Remembering Shad Gaspard

Often times, we don’t realize that at any moment in our lives, it could be the last time we will our loved ones alive.

This was the case for Aryeh Gaspard on Sunday. The 10-year-old son of the retired WWE superstar and his dad, Shad Gaspard, who is best-known for his time in the WWE tag team Cryme Tyme in the mid-2000s.

Aryeh and Shad were going for a midday swim in Venice Beach, California, when both of them went missing. In an effort to help swimmers find Gaspard’s 10-year-old son, Shad shouted “Save my son!”

The swimmers did just that, but little did Aryeh know that was going to be the last time he saw his dad alive.

Shad was last seen alive around 3:40 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, May 17, 2020.

On Wednesday morning, May 20, 2020, a passerby located Shad’s body that had washed ashore.

The passerby then notified local authorities, who called the Los Angeles County Coroner to the scene.

The coroner was later able to positively identify the body as that of former WWE star, Shad Gaspard.

The point of this story is, hold your loved ones tight, you never know when all of that could come to an end.

God Bless Aryeh, you’re in my thoughts and prayers buddy.

This picture was taken just hours before Gaspard and his son went missing due to high tides in Venice Beach, California. Source: Twitter.

The Last of The Bulldog: My Last Trip to Turner Field and Met “The Bulldog” Five Years Later

Saying Goodbye to Turner Field

ttended my last game at Turner Field on July 13, 2012, when the Braves took on their National League East division-rival, New York Mets, out of Flushing, New York, a suburb of New York City.

The starting pitchers that night were Dillon Gee from the New York Mets and the Braves handed the ball to Auburn, Alabama’s Tim Hudson. Hudson is a 1997 graduate of Auburn University, where he was teammates with that night’s starting catcher, David Ross. Together in college, those two won the College World Series during Hudson and Ross’ Senior year of 1997.

When I was heading to Turner Field that afternoon, I could feel my chest getting tighter the closer we got to the field.

I knew that this would most-likely be the very last time I ever stepped foot into the place where I fell in love with the game of baseball.

That night it rained for three hours before the game ever got started and it was 12:30 before the game got started.

We started until the end of the sixth inning. Fittingly, Chipper Jones had the last at-bat I ever witnessed at Turner Field.

But this was much different than the first time I ever saw him at the plate in person, he didn’t get out.

In fact, he sent a ball deep into the Atlanta night, over the right-center field wall. He must’ve known I was in the stands, because otherwise, he would’ve probably gotten out as was often the case.

The Braves ended up winning the game 8-5.

Meeting Tim Hudson Five Years Later:

On April 7, 2017, my uncle, who coached my cousin’s travel ball team, called me to tell me that they would be playing a team out of Auburn, Alabama, called the Colt 45’s, and it was coached by Tim Hudson.

When he told me this, I knew immediately that I would be in attendance just to see the game.

But, I didn’t know it would result in me meeting the last pitcher I ever saw start at Turner Field face-to-face and having a conversation with him.

On April 8, 2017, I woke up early, my uncle picked me up and we headed to Lagoon Park in Montgomery, Alabama.

As I approached the field, I could see Tim was carrying his San Francisco Giants warmup bag, for those of you that aren’t familiar with him, he won a World Series title in San Francisco in 2014.

He was busy when I approached, so I waited until he wasn’t busy to get his attention. After his team had taken the field for pregame warmups, he approached the dugout that I was standing beside, I took this opportunity to yell “Tim!” And then motioned for him to come over to me. He did so politely.

I mentioned to him that my goal was to become a Major League Baseball broadcaster one day and then he and I talked a few more minutes, I asked him “Would you mind if I got a picture with you?” He responded “Absolutely brother, come on.” Afterwards I told him that he was the last pitcher a game at Turner Field that I attended, he said “Is that the game when it rained forever?” I said “It was, y’all didn’t start playing until 12:30 a.m., he responded “That’s it.” He and I both shared a laugh because we both knew how that turned out for the New York Mets, whom both of us hated. The last thing I asked him was “Who gave you the nickname ‘The Bulldog’ he smiled and said, “Two people are responsible for that nickname, Chipper and Bobby Cox, Chipper started it first because he said I went after hitters like a bulldog and after a few weeks, the skipper only called me “Bulldog”. I thanked him and before I sat down I said “Go Braves!” He said “Chop on, my brother.”

Image Source: Wikipedia
Image Source: Call to the Pen

Be Patient Braves Fans, Baseball Will Be Back

As many of you know, I’ve always been a huge Braves fan and I’m devastated that the Braves didn’t start on time, but that doesn’t mean they won’t start at all.

For 22 years, I’ve very rarely missed a game, and I don’t plan on missing any this year once they take the field.

Friday afternoon, the MLB announced that it had come to an agreement to shorten the 2020 season to what I assume would be anywhere from 125 to 82 games, but they won’t start until the mass gathering and travel bans are lifted.

While I’m anxious for the start of the season, I know that the Braves and the MLB have the safety and well-being of their fans, players, staff etc. as a first priority.

I’ve always heard good things come to those who wait. While I never thought I would see the day that anything like this took place, I’ve seen it.

As fans, all that we can do now is wait and ride this chaotic proverbial storm out. Baseball will be back at some point in 2020.

While we don’t know exactly when that will be, we will wait as long as we have to because when it does return, that will make it just that much sweeter.

They aren’t doing this for spite, they are doing this for the safety and well-being of millions of people.

As much as I miss Braves baseball, I understand completely why they are doing this.

They are doing this because they genuinely care about their fans, players, staff etc. and I appreciate the fact that they are taking these necessary precautions.

Be patient, baseball will be back before we know.

God Bless and Go Braves.

Picture: Bleacher Report.

Dear Baseball: An Open Letter to My Long-Delayed Friend

Dear Baseball, when will you start? I’ve been lost without you for 22 days now, yes I have counted the days since my last home high school baseball broadcast and since the day spring training was canceled and Opening Day was delayed.

Originally, Opening Day was delayed by two weeks. But last week, the MLB announce that would be another eight weeks until you were back.

That made me have to wait an extra 12 weeks for your return and honestly, I’m lost without you. There is absolutely nothing on the TV these days that I care to watch.

I did the math last week, and Opening Day is now projected to start on May 14. I can’t go much longer than I already have to without you.

I never thought I’d see the day where you divorced me so unexpectedly. But to be honest with you, it really hurt my heart.

If you come back in 11 more weeks, we can forget that this ever happened. Please come back on May 14.

I’m baseball deprived and that is vital for me to be able to live day-by-day. There is nothing that I love more than I love you.

I hope to see you as soon as possible.

Yours truly,

Braxton Parmer.

Picture: Talking Chop.

Nice to See You Again, Old Friend

About two weeks ago, I was heading to Alpharetta, Georgia and I passed the place where I spent a large amount of my time growing up, Turner Field, now known as Georgia State Stadium, since it is the home of the Georgia State Panthers football. I still call it Turner Field, though, because that’s what I’ve always known it as. I witnessed many victories inside those friendly confines and very few losses. In fact, a few months ago, I did the math, and I realized that I had been to 42 Braves games, 41 of which game at Turner Field. The Braves home record when I attend is 31-10. I like to think of myself as the Braves ‘good luck charm’. Because they almost never lose when I’m in attendance. As I passed the stadium, I was suddenly taken back to my childhood, I felt the thrill that I felt as a little kid, I felt like a kid in a candy store all over again. I’ve seen so many Braves greats take the field there. I was taken back to when I was little and we would pull up to the stadium and I would blurt out the ESPN theme song, I could hear Crazy Train over the PA system in my head as I passed it. So many great memories were made there. I never visited the stadium when I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself. It was like I was a little kid again for that split-second. So many life-long friends were made inside those four walls. I haven’t been inside SunTrust Park yet, but I did pass it as I was headed home that weekend and I plan to visit in 2020. Nice to see you again, old friend.

Happy 80th Birthday, Grandma Sherry

The date was September 3rd, 1939, exactly 80 years ago today, when my Grandma Sherry first saw the light of day. I was blessed to spend 19 of my 21 years on earth with her. I often catch myself thinking about she would say or do if she could see where my life is today. I often reflect on the many conversations that the two of us shared on the back porch of both her days in Spanish Fort at 7 Yankee Trove and Wetumpka, where she lived when God called her home on December 30, 2017, six days after she fell ill on Christmas Eve of that year. I remember her saying multiple times “I love Kid Rock, I just wish he didn’t talk so ugly.” Many of our conversations involved some sort of life-lesson or one of her many sayings that should’ve been trademarked. One of those many sayings was “Nobody goes hungry under Mama’s watch.” One of her many valuable life-lessons that also should’ve been trademarked was “There is never a right time to do the wrong thing and never a wrong time to do the right thing.” She was always preaching about treating people with respect, no matter how wrong they were. In fact, recently a family friend came over to the house and said that she had talked to my aunt and my aunt said I needed to go with them to see Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock. I immediately began to think of how many times Grandma Sherry and I had talked about seeing Kid Rock if he was ever close. Sadly, she never got to see him, so I will go see him for her on September 21. Even though I selfishly wish she was still here, I know that she is not suffering and that she is finally back with Big Ken after 11 years of being apart, when he died of pancreatic cancer in 2006. I will write a piece dedicated to him at a later date. But for now, Happy 80th Birthday, Grandma Sherry, give Big Ken a hug for me. We will meet again one day soon.

Braves fall 9-4 to Philadelphia, Take Series 2-1, Head to Washington

Coming into this weekend series against the Phillies, Atlanta was fresh off a two-game sweep courtesy of the Kansas City Royals. However, the Braves looked to be in mid-season form during the weekend in Philadelphia or what some may call “pre All-Star break” form. Friday night, Atlanta picked up a much-needed 9-2 win and on Saturday, the bats came to life and the Phillies never really had a chance from the start. Winning Saturday’s contest 15-7. A big part of that was an Ozzie Albies 3rd inning grand slam. The slam was Ozzie’s 15th homer of the year. Even though the Braves couldn’t win on Sunday, I think you have to feel really confident taking two of 3 from Philadelphia and head to Washington D.C. with a series win. Atlanta is now (62-44) on the year and 5.5 games ahead of Washington. One big impact was Ronald Acuña exiting the Sunday game with neck tightness and gave way to Charlie Culberson. Brian Snitker said Ronald Acuña “checked out good, we’ll just wait until tomorrow to see how he feels.” Snitker also said he thinks there is a chance that the All-Star center fielder could play on Monday night in Washington. On to Washington, my friends! Monday’s game will feature Dallas Keuchel taking the mound for Atlanta and Patrick Corbin getting the nod for the Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05pm CT from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

Picture: The Sports Herald-Morganton.

Atlanta Looks to Overcome Tough Times vs. Kansas City with Two-City Road Trip to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C.

Some might say that the two-game sweep against the Kansas City Royals, the second-worst team in Major League Baseball, trailing only Baltimore, was destined to happen or that it’s the same thing in a different year. But personally, I think it’s just what the Braves needed to light a fire under themselves and right the ship against the two team that have been in the taillights of the Braves for a number of months now. I mentioned it to a friend the other night and I’ll say it again “Baseball is a beautifully, cruel game, you’re going to lose games that you’re supposed to win at some point every season. That’s just how it works.” You might also say “The Braves always choke after the All-Star break.” Or “I told you this would happen it always does.” But, what you critics fail to realize is this. The 2019 Braves lineup is one of the most potent lineups in baseball behind maybe the Dodgers. These guys were picked third in the preseason but yet, look where they are. This team loves playing under pressure, that’s when they play their best. Personally, I think the best is only months away. Friday’s game will feature two of the best pitchers in baseball in Mike Soroka and Jake Arietta going head-to-head in “The City of Brotherly Love” at 6:05pm CT.

Josh Donaldson: Arguably the Hottest Brave Since the All-Star Game

Early on in the 2019 season if you had told me that Josh Donaldson would be putting up the kind of numbers that he has produced since the All-Star break has ended I would’ve probably laughed, honestly. But to my surprise, the Auburn University alum has been nothing short of scorching hot since then and he continued that hot streak on Friday night in a walk-off win for the Braves against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park, when he absolutely scorched the game-winning hit off of Nationals relief pitcher, Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning to left-center field that brought home Ronald Acuña Jr. and raised the Braves record to (59-40). The last 62 games of the 2019 regular season will be extremely critical for Atlanta as 22 percent of their remaining games come against these talented Washington Nationals. What can we expect from Josh Donaldson over the last 62 games of the regular season?

Drought No More: Braves Sweep Padres in San Diego For First Time in 13 Years

It had been a long time since the Atlanta Braves won a series in San Diego against the San Diego Padres, eight years to be exact. Their last series win in San Diego was back in 2011, when I was in the eighth grade. Eight years might not seem like a long time to us now, but in the sports world, it’s an eternity. The Braves snapped that eight-year drought with a 7-5 win in 10 innings on Saturday thanks to Nick Markakis, who leapt from the right field warning track to save the Braves 56th win of the year. On Sunday, it wasn’t much different, in the fifth inning, All-Star centerfielder, Ronald Acuña Jr. played the role of Superman as he left his feet on the center field warning track, landing almost over the wall, robbing Padres slugger, Manny Machado of a two-run home run that would’ve given San Diego a 2-0 lead. Mike Soroka was his usual self, shutting out the Friars through 7 innings. In the eighth inning, the Atlanta Braves plated four runs. In the bottom of that inning, Touki Toussaint surrendered a run, but held Andy Greene’s club right there and turned things over to AJ Minter to slam the door and preserve the Braves first series sweep in San Diego in 13 years, yes 13 years. I was eight the last time Atlanta swept the Padres on the road, I was also in the third grade. Atlanta has now won four-straight games and boards a plane bound for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to begin a three-game set at Miller Park with the Milwaukee Brewers, Monday through Wednesday. Tomorrow’s game starts at 7:10pm CT and will pit Max Fried against Adrian Houser against each other. The Braves are now (57-37) on the season. Good things are worth waiting for my friends.