Man in the Stands

Braves top St. Louis, Receive good news

Mike Minor (10-5) was able to lead Atlanta to a 4-1 victory over the Cardinals to snap a four-game winning streak on Friday night at Turner Field.

Minor threw 70 of his 103 pitches for strikes in his 7.0 innings of work, giving up only four hits, including a 2nd inning home run to Yadier Molina, and striking out five batters along the way.

After giving up that homer to Molina in the top of the inning, Minor came up with a single to left to bring home Dan Uggla. Uggla, along with Chris Johnson and Minor, was a perfect 1-1 with runners in scoring position on the night.

Jason Heyward added to the two-run lead in the 5th inning with an opposite field home run off of Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (13-6), his 8th of the season.

Minor’s gem is even bigger when you look at the six players coming into Friday’s contest hitting above the .300 mark. He was able to hold them to a combined 3-21 with one RBI (Molina’s HR).

Jordan Walden was able to come in and pitch a perfect 8th inning, throwing only seven pitches. Craig Kimbrel was able to pick-up his 29th save of the season on 17 pitches and two strikeouts.

Thanks to the Braves official Twitter…

Fans were able to get some pretty uplifting news tonight. Not long after game’s end, the @Braves handle tweeted an update on Tim Hudson. (Both are listed below)

Many fans knew that Huddy would be having his surgery today but didn’t know exactly what for other than a fractured ankle.

The fractured/broken bone was to be expected from any of those who saw the play. What is concerning is the ligament. Even though the team didn’t let fans know exactly what happened to the ligament, those things are tough to judge and fully recover.

Honestly, four months, even though it means he won’t see another game this season, is a happy and exciting thing to hear. It gives hope to fans that we will get him back as strong as ever next year and well in time for Spring Training!

If you’ve ever seen Tim in the dugout, whether on TV or when you’re at the game, you know he’s the biggest cheerleader on the team and a great team leader. The media in Atlanta has already reported that we can get used to seeing him in the dugout for the remainder of the season and that is great for the squad. His presence is a powerful thing for a team that has the largest division lead in baseball!

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Pitching troubling Atlanta

“The Braves suddenly have pitching woes” reads the first line of Jason Mastrodonato’s recent article for mlb.com.

As I read the sentence, I kind of laughed in my head and thought, “The Braves never have pitching troubles. We’re always deep in the ‘pen. Usually our pitching problems come down to too many of them.”

The more I thought about it, and re-read the sentence again, I realized, “Holy hell. He’s right.”

Hudson’s down, Beachy is likely to be rushed back, and, as we all know, there are two strong relievers out for the season.

The article, titled “Braves leaning on Minor to anchor rotation,” goes on to point out what the title says, the team is pretty much dependent on how well Mike Minor pitches. Some how this season, Minor has become the ace of the staff. With Huddy’s broken ankle, that has now been all but confirmed.

Braves Country will be holding tightly to the coattails of Minor and following him into the dark. His first task P.H.A. (Post-Huddy’s Ankle) is to take the mound Friday against a tough Cardinals line-up, which has six players hitting above .300, including Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Carlos Beltran.

As far as Brandon Beachy is concerned, he threw a rehab game with Gwinnett on Wednesday night. His line (6.0 innings, 2 H, 2 runs, 1 ER, 4 walks, 3 K) was nothing to brag about, but, out of his 86 pitches, he threw 51 strikes. That’s a promising outing. As a fan, I would still love to see him get at least one, if not two, more starts and see that he is not experiencing soreness or fatigue, but it sounds like we may see him Monday against the Rockies.

Watching Wood get beat around the yard like a playground soccer ball on Thursday didn’t leave much hope for his help this season and his relief, Kameron Loe, definitely did not leave Braves fan feeling any more comfortable.

With Minor and Teheran throwing well, there is some ease of the minds of Braves fans, but Maholm, Wood, and Medlen are making it tough to put the rotation “out of sight, out of mind.”

Medlen has given up 20 earned runs in his last 5 starts (2-3) and has not seen the end of the sixth inning in his last 3 starts (0-3). Granted, it is hard to focus and pitch well when your team isn’t putting up runs for you, but you still have a job to do. Kris just isn’t getting it done right now.

With the trade deadline coming up and the state of the starting rotation, you have to wonder what moves the Braves are looking to make. If you are Frank Wren, do you go after starting pitchers or do you have a focus elsewhere to pick up help for?

Atlanta’s alarming numbers

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The Atlanta Braves are sitting pretty with 13 games left before the All-Star Break.

The club has compiled a 48-34 record through 82 games played this season, including a six-game lead in the National League East, largest division lead in the Majors.

Atlanta is coming off of its second best month so far, including the current three-game winning streak after sweeping Arizona.

Though the team is having a successful season, there are reasons for concern when September and October arrive.

Sure, the Braves are third in the league in home runs (102), 10th in OPS, and 13th in runs, but other offensive categories are alarming.

The Braves were shutout four times in June making the team the most shutout team in the MLB with 11. Ranking 20th of the 30 teams in hits, Atlanta has struck out 723 times this season, second only to Houston.

The worries don’t stop there. Pitchers Tim Hudson and Julio Teheran both have batting averages higher than center fielder B.J. Upton. Teheran is only .011 points lower than the average of second baseman Dan Uggla.

Uggla, whose contract runs through the 2015 season, is on pace to have the worst season of his career. Only 254 at-bats into this season, Uggla already has a team-high 102 strikeouts. He is also on his way to career-lows in hits, runs scored, and RBIs. His struggles do not end at the plate. With a team-high 10 errors, he is on path to a career-high.

Combine all of these issues with the fact that the Braves have $9.25 million in salary on the disabled list right now. Two of the players, Johnny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, on the DL currently were major pieces to the bullpen in 2012. Both are out for the rest of the year after having Tommy John surgery.

It is hard to see a team with the strikeout numbers, low number of hits, and high profile players being out-hit by pitchers that the Braves are seeing make a late season run. Hopefully, the team can make a change in the statistics for the better and keep the success rolling.

After the 14 straight division championships, the last in 2005, Braves fans are ready to see them get back to that position, as well as making it to the World Series. Atlanta hasn’t seen the team reach the World Series since the ’99 season, despite having the talent year after year.

This season seems to be something special, but there is still a lot of baseball left to be played. As a fan, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Pena to have season-ending surgery

Atlanta Braves utility man Ramiro Pena is having season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

After being put on the 15-day disabled list last Friday, the infielder decided to have the surgery after getting multiple opinions on the shoulder. Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery on Thursday at his offices in Florida.

Pena was signed by Atlanta as a free agent out of the Yankees organization this past winter. Not having a definite contract for next season could have played a great role into his decision to go through with the surgery. Putting it off could have cost him a spot on any roster next year.

As for the Braves, Paul Janish was pulled up from Triple-A affiliate Gwinnett to fill Pena’s roster spot on June 21. Where Janish rivals Pena’s defensive talent, he lacks at the plate. Pena is in the midst of a career-best season at the plate, boasting nine extra-base hits and three home runs.

Pena has had surgery once before on the same shoulder when he was a minor leaguer.

Mother’s Day – @smyers0019

Today is the day that we get once a year to say “thank you” to that one special person who gave us life. The one that changed our diapers, packed up our lunches, and made sure we were okay after we had fallen down.

They remain the person who wants to check on us constantly to see how things are, knowing we’ll always say ‘fine’ and sensing when we aren’t.

Today we celebrate those people who we should celebrate every day, our mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there!

A special Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, Stacey Myers. You’re the strongest person I know and a beautiful human being. You’ve always been there for me and Kristen, even when you knew we could handle things on our own. You take better care of us than we deserve. How you’re surviving an (almost) empty house with us away at school, no more games to go to, our friends constantly coming through the door, and the ever-present “what are going to eat for supper?” argument, I have no idea. Just know that we love you and that Mother’s Day is just another day to say so.

4 Essential Skills for Millennial Leaders

Everyone needs to give this article a read. It is a write-up about millennial leaders that we should all strive to embody!

4 Essential Skills for Millennial Leaders.

The new position in social media

By: Zack Myers

“The reason I moved into social media was I saw it emerging as a significant technology within the marketing arena,” said Jeff Sheehan, owner of Sheehan Marketing Strategies. “I envisioned traditional marketing as diminishing in importance relative to social media.”

What is social media? We hear about it on a daily basis. It is practically forced into our lives whether our jobs have a need for it or we are just watching television. “Like us on Facebook” used to be a tag on every newscast and product commercial. Now, we see hashtags on our favorite programs, newscasts, and sporting events.

Merriam-Webster defines social media to be “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).”

“If you look at social media, there are just so many tools, it’s like having a portfolio of stocks. ‘Which stock is getting me the best bang for my buck?’” said Sheehan.

As the owner of Sheehan Marketing Strategies, Jeff Sheehan is a self-employed social media consultant. What does that mean? What does “social media consultant” entail?

“Working with companies and small businesses establishing their presence, making sure they have visibility and awareness, and that they know how to use the tools to help promote themselves,” said Sheehan. “I’ve done a lot of volunteer work: nonprofits, cancer societies, Parkinson’s, veteran societies, about half a dozen charities, with regard to their social media efforts.”

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(Jeff Sheehan shows the process of what he goes over with clients.)

“A lot of people are overwhelmed. They don’t have the time and see the benefit of it.”

Sheehan says that it is a tough job to try and sell the concept to those who do not believe in the advantages of social media efforts.

“It’s marketing. It’s just evolved and morphed into a different form,” said Sheehan. “They’re tools. You have to think about it as ‘what is it doing for me?’”

The social media consultant says he doesn’t think of himself as a “social media expert.”

“That’s one thing; I don’t consider myself to be a social media expert. I think it’s totally disingenuous, or unethical, because you cannot be an expert in social media. It’s changing on a day-to-day basis. You can’t keep up with it,” said Sheehan.

“I put down that I was a LinkedIn expert. I didn’t want to do that to be quite honest with you, but I was forced to because there are people who didn’t have the background and experience who are trying to sell themselves as LinkedIn experts.”

Though he does not believe that there is such thing as a social media expert, Sheehan says that there are some out there who are doing well for themselves. What is propelling them ahead of the pack? In his opinion, Sheehan says it is books.

“The ones who are out there that seem to be doing quite well, the ones that are differentiating themselves have written books. Being published clearly helps them differentiate themselves, accelerates their careers and develops credibility as well,” he said. “Though if you look, if you peel back the onion, there may be nothing there. There are some that the experience level is not there but they’ve managed to position themselves through books.”

When asked if experience has taken backseat to having a name, he said, “Correct, a brand.”

What is your “brand”? A brand, whether it is a company or personal, is how the public sees you. How well recognized a person or entity is for what they do or how they do it. For instance, Coca-Cola’s brand is exponential. Nearly anyone around the globe can see that famed logo and know what it is and what it stands for. How does one build their brand?

In just two years, Mr. Sheehan says he has never bought a “follower” or a “like.” Both, unfortunately, are done every day by companies and individuals. However, he said that he was at 1,700-1,800 Twitter followers when he decided “I’m going to expand my network on Twitter.” He is currently nearing 200,000 followers on the social networking site. How, you ask?

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(Jeff Sheehan talks about his aggressive move to increase his Twitter network.)

“Just publishing good content, commenting and trying to engage people as much as possible,” said Sheehan.

His hard work has not gone unnoticed.

“As far as marketing, I was ranked by Evan Carmichael as number one in the world to follow as far as marketing on Twitter,” said Sheehan with a smile on his face and a discernible happiness in his voice. “That was quite a compliment.”

When he is not doing individual consultations, Sheehan speaks about the use of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google for the daunting task of job searching. He will be giving a speech at the Digital Summit in Atlanta in a few weeks.

He says that there is one way to help make sure that you keep a positive face on social media and don’t scare off any possible employers.

“What you need to do on social media is to conduct yourself as if it were a professional office environment because you never know who is going to see it and you don’t want to do anything to alienate any potential people”

When asked if there was a site or service that many people don’t see as “big” and useful right now that will be big in the future, Sheehan said, “I think Google+ (Google Plus) is going to continue to expand because it’s Google property. Whatever you have on Google+, Google gives it a higher rating within their search algorithm, so that’s going to continue to expand.”

Social media is always changing. Whether it is learning a new application for a phone or picking up on a new website, it seems as though the social world is the only thing to match, and possibly exceed, the pace of technological advancements.

“I’ve found that the social media avenue is much more difficult than I expected.”

The next big thing is always around the corner, but, after that big thing comes along, there will be another after it. It is a never-ending cycle that current, including Sheehan, and future social media consultants will have to stay on top of.

An Engine for your wallet and your world

By: Zack Myers

“Direct injection is designed to get a better fuel economy so it would save the consumer money, but fuel injection was designed to do that,” said Marcus Smith, lead direct injection service technician at Cobb County Kia. “The way we’re going now, direct injection is the way to go.”

The next big thing in automobiles may already be powering the vehicles you see on the road every day, and we are not talking about ethanol. This is about gasoline engines. Direct injected (DI) gasoline engines, to be exact.

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(A view under the hood of a DI engine.)

For an engine to work, three things are necessary: fuel, oxygen, and a spark. Both, standard and DI, engines work this way. Where the difference comes in is the delivery of fuel and how the fuel mixes with the oxygen. Though this sounds very simple, the efficiency of the two types is vastly different.

The standard engine, as the world has come to know it, takes a roundabout way to get the fuel into the combustion chamber to burn. First, gas is pumped from the tank, through the fuel line, into injectors that are mounted in the engine. Those injectors spray the fuel into the air intake manifold. Here, the fuel and air make a mixture of a fine mist before a piston descends, sucking the mist into the combustion chamber. Then the piston ascends inside its cylinder to compress the air-fuel mix until it is almost nine times as dense as it began. The cylinder’s spark plug ignites to create an extremely pressurized, intense blast. The pressure pushes the piston down again with incredible power, triggering a turn of the crankshaft to send power to the wheels.

Direct injected engines work much more efficiently by skipping the air intake manifold step. The fuel is pumped straight from the tank, into the injector, and into the combustion chamber. This causes the fuel to be burned where it needs to be burned, helping with fuel economy and emissions.

“As far as emissions, the design is to get better emissions,” said Smith.

“From what I’ve read, direct injected engines are supposed to burn more completely with more air, so there are fewer emissions,” said Ethan Shirley, owner of a Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

Standard engines use a “rich” fuel mixture, meaning that there is a lower ratio of air to fuel in the mix. Direct injected engines allow for a “leaner” mixture, using a 40 parts air to one part fuel, or 40:1, ratio. Standard engines burn a mix that rations out to about 14.7:1. Fuel is burned more cleanly in a leaner mix. The cleaner the fuel is able to burn, the better gas mileage your car will get in the long run according to HowStuffWorks.

“To be honest, it doesn’t burn cleaner,” said Smith. “Like I said, it just directs [the fuel] directly into the cylinder versus into the intake. It’s a faster injection instead of having to go mix with the air and then come in. That’s how it gets better fuel economy.”

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(Marcus Smith showing the intricacies under the hood.)

“I have noticed better mileage since switching to a direct injected engine,” said Shirley. “The TDI model, on average, gets a little over 10 more miles per gallon than the non-TDI model Jetta.”

“I didn’t know that the car was direct injected when I bought it, but found out after doing some research,” said Shirley. “My favorite thing I found out when doing my research is how durable the engines are. This engine should be able to take more abuse than a standard engine. Because of how durable these engines are expected to be, I would definitely recommend them.”

The computer systems that run the direct injected engines are running completely different, more sophisticated software than their counterparts.

“We’ve been using computers in cars since, like, 1983. Of course the software gets newer because it has to run different programs especially with the emissions that we have now. [The computer] plays a bigger role but it’s basically the same concept,” said Smith. “The computer regulates how much fuel [is delivered], it times the engine, it puts fuel in at a certain time, it runs a lot of things. They’ve been there for a long time, but it plays a bigger role now. Between the two different engines, the computer is probably the same, but the programming is different because of the timing and the fuel injection.”

Many car manufacturers are introducing lines that use DI engines. General Motors is adding them into its 2014 models of the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and even in the Chevy Silverado full size pickups. They currently have the 2013 V6 models of the Chevy Camaro using DI technology. Another GM manufacturer using DI technology is Cadillac. Cadillac’s entire line of vehicles, with the exceptions of one sport wagon model and any of its Escalade models, is using direct injection. Ford, another American car producer, has a full line of vehicles using DI. Any of the cars that boast to have “Ecoboost” technology have DI engines in them.

Marcus Smith also said that he has yet to see any more problems out of direct injected vehicles as opposed to their standard counterparts, which is good considering how many manufacturers are beginning to implement these motors into their lines of cars.

“All cars have issues,” said Smith with a smile.

The American automobile producers are not the only ones implementing the use of these engines. The manufacturer of Mr. Shirley’s Jetta, the Volkswagen Group, headquartered in Berlin, Germany, has been using the technology for some time now. They produce Volkswagen and Audi, among others. The difference in these models that use DI is that Volkswagen and Audi use clean diesel as opposed to gasoline. They list their lines as “TDI,” or Turbocharged Direct Injection. By turbocharging the engine and using direct injection, the company is able to use smaller engines to increase fuel economy. For example, the base model of the Volkswagen Passat TDI SE uses a 2.0 liter engine, allowing the car to get 43 miles per gallon and 795 miles per tank.

Why does Smith say that DI is the way to go? For him, it is about the long term savings at the pump.

“Overall, over a year, you’re going to save more money on your fuel,” said Smith. “It doesn’t get a better burn, per se, but it runs better.”

Smith does give one way that everyone can gain gas mileage with the car they already have.

“The way to get a better fuel economy is to use a higher grade of gas. The higher grade gas burns better because you don’t have all of the additives in it. The 93 [grade] is the best thing you can get. It’s a pure gas. That’s how you really get better fuel economy.”

How do you feel about making the switch to a direct injected engine against the standard engine that you are already driving? Would you make the switch or just use Mr. Smith’s advice and use higher grade gasoline? What reasons do you feel are worth switching for?

What is today?

Today is the day that we get freedom back. Today is the day that America bands together to welcome back its pastime. Today ends 155 days, or 3,720 hours if you will, of suffering since the last pitch was thrown and the Giants took the World Series from Detroit in October.

For Braves fans, like myself, today is a welcome back. Today, we welcome new fans, old fans, old friends, and even the ones that we make for nine innings at a time. Today is the beginning of a new hope after five months and 27 days of wondering what might have been. Today brings a chill of over 50,000 of your best friends doing a simultaneous tomahawk chop.

For all fans, today brings with it the smell of freshly mown grass, over-priced hot dogs, popcorn and a sweet tooth that cotton candy can’t fill. The buzzing of stadium lights, the roar of a packed house, the bright smiles of young kids taking in their first game, and overwhelming joy of the parents who brought them there.

This day is one that brings a happy tear to the eyes of all those that have long awaited another first pitch. But today isn’t just another first pitch. The first pitch of this day is the first pitch of our new baseball lives. New Year’s Day doesn’t compare to today’s sense of new beginnings in the eyes of baseball fans.

Today starts a seven month joyride through ups and downs with your respective teams. Today is a day that we all celebrate as one.

Today… is Opening Day!

Enjoy it everyone! We only get one a year!

What does today mean to you? Let me know below or follow me on Twitter to chat!

Belmont flexes muscles as new kid on the block

The Belmont Bruins are conference champions for the third straight year, but, this time, it’s different.

A year ago the Bruins had just won their second of back-to-back Atlantic Sun Conference championships. Tonight, they took the Ohio Valley crown with a 70-68 win over Murray State and clinched a spot in the big dance later this month.

With just one second left on the clock in overtime, Kerron Johnson hit a fade-away shot from inside the paint that proved to be the game winner. Johnson also hit the shot that sent the game into the extra period.

The game was one of runs and Belmont had the biggest one when it counted.

Murray State missed out on its third OVC championship in four years, as well as its 1,500th win, with the loss.

Selection Sunday (March 17) is just a week away and the Belmont Bruins are sure to be in the among the seeds to choose from when filling out your brackets

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