Well, I did something different today: I went to a ball game.
And what's so different about that? It was baseball played under the sun. Usually, the Braves call it "Business Man's Special," but that was different, too. This was "School Kids Special," and there was a lively bunch of school kids there. Turner Field sounded like a schoolyard at recess.
Something else special was this: It was Jack McKeon's last visit to Turner Field on business. The manager of the Florida Marlins was saying his farewell, but there was more to it than that. Stay with me, please.
The Braves are running a little low on starters. You know, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are both under repair, so Fredi Gonzalez reached down to Randall Delgado, a Panamanian having his first fling in the majors. He was matched up against a Marlins' starter who is as good they've got, Ricky Nolasco. And for six innings he played his role well.
It was Dan Uggla who set off the uprising, and it was as mild as could be. Usually you think of Uggla in terms of home runs. This time it simply was a walk. You see, Nolasco had been hanging by his thumbnails on a 1-0 lead, off the bat of Greg Dobbs, formerly of the Phillies, now cleanup guy with a fish on his shirt.
Uggla eventually reached third base, and from there scored on a squeeze bunt by Martin Prado, and we had a 1-1 tie. Now we come to the fun part, in which one of McKeon's ancient Marlins came back to haunt him. Alex Gonzalez had been the shortstop on the improbable Marlins team that beat the Yankees and won the World Series in 2003, and as Jack said the other day, "No shortstop ever had a better season."
Now, Gonzo has had his ups and downs with the Braves, so down lately that Frank Wren traded for Jack Wilson to get his attention. It seems to be working, for with two Braves aboard in the seventh, Gonzo pulled a curving drive into the left-field stands, the score became 4-1, and need I say more? Oh, I guess I could go into the feats Fredi Gonzalez's bullpen, but you've had enough of that.
Let's dwell on what a lovely day at the old ball park. Bright sunshine. The squeal of school kids "playing hookey" in a sense. And while the Business Men were chained to their desks, I'll have them know they missed a helluva day at the ball park.
Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.