This is a fascinating time of year for me. Not that there aren’t a lot of those times of year, but I especially love the fall season. College football is always compelling in November because of the BCS circus. I’m actually still competitive in all of my fantasy football leagues, which is a welcome change from years’ past. College basketball is ramping up, and there will be good matchups to watch before we know it. Free agency and all the Braves-related trade talk has kept MLB interesting to me in November, but that’s probably caused by the Braves’ lack of recent success and a tendency to look toward the future. Honestly, I’m paying more attention to them now than I was in August when there were actual games to watch.
In the non-sporting world, it’s also a beautiful time to live and work in North Georgia and East Tennessee. Melissa and I drive to Blue Ridge, GA once every fall to visit the Mercier apple orchard, and the fall colors we get to see along the way are always beautiful. Because of the approaching holidays, there’s always a lot going on in November, too. So here’s a little taste of what’s going on:
- Melissa and I were blessed with the arrival of a third cat on Tuesday, so we’re now outnumbered by the animals in our household. Hopefully they’re not planning a coup anytime soon. Our new cat, Jasper, was abandoned at the house of one of Melissa’s coworkers. We know this because her coworker has a lot of pets and probably has gained a reputation for finding new homes for animals. She also lives far enough out in the country that it left little doubt that this cat had been intentionally abandoned, rather than simply having lost its way. Since this family had reached its quota of animals, we agreed to take on another cat.
- Introducing a cat to a house that already has two cats is proving to be somewhat difficult. Our youngest, Bender, is skittish around people (even us), and he has mostly kept his distance from Jasper. Racer, the oldest, is clearly the alpha male, and he has made things somewhat uncomfortable for Jasper in his new home. We think Racer just wants to play, but Jasper gets so scared of him that he starts hissing when Racer comes close. That will have to stop if we’re going to keep Jasper long-term. He’s a sweet cat who loves constant attention (he won’t budge when he gets up on your lap), so we know he’d be a good fit for an elderly person who doesn’t already have a pet. For now, we’re committed to getting him acclimated to our house, and we keep him apart from Racer and Bender while we’re away at work.
- The Tennessee football program has ceased to exist as a functioning being. I’m 100% behind any effort to lure Mike Leach away from Texas Tech, just to go on the record for that.
- I liked this paragraph I read about what Tennessee has to compete for in the coming weeks: “Well, there are ways to stay relevant, even at 3-6 with a lame-duck coach. One is losing to Wyoming. Other possibilities? Being Vanderbilt’s bowl-clinching, history-making, streak-breaking sixth win. Having the nation’s longest streak of ownage broken on your home field on the day to honor a coaching legend. Hello, 3-9…”
- So what about the Braves’ quest to land Jake Peavy? I think he’s a tad riskier than most front-line starters health-wise, but there are also very few starters who have his ability. He’s not going to be a 220-inning workhorse like C.C. Sabathia, and he may be the next Brave to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery, but I wouldn’t exactly be disappointed to see him in a Braves uniform next year.
- The only problem with such a trade might be the package of players that the Braves are rumored to be offering, which would include Yunel Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes, and Blaine Boyer or another low-level pitching prospect. Escobar is a whiz at a premium defensive position, so he has tremendous value even if his 2008 line (.288/.366/.401) represents his true hitting ability. I’m starting to doubt that Brent Lillibridge would be capable of replacing him, so a trade of Escobar opens up another hole that will need to be filled. Hernandez has a pretty good reputation among the Braves’ prospects, but at least they’re not rumored to be including Tommy Hanson or Jason Heyward at this point. Neither Morton nor Reyes seems to have put things together yet, but either one certainly could. Boyer was pretty much abused this year, and even if he could be a good reliever in time, I wouldn’t be sad to see him go. Perhaps that’s a fair package for five years of control over Peavy (who has four years and at least $63M left on his two existing contracts, with an additional $18M net club option for 2013, after you consider the option-year buyout), but only if he stays healthy. Overall, I would like to see the Braves push for contention in 2010 rather than patch holes to compete in 2009, so hopefully this would only be the first of a series of moves toward that end. Rumor has it that they’ll pursue Rafael Furcal if they trade Escobar, but that seems like even more of a “win now” move than acquiring Peavy.
- The first regular season Harding basketball game is tomorrow night at Missouri S&T (formerly Missouri-Rolla) at 6:30 CT. S&T was dreadful last year and has been picked last in its division by Great Lakes Valley Conference coaches. Even though this is an out-of-region D-II game, it can’t hurt to start with a win.
- In other Bison news, the basketball team got a rare early signee this week with 6’6″ HS senior Jordan Layrock’s commitment. As a junior, he averaged 18 points and 11 boards for Poyen High, which competes in the AHSAA’s lowest classification.
- And in sad Bison news, the most famous former Harding athlete, Preacher Roe, has died at age 92. Luke had a good write-up earlier this week, and I don’t have a lot to add. Roe was a unique player, not really making a splash until age 29 but still managing a very solid career. His 116 ERA+ ranks just outside the top 100 since 1901. Roe got national attention at Harding when he struck out 26 batters in an extra-inning game, and the attention clearly was not unwarranted. I’m not aware of any other Harding alums who have played in the major leagues, but we could do worse for having just one player. Preacher was a great one.