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Tales from Tibby

    This needs a quick preface so it won’t come off as snooty.  We have no children. Therefore, no grandchildren. And no pets. Like everybody else, we occasionally spend a little money on things we probably shouldn’t but unlike y’all with kids and pets, we spend on things that don’t pout or poop.   For me, there’s something magical about the $100 price tag. Once an item crosses the $100 threshold, it’s officially expensive and that must be pointed out.   I was serving apple pie to neighbors recently and drizzled an aged balsamic vinegar on it, vinegar that had been brought back from Italy and cost…?   Yep, about $100. And I told them so. In defense of my spending so much for a tiny bottle of balsamic, it happened at a wine tasting that might have lasted just a wee bit too long. That same tasting also lead to the purchase of a $100 bottle of olive oil before my wife asked to ‘borrow’ my credit card then hid it.   But why did I need to point out the cost to my guests? Why not try to impress them with the fact that it was 30-year old balsamic - from Italy! - and leave it at that?   ‘Cause it cost a hun’erd dollars, that’s why. If I’m serving you a hun’erd dollar balsamic, you’re going to hear about it.   I’d probably do the same thing if I was serving you a $100 bottle of wine, but don’t hold your breath on that one. In our house, it’s likely the wine I’m serving you is only $2.99. For the whole bottle.   It would be a fair question to ask why I’m willing to spend $100 on olive oil but cheap-out on wine.   I think it has to do with longevity. I’ll have that oil and balsamic for some time to come, enjoying it along the way. Wine won’t make it past bedtime.   Once wine is opened, it evaporates or something. Maybe it grows legs and walks off, but it gets gone. If it’s expensive wine, at the end of the evening you’ve just plowed through a hun’erd dollar bill with nothing to show for it but a dopey grin on your face.   That’s not to say I would never pay up for good spirits. I have spent a few coins for good bourbon, though I have stopped chasing the ones that have gotten stupid expensive. There are some tasty whiskies and bourbons that are quite affordable once you get your nose out of the air and into a glass.   A cousin posted this for me to see. That is good stuff, but in my town if a store has any of this available at all, the store paid $30 for it. Thirty. That’s a ‘3’ with one ‘0’ attached. If they can get $200 for it, fine, but it ain’t coming from me.   With that proclamation though, I must confess to a recent bout of liquor lunacy.   A friend who knows I often find decent prices online for these things asked if I could find a particular tequila that was $100 in the store.   I did find a better price, though by the time you added in shipping it was $96/bottle.   Hey, $4 saved.   I was somewhat familiar with this tequila, having brought a bottle of it back from Mexico many years ago. I didn’t remember a thing about how it tasted, but at $100 it had to be good, right? So I figured I should also get a bottle for myself.   “Wait a minute,” he says. “I have a friend who might want a bottle, too. Before you order, let me check.”   I knew exactly what was happening. He was asking his friend (wife) if he could just go ahead and buy a second bottle while we were ordering.   Sure enough, he tells me his friend wanted a bottle, so I decided if he could get one for his friend, I could order one for my friend. So, the order was doubled to four bottles.   Turns out, he actually had a friend who wanted a bottle. I didn’t. But I now have two big bottles of expensive tequila, and one small problem.   I don’t care for it. Neither does my imaginary friend.   I cracked open a bottle for me and a buddy - after bragging that it cost $100, of course. We took a couple of sips and just sorta stared at each other with that look. The look that says, “um…. paid how much?“   And yay! There’s a whole ‘nother bottle!   Anybody need tequila? It’s a real purdy bottle. It even comes with instructions on how to turn it into a vase once it’s empty. (Spoiler alert: take the cap off and put flowers in it.)   I’m willing to let it go for a hun’erd dollar bill. I’ll even throw in $4 in change. 
  • If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, there’s a collard crisis underway. Not making this up. The cultivar Southerners crave this time of year is in serious short supply.  Blame the elements. In the Southeast, too much rain has flooded fields. California collards are the victims of wildfires, either too much scarring from blowing ash or too much smoke to harvest ‘em.   For me, none of this is particularly bad news. I hate collards.   Every year I seem to find myself in the company of friends and/or family who want that traditional New Year’s Day meal of collards, cornbread, black-eyed peas and ham.   Each of those foods supposedly represents something, though I have no idea what it is. Except for collards. Because they’re green, I think they represent money. Eat collards on the first day and you’ll enjoy prosperity throughout the entire new year.   I’d rather be poor. Collards taste nasty and give me gas.   I hate black-eyed peas, too, though I can tolerate them if I’ve got enough chow chow slopped on ‘em. (Chow chow is pickled something. In the South, usually cabbage or squash. Whatever it is, it’s mission is to mask the taste of the peas. Ketchup also works in a pinch.)   This is my own problem, I know. I’m a Southern boy with a Southern pedigree a mile long.  Having grown up with considerable exposure to three sets of great-grandparents, I learned things kids today aren’t allowed to learn or are simply not exposed to.   One grandfather was a sawmiller who taught me how to make a corncob pipe and smoke rabbit tobacco in it. His wife - grandmama - was a sturdy woman who dipped snuff and tried to teach me how to milk a cow. (I never learned. I was afraid I’d hurt the cow if I squeezed that thing too hard.)   Another grandpa raised chickens and cows and plowed his garden behind a mule while grandma was making stew from the snapping turtle her brother had killed and brought into the house, swingin’ it by the tail.   On my mom’s side, one great-grandfather was a preacher. A Baptist preacher. That’s an important Southern distinction. Wouldn’t be as meaningful if I had to identify him as Episcopalian. People might think we were drinkers. You know, whiskeypalians. And my elders did not drink. Had to learn to do that on my own.   I’ve skinned and consumed a hundred rabbits and squirrels and gnawed clean their bones. I can pick out a ripe melon by thumping it. And I can fry you up a mess of okra that will absolutely make you weep.   I shouldn’t have to prove my credentials as a Southerner, yet I’ve had a constant culinary clash with many of the foods beloved in the South.   It’s not just collards I don’t like, it’s turnip greens, mustard greens, rutabaga and virtually all peas and beans. (Except pork’n. I love me some pork’n beans. Probably because you gussy them up with brown sugar and bacon.)   I don’t like boiled peanuts, either.   Something’s wrong with my wiring. I much prefer Italian food to Southern fare. Given the choice of pizza or fried chicken…   Wait. Bad example. I’d definitely choose the fried chicken. And anything that taste like fried chicken. Frog legs, for example. Yum!   But I love Italian food the most. I’ve wondered if the doctor who delivered me was Italian. Or maybe he had just polished off a pizza and the first breathe I drew on this earth was a whiff of his breathe.   Adding insult to injury, the friend who prepares our collards every New Years Day is Italian. She claims what she cooks are Italian-style collards.   I don’t fight it, but I don’t buy it. If I cook up a possum with pepperoni, does that make it Italian-style possum?   Debate that while you eat your collards. If you can find any.   Personally, I’m hoping to catch a break this year.
  • “Always wear clean underwear. You never know when you might be in an accident, and you don’t want people in the emergency room seeing you in dirty underwear.” - Your mom or someone like her.  ‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving, and I was in the emergency room.   I had been golfing that day and couldn’t shake the uneasiness in my chest, so I quit halfway through the round and headed for the hospital.   Quick background: This had happened before. Seven years ago, I left the golf course, went to the emergency room and was invited to stay for a triple bypass. So I’ve got history. And trust me, that kind of history heaps a whole lot o’ paranoia on you when things start feeling squirrely in your chest.   I will say this: seven years ago, I was given an additional indicator something was amiss. That hot day in July, after finishing my round, I cracked open a cold beer and never took a sip.   There’s your sign.   Now, here I was again.   In the emergency room, the first thing that happens is a check of your pulse and blood pressure. My pulse was fine, but my blood pressure sent a message to Houston: We have a problem.   I’m not a guy that ever fights BP problems, but it was through-the-roof high. And that little piece of news was going to buy me an extended stay to ‘check on things.’   “Let’s get you into a hospital gown,” said the nurse. Oh, yeah… cute nurse. About age 30. Because when you’re a guy in your 60’s and you wind up in the hospital, you’re never gonna get the dude nurse who looks like he might have stayed up all night binge-watching Game Of Thrones and eating nachos. You’re getting the cute, young nurse.   And she’s just asked you to take off your clothes.   This is where UPS sets in. And it ain’t about nobody getting a delivery. (Though you could argue it involves a package.)   UPS = Underwear Panic Syndrome.   It’s real.   Underwear Panic Syndrome is that sinking feeling an older guy gets when the cute, young nurse is going to see his underwear, and he has no idea which pair he has on.   Let’s face it, y’all, we all have underwear that should have found the trash can a long time back. It’s got holes, it’s got a shot elastic band, it’s got (whispering…) stains! You know what I’m talking about here.   To further expound on UPS, here’s some info you didn’t ask for, but I’m a briefs guy. Always have been.   I get that briefs are not particularly cool, but neither am I. With briefs, I get the one thing I demand from my underwear: support for the troops.   Let’s keep everybody together. Nobody needs to be wandering off.   (For the record, briefs used to be cool. Google images of ‘Jim Palmer underwear.’)   In college, I experimented with a few things. One of those was boxers, because a lot of my friends wore boxers. I spent those few days doing a whole lot of… um, adjusting.   As I have lived my life and observed a few things, I’ve never regretted staying with briefs. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Women aren’t the only ones affected by gravity.   At one point in my morning radio show career, I had a mid-20s, male co-host who wore boxers. Because we’re boys, I suppose, underwear was a frequent topic of discussion. Our female partner was proud to proclaim her preference for going commando, so she mostly just refereed our briefs vs boxers arguments.   “You’ll regret boxers,” I would warn him. “Your knees will have playmates when you’re older.”   One day, he texted me from the local YMCA. He had just finished a workout and while in the locker room had encountered a much older man, shaving in front of the lavatory mirror. Nude.   My cohort had just seen his future. And I have never received a text containing so many exclamation points.   He now wears boxer briefs.   And maybe that should be my direction. Boxer briefs tend to keep all the eggs in the basket, as some of us prefer, and are probably considered cooler than briefs. Again though, I’ve experimented and still prefer briefs.   The UPS I suffered the day before Thanksgiving wasn’t as much about just wearing briefs as it was about the color of briefs I might have on.   Underwear multi-packs usually contain various colors: black, gray, blue, red, even white can be included. (Never brown, though. Wonder why? Especially for men of a certain age.)   I rarely wear the white ones, usually opting for another color. But what if I was wearing the blue ones? They’re not a manly dark blue. They’re a baby blue. Carolina blue. Might as well be tighty-whities, really.   As I unbuckled my belt to drop my drawers, I secretly prayed: please no blue, please no blue.   Ta da! Black! Yes!   But they were still briefs, and I still felt some pangs of shame.   To wrap up the hospital story, my blood pressure had gotten whacked out (I had wa-a-a-y overdone salty foods the day before), and I was released 24 hours later after extensive testing determined my heart is actually in excellent condition.   But comfortably back home, I’m thinking I need an undies upgrade. Maybe buy some boxer briefs to keep in the truck. Next time I take myself to the hospital, I can do a quick-change before walking into the emergency room to announce that I may be having a heart attack.   When the cute nurse tells me to undress, she will still see an older man with a ponchy belly, large love handles, a developing turkey neck and gray, thinning hair, but she’ll see I still got style.   She won’t say it out loud, but she’ll be thinking, “Hey, cool undies.”   Winner, winner, chicken dinner, old man!   You take your little victories whenever they come.
  • This is not a story about traveling to Italy. It mentions Italy because that’s where I finally found clarity for my life.   Since clarity is a rarity, it is charity for me to share for thee.    I’m not gonna lie. Since retiring, I’ve struggled.    While comfortably tucked into my career as a morning radio show announcer, I knew how my day would go. I’d finish up work around 10 or 11 am every morning, then go join the old fart golf group that teed off every day around lunchtime. Many years, I would play 150 days or more.    The point is, I knew what I was doing with my days. In retirement, I’m playing maybe 50 rounds a year. That leaves a lot of days in limbo.    To some extent, golf has been replaced by travel. Oh, it’s not all exotic. For example, we’re taking in more live concerts now, so sometimes our trips are just a quick overnighter to hear an artist we enjoy.    We’ve fallen in love with Nashville, Tennessee’s music scene, so we wind up in Music City way more than I would have ever imagined.    Still, we are trying to see some other parts of the world and recently returned to Italy for the second time in two years. And for a second time, we hooked up with a travel guide named Max.    On our first tour of Old Italia, it took Max about one day to figure out what we liked: wine. With lunch.    On our just-completed trip, he didn’t even ask what we wanted to see. Every day, he had arranged a wine tasting at a nice winery, usually with lunch thrown in.    Lunch often lasted for a couple of hours. Afterwards, Max would just drive us around until we fell asleep. When we woke up, he’d tell us of the nice places he had taken us and say something like, “too bad you slept through it.”    In the Tuscany region, we hit a couple of places that are actually referred to as wine castles. Translated to English, that’s a castle with wine.    A castle, y’all. With wine. Take a moment, if you need to.    Besides wine, another thing to love about Italy is gelato. Gelato is actually Italiano for ice cream, but gelato is better. It uses more milk…. something, something, something… so it’s not just like American ice cream.    Gelato is sold in a gelateria. If you think about it, that makes sense. Pizza is sold in a pizzeria; gelato, in a gelateria.    I’m a big fan of gelato. Specifically, coconut, though I’m multi-gelatinous and can swing many directions.    So, the epiphany: I want to open a gelateria in a wine castle.    When I told my wife, she suggested I build the castle from the corks we have in the basement. It was meant as a snide remark, a dig at me for saving corks, even though I have no plan to do anything with them.    But her idea is brilliant. A cork castle!    Enemy bullets would bounce right off the cork walls. And if someone bombed my castle, what’s the damage? Broken cork? No problem.    “Hey, we need more cork!” And out comes a corkscrew.    My cork castle would also be flood-proof. The same rains that floated Noah’s arc would float my castle. When the rain subsided, who knows what country my castle would have landed in? But it wouldn’t matter. The local chamber of commerce would welcome me. Because I’ve got a castle full of wine.    And gelato.    Who wouldn’t want to be my friend?    Beautiful minds like mine – and Steve Jobs – don’t come along that often. I can only imagine that you’re thinking, ‘Dang, I wish I had thought of that first!’    But you didn’t.    Bring money. I will be charging admission.   
  • Maybe you’ve seen the post – or email – making the rounds about how ‘old’ people should present themselves? It defines old as 60 or over. So much for 60 being the new 40, eh? If you haven’t seen it, here’s a sample of some pairings it suggests you avoid: A nose ring and bifocals  Miniskirts and support hose Unbuttoned disco shirts and a heart monitor Bikinis and liver spots Thongs and Depends. Cute. But on a more serious note, I’m here today to address the first item, the nose ring.  *GRUMPY OLD MAN ALERT* I’m not good with some current trends. If I’ve not mentioned it before, I hate tattoos. I hate them more on women than men. To me, they look trashy.  I’m trying to adapt. Mainly, because everybody but me seems to have one. Also, I know some really quality, non-trashy ladies with tattoos. By ‘quality’ I mean I’ve Googled them and can’t find any pictures of them without clothes.  I’ve never liked belly button jewelry. (Unless you’re a belly dancer. In that case, you might as well put something shiny in that cavern.) Nose and lip studs? Nope. But I’m trying really hard to be a better person and stop judging the book by its cover. That’s probably my biggest flaw, honestly. But the one decoration I do not get is the nose ring. First thought: are you a dang cow?? If we go out on a date, can I hitch up a rope to that thing and lead you into the theater? I don’t care how otherwise beautiful you are, inside or out, something hanging out your nose does not look good. And there’s nothing – NOTHING – you can do to change that. Make it silver, gold, bejeweled, bigger, petite, or blessed by the Pope, it’s still something coming out of your nose and needs wiping. I know, shut up ol’ man!
  • Just returned from a trip that included a few days in New York City. It wasn’t my first time. We were there just two years ago, so I knew I was getting in to. I love/hate that place.    The over-the-top weirdness of Time Square. Visiting the M&M store and paying $14 a pound for peanut M’s that would cost about $3 at my local grocery store. A truly unintelligible subway system. The fabulous – use your ‘jazz hands…’ fab-u-louus - Broadway shows.    It’s like no other place. It’s also like no other place should aspire to be, really. Especially the subway trains. The subway system there was designed by chimpanzees who then hired kindergarteners to draw the maps and legends explaining it.    Locals eventually figure it out by osmosis; visitors have no chance.    The way we handle the trains is to wander around in the subway station looking lost until someone takes pity on us and helps.    Mostly, we just walk. We certainly don’t attempt to drive in that carnival.    If you do drive in NYC, you need to be fluent in ‘horn.’ It’s the official language of drivers there.    But here’s what I’ve figured out: Honkers are almost always several cars back in the pack.    The first car in line has stopped because it’s illegal to run over pedestrians. The second car can see what’s going on so sits quietly. Get back to about the fourth or fifth car and all they know is that the light is green and they ain’t moving.    *beeeeeep*    Honking changes nothing, but I reckon it gives the drivers a way to vent their frustration of being in a city where a billion people live and having to deal with another billion visitors who know it’s illegal for you to run over them with your car and will therefore cross the street whenever they dang well want, traffic lights be damned.    The other language of New York City is every other language in the world. Except English.    Look, I’m a bumkin in The City, but I’m telling you, it was rare to hear English conversationally spoken. On the streets, in the subways, in the bars (so I’m told), on the elevators, the conversations were almost always in a foreign language.    That’s more observation than complaint.    To start with, we all know that as a country we’ve become heavily reliant on immigrants for service work. The servers, dishwashers, attendants, hotel staff… the list is endless of jobs immigrants are willing to do for the opportunity to live in the States.    Now, couple that with all the foreign visitors who are simply making NYC one of their must-do destinations, and there’s a whole lot of no speak-y English going on.    What if, I thought… what if we passed a law that required everyone in an American city to speak only English. That would probably cut down on the crowds since so many people would have to learn the language instead of relying on a single interpreter to be the English voice for their entire bus.    Then there’s a possible downside. What if that law not only required English, but required the proper use of the language?    That would shut most Americans out of places like New York City.    So, let me just say this, y’all. I ain’t never gonna go back to that place. Not never, not no how. I don’t know what them farners are sayin’, an’ until them people done learned how to tawk like me, I’d just a-soon stay home.    Somebody fetch me a beer.
  • Just heard a song from Dan + Shay called ‘Tequila.’ Wow, a song about tequila. How novel! While that oozes sarcasm, it’s a decent song, and so adds to an every-growing list of odes to a cactus. Off the top of my head, I can probably name 9 or 10 songs about tequila. There are more, I know. Many more. Almost all songs about tequila involve drinking too much. From there, we work on secondary themes, like being lonesome, drinking away a memory or doing something stupid. Tequila songs can also involve a fair amount of promiscuity. “Who is this cowboyWho's sleepin' beside me?He's awful cute, but how'd IGet his shirt on?I had to much Tequila last night.”  - ‘Jose Cuervo,’ sung by Shelly West Anyway… Hello, everybody, and welcome to TEQUILA TALK. As your host, you should know I fancy myself a tequila aficionado (I drink it), a tequila snob (I like the good stuff), and I may be the only person you’ve ever met that has never gotten sick from drinking it. Like, ever. Full disclosure: Oh yeah, I’ve overdone it. I’ve just never overdone it on tequila. And I’ll let my sainthood stop right there. Tequila gets a bad rap, and it’s not to blame. Its smooth, sometimes smoky goodness is a delicious sip, either neat or over a little ice. There are two main problems we have with tequila. First, we’ve made it a barroom game to see how much of it we can drink before we puke. Secondly, and a contributor to the first point, barroom tequila shots are usually done with a low-grade product. While anything calling itself tequila must, by law, contain at least 51% distilled blue agave, that leaves the other 49% to be distilled from something else. That’s very often corn syrup. And in these cheaper tequilas that nice golden color comes not from barrel aging, it comes from caramel coloring. I’m not hating on Cuervo Gold, y’all. Despite it being made from a whole lot of sugar and only minimally-required blue agave, it doesn’t taste bad. But even folks who think it does taste bad are willing to toss a few down so we can part-a-a-a-y!!! I’ll be worshiping at the porcelain alter later, but right now I have never been funnier, prettier, wittier or danced better! The girl who cuts my hair told me she can’t drink tequila. And why? “Well, one night…” …and we all know the rest of that story. Her drink of choice is vodka. Have you ever, I asked, sat down with some friends and slammed shots of cheap vodka down your throat until you went blind? Still, it’s hard to deny tequila has rendered some fun tunes. An all-time favorite became Pee Wee Herman’s dance groove: ‘Tequila’ by The Champs. In fact, that one may be the top tequila song of all time because of Pee Wee’s signature dance – let’s face it, tequila can lead to some pretty stupid dance moves – and because it’s easy to sing. The lyrical content of the song is a total of three words, and they are all ‘tequila!’ Speaking of lyrical content, Joe Nichols had a #1 hit with ‘Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.’ Given its title, I’m not sure why it needed any lyrics. Seems fairly self-explanatory. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!
  • Did you see the recent news story from New Jersey about the woman turned away from a flight because of her emotional support animal? In case you didn’t, the woman had been told in advance by United Airlines that she could not bring her emotional support animal onboard because they couldn’t accommodate the peacock. A peacock, y’all! Her emotional support animal was a feakin’ peacock! She showed up for the flight anyway. With the peacock. Access denied. Most of us watching or reading that story probably rolled our eyes and gave whoever else was around that look. You know the look.  ‘Really?!’ Also known as the ‘is she on crack?’ look. This story originally was going to be about her and others like her, people with emotional support animals (ESA). Specifically, people with unconventional emotional support animals. People wanting to fly with pets has gotten so whacky that Delta has just updated it’s ESA policy, saying, “Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more...” I had planned to write about the peacock lady. I wanted to write: Ma’am, number one, that peacock don’t care about your emotions. And number two, I’m betting you’re single. Then, a couple of things happened.  First, another ESA story emerged involving an emotional-support dog that attacked a passenger on a plane. In this case, though, the dog was a veteran’s ESA. That a veteran is part of the story gave me pause enough. (Gave me pause… get it? Pause… paws… OK, not that funny). Even putting that aside, though, if you’ve ever owned a good dog, you know that dog does indeed care about your emotions.  So, what do I do? Leave out people with dogs? The other incident derailing my original story involves a donkey. On my walk past a nearby farm just this week, I stopped and asked the young woman shoveling out the barn what happened to the white horse that had been there for years. “The white horse died, but we may get another one. That white horse and the donkey were close. The donkey is really lonesome.” What? “When we buried the horse, the donkey stood nearby and watched the whole thing. It was like she was at a graveside service.” The woman spoke of it all very matter-of-factly, like a seasoned farm hand would. On the farm, when a large animal dies, you take your backhoe or whatever implement you have to dig a hole, you dig that hole, then push the animal in and cover it up. The facts of life. She spoke just as stoically about the donkey’s loneliness. No emotion, just ‘yeah… the donkey’s lost her buddy. We may have to do something about that.’ But if a donkey can have an ESA, I knew my story idea-in-the-making, poking fun of people with emotional support animals, was going south quickly. So, I’ve decided to change gears. Let’s look instead at what other animals might make a good ESA. Like, a turkey. If you ever breakdown emotionally and need a meal, voila! And after eating the turkey, you could be thankful. (Thankful… turkey… Thanksgiving…? Is funny still not happening here?) How about a fish? Imagine, a friend comes over. She needs to unload her troubles, so you dutifully sit and listen as she drones on, endlessly. And you finally say, “Why don’t you kiss my bass.” But you mean it. What a friend! How ‘bout a bumblebee? Maybe all you need to pick you up is a little buzz. Speak of buzz, what about a buzzard? If you’re a particularly deep person, a buzzard could pick your brain. (And any other parts. Once you’re gone, of course.) Feel free to offer your own thoughts. There’s gotta be plenty of other animals that would make ESAs. I’m sure you’ve heard about the (true story) incident recently involving a lady with an emotional-support hamster? After being told she couldn’t have it onboard a Spirit Airlines flight, she flushed it down the toilet. You can Google up the details, if you want. It’s a weird story. But I have to wonder what kind of person relies on a hamster for emotional support. I doubt that hamster cared about her emotions. I bet she’s single. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!  
  • I’m not sure when ‘The Season’ begins. Is it Thanksgiving into Christmas, then into New Years? Or do we back it up to Halloween? Halloween into Thanksgiving into Christmas into New Years? And why do we say ‘new years’ like there are several of them? All I know is I eat a lot in ‘The Season.’ I’ve made pecan pies before, but making them this year was different. For some reason, this year I paid attention to what actually goes into making a pecan pie. It may be because I’m trying (in vain) to reverse the slow trend of becoming a slightly larger person every year. I’m still trying to get my brain wrapped around this notion that what I put in my mouth has some direct correlation to the size of my midsection. So... pecan pie: -syrup-sugar That’s your pie: liquid sugar, granular sugar. The sugars need something to hold them together, so let’s toss in a few eggs. Of course there are pecans, but it could be anything. Want a peanut pie? Walnut pie? Use dill chips and it becomes a pickle pie. The point is, we’ve named the pecan pie not after the mainingredients but after the only healthy ingredient in the thing. Rightfully, it should be called a sugar pie. “Oh, you’re making sugar pies for the holidays? Do you do anything special?” “Well, I like to top mine off with pecans. Adds a little crunch to the sugar.” Years ago, I made a ‘dark’ version of pecan pie. Instead of a light corn syrup, I used molasses. Instead of white sugar, I used dark brown sugar. I called it Pecan Mud Pie. I should have called it Pootie Pie. It hung around for days in unfavorable ways. Pecan pie is hard to turn down, especially if you know the reputation of the person or restaurant that is offering it. Once you become known for making a good pecan pie, you are considered an excellent cook for anything else you make. You could prepare an entire meal from canned food, nuke it in the microwave and serve it on plastic plates, and it would be the best meal ever. Because we’re all just waiting on your delicious pecan pie at the end of the meal. My pies this year were a failure. While they looked good coming out of the oven, apparently, I did something wrong. Serving them was serving a soupy, syrupy mess. With pecans. They had good pecan pie flavor and got eaten (with spoons), but I doubt I will be asked to make them again for the family gathering. I’m OK with that. Maybe it’s just to discourage myself from eating something that will only make me a little rounder in the middle, but next time I’m serving pecan pie, I’m gonna call it like I see it. “Alright now, I’m serving diabetes for dessert. Who wants Cool Whip on theirs?”
  • Kids like gross. Always have. Toy makers know this and have been delivering gross toys for decades. Garbage Pail Kids, Burp Balls, Queasy Bake Oven…. do a search for ‘gross toys’ and you’ll find not only the toys currently vying for your kids’ attention, you may also find what appealed to you as a child. Anyone remember making creepy crawlers? Then eating them? Seems like Santa Claus himself brought that one to my childhood house. With no children of our own, our home these days is generally gross-free. (Pay no attention to anything my wife might say about me and Mexican food.) But kids occasionally show up, and the ones we see most frequently know my wife and I are gamers. Ping pong, basketball, board games… we’re usually all in for whatever challenge gets thrown at us. And that brings us to Bean Boozled. For those not familiar with this game, allow me to introduce you. I’ll call it a board game but if it has a board, I’ve never seen it. It does have a spinner. And jelly beans. What could go wrong? The rules, as explained to us by the kids, are simple: Flick the spinner and whatever color it lands on, you eat a jelly bean of corresponding color. That’s it. You now know how to play Bean Boozled. When you eat up all the jelly beans, refill bags are available at places like Cracker Barrel. That’s how wholesome the game is. Except… Each color jelly bean can have one of two flavors. One of those flavors is tasty; the other, not so much. That brown jelly bean might indeed taste like chocolate pudding. But it might taste like canned dog food. The white jelly bean? Could be coconut, could be sour milk. I will attest that while I don’t really know what some of the gross flavors taste like (slimy socks?), they’ve done a pretty good job with replicating the taste of sour milk! My wife and I weren’t the only adult players, but we hung in there longer than the others. One of them got a booger-flavored bean and dropped out immediately. My wife grabbed a trash can after her first bad bean. She was willing to keep going but prepared to unload any further undesirable flavors. She didn’t last long. I became a case study for stupidity. Not only did I hang in there until I had tasted all the flavors, good and bad, but when asked to play again the next night, I agreed. My wife declined. So did the friend who went down on his first bean. “Tasted boogers all night,” was his excuse. Nasty. Which of course is why kids love it.

Local News

  • President Jimmy Carter will not teach Sunday school in Plains as he originally planned.  The Carter Center released a statement Saturday saying that the former president 'underestimated the time he would need to recover' from his recent hip replacement surgery.  Carter, the oldest living president at 94, broke his hip Monday when he fell at his home in Plains. The surgery took place at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus. He was released from the hospital Thursday. We'll be LIVE in Plains where the former president is recovering. We'll have the latest on Carter's recovery, on Channel 2 Action News Sunday AM. TRENDING STORIES: Celebrity chef offers to hire lunch lady fired after giving lunch to student who couldn't pay Woman poses as sheriff, releases boyfriend from jail Plumbing fails hours before Preakness Stakes Carter still teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church when he is able and planned to teach this weekend. 'He and his wife, Rosalynn, appreciate everyone's support and prayers and apologize for any inconvenience to those who traveled to hear his lesson,' The Carter Center wrote.  Carter's niece, Kim Fuller, will teach the lesson instead. 
  • Country music star Travis Tritt was “really shaken” after witnessing a head-on fatal crash on Highway 22 early Saturday morning.  Tritt and his crew were leaving Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when the accident happened. “Thank God we are all okay,” he wrote. “I feel so bad for those who died needlessly tonight. I’m really shaken up by what I witnessed. God bless those who died.” Tritt, a Georgia native who lives in Hiram, said he was told the accident was caused by a wrong-way driver who “was obviously driving drunk or impaired.”  » These are the most famous folks from Cobb County He said his tour bus was sideswiped and sustained minor damage “as we tried to avoid the crash site in front of us.” Horry County emergency crews responded to the wreck around 3 a.m. A Jeep traveling in the wrong direction crashed into a Chevrolet truck head-on, said Cpl. Sonny Collins with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the Charlotte Observer reported. The driver of the Jeep and a passenger in the truck were killed in the crash, Collins said. The driver of the truck went to the hospital. “I beg everyone to please, please, please drive sober,” Tritt tweeted. “Know when to admit that your are too impaired to drive.” Tritt and The Cadillac Three are scheduled to perform tonight at Anderson Music Hall in Hiawassee. 
  •  Athens wins a national water quality contest. From the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office... Athens-Clarke County was named one of five national winners in the 8th Annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. As part of the challenge, residents pledged to reduce their water use by 73.2 million gallons of water over the next year and to undertake behaviors ranging from fixing home leaks to reducing harmful runoff into local rivers and streams. The annual month-long public awareness campaign to improve drought resiliency and water quality was promoted by the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office and ended on April 30 with mayors from 35 states vying to see whose city could be the nation’s most 'water wise.' 'The challenge is about reminding people across the country that we all need to work together to manage our water resources,' said marine life artist Wyland, who founded the Wyland Foundation in 1993. 'The campaign shows that there are many ways to do that, but it all starts with simple actions that most of us can do every day that make a big difference over time.' Residents from winning cities will now be entered into a drawing for thousands of dollars in water-saving or eco-friendly prizes, including $3,000 toward their annual home utility bill, 'Greening Your Home' cleaning kits from Earth Friendly Products (ECOS), home irrigation equipment from The Toro Company, and a water fixture makeover for a local school from Ecosystems LLC. A $500 home improvement store shopping spree will also be chosen from among the entire pool of U.S. participants. Additionally, participating residents were asked to nominate a deserving charity in their community to receive a 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Residents from Athens-Clarke County also pledged to reduce their use of 202,756 single-use plastic water bottles and eliminate 4,340 pounds of hazardous waste from entering watersheds. By altering daily lifestyle choices, residents pledged to send 1.9 million fewer pounds of waste to area landfills. Potential savings of 550,000 gallons of oil, 315 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 4.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and $941,655 in consumer cost savings rounded out the final pledge results. In addition to reducing water use, Athens-Clarke County collected more pledges than Gainesville, FL to win a friendly wager between the two cities, thus ensuring ACC Mayor Kelly Girtz would not have to don orange and blue while doing the 'Gator Chomp' during a future Mayor and Commission meeting. Instead, Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe will wear red and black while 'Calling the Dawgs' at an upcoming Gainsville City Commission meeting. Athens-Clarke County won in the population category of 100,000 to 299,999. Other winners were Rexburg, ID (5,000-29,999); Palm Coast, FL (30,000-99,999); Tucson, AZ (300,000-599,999); and Columbus, OH (600,000+). For more information on the challenge, visit www.mywaterpledge.com. The challenge, presented by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota, with support from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, National League of Cities, The Toro Company, Earth Friendly Products – maker of ECOS, Ecosystems, LLC, and Conserva Irrigation, addresses the growing importance of educating consumers about the many ways they use water.
  • Georgia softball will make its 18th-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance this week as the Bulldogs travel to Minneapolis for regional action. #14 Georgia will open tournament play Friday against #25 Drake at 7 p.m., ET.    National seed #7 Minnesota hosts the regional that also features North Dakota State. The Minneapolis Regional is the only regional in the field that features three teams ranked in the most recent USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and all four teams to have 40 or more wins.   Follow the Bulldogs » The Minneapolis Regional will air nationally on the networks of ESPN. Courtney Lyle and Amanda Scarborough will be on the call from Minneapolis.  » All games will be streamed live via Watch ESPN and the ESPN app.  » Live stats will be available for the Minneapolis Regional. Live stat links can be found on the softball schedule at GeorgiaDogs.com. » Live Twitter updates will be available at the official Twitter page of Georgia softball, @UGAsoftball.   BULLDOGS BULLETIN Series Histories Minnesota » Georgia leads the all-time series 4-2 » The Bulldogs and Gophers first met in North Carolina in 1998. The teams have met five times since, all in Athens (2010, 2012, 2016) » Minnesota won the first-ever meeting as well as the most recent  » The Bulldogs and Gophers have never met in the postseason  Drake  » Georgia leads the all-time series 2-0  » The only meetings came back on Mar. 25, 1998 in Athens; Georgia won 2-0, 1-0 North Dakota State » Georgia leads the all-time series 2-1 » All three meetings have been in Athens, first in 2011 then twice in 2013 » North Dakota State won the last meeting, 3-0   NCAA Tournament Tidbits » Georgia softball will make its 18th-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance this weekend  » Georgia is 67-37 all-time in NCAA Tournament action, advancing to 10 Super Regionals and four Women's College World Series. The 2009 and 2010 seasons saw the Bulldogs advance to the Final Four » In regional action alone, Georgia is 48-17 » In regionals away from Athens, Georgia is 21-11 all-time. Georgia has swept regionals on the road twice, 2008 and 2009  » Georgia will appear in Minneapolis for the NCAA Tournament for the first time » In 17 Regional appearances, Georgia has been on the road eight times. Three of those eight saw the Bulldogs emerge to go on and play in a Super Regional (2008, 09, 14). Only once has Georgia opened on the road in regional play and advance to a Women's College World Series (2009)    A Look Back Georgia trekked to College Station, Texas for the SEC Tournament last week. The Bulldogs opened play against Arkansas on Thursday. Georgia defeated the Razorbacks 4-1 for its first SEC Tournament win since 2015. The Bulldogs had to turn around to play that evening against top-seeded Alabama. The eight-inning game saw the Tide walk off, 2-1, ending Georgia's six-game winning streak.    Georgia in the Polls The Bulldogs dropped a spot to #14 in the week 14 USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll while jumping a spot to #16 in the USA Softball/ESPN.com Poll.    DiCarlo a Top 10 Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Senior Alyssa DiCarlo has been named a top-10 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. She becomes only the second Bulldog to earn a top-10 finalist spot. The 2019 season is the seventh season Georgia has placed a student-athlete in the top 25. Alisa Goler (2009) is Georgia's only other top-10 finalist in the history of the award. DiCarlo is one of four from the Southeastern Conference to appear on the list. The Top 3 Finalists will be announced on May 22. The 2019 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 28.    Three Bulldogs Earn All-SEC Honors Senior Alyssa DiCarlo was chosen by the league's head coaches as a First Team All-SEC performer. Junior Ciara Bryan earned Second Team All-SEC accolades while rookie Lacey Fincher gained a spot on the Freshman All-SEC Team. DiCarlo, a native of Glendale, Arizona, concludes her career as a four-time All-SEC performer, this is her third time on the First Team, earning Second Team as a sophomore in 2017. Bryan makes her debut on an all-conference team in 2019. A native of Covington, Georgia, Bryan has been Georgia's top hitter in league play, hitting a team-best .310 while slugging .521 against conference opponents. In the field, Fincher began the season starting as the designated player before taking over duties at first base in early March. She's made appearances at short, behind the plate, and in the outfield throughout the season.   Avant Lands on SEC Community Service Team Junior Mary Wilson Avant was named to the 2019 SEC Softball Community Service Team. Avant, a pitcher from Macon, Georgia, has participated in such community service events such as the Special Olympics of Northeast Georgia including the Hometown Rivals baseball game, UGA HEROs where she has fundraised and served as a committee member with the purpose of improving the quality of life for children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS, and Shop With A Bulldog where she has served as a mentor and raised funds to assist in providing clothing and personal supplies for underprivileged children.   Congrats, Grads!  Four Georgia softball student-athletes including Kylie Bass (Human Development and Family Science), Kendall Burton (Communication Studies), Cortni Emanuel (Masters in Sport Management), and Brittany Gray (Communication Studies) all earned their degrees at Commencement services Friday, May 10.    Thank you, Seniors!  Georgia honored the careers of two seniors who played their finals regular season games at Jack Turner Stadium: Kylie Bass and Alyssa DiCarlo. The two will go down among the best to wear the Red & Black. Bass will finish among career top-10 performers in ERA, wins, appearances, opponent batting average, and strikeouts. In her senior campaign, DiCarlo has broken Georgia's career records for home runs, RBI, extra-base hits, and total bases while raking among the top-10 in batting average, hits, at bats, runs, doubles, slugging, on-base percentage, walks, sacrifice flies, and assists. 
  • LaKeisha Gantt has been chosen as the president of the Clarke County Board of Education. The Board met in a special called session Thursday to vote on a replacement for departing School Board president Jared Bybee, who is leaving Athens for a job in California. Gantt won her seat on the Clarke County School Board in last year’s elections, defeating former incumbent Carol Williams to claim the District 7 seat. She has worked as a behavioral specialist in school districts and is now a counselor at the University of Georgia. 

Bulldog News

  • CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The symmetry appears uncanny on the surface, but Lawrence Cager’s football journey has been filled with twists and turns. Ultimately, Cager believes, fate has brought him to where he belongs and needs to be. Cager  hosted Georgia receiver J.J. Holloman when Holloman visited Miami as a prospect in November of 2016. A little more than two years later, Holloman was Cager’s host in Athens, Ga., for the Hurricane receiver’s visit last February. The two hit it off so well that they’re going to be roommates when Cager arrives in Athens on May 28 with business degree in hand and a national championship on his mind. “J.J. is like family to me,” Cager told DawgNation last weekend. “Out of high school, I wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog from the jump.” Cager has impact player written all over him, ready for a break-out season after a career-high 21 catches for 374 yards last season. Smart said more than once he’s concerned about the Georgia receiver position after four of the top five pass catchers from last season moved on. Cager is already on NFL radar, his 6-foot-5, 218-pound frame and impressive jumping ability leading to a team-high six TDs in 2018 at Miami. RELATED: Cager among four UGA players on Senior Bowl early radar It’s fair to assume Cager will be in the Red Zone mix at Georgia. Cager was recruited to Miami by current Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley, choosing the Hurricanes over Alabama and playing the 2015 season with Coley as his coordinator. “God works in mysterious ways,” Cager said. “I’m here now with the coach I loved at Miami (Coley), and the coach I loved at Alabama (Kirby Smart), so I couldn’t ask to be in a better position.”   Play ball! Growing up in baseball-crazy Baltimore, Cager fancied himself a future major leaguer and didn’t take football serious entering into his freshman year at Calvert Hall College High School in Maryland. Former five-time all-star Tori Hunter came to watch Cager hit when he was in eighth grade, and Lawrence’s high school coach was a regional scout for the Detroit Tigers. All signs pointed to baseball. Until they didn’t. Cager played football as a freshman “just to have fun” when coach Devin Redd, the CEO and co-founder of Baltimore’s Next Level Nation, altered Cager’s life with his observation. “Devin Redd said I could play on Sundays,” Cager said. “He told me ’you have something people don’t have; you move like a 5-foot-11 guy but you’re 6-5.” Cager scored 15 touchdowns and had more than 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman before moving up to varsity as a sophomore, a three-sport athlete also playing basketball and baseball. “Lawrence’s ascent began when he came into high school,” Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said. “He wasn’t sure what direction he would go in; he dabbled in baseball, at one point thought about soccer, and he was a very good at baseball.” Then Cager decided to go out for track his junior year, and he ended up at the Penn Relays and Nationals, clearing 6-foot-11. By then, however, Cager had decided on football. “I knew football would take me where I needed to go,” Cager said, “when I got my first offers from Oregon State and Toledo my sophomore year.” Silent commit A strong showing at a Nike Camp in New Jersey led Cager to receive an invite to The Opening in 2014. Future Georgia receiver Terry Godwin was also there. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer invited Cager to the Buckeyes’ famed “Friday Night Lights” recruiting event, and Cager and his family were so impressed that he made a silent commitment on July 25, 2014. Cager already had an Alabama offer in hand, and then Michigan State offered, along with Notre Dame, Miami, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Nebraska. Cager found himself intrigued and wanted to take visits, particularly to the Top 5 Mississippi State-Alabama matchup in 2014. “The fact I wanted to visit there told me I didn’t need to be committed,” Cager said. “I wanted to see other schools before I could know.” Cager’s parents were pushing for Wake Forest because of the academics there, so the Deacons got the first official visit followed by Virginia Tech, and then Cager’s visit to the Michigan-Ohio State game. Cager headed to the U.S. Army All-American Game thinking he wanted to go to Alabama, while his parents were still encouraging him to go to Wake Forest. Shower commit Cager told the CBS team at the U.S. Army All-American Game he was going to commit to Alabama, live at halftime, during the Jan. 3 broadcast. But behind the scenes Cager’s parents were telling hm to re-think it; there was uncertainty over whether offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin would be returning to the staff the next season. “It was a tough phone call to Nick Saban,” Cager said of the days leading up to the game. Once game day arrived, Cager had an issue on his hands: A spot on CBS to commit before a live national audience, but uncertainty as to which school that would be. “During warm-ups before the game, I was trying to figure out which school I’m going to commit to,” Cager said. “So while everyone else is on the field getting ready to play, I was in the shower room calling schools … some were answering, but they said they’d already had a commitment or were full at the position.” That included Georgia when Cager reached out to Mark Richt. “They told me they were full, because Jayson Stanley had committed,” Cager said. “Coach Coley was the only one at a school I liked who would take my commit. “He said, ‘Change the game!’’ “ Cager’s coach told then-Miami head coach AL Golden that it was a TV commit. Cager was scheduled to visit Alabama the following Saturday, and then he’d visit Miami. “So I committed on TV to Miami without ever being in Miami in my life,” Cager said, laughing at the naivety of his youth. “It’s funny how God works, because that’s how he put Coach Coley in my life.” Until he wasn’t. Lawrence Cager’s upside has him on NFL radar. Rob Floyd/ Getty Images The Richt Years The score was 58-0 on Oct. 25, 2015, Clemson handing Miami the worst loss in the Hurricanes’ 90-year football history. “I know it isn’t far from outhouse to penthouse,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, according ESPN. “I don’t celebrate anything from Miami’s bad day. I feel for him. I hate it, man.  Hurricanes’ coach Al Golden hated it even more when he was fired the next day, making way for Larry Scott to assume interim duties. Miami won the remained of the regular season games, but the Hurricanes elected to go with suddenly available Richt, a school alum who had parted ways with Georgia. RELATED: Mark Richt praised by rivals Saban, Fulmer, Spurrier Cager couldn’t wait to build off his freshman season, but then things took a turn for the worst — specifically, his knee. “I tore my ACL on the last play, on the last day of the last week of 7on -7 drills before camp, back in July of 2016 going into my sophomore season,” Cager said. “I was determined to come back quicker than they projected, so I was in the training room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day until I could walk.” Cager was running in two weeks and running in three months, ready for spring drills, but Richt held him out as a precaution. The 2017 season, however, was at best “up and down” Cager said. “You think you won’t think about it (surgically repaired knee), but it’s in the back of your head, that what if I do this, or I do that, and I might hurt it again,” Cager said. Finally recovered, Cager was ready for a big redshirt junior season in 2018, but the Hurricanes’ offense struggled. The quarterback position was a revolving door, and the lack of consistency under center translated to a hot-and-cold passing game. Richt stepped down after the season, and Cager decided to exercise his eligibility as a graduate transfer. Georgia, with Coley recently promoted to offensive coordinator, was the first to call. “Kirby was like, ‘I’m not going to lose you this time, right?’ “ Cager said. “ ‘You’re going to come home now.’ “My mind went to Athens as soon as I made a decision to be a Bulldog, I felt right at home.” DawgNation in South Florida Kenny McIntosh draws comparisons to Sony Michel, Jordan Scarlett Lawrence Cager eager for Georgia touch down ’The Blueprint,’ championship plans for South Florida star Lawrence Cager with DawgNation   The post The fascinating story of how Lawrence Cager ended up at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Kirby Smart has no intentions of leaving his post as Georgia football coach any time in the near future — or ever, for that matter. “Why would I leave home?” Smart said Thursday night in his hometown of Bainbridge, Ga., during a question and answer session,  according The Post Searchlight. “I have more passion and energy in my heart for the University of Georgia than you’ll ever realize,” Smart said. “Because it did more for me than anything I’ve been to in my life.” Smart was an All-SEC safety at Georgia and four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll (1995-98), graduating from UGA’s celebrated Terry College of Business. Smart began his coaching career with the Bulldogs as an administrative assistant on Jim Donnan’s staff in 1999. He returned in 2005 to serve as an assistant to former coach Mark Richt. RELATED: Brandon Adams podcast discusses Kirby Smart as Georgia ‘coach for life’ Smart’s 32-10 record as Georgia’s head coach marks the highest winning percentage (.762) in UGA history. The Bulldogs recently had seven players selected in the 2019 NFL draft and are poised to break the program record next year as Smart enters his fourth season at the helm. RELATED: Kirby Smart’s 2020 draft class will set record Only 43 years old, Smart has already delivered an SEC Championship. UGA was seconds away from the College Football Playoff Championship in 2017 and narrowly missed a second College Football Playoff appearance in 2018. Smart has been paid appropriately for his success. He draws a $7 million per year salary as part of the seven-year, $49 million contract extension he signed last year. Still, there has been speculation that the NFL or Alabama might one day lure Smart away from his alma mater, as it has many other great coaches. Florida’s Steve Spurrier is a prime example. Spurrier was a Heisman Trophy winner for the Gators who came back to coach his alma mater for 12 years (1990-2001) before leaving for the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Spurrier ultimately returned to college coaching, but he did so at South Carolina, where he coached another 11 years. Smart could be different in the sense that he grew up and played his high school football in Georgia, whereas Spurrier was raised in Tennessee. RELATED: AJC columnist Mark Bradley asks, could Smart coach UGA for life? Smart’s appearance at the Bainbridge football fundraiser at the Bainbridge Country Club on Thursday night served as evidence of his loyal nature. “I get asked to speak a lot, but I asked to speak at this event,” Smart said, according to his hometown newspaper. “You got me now because you put Bainbridge back on the map, put it where it’s supposed to be.” Bainbridge, where Smart starred before choosing Georgia, beat Warner Robins 47-41 in triple overtime of the Class AAAAA State Championship Game last season. Smart shared how Bainbridge is what led him to the national level of success he’s enjoying at Georgia. “I had the great fortune of going (to Georgia),” Smart said. “Probably would have never gotten there without some of the great people in this room. “I assure you, it was what drove me to success.” Smart has been proactive designing future success for Georgia as well. It is Smart who is spearheading UGA’s aggressive scheduling model and seeking a facilities blueprint aimed at keeping the Bulldogs an annual title contender. RELATED: Smart shares visionary side of Georgia scheduling plan The Bulldogs recently scheduled a future home-and-home series with Oklahoma in 2023 (away) and 2031 (Athens). Smart’s comments this week make it clear he plans to be on the sideline for both, in Norman, and between the hedges in his “home.” More Kirby Smart DawgNation coverage • Kirby Smart takes playful jab at Florida • WATCH: Kirby Smart shares two most meaningful Georgia wins, bucket list • MORE: Kirby Smart ‘no regrets’ on Justin Fields’ situation • Kirby Smart says ‘We want to talk with our helmets’ • Kirby Smart makes key point defending Jake Fromm The post Kirby Smart plans to coach Georgia infinitely: ‘Why would I leave home’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS – Having presided every one of what is now 33 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for Georgia, women’s tennis coach Jeff Wallace was asked if heading to Orlando this week to compete in the championship rounds seemed like old hat for him. Without missing a beat, Wallace pointed to the wide-brimmed, black sun hat atop his head – power G on the front — and deadpanned, “this is a new hat.” Georgia’s No. 2 doubles team of Elena Christofi and Vivian Wolff is undefeated this season at 16-0. (Kristin M. Bradshaw/UGA Athletics) Wallace is representative of his top-seeded and No. 2-ranked squad as it prepares for its Elite Eight matchup with Vanderbilt (19-7) on Friday. The Bulldogs (26-1) are upbeat, loose and confident as they make yet another run at a national championship. Wallace’s latest team might be his best one. It stood undefeated before finally blinking against a very good South Carolina team in the SEC Tournament finals. Since the calendar flipped to spring the Bulldogs have logged 12 4-0 victories. “Every year’s different; it’s hard to do comparisons,” Wallace said of how this group stacks up against his all-time best teams. “This has been a special year, when you win a national indoor title and you go undefeated in the regular season and win the SEC. But our goal all year has been to play our best tennis this coming weekend and that’s what we’re striving for.” Next in the pathway is Vanderbilt, a team Georgia already has beaten twice. The latest was a 4-1 drubbing in the final regular-season match. But the Commodores pushed them to 4-3 in the National Indoor semifinals back in early February in Seattle. The Bulldogs were ranked 5 to Vandy’s No. 2 at the time. “I think it’s a good thing,” junior Elena Christofi said of having to play Vandy a third time. “They know us but we also know them. We have an idea about what to expect and can share strategies with our teammates about who they face. We know what’s worked and we can do it again.” In an epic comeback, Christofi rallied from an 0-5 third-set deficit and fought off two match points to defeat Emily Smith 7-5 for Georgia to clinch that match. She is 15-2 on Court 5 this season. Christofi and sophomore Vivian Wolff are undefeated (16-0) at No. 2 doubles for the Bulldogs. Not coincidentally, Georgia has won 21 of 26 doubles points this season. From top to bottom the Bulldogs are a well-balanced squad of youthful talent and grizzled experience. No. 2-ranked Katarina Jokic leads the at No. 1 singles. Freshmen Lourdes Carle (23-6) and Meg Kowalski (23-1) have come in and dominated the competition at Nos. 3 and 6, respectively. Christofi and fellow junior Marta Gonzalez (ranked 19th in singles and playing No. 2) provide leadership. All but the two freshmen were around last year when the Bulldogs were bounced at this point. They lost to Stanford, the eventual NCAA champion. “The vibe is really, really positive,” Christofi said. “All of us are super pumped and excited to go to Orlando. Being in the Elite 8 is what we’ve worked for. Now we have an opportunity to show our work.” Just to add to the positivity, the Bulldogs added another team member this week. Head coach Drake Bernstein and his wife Cassidy had their first child Monday night, Brody, a boy. So it was with great optimism that Georgia boarded its flight for Orlando Tuesday. But this will be new territory. The Bulldogs, like many other teams, are making their first visit to the expansive USTA National Training Center in Lake Nona. The 100-court facility was thought to be a factor in the NCAA’s decision to skip over Athens as an NCAA Championship site when bids were accepted through 2022. “It’s going to be a new experience for me and for all of us,” Wallace said. “I’ll tell you what I think when I get back. I’m very, very biased. There’s no better place than ours and we’d love to get the NCAA Tournament back here and that’s our goal and hope.” The post No. 1 Georgia tennis heads to Orlando intent on returning with another NCAA championship appeared first on DawgNation.
  • University of Georgia sophomore right-hander Emerson Hancock has been named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, USA Baseball announced Wednesday. Hancock, who owns a 7-2 record and 1.31 Earned Run Average (ERA) this year is one of 25 semifinalists. The Golden Spikes Award annually goes to the top amateur baseball player in the country and USA Baseball has partnered with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation to host the award since 2013. The finalists will be announced on May 29, and the winner of the 42nd Golden Spikes Award will be named on June 14 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.   A 6-4, 215-pound native of Cairo, Ga., Hancock is the fourth Bulldog in school history to be named a semifinalist, joining shortstop Gordon Beckham (a finalist in 2008), pitcher Joshua Fields (2008) and first baseman Rich Poythress (2009). Hancock leads the nation in Fewest Hits Allowed Per Nine Innings (4.4) and WHIP (0.73) {Walks Plus Hits Per Innings Pitched} and is fifth in ERA (1.31). He has made 11 starts, tallying 75.2 innings with 81 strikeouts and only 18 walks. He has been one of the aces for the Bulldogs who are ranked No. 7 nationally with a 39-14 record including 18-9 in the SEC. Hancock is slated to pitch game three of the Alabama series at Foley Field on Saturday at 2 p.m.  “The twenty-five student-athletes honored as Golden Spikes Award semifinalists this year highlight the depth of elite amateur baseball talent in the United States,” said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler. “Each and every one of these athletes have excelled on the field this season and we are honored to continue our partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation to recognize their contributions to their teams and schools.”  The list of semifinalists spans 20 different colleges and universities, one high school and nine NCAA conferences. The list also features 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner Andrew Vaughn (California). Along with Vaughn, recent winners of the Golden Spikes Award include Brendan McKay (2017), Kyle Lewis (2016), Andrew Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Trevor Bauer (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Buster Posey (2008). Seventh-ranked Georgia plays host to Alabama at Foley Field starting Thursday at 7 p.m. with the entire SEC series sold out.    Students who present a valid UGA ID will still be admitted free via the 3rd base gate. Student admissions are first come, first serve until their held block has been exhausted. Game two of the series will be Friday at 7 p.m. and game three will be Saturday at 2 p.m. Georgia will honor its seniors before Saturday’s. game. The entire series will be available on SEC Network+ and broadcast on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.    Georgia (39-14, 18-9 SEC) closes out the regular season looking to secure a top four seed and a bye for next week’s SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs are two games behind second-ranked Vanderbilt (20-7 SEC) in the overall SEC race while fourth-ranked Arkansas leads the West with a 19-8 league mark. Georgia and fifth-ranked Mississippi State have identical 18-9 SEC marks with MSU holding the tiebreaker over Georgia. The Bulldogs need only to win one game or have Ole Miss or LSU, both 15-12 in the SEC, lose a game for Georgia to be a top four seed. Georgia is 25-3 at home this season. Also, the Bulldogs have a chance to become only the third team in school history to register 40 wins in the regular season. The two that have done it were the 2001 SEC Champions (40-16) and the 1990 National Champions (44-15).   The Bulldogs lead the nation in Fewest Hits Allowed Per Nine Innings at 6.1 and are seventh nationally in ERA at 3.21. Georgia’s record for lowest ERA in a season is 2.97 by the 1958 club and the next best is 3.26 by the 1967 squad. Opponents are hitting only .195 against the Bulldogs this year and that’s on pace to be a school record. The Bulldog rotation will feature freshman Cole Wilcox (2-1, 4.12 ERA) on Thursday, junior Tony Locey (9-1, 2.63 ERA) on Friday and sophomore Emerson Hancock (7-2, 1.31 ERA) on Saturday. Alabama has a 4.00 ERA and opponents are hitting .246 against them.   Alabama (30-23, 7-20 SEC) defeated Samford Tuesday and now are vying for the 12th and final spot in the SEC Tournament. Currently, they are tied with Kentucky and South Carolina. The Wildcats play host to the Commodores while the Gamecocks face MSU in Starkville. Alabama is 9-10 on the road this year. The all-time series with Alabama is tied 72-72-2. Last year, Georgia won a series in Tuscaloosa 2-1.   Georgia is batting .267 with a .421 slugging percentage and a .980 fielding percentage. The Bulldogs have a trio of .300 hitters in junior Aaron Schunk (.339-9-37), senior LJ Talley (.335-8-38) and redshirt sophomore Riley King (.307-7-40). Alabama is hitting .266 with a .397 slugging percentage and a .978 fielding percentage. Alabama’s leading hitters are junior Morgan McCullough (.323-3-29) and sophomore Tyler Gentry (.305-11-40).   On Senior Day Saturday, the Bulldogs will honor Talley, pitcher Adam Goodman and graduate John Cable plus managers Sam Carey and Travis Tindall. Manager Greg Bundrage graduated last week and already has begun an internship with the Arizona Diamondbacks in video operations.   GEORGIA vs. ALABAMA PITCHING MATCHUPS Thurs: Freshman RHP Cole Wilcox (2-1, 4.12 ERA) vs. Freshman RHP Tyler Ras (1-2, 3.41 ERA) Fri.: Junior RHP Tony Locey (9-1, 2.63 ERA) vs. Junior RHP Brock Love (5-4, 4.31 ERA) Sat.: Junior RHP Emerson Hancock (7-2, 1.31 ERA) vs. Senior RHP Sam Finnerty (6-7, 4.18 ERA)     Television/Radio Thurs. SECN+ Streaming Link with 1st pitch at 7:02 pm: http://www.gado.gs/2np Fri. SECN+ Streaming Link with 1st pitch at 7:02 pm: http://www.gado.gs/2nr Sat: SECN+, Streaming Link with 1st pitch at 2:02 pm Link: http://www.gado.gs/2nt   Radio (Entire series): Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG College (David Johnston & Jeff Dantzler) Stations: 960 AM-WRFC and selected affiliates (check your local listings), also via the Georgia Bulldogs app and TuneIn app. Additional Coverage on Twitter: @BaseballUGA   Tickets:  -StubHub: http://www.gado.gs/2nv
  • ATHENS – The Georgia Bulldogs – and Davis Thompson in particular – picked a good time to get hot. Thompson won medalist honors to pace the No. 16-ranked Bulldogs to a dominating victory in the NCAA Athens Regional tournament. Thompson shot 8-under par over three rounds to win individual honors and Georgia shot 8-under as a team to stay ahead of No. 9 Duke (-1) and No. 4 Vanderbilt (+1) to claim the tournament victory. Davis Thompson brought a new Ping driver into play for this week’s regional and that move paid dividends. (Kristin M. Bradshaw/UGA Athletics) By finishing among the top five teams in the 13-team field, Georgia advances to the NCAA Golf Championships in Arkansas next week. To do so coming off a win makes it all the better. “Anytime you can win, it just gives you the confidence to know that you can win,” said Chris Haack, who notched his 63rd tournament victory as Georgia’s coach. “To do it on a big stage like the NCAA Regionals gives you even more confidence.” SMU (+16) and Liberty (+18) also advanced. Tennessee (+21) missed the final spot by three strokes. But the talk of the day was about Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound sophomore from St. Simons by way of Auburn, Ala. The son of former Georgia golfer Todd Thompson, Davis has been knocking on the door all year with third- and fourth-place finishes in the Bulldogs’ last two tournaments and five top 10s in his career. “It’s big,” Thompson said shortly after birdieing his final hole of the tournament at the UGA Golf Course. “I’ve been close before, so it just feels nice. A big sigh of relief.” Said Haack: “To see him finally validate his play was pretty special. These guys work so hard and get over the hump. That was his first college win, so to do it on a stage like this in front of lot of fans is pretty special. I think the best is yet to come from him.” The best news is Georgia knows it can play better. Freshman Trent Phillips was the only other Bulldog to break par Wednesday – he shot 69 to finish 10th individually — and Trevor Phillips (+13) and Will Kohlstorf (+11) carded uncharacteristically high rounds. Junior Spencer Ralston was his steady self as usual, finishing third at 4-under par after carding a 71 Wednesday. “It was good to see us jell a little bit and finish it off in style,” Haack said. The post Davis Thompson leads Georgia men’s golf to run-away win in NCAA Regional appeared first on DawgNation.