Thursday, March 29, 2007

Baseball Season - Week 3 Wrap-up

Week 3 has come and gone, and the Raptors are still undefeated with a record of 6 wins and 0 losses. Monday night's game against the Storm was a test of our patience as the opposing coach went extremely slow the entire game, limiting us to four innings of play rather than the usual six. He also appropriated two additional outs through extremely questionable calls/decisions, and we gave him an additional at bat later in the game as well. We managed to come through that game with an 8-6 win, so we chalked it up to experience.

Our Saturday game found us facing the Bulls again, now having faced each team in the division at least once. It was a beautiful day out (as may be deduced by the photo above), and the Raptors had another great game. The final score was 23-5, and featured a veritable barrage of offense from the Raptors. My son went 5 for 5, with 2 singles, 2 doubles, a triple, 2 runs scored and 4 RBIs. Every player had a hit, and our defense was fairly solid as well.

With the end of game #6, we now prepare for kid-pitching. The next five games will be three innings of pitching machine, with the remaining three innings kid pitch. The final third of the season will say "adios!" to the pitching machine, with all innings now pitched by kids. Good pitching really dominates at this level, so it will be interesting to see how our team fares. It's my goal to get as many of the kids on the mound as possible for experience. Right now, I'm looking at pitching six out of the ten players on the team, so it should be interesting!

Score cards for games #5 and #6 are below.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Afternoon Surf Report

I decided to hit the waves today on my lunch, even though we did get a very small amount of rain last night. My body desperately needed some water time, and I reasoned that not enough rain fell to actually flush the bad stuff from the storm drains into the ocean.

What a beautiful day it is! The waves were chest high, with a light onshore wind putting a bit of texture on the surface. My lack of surfing in the recent weeks made itself known by the fatigue in my shoulders and triceps as I tried to get back outside after catching my first wave. I felt like a newborn struggling to move across the floor as wave after wave of the set pummeled me. Leave it to me to take the first wave of a set...

I finally made it back outside with my arms burning and doing their best impersonation of linguini. I caught several more waves, all of them lefts that had a bit of juice to them and plenty of time to ride. At the end of my lunch, I was exhausted but had that "post surf glow". Nice way to finish off the work week!


In my random internet wandering today, I stumbled upon a fairly slick PHP Development Framework called Qcodo. One of the things I dislike the most about PHP is the tendency to mix in PHP code with the HTML. This can make maintenance of the site fairly messy, and breaks the mantra of separating the data and implementation from the presentation.

Qcodo is a framework built from the ground up to address this issue. It works from a base data model (e.g. database schema) and builds up objects which map to this data model. It features some pretty slick code creation that also creates default HTML forms for adding, editing, listing and deleting this data as well. Toss in some AJAX functionality for good measure, and you have yourself one heck of a package.

About the only negative points I can see right now are the following:
  1. It is still in the beta stage, so if you decide to give it a whirl, expect some issues and future changes.
  2. It requires PHP 5 and MySQL. If you only have PHP version 4 installed, it is a show stopper. The developers of Qcodo are working on database adapters to support DBs other than MySQL (such as PostgreSQL), so this particular issue may fall by the wayside in a future release.
I'd recommend you visit the Qcodo website and take some time and look through the screencasts they provide - it is very impressive.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Baseball Season - Week 2 Wrap-up

The VALL AA Raptors began the week 2-0, and ended the week 4-0! We have played all of the teams in our division, except for one (which we face off against tonight). The boys are really getting used to the pitching machine, and we are seeing fewer strike outs with each game. The defense is getting better slowly, but it is something we will be focusing on during our next practice

Game #3 was played Tuesday night under gorgeous conditions against the River Cats. We had a heck of an offensive and defensive performance, shutting them out 20-0. Le' ouch. I felt bad that the other team didn't score any runs, however I can't tell my players to not try and make plays.

Game #4 was Saturday morning at 10:00 AM, and we found ourselves opposing the River dogs. I know the manager and one coach of the River Dogs very well, as both had kids on my T-ball team 2 years ago, and the manager's son and my son have played on the same soccer team for several years. Anyhow, the game featured good offense from our team, with lackluster defense. The final score was Riverdogs 7, Raptors 16.

We should be starting kid-pitch sometime in the very near future. At that point in the season, things can change drastically. If you have a couple of players that can throw the ball over the plate, then you should do well. We'll see what shakes out over the next couple of weeks.

Score cards for both games are here:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Baseball Season - Week 1 Wrap-up

I am managing my son's Little League team again this year, and we (the team and I) are having a very good time. The AA Raptors have just completed our first week of games (2 games per week barring any rain outs), and are now 2-0.

The team saw the return of 5 kids from last year's team, along with 5 new recruits. So far, the kids seem to really have a good understanding of the game and have made some tremendous plays for it being so early in the season. I don't know if I am coaching a more effectively than last year (I am sure that I am coaching differently, as I constantly learn as well), or if it is that the kids are just now more capable when it comes to understanding the game. Whatever it is, they are having a great time and I am enjoying watching them play ball.

Game #1 was played Monday evening, without the benefit of a pitching machine. The three legs which form a support tripod for the machinery was missing, so it fell to the managers / coaches to pitch to their own teams. The final score was 19-13 through 6 innings. I figured that I threw about 125 pitches and finished with an ERA of of 28.5! Man, was my shoulder sore the next day. Our lead off batter went 5 for 5, hitting for the cycle. Defensively, we also turned a double play (pop out to P, man on 1st ran to 2nd without tagging up, put-out at first).

Game #2 was played Saturday afternoon, with the pitching machine present and accounted for. I was a bit worried how the kids would deal with the pitching machine, so earlier that day we went to the batting cages and hit off machines for an hour. I think that helped them out greatly, as none of the boy appeared hesitant during their at bats. Winning by a score of 6-19, our defense was again very solid. Offensively, we had 7 more hits than the first game, and 4 fewer strike-outs.

If you click on the thumbnails of the game's scorecards, you can see a larger version of them. I use the Situational Scorekeeping method, which is somewhat different than the dated, standard method.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Guitar Hero and Me

We bought the kids a PS2 for Christmas, and bought two new games that don't involve just sitting on your arse all date long: Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) Supernova and Guitar Hero. I bought DDR plus two dance pads for my wife and daughter, whereas Guitar Hero and the axe that comes with it was for my middle son and I (really).

DDR is fun, and a good work out as well. However, this post is not about DDR. No - this post is an ode to Guitar Hero (GH), one of the best games I've played in quite a while. At it's base, GH is a rhythm game, where you press down 'frets' and strum as the game directs you. The music is divied up into sections which advance in complexity, starting with "Opening Licks" and progressing in difficulty until you get up to the final the "Face Melters".

The selection of songs is outstanding, and each is performed not by the original artists, but it is difficult to tell. Another bonus:I've been exposed to a lot of music which I never heard before, and like most of it. I have now almost completed the game at Medium difficulty, and will probably make the leap to the next level sometime in the near future.

The neat thing is that this has caused me to pull out my Fender Stratocaster and clean it up and play with it a bit. My son is fascinated with it, so maybe I'll try and practice a bit with it. It's been a longgggg time since I last practiced, so it isn't going to be pretty. I'd take lessons if they were'nt so damn expensive...

Anyhow, if you get a chance to play it, give it a shot. I bet you'll enjoy it if you like rock music.

Monday, March 05, 2007

What I've Been Reading

For my birthday and Christmas, I received several books that I've been going through. I just finished Robert Heinlein's A Stranger in a Strange Land. It is my understanding that this is commonly viewed as one of the best Science Fiction books ever written, however I just can't share that opinion.

The first third of the book was interesting, and kept me reading. The remaining 2/3's of the book were a bit more laborious and uninspiring. I don't know why, but I find stories about uber-people who are nigh invulnerable and so much better than everyone at everything to be rather boring. I had the same problem with Frank Herbert's Dune. Some of the ideas in Heinlein's classic are interesting to mull over, however the story just didn't grab me and pull me in.

On the other hand, Neil Gaiman's A Study in Emerald, is a fantastic short story filled with flavor and character. If you like your Cthulhu mythos blended with a Victorian setting and spiced with a dash of famous literary characters, then you won't be disappointed. The layout of the story, done as a newspaper complete with advertisements, is splendid. At 9 pages, it would be criminal and rather lethargic of you to not read it.

So, what do I have next in the lineup to read? Some old school Greyhawk fiction that escaped my notice when I was younger...