There is a legend that goes with these bells and they are supposed to be given to a rider by a friend. We picked out our bells in Daytona at a place called “Hot Leathers” (hmmmm) and purchased them for each other, had a spectacular lunch at Johnny Rockets overlooking the ocean (one last time) and then it was back on the road for home.

Scott’s Bike

After arriving home we wasted no time in finding a bike on eBay for Scott. We picked it up the next weekend and have been riding together almost every day since. Here are some photos of the proud new owner of a Honda Nighthawk 750 in the rare blue color.

Loaded Up on the Trailer

We loaded the new bike up on the trailer after Scott took it around the neighborhood for a test ride. The bike is in great condition and although it has a lot more power than my Honda Rebel, they ride great together.

Beauregard Baseball All Star Team 2006

Gabriel made the Beauregard All Star baseball team this year and we have spent the last couple of weeks attending his games. The team made it through the first bracket in Valley, AL and almost through the second bracket hosted in Dadeville, AL. The boys made some incredible plays and really fought hard right to the very end. The final score of the last game was Dadeville/20 – Beauregard/15. A few days ago I made Gabriel his very first baseball card. The stats are not completely accurate because they played after I printed it. Regardless, I thought it would be cool for him to have his very own card. Here is his card and another photo of the entire team. Enjoy.