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Chris Gay: Savannah can have its sand gnats

Posted: March 29, 2017 - 1:38am

My sister-in-law and I have a running joke - at least I think it's a joke.

For several years now, she's asked me when my family and I are moving to Savannah. I give a warm chuckle and then tell her what I always tell her: Never.

It would be fun living close to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. They're about the same age as my wife and me. My wife's brother is a huge sports fan. We get along well, and not just because of sports. And my wife and sister-in-law get along well, too. Also, all of our children play well together.

Yet, I was reminded this past weekend why I never want to move to Savannah. While Augusta is no drop-dead gorgeous supermodel of a town, it has a few advantages. The cost of living is cheaper is here. The schools are better here. We have a minor league baseball franchise here. And there's something else: We don't have sand gnats.

If you've never had the privilege of enjoying sand gnats, let me help. Sand gnats were created by Satan somewhere around the fifth level of Hades. These gnats are not the annoying kind that just pester us up here. Instead, these little monsters jump on you and sink their teeth into your skin. Think mosquitoes, except worse.

Sand gnats reside along the coast of Georgia. My family and I got to enjoy our yearly battle with the sand gnats when we attended a St. Patrick's Day parade in Shellman Bluff, about 30 minutes below Savannah. (Why they hold the parade a week later than usual, I have no idea.) Shellman Bluff is like Hephzibah - minus the traffic light - on the marsh.

In preparation for the parade, we all soaked ourselves in some sort of sand gnat repellent. It seemed to work for a while. That afternoon, while almost everyone in the family stood in line to take a helicopter ride, the spray wore off. Those vicious little sand gnats seized the opportunity.

The next day at my in-laws' place in Savannah, I went into the backyard to throw the baseball with one of my daughters. Within 10 minutes, the sand gnats were back with a vengeance. So much for having an enjoyable time outdoors.

I've read sand gnats come out twice a year: spring and fall. Those are the two best times of the year to spend outside relaxing in a hammock or playing golf or just going for a walk. Thanks, sand gnats, for ruining that.

Fortunately, it's not often I have to deal with those pests. The sand gnats will remain an issue for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and their children. Me? I'm never moving to Savannah.

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While I was out of town this past weekend, I read about more tributes for Augusta Christian baseball player Drew Passmore, who died last week. Janet Utz posted an interesting suggestion on her Facebook page. Her thought? For the Augusta GreenJackets to hold an annual Drew Passmore Night.

Utz suggests getting sponsors and having proceeds send a child to a baseball camp or having proceeds go to another worthy cause. Now, it's just a matter of getting the GreenJackets to agree to the suggestion.

I'm told the GreenJackets are in talks with Augusta Christian about moving one of the school's baseball games there later this year. That's a nice gesture. Hopefully, the team will support the Passmore tradition. It seems like a good idea.

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Only one No. 7 seed has ever won the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. (Think about this for a minute. The answer is at the bottom.)

The lowest seed to ever win the NCAA Tournament? No. 8 Villanova in 1985, when the Wildcats shocked No. 1 Georgetown in the title game. Talk about March Madness.

Now, South Carolina, a No. 7 seed, is trying to pull off its improbable run at the school's first national championship. Can the Palmetto State handle another winner? First, Coastal Carolina won a baseball title last year. Then, Clemson claimed a football championship in January. And let's not forget the other big sports story an hour outside of Augusta: Tim Tebow playing baseball this season for the Class A Columbia Fireflies. Who's ready for Tebow Time? Tebow and the Fireflies come to town April 13-16 when they play the GreenJackets.

On top of all that, the South Carolina women also are in the Final Four. So there's a possibility of two teams just up the road bringing home a national championship.

All this winning in the Palmetto State and what do we have here in the Peach State? Sand gnats. And we have the Masters Tournament, which features pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches. Take that, sand gnats.

Good luck to the South Carolina men and women. I'm sure I'll be watching this weekend to see what happens. And I'll continue wondering when Georgia is going to get a basketball coach. If the Gamecocks can do this, the Bulldogs can too, right?

(Answer: In 2014, Connecticut became the only No. 7 seed to win a national title. The Huskies defeated No. 8 seed Kentucky in the championship game.)

 

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