Brann...it's good for you.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Excursion near the city






It's taken a little while, but I'm finally getting around to posting some pics from the weekend.  On Sunday, we drove to Alexandria to check out a new-to-us family-friendly restaurant called Haute Dogs and Fries.  It's a trendy hot dog joint with locations in Alexandria and Purcellville.  It's worth the drive (to either location).  The food is good, and the atmosphere is cool.

After lunch, we went to Theodore Roosevelt Island for the first time.  The island is located off the GW Parkway across from Georgetown.  We walked some of the trails and saw the statue of Roosevelt.  

For a treat, we walked to nearby Georgetown and tried mini-pies at the Pie Sisters right across the Key Bridge.  Since I'm a creature of habit (I know what I like), I went with the mini key lime.  

I'd recommend all three outings...heck, if you're adventurous, do it a few hours like us, too.  Summer's days are rapidly coming to an end...

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Nationals: #10



Considering the Yankees' free fall since we saw them play in the Bronx, it hasn't been a bad thing to pay more attention lately to the local Nationals.  On Thursday, Washington got their 10th win in a row.  During that streak, they've won 5 of their last 6 in dramatic walk-off fashion - including yesterday's throwing error by the D'Backs that brought in Denard Span from 3rd.  The man above, Anthony Rendon (who has been incredible as the new 3B and occasional 2B, drove in the winning run.

From the Post:


The Nationals had crafted four walk-off victories in five days, and in a scoreless game Span had just created the chance for another. Moments later, after the biggest stolen base of his career and a misfire into the camera well, Span raised his left arm and trotted home with the only run of the Nationals’ 1-0 victory over Diamondbacks. The run perpetuated the most ridiculous stretch of baseball this town has ever seen, a winning streak that reached 10 games and infinite degrees of silliness.

When Jordan Pacheco fielded Anthony Rendon’s bouncer in the ninth and his throw bounded away from Trumbo, allowing Span to score from second, the Nationals had become the seventh team since 1900 — and the first since the 1986 Houston Astros — to notch five walk-off victories in six games. They also matched the longest streak in the team’s brief history, their first double-digit run since a halcyon fortnight in June 2005, their first year of existence. 

“It’s indescribable, really,” Span said. “I really don’t have the correct or the right words to say what the feeling is other than saying that we just feel confident, that somehow, someway, we’re going to find a way to inch off a victory.”

The Nationals were expected to do great things this season, and as the season comes to a close, they're proving to be worthy of the hype.  This is a talented team - great lineup, great starters, and a strong bullpen - built for a deep postseason run.  Plus, they've been playing most of the season without veteran 3B Ryan Zimmerman, who has been injured twice.  He'll add another element to the roster when he returns in September.  This team is itching to redeem itself for its collapse in Game 5 of the NLDS in 2012 in September.  Maybe, just maybe, they'll get their chance.

If the Yankees don't get a Wild Card bid (currently, they're 9 games behind the O's in the AL East and 4 games out of the Wild Card game), I know who I'll be rooting for in the postseason.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mason signs first 2015 recruit



Welcome to Mason Nation, Mr. Gilbert.  George Mason signed its first recruit for the 2015 season by adding 6'6 G/F Admad Gilbert last week.  Gilbert is a Philly product.  

From a Philly hoops blog:


Two weeks after visiting George Mason University, Constitution senior Ahmad Gilbert couldn’t stop thinking about the school.

So he decided to end his recruitment on Friday afternoon, becoming the Patriots’ first commitment for 2015.

“[George Mason] really loved me, they showed a lot of interest, more than all the [other] schools,” Gilbert said. “That’s somewhere I can play, they play my type of style.”

“They’ve been in my head all week, I really loved them; I didn’t talk about any other schools. It was the best fit for me.”

A 6-foot-6 wing, Gilbert had been a Division I recruit for a while, but his stock really rose this summer playing both with Team Final on the AAU circuit as well as at individual camps. The lefty’s an excellent shooter from both the perimeter and the mid-range, and he’s capable of guarding multiple positions on the defensive end thanks to his length and athleticism.

Perhaps his most important week all summer came at the Reebok Breakout Camp here in Philadelphia, where the 6-6 wing was one of the more consistent performers. It all came down to making shots, which Gilbert did all week long in front of literally hundreds of Division I basketball coaches.

“I was barely missing shots, I was rolling,” he said, “and when you’re making shots everything looks good. I was playing with my teammates the right way.”

By the end of the summer, he’d added offers from schools like Wichita State, South Florida and St. Bonaventure; his recruitment came down to Mason, Hofstra, Rhode Island and USF, he said.

Gilbert mentioned GMU’s distance from Philadelphia–about three-and-a-half hours–as a benefit, saying it wasn’t too far from home. As members of the Atlantic 10, they’ll also play La Salle and Saint Joseph’s every season, with at least one game in the Philadelphia region likely, though he said that didn’t end up having an impact on his decision.

As a junior, Gilbert helped lead Constitution to its second PIAA state title in three years, as the Generals took down the AA division for the first time after winning the A crown back in 2012. He led the team with a 15.7 ppg average as they went 28-5 overall (8-2 Public League), averaging 17 ppg during their state title run.

Of course, the rub:  What if Mason fires Hewitt after another disappointing season in Fairfax?  Like many college recruits, Gilbert could stay or he could bolt.  We'll see.

GO MASON.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mason in Spain



The Mason men's basketball team is in Spain right now for a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of the team's players.  Every four years, a team can go overseas.  It gives a team a chance to practice earlier (they're allowed up to 10 practices before departing) and bond earlier.  This team has a lot of new faces, so this will be a good opportunity for the Mason coaches (and fans) to see what we have in 2014-15 early.  Mason played its first game in Spain on Thursday.  The results are in this link.  Based on those results, we know a couple things early - Holloway will be expected to be "the man" on offense in his last two years.  In addition, Mason's height could be an advantage this season.  We have a lot more tall bodies inside to protect the paint. 

Have a great trip, guys...I'm enjoying the many options for pics from coaches, players, and Mason Basketball online.

GO MASON.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rest in peace, Robin



I first saw Robin Williams as a child, acting totally bizarre as an alien on a silly show called "Mork and Mindy."  I didn't give up on the talented comedian, despite that role, further appreciating him in the Comic Relief specials on HBO and his one-man shows on the same network (especially his incredible "Live at the Met").  But, it was "Dead Poets Society," which I watched on video in a Mason dorm room during my freshman year, that had the greatest impact.  After watching that film and Williams' protrayal of Mr. Keating, I wanted to become a teacher.  It took me a couple more years to officially follow-through on the idea, but it finally happened in 1999.  No, it wasn't as easy as Mr. Keating made it look in "DPS," but I hope I inspired a few kids along the way to appreciate literature and words a little bit more.

I was incredibly sad to learn of Robin Williams' passing on Monday, and even sadder to learn that it was by his own hand.  The man who made so many others smile and laugh couldn't find lasting happiness for himself.  It breaks my heart - I can't imagine what his wife and three children are experiencing this week.  Sadly, it's another tragic reminder of the wrath of depression. 

Rest in peace, Robin.  Please don't make God get a stomachache from laughing too hard at your wit.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bronx & Philly























Last Wednesday, we headed north to visit family and do some touristy things in NY and PA.  Last Thursday, we attended our second-ever game at the new Yankees Stadium.  This one was different than a year ago, though, since the Yanks won 1-0 (they lost 2-0 a year ago in another pitcher's battle).  On our way back south, we stopped in Philly for a few days to see some of the historic and fun stuff downtown - including the oldest Episcopal church in America, Betsy Ross's house, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Franklin Square.  There's tons more to do in both cities, so we'll have to make plans to get back to both soon.

Back to reality tomorrow...but, our first-ever family trip to Minnesota is about two months away.  The kiddos get to fly on a plane for the first time on that trip; plus, Julie returns to her birth state.  Bring it on! 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Mason finds out its opponent in P.R.



George Mason's opponent in the 2014 Puerto Rico Tip-Off was announced on Tuesday.  Mason will take on West Virginia in their first game on November 20 at 7:30 PM on ESPNU.  The excellent field includes Mason, Boston College, College of Charleston (fresh off firing their coach), Dayton (the A-10's Elite Eight team last season), New Mexico, Texas A&M, West Virginia and defending national champions Connecticut.  

Mason has never beaten WVU, so this could be a first and it's another opportunity for Mason to start a season off with a win over a bigger conference opponent.  My expectations will be high, even if the doubters have us as cellar dwellers in the A-10.  We don't what to expect until the games are played.

GO MASON.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Eight years ago today

Eight years ago today, I started this blog in a depressing cubicle in a "Lorton" (much closer to Rt. 1 Hoodbridge) office park. Even though I don't post nearly as much as I did (heck, I posted 53 times in November of 2006), I think this blog still has a purpose. It's purpose then was to assist me when my transition from teaching to another profession.  I was heading into an unknown world, and I didn't know what to expect.  This daily bit of "therapy" (cheaper than the real kind, right?) helped. 

Since I left teaching in the summer of 2006, I've been a technical writer, section manager, technical trainer, and technical writer again.  But, as you can probably tell, my favorite titles are husband, dad, son, brother, and even sports fan.  That will never, ever change.

For the few of you who are reading this, thanks.  I don't know when it will end, but one day it will.  Don't worry...I'll give proper notice.

Enjoy your summer day.  They're fleeting, just like the years I was worried about eight years ago today.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Yanks make trade deadline deals for Drew & Prado



Without giving up a ton of talent, the Yanks made a couple trade deadline deals that added extra bats and versatility to the line-up.  New York acquired Stephen Drew from the Red Sox (first trade between the two since 1997) and Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks.  Drew isn't having a great year after signing late with the Sox, but he has a chance to redeem himself over the next couple months of the season.  Prado, who can play multiple positions in the OF and IF, is a career .290 bat and is signed through 2016.  Both guys can help.  It still doesn't address our need for pitching, which is worrisome considering what other teams in the AL have on their staffs.

The Yanks are 5 games out of first place going into a series with Boston in Beantown tonight (they are also 3.5 games out of a Wild Card slot).  We will be in attendance at next Thursday's afternoon matinee vs. the Tigers - one of the many AL teams with a loaded roster.  August is here.  Let's do it, Yankees.

GO YANKEES.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Billy Joel returns to DC




For the third time in my lifetime, I saw legendary singer/songwriter/performer Billy Joel in concert.  He returned to Washington, DC last night with a show at Nationals Park, which was also my first-ever concert in a baseball stadium.  We saw Joel the first two times at the Verizon Center.  Once again, the man doesn't disappoint.  The voice was as strong as ever for a 65-year old man.  He seemed more bothered by the bugs that kept flying around his head than anything last night (he used a flyswatter throughout the entire performance...really).  

The setlist was pure Joel gold:  You can find it here.  Julie & I went to the show sans kiddos, but it's definitely a show where children are welcome and it's safe for their eyes and ears.  I can't say the same about my Buffett experiences, which I'm getting too old for as well.  Last night's show was sold-out, and if he ever returns to the city, I'm sure the next one will be sold out as well. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

42.

Today is my birthday.  42 feels like an uneventful number, since it doesn't have the makings of a landmark birthday.  To me, I think "42" in terms of baseball:  Jackie Robinson's number, and the last number to be worn in the majors by newly-retired Mariano Rivera.  42 makes me think of my dad, who found out he was going to be a father for the third (and later fourth) time at the age.  42 is the opposite of 24, my birth day.  Maybe there's some cosmic magic in that...who knows.  42 is a number I hope to double-up and move beyond; maybe a little Brann (and Croxton) longevity will shine on me. 

On my 42nd birthday, I know all of the following:  I am happily married to an incredible wife.  I have two wonderful children.  I have a dog who treats me like I'm the greatest man on Earth.  My new job is solid, and I work with some good people.  My parents are still alive and kicking.  There could always be more $$s, but we're doing okay.  I live in a good town with good schools and close to things I enjoy.  None of my closest family members live further than five-six hours away.  Despite a fear minor irritants, I'm pretty darn healthy. 

At 42, I am a happy man (as long as I get ahead of traffic...so, this waxing poetic moment must end).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Julie's birthday











In no particular order, here are some pics from Julie's birthday on Saturday.  We celebrated with a picnic at Sky Meadow State Park, peach and corn picking at Hollin Farms (no berries...darn...not ready yet), and a little bocce at a nearby winery (where we skipped the wine...just bocce!).  We wrapped the day up later with dinner at our favorite BBQ joint in Gainesville.  Days away from my 42nd...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Captain shines in final ASG



In his final All-Star Game, Derek Jeter did his part to give the AL home field advantage in this fall's World Series.  Jeter went 2-2 and scored 1 run in the 5-3 win.  In the 3rd inning, he was honored by the MN crowd when he exited the game.  From the Times:


Jeter finished his All-Star Game career with a .481 average (13 for 27) after a single off Alfredo Simon in the third. He went back to shortstop for the top of the fourth, but before Chris Sale’s first pitch, Alexei Ramirez took the field to replace Jeter at short.

Jeter pointed to the N.L. dugout as he left the diamond, pausing before the baseline and then stepping over it, like Burt Lancaster in “Field of Dreams,” crossing a threshold and knowing he could not return. That was the end of his All-Star Game career.

With “New York, New York” playing over the loudspeakers, and his parents cheering on the scoreboard, Jeter walked the length of the first base dugout, exchanging handshakes and hugs with each of the players and coaches. He returned to the field for another ovation, tipping his cap — a garish All-Star Game-only version, with a white panel in the front — to the crowd.

Let's hope Jeter gets to take advantage of that World Series home field edge in the Fall Classic.  

GO YANKS. GO JETER.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Derek Jeter ad



Kudos to the Jordan brand for the Derek Jeter tribute ad that came out on Monday.  Wow.  Derek Jeter will start the MLB All-Star Game tonight for the AL, leading off in the bottom of the 1st. 

GO YANKEES.  GO JETER.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bad, bad news for my Yanks



The one bright spot in the Yankees' heavily-injured pitching rotation this season has been Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka.  Well, now they'll have to see what it's like to live without him for at least six weeks - and maybe longer.  Tanaka needs rest for a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, and he may eventually need Tommy John surgery and be out for a year.  This season, the Yanks have now lost four of their five pitchers from their opening day rotation.  An already mediocre season just got a lot worse.

Tanaka exits the season, for now, at 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and and 135 Ks.  The Yanks are 46-45 on the season and 4 games behind Bawlmer, who is in first.  

Yeah, this sucks.

GO YANKEES.


Sophia's first trip away from home



A couple days ago, we dropped off our first-born at a Girl Scouts camp in Maryland for 2 nights and 3 days away from home.  I'm anxious to hear about Sophia's experience this evening when we pick her up.  I've missed her, and I definitely don't like the feeling of having one of my own children out of the house, sans communication.  Move fast, workday - I need to see my daughter! 

I hope she's had a great time.  Sophia has always been independent, so this camp should be a great experience for her.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Happy 1st birthday, Copper



Our "puppy" Copper turned the big ONE this past weekend on Saturday.  Happy first birthday, buddy.  Here's a couple pics of our beagle/hound mix with Sophia on Saturday and Sunday.  I think he likes her. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

A few days with family in the Northern Neck







It was only a little bit of time, but we did a lot in a few days in my native Northern Neck.  We celebrated belated and current birthdays, visited the Lee family home Stratford Hall, and saw our newest niece/cousin for the 2nd time in person. 

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