Born in Ohio and raised in the South, I'm a diehard Cleveland sports fan. I pass on NASCAR, play any sport but soccer and can't understand why the NFL is so undervalued in the Southeast. My favorite sport is basketball. I was a sports writer at the Columbia County News-Times from 2005 to 2007 before becoming Minor League Sports Writer at the Augusta Chronicle in December 2007.
Posted August 14, 2012 12:26 am - Updated August 14, 2012 12:28 am

GreenJackets Gameday: The lesson of the Kangaroo Song

Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) vs. Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies)

WHEN: today, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Olmstead Stadium: directions
WEATHER: Isolated thunderstorms and 82 degrees at game time with a 30 percent chance of rain: forecast
PROMOTION: Two for Tuesdays. Drinks are two for the price of one.
TICKETS: Start at $7. Call the box office at (706) 922-WINS or visit
IN-GAME UPDATES: On Twitter (@BillyByler) or receive text alerts on your phone.
STANDINGS: Augusta 24-25, 56-62 (4th SAL Southern); Lakewood 26-24, 52-67 (4th SAL Northern)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Augusta leads the season series and current series 1-0.
PROBABLE STARTERS: GreenJackets RHP Clayton Blackburn (6-3, 2.63) vs. BlueClaws RHP Hoby Milner (4-2, 2.88).


Sometimes it's better to simply stop pretending to be something you're not. Adam Sandler plays movie characters who are hilarious but make terrible fathers (see the above clip). The GreenJackets are not a power-hitting, home run team. They string together wins with solid pitching and just enough offense. They had 11 hits in Monday's series-opener and 10 went for singles. That was enough.


"If we can do that on an everyday basis we’ll be OK," manager Lipso Nava said.

So embracing your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses has been the most recent lesson learned. Lake Olmstead Stadium isn't set up for home runs and neither is this Augusta lineup. But a team doesn't need to hit homers to win (Lakewood hit one last night in their 7-4 loss). Augusta's simple singles, strung together 3, 4 and 5 at a time, were enough.


The Adam Sandler reference comes full circle considering that Lakewood's right fielder Kelly Dugan is the son of the great Dennis Dugan, who has directed several films, including Big Daddy. Dugan just happens to be in Augusta this week watching his son play, and I had a chance to meet him after Monday's game. He's also directed Happy Gilmore, Beverly Hills Ninja and I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry and said he just wrapped up another movie - Grown Ups 2.


So hopefully we'll see some comedy the rest of this series and stay away from the drama and tragedy genres. Clayton Blackburn, tonight's starter for Augusta, has been the epic hero for the team this season. He has the third-best ERA in the South Atlantic League at 2.63 and leads the league in most strikeouts per nine innings (9.71) and fewest walks per nine innings (1.32). With just 10 home games remaining, this will be one of the last chances Augusta fans will have to see this young, talented arm at work.


Lakewood starter Hoby Milner is also a must-see arm. He was drafted this year by the Phillies in the seventh round and has already earned professional recognition. He was named the league's pitcher of the week two weeks ago. He hasn't allowed a run in his last three starts, a span of 18.2 scoreless innings.


A few other off-the-field notes:

  • The GreenJackets starting rotation will get a shakeup this week after the team lost lefty Bryce Bandilla for the season. Nava told me he fell down some stairs and suffered an ankle injury. Nava may be forced to downsize to a five-man starting rotation as a result.
  • Former GreenJackets shortstop John Eshleman, released by the Giants earlier this year, was suspended 50 games Monday for testing positive for a steroid. It's the same banned substance that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have been accused of using.
  • The GreenJackets will go on the road once this series wraps up Wednesday, but when they return next week they may face a highly-touted prospect. The Greensboro Grasshoppers, Single-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, will come to town with newly promoted 2012 first-round draft pick Andrew Heany with them. The ninth overall pick in this year's draft is a 21-year-old left-handed starting pitcher out of Oklahoma State. He was roughed up a bit in his Sally League debut Monday night, giving up five earned runs over four innings. I'm not sure if he'll make a start during the four-game series in Augusta, which starts next Thursday.