Friday, November 27, 2009

Auburn - Alabama Postgame 2009

Posting early due to the early game.

Opened my first Twitter post of the game with the words, “I’m cautiously optimistic.” With Terrell Zachary’s opening TD, I went crazy. My wife sent our younger son upstairs to tell me to calm down. I kept it down on the onside kick, but I felt almost the same way.

Then we went up 14-0. I was still cautiously optimistic. The Georgia game started the same way. However, as Alabama tied it up at 14-14 all, I knew already Auburn had to dig down deep if they were going to win this game. The odd thing is that even at the half, nobody outside of Auburn fans was giving Auburn a chance.

And then I saw something different.

Toward the end of the second quarter, Auburn learned how to move the ball again. And I felt we had a chance that I hadn’t seen two weeks ago. “If only the refs would watch the same game.” How that hit on Fannin toward the end of the second half wasn’t helmet-to-helmet was an amazing “no call” by the officials.

We maintained some semblance of heart through the third quarter. According to the CBS announcers (the ones in the studio), it shouldn’t have been that way. Alabama was merely biding its time and was in no danger. Alabama was going to win walking away with a double-digit lead. It was just a matter of time.

Somebody forgot to tell Auburn they weren’t even supposed to be in it.

Two defensive stands in the third quarter left Auburn ahead 21-20. My stomach continued roiled as the tension rose.

And then there was that final drive. Alabama showed why it was undefeated, coming into that drive 2 for 11 on third down conversions and making them when it counted. That last one hurt worst of all and put the Tide ahead for good. Auburn, traditionally having some semblance of clock management at the end of a half, showed they’d watched Les Miles in the LSU-Ole Miss game. Hail Mary chance at the end, but game over.

Back in the ‘70s, I remember watching a TV series called Operation: Petticoat. It was about a pink-colored submarine during WWII that carried a contingent of nurses. The sub was the laughingstock of the navy. In one episode, they were given the dangerous assignment of ferrying MacArthur to another location. It turned out that the MacArthur on board was a decoy. The navy had let it slip that the famed “pink sub” was carrying MacArthur to hide MacArthur’s real movements. At the end, the crew was down because they knew no one had given them a chance, yet they handled their mission. The Captain, played by John Astin, made a speech at the end about not having had a chance. He instructed his crew not to get down around him, because he was too busy “feeling proud.”

So am I. And so should every Auburn fan.

Let’s face it. Moral victories do suck.

But I’m still proud.

War Eagle anyway! Always and forever!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! If you're going somewhere to be with family, I hope you have a safe journey.

Next week, I will resume my Tuesday and Friday posting schedule. However, I will be dropping the "This Weekend in Atlanta" posting. Not sure what I'm going to do yet. I like the idea of people submitting funny comments by kids. We'll have to see.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Auburn vs. Alabama Preview 2009

Auburn vs. Alabama 2009 Preview

Auburn lost a game to NC State this weekend.

No, you didn’t miss a football game. Auburn lost a basketball game at a tourney in Florida. Auburn was the underdog going in. The team lost a lot from last year’s 24-win squad that dropped a heartbreaker to Baylor in the quarterfinals of the NIT. They are predicted to finish 6th in the West Division this year, not much different from the last few years.

The team trailed at halftime, but led through much of the second half. NC State came back to tie it at 48-all with a few minutes left and it was back-and-forth all the way. Auburn, outmanned and outgunned, lost 60-58 on a basket with 1.7 seconds left. The men’s team is currently 2-3. No one can tell them if that’s good yet.

This week, Auburn, the football team, plays Alabama. It’s a Friday game, meaning it won’t get lost in the melee of games on Saturday. Granted, Alabama and their fans probably think this Friday will be a showcase. A chance to show off. The press has already written us off. Finebaum predicted a blow-out last week. Scarbinsky has already commented that Auburn won’t get beat as bad as last year, but it will still be a beat-down.

And no one expects us to have a chance. We’re currently 12-point underdogs. Prior to last year’s game, we were 14-point underdogs. Since home field advantage is supposedly worth seven points (which makes the Kentucky loss seem even worse), this team, from an odds standpoint, is a bigger long-shot than last year.

The ESPN GameDay guys don’t have to show up for a prediction. They can just use tape from 2003. On that day, the crew pontificated on how bad the beat down might be. When they reached Corso, he just paused as if to add one of his infamous “not so fast, my friends,” and then shook his head and spoke one word, “Alabama.”

This team is better than last year’s team. The defense has been through a lot of changes and is more porous than last year's squad, but the overall team has a stronger heart.

And if the referees allow the game to play, then this is a team that can challenge the whole game.

Pat Dye, when asked in his interview how long it would take for him to beat Alabama, replied “Sixty minutes.”

It will take sixty minutes of solid play for Auburn to beat Alabama this year. I just hope it doesn’t fall in the last 1.7 seconds.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Haircut

“Daddy, I need a haircut.”

The words, coming from my 7-year old, stopped me dead. “You want a what?”

“I want a haircut.”

“Ok,” I said, nodding. Inside, I was happy. My little guy has fought getting a haircut for a number of months. My wife and I have often commented how long his hair is and that he should have it shorn. We tried numerous approaches.

“If you don’t cut your hair, you won’t be able to see. You’ll trip over something.”

“I can see fine. I just move it out of the way.”

During baseball season, he went into a slump. We seized the opportunity.

“You seem to be having trouble batting. Is your hair getting in your eyes?”

“I just shove it under my helmet. I can see fine.”

“That’s a lot of hair, though. Maybe your helmet’s too tight.”

Still, he blew our concerns off and wouldn’t be deterred. My wife, frustrated, demanded that he at least agree to cut his bangs. He pouted and sat still, long enough for my wife to give him a trim. Other than that, nothing.

Finally, we thought we had a solution.

“Tell you what. We’ll let you keep your hair long. You just need a bow.”

“Mom! Dad!” he fumed. “I don’t want a bow.”

“”It’ll be cute,” we countered. “You can borrow a bow from one of your classmates. Your cousin wears a lot of bows in her hair. Maybe she’ll give you one.”

Eventually, given enough teasing, he would storm off. My wife and I would laugh, convinced we were getting to him. However, he was not deterred. Finally, my wife and I agreed to let him keep his hair long as long it didn’t get in his eyes and cause him problems.

So, for this reason, his comment about cutting his hair caught me off guard.

“Really,” I asked. ‘What made you change your mind.”

“Some friends of mine said I look like a girl.”

Ah. Peer pressure. That would do it.

Still, even though he’s decided to get a trim, my wife and I realize that we have another challenge. He’s only seven. Is he already listening to his peers more than us? How do we deal with that?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This Weekend in Atlanta


When my wife and I visited New York a few years ago, we had a chance to see the Rockettes. The show was absolutely wonderful.

This weekend, today actually, The Rockettes open at Fox Theater. They'll be in town until December 6th. Click here for more information. (Picture originally published on the Fox Theater website.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Season in Review…So Far

Back in July and August, I made a series of predictions about the impending season. By this time, I predicted Auburn would be 7-4 in the season.

Part of me is flat-out amazed that I’m right. I wasn’t right last year at this time. But, I have to at least bask in a little bit or smarmy satisfaction.

Yeah, right.

Below is a chart showing how I did. I missed a lot

Week 1: Auburn 37, La. Tech 13. (My prediction: Auburn 24, La. Tech 13). I got La. Tech's score correct.
Week 2: Auburn 49, Miss. St. 24. (My prediction: Auburn 13, Miss. St. 6). Obviously I was still thinking about last season's contest.
Week 3: Auburn 41, West Virginia 30. (My prediction: Auburn 21, West Virginia 26). My first miss, but I was happy about it.
Week 4: Auburn 54, Ball State 30. (My prediction: Auburn 31, Ball State 10). Not unexpected.
Week 5: Auburn 26, Tennessee 22. (My prediction: Auburn 27, Tennessee 21). Couldn't believe how close I was here.
Week 6: Arkansas 44, Auburn 23. (My prediction: Arkansas 16, Auburn 14). Correct outcome, but boy was I off on the score.
Week 7: Kentucky 21, Auburn 14. (My prediction: Auburn 27, Kentucky 7). I never imagined drinking beer after the Kentucky game.
Week 8: LSU 31, Auburn 10. (My prediction: LSU 31, Auburn 30). I had LSU's point total correct. Thought we'd do a little better.
Week 9: Auburn 33, Ole Miss 20. (My prediction: Ole Miss 17, Auburn 13). Happily wrong.
Week 10: Auburn 63, Furman 31. (My prediction: Auburn 38, Furman 7). I didn't expect our subs to do this well.
Week 11: Georgia 31, Auburn 24. (My prediction: Auburn 21, Georgia 15.) Fully expected us to get out from behind the eight ball regarding Georgia's recent dominance.

So, of the first 11 games of the season, I was 7-4 in my picks to go along with the 7-4 record. I was wrong on West Virginia, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and UGA on the winner. My biggest miss was likely the Kentucky game, where I predicted 27-7 Auburn victory. My best effort was he Tennessee game, where I predicted a 27 – 21 Auburn victory (and was only off by two points).

What did I miss, other than the games?

I clearly missed the potential for potency in Auburn’s new offense. I also missed the potential for it to tank.

I also missed the potential for it to be even bigger season. Auburn could have been 9-2 right now, with victories over Kentucky and Georgia, games they blew.

So, with one game left in the season, I look at my prediction and realize that I predicted an Alabama victory of 20-13. This would make Auburn 7-5 on the year.

I hope I’m wrong.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ode to Maurice Sendak

I took my boys to see “Where the Wild Things Are” recently. It’s been out awhile, I know, but we’ve been busy. We caught the Saturday morning show over at Discover Mills Mall, when tickets prices are only $6 apiece for shows before noon. My wife thought it was a wonderful way to save money on ticket prices and it would have been, had I not promised the boys popcorn and drinks.

The kids enjoyed the show, though my younger son thought it a bit scary at times. (Granted, that could have been the caffeine and sugar in the Coke that kept him agitated.) My older son loved it. Admittedly, so did I, but not for any reason that had to do with the movie.

When my older son was still a toddler, my wife and I noticed he had trouble speaking. He had babbled like any child does at the appropriate ages and then his language abilities fell to the ground like a meteorite. We took him to doctors, therapists, specialists, etc. And we grew more and more frustrated.

One of the things we did though was to continue to try and read to him. We read simple books, books with great pictures, books to help kids pick up reading. We tried acting these books out to bring his words out.

No book was more popular with my older son than “Where the Wild Things Are.” We read the book every night. We bought a cassette tape of Maurice Sendak stories and listened to it in the car on the way to day care. And, as we went through the book, we followed the crescendos and decrescendos all the way up to my son’s favorite part of the book, where the little boy character, Max, is made king of the place where the wild things are and gives his first decree.

“Let the wild rumpus start.”

Max and the wild things all danced around and played. My son and I would do the same thing, at least until it was time for the wild things to be sent to bed without their supper as had happened to Max earlier in the story.

From there, we would finish the book. We might read something else. Another one my son’s favorites was another Sendak book, “In the Night Kitchen.” And while my son enjoyed that story, his reaction was never close to what came out for the wild things.

And after our reading was done, my son and I would put the books away until the next night, when we got to open up them up and let the wild rumpus start all over again.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Auburn - Georgia Postgame Review 2009

When the game started, I was drinking coffee. (Yes, I can drink coffee in the evening and not be bothered by it.) However, after the initial euphoria wore off, I knew I would have to break out the beer.

Ironically, after the first half, I should have felt good.

1) We were leading.
2) We’d only had four penalties called on us in the first half. That’s got to be a record. We’ve had more penalties that that in drives this season.
3) We had a 3-2 ratio in time of possession. Our defense must be rested and ready to go out like out gangbusters in the second half.

Yes, it seemed like we were seeing difficulties.
1) We couldn’t establish a running game
2) Georgia was establishing a pass rush.
3) Georgia started moving the ball.

And in the back of my mind I kept thinking, Auburn was ahead of Kentucky 14-7 and we blew that.

I wonder if that’s what it means to be an Auburn fan sometimes. It seems like we always play games close, where our guts get roiled every game. And then I thought…enough with the introspection. Get back to football.

We opened the third quarter and we looked like crap. Georgia moved the ball on us with relative ease, taking the lead. Finally, Auburn showed some moxie and tied it up. From there we moved into the 4th quarter and Auburn blew it again on a drive where they had Georgia 3rd and long. One time, the ball was tipped and the Georgia player still caught it. And then Neiko Thorpe just got flat out beat.

I gained some happiness from the 99-yard KO return, though I did think Washington let go of the ball too early. I was still troubled as I hadn’t seen Auburn really hold Georgia in the second half. I found myself praying that Auburn wouldn’t blow another 3rd and long. They did, but then Todd threw an interception to kill what had been a good drive. Georgia went on to score and that was it.

So, as I watch Auburn lose to Georgia for the 4th straight time, the question that really troubles me is that Auburn hasn’t beaten Georgia since I moved to Georgia. Do I need to move back to Oregon so Auburn can win again?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Weekend In Atlanta

For those of you on the east side that have always wanted to see a hockey game, but don't relish driving downtown to Blueland, the Gwinnett Gladiators are at home this Friday and Saturday. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Auburn - Georgia Preview (Musings) 2009

I hate the Georgia bulldogs.

Actually, that’s not true. I have nothing personal against them. Florida fans hate Georgia and vice-versa. And they can share that each year.

However, for one week of the year, I don’t like Georgia very much either.

And that’s odd, because I’ve always considered Georgia like the cousin you see twice a year at the family BBQ and Thanksgiving. I have a cousin my age. He attended a rival high school. When my school played his, I rooted for my school. But I held nothing against him personally before, during, or after the game. My cousin also had a shot at a basketball scholarship. Scouts came to watch him play. I wished him well, even if my school was the other team on the floor.

And so I feel when that way when Auburn plays Georgia.

Years ago, Auburn played its biggest games at neutral fields as the city of Auburn wasn’t big enough to host them. When Auburn began bringing its opponents to Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech all fought the change. Only Georgia respected Auburn’s right to play its home games where it wanted to. I always liked that story, though an older friend of mine once told me that, had I seen the field where Auburn and Georgia used to play (in Columbus, I think he said), then I’d understand why Georgia didn’t argue. In the end, it didn’t matter.

For me, one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship involved a game against Georgia. The Auburn CB was laid out on the Georgia sideline. The Auburn defense knelt around him and said a prayer while the trainers worked on the player. The Georgia players came off the sidelines and knelt around the Auburn defense. On the first play from scrimmage after the injury, the Georgia QB threw a TD strike at the guy’s replacement. Still, it was a prayerful moment.

And, as I look at this weekend’s game, I think about the fact that we have lost three straight. In one of those three, we were heavily favored (2006). In another one, we were the underdog and just blew it (2008). It’s time to redress the balance and have the “W” on our side of the ledger again.

So, as I said, I hate Georgia.

But only for this week.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Step Away from Independence

As much as I love both of my kids, I sometimes find myself wanting to spend time with just one or the other. It varies back-and-forth. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it does seem to be a fact of life.

And so, when my older son went camping with his Boy Scout troop this past weekend, I found myself looking forward to some one-on-one time with my 7-year old. My wife made it easier, heading out for shopping with the girls on Saturday, leaving me to take my little second grader to his school’s fall festival. I’ve been to this festival every year since we’ve been in Georgia. It’s a good time for all. My son jumped on jumpies, came home with brownies from a cakewalk, and bought a poster at the book fair. (My wife is still getting on me about allowing this one. “He’s supposed to buy BOOKS, not POSTERS. I couldn’t help it. There were posters for sale and he really wanted one. He vacillated for several minutes between a poster for the Falcons and one for my alma mater, Auburn. He finally decided on the Auburn one. I’m sure that’s why my wife thinks I let him buy it.)

One incident from that afternoon stands out. My 7-year old is an independent type, or at least he claims to be. He often runs off, convinced the world is his playground, and every day is a day to play. My wife and I have often gotten upset with him when he runs around in public places. We’ve tried to explain how dangerous this is. He says he gets it, but runs away again. When he was younger, my wife and I thought we might be driven to get one of those kid leashes. We chose not to do so.

This day, however, the little guy boy proved he’s not as independent as he likes to pretend. I was at a row of booths checking out the goods being promoted at one of them. My son ran toward the end of the booths to see some others items. I was watching him, so I knew exactly where he was. However, he thought I was behind him. When he turned and didn’t see me, he went a little nuts. When we reunited, he was upset. “Daddy, you left me. I thought you were behind me.” Telling him I was watching him the entire time didn’t make him feel any better.

That night, after my wife returned, our son regaled her with the story of how Daddy left him at the fall festival. We joked, saying “Don’t you like being by yourself?”

The truth is…no. As independent as he is, he needs to know someone is close by. When I put him to bed that night, he asked if I would sleep on the floor for a few minutes till he went to sleep.

“Are you scared?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.

So, he still needs me. And I’ll enjoy that feeling as long as I can.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Auburn - Furman Wrap-Up

It was an interesting day today.

With my son camping with his Boy Scout troop and my wife out shopping with the girls this weekend, I took my 7-year old to his school’s fall festival. He played on jumpys (jumpies?). He also ate Chick-Fil-A for lunch (his favorite), won brownies in a cake walk, and built a colored sand sculpture.

From there, we headed to our favorite BBQ place and picked up two pounds worth. We got cole slaw, but forgot the baked beans. From there, we headed to Kroger to pick up some buns. My wife wanted BBQ sandwiches for dinner. We now had everything.

What does this have to do with anything. Easy. It was homecoming at Auburn and I thought I could relax.

Also, I listened to the radio when I could. It was homecoming at the University of Georgia, too. They were handling Tennessee Tech with ease. By the half it was 31-0 and UGA looked as if it was coasting. It was a needed win and “rest” after last week’s beat down at the hands of Florida. By the time I got home, UGA was still coasting. (They went on to win 38-0.)

Why focus on Georgia with the start of this post? Easy. It was homecoming at Auburn They were focused on Georgia, too.

When I got home from the early afternoon out with my son, I turned on my computer. It was halftime in the Auburn game as I pulled that game up on espn360. com. The score read 42-3 and I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s not that I’d been worried, but Auburn did take extra time in putting away Tennessee-Martin last year. I knew that Caudle would see a good half of football (and he needs it). Final score was Auburn: 63, Furman: 31. A decent score. If the first half score had been doubled, it would have looked like Auburn was running up the score. And as the subs played out the second half (and as I hoped those two 3rd quarter fumbles were anomalies), I turned my focus to next week.

When I set my predictions for this year, I predicted we’d end the season 7-5. Given that injuries could devastate even those chances, some people told me I was nuts. At this time, we’re 7-3.

And I hope my early season prediction doesn’t come true.

War Eagle!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Weekend (actually next weekend) in Atlanta

On Facebook this weekend, I posted a comment about taking out the Christmas decorations now that Halloween is over. My wife reminded me that I'm not the one who pulls out the decorations, she does. However, she'd never let me put up anything until after Thanksgiving anyway.

So, with that in mind, what better than a reminder that next weekend (Saturday, the 14th), Stone Mountain Christmas opens up for the Christmas season. For more information, please click here to be taken to the website.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Auburn vs. Furman Preview

As we enter the season of thanks, I’d like to pause for a second and say I’m thankful that Zac Etheridge is out of the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Though he is out for the season and will be in a harness for the next four months, he talks optimistically about playing next season. As much as Auburn could use his leadership next season, I hope he calls it for a career. What happens off the field is much more important than what happens on it. Thanks also to Ole Miss RB Rodney Scott who was under Etheridge and didn’t move until Etheridge was take care of. He, as much as the doctors, is responsible for Etheridge not being in the hospital right now.

On to this week’s opponent…the Furman Paladins. Though Paladins are not specifically knights, they are often identified as knights. A roommate of mine in grad school graduated from Furman. He use to refer to the school as the Purple Paladins. If my old roommate still follows Furman football, he’s probably scratching his head as to what his team is going to do this weekend.

When you looked at Auburn’s schedule at the start of the year, among the feelings you got in your gut was knowing automatically who the Homecoming opponent was. Furman knew it, too, going back to when the contract was inked. Let’s face it. Auburn pays well. (After the incident in 2004, when their only decent non-conference opponent was stolen by Oklahoma, they upped the ante.)

But what do you say about Furman? What do you say about a team that Auburn faced once in the 40s and twice in the 50s, compiling a 3-0 record while allowing six points and blanking Furman twice. We probably shouldn’t be facing them now?

Do you say…Thanks for coming. Here’s your check.

Do you say…Thank you for allowing us to rest our starters before our final two games of the season.

Do you say…all the right things pre-game, though you know you’re scheming for Georgia.

What you should say is let’s play the game.

A lot will be made this week by Alabama fans about Auburn having scheduled Furman, now 4-4 after dropping its last game to App State. Auburn fans will point out that Furman pummeled Chattanooga by a score of 38-20 and that Alabama plays Chattanooga the week before they play Auburn. It doesn’t matter. It’s time to play a game.

It doesn’t mean that the team can’t relax that Furman is coming. Auburn has to remain vigilant. We have thin depth and we just lost a starter on defense. If we play sloppy, we will still win the game. However, sloppy play leads to injuries and we can’t afford that.

While the victory over Ole Miss showed the team’s resiliency, the injury to Etheridge showed us how fragile this group is. And when they got tired in the three weeks prior, they had nothing to sustain them.

This is the second straight year Jay Jacobs has scheduled 12 straight games with an off week before Alabama. It’s as asinine as not opening next year in the Chick-Fil-A kick-off with UCLA. I don’t know what Jay Jacobs is doing, but then neither does anyone else.

However, what I do know, is that I love my Auburn Tigers and will be supporting them all the way.

No matter how asinine anything gets.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Too Soon to Pass By

Last October, we told my older son that it was his last year of trick-or-treat. It wasn’t like he didn’t enjoy it, but he’d outgrown the costumes at Party City. My wife had concocted a Harry Potter ensemble that my older son loved and we made sure that we hit every house in the neighborhood. While walking the neighborhood, we talked about what Halloween 2009 would be like. My son mentioned he wanted to play escort and take his little brother around.

As this October drew closer, he often mentioned his role in taking care of his little brother. He wanted my wife and I to have a night to our own. As much as I appreciated his consideration, I knew I had to go. Unfortunately, the scariest people out on Halloween are sometimes not in costume. My older son debated with me vociferously, but as Dad I drew a line in the sand.

When this Halloween rolled around, my 12-year old made one last impassioned plea. I agreed to follow from a distance, but knew I would keep them in my sight. He could still escort his little brother. And, as it was raining, his little brother needed someone with an umbrella to keep the candy dry.

So, as my younger son, Bakugon (Japanese anime), went door-to-door, my older son had a quandary. The adults tried to give him candy, too. He initially refused it. (He didn’t have a bag.) But he finally gave in and began accepting the offerings, stuffing them into his pockets. When his pockets filled up, he gave them to me or dropped them in his little brother’s bag. When adults asked him what his costume was, he told them he was dressed as “Dad.”

After we got home, my wife suggested we might have made a mistake. There were many older kids, dressed in costume, who came to our house. My wife thought we’d aged our oldest out too early. Maybe next year, he could go door-to-door again.

My older son didn’t mind. He doesn’t like candy that much anyway. (And my younger son gets to ring the bell at every house.) However, for my older son, he tells me he got to be one of the things he wants to be when he grows up—he got to be Dad.