THE BREAK-UP I COULDN’T HANDLE: THE 2022 MLB LOCKOUT

I tried. Lord knows, I tried. I tried, and I failed.

Knowing there was going to be an MLB work stoppage as far back as 2019, as my friends and I discussed regularly on Facebook. I started taking steps to ween myself off of baseball and get into something else. But that was an exercise in futility.
Starting in the summer of 2021, I started trying to push myself toward other sports I had enjoyed in the past. The NHL, and college football, basketball and baseball. I figured if there was a baseball strike or lockout, I’d have something to do.

At first I started following the Chicago Blackhawks, as I had been a huge NHL fan back in the 1990s and early 2000s. I also tried to follow West Virginia University and UCLA football and basketball, but no matter what I tried, it kept coming back to baseball. Baseball has had a stranglehold on me since 2006, and it’s not letting go.

I basically stopped watching the NFL in 2004, the sport was changing so much I was losing interest on a weekly basis. I had been a fan of the Cleveland Browns since the late 1980s, and the Chicago Bears for several years before that. My college sports fandom hung around until the mid-2000s, and absolutely cratered during all of the conference realignment of the second half of the 2000s.

By that point my time was completely consumed with baseball, And for the past 17 years or so I’ve made a point of following baseball 12 months out of the year, whether it was spring training, the regular season, the post-season or the offseason, I was always involved and following the happenings on a daily basis, 365 days a year.

I’ve always had such an easy time letting things go. In 2005, after almost 25 years as a fan of professional wrestling, I had reached the end of my ability to care. At the time I had posters of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in my man cave, a VHS and DVD collection anyone would have been jealous of, a closet full of wrestling t-shirts and a massive action figure collection I displayed. I watched wrestling six days a week (WWF and WCW had their flagship shows on Monday, WCW Thunder on Wednesday, WWF SmackDown on Thursday, ECW on TNN on Friday, and syndicated shows from WWF and WCW as well as independent Pittsburgh-area wrestling shows on the weekends. My only day off was Tuesday, so I would spend Tuesday watching wrestling videos or playing wrestling video games.

You might say I was all in. And then I was all out.

Some people laughed and said I was such a huge fan there was no way I could walk away. But I did. I sold my entire video collection, donated my shirts to Goodwill and sold the vast majority of my action figures and posters. And I never went back. That was 17 years ago and I have had no interest in ever going back. It’s dead to me.

Football and basketball became nothing but thug sports over the years. I read more stories online about arrests than I did transactions or scores.

But I always had baseball. So I absolutely sunk my entire life into baseball and the Chicago White Sox. But don’t misunderstand; I first became a White Sox fan in 1991, when I was a freshman in high school. We’re talking over 30 years. This didn’t happen overnight. Overall, I’ve been a baseball fan since 1988, as I followed the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to jumping on the White Sox bandwagon. While I did follow many sports during the 1990s and early 2000s, baseball was usually number-one on the list.

But now I’m at a point where I can’t picture my life without it. By this point most people are thinking “just wait it out, there will be baseball at some point.” Which, yes, is true, but I’m at the point where I don’t want to hand my money to MLB anymore, they’ve already gotten thousands and thousands of dollars out of me. I was ready to start handing money over to anyone else. I bought an insane amount of Chicago Blackhawks gear (which I still intend to use in the future) as well as WVU and UCLA gear.

So when the deadline came to get a new collective bargaining agreement signed between MLB and the players union, I figured it was time to move on. I was able to do that for roughly 24 hours. And now I’m just physically ill at the thought of moving onto something else because my heart isn’t into it. I want spring training and regular season baseball. And I’m trying to figure out what I can do to fill that void.

I’m still willing to give UCLA sports another go, my favorite college team since the mid 1990s. But at this point, I don’t know how I can get myself mentally motivated for it. My best hope is March Madness, but I feel no real urgency or desire the way I feel for MLB spring training to get underway. I know part of this is because everywhere I look in my house there’s a White Sox logo staring back at me. That’s definitely not helping.

So if jumping ship to UCLA doesn’t work, I figure I’ll do a variation on what got me through the lost 2020 summer due to COVID: I’ll start on a video game. I haven’t played Grand Theft Auto V yet, so I think I’ll start on that. I will also watch Chicago Fire/PD/Med on a nightly basis and that should help me to pass the time as well.

Ultimately, I hope UCLA can extricate me from this mental prison, and I plan to start putting that in motion very soon. But if it doesn’t, all is not lost and at least I know, once and for all, that I won’t be going back to college sports or the NFL ever again.

I have decided, though, that it would be a real good idea to leave baseball alone as soon as the season is over and get back to following the NHL, the Hawks in particular. This should alleviate some of my problems and give me something else to do besides baseball every minute of every day all year long. It can’t keep going like this.

This lockout needs to end, but if it doesn’t I’ll get through it, one way or another.

Peace.

15 Years Of Social Media In My Life: A Retrospective

Social-media-phone

This summer, I celebrated the 15th anniversary of my own personal participation in social media. This began in June 2005, with my Yahoo 360 profile. In September 2005, I created my first MySpace account. Today I’m going to look over my own personal experiences with social media, how I looked at the concept then versus how I look at it now, and the downward spiral that has followed.

Yahoo 360 was not much more than a glorified AOL account page, it told your name, relationship status, likes, photos, a blog and your Yahoo handle. But there was also an option to add links, which I did with my first blog, the only entry of which (long gone) was talking about the 2005 Chicago White Sox, who eventually won the World Series. I was pushed to further my inclusion on social media due to the fact I had no one to celebrate the Series win with; stuck in the middle of West Virginia with people who don’t like baseball to begin with. It was at that point I realized I could network with other White Sox fans.

MySpace was incredible when I first started using it. I added a White Sox background to my profile page and changed my profile pic to include myself wearing a White Sox hat (amazingly, prior to that, my profile pic featured a Dallas Cowboys hat, a nod to my younger days). I began adding other Sox friends I could find, but it would turn out there wasn’t much to celebrate over the coming years other than a 2008 American League Central Division title.

I got my first Facebook account in the summer of 2007. Immediately I preferred it to MySpace because it had a more “mature” feel, even though at the time MySpace was by far the more popular platform. By 2008, Yahoo 360 had been abandoned and Twitter would soon rise. I got my first Twitter account during the 2009 World Series after seeing it mentioned during the broadcast.

I have closed and opened several accounts since then. I closed my MySpace account in the summer of 2010 due to a steep decline in usage. At the same time I also closed my Twitter and Facebook accounts and opened new ones, as I had a habit of opening new accounts every time my life needed a reboot.

My current Facebook and Twitter accounts were opened in December, 2012. I opened an Instagram account in 2016 and a Pinterest account shortly after that. I’m not a huge fan of either, though I do use IG daily and don’t use Pinterest at all. But whereas I share White Sox stories, information and photos on Twitter and Facebook, IG has become nothing more than a repository for the memes that I also post on Facebook. It really serves no other purpose than that.

From 2010 to 2017 my friends list dwindled to less than 200, not because I wanted it that way but because people who were involved in my life wanted it that way and I was told I really didn’t need any friends, even online friends. But luckily that changed and my online footprint expanded dramatically in 2018 and my FB friends list swelled to nearly 2,000. Then the backlash began.

Come to find out, maybe the persons who said too many wasn’t good was right all along. So every six months or so I’ll “prune” my friends list. Or at least, that was the process up until all of the civil unrest began and Facebook became a cesspool of nothing but politics, racial strife, arguments and nonsense.

At this point, I’ve come to hate social networking and I find myself longing, daily, for the era before I even had internet access or a smart phone (or a cell phone in any way). I wake up every morning wishing it was 2004 or 2002 or 2000 or 1997 again. I had to admit to myself that the happiest days of my life were post-college and pre-internet. Not to say that pre-college days were bad, I had a great childhood and my teens years were great as well. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world. And my time spent in college was extremely happy as well.

But the truth of the matter is, when I first got internet service in the spring of 2005, things began to change. And as soon as social networking, and the women on social networking entered the picture, it went downhill, and fast.

The truth is, the first 28 years of my life were pure bliss with a few small potholes along the way, but nothing I would even consider “bad,” just “unfortunate.” The 15 years that have followed have been nothing but misery with the occasional happy moment, fleeting as they may have been. And the internet, specifically social media, has been at the forefront of all of my unhappiness.

Now, don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying social media as a platform is a bad thing. Most of my problems have been self-induced anyway, with social media as the means to introduce those problems. I used to enjoy discussions of sports, politics, religion and everything under the sun with everyone who was willing to join in. Now, it just takes one post to rub me the wrong way and I’ll hit that unfriend or unfollow button faster than you can say “quick.”

Adding to this is the lack of baseball (with more to come considering the current COVID-19 situation in MLB summer camp) and I have little to post or talk about. As far as religion, I’m a Christian, if you don’t like it, I don’t care anymore. I have no desire to talk about it and you’re free to leave or, if you wish to argue about it, you’ll just be deleted and forgotten. As far as politics, I’m a Trump supporter and I’ll vote Trump in 2020, if you don’t like it, I don’t care anymore. Leave or be deleted and forgotten. I don’t post about either of these things anymore because I know how I feel having to read other people’s opinions I don’t care about. I’m not being heartless or ruthless, I just am past the point of caring.

Which basically brings me back to 2005, when I first started social networking. I’m here to post about White Sox baseball and network with White Sox fans. Nothing more. I’m not here to meet girls or talk politics or tell jokes or anything else (except memes, of course). And with that lack of White Sox baseball to talk about, social networking, and the internet in general, just isn’t enjoyable.

When the 2020 baseball season is canceled (and I’m 99.99% sure it will be) I’m strongly considering deactivating my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and getting my NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball and NCAA Baseball games out of the attic and rolling the clock back to my pre-internet days and doing things I used to enjoy, that I let go of when the internet revolution changed my life. I dream about this daily. Some days it’s all I really have to hold on to.

There’s a point at which things stop being fun and start being monotonous and grating and that’s where I am right now with social media. The fun is gone, the enjoyment is gone, not that there was a whole lot to begin with but at least I had something to hang my hat on. Now I have nothing but aggravation.

So, until I have a solid footing and know what’s going on, I’ll maintain the status quo, only going on social networks when it’s time for meme posting or White Sox news posting and the rest of the time, just avoid it. I’ve found that to be far more satisfying than spending hours blocking people who annoy me.

It’s amazing to think it’s been 15 years, that’s more time than I spent in public education and more time than I’ve spent in my three longest relationships combined. But maybe it’s finally time for a break of ultimate dimension.

Thank you for taking the time to read. God bless.