Talkin’ Baseball #2 (February 27, 2019)

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While doing this series, I’m trying to avoid overloading with so much White Sox coverage but considering the topic, I have very little choice right now.

I’m going to have to talk about Manny Machado again.

Not because I want to, but because that seems to be the only thing the Chicago media can focus on. Not Machado, necessarily, but the fact that the White Sox made him an offer and that seems to be tantamount to actually accomplishing something.

I don’t get it. As the old saying goes, “trying is not doing.”

That’s great that the White Sox offered Machado a $250 million deal that could have reached $350 million with various options and incentives. And the Chicago media cannot let that go, it’s like the team just exploded onto the scene because they made an offer in free agency.

I mean, I could have called Machado’s agent and offered him $150 to just stay home for the year. As absurd as that sounds, I could still boast that I had “made an offer.” Would that get me a seat at the big boy table? I doubt it. And making an offer doesn’t have any tangible value.

I preach this a lot, because I lived through it and watched it unfold. In the early 1990s, the Yankees wanted to buy themselves a World Series. They were willing to outspend everybody. They made a mega offer to Barry Bonds, more than he received from the Giants, but he turned it down. They made a mega offer to Greg Maddux, more than he received from the Braves, but he turned it down. Players just didn’t want to play for the Yankees back then. The late 1980s and early 1990s were a dark time for the organization and even overpaying didn’t get them the players that they wanted.

That’s the Chicago White Sox right now. This team is a perennial loser. They haven’t had a winning record since 2012. There is no guarantee they’ll have a winning record anytime soon. Most players want to play for teams that have a chance of winning, because the money will be there one way or another. The White Sox are the laughingstock of baseball, on a number of fronts.

And what bothers me is the fact that some in the media, and a lot of fans, have the audacity to laugh at the San Diego Padres. Really? The Padres are selling the same bill of goods as the White Sox, “yeah, we suck now, but we have a great farm system!” The only difference being that the Padres had a better record in 2018 than the White Sox and the Padres’ minor league system is ranked higher.

I’m not laughing and see nothing there to laugh about.

So the White Sox were basically willing to max out at $250 million for Manny Machado. So the thinking, after he signed with the Padres, turned to Nolan Arenado, scheduled to hit free agency next offseason. He’s older than Machado and definitely takes advantage of the thin air in Colorado (Arenado has a career .320 batting average at home and .263 on the road). Arenado may be defensively superior to Machado but not by a considerable margin. In fact, had Machado played third base exclusively his entire career, it may be a lot closer than you think to compare them from a defensive standpoint.

The point is, Arenado is basically not as good a player, overall, as Manny Machado, and I don’t think anyone would argue that point, especially with Arenado’s inflated numbers playing in Colorado. And Arenado still got a larger contract than the White Sox were willing to offer Machado.

Not only did Machado get $50 million more than the White Sox offered, but Arenado got $10 million more despite being older and just not as good. Let that sink in for a minute.

But the Chicago media doesn’t want to touch that. Oh, the fan blogs do, and they take it to the other extreme, but I prefer to stay in the middle. Yes, the White Sox will sign free agents, eventually. It won’t be Mike Trout or Chris Sale or J.D. Martinez but it may be someone like Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (though he is rumored to be open to a contract extension with the Nats, which would be the same fly-in-the-ointment as the Arenado extension has turned into for the White Sox.

I think the White Sox took a great deal of care in constructing the rebuild so there is at least the possibility of having a homegrown or acquired minor league prospect at every position going forward. It’s entirely possible that by 2021, the Sox could feature Seby Zavala at catcher, an infield of Gavin Sheets, Nick Madrigal, Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada and an outfield of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Blake Rutherford, with Micker Adolfo or Zack Collins handling DH duties and a rotation of Carlos Rodon, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito, with any number of other guys filling in the bullpen (Alec Hansen, Carson Fulmer, Jordan Guerrero, Dane Dunning, Jace Fry, Thyago Vieira, Connor Walsh, Aaron bummer, etc) with Zack Burdi closing. And I think that is not only a worst-case scenario, but a recipe for disaster.

Rick Hahn himself has said he expects only one out of every four prospects to be a MLB regular. I just listed 24 players in the previous paragraph. That means that of those 24, six could become legit MLB contributors. So we figure Jimenez and Cease are the closest things we have to “guarantees.” Madrigal and Robert look solid early in their careers and certainly Kopech and Lopez have had some level of MLB success. In other words, chances are you can take everyone else on that list and scratch them off.

I know there are fans out there that think every one of those guys is going to develop into a superstar; when the end of season awards are announced, it will be a list of 10 White Sox players for AL MVP, the whole starting rotation will finish one through five in AL Cy Young balloting, etc. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. We have already watched Giolito and Fulmer and Moncada struggle mightily at the MLB level, none of the three looked ready but were rushed to The Show for some unknown reason.

The point of that is, you have to acquire some outside, established help. You can’t build a team 100% from prospects and compete. It’s not only impossible, it’s ridiculous.

The White Sox didn’t sign Machado or Harper or Arenado and they’re not going to sign Trout or Sale. So the Chicago media can stop trying to pretend that the White Sox are big players on the free agent stage. But they can supplement what they have and fill holes that prospects can’t fill, so the fans who think the White Sox are completely incapable can stop being ridiculous as well. It’s not all or nothing.

One last thing I want to touch on is the talk of a strike in 2021, which was a hot topic when the top free agents were unsigned. At the time, I kind of understood where the players were coming from, MLB is raking in money, hand over fist, and the players have a right to the biggest share of that pie. Manny Machado just signed a $300 million contract. Nolan Arenado signed a $260 million contract. Bryce Harper will make more than either of them. So the players grievance has suddenly become hollow.

And if Harper signs with the Phillies and it’s more than the $325 million contract that Giancarlo Stanton is currently playing for, that’s gonna make the players look even more ridiculous for even considering a work stoppage. The money is out there, players are just overvaluing themselves. Craig Kimbrel thinks he deserves $100 million to pitch 3 outs a game? The market says no, take the best offer you can get (probably six years at $85 million) and be happy with it. Dallas Keuchel thinks he’s worth a six-year contract? No, you’re on the down side of your career and nothing is going to change that. Take a three-year deal for $45 million and be happy with it. Guys are getting more than they’re worth, statistically.

Hell, Bryce Harper hit .249 last year. For most guys going into free agency, that would be bad news. But for some reason Harper is considered a generational talent. Though I don’t know why.

He only hit seven points higher than Yolmer Sanchez. Yes, I know, the home runs and the walks, but the fact remains, he’s not infallible or miles ahead of anyone else in the game. He’s just “good.”

The numbers are out of control, and I think a player’s strike would be pretty stupid, given the money the players who have signed are getting compared to five years or a decade ago.

And that’s my opinion on everything. Thank you for reading, and God bless.

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My Final Analysis Of The Manny Machado/Chicago White Sox Fiasco

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After what feels like an eternity, we’ve finally reached the end of the road on the Manny Machado Magical Mystery Free Agency Tour. Obviously, it did not end as we all wanted it to, with Manny signing a reasonable contract with the White Sox and taking over at third base. Instead, it ended in a clusterfuck with the White Sox supposedly offering more money in the form of incentives and option years and San Diego Padres finally winning the battle with a straight ten-year, $300 million deal and an opt-out after five years.

Now I could sit and complain and be aggravated that, as usual, the train has left the station and the White Sox are still standing in the baggage area looking stupid. But I’m not going to do that. Do I think adding Machado would have been a coup? Of course. Is it the end of the world? No. We still have a stacked minor league system. The future should be bright, regardless of the fact that Manny won’t be playing on the South Side.

I’m more angry about the fact that the White Sox had the option to spend the kind of money they are rumored to have offered Machado (between $320 and $350 million according to various stories I have read, had he reached his incentives and had his options exercised) but now there isn’t much available to spend that money on. The best option for this team, with a gaping hole at third base, was Mike Moustakas, who took a pitiful $10 million to stay with the Milwaukee Brewers. And given the way their respective stadiums play, Moose may well end up hitting more home runs in 2019 than Machado will. Ouch.

The White Sox have needs. Lots of needs. So far none of the “prospects” that have been called up have come close to meeting expectations, let alone exceeding them. Carson Fulmer, the 8th overall pick in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft, looks like a bust on every level, carrying a 6.68 ERA over 67 1/3 innings at the MLB level and a 5.04 ERA over 319 2/3 innings at the minor league level. Our 2016 first round pick, catcher Zack Collins, has a .232 career batting average over 924 minor league at-bats. The Sox second round pick in 2016 was considered a steal, but rolled up a 6.31 ERA in 14 minor league starts. Of course, our 2017 first round pick, Jake Burger, suffered two Achilles tendon injuries in less than a year. None of these players are close to being MLB contributors.

I would also be remiss not to call out our prospect acquisitions, including the haul from the Chris Sale trade (Yoan Moncada and his .235 batting average and league-leading 217 strikeouts in 2018, as well as Michael Kopech and his Tommy John surgery, which pushes his development back a full year) and the Adam “Dickhead” Eaton trade (Lucas Giolito and his 6.13 ERA over 32 starts, but did lead the team in wins with 10, and Reynaldo Lopez, who looks like the best of the bunch after compiling a 3.91 ERA over 188 innings and looked like a legitimate ace at times). Clearly, this team has a lot of needs.

There is also the possibility that the rookies who have had success at the minor league level won’t translate that success to the big league level. Moncada was once considered the top prospect in baseball. At this time, Eloy Jimenez is considered the third-best prospect in baseball, but what if he also hits in the .230s? None of these prospects are guaranteed stars, if any player came close, it would have been Moncada, who was the consensus best prospect and considered the front-runner for AL Rookie Of The Year in 2017.

A year, incidentally, in which he hit .231 in 54 games at the MLB level.

The White Sox need way more than one $300 million player. The only OF spot that seems secure at this moment is CF, where Gold Glove finalist Adam Engel hit .235 but did hit a robust .260 in the second half. Left field awaits Jimenez. Right field belongs to Jon Jay, who, despite whatever spin the White Sox front office wants to put on it, was signed to help lure Manny Machado. The only possible power option with a track record in the OF is Daniel Palka, who will more than likely regress and is more of a left-handed platoon DH option than a full-time starting outfielder. Like I said, this team has needs.

The starting pitching simply swapped Big Lame James Shields for Ivan Nova. Nova is an upgrade in that he has FAR superior control to Big Lame James, but is also susceptible to the home run ball. The bullpen, on the other hand, did get a bit of a makeover and should be the strength of the team. But you have to get late in the game with a lead for that to matter, and as of now, I don’t know where the runs are going to come from.

While I’d love to see the White Sox be a year-in, year-out contender, not only in the standings but also in the free agent pool, at this point I just think it’s better to tone it down a tad. A 100-loss team like the White Sox, with little improvement throughout the roster and probably staring down another 100 loss season, doesn’t need a $300 million player right now. That’s like putting $3,000 Vossen rims on my 1992 Jeep Cherokee Sport.

At this point, I would like to see the White Sox sign another free agent starter (Gio Gonzalez?) and take the ball out of Dylan Covey’s hand every fifth day because we already know what Covey’s capable of (5.18 ERA over 21 starts and six relief appearances). A power upgrade in the OF would also be a blessing (Adam Jones?).

In closing, yes, I’m disappointed that we didn’t sign Machado. I’m disappointed that we won’t sign Bryce Harper and that next year we won’t sign Nolan Arenado. Who may not even make it to the free agent market anyway. I’m annoyed that we’re coming out on the short end of the stick, as usual. Especially if the Phillies sign Harper, we’ll be the only team that was in on both, and the only team that came out with absolutely nothing to show for it. Of course, if you scroll back you’ll see that three months ago I said this would be the end result, so I was mentally prepared for it, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’ll suffer through another poor season with my Sox friends and in a couple of years, if everything breaks right, we’ll be celebrating a nice window of contention where we could be seeing a Sox World Series win at any time. And we’ll forget this point in time ever happened. And it will all be worth it. So here’s to that day. GO GO WHITE SOX!

Some Changes I Would Like To See To The MLB The Show Video Game Franchise

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I had hoped this blog would be about the start of Spring Training and the final destination of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but since that never-ending saga is, well, never-ending, I figured I would take the time to address something else that’s been on my mind lately: The state of the MLB The Show PlayStation franchise.

I began playing the Sony MLB offering back when it was known simply as MLB, in 2000, which featured Mo Vaughn on the cover (apparently in those days it was easier to get an Angels player on the cover than it is now, since Mike Trout is clearly this generation’s Mickey Mantle). In those days, the game was stripped down to the absolute minimum, no franchise mode, a “minor league” system that amounted to three players per team, etc.

Prior to owning a PlayStation, my game of choice was Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run for the Super Nintendo, back in the days of games that either featured real players and was sponsored by the MLBPA but had no real teams or games that featured real teams and was sponsored by MLB but featured no real players. KGJWR featured all the real MLB teams but with made-up player names, including “Big Magoo” in place of Frank Thomas with the White Sox.

Going back even further, my game of choice was Baseball Stars on the NES. Most people seemed to prefer the RBI Baseball series because it was licensed by the MLBPA, but I liked Baseball Stars because it was completely programmable. You could create your own team, players and league as well as having the ability to trade players. Back in 1993, in the days before the current generation of fantasy baseball or games like The Show, a friend of mine and I spent a whole weekend holding a player draft, creating a team, creating a minor league team, and playing a full season on Baseball Stars. It was a lot of work but definitely a lot of fun in the end.

When I bought MLB The Show 07 (featuring David Wright on the cover) for the PlayStation 2, I was dumbfounded. I thought it was everything I could ever want in a baseball video game. Real teams and players, just like the previous generation simply known as the “MLB” series, but with real expanded minor league teams and league rules, to an extent.

Now, I need to point out that, of all the gameplay options on The Show, I am a Franchise guy. I like the concept of playing GM better than the Road To The Show option (where you create yourself as a player and work your way through the system). I also don’t bother with all the bells and whistles including the card collecting and that kind of thing. I’m a baseball card collector in real life and have an extensive collection, I don’t need to collect “pretend” cards.

This is not a complaint, I have no issue with this being part of the experience, but it brings me to my first issue with the MLB The Show series:

Make Different Versions Highlighting Different Aspects Of The Game

As it is now, you can buy three different versions (though I’m cheating a bit because one is an online version and two are physical versions) but why not make MLB The Show: Franchise, where you can play the game in franchise or season mode, without all the extra card collecting and packs and stubs and things that I have no interest in.

Make a second version, or even an expansion pack, featuring the cards and all the extras that have nothing to do with playing baseball.

Release The Game When Spring Training Begins

As one who enjoys playing Spring Training games, there’s no reason why, in this day and age, the game can’t be released a month early. With downloadable patches and rosters, the game could be updated throughout Spring Training and give games like me a chance to play the Spring Training games in real time, with up to date rosters, which I do anyway because I spend the winter updating rosters on the previous year’s game, then I play Spring Training through and then transfer my saves to the NEW game once it’s released near Opening Day.

As an example, Madden NFL 19 was released on August 10, 2018. The NFL season didn’t begin until September 6. The preseason began on August 2 with the Hall Of Fame game. Why can’t Sony release The Show on a similar schedule as EA releases Madden?

Make Saved Rosters Transferable

I do my updates on saved rosters. It would make the game a lot more easy to play if I could just transfer those rosters to the next year’s game like I can transfer my season or franchise saves. This seems like a no-brainer to me, considering that, when you transfer franchise saves, the roster is going along with it, it’s just not transferable individually.

Work on that.

Upgrade The Managerial And Coach Hiring Options In Franchise Mode

While you can trade players from one team to another, and sign free agents, you cannot hire another team’s manager or hitting coach or pitching coach. That is ABSURD. Instead, you have the option of hiring your manager and staff from a list of computer-generated made-up names. There is NO excuse for this. The option to hire another team’s coach should be no different than signing another team’s free agents, it should be part of the experience.

Allow Non-Roster Invitees During Spring Training In Franchise Mode

This could be a little trickier but certainly not at all impossible. As each team has it’s MLB roster, AAA roster, AA roster and A roster, add a roster of NRI’s for spring training that can be added to the main roster if need be and released to the free agent pool if you decide not to keep them. Once the regular season rosters are set, the NRI roster would just disappear until the end of the season. There are a huge number of available free agents on the game, so this isn’t impossible by any stretch, and it would add another level of realism.

Make Regional Or Downloadable Covers For Each Team

Too much is made of the cover athlete and this year showed just exactly what a clusterfuck that can turn into. We’re six weeks from launch day and have no idea where the cover athlete will be playing. Why not make regional covers that are available nationwide via purchase from GameStop and Walmart and Target online? Or, even better, have a generic cover or a “legends” cover and make 30 different team covers available for download on the official Show website. I have made my own custom covers three times over the years, it’s not rocket science. If you can make 30 team custom themes for the PS4, I’m sure you can produce custom downloadable covers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the game and I can deal with not having these options available but, for how little it would really take to make these few alterations, why not do it? Too much time is spent on “1,300 new defensive animations” when, does that really matter? I mean, you make a great catch, but in the long run does the style of the animation of that catch really make that big of a difference in the gameplay aspect? Or is it a wig for a bald personality? It’s just a catch. Basically, what I’m saying is the game needs more steak, not more sizzle.

I love MLB The Show, and it’s a hell of a lot better than lining up Big Magoo to play first base for the White Sox on Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run or having no options to make trades or transactions on the old RBI Baseball series on the NES.

But it could be improved. Let’s work on that.
Peace.

Talkin’ Baseball, January 22, 2019 (#1)

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Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a running blog series, “Talkin’ Baseball with Jason J. Connor.” Before I jump in, I’m going to kind of explain how I came to be writing this series. I’ve been a baseball fan since 1988, so we’re talking over 30 years. I like to consider myself somewhat knowledgeable on the subject. I also took two years of Journalism classes in high school because, at the time, my dream was to be a sports writer.

I guess this is as close as I’ll come to that dream. But I’ll take it.

While I have been encouraged a lot to do this, I wanted to wait until now and have my first entry cover the 2019 Hall Of Fame inductees. Anyone who knows me knows I am a White Sox fan to the core, but I don’t want this blog to be only about the White Sox. But, naturally, since the White Sox are the only team I follow intently, that’s where 85% of my coverage is going to go. But I want to leave that 15% wiggle room for other important developments.

So, with that, let’s jump right in.

THE 2019 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

The BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) released the results of balloting for the 2019 class earlier this evening. I had planned on watching it live but had a lot going on, I brought the feed up on my phone only to be hit in the face with commercials, and the first sound to come out of my phone was an ominous voice saying “indigestion and gas?”

I closed the screen and figured that was a bad omen and I’d wait to read the results.

When I read the results a little while ago, I was not at all surprised with three of the inductees and pleasantly surprised with the fourth. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Phillies and Blue Jays starter, the late Roy Halladay, Mariners DH Edgar Martinez and Orioles and Yankees starter Mike Mussina all made the cut. Congratulations to the class of 2019.

Rivera, one of the greatest closers in the history of the game and the best I have ever seen, was elected on the strength of being named on 100% of the ballots cast, the first player in the history of the sport with that distinction. As great as Rivera was (an MLB record 652 saves and a career ERA of 2.21, and that’s over 1,115 career games), it’s hard to imagine that Ken Griffey, Jr., Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Cal Ripken, Jr. and even Babe Ruth failed to receive a 100%. For years it was rumored that the old guard in the BBWAA didn’t think anyone deserved to be named on 100% of the ballots so someone would leave the “head of the class” off their ballot just to keep anyone from receiving 100%. Apparently that has now changed.

Having said that, Rivera is beyond deserving and is, in fact, deserving of the “100%.” It just baffles me that no one before him has ever earned that distinction.

Halladay was named on 85.4% of the ballots. Considered one of the last true “workhorses” in baseball, he lead the league in innings pitched four times in his 16-year career, and lead the league in complete games seven times. I do, however, take issue with his being elected, especially his first time on the ballot. Halladay was killed in an airplane crash on November 7, 2017, and I think his passing played a very large role in his induction.

Halladay won 203 games, with a 3.38 career ERA, and a very solid 64.3 WAR. But his numbers across the board don’t scream “Hall Of Famer” to me. The 203 wins are solid, but Mark Buehrle won 214 games for the White Sox, and I doubt he’ll ever see the Hall Of Fame unless he buys a ticket to get in. His 3.38 ERA is nothing to get excited over. He did win two Cy Young awards but so has Corey Kluber and I don’t see him as a Hall Of Fame pitcher.

He also comes up short in some of the “sexy” pitching stats. Halladay was never a big strikeout pitcher, in fact, his career high (220) in 2011 is pedestrian even by today’s standards, when pitchers work far fewer innings. The one area Halladay did excel was in his control, after a difficult first season (79 walks in 149 innings) he would settle down and despite a massive uptick in innings pitched, his walk totals never exceeded 62 for the rest of his career, and generally settled in the 30’s or 40’s. In spite of that, I still see Halladay as a “Hall Of Very Good” type pitcher, who will be remembered for his playoff no-hitter, his perfect game and his untimely death more than his actual across-the-board career.

Also clocking in at 85.4% is Edgar Martinez, who has had the drum beaten for him for the last few years. And my one major sore point in this year’s class. I absolutely do not think Edgar Martinez is a Hall Of Fame player. I watched his entire career, and I saw a guy who was a good, professional hitter. But Hall Of Fame-worthy? No way. To put his career numbers into perspective, he played four fewer seasons than fellow inductee Harold Baines (and one of the seasons Baines played before Martinez was in the Majors was a strike season) but finished his career with nearly 80 fewer home runs and nearly 400 fewer RBI.

Two guys who played the same position most of their careers: DH.

And for a guy who was a “professional hitter,” and not just a “slugger,” Martinez finished his career with 2,247 career hits, far below the old threshold for induction of 3,000. Martinez won two batting titles (and retired with an outstanding .312 career batting average) but considering that 95% of his statistical output came during what’s known as the “Steroid Era,” it really has to make one wonder. From 1990 to 1992, Martinez hit a total of 43 home runs in 1,559 at bats. From 1998 to 2000, he hit 90 home runs in 1,614 at bats. Sounds fishy to me.

I just don’t see anything special about Edgar Martinez across the board.

Finally, we have Mike Mussina, who was named on 76.7% of the ballots. I think Mussina should have been in years ago. Mussina won 270 games (compared to Halladay’s 203 in two more seasons) and compiled 2,813 career strikeouts (nearly 700 more than Halladay) in addition to winning seven Gold Gloves. Mussina also had control just as solid as Halladay, never walking more than 69 batters in a season (in 243 innings in 1996) and usually settling in the 40’s in 200+ innings. I can honestly say that Mike Mussina was one of the best pitchers I have ever watched and was one of the players I would tune in to watch specifically.

Absolutely, 100% deserving and deserved better than 77%, to be honest.

SOX STUFF

This will be where I will tackle Chicago White Sox stuff, thus the name “Sox Stuff.”

Tonight I’m going to tackle the latest White Sox rumor, the rumored flirtation with the Los Angeles Dodgers regarding outfielder Joc Pederson and bringing him to the South Side.

Let’s first look at the White Sox outfield as it stands right now. I am going to assume they’ll be starting some combination of Adam Engel, Daniel Palka and Jon Jay, with Nicky Delmonico and Leury Garcia riding the pine. That group, in total, combined for 48 home runs last year, with Palka contributing over 56% of that total (27) by himself. Engel, Jay and Garcia are not home run hitters and never will be. Delmonico is a guy who, in a perfect world, could probably top out at 15 or 16 and I doubt Palka will come close to 27 again once pitchers figure him out.

Pederson has hit 20+ home runs three of the past four seasons. There’s a track record there. Yeah, he won’t hit for a high average but he has massively reduced his strikeouts in recent seasons and has a quality glove. This is a move I would make in a heartbeat.

This is a move I would make with even more haste given the White Sox lack of production at third base, which is traditionally a power position that’s being manned by Yolmer Sanchez, who topped out last season with a .242 batting average and eight home runs. With it looking increasingly obvious that the White Sox will not be bringing in prized free agent Manny Machado and lesser third baseman Mike Moustakas still available, it would make sense to strike while the iron is hot. And since Moose can probably find a better option than the White Sox (as Machado apparently will do), the Sox need to get power wherever they can.  If you can’t get that 20+ home run production at third, why not get it in the outfield?  And the Dodgers seem keen to move him, so the cost (rumored to be Carson Fulmer and a couple of prospects) is not prohibitive, especially when none of the Sox players mentioned have any production to speak of at the MLB level.  This is a move I would make all day, every day.

I’m just as tired of the Machado/Harper chase as everyone else, and since there hasn’t been any news in days, there’s really nothing to say. Neither will be with the White Sox.

Well, that about wraps it up for my first “Talkin’ Baseball” entry and we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to tie myself down to a rigid schedule with this, I’d rather wait until there’s something legitimate to talk about and then post, rather than just posting for the sake of posting.

Thank you for reading. Peace.

and GO SOX!

I’m Happy… And I Have To Admit, That Scares Me…

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I’m happy.

And I have to admit, that scares me.

First, let me put my life into perspective. I’m a generally happy guy. I have a good sense of humor, and I love to laugh. And when I’m not happy, I’m miserable. But that hasn’t been the case very often. In fact, I can easily say I have been legitimately happy through 75% of my life.

I’m 41 years old and obviously I have no memory of the first few years of my existence, but from everything I have seen and heard, I was happy. I do know that, from my earliest memories (1981?), I was happy. I was happy all through elementary school, junior high and high school. I’m not saying every day was perfect but the good days outnumbered the bad 100 to one.

I was also happy in college, in fact, that was one of the happiest periods of my life. And after college, for the next eight-plus years, I was happy. And I mean happy, fulfilled, loving life and truly enjoying myself.

That changed in the spring of 2005. And then it kind of snowballed and I was unhappy pretty consistently for the next 12 years, some years were worse than others (for instance, 2010 was a great year overall, with the exception of the last six weeks, while 2011 and 2012 were just miserable).

I started to feel some happiness begin to run through my veins in 2018. And like an addict needing a fix, I knew I needed a lot more of that and a lot less of the unhappiness I had dealt with the previous decade-plus.

So I started to take a look at my life, where I was then, where I had been in the past and realized exactly what I needed to make myself happy.

GETTING OUT OF PRESTON COUNTY

The most important thing was to get out of Preston County.

Preston has a reputation, and I dare say, it was earned. Moving to Fairview was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Preston County is the cesspool of the state of West Virginia. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everyone in Preston County is gutter trash (though I would say about 90% are), there are some great people there. But the human garbage outnumbers the good folks by a huge margin. And it seems to be getting worse as time goes on.

There’s also a feeling of impending misery at all times. When I’m in Preston County, I can’t sleep, I can’t focus, it’s just like I’m waiting for something bad to happen. When I get to Fairview, I have a habit of falling asleep in my recliner because I am so relaxed and my worries seem to melt away.

I’m about an hour away from Preston County now, and that’s a nice buffer. I come back occasionally to visit with mom and dad and check my mail that hasn’t gotten the address change processed yet, and it still has that same old Preston County feel, as soon as I get there, I start to feel miserable again.

And now, I wonder if I wouldn’t be even happier getting even further away. I’ve fantasized about leaving for Illinois or, especially, Arizona a lot over the years. I never had any intention of staying in this state all my life. I think just getting out of West Virginia in general would do a lot for me going forward.

BEING SINGLE

I had to take a real close look at my life and realize something that was told to me a year ago by my friend April, who told me how easy it is to get comfortable being single. The sad thing is, I should have already known that from my own life experiences. I have lived on each side of that situation.

The happiest I have ever been in my life were times that I was not involved with anyone, from my earliest period of recollection through the end of college. Now, I do have to admit that one of my longer relationships took place within that time frame, with my girlfriend from 1994 to 1996, but we had a very good rapport while we were together and when it ended, I think we were both really glad it was over, as I just get tired of someone after a certain length of time.

From the end of that relationship, I was single until the very early summer of 2005, and boy, did my quality of life go down when my love life was on the rise. As I look back at the mid-to-late 2000’s, the only good thing I can say about them is that the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005.

That’s literally the only good thing I can say came out of that era.

Then, 2010 to 2017 was even worse.  That was, without question, the unhappiest, most miserable era of my life. The only redeeming happening from that period was my son, everything else was suicide-worthy.

And what do those two periods of time have in common? I wasn’t single.

BEING SELFISH

For the first time since 2005, I’m doing for no one but myself. And I love it. I do what I want, when I want, where I want and how I want. I don’t argue with anyone over anything. It’s all about me, and it’s going to stay that way. With the exception of my son, whom I would have done anything in the world for and who came first, regardless of circumstance, this will never change again.

I don’t have to answer to anyone. If I want to get up at 3 AM and play MLB The Show on my PS4, I do. I don’t have to go spend the night anywhere that I don’t want to. I can go eat anywhere I want. I don’t have to negotiate about where to go or what to do with anyone. “Being selfish” is a big plus after you realize how important “being single” is. And while people may seem like they’re being selfish in relationships, ultimately there has to be some level of give and take, whether it’s 50/50 or 95/5, no one is having it their way 100% of the time.

This brings me to the second part of this piece, why being happy scares me…

After 12 years of unrelenting despair, 2018 felt like a breath of fresh air, but I still did things I shouldn’t have done. I got involved in situations that I should have known in advance were better to be avoided. And that’s what scares me, could I still have the potential inside of me to screw my life up again?

My mind says “no,” but if you went back 25 years ago and asked if I would possibly screw my life up as bad as I did the past dozen years, I would have said “no” to that as well. And even though I knew how happy I was in 1999 and 2002 and 2004, I still made decisions back then that could have completely ruined my life, rather than just making it unbearably unhappy. And it’s not like I was in one bad relationship from 2005 to 2017, I was in four of them.

How could anyone be so stupid as to continually putting themselves into bad situations like that is beyond me. And each one got worse, making the previous one seem not as bad, until it hit rock bottom. So, clearly, I had no sense of timing or the ability to distinguish trash from treasure.

Not that there were any treasures to distinguish, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact remains that I still made those stupid decisions.

So, here I am, single, selfish and out of Preston County. What could possibly go wrong? On the surface, nothing. One thing I have now that I did not have 12 years ago is the experience of being so unhappy that I don’t want to live, as I did on numerous occasions in the 2010’s. I am hopeful that experience will steer me away from any future issues, because I should be a little smarter now than I was a decade or two ago. As the old saying goes, live and learn.

I have so much I want to do in 2019. I want to watch ALL of my baseball movies, I want to play MLB The Show and watch every White Sox game (again) this year and I want to watch every episode of every Star Trek series and I want to smoke cigars and I think I have set my life up to do just what I want.

So long as I don’t do anything stupid to screw it up.

and that’s what scares me.

Peace.

The Negative Effect Of Social Networking On Straight Men

As I look over social networking on a daily basis, whether it’s to post Chicago White Sox baseball stories for discussion among my friends, pictures or videos of bikini girls or the best memes I can find, I am consistently surprised at some of the things I see posted by local men who are, supposedly, straight.

Some examples:


Seriously.

A decade ago, this kind of garbage would have been publicly posted only by teenage girls who were upset that their high school crush wasn’t interested or maybe by a complete and total nerd who didn’t know any better.

Now grown, adult men who are supposedly straight post this kind of thing.

Is it subterfuge to try to get women to think they are romantic or have some special feelings that most men don’t have? Because I’ll openly admit I’m just about as romantic as a coconut. So, if this is someway to try to buck the system, I get it. But I can’t respect it. What’s next, selfies in a miniskirt?

If you’re a man, act like a man. Not a teenage girl.

If you’re trying to get a girl’s attention, that’s not the way to do it. I imagine that any woman who sees that is going to think you’re pathetic.

And you know what? You are. No man is out looking for a soulmate. That’s fucking ridiculous, even putting aside the point that I don’t believe in such childish balderdash to begin with. Any woman who gets with a man like this probably will have to paint his toenails and listen to him cry when he gets home from work every night sitting on the couch having a glass of wine.

Pathetic.

Be a man. Watch a porno or read Playboy or Penthouse and post some dirty memes or tell a dirty joke and smoke a cigar and have a beer or a shot of whiskey. Or do you seriously not realize how ridiculous you look?

Like I said, if you’re a man, act like it. If you’re an emotional, heartbroken little powder-puff, you end up looking a lot more like this than a man:

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Peace.

My 2019 Thoughts On Relationships… and why they are far more trouble than they’re worth…

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I was doing some basic reading online this evening and came across a few relationship articles, and I realized that there is a real dearth of articles about relationships written from the male point of view. This bothers me. I’m not sure if there’s a lack of men qualified to discuss this topic or if most men just don’t care.

One of the few articles I found basically said “just do whatever you have to in order to keep your girlfriend/fiance/wife happy. If spending a lot of time with your friends or working on your car annoys her, then stop it. This isn’t rocket science.”

I cannot even begin to express the rage that ran through my body at the point I read and allowed my mind to comprehend the advice that was being offered.

In other words, just sit down, shut your mouth and do what you’re told. And I’m sure a lot of women would be in 100% agreement with this process of thought.

And this is exactly why relationships don’t work in the modern era. They are far too one-sided. I have been a sad witness to many guys who basically had no freedom as human beings to do anything, more or less they were just there to do as they were told, make the money, pay the bills, hand out cash and shut up.

Allow me to correct this injustice by laying out my own set of relationship rules, and these are from the man’s perspective, not just because there is an extreme lack of male relationship advice, but because, well, I’m a man and that’s just how it is.

I’m going to start at the beginning with this piece, and the beginning is deciding if you want to be in a relationship in the first place. While it seems like I am dumbing it down a bit, it’s amazing how many bad situations could be avoided at this first step.

In a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” type conundrum, ask yourself if you met someone special and realized you could see yourself in a relationship with her, or if you want to be in a relationship and latched onto a girl because of that mindset. There is a lot of pressure to be “with” someone these days, and some simple thought could keep you from getting into a situation that you’re going to want to get out of.

If it is a case of “I met someone and she’s great and I see a future here,” ask yourself what you see in that future. A long-term relationship? A one-night stand? A single date that is completely platonic? Could you see yourself someday marrying this girl?

If you see yourself doing more than just banging her and releasing her back into the wild, you then need to take stock of your situation. Women today, from seeing what has happened to some of these poor guys, have an outrageous expectation for you to be living together as quickly as possible. My assumption on this is so they are not having to pay their own way through life. They’re now only responsible for paying for half of life’s expenditures, or in some cases, sadly, you’ll take on the full amount.

At this point, decide if you’re willing to completely abandon the life you had before because, buddy, it’s over. Once a woman pulls you into her home or moves into yours, the rules have changed. Because now, it’s serious. Maybe you enjoy watching the ball game, but if she doesn’t, you have an argument on your hands. Maybe you want to work on your car or go fishing or just lay on the couch and vegetate. If she has other plans, then you better be ready to change yours. Or you better be ready for battle.

Now, I do need to acknowledge that there are different kinds of men. Some men can’t function without a woman. I’ve known guys like this. These are guys who don’t want to wash dishes or vacuum or do laundry so they figure they’ll just marry or move some broad in to do the “woman’s work” and however much suffering they have to do, it’s worth it in the end because they don’t have to do a few trivial chores around the house.

Then, there are guys who are FIERCELY independent. They don’t need anybody for anything. They don’t need anyone to pump their gas, pack their lunch, cook their food, wash their clothes or anything else. They are fully capable of doing anything that needs to be done and don’t need a woman to tell them how to do it differently.

That is the camp to which I belong.

Naturally, there are a lot of guys who fall into areas in between. And that’s why you have to figure out who you are and what you want out of life, and with whom.  My independence will make being in a relationship incredibly difficult in the event that I ever decide to make an attempt at doing so again.  That’s just how life shakes out.

Now, let’s say you met a girl, you see a long-term future with her and you’re the kind of guy who really sees a relationship as a 50/50 proposition. Where do you go now?

The first thing is to lay down some ground rules. Lay it on the line and explain that you are not giving up your hobbies or making some drastic change in your lifestyle. I’m not saying be an asshole and institute a “my way or the highway” mentality, but if, for instance, you enjoy fishing, explain that you will continue to go fishing and this is non-negotiable. If you have a set time for it, i.e. Sunday morning, you will continue to go fishing on Sunday morning. She can sleep in or find her own hobby. No arguing about it.

A lot of women will take this opportunity to flex their muscle and try to start changing things. And a lot of guys will back down and just let them have their wayt, and it does nothing but make things worse overall down the line. Period.

Let me now back up and take a different path in this journey. What if you’re not 100% sure you see a future with someone? Then you need to put the brakes on and not let the situation get away from you. You could end up engaged or married before you realize what hit you. You can know you’re in a bad predicament with the wrong person and it can still just snowball until you’re neck deep and you feel like there’s no way out.

Going back even further than that, do your homework. Find out who this woman is that you’re interested in. See what kind of reputation she has. People are all too willing to gossip, and you can use that to your advantage to pick up on things people may not be likely to tell you, since most people don’t want to get involved when they see someone walking into a death trap. But they do love to run their mouths about things.

From that point, for the love of God, don’t sell yourself short. A good, clean, middle-class guy should find a good, clean, middle-class girl. Don’t blow off the nice girls and go straight for the gutter trash. There is no way that will work out.  Leave the trash can whores for the guys who are cooking up meth and taking selfies at the bar.

That’s where doing your homework comes in. If a girl is trash, tell her to hit the bricks. Do you want the other guys laughing at you? You want the reputation as the guy who married the neighborhood prostitute? This ain’t “Pretty Woman,” this is real life. Don’t be stupid enough to ruin your life and reputation over a woman with a bad social or sexual past. It’s not worth it, on any level. You’ll be miserable and the butt of a lot of jokes.

Now, as far as meeting a great girl and wanting to spend time with her and wanting to marry her and be with her for the rest of your life, I can’t really give any advice from that area, because I’ve never experienced that. And at my age (41), I am more than willing to accept, maybe even anxious to accept, that my ship sailed a long time ago. But that is my own personal failure, and anyone who may happen to read this will have had a completely different set of circumstances in their life, and they can adjust accordingly.

The upshot of all of this is that you need to figure out who YOU are and then decide if there’s room for anyone else in your life. If you’re open to relationships, that’s great, but you need to be VERY discriminating when deciding if a girl is right for you.

Understand, I am NOT anti-relationship. But in looking at the situation from a personal standpoint, I am just a lot happier as a single man.  Part of that has to do with my poor decision-making skills when it comes to choosing women, and part of it comes from not wanting to waste my time.  I know what I like and what I like to do.  So unless a girl comes along that fits into a very specific spot in my life, I’m not interested.  But I don’t want my personal decisions to keep anyone from making their own.

In closing, thank you for reading and if the advice of an old man helps anyone out there from making any life-altering mistakes, I’ll consider that a victory. Life is good, and despite being battle-worn, I’m happy. And I want to pass that happiness along to a new generation, and hopefully those lessons will stick for someone, somewhere.

God bless.