About Jason J. Connor

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Five Changes I Would Make Immediately As General Manager Of The Chicago White Sox

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I’m going to begin this piece by admitting that there’s a chance I could have been wrong in my preseason prediction that the Chicago White Sox would finish the season with a 72-90 record. Now, granted, it’s not even June yet, but the team is still showing signs of being more than competent at this point in the rebuild, as of today (May 30), the team is 26-29, in third place in the American League Central and two games behind the second-place Cleveland Indians, though 11.5 games behind the division-leading Minnesota Twins. Three games under .500, at this point, would have been a dream scenario.

At the time I made my prediction, I didn’t think 72-90 was out of line at all. That’s a ten-game improvement from 2018. That’s nothing to snicker at. That’s 76-win territory and 76 wins is just five games below .500. I could foresee a consistent ten-game improvement over this and the next couple of years. A 72-90 record in 2019 would be an 82-80 record in 2020 and you’ve got a ballclub over .500. Another ten game improvement in 2021 and you have a 90-72 record and, more than likely, an AL Central Division title.

If the 2019 team is currently on a pace to finish five games under .500, it would seem that this rebuild could be sped up a bit, and there are a few ways to do that.

Here is my five step plan to improving this team right now to finish .500:

Yonder Alonso should be designated for assignment immediately and Jon Jay should as soon as he is healthy. We know there was only one reason these two were signed in the first place, and that was to placate Manny Machado. Well, Manny didn’t sign. As of May 30, Alonso is hitting .172 with six home runs as the regular cleanup hitter for the Sox, while Jay hasn’t seen the field due to injury. The Sox passed on resigning Matt Davidson for less than $3 million to acquire Alonso and his $7 million salary. These two have brought nothing to the table this year and won’t be around next. Let’s expedite the process and send them packing now, which leads to my second point…

Call up Matt Skole or Daniel Palka from AAA Charlotte to replace Alonso. Both players have double digits in home runs and batting averages in the .260 to .270 range, 100 points higher than Alonso. They are both several years younger than Alonso and both left-handed hitters. And Palka can play a laughable outfield while Skole can also double at first or third base. Neither will be an MVP, but either would be an upgrade.

Call up Zack Collins and designate Welington Castillo for assignment. We have a legit All Star catcher in James McCann who should be getting the bulk of the work behind the plate. Castillo is a has-been whose best days are behind him. This is the time that Collins, the Sox catcher of the future, should be in Chicago, learning as a backup and getting two or three starts per week, while learning the intricacies of the position from one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, and one of the best handlers of pitchers as well. These are things a kid like Collins could be learning up close right now.

Call up Carson Fulmer and Dylan Cease from AAA Charlotte. Fulmer needs to be a long reliever and spot starter at the Major League level. That’s his future, if he remains in the organization, so he should be doing it NOW. Cease has breezed through the minors and needs to be working at the MLB level. The whole point of the rebuild was to acquire the young players to compete, so those young players should be learning at the highest level. What you do in AAA doesn’t make any difference in the long run.

Replace the coaching staff. While it may seem strange to make a change like that when the team is trending upward, it also happens with every rebuild. Two recent examples being the Houston Astros (in 2014 they fired Bo Porter after a 72-90 season and replaced him with A.J. Hinch, who lead them to an 86-76 record in 2015 and a World Series title in 2017 with a 101-61 record) and the Chicago Cubs (who fired Rick Renteria after a 73-89 season and replaced him with Joe Maddon, who lead them to a 97-65 record in 2015 and a World Series title in 2016 with a 103-58 record). Now would be a good time to allow Omar Vizquel to take over as manager and hire his own staff.

A lot of these moves are no-brainers. This would allow the youngsters to learn at the highest level, under a manager who was also learning. Do you want to wait until you’re on the cusp of contending to make these moves? Or do you want to allow everyone to learn while they are in a position to make mistakes and learn from them?

There is a lot of talent on this team. James McCann, Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez make a solid foundation to build upon. Add Skole and Palka and Collins and Fulmer and Cease to that group and it gets a lot better. What’s to be accomplished by keeping placeholders in the lineup?

I want to see this rebuild work and I want this team to win. I think this is the best way to achieve that at this point in the rebuild. And none of my ideas are completely ridiculous, like signing major free agents to contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. These are legitimate, common-sense changes that could make a huge difference.

Thank you for reading, and GO SOX!

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More Thoughts On The Chicago White Sox

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I didn’t think I would be hitting this subject again this soon but the more I see, the more I feel a need to try to understand what I’m seeing, as well as try to explain my thoughts. Having been a baseball fan for nearly 35 years, and a White Sox fan for going on 30, I think I have some level of knowledge to be able to put forth my thoughts.

The first thing I want to cover is the amount of dishonesty I am noticing in the White Sox front office. All of which kind of surrounds the failed attempt to sign Manny Machado this past offseason. Let’s begin with the acquisitions the Sox did make.

Minor league outfielder Alex Call was traded to the Cleveland Indians for first baseman/DH Yonder Alonso, a journeyman in the truest sense of the word (Alonso has played for six teams in nine MLB seasons) and then free agent outfielder Jon Jay was signed. The front office insisted these were deals made to improve the team, not to sway Machado even though Alonso is his brother-in-law and Jay is a longtime friend. I was skeptical, to say the least.

Considering the fact that the White Sox could have kept Matt Davidson for less than $3 million while paying Alonso over $8 million was a clue to the disingenuousness of the acquisition. In addition to being a fan favorite, Davidson could also play third base in a pinch while also performing admirably on the mound as a pitcher in a few select outings. Jay, meanwhile, was 34 years old and was exactly the kind of player we had been told the White Sox would not be acquiring: Players past their prime who weren’t part of the future. Does anyone think Alonso and Jay will be here in 2020?

Rick Hahn was able to look people in the eye and say he did not acquire Alonso and Jay to help sway Machado into signing with the White Sox. Straight dishonesty. But that’s also not the only company line lie regarding the Machado failed chase.

Machado was offered a ten-year, $300 million contract, fully guaranteed, by the San Diego Padres, which, obviously, he took. We were told the White Sox offered him an eight-year, $250 million but somehow there would be incentives and options that would push it to a ten-year, $350 million deal. Kenny Williams pushed that aspect of the deal hard, “he could have made more money overall.” As well as per year. The per-year aspect is true, as he pulls down $30 million in San Diego he could have pulled down $31.5 million per in Chicago. The “more money overall” part, however, is quite misleading, and leads to another slight of mouth statement from the front office that I haven’t been able to grasp.

KW has said, point blank, that the White Sox “could not afford” to guarantee Machado ten years at $300 million but somehow it was feasible that they could have paid him $350 million over the life of the deal, incentives and options included. Now, I’m no Albert Einstein, but I’m pretty good at mathematics and last time I checked, $300 million is less than $350 million, so if you can’t afford to pay him $300 million, how could you afford $350 million?

Easy. Those options would never have been exercised and it would have remained much less money overall. We have never been told the exact makeup of the deal the White Sox offered, but I have surmised the incentives would have been of the ridiculous variety and the options would have been team options that the club could have declined.

And how can you put $100 million worth of incentives and options into a contract that totals $350 million? If I were a player, I wouldn’t even consider such a deal.

This takes us to our next point of dishonesty with this front office.

Things changed drastically during the 2019 offseason, with a large number of potential 2019 and 2020 free agents signing contract extensions with their current clubs. I am not laying the blame on this on the White Sox, as no one saw this coming. However, it did shoot a big hole in the company line of “we’re going to spend on free agents” because suddenly there’s a big lack of quality free agents hitting the street. When Machado signed with the Padres, the White Sox Universe immediately turned focus to Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who then signed a $260 million extension with Colorado and took himself out of the mix.

Luckily, the White Sox were either forward-thinking enough (or lucky enough) to cover themselves, by drafting second baseman Nick Madrigal, and shifting Yoan Moncada to third base, they were able to eliminate their need for a major free-agent third base acquisition. And so far, the Moncada angle has worked out better than imagined.

However, the front office began pushing the company line that since free agency wasn’t going to work out going forward, the White Sox would acquire premium talent on the trade market. I literally laughed out loud when I heard this. This franchise is on a razor’s edge with this rebuild, pretty much every prospect has to make it. If you want to trade for premium talent, you have to trade premium prospects. Take pitcher Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease (among others).

If the White Sox want to trade for premium talent, who do they part with? They can’t exactly trade Yolmer Sanchez and Adam Engel for Mike Trout. Value receives value. So in order to acquire premium talent, they have to cut a hole in the roster somewhere in order to fill one somewhere else. Or, they just fall into the Pittsburgh Pirate model.

Beginning in the early to mid 1990s, the Pittsburgh Pirates began a rebuild, and I lived through all 20 years of it. It wasn’t called a “rebuild” in those days, it was a “five year plan for contention.” They would lay out a plan for five years, based on acquisitions and maturity of prospects. Only, the Pirates never saw one all the way through. Three years in, they would blow it up, trade whatever they had of value, and start over.

That went on for 20 years. And that’s what I’m scared to death is going to happen with the White Sox. Once they realize there is a massive lack of depth in the organization, maybe they decide to trade Yoan Moncada, pick up three or four prospects to help fill in. Now you have a gaping hole at third base again. Maybe pitcher Lucas Giolito has really hit his stride and becomes one of the top pitchers in baseball, maybe the Sox better move him to acquire a third baseman to fill the Moncada hole. Now there’s a hole in the rotation.

This can literally go on indefinitely. If three of the top ten prospects develop, trade them and bring in nine new prospects. Now you’ve filled in some depth in the organization and maybe one of those will fill in the holes you just tore open. And once they develop into serviceable Major League players, you can trade them for prospects. And so on and so on.

I was all in on the rebuild and still am. Had we kept Sale and Quintana and Eaton and Frazier, chances are we would be in exactly the same place we are now, maybe with the same record. The past supports this. We wouldn’t have Moncada or Jimenez, instead of looking at 2020 and seeing Kopech and Cease we would be looking at “how are we going to replace Sale when he leaves?” There would be no light at the end of the tunnel.

At least this way, there is a possibility that this team can be a contender. The left side of the infield is set. Anderson at shortstop and Moncada at third base. Eventually Madrigal will take over at second with Jose Abreu at first. That should be a pretty solid infield. I imagine Jimenez will settle in at DH sooner or later. And that won’t be a bad thing.

The outfield and pitching staff is another matter, as is the catching situation.

While the White Sox have control over James McCann for at least another year via arbitration, they should just sign him to a long-term deal and let him mentor whoever makes it to the MLB level as our “catcher of the future.” As for the outfield, I imagine Luis Robert will settle into center field in the next couple of years, with some combination of young players flanking him (Micker Adolfo? Blake Rutherford?). That could make for a solid outfield.

I worry more about the pitching. Yes, there’s a lot of depth right now but hardly any of it is proven. While Giolito may have found his footing, I can’t see him being the ace of a staff with Kopech and Cease. Assuming they work out. Reynaldo Lopez is learning, and he has excellent stuff. Assuming Carlos Rondon comes back healthy, that’s probably your rotation going into 2021, when we are supposed to be legitimately contending.

Is there an absolute, guaranteed number-one ace starter in that group? I don’t know. Maybe Kopech. Maybe Cease. Maybe not. I guess time will tell.

I would love to see the Sox be able to acquire a legit ace, like Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros, I know that the chances of that happening are beyond slim. But he would be a perfect fit at the front of the rotation, and he’ll be 29 years old when he hits free agency, a perfect age for a pitcher on a four or five-year deal to lead a staff.

But, in addition to the lack of money the club spends, there’s also the issue of the substandard coaching staff. I keep listening to pundits and scribes (and announcers) talk about the Houston Astros being the blueprint on rebuilding. And they’re right. They talk of the smart talent acquisitions, drafting well, especially in the later rounds and making the most of their down years. What they fail to mention is that the Astros fired manager Bo Porter right in the middle of their rebuild and then hired A.J. Hinch to take them over the top. The White Sox seem committed beyond reason to Ricky Renteria and his staff.

In the back of my mind I can’t help but think (and always have) that this is somehow the White Sox organization thumbing their collective nose at the Chicago Cubs.

We’ll take the manager you didn’t want and win a World Series with him.” Well, let’s call a spade a spade, the Cubs didn’t want Renteria because a better option was available. Smart teams hire the best manager they can get. Except for the White Sox. When Terry Francona was available and could have been had, the White Sox hired Robin Ventura. When Joe Girardi was available and could have been had, the White Sox gave Renteria a contract extension coming off a 100-loss season. That’s not just stupid, it’s madness.

And that’s the part that scares me most about this rebuild, even if it is a complete success on the field, if every single prospect makes it, we have a coaching staff and a manager that is almost guaranteed to screw it up. I have heard for over a decade that Renteria is a “great teacher,” and maybe he is. But a great manager, he is not. Not even close.

I want to see this team win. I didn’t get to celebrate the 2005 World Series with anyone, I had to enjoy it completely alone, because here in the mountains of West Virginia I have no fellow White Sox fans, and at that point in 2005 social networking was in it’s infancy. It wasn’t until about 2008 that I really started networking online with other White Sox fans. And I have struggled right along with everyone else these past 11 years.

In my lifetime, the professional and college teams that I have followed (Pittsburgh Pirates, West Virginia Mountaineers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, UCLA Bruins) have won a total of three championships. That’s including multiple sports on the college level. I didn’t get to “enjoy” the Bears 1985 Super Bowl title because I hadn’t started watching football. The 1995 UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team, the 2005 Chicago White Sox and the 2013 UCLA baseball team are the only titles I have witnessed.

That hurts. I can’t deny I am jealous of fans of the Yankees and Patriots and Lakers who got to watch their teams win multiple titles while I keep thinking “maybe next year.”

I’m ready to win. I’m tired of losing year in and year out, it’s been seven years since the White Sox had a winning season, 11 years since a playoff appearance. It’s time. The pieces may be in place. A new manager and staff could put it over the top in 2021.

Or, there could be a work stoppage and all of this will amount to exactly nothing. Anyone who was a White Sox (or Montreal Expos) fan in 1994 can remember what it was like to be so close and have it all just collapse in front of you. There is also the cloud of relocation hanging over this franchise once Jerry Reinsdorf decides to sell the team. He’s made a point of saying he doesn’t want to leave it to his family. I’m not a Portland White Sox fan. At that point I’ll either latch back onto the Pirates or look longingly at the Los Angeles Angels.

In conclusion, I’m not giving up on the rebuild but I’m also not about to believe everything that comes out of the mouths of Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams, because they have already proven themselves to be disingenuous. I’ll believe more in what I see on the field, in the dugout and in the clubhouse. The White Sox were supposed to show improvement this year and they are ahead of their 2018 pace. I still see a 72-90 record at the end of the year, a ten-game improvement over 2018. Another ten-game improvement in 2020 would bring them in at 82-80, a record over .500. Ten more in 2021 and you have a 92-70 team that would no doubt with the division and be a legit World Series contender.

So let’s get it done. Go Sox!

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

Letting Go Of The Illusions Of The Past…

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Anyone who knows me has no doubt become annoyed at one time or another as I have reminisced on the happiness I had in 1995. It was truly an amazing year. For Easter, my girlfriend at the time presented me with the love of my life, my tabby cat, Bubbles, who passed away in 2013. I graduated from high school and started to college. I reintroduced myself to some of the classic TV programs I had enjoyed in my youth (particularly Three’s Company and Perry Mason).

I also began my lifelong love of sports simulation video gaming. Something that didn’t exist at the time but that like-minded people helped to bring to fruition in the following years. I also began my love of UCLA athletics. This actually started when I picked the Bruins to win the 1995 men’s basketball tournament in the pool at school, and they did, the first time in my life a team that I followed one any kind of championship. The UCLA baseball team would follow suit in 2013.

But when you brush away all the fluff, 1995 wasn’t the best year ever. By a long shot. There were still a multitude of annoyances. A relationship I was quickly growing tired of, that engulfed all my spare time and left me with little opportunity to enjoy any of my growing pursuits.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, since next year will mark 25 years since my most “incredible” year. And today I realized, I have had at least three better years than 1995; the earliest being 1982, followed by 2010, and amazingly, 2019, which may be the best year of all.

I started Kindergarten in 1982. My obsessions at that time were the Lone Ranger and the Dukes Of Hazzard. I would soon be introduced to Masters Of The Universe. It was a great time to be a kid. And I remember few moments of unhappiness. My uncle committed suicide that year, but at five years old, who has a grasp on the concept of death? I do remember sitting on his front porch, trying to play his fiddle as I saw the musicians do on Hee Haw every Saturday night.

My family took our first vacation in 1982, to New Mexico and the surrounding area. I remember it, but not clearly. Obviously there were more important things going on then.

To compare 1995 and 1982 is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, but taken in the right context, there really is no comparison for me. No doubt, 1982 was the better year.

The same applies to 2010. I had become a single man in November 2009 after a rather annoying three-and-a-half year relationship that was ill-conceived and ill-advised. I would spend a full year single, 375 days to be exact, minus a six-week period where I was in a “Facebook official” relationship that was anything but real. I had an amazing time and really started to grasp what it meant to live. I had good years prior to that (2000-04 were absolutely incredible and maybe equal to 2010, but included more minor aggravations) but 2010 was the closest thing to perfect.

Until now.

Today I elected to take stock of things and I realized that this is, without question, the golden year of my life. I should be happy beyond description. I have everything I could possibly ever want. In 1982, I had a 19” tabletop TV, a ColecoVision video game console and a small, handheld cassette player with three blank cassettes. The VCR hadn’t made it’s way into my world yet.

In 1995, things had expanded dramatically. I had a 25” TV, VCR, Nintendo Entertainment System, a 200-watt stereo with dual cassette deck and a Sony Walkman plugged into the auxiliary jack. I was videotaping Three’s Company and Perry Mason from TV and watching them at my leisure. At that time, it felt like I had it all and I had no idea what the future would bring.

Now it’s 2019. I have a 55” Samsung Smart TV, a DVD recorder, a PlayStation 3 and 4, a Retron 5 (which plays a multitude of old video game cartridges), a 400-watt stereo with a 5-CD changer, an incredible PC I built myself, a Samsung Galaxy S8, more DVDs and CDs than I could ever watch or listen to for the rest of my life, and enough money to have anything I want.

Even though that’s the case, I still find myself dreaming back to 1995. And I can’t stand it. The problem with me is, when I’m unhappy, I try to wish myself away to happier times. But when I’m in happy times, I do the same thing. I can remember back in 1995 reminiscing about happier days, 1982 and 1985 and 1989. Then by the time I got to the early 2000s, I was pissing that time away wishing back to 1995. And here I am, in my happiest period, still wishing the same.

In 1995, I didn’t have the luxury of pulling up any TV show in the world and watching it at any time I wanted, only the ones I had managed to tape from TV and even then, I had to wait to tape them day by day, because the concept of just buying a season or complete series of a TV show was non-existent. Cell phone? Nope. And the concept of a smart phone wasn’t even close. Back then I was at the mercy of whatever baseball game happened to be on at the time. Now I just turn on the MLB app on my Smart TV and watch the White Sox game when it’s on.

This is, literally, my time. Everything is in front of me. As happy as I have been in the past, in 2010 or 2002 or 1995 or 1989 or 1982, this should be putting all of those years past to shame. But I keep trying to sabotage myself, either through constant reminiscing of year’s past or trying to do stupid things to wreck the current wavelength I am living on, like introducing women into the fold. No woman has ever brought anything but misery and unhappiness into my life, yet I kept remaining open to allowing more and more of them into my life. Why I keep doing this is beyond my comprehension.

Some have said it’s just a part of my life that’s missing. I disagree. From 1996 to 2005, I was single. I spent nine glorious years as a single man. And that’s what 1982, 2010 and 2019 all have in common, there is no woman taking over my life and making it unhappy and dramatic and boring and miserable. That’s how 2010 came to a grinding halt, I allowed a bottom-of-the-trash-can greaseball to come into the picture and it was almost instant misery for the seven years that followed.

So why would I be stupid enough to even consider allowing that to happen again?

I am NOT a good fit for relationships. For one thing, I am extremely selfish and protective of my time. I have things I want to do and one of those things is watching White Sox baseball, a privilege for which I pay money. If I am doing so, that is going to take precedence over other less-important things, like whatever some girl wants to do. I also enjoy spending my money on me for a change, so I have spoiled myself to the ultimate degree. Not just the smartphone and stereo and TV and game consoles and DVDs but all the other little purchases that make my day seem a little happier.

And then I realized just how much women can negatively affect my life, as this past Friday I allowed a female to corrupt my schedule, missing Friday night’s White Sox game to watch a movie. It took me three days to get myself back into my groove, and to what end? What was the point of spending my Friday night doing anything other than what I want to spend my Friday night doing?

Now, understand, I’m not saying I am 100% anti-woman, if I ever met a woman who enjoyed baseball and video games and Star Trek who cooks like Nigella Lawson and is built like Raine Michaels I might give it a go. But until that time, why should I sell myself on millimeter short?

I have taken great pains in the past week or so to detach myself from anyone who brings anything but happiness into my life. This has included pretty much every local single woman in my area. Whether they had an interest in me or not (not in 96% of the cases) didn’t matter. I needed to build a wall and they needed to be on the other side of it. I have changed my Facebook settings so I am almost unreachable unless you are a Facebook friend or you know my cell phone number.

And even those who I know had it are finding themselves blocked and unable to use it.

I just can’t let this time period be corrupted. This is MY time. This is my golden hour. This is the point in time that my whole life has been focused on. When all the parts come together and make a complete picture, this is it. I will not do anything to ruin it, and that includes spending it reminiscing about times in the past that don’t hold a candle to what I have right here in front of me.

From this day forward, and maybe through the end of my life, it’s all about me. I cannot have it any other way. I nearly ruined my life a number of times, and I managed to extricate myself from those dilemmas and reach the point I am at now. And I am going to make the most of every second. Everyone deserves to be happy. And now, finally, it is my turn. It’s all about me.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

Rebooting My Life In 2019

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OK, I’m going to give this another try. Hopefully the third time is the charm. I didn’t think changing my life would make such waves. But I have taken a voluminous amount of flak over my previous two posts, which I have removed to replace with this one.

The point I was attempting to make was that it was time to reboot my life, due to nearly 15 years of poor decisions that had left me in really poor shape physically and emotionally. At the top of my “poor decisions” list is the relationships I have subjected myself to, and I pointed out that I was desirous of not making any further of those mistakes.

I went on to point out the fact that I have gone to great lengths to cut myself off from local single women, from blocking them on Facebook to only going out at times that I am unlikely to run into any women who may be on the prowl. Simple self-preservation.

In addition, I had a lot of negative things to say about relationships in general and local women, specifically. This drew the most fire. I did not say every local woman was a harlot and I did not say every relationship was a waste of time, but it seems that everyone took it to mean that, so I am clearing that up now, that is not what I said. At all.

What I was trying to say was that I had made poor decisions as it came to women in the past, 100% of the time since 2006. This applies only to me and it is a simple matter of fact. I also was trying to push the point that it is in my best interest to avoid relationships, specifically with the kind of bottom-rung garbage that I have frequented in the past which has lead me to where I am today. This seems like common sense.

Now, let me try to expand on my situation again and hopefully this time it will make more sense and be less controversial since I have stripped it down to it’s base parts.

As I look at my life and compare it to, say, 2010, the only thing that has improved is my financial situation, because I’m not wasting every paycheck on worthless women. Everything else about my life has moved in a negative direction. And the vast majority of this is due to women I have been involved with during the last eight years. This is fact.

Right now I am probably a good 80 pounds overweight. This is from stress eating. This can’t be argued. That extra weight is taking its toll on my back and knees. I am also extremely self-conscious about the fact that extra weight takes length away from my member, due to the amount of fat that is now hovering over it. That is completely unacceptable.

Another issue that plagues me is my inability to let go of anger I have carried for over a year due to situations outside of my control that were perpetrated by an ugly, good-for-nothing ogre and her lying, bastard kid. I have done everything I can to let go of this anger, short of pounding myself in the head and hoping to suffer from self-induced amnesia. Carrying this anger isn’t doing me any favors, and the fact that I have let this consume me just makes me that much angrier. It’s a vicious circle I can’t seem to work myself out of.

Something else that has bothered me is the fact that I have let my mind stagnate for so long. I have a thirst for knowledge and learning and I simply buried it in order to watch stupid TV shows and go to stupid places with stupid people for almost a dozen years. I recently started on Stephen Hawking’s “Brief Answers To The Big Questions” and I have never enjoyed anything more. Now, don’t get me wrong, I also loved watching less-intellectual fare with my son, because any time spent with him was enjoyable regardless, but his mother was more interested in Game Of Thrones or Sons Of Anarchy than anything of an intellectual pursuit. So, for seven years, I didn’t get to pursue any of my passions.

The upshot of all of this is that I need to better myself. Am I saying I am completely done with women for life? No. But I am done with the kind of filth I have dealt with in the past. If I meet a woman someday who likes baseball and science and heavy metal music and steaks and sex and Star Trek then I would be a fool to walk away.

But it’s also a pretty solid bet that such a woman does not exist.

So, in lieu of finding a girl to spend time with, I am going to spend my time improving myself, and clearly I am badly in need of it. Dieting, exercising, getting enough sleep, studying everything from astrophysics to paleontology to mathematics, watching as much baseball as I can, smoking the finest cigars, catching up on all the shows and books and movies I neglected over all those years. I just want to live as myself again.

It’s amazing to look back at myself in 2005, before I started getting stupid and making ridiculous decisions again, and see how I have changed. At that point, my obsessions were baseball and professional wrestling. I haven’t watched a professional wrestling event since then. My obsessions with history and some of my favorite TV shows have faded to the point that I don’t even think about them anymore. I don’t want that to happen with my current state of mind and my enjoyments. I want to be happy and enjoy myself.

The one thing most people don’t even consider when getting angry at my point of view is that maybe, once I have myself in a better place, I’ll be a better option for women who may be available at that time, if any. Yes, I have admitted I am 41 years old (42 in just over a month) and the dating pool is not only shallow but rancid and poisonous. This is another point that has angered people but the fact of the matter is, it’s true.

Wouldn’t most women want a well-read boyfriend who is intellectually stimulating and is in shape physically and mentally? Right now, that is not me in any way.

So, now I am ready to reboot myself. I have taken so many steps to make this successful. In addition to cutting myself off from local women, I have also made a point of scheduling time for learning and time for baseball and time for video games, which I have also neglected badly over the past 15 years. My dream has been to play a full franchise mode season (or more than one) on MLB The Show, and I have failed 100% of the time.

Most years, that was not my fault. If I fail this year, that’s on me. No one else.

For the first time in at least 15 years, and maybe ever, my future is in my hands. It is all on me. I have no one else to blame for my failures, if it comes to that. I just want to forget the past 15 years (other than time with my son I will treasure forever) but the rest of that era needs to be forgotten, specifically the issues of 2017 that I can’t let go of. But I have to because if I don’t, it’s going to destroy me. And I need the brain space for my future studies, I don’t need to be clogging up mental capacity with angered thoughts.

I just want to be happy. And this is, literally, my only path to success. In a year, or two, or ten, I’ll re-evaluate my situation. If I meet a girl during my re-evaluation, that’s great, I’ll know it was destined to happen. If I don’t, I’ll know that was destined also. I don’t need a woman to be happy, though I would enjoy, just once, being in a happy relationship with no lying and cheating and hatred, because I have never gotten to experience that.

In closing, I want to remind you that life is short, and if you’re not doing what you want to do, you need to do something to change that situation. Don’t waste your time doing things that you don’t want to do, or with people you don’t want to be around. Life is too short for that. I have literally wasted close to 40% of the time I have been alive doing things I didn’t want to do with people I didn’t want to do things with in the first place. That is not only unacceptable, it’s terrible. I just want to be happy. And this reboot will do it.

Peace.

Updated Thoughts On The Chicago White Sox Rebuild

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I could have probably found a happier time to jump into this than during a losing streak but that’s where we are. I guess it’s better just to get it out of the way.

Let’s begin by remembering what we were told during the offseason, and I don’t mean the mistruths about how the Sox were going to be a big-time player in free agency. Admittedly, not all of that was the fault of the White Sox organization, as free agency has completely changed and the rug may have been pulled out from under the Sox.

I can’t count the number of times I heard Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and even talking heads like Chuck Garfien have reminded us, the fans, that 2018 was rock bottom. It was all uphill from there. That was the worst of the worst. A 100 loss season, it would get better from there. There would be real improvement during the 2019 season.

Well, here we are. Ten games in, the White Sox have the worst ERA in Major League Baseball. The starting rotation is worse now than at any point last season, and the bullpen is already overworked only 90 innings into the season. Ouch.

Amazingly, the offense ranks 15th in batting average, right in the middle. In spite of the horrible starts by Welington Castillo and Yolmer Sanchez and the ungodly bad opening to the season by Daniel Palka. That’s 1/3 of the starting nine. Of course, if you take the incredible numbers that Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada have put up out of the equation, suddenly the Sox drop to near the bottom of the league in offense.

And, of course, we can’t overlook the coaching staff. Rick Renteria is in completely over his head, Don Cooper lost his “magic touch” a decade ago and Todd Steverson never had one to begin with. But, as we know, there’s little accountability on this team. Never has been. The last manager to actually be “fired” was Jerry Manuel, in 2003.

Coop has been in the organization since 1988, for some reason. But, even if the White Sox were to end the season with the worst ERA in baseball, it doesn’t matter. We learned that last year when the White Sox set a record for strikeouts in a season by hitters and looked lost at the plate most of the time, unable to make adjustments or do anything to help themselves at the plate. Doesn’t matter, Steverson is still there.

Since the day he was hired, I have wondered how much actual due diligence the White Sox did before hiring Rick Renteria. I still think this was a move made to “get one over” on the Cubs, figuring how cool it would seem when the White Sox rebuild was complete and they won four straight World Series titles with a manger they filched from the Cubs. Except they didn’t, because the Cubs didn’t want him, they hired a better manager.

From where I’m sitting, Renteria has a credibility problem. He’s out here trying to lead a team of youngsters, but he’s pushing 60 and has no body of work to earn the respect of these players. If I were running a rebuild, I would either hire a manager who is closer in age to these kids, or find an older manager who has had some on-field success and let him use that to impress these players. Renteria fits neither of these prerequisites.

Renteria built a reputation as being a “good teacher” and, while he may be, I have seen no proof of that and what does that have to do with being a good field manager?

I’m also tired of the old “he’s never had any talent on the team’s he’s managed” nonsense. How much actual “talent” was on the 2005 Chicago White Sox? Yeah, there were 4 All Stars on that team but none of them are Hall Of Fame players and Scott Podsednik was a fan vote selection. Even Barack Obama, as a state senator from Illinois, recognized the club on the senate floor while announcing there were no “superstars” on the team.

Yet they won the World Series without a team full of great players. Great players do not a great team make. A good team can beat a great team if they outplay them strategically and are lead by a manager who knows what he is doing, at least sometimes.

The 2019 Chicago White Sox will be lucky to win a series this year against anyone. When the bullpen has been completely overworked ten games into the season with a number of built-in off days, it makes you wonder what’s going to happen when the team plays seven weeks straight with two built-in off days. I think it may get even uglier.

A large part of my apprehension with the rebuild is the fact that I watched the Pittsburgh Pirates “rebuild” from 1993 to sometime around 2007. Back then, it wasn’t referred to as a straight “rebuild” but as a “five-year plan to contend.” So the Pirates cleaned house and started rebuilding with youngsters. After three years some of those youngsters reached the Major League level and produced, and were promptly traded for prospects and the “five-year plan” was rebooted and started over. And again, prospects came up, produced and were traded and the plan was reset. This went on for years. I lived it.

Can that happen in this day and age? Yes, absolutely. Because we, as fans, have been conditioned to accept five years of losing for the hope of three years of contending before it has to be blown up and rebuilt again. The White Sox are not the Yankees or Dodgers or teams that can just contend for 25 years at a time before having to reload.

Suppose next offseason Rick Hahn, KW and the brain-trust decides that the team is short of Minor League talent and maybe it would be a good time to trade Tim Anderson while his value is high for three or four prospects. Then, maybe Yoan Moncada. “Yeah, we’ll push our window back a few years but we’ll score six or eight prospects and only lose two players in the process.” The Pirates pulled that for an entire generation.

There is also the fact that there is no accountability with this franchise.

Robin Ventura managed out his contract in spite of the fact that he was completely in over his head and had no managerial ability whatsoever. Rick Renteria has never had a winning season anywhere other than the minor leagues a decade ago but he’s still managing at the Major League level. Todd Steverson’s career achievement is the single-season strikeout record, but he’s still there. The pitching staff is awful, but Coop’s still employed. So what does it take to actually get fired? Maybe the White Sox would consider relieving Renteria of his duties if they could sign Joe Maddon and get one over on the Cubs again?

It’s legitimately tough being a White Sox fan, especially at times like these.

Then there’s the possibility of a work stoppage and the ever-present danger of the club moving after Jerry Reinsdorf either passes away or sells the team.

At that point, I would be out. I’m not following the team if they move to Portland or Las Vegas or Montreal. I would probably just quit watching baseball altogether and go back to watching college football and basketball and forget about baseball. Of course, there’s a good chance that may happen anyway if there’s a work stoppage in 2021.

Do I still have faith in the rebuild? Yes. I trust the process and I think it was well done. But it was well done under the idea that we would sprinkle in some free agents at the spots that the prospects didn’t develop, and that’s looking increasingly unlikely with the large number of stars who are signing contract extensions. Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn like to remind us that we have the option of trading prospects for established players, but where do you dig that hole in order to fill in another one? Team’s don’t want to trade for bust prospects or guys who haven’t reached the MLB level and they’re pushing 30.

As I have said, this rebuild was conceived on a razors edge, unless 80% of the prospects pan out, there are going to be holes on the roster that could sink the team going forward. And this comes two years after Rick Hahn said he expected “25%” of the Sox prospects to become full-time MLB contributors. The Sox can’t afford that. They don’t have the ability to fill in all those holes, and they don’t have the talent to reset the rebuild.

So, we’ll spend the next five months seeing what happens. I’m not changing my preseason prediction, I think this team will finish 72-90 and ahead of the Tigers and Royals in the AL Central. While that may not seem like much, it’s an improvement of ten games over the 2018 “rock bottom” season. Of course, it’s not out of the question this team could lose 115 games and what the end result of that would be, I don’t know.

Hopefully the team will go into New York on Friday evening and look better than they did in Chicago against the Rays. But I don’t think I’m gonna hold my breath.

We’ll see.

Peace.

My Final Thoughts On Relationships

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I had hoped I would never have to delve into this subject matter again as long as I lived, yet due to abject stupidity beyond my wildest imagination that I see daily on social media, as well as my own decisions that have rarely made any sense, it’s time to take another look…

… at relationships.

This is sure to “trigger” people who may be in a happy relationship or marriage, or what they feel passes for “happy,” so understand, this is my own thoughts on my own experiences. I’m sure everyone’s experience is different and if yours was good, I think that’s great.

Mine have been nothing but garbage.

Admittedly, a lot of this has been my own fault. I have an amazing knack for finding the wrong woman consistently, whether she’s too far away (I don’t do long distance) or she’s too old or she’s still emotionally attached to an ex or she’s just bottom-of-the-barrel filth, I always manage to find the kind of women that are guaranteed to be an issue as time goes on.

But this isn’t just me. I see it daily. I see people rushing into marriages even though it’s obvious they shouldn’t be together in the first place. I see people staying in relationships or marriages they shouldn’t be in. And then I see people who are single and want nothing more than to be with someone in a relationship or marriage. And it all drives me absolutely crazy.

Let me first address the idiots that rush into marriage.

How stupid are you? Many years ago, my philosophy was you should know someone for at least a year before you marry them. This should give you a good cross-section of their lives in various circumstances. I now realize I stand corrected, I don’t think spending a decade with a woman would tell me everything I need to know, and most of that is my fault due to the fact that I seem so dense. But I can tell you this much: I never have been married, and I never will be. There is no way on this earth I would ever do something that I know is going to end disastrously. It would be like asking someone to drop a bowling ball on my head from three stories above, how can there be anything but a negative experience in that? I would take the bowling ball dropped on my cranium over getting married, though.

I am seeing people on social networking marrying after mere months of dating. Really? You really think that’s a good idea? You don’t see any way that this plan may backfire?

Next, let me address people who stay in marriages or relationships they shouldn’t be in. Because this is really the story of my life and one I am very well equipped to discuss.

If you are in an unhappy marriage or relationship, for the love of God, get out of it as quickly as possible. I’ve been in many, and in a few, it’s felt like I was being held prisoner or that I was drowning 24 hours a day. It was truly the worst experience of my life. But I see these idiots out there daily going through as much, if not more, misery than I did and they just stay there. They just sit there as the world burns up around them, thinking something will change.

Well, I got news for you. It’s not going to. It’s going to get worse before it gets better and chances are it will never get better. And if you are smart enough to end things, don’t turn around and go back. That doesn’t work. I don’t care what the circumstances were and I don’t care how either of you feel, that idea is 100% guaranteed to fail. Use a little common sense.

I have watched idiots get into unhappy relationships, break up, reconcile for a short period, break up again, do this over and over and then get married! And guess what? It doesn’t work out. If you can’t deal with someone you’re dating, why on earth would you marry them?

Now let me address the single folks who think they want to chain themselves to another person and spend, potentially, the rest of their lives in what basically amounts to indentured servitude.

Think about your life as a single person and then think about your life as it has been in the past when you were in a relationship or marriage. While you may feel a little lonely at times, do you miss the anger, resentment, arguments, fighting, negotiating and sacrifices you made for no other reason than just to say you were “with” someone and do things together?

Are you really incapable of doing things on your own?

I have known men, and I mean this in the most literal sense, who have married women they didn’t even like just to get out of having to do laundry and dishes. This is not an exaggeration. This is a fact. Now, you have to think about a marriage like this, in which the man clearly states that he does not love with woman he is with, but he just doesn’t want to be alone and he doesn’t want to have to do those household chores. Am I the only one who sees an issue with this?

I know everyone has to do whatever makes them happy, but from what I have read while scrolling through Facebook, there are a lot of people out there who are very unhappy.

I can say in all honesty the happiest times of my life were the times I have been single. And it’s not even close. If you put my happiness on a scale of 1-10, time that has been spent single would be a definite 10. I love my life, and I’ve loved it from my earliest memories. With the exceptions of any times I have been in a relationship or something resembling one. Those times would be lucky to rate a two on that scale. Again, I’m not exaggerating. I have known misery.

I have talked to close friends about how to verbalize this, and the only thing I can say is that there is absolutely NO WAY I would EVER even CONSIDER getting involved with anyone again under ANY circumstances. I think that hits about as close to home as I can possibly get. There’s no wiggle room in this. There’s no “well, maybe if…” scenario here. It doesn’t matter if I live in West Virginia, Illinois, Arizona, France, the moon or Mars, I would not get into a relationship again for any reason. I would literally choose death. I can’t stress that enough. NO WAY.

Again, this is strictly my own feelings on the subject. I get that some people have different experiences and I’m happy for them. They are a silent group. The ones who are miserable are the ones who are so much more vocal. It’s a shame its not the other way around.

If you’re happy and you’ve found the love of your life, that’s great. If you have found the only idiot that will have anything to do with you and you spend all your time on Facebook complaining and posting overly-dramatic status updates, find something better to do. And if you’re single and all you do is whine about being alone, you need to count your blessings and knock off the nonsense. You have it better than you realize and you need to accept that. Before it’s too late.

As I said in my opening, I hoped I would never have to address relationships or marriage again as long as I live, and after this post, I will never touch this subject matter again. Life has so much to offer me that the idea of tying it up in someone else’s life just makes NO sense to me and never has; in spite of the stupid decisions I have made in the past. I’m not changing for anyone. I’m not adjusting for anyone. I’m not making room for anyone. I’m living my best life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to end up like these idiots I see daily on social media whining and complaining. Life is too short to waste one day of it being miserable. Take it from me. I’ve been there.

Relationships are a hell unlike any other and I’m sure marriages are even worse. I’ll never know, but from the information I have gathered from those who are vocal about it, I can’t even begin to imagine how miserable it must be to be married. Of course, as I have discovered on Facebook, some people can just walk away from their marriage like it’s no big deal. I don’t know how that works or if people don’t realize they have some court sessions in their future.

In closing, let me reiterate the fact that there is absolutely no way I will ever become involved with anyone again as long as I live. If a gun were held to my head and I was given the choice of a relationship or death, I’m going to take death 100% of the time. The coldness of the grave has to be more inviting than the idea of ever being in a relationship or marriage. That just seems to me to be with worst of all possible worlds. And one I will have no part of, in any way.

Peace.

Simulating My Life: Sports Video Games, 1995-2019

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As age begins to get the better of me, I spend more and more time reminiscing about days gone by, and a couple of days ago this lead me to thinking about video games; specifically sports game simulations and the whole “create yourself” concept.

This is the idea of creating “yourself” within the game and playing CF for the New York Yankees or center for the Los Angeles Lakers or quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. That’s YOUR name up there. Your height, weight, hair color, etc.

My first experience with this came in the form of Baseball Stars, a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, released in 1989, Baseball Stars allowed you to create an entire team by name, including your franchise itself. A favorite among my friends for many years and still in my NES collection to this day. It was a simplified game in terms of the actual gameplay; the ability to create players and teams made it stand out.

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By 1995, a second version of the game had been released and the concept of player creation was removed. By that point, a large number of licensed sports games were hitting the market and the niche was “real players” and/or “real teams.” NBA Live had both. Madden NFL had real teams, but players were identified by jersey number only. RBI Baseball had real players, but the teams were identified only by their home city.

Tecmo Super Bowl was the exception, featuring real teams and real players. The idea that you could sit down and play an actual video game that featured real NFL teams and the actual players, by name, that played on those teams, was amazing.

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But that didn’t quite cut it. My friend Joe and I craved the concept of having OURSELVES in the game. Wearing the jersey number we wanted. But this was not yet feasible. So, I took it upon myself to create my own universe, using an old NES game called John Elway’s Quarterback, and Tecmo Super Bowl. And it went something like this:

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John Elway’s Quarterback was an arcade-style game that featured no real players and no real teams, which made it perfect for the simulation I wanted to run. I used it as a college football game before such a thing really existed. I would play a schedule I made up on my own, using the “Los Angeles” franchise as UCLA, and since the game did not feature any type of post-game statistics, I would sit with a binder in my lap and a pencil, and when “I” completed a pass in the game, I would see how many yards that completion covered and write it in my binder. At the end of the game I would count up my completions and yards and know how I had performed in that game. I did this for four simulated seasons, and then moved on to play Tecmo Super Bowl as a draft pick of the Cleveland Browns.

In addition to being my favorite NFL team, Tecmo had apparently been unable to obtain the rights to Browns’ quarterback Bernie Kosar from the NFLPA, so he is simply named “QB Browns” in the game. This offered me the opportunity to select my own number (I wore number 9 in my simulation) with the Browns. I played seven seasons with the Browns, winning three Super Bowls, before leaving as a free agent to return to California, signing a deal with the (at the time) Los Angeles Raiders. I played one more season with the Raiders before I started to get bored with the whole concept of the game.

Fast forward a couple of years and I started anew, with a new console and new games that upped the ante considerably: College Football USA 97 and Madden NFL 97 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This was a step up in every way.

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While College Football USA 97 did not include the option to create a player (which it did on the Sega Genesis version of the game but I didn’t get it until many years later) it did include ALL NCAA Division I football teams. And Madden NFL 97 did have the option to create a player, so I basically did the same simulation over again, four years of games with the UCLA Bruins followed by creating myself with the Pittsburgh Steelers, as I didn’t have the option to play for the Browns in 1997 as the franchise didn’t exist in that form.

I never actually played a game with the Steelers, as I ended up ending my run in order to start playing Ken Griffey Junior’s Winning Run on the Super NES instead.

By the time I came around again, things had changed exponentially. I had bought a Sony PlayStation and bought every sports game available from 989 Sports, Sony’s proprietary division that produced college and professional sports games.

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NCAA GameBreaker 2000 and NFL GameDay 2000 were truly amazing. I could create myself, by name, height, weight, hair color, facial features, hometown and a number of other settings. Not only that, but I could download myself onto a memory card from NCAA GameBreaker and then upload myself onto NFL GameDay for the NFL Draft. And it was here that I found my most lasting success, fleeting as even it may have been.

Four seasons at UCLA, playing both football and basketball for the Bruins. I was then drafted into the NFL by the Carolina Panthers, a franchise I was never a huge fan of but decided to run with it; I even went out and bought a Carolina Panthers Starter parka, back when that was a thing. It was to be short-lived, however, as my created self suffered a knee injury in week two of my second season with the Panthers and I was on the retired list at the end of the season. That $100 jacket may have been a mistake in hindsight.

My next run at this simulation was in 2013, with the release of NCAA Football 14 from EA Sports along with Madden NFL 25, the 25th anniversary edition of the game, for the PlayStation 3. I wanted a true full-on experience, so in addition to UCLA football I also bought a copy of NCAA Basketball 10, which was the final release of that franchise, as well as a copy of MVP NCAA Baseball 07 for the PlayStation 2, the second and final release featuring college baseball. But, I learned that unhappy, time-consuming relationships don’t mix well with time-consuming video game simulations, so I never so much as got started. I boxed up my games figuring I would try again in the future.

No such luck, as NCAA Football 14 was the final college football game ever released, still to this day. So I keep them, hoping maybe someday I’ll take one final run…

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Which brings me to today and my latest simulation attempt, completely off track from previous attempts. This attempt has begun with me simulating a self-simulation. I created myself on MLB 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and then simulated my career, playing 14 seasons with the Oakland A’s, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox. I manipulated this a bit, as I had been a big Oakland A’s fan in the 1980s and began following the White Sox in 1991. I kept my statistics and outlined my career running from 1982 to 1995, those years beautifully encompassing my public school years, from my entrance into kindergarten in 1982 to my graduation from high school in 1995. From here, I will simulate myself as the general manager of the White Sox, on MLB The Show 19.

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While the game will drop this Tuesday, I will not be doing anything with it until the Operation Sports Full Minors rosters are released in the roster vault at some point this spring. At that point, I’ll start playing, making the roster moves as I would as GM. I hope to continue this through the end of the season and when the 2020 version of the game is released, just transfer my up-to-date saves to the new version on a yearly basis.

I wish I had started this three years ago when year-to-year saves became feasible.

While the desire still burns within me to go back to the NCAA Football 14/NCAA Basketball 10/MVP NCAA Baseball 07 games and head back to UCLA, I see that as more of a future option. I am so completely invested in baseball at this point its going to take something major to push me back to other things. Like a potential 2021 MLB strike.

Basically, that’s what I’m holding out to see. If there is, in fact, a work stoppage, I’m boxing up everything I own of a White Sox persuasion and replacing it with everything UCLA I can get my hands on. I won’t lie, there’s a part of me kind of hoping for a work stoppage just for that reason. But we’ll see how I feel when 2021 rolls around.

That’s my life’s experience with sports video game simulations. I’ve loved it every step of the way, and I hope I can make the adjustments to make this new round as satisfactory as previous years. In the early days of this exercise, Joe and I would go so far as to keep our own newspaper headlines and storylines, which certainly added a major creative outlet to the whole experience. I am so ready to do that again. It’s time.

Thank you for reading, and God bless.