Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Monday at the Master's

(Photo taken by Patrick Markham, March 5, 2010)

Where else in the world do so many top stars of any game come together to compete in the same place, the same time of year, year after year? A small field of only about 90 golfers competes in the annual event known as the Master’s.

Two friends and I had the opportunity to attend Monday’s practice round of the Master’s at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. It was one of the greatest Monday’s of my life. The car ride up was a wrestles one. I could only imagine what I was about to experience; the history, the tradition, the unparalleled excellence of arguably the most prestigious golf course in the world. The moment we stepped on the grass of Augusta National I realized why this place is so special. The grass was like any other grass I have ever seen on a golf course. It seemed to almost glimmer with perfection. Every step I took around the grounds I felt as if I should go back and wash the grass I had stepped in. The people were more dignified and respectful than any other course in golf. Tiger Wood’s was making his first appearance on a golf course since his leave of absence from golf. At a press conference after his practice round Tiger was pleasantly surprised with the fans reception of him back into the game of golf. “The galleries couldn’t be nicer. I mean it was incredible. The encouragement I got; it just blew me away.”

For me the highlight of the day wasn’t Tiger Woods, but instead was a name not as recognizable to the average fan, Fuzzy Zoeller. As we sat on Number 12 of Amen Corner and watched golfers play through our Monday at the Master’s became even more memorable. Zoeller picked four kids from the crowd to see who could hit the ball closest to the hole.

The materialistic prize for the kid that got the ball closest to the hole: A crisp one hundred dollar bill.

After the first three golfers failed to get the ball out of the tee box, ten year old Bobby Jones stepped up to hit. Zoeller said afterwards, “We told him try to relax, put good swing on it, but then we turned him around and showed him all the people up behind number 12, ha ha, so he’d get the feel of that.” Jones did that and then some as he proceeded to hit a strike on the green within twenty feet of the hole. “The first 3 kids just didn’t even make it off the tee box and I got up there and hit it onto the green.” Only at the Master’s. The irony behind the kid’s name, Bobby Jones, makes the story that much more special.

The not materialistic prize for Bobby Jones: A story and a experience of a lifetime that he will be able to share with his own kids one day.

There is probably not another sporting event in the world that would make me miss the Brave’s first game of the season which included Jason Heyward’s spine tingling first Major League home run on the first swing he took as a big leaguer. What made this day so special is not necessarily the game of golf itself, but the experience of Augusta National Golf Club and all its splendor that comes with it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Opening Day Just 7 Days Away

(Pictured above Braves Home Opener April 2008, Braves lost to Pirates. Photo taken by: Patrick Markham)

With Opening Day just seven days away heres a look of what the braves starting lineup, rotation and bullpen will be coming out of spring training.


Projected Opening Day lineup
1 LF Melky Cabrera
2 2B Martin Prado
3 3B Chipper Jones
4 1B Troy Glaus
5 C Brian McCann
6 SS Yunel Escobar
7 RF Jason Heyward
8 CF Nate McLouth
9 P Derek Lowe

Projected rotation
1 RHP Derek Lowe
2 RHP Jair Jurrjens
3 RHP Tommy Hanson
4 RHP Tim Hudson
5 RHP Kenshin Kawakami

Projected bullpen
CL LHP Billy Wagner
SU RHP Takashi Saito
SU RHP Peter Moylan
MI RHP Kris Medlen
MI LHP Eric O'Flaherty
MI RHP Jesse Chavez
MI LHP Jo-Jo Reyes

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Importance of Team Chemistry and Clubhouse Moral in Major Leauge Baseball

Pictured above is Jason Heyward, the 2009 Minor League Player of the year and number one overall prospect in baseball (Photo is from an outside source)

Often times people look at a MLB team and judge how good they are by their talent. While talent is a main factor that goes into becoming a World Champion a key aspect that is often over looked is the chemistry of a ball club. The 2010 Atlanta Braves are a perfect example of how this works.

Team chemistry can simply make a ball club go from good to great. Let's start by looking at superstar in the making Jason Heyward. Jason makes everyone else on the Braves better. His maturity level is far beyond most major leagures. He has one of the best attitudes of any professional athlete I have ever seen. He loves what he does, he has a true passion for the sport of baseball. He works harder than anyone in the game. Jason plays the game like it is meant to be played. He runs out every ground ball, is always hustling and giving 100 percent effort every second he is on the field. This type attitude will spread through the whole team and we will see the Braves playing with a different attitude than we have been in recent years since their playoff drought began. Jason will bring an energy level to the team that has been long missing.

The Braves also have veterans to teach players like Heyward. John Smolthz h elped to season Chipper Jones when the entered the league, Chipper will now be given the same oppertunity with Heyward. Chipper is the only player remaining from the 1995 season when the Braves won their last World Series. He is the clubhouse leader, and will season Heyward on everything he will need to know about being in a Major Leauge Ball Player. The Braves have a good mix of young players and up and coming stars like Heyward and phenom pitcher Tommy Hanson. They also have one of the most diverse ball clubs in baseball in terms of nationality; players from the United States, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.

The Braves clubhouse mood has been great throughout spring training, which will inevitably transfer over to the first game of the 2010 season. General Manager Frank Wren along with Bobby Cox both love the makeup of the ball club heading out of spring training. Come April 5 the Atlanta Braves will be set to return to dominance.

March 27, 2010 "Inaugural" Post

I am looking forward to this opportunity to provide my insight and knowledge in sports and different aspects involved within them. A majority of my posts will involve the Atlanta Braves and Auburn University, but it will not be limited to just that as I hope to cover other major sports stories going on. Only 8 days 14 hours and 18 minutes until first pitch, it is our year I can feel it.