I am currently making a three week trip through Georgia and Florida promoting our MLB, NYY, and NASCAR titles just released by the Sports by the Numbers team - and as part of that trip I made a stop in Atlanta where I was able to take in the Braves vs. Mariners at Turner Field on Friday night.
I'll also be at the Rays vs. Red Sox series in a few days, and I'll be at the Daytona Speedway for the running of the Coke Zero 400 to wrap up my trip the weekend of July 4.
There were several highlights at Turner Field tonight - including the chance at a short conversation with Braves' pitching coach Roger McDowell, a presentation to Chipper Jones celebrating his 400th career homerun, and . . . the Braves unveiling a massive Chick-Fil-A cow that now leads the crowd in doing the Tomahawk Chop.
Okay, so maybe that last one wasn't exactly a highlight - but, it was mildly entertaining in a southern, cheesy sort of way.
There were two actual events from tonight's game that are worth describing here (the game was a 10-2 Mariners blowout, and so it misses the cut) - and they both involve young fans I met at the game.
I was among the first fans in the stadium, and immediately went to the Braves bullpen to see if anyone was throwing - and sure enough, Buddy Carlyle was working with pitching coach Roger McDowell.
There were only three or four other people standing above the bullpen (it was two-and-a-half hours prior to game time), and when McDowell acknowledged the fans I told him that he gave me a ball once back when I was a kid watching him in a bullpen session when he was pitching for the Mets - which is true by the way - and he laughed, then tossed a ball to the one kid standing there with his dad, and I thought that was way cool.
Just a moment later, Pete Moylan came walking into the bullpen and started talking with McDowell - and the kid who got the ball was standing there with his dad, and so his dad says to Moylan, "Hey, can you sign my kid's glove?"
Moylan said sure thing, and came over to the wall and reached up for it - so the kid, who I guess was maybe six or seven at the most, got really excited, and said to Moylan, "Are you Chipper?"
I guess Moylan misunderstood, because he replied, "Yeah, I'm a pitcher."
The kid went hysterical . . . let me tell you. He began to scream, "Chipper signed my glove! Chipper signed my glove!"
Then Moylan laughed, and said, "No, I'm a pitcher - my name's Pete."
The kid just kept screaming, "Chipper signed my glove!"
The dad apologized to Moylan, who I have to say was a good sport about it - and then he tried to explain to his son that Chipper was out on the field and was not the player who signed his glove, but I don't think the kid believed him.
Anyway, the other cool thing was sitting in the stands during the game, two brothers in front of me, who were also quite young, probably eight and ten, were actually keeping score in a scorebook - which I thought was just freaking awesome.
You don't see that much anymore - but man when my brothers and I were kids, we kept scorebooks for our whiffle ball games in the backyard, for the Braves games we listened to on the AM signal we got from Atlanta, and for every game we were lucky enough to see in person.
I swear that if math word problems in grade school had used baseball scenarios instead of those trains leaving cities at such and such time going such and such speed, we'd all have been at the top of the class.
We knew how to do math because we knew how to keep score, and we sure as heck knew how to do fractions, because that's what we used to figure our batting averages.
Anyway, I asked the kid where he learned to keep score - and he said his dad taught him. That's also way cool, and exactly as it should be.
Last of all, there was one very disturbing sight at the game tonight - I posted a video of it on our Sports by the Numbers blog site, and you can click here to see it.
Be sure to check out the entire Sports by the Numbers book series.