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.

A Non-Chemistry Auburn Basketball Season

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Aubie sits alone at the Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball Game

It’s been a lonely season of empty seats and shattered basketball hopes at this point. Deb and I love going to the basketball games, but it would be nice if just one season we could actually improve. This year is no different, they seem to have no chemistry, no cohesion, and few wins, though I love our players non-the-less. Year after year after year we keep coming to the games, and now we sit in a gorgeous new $92 million facility, which now seems to prove the point that you can’t just build it and they (players and fans) will come. Maybe I’m expecting a little too much out of a football town, but we sure have seen a lot of…

pressing into the paint… by the other team

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

shots made beyond the arc… by the other team…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

but hey, maybe we haven’t been paying close enough attention as fans, maybe they said something, but we had our Beats on because the game was sooooo exciting…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Beats Headphones at the Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

or maybe we just need one of those giant megaphones to yell with… since there aren’t many fans at the games, we could just do that as the next promo instead of a cheesy Verizon draw string bag nobody wants anyway…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Aubie and the Auburn Cheerleaders at Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

or, maybe the halftime show guys will let our team use their trampoline so they too can fly through the air and slam the ball with style…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball Halftime

…finally giving our excited little fans that do show up something to cheer about.

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Kid waves the foam finger at Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

There are of course advantages to having no fans show up to a game and a team that has lost 17 games before the end of February. Nobody cares about the “prohibited items list” (except they still search my wife’s purse for FOOD), and I can actually take photos at the game without being ejected or my equipment confiscated.

from the tip off…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Tipoff at the Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball game

to our beloved Aubie cheering in the stands with students…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball
Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

We really do love our Auburn basketball, it would just be nice to see something positive come out of the season to create momentum for next year? March Madness is right around the corner though, can’t wait.

Gameday Pics of Auburn vs LSU on a Bye Week

Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Sun Sets at Auburn vs LSU
Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Sun Sets at Auburn vs LSU

I love photos of Auburn’s gameday. Since Auburn is off this week with a bye, and they really couldn’t have a better Saturday than today, I thought I would just post a few pics from last week’s game against LSU. This game I decided to not fight the gate entrance camera police by trying to take my camera into the stadium (Jordan-Hare Stadium no longer allows Digital SLR’s taken in by the fans sitting in the seats, technically it’s “cameras with detachable lenses or cameras with lenses longer than 4 inches“, a policy vary randomly enforced, unlike the food policy). Instead I opted for my new iPhone 5. These are my very first images taken with the iPhone 5, and so far it has done quite well. From a camera perspective it didn’t make big leaps but there are a few nice updates, including the panorama feature I will post about some other day.

I have posted images using this camera phone since the very first one came out years ago, but each time the technology gets better, and the images allow for even greater creativity for the photographer. For a camera phone, these lighting conditions were near impossible to capture a few years ago (at least capture well), now, even low light shots are starting to be possible with just your phone. The first shot, the one at the top was taken from my seat in the end-zone, and the last shot was taken from a parking deck as the game ended. That shot has been one of my favorites over the years ever since I took this shot of the night we lost to LSU back in 2008 when Auburn lost 21 to 26 in a heartbreaker. Still, LSU never disappoints as far as quality football goes, and I got some of my favorite ESPN Gameday photos during a game at the LSU game that year.

So this week while we get to watch everyone else fret about their team losing here are a few gameday photos from Auburn last week via my iPhone. War Eagle!

Samford Hall Before Auburn vs Clemson in My 41st Season

Samford Hall Auburn University
Samford Hall on Auburn University

I’m not sure there are any new and unique ways to shoot Samford Hall on Auburn University, but I keep looking for them just the same. This was a new shot for me, sitting in my car stopped on College (very briefly), I took this shot out the window of my car. It’s such an iconic shot to me, and it has been photographed for so many decades that you almost get nostalgic walking across the lawn thinking about how many have stood here before. As Deborah and I walked across the lawn for lunch yesterday, I realized I love it now not because it represents football, or tradition, but because represents where I’m from, it’s where I live and work. In a southern college town in Alabama.

Tomorrow of course starts the insanity that is NCAA College Football, and somehow, I will be there in Atlanta when Auburn kicks off against #14 ranked Clemson. It starts off my 41st season as an Auburn football fan (see my 40th and photo outtakes), and each one has been unique, and memorable to some extent. This year, my favorite off-season football day had to be the unveiling of Auburn’s Heisman Trophy Winner Statues for Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton, or Chizik and Trooper talking to the players along with the other shots of the players coming out of the tunnel for Aday 2012. I didn’t take my camera into too many games last year so I wouldn’t be hassled by the camera mafia as I walked into Jordan-Hare, but I did still get some shots representative of each home game last year, and that’s probably going to be plan this year. As Auburn makes it harder and harder to bring in cameras I’m left with take iPhone cell phone camera shots, but that’s ok, I tend to enjoy the games better anyway, plus I’ve found the iPhone to be one of the best point-n-shoot cameras around.

War Eagle everyone. I’m looking forward to a fun and exciting football season as always, see you on Twitter tomorrow from Atlanta (@scottfillmer), I’ll be sure to send out a few Instagram shots from inside the Georgia Dome.

Auburn's Chizik and Trooper Talk to the Players Before Aday 2012
Auburn’s Chizik and Trooper Talk to the Players Before Aday 2012

The Catholic Church, the NCAA, and Penn State Football

Emmert Podiumh NCAA Penn State

I tend to stay away from topics I’m not involved with or have studied to some degree, but I am a follower of the greater Church Body, and an avid football fan (albeit Auburn Tigers Football not Penn State). I also try to steer away from current events as well, but in this case, it just deserves attention. While the Catholic Church has been having to deal with similar sexual sins for a while now, it is a self-governing body, while the top level of college football is governed by the NCAA, and this is basically their first large dealing with sexual sins and child abuse.

Today, the NCAA handed out the penalty it felt was justified for these horrific sexual sins against children, and it was a heck of a penalty. You can read the full pdf of the NCAA decision here, but the list of sanctions the NCAA placed on Penn State went well beyond the death penalty in my opinion, and rightfully so. The president of the NCAA made it clear that, at least Penn State, had put football, and winning football games, above all else, even the welfare of its own children. Living in a part of the country where football rises above everything, and is somewhat the religion of Saturday night, this penalty should raise awareness across the entire college football continuum. We love our football, but to what expense? Well, at least for the governing body of college football, the NCAA has made it clear, if you take football above the welfare of everything else, this is the list of what you get.

Punitive Component of the NCAA Penn State Penalty

  1. $60 Million Fine – this is the equivalent to the approximate average of one year’s gross revenue from the Penn State football program, to be paid over a five-year period to an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse
  2. Four-Year Postseason Ban – they can’t play in a bowl game from 2012-2013 season until the end of the 2015 season. Some might think this isn’t that big of a deal, but this is where athletic programs get extra money, recruiting, and will basically disband any future NFL stars.
  3. Four-Year Reduction of Grants-in-Aid – the NCAA is limiting the Grants-in-Aid monies to 15 grants where in 2017-2018 they can go to 65
  4. Five Years of Probation – they are independently monitored for five years and any violation can mean higher penalties
  5. Vacation of Wins since 1998 – this is huge! This means Coach Joe Paterno will have these wins removed from his record as well
  6. Waiver of transfer rules and grant-in-aid Retention – this will allow any returning or new football player to be able to leave Penn State without any restrictions. This will basically have the affect of mass exodus with any football players of super high talent levels
  7. Individual penalties to be determined – open door for future action against specific people involved

Corrective Component of the NCAA Penn State Penalty

  • Adoption of all recommendations presented in Chapter 10 of the Freeh Report (full PDF of Freeh report here)
  • Implementation of Athletics Integrity Agreement (which is a huge list of things)

That’s quite a list, and in my view, which is just one of a mere spectator and lover of all things college football, this is worse than the death penalty that SMU received many years ago. I’m actually not sure the NCAA could put down a penalty or sanctions that would be too severe. Penn State removed the statue of their famed coach, and will probably begin to do what all quality higher education institutions in this country should be doing, focusing on winning through education, not football.

What does this have to do with the Catholic Church? Well, it is always interesting to me to see what secular institutions do when you compare that to what the church does. Although it is very hard to compare the Catholic Church and the sexual abuse of children by priests spanning centuries with college football, these were similar sins of the flesh, and above is how the secular world of NCAA College Football handled their sexual sin problem. How does, or how did the church handle their problem? In an overview, they instituted #7 above, and then whatever the court of law said they had to do.

Paul alone has a lot to say about the sexual sins of the flesh. They are not to be tolerated, and in his day, they were indeed worthy of the death penalty, but not the one where you can’t play football anymore, the capital punishment kind (see at a minimum Colossians 3:5). How can the church of today be less forceful against sin than a secular institution? There is of course a greater element of forgiveness and repentance involved, but in this particular case today, I think the church body can learn something from the punishment of the NCAA. This will really hurt Penn State right now, but in the end their football program will be one of integrity and honor.

I say the Catholic Church in this post only because they are the most prominent, the highest profile, and some of the worse abuse from within the greater Church Body. Things like this go on in Christian Church just like it goes on in college football, but that doesn’t mean we don’t meet these challenges as a Church Body with integrity and honor, and justice. After all, our governing body may be the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, or the United Methodist Church, but ultimately we are accountable to God, a much higher authority than even the NCAA, unless perhaps you ask someone from the state of Alabama on a Saturday night that is.

Auburn Tigers Football A-Day Game Photos For 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Today was the annual crazy-day game where we play ourselves, called the Auburn A-Day Game. Of course just about every school has a spring game where the offense plays the defense, it just seems to get bigger and bigger as the years go by. Today we had over 43,427 people at this game where we played ourselves, a game in which Coach Chizik said “numerical values meant little — if not nothing.” Makes me wonder (every single year)… why… but, it’s Auburn football, and there are very few chances to get into Jordan-Hare Stadium and take photos of crazy people (myself included since obviously I was at this “game”). I feel sort of obligated to go now since I have 4 years of A-Day Game posts on my blog, and I wouldn’t want to cull a blog mini-series of mine like the A-Day Game.

As Ryan Wood wrote for the Opelika-Auburn News on the game, “I wouldn’t look and pay attention to any of the stats today,” said Chizik, who barely glanced at the sheet in front of him for the 10 minutes he spent with the media. “It was different guys in there with different personnel groupings, and mix and match players. I wouldn’t read into any stats that you may see, good or bad.” But, that just means that keep stats for this game? Seriously? OK, I guess we keep stats on everything these days, and why not, the number of data points that we can capture at any given event now is bordering on the incomprehensible.

One interesting thing that did take place yesterday was the unavailing of three statues of Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winners, Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton. I have photos of the new statues, but I think I am going to post them in a separate blog post, after all, they did win the Heisman, they probably deserve their own post. I do find it kind of interesting that after something like 100 years of football we have now joined Alabama in memorializing our gladiators in the form of gigantic bronze statues that would make the Greek gods proud. I guess I can no longer make fun of Bama’s statue of Bear Bryant or Nick Saban and the like, oh well.

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012 Marching Band Drums

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012 Marching Band Trumpets

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Basketball vs LSU Ends Home Season :: Photos

Another Auburn basketball season has come to a close, at least they played the last home game today, against LSU. This season was completely different than last year of course, and while it doesn’t look like the team will make the tournament again this year, we thoroughly enjoyed the season. The photo of Deb and I is basically the same photo I took at the last home game last year, with another year added to our total.

We have really come to love basketball season, for a host of reasons. Each year this game is one of those yearly markers, like July 4th or something, where we can look back over the previous year and see what life was like at this time last year. I’m not sure why that is, it’s just a basketball game, perhaps it’s because we have been through 5-6 full seasons together now since we came to Auburn, and we can remembers years past. We usually see the same group(s) of people at the Auburn basketball games each year, and while the students and players keep changing, it’s nice to see those “basketball friends” again. Until next year in Auburn Arena, War Eagle!

Auburn Tigers Football vs Alabama Crimson Tide 2011 :: Photos

Well it was not that great of a game today but it was still great to be at the game at least. Another regular season has come and gone, can’t believe it. I decided today I would leave the camera at home and just go enjoy the game, but of course I didn’t leave home without my phone. I have always loved trying to do some actual photography with my cell phone over the years. It creates more of a challenge but also forces you to get creative.

All the shots in this post came from my iPhone, my favorite being the shot above when the sun was just about to go behind the west stands of the stadium. The clouds made it perfect, especially with the lights on and “Champions 2010” reflecting off the windows. It was another unforgettable season (not for the same reasons as last year), now it’s time to wait and see where Auburn ends up going for a bowl game.

Auburn Tigers Football vs Florida Atlantic Game 4 :: Photos

The football game yesterday was the first night game of the year and I ended up leaving my camera in the car, so I was left with taking photos of the game using my iPhone. I can’t wait to see what kind of camera the iPhone 5 comes with (reportedly it will be a great 8mp sensor), because the more I use my cell phone for actual serious photographic purposes the more I have grown to like it. Sure my Nikon DSLR would have done a better job overall but I was thrilled to have my phone, and not have to lug around a heavy body and lens for once. It also still proves the old adage that the artist is in the person (or the photographer) not in the camera.

Anyway, it ended up being one of the more enjoyable games we have been to this year. We didn’t get sunburned, die from the heat, or stress over the game (though we really don’t do that anyway). We did however get to see several friends around the tailgate areas, like Courtney (see her blog here) seen below with Deborah, and we ended up leaving early enough to get to see the end of the game from home. Normally we would stay but since I had to be at three services and a mission meeting early today, we opted for watching the end at home. By the time the next home game gets here against Florida I will have been to Uganda and back. The Florida game is actually the very next day after I get back from 36 hours of travel from the other side of the world, hopefully I will just be able to stay awake for the game. In the mean time enjoy some iPhoneography below.

Auburn Tigers Football vs Mississippi State Game 2 :: Photos

The game this week was another crazy ending that ended with a win by a last play stop that literally came within an inch or two of a Mississippi State score. For those of us who sit in the blasting sun hopefully this will be the last day game until it gets a little cooler.

Next week Auburn goes on the road and so do we. We will be watching Auburn play Clemson from Denver where we will be celebrating the birth of our second grandson. Until then, hope you enjoy some of the photos from the game today. It was a hot day to haul the camera around Jordan-Hare Stadium but I love some of the images from today. I’m always amazed that there is anything original left to produce at a football game but each game is always different. War Eagle.