My Future On Facebook

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This is a blog entry I hoped I would never have to write, and until 2019, would never have given a second thought to. But the world has changed, and I refuse to change with it, so now this is a point that I need to address. I wanted to take some time to think about it, collect thoughts and opinions and then make a final, sound decision.

Some of what I’m going to discuss here is going to sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but I hope this will be the definitive piece on Facebook for the foreseeable future. I am looking at this piece more as a warning and guide to others than a complaint session for myself. I think those with experience need to lend it to the younger generations.

I first became aware of social networking back in the late summer of 2005, a woman I was friends with explained the concept to me, as she had just joined MySpace and said I should create a profile as well. The idea fascinated me, and I figured it would be a good way to network with other White Sox fans, since being stuck in the mountains of West Virginia offered very little, nay, nothing, in terms of other White Sox fans to know.

So, in September 2005, I created my first MySpace account.

It wasn’t until 2006 I managed to wrangle my first White Sox friend. In 2007 I closed that first account and opened a new one because I didn’t like the screen name and URL I had given myself (ACDCFanatic1977). The new account featured the screen name WhiteSoxFan1977. That fit the persona of who I actually am much closer.

Not to say I don’t love AC/DC, but I also love other bands. The White Sox are the only baseball team I watch and follow, so the new name was a much better fit.

When I created that new account, I also created a profile on the new social media website that was drawing a lot of attention: Facebook. Also under WhiteSoxFan1977.

By late 2008 I was spending far more time on Facebook than MySpace. Facebook had a more mature feel. MySpace felt like it was a social network for children.

Then in 2009, during the World Series, I started my first Twitter account.

In the summer of 2010, I had let stupidity run amok in my life and people were starting to suffocate me, so rather than just blocking said people, I decided the right thing to do was close all my social networks and start new ones, under the URL Connorms8.

This name had no special meaning but had been given to me by Netscape in 2005. It was easy to remember and I thought it poetic to use, at a time of new beginnings.

Facebook and Twitter were easily started and filled quickly with friends and contacts. But MySpace was another story entirely. When I had closed my previous account, I had over 800 people on my friends list. When I opened the new account, I managed to compile less than 50 over a month’s time. People just weren’t using MySpace anymore.

I kept my MySpace account open until the spring of 2011, and then decided it was more bother than it was worth for the lack of action that was happening on there. I closed it and never looked back. Besides, I had Facebook and focused my energies there.

Fast forward to December 2012. I went through an ugly breakup of a two-year relationship and wanted to start with a clean slate and no mention of said relationship in my social networking pages. So, I closed my accounts, again, and started anew. Again.

In those days, starting a new account was a very simple procedure. Go to the Facebook home page, click on “new account,” fill in your name, email and password and you would then receive an email to verify your account, and you were good to go. Upload, post, comment, like to your heart’s content. But if you overdid it, you would be given a warning to “slow down” and if you continued at that pace, you would receive a 24-hour block from being able to like or message or whatever you had done to violate the rules.

I still have those same accounts, dating to December 2012 to this day. After a second ugly split with a girl in December 2017, I was desirous of starting clean again but decided the amount of work that went into it didn’t justify losing seven years of my life online. After all, I had wasted seven years in the flesh and didn’t feel like losing it on Facebook as well. So, I scrolled back through the years, month by month and day by day and deleted anything related to the relationship and felt like that would be good enough.

Everything seems to have changed in 2019. And I don’t like it one bit.

Consider first that I have had one Facebook account or another since the summer of 2007. Over 12 years. And in that 12 year period, I have been “blocked” for “violating Facebook policies” a total of five times. Oddly enough, all five times have come in 2019.

In 2017 I was accused of “posting spam” but after asking Facebook for a review, the “spam” I was posting were White Sox stories from established Chicago media and my posts were put back and no further action was taken. So that doesn’t count on any level.

I was sent to Facebook jail five times in 2019 over memes, and not one of those memes violated Facebook’s vague “community standards,” which are available to peruse in the “help” section of Facebook. My memes were generally reported under the “hate speech” banner, even though no hate speech was present whatsoever and in a courtroom Facebook would have looked more ignorant than they already look at this point.

One of the posts I spent 3 days in Facebook jail over was a meme I reposted from my own wall. I posted it originally in 2017, with no issues whatsoever. When I reposted it in 2019, it violated Facebook’s “community standards” and I spent 3 days in “jail.”

Even better came a post after that, a meme that was flagged for “nudity” despite the fact that no part of anyone’s body is actually visible in the meme except a child’s head. I asked Facebook for a review and it was determined that the meme did not, in fact, violate the “community standards” and there was no nudity in the meme. The meme was restored to my wall and Facebook went ahead and left me blocked for an entire week.

My most recent stretch of incarceration, 30 days, was quite ironic. I posted a meme about people being “butthurt” over posts, which someone reported and I was hit with another “hate speech” violation. I decided I had just about had it with that account and decided the time had come to start all new accounts. It had taken less than that before to make me want to wipe the slate clean, and the slate was looking pretty bad now.

But it wasn’t to be. The Facebook sign up process, at least for me, is an impossible bridge to pass. In spite of the fact that I know numerous people with numerous accounts (and, in fact, when you close your account and are asked why, one of the options is “I have another account,” so it’s not exactly a rules violation) I am allowed only one account.

Facebook also does not give any information in regard to rules violations, in terms of “how many likes are too many” or anything, and no warnings are offered. If you broke a rule, you’re going to Facebook Jail. Whether the violation actually broke a rule or not, and it takes one time to break the “rules,” even if you didn’t know you were breaking the rules. It is Nazism at its worst. All in the name of creating some kind of utopia for people to feel “safe,” while allowing muslim beheading videos and suicide videos to flourish.

When I signed up to create a new account, I verified my email and then was asked to verify my cell phone number. Since my cell number is verified with my old account, and I can’t remove it due to my “incarceration,” I used my mom’s cell phone and verified the number. I was then asked to send in a head shot. Which I did. This still didn’t allow me to start a new account, Facebook actually asked me to show them my driver’s license.

This should be illegal, and there is no justification for having to show anything beyond a verified email and/or cell phone number. This is social networking. It’s actual level of importance is, shall we say, a few steps lower than what it thinks it really is.

So, after refusing to show them my driver’s license, my account was closed down.

Which brings me to today. I have one Facebook account (JasonConnor612), which is connected to my one cell phone and my one email account. It connects to my one Twitter account, my one Instagram account and my one WordPress blog account. And I have six days to go before my account is supposed to be unlocked and I am allowed to access it again to like and post and message. But I am wondering if that will happen now.

On top of wondering if I am going to be punished for attempting to create a new account, there is also the fact that over the past month, I have become much more comfortable posting to Twitter (where I actually have nearly 200 more followers than I have Facebook friends) for my White Sox friends and Instagram for those that enjoy my memes.

In the event that I am able to return to my Facebook account, things are going to be a lot different than they were previously. I’m not going to allow whoever found it amusing to report my mundane memes to ruin the party for me. Nor am I going to allow Facebook to ruin the fact that I can’t open a new account. I am going to cut my Facebook posting back to White Sox stories (they will be the “B side” to Twitter being the “A” side) and most of my memes will find their way to Instagram, rather than being posted on Facebook.

In fact, if I post one meme a day on Facebook, that will be more than I expect now.

I sincerely hope whoever decided to report me has unfriended me, which was certainly the better way to handle things. There is nothing so pathetic as a snitch who reports that they’ve been “offended” by something while sitting there with their toothy grin acting like they accomplished something. No one is impressed and no one cares except you.

Amazingly, I have posted hundreds of memes or just straight up photos of women in every stage of undress (including fully nude but now actually showing any of the “good” parts)and none of those posts were ever flagged for anything. I have posted many videos from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit page and those have included topless women but those are fine. I get Facebook jail for posts about butthurt people and pictures of a plate of bacon.

I’ll continue to post my bikini girl posts and dare Facebook to call me on a violation of something an accredited page has posted. That is where I will finally draw the line.

I have heard conflicting reports as to what happens on a sixth “community standards” violation, on one hand I have heard a 60 day violation and on the other I have heard it leads to a lifetime ban. Either way, I will consider it a lifetime ban because I will be finished with the site for the rest of my life. I have better things to do with my time.

Over the 24 days I have been in “Facebook Jail” during this current incarceration period, I have read a number of articles on a number of websites about people leaving Facebook behind for good and being happy about the decision. I can certainly see why that is the case. From the vague “community standards” that fail to disclose exactly what is being violated to the draconian “Facebook jail” to the different sets of rules for different users to the politically correct climate we live in, Facebook just isn’t working out for me.

Going forward, Facebook will be nothing more to me than a repository for White Sox news articles (and a place to discuss same), SI Swimsuit photos and videos, occasional memes that are Sesame Street-approved that I can’t find any way they could be deemed offensive by anyone whatsoever and a way to maintain contact with my friends on messenger. I will be incredibly discriminating when it comes to accepting new friends and a new friend purge will being the morning I have regained access to my account. I will never again get involved with a woman I meet on Facebook, as I have a 0% success rate there.

Though to be fair, when it comes to women, I have a 0% success rate in life. That’s why I’m finished with dating for 2020, and even if I do decide to return in 2021 or sometime after, I’ll find some other way of meeting women. It will not happen on Facebook again.

So, on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, I’ll make my return to Facebook, more than likely, unless additional action is taken against me for attempting to start a new account. If that’s the case, my account will be on a razor’s edge, but not from the website, from me. The first time something rubs me the wrong way, I am out and gone for good. I don’t need Facebook to make me happy or to network with White Sox friends or to post memes.

My aggravation has far outweighed my happiness in 2019, to a point which I consider it one of the worst years of my life and Facebook figures prominently in the reasoning. I will be quick on the draw going forward and not waiting around for another miscarriage of justice, I’ve dealt with enough of those in 2019. It will be a different matter in 2020.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

The 2010s: The Worst Decade Of My Life

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As we finish up 2019 I have gotten into a nostalgic mood (not that I’m ever in any other kind of mood) and have started talking stock of the past decade. As I am 42 years old, I have lived in 5 different decades, the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. Naturally, I have no memories whatsoever of the 1970s, as my earliest defined memory would be my birthday in 1981, and my memories of it are foggy and disconnected, to say the least.

The 1980s, of course, were my “growing up” decade and I did love that era. The movies, the music, the cartoons, the toys, everything about the 1980s was incredible.

The 1990s, on the other hand, were my “grown up” decade. And still my favorite decade of my life. The 1990s began when I was in junior high, covered high school and college and really helped me to establish who I am today. The 1990s were the best.

The 2000s are kind of a mixed bag, and I would split it in half right down the middle. The first half, from 2000 to mid-2005, was great, right on par with the 1990s, or maybe just a notch below, but great, to say the least. The second half, from mid-2005 through 2009, was not. It was pretty unhappy. Not miserable, but a long way from pleasant. I have come to realize that my life took a nosedive after I began using the internet, which I started using in March 2005. At first I used it strictly for baseball info and downloading rosters, wallpapers and video game information. But once I started meeting people, it was all downhill.

That brings us to the 2010s. Without question, the worst decade of my life. Bar none. It’s not even close. The number of enjoyable things that happened to me in the 2010s I could probably count on one hand and have fingers left over. Truly the pits.

I was going to take a year-by-year look at the decade, but so many of the years run together because the misery stretched so far. I’m not saying it was a total loss, 2010 was the best year of the decade by far (until I hit November) and 2019 was a close second, but neither of those years would hold a candle to anything out of the 1980s or 1990s.

Being a generally happy guy, it’s difficult to look back and see how bad the 2010s really were, but there was nothing of any redeeming value in this decade for me. Oh, there were positives, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying it was a 100% unsatisfactory decade, even in the worst years. But overall, I’d give the decade an “F” on a grading scale.

A warning in advance, most of this retrospective is going to be lacking in details. This is not because I can’t remember or because I don’t want to embarrass anyone. Quite the contrary, I choose to not remember some of the details because I don’t want to embarrass myself for having made such stupid decisions during this time period. So those details are lost to time.

The year 2010 opened with me in hot pursuit of a woman I had met on MySpace and within the first week I had completely blown that to kingdom come. The woman in question lived about an hour away and had four kids (which would break all kinds of rules I would set for myself later in the year) but she was beautiful and I really wanted to get with her. My refusal to sell out some friends of mine lead to our abrupt demise as a potential couple.

It turned out she was right in the long run, I should have eliminated those friends, both female. I ended up fooling around with one a couple of weeks later in spite of knowing that she was married. The other would cause me problems later in the year, but what’s done is (or was) done and I decided then that I was not going to get in a relationship in 2010. No matter who or what came along. As you’ll see, that wasn’t to be the case at all.

I started flying the flag of “social dating,” a concept I liked and a phrase I had coined at some point in the spring of 2010. Meet a girl, go out, have a nice time, go with the flow and let whatever happens happen, and then move onto the next one. Don’t date to find a relationship, date to have a good time. This was to take all the dramatics out of the equation because there would be no relationship and no one would “belong” to anyone else.

That all worked fine until June when I let a girl catch me who had chased me for around four years. She lived about an hour away and we only got to hang out together three times in the month that we were a couple, but even then I felt like I was a prisoner, I couldn’t do what I wanted, when I wanted, because there was someone else in the equation now. So I gave her an ultimatum in July, open relationship or no relationship and she chose none.

It was around this time that I created “the list,” which was a checklist of prerequisites for any woman I would take an interest in dating. This didn’t apply to hookups or one night stands, this was strictly related to being in an actual relationship. My rules list included no children, the woman in question would have to live within a certain distance, had to be financially secure on some level, have a working car, just something to kind of separate the garbage from the actual legitimate options. Not that it would matter in the long run.

In June I closed my MySpace account, which was jarring in many ways. A woman I had dated in the late 2000s once begged me to close our social media accounts and I told her, point blank, “I will never close my MySpace account.” Less than two years later, it was gone. I also opened a new Facebook account and kind of reorganized my life at that point.

The next three months were similar to the “social dating” era, and much happier for me.

Then, in November, I made the mistake that not only ruined the decade but nearly ruined my entire life. A mammoth mistake I will probably hold against myself forever. This mistake doesn’t need to be delved into, just suffice to say a situation was presented to me with a number of options and I made the worst possible choice and it has haunted me since.

While 2010 was a decent year, all things considered, 2011 was a bad year, though it was far from the worst. There were some good happenings, for instance I bought my first iPod in 2011, and a stereo with a docking station to go with it. I also found my backward-compatible PlayStation 3 which allowed me to play PlayStation 2 games on it, toward the end of 2011. So there were some good parts to 2011, I’ll admit.

On the flip side came 2012, probably the second-worst year of the decade for me.

A near-mistake in August 2012 could have been the fatal mistake of my life, but God was looking out for me and thanks to luck or karma or something, that mistake didn’t happen. And by December, I had actually managed to work myself out of the mistake I had made in November 2010. Things were starting to look up, and I started feeling happy again.

As 2013 turned over, though, things took a drastic turn for the worse before January was over. I allowed myself to get talked into the same bad mistake I had made in November 2010. Only this time, it was going to be even worse and my life was at stake this time.

February 2013. I was told I was going to be a father. I had my doubts, given circumstances surrounding the pregnancy and whom I was dealing with, that lasted the duration of the pregnancy. But would certainly come to question it more extensively in later years.

In May 2013, my tabby cat, Bubbles, passed away. My plan had always been to string myself up when he passed so that we could both be cremated and our ashes preserved together. But now that I had a child on the way, that took the steam out of my demise.

Bubbles was 18 years old, and he passed when I was 36, meaning he was part of half of my life. For a good portion of that time, he was all that I had. I loved him unconditionally. And when he passed, and I needed, for once in my life, some emotional support, I got it from my best friend. A big part of me died along with Bubbles that day. Maybe all of me should have.

My son was born on October 22, 2013, and I had no doubt he was mine, based on comparisons of his baby picture to mine and the bond began to form, but I still ordered an online DNA test, I would swab my mouth as well as the baby’s and then we would send the swabs to the lab and the results would be mailed to us in a matter of weeks.

I had not signed his birth certificate, not because I had doubts to that extent at that time, but because I was deathly sick at the time. I had pneumonia and a temperature that reached 103 degrees. I was told I couldn’t be near him with a fever like that and I was mostly bedridden anyway, weak and going between extreme sweats and freezing to death.

The DNA test results arrived several weeks later in the mail, and I was not on hand for the opening of the envelope, I simply received a text message with a picture of the supposed “results” that could have been doctored in any number of ways, and this was supposed to prove something, which it didn’t. It just furthered my distrust for the whole situation.

The next four years (2014-17) kind of blur together. I loved my son and felt a feeling I had only felt for Bubbles previously, that of complete, unconditional love. He was daddy’s boy, if his mom was going somewhere and I was staying home, he wanted to stay with me. If I was leaving and his mom was staying home, “I go with my dad.” We had a bond I wish my dad had felt with me. I introduced him to things kids his age would never have been aware of because I grew up with them, like Pac-Man and Q-Bert. I bought him a PlayStation 4, and gave him a PlayStation 3 so we could play Ghostbusters and Lego Batman games.

My son was, by far, the best part of the decade of the 2010s. I just wanted to take him away from the people he was with and bring him to my house, where he belonged. His birthright. I never lived with his mother, and would have rather died first and nearly did. I just wanted my son, to make sure he was raised in a good home and wanted for nothing. That was all I ever wanted. I definitely did not, in any way, want anything to do with anyone else connected to the situation and, in fact, wanted away from them as quickly as it could be arranged.

In 2014, I bought my first flatscreen HDTV. By 2016, I had populated my house with them. In 2015, I bought my PlayStation 4, because I was afraid the MLB The Show series was going to be PS4 exclusive. I was a year or two off, but glad I went ahead and upgraded.

One of the biggest happenings for me in the 2010s came in late 2014, when AC/DC released a new album, “Rock Or Bust,” their first studio album since 2008. Definite high point at a time when high points were so few and far between that I was almost devoid of feelings.

My Jeep was involved in an accident in 2015, as I was driving a back road some punk kid in a sports car hit me head on and totaled my Jeep, which I had since 2001. I took the insurance settlement and had the Jeep repaired because my mission was to put 250,000 miles on it and at that point I was about 20,000 miles short and I wasn’t giving up that easily.

My mom had a heart attack on November 5, 2015. She was getting ready to go to a hair appointment and she ended up flat on her back in her recliner and my dad took her to the emergency room. A couple of hours later I got a phone call, that she had a heart attack. She was in the hospital for a little over a week and while she was in there, it was discovered that she had a cancerous lesion on her colon, so after a few weeks at home to recover from the heart attack (and subsequent insertion of stents) she was back in the hospital again for the removal of a couple of feet of colon that included the cancerous area.

My mom was always very youthful in spite of her age (she was 44 when I was born) and I can remember back in the late 1990s and early 2000s taking her to the grocery store and to places like Walmart, Ames and Kmart. At the time, Ames had a special on Tuesday’s, anyone over 55 got 10% off their purchases. Mom was routinely carded because even though she was pushing 65, she didn’t look it. I can honestly say she has aged 30 years in the past five, and her mental capacity has dropped beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

By 2017 my misery was overcoming the good in my life. I sat in my room one night in April and stared at 60 “ZzzQuil” sleeping capsules and a full bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. I worked through the pros and cons of death. Physically and emotionally and mentally I was a mess. My hair was falling out, I had stomach ulcers, I couldn’t sleep, I was stress eating and had gained 80 pounds in about three years, my eyes were constantly twitching, I was sick almost all the time due to my immune system not firing on all cylinders, and finally I was diagnosed with migraine headaches. That was it.

My love for my son turned out to be stronger than my longing for the grave, thank God.

Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist of AC/DC and my favorite band for decades, passed away in November 2017, casting more of a shadow on an already awful and miserable year.

I struggled through the summer and fall of 2017, trying to find a way out. One was found for me. And it presented me with the most difficult situation I would face the entire decade.

An attempt was made to file charges against me in December 2017 that could have lead to a lengthy prison sentence. And I fought those false charges tooth and nail, no matter what was thrown at me. For the better part of a month I didn’t know if I would live to see another sunrise. But I was not going to be beaten, and in the end, I was cleared of all charges. But the decision to not sign my son’s birth certificate came back to bite me at this point, as in family court, in January 2018, the judge announced that there would need to be a DNA test (an “official” one administered by the state) and a parenting plan for my son.

This didn’t happen, no paternity test was ever done. That spoke volumes, all I needed to know. My questions about the eagerness to open the 2013 DNA test without me there to see it and quickly sweep that under the rug suddenly made a lot of sense to me. So, I had lost my son, or what I was told and thought to be my son. I couldn’t do anything, I had no parental rights whatsoever since I hadn’t signed the birth certificate.

At worst, I had lost my boy. At best, I was out of a miserable, deadly situation I never should have been in to begin with, had I just used common sense way back in November 2010.

I took advantage of my newfound freedom in 2018 and tried to do a complete life overhaul. New TVs, new stereos, a new PC, a new cell phone, I upgraded everything I could think of, right down to a brand-new desk chair and recliner and stand for my new TV. I did not, however, do as I had in 2012 and start new social networking sites. I wish I had. I met a number of women in 2018, all of whom would show themselves to be flakes or liars or something almost as low as the garbage I had left in my rear-view mirror. But not quite. I was ghosted or lied to or lead on by a number of women and finally just stopped altogether, I decided in November 2018 that I was not going to date anyone for at least one year.

While discussing it, I told a friend that 2018 was no better than 2017 or 2016 or 2015, it just had a different cast of characters in it. And I knew that needed to change in 2019.

I made the final major change of my life this year, I bought a new Jeep. I sent my old one to the scrapheap 18 years after buying it and with almost 257,000 miles on it. My new Jeep is an upgrade in every way, and a good symbol of where I want things to go in the future.

While 2019 has been far superior to every year back to 2010, it has still been a clusterfuck in many ways and I’ll be glad to see it, and this decade, come to an end. I hate it.

In 2019, I was placed in Facebook jail four times for mundane memes I posted and am now locked out until December 18. None would have been found to be “offensive” in any other medium short of a church bulletin, but that doesn’t matter. This put a major roadblock in front of my decision to start all new social networking pages. I still may do that, in fact, I would like to start a new Facebook account and simply update the screen name and URL of my other social networking accounts. The problem comes in here, with my blog, which uses the JasonConnor612 URL, which I also use on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

So, as I close up the final five weeks of 2019, I have high hopes for the 2020s. There will clearly be some bad times coming up, I don’t see any way my elderly mother (or father, for that matter) will live through the next decade, as my mother is 85 (86 in January) and my father is 81 (82 in September). That’s just something I’ll have to deal with when the time comes and I’m hopeful I have the good fortune to live to a ripe old age as well. But I’m hopeful the good times in the 2020s will outweigh the bad, unlike the horrible 2010s.

I always try to see the positive side of things, and in this case the only positive I can come up with is I’ve almost lived through the 2010s, in spite of twice pondering suicide and dealing with health problems brought on by stress that could have easily killed me. I always say that everything happens for a reason, and I’m still standing today for a reason I don’t know.

In closing, here’s to a bright and happy future and a whole new era in my life. God bless.

 

Facebook: Where Common Sense Goes To Die

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One week ago tomorrow (November 18), I was put in Facebook jail for the fourth time this year, over a meme that was not the least bit offensive to anyone but someone took the opportunity to report it and based on that, I was back in the clink.

This is the meme that “earned” me 30 days:

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That meme was so offensive to someone that it was worth 30 days in Facebook jail. I can only imagine what kind of gutless, worthless, sorry-excuse-for-a-human-being was offended by something like that. But it was through this that I discovered something.

In the world today, your post doesn’t have to actually be offensive, if someone just doesn’t like it, they can simply say that they are offended and heads will roll.

In Facebook land, your first offense leads to a warning, second is 24 hours in the can, third is 3 days, fourth is a week and fifth is a month. Beyond that, I’m not sure, as I have heard conflicting reports, some say 60 days and some have said a lifetime ban.

On that note, here are a few of the other memes I have posted that were considered so vile they were worthy of putting me in Facebook jail over. Pure and total filth:

So, yeah. Those memes were so over-the-top offensive that I may sit one bad meme away from a lifetime ban despite the fact that in the previous six years I posted numerous memes (including the bacon one, which had been posted on my own wall several years ago) and had never once received a stretch in Facebook jail. But I’m more philosophical about things now than I have been in the past. Jail will do that to a man, even Facebook jail.

As I said earlier, as long as someone announces that they are offended, that’s all it takes for Facebook to drop the hammer. The bacon post? All it takes is for some muslim to say “I don’t like bacon, it offends me” and it’s Facebook jail time. I do admit that I’m curious as to whether or not a straight, white, native-born, employed male like myself would be able to get anything blocked due to being offended, though, given the state of the world.

What amazes me more than what I have posted being considered so vulgar it was worth Facebook jail time is the stuff I have seen that never gets reported. Full-on nudity, Full-on pornographic images, video of legitimate suicide by rifle shot, clear threats of violence and racism on every level against every imaginable race. And who can forget the wave of political nonsense that has to be the most disgraceful thing I have ever seen.

That’s all fine, none of that is anything to worry about. Perfectly acceptable. Guy blows his head off in a posted video? No problem. Man beheaded by radical muslim terrorists? That’s probably a free-speech issue. Calling people every name in the book and threatening physical harm because you are a member of an American political party? Nothing to see here. Jason J. Connor post a meme about people being butt-hurt?

Now that’s something Facebook would apparently go to war over. And that is pathetic. So while I do feel I was treated unfairly, taking me out of the opportunity to talk baseball with my Facebook friends during the most important period of the offseason (the GM Meetings are the first week of December, I am not paroled until December 18) I also feel that Facebook should feel just as stupid as they look and I am all too happy to share my story.

Perhaps someday, someone will be offended just by the very existence of Facebook, and they’ll have to decide if they should take the entire site offline for an extended period, after all, we can’t have anyone getting offended by anything, no matter how mundane.

Keep fighting the good fight, Facebook. You’ve now got the John Dillinger of social media in Facebook jail for 30 days. I bet the world feels a little safer right now than it did before. You just never know when someone may become offended and that’s just too scary to contemplate. Congratulations, Facebook. Never stop fighting for what’s right.

Oh, and up yours.

Peace.

Chicago White Sox: Offseason Update (November 12, 2019)

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An important week in baseball, the general manager’s meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona began yesterday (Monday) and last through Thursday. While not nearly as important in the big picture as the Winter Meetings, which take place in San Diego, December 8 through 12, the general manager’s meetings help set the foundation for the Winter Meetings.

The White Sox are in the news quite a bit as Bob Nightengale of USA Today has tried to again fan the flames of importance around the Chicago White Sox, as he did last offseason by announcing, at one point, that the White Sox were not only the front runners for shortstop Manny Machado, but that they were also the favorites to sign outfielder Bryce Harper!

Those two combined for $630 million over the length of their respective deals, which last 10 years (Machado) and 13 years (Harper), a bit above the White Sox pay scale.

Now Bob is pushing the concept of the White Sox being all in on every available free agent on the market this offseason, though he was quick to pull back on the top player available, pitcher Gerrit Cole. But continued to push the assertion that third baseman Anthony Rendon is a viable possibility, and maybe even to go so far as to say a legit target.

I don’t want any misunderstandings here, I have nothing negative to say about Rendon whatsoever, he is a legit MVP candidate (.319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and an MLB-leading 126 RBI in 2019 as well as winning a Silver Slugger and making the All Star team) but he isn’t a fit with this White Sox team. I HATE this idea (which is bandied about regularly on the Sox Talk Podcast) that you just sign the best available players you can get and worry about where to play them later. That concept is totally insane in my opinion.

You build a team and fill in your needs. If you don’t need a third baseman, you don’t sign a third baseman. You find the best player available, either by free agency or trade, at the position you have a need. So as great as Rendon is, you just say “I don’t need a third baseman” and you move on to where you do have a need. It’s simple.

The Sox have three major needs: Starting pitching, right field and designated hitter.

In my perfect world, the names you fill in are Zack Wheeler, Yasiel Puig and Edwin Encarnacion. You’re getting a good strikeout pitcher with outstanding control (195 K’s versus 50 walks in 2019) who will be a perfect fit in the ballpark and the rotation, a right fielder who you can pretty much pencil in for 20+ home runs (maybe 30 playing 81 games a year at Sox Park) and 15 steals per season and a DH who has hit 32+ home runs 8 years in a row.

Yes, each has their negatives, Wheeler has had Tommy John Surgery twice (but worked 195 innings last year and has less than 900 innings on his arm), Puig can be an attitude problem (which I think would be remedied by the strong Cuban culture within the organization) and Encarnacion will turn 37 in January, so he’s not a long term solution, but I think he can help a guy like Jose Abreu adjust to being an everyday DH and that’s a win/win situation.

As starting pitching goes, I just don’t see the White Sox going $250 million (or more) for Gerrit Cole or $150 million (or more) for Stephen Strasburg. Not only is that not something they have done in the past, but I don’t see the Sox spending that kind of money (more on that later). The next group of starters includes Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel and Wheeler, guys who you could get for under $100 million. While I am a big fan of Bumgarner, I see him staying in the National League and the 1,800+ innings on his arm is a concern. Keuchel is a guy who probably slots as a #4 within the White Sox rotation and I don’t see what’s to be accomplished paying $60 million over three years for a number four who pitches to contact in a hitter’s park and who has never been much of a strikeout guy.

Right field is a conundrum because the Sox have been linked since the offseason began to Nicholas Castellanos. While I am a big fan of his bat (.289/.337/.525 with 27 home runs and 58 doubles in 2019) his defense is well below-average and he’s only been slotted at DH 40 times in 839 career games. So you’re giving up something with him either way, you’re guaranteeing yourself two below-average gloves in the outfield (along with left fielder Eloy Jimenez) or you are giving yourself the unknown of what he can produce at DH.

The DH position is a bit of a monkey in it’s own right, due to the lack of productive ones (Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak and Mark Trumbo look to be the only full-time DH options outside of Encarnacion. Morales hit .194 with two home runs in 53 games, Smoak hit .208 with 22 home runs and Trumbo hit .172 with no home runs in 31 plate appearances.

I’ll pass on all three. And that leaves Encarnacion and guys like Avi Garcia.

There is also the possibility of rotating the DH (which has been about as productive as the past few full time DH options the White Sox have signed) and letting Zack Collins, Jose Abreu and the right fielder (Castellanos or Kole Calhoun or Corey Dickerson) to split time at the position. Not something I am a big fan of, but I like to have a set lineup every day.

As I have been writing this and doing my research prior to, one guy who keeps catching my attention is the aforementioned Corey Dickerson. While he is a left fielder, not a right fielder which the Sox need (and he has only six games of experience in his career in right field) I realized he has 128 games of experience at DH, mostly during his two-year stint with the Tampa Bay Rays. In addition to his left-handed bat, he also carries a .286 career batting average. He’ll turn 31 in May and maybe could be a good option as an everyday DH.

I hate feeling negative about the team, especially this offseason because the position player that is considered the #1 free agent plays a position they don’t need and if they don’t pursue him fans will take that negatively and I don’t think that’s fair. I wasn’t big on last year’s pursuit of Manny Machado (and was active about pushing that fact in my blog) because he didn’t fill a need; I knew they planned to play him at third base but that wasn’t his preferred position. I don’t want to see the Sox spend money just for the sake of saying “look, we signed Anthony Rendon, now we have to change our infield around to fit him in because we signed a guy at a position we didn’t need to fill, let’s hope Moncada is OK with another position switch.”

That doesn’t work. Spend the money, but spend it responsibly. Spend it on need. But don’t sign the cheapest player available and hope he’s a bounce-back candidate. Don’t sign an outfielder because he had a good season six years ago. Don’t sign a pitcher because he won a Cy Young award five years ago and he’s been awful since then. That doesn’t work.

I am 100% convinced this team can, with the right additions, contend for a Wild Card spot in 2020 and then for a division title in 2021. But there are holes that need to be filled and they need to be filled properly, with players who play the position and have been successful, recently. Winning teams have winning players. Let’s go out and find some.

Thank you for reading. Peace.

The Chicago White Sox 2019-20 Offseason: Preferences vs. Probabilities

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It’s that time of year again, as the World Series is scheduled to begin next week and we can start looking ahead to the offseason happenings. Of course, as a Chicago White Sox fan, I’m usually thinking about the offseason possibilities long before the actual season ends, as the playoffs are usually 15+ games out of reach by the end of August.

This little exercise is going to be a look at what I would like to see the White Sox accomplish this offseason (and what I’m likely to do with my roster on MLB The Show) versus what I think the White Sox will actually do; and I’m going to keep it realistic, as much as possible, basing my forecast on what I have heard in the media and the team itself.

So, let’s begin.

STARTING PITCHING

Preference: Naturally, my preference here would be signing Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros to a long-term deal with every cent of the Manny Machado money from last offseason. However, I know that’s a pipe dream because of how this team (general manager Rick Hahn, in particular) likes to contradict himself, as one minute the team “has a lot of flexibility” in terms of “cash to spend,” while at the same time having to be “careful” what they spend.

So, my preference for starting pitching would be to sign New York Mets RHP Zack Wheeler. This is one of those moves that I consider a no-brainer. He won’t turn 30 until May, which makes him younger than Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel and he has FAR less wear and tear on his arm (749 career Major League innings for Wheeler as opposed to 1,302 for Keuchel and 1,846 for Bumgarner) than the other possibilities most linked to the White Sox. In addition, his 11 wins in 2019 were more than either Bumgarner or Keuchel.

For depth, I would not be opposed to resigning Ivan Nova, who lead the American League in starts in 2019 (34) and was durable and reasonably successful given the circumstances. I definitely don’t want to see him leading the staff, but as a depth piece instead.

Probability: While I don’t see the team springing big money for Wheeler, I don’t see them springing big money for Bumgarner or Keuchel either. The name I hear most regularly is Cole Hamels, most recently of the Chicago Cubs, as the big acquisition for the rotation. This makes no sense to me whatsoever, as the Sox would be bringing in a soon-to-be 36-year old pitcher with almost 2,700 innings on his arm, in spite of not reaching 200 innings in a season since 2016. If this move does happen, it reeks of “putting one over on the Cubs.”

For depth I do not see them resigning Nova, who will be able to score a bigger payday with one of the other rebuilding franchises (the Marlins, Orioles, Royals or Tigers) so I picture the White Sox big depth piece being a non-tendered-and-resigned Dylan Covey.  I have also wondered if Kenny Williams would pitch the idea of being on a contender to Felix Hernandez.

RELIEF PITCHING

Preference: I don’t make a big deal over relief pitching but I would like to see Jimmy Cordero back, due to his outstanding 2.75 ERA over 36 innings in 2019. Most relievers are interchangeable but I think a back end of Alex Colome closing with Aaron Bummer and a rejuvenated Kelvin Herrera setting him up, that’s pretty solid and I’ll take it.

Probability: As the White Sox don’t really make a big deal over middle relief and the set-up and closer roles are defined and filled, most anything can happen here. Cordero and Evan Marshall could come back just as easily as they could be replaced. The name I hear mentioned in the press is Dellin Betances, but that doesn’t make sense in a number of ways, not the least of which is his health (2/3 of an inning of work in 2019) as well as the fact that he really wouldn’t have a traditional role, since the back end of the bullpen is set.

I also think he is a little more expensive than the Sox tend to spend on middle relief.

CATCHING

Preference: This is easy for me. Sign James McCann long-term since he can be a free agent following the 2020 season, because even if his offensive numbers regress, and they will, he was a boon to the pitching staff. Zack Collins can serve as the backup and catch two or three times a week. Keep Yermin Mercedes at AAA Charlotte for a time when needed, or bring him up to fill the 26th man spot on the roster, as he certainly seems to be ready for The Show (.317/23 home runs/80 RBI in 2019). No big acquisitions are needed behind the plate.

Probability: The name I keep hearing here is Yasmani Grandal. In addition to the fact that he’ll be 31 when the season starts and hit .246 last year (while establishing career-highs in home runs, RBI and walks, to be fair), he turned down a multi-year contract offer from the White Sox last year in order to take a one-year deal with the Brewers. It doesn’t make much sense to offer more money this time around when he is a year older, with more wear and tear.

… and I see no circumstances whatsoever that Welington Castillo comes back in 2020.

INFIELD

Preference: This is easy. Resign Jose Abreu to a two year deal with a club option for a third and non-tender Yolmer Sanchez. Let Danny Mendick hold down second base until Nick Madrigal is ready and you’re set. Abreu at first, Madrigal at second, Tim Anderson at short and Yoan Moncada at third, with Mendick covering second, short and third and Zack Collins handling first when needed. This should produce the easiest decisions on the roster.

Probability: I’m worried that Sanchez will be tendered at over $6 million to keep a seat warm for Madrigal, then kept on as a utility player in spite of the fact that his bat is worthless and this isn’t the National League where you see a lot of defensive replacements late in games. At one time, I was worried that the Sox would fall over themselves offering Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon a contract, but after he turned down a seven year, $215 million deal from the Nats, I’m not worried about that at all. The White Sox lucked out last year by not spending $250 million for Manny Machado, they won’t repeat the mistake this year and make a garish contract offer to the top offensive player available.

OUTFIELD

Preference: The White Sox are set in LF (Eloy Jimenez) and CF (Luis Robert) but RF is a bottomless pit. In my world, the Sox would sign Yasiel Puig to a four-year deal and park his 20+ home runs and 15+ stolen bases beside Jimenez and Robert in what could be described as a “dream outfield.” Hang onto Adam Engel as a pinch hitter and pinch runner and rare defensive replacement when needed, as well as Leury Garcia, who was solid in 2019.

Probability: This is where I get annoyed, as Kole Calhoun is apparently the overwhelming favorite due to the fact that he hits left-handed and he hit 33 home runs in 2019. It should be noted that (a) Calhoun is almost five years older than Puig, and (b) Calhoun’s 33 home runs in 2019 are not really comparable to his home runs totals in 2018 and 2017 (19) or 2016 (18). Calhoun clearly benefited from the juiced ball in 2019 and if that is remedied in 2020, those home run totals will drop. And that ugly .232 batting average and .325 OBP doesn’t help.

I do hear Corey Dickerson mentioned but I have a feeling the Sox are absolutely set on Kole Calhoun, but I’m not sure he’s going to get more than a one-year contract. I also hear Joc Pederson mentioned a lot but it would require a trade to get him and I’m not sure what the White Sox have of value that the Los Angeles Dodgers would want, maybe Mercedes and a pitcher but it would have to be one of the lower level/lower production pitchers.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Preference: J.D. Martinez. No question. Now, this is assuming he opts out of his current deal with the Detroit Tigers, of course. Offer him a four year deal for $100 million with an opt-out after two years, he’ll blow town after two years and the club would only be on the hook for $50 million, or $7 million more than they spent on Melky Cabrera in 2015. If Martinez is unavailable or too pricey, skip DH and rotate it between Abreu and Collins.

Probability: This is one area where I can see the Sox making the move and spending the money and it paying off. It’s a win/win for everybody. Martinez gets more money than he would have had he stayed with the Red Sox (and there’s has to be a reason to opt out and taking a pay cut would be out of the question), the White Sox shore up the offense and should get 40+ home runs from Martinez the next couple of seasons and don’t have to spend an ungodly amount of money to do so. It all makes too much sense not to do it.

I do worry that, if this option doesn’t work out, they’re going to try going over the top to sign Grandal and work him between catcher, first base and DH, and I don’t like anything about that idea. I’d rather let Collins develop into whatever he is going to be going forward.

So, all in all, it should be a fun offseason regardless of the direction the White Sox go. There is a good talent base on this team and it only needs to be filled in, but with the right pieces. The Sox don’t need a starting catcher, or a third baseman. The needs are obvious, a right fielder, a starting pitcher and a DH, and Puig, Wheeler and Martinez are the guys I want to see on the roster when we get to Spring Training next February. Will it happen? Most likely not. And not a whole lot of the “Machado Money” will be spent this offseason, regardless.

I’ll blog again after the Winter Meetings and hopefully we’ll have a better understanding of where we stand, assuming free agency moves at a better pace than it did last year.

Peace.

2019 Chicago White Sox Wrap Up and Offseason Primer

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Well, here we are again, at the end of another losing season. The seventh in a row. But for the first time, I legitimately have a good feeling about the upcoming season. Now, clearly it’s too early to make any definitive predictions, since the postseason hasn’t even begun and no transactions will be made until after the World Series (and maybe even after the winter meetings, if last year is any indication of the future), but I’m going to do my best to gaze into the future based on what I hear and read from team sources and the Chicago press, as well as my own guesses culled from 30 years of following this franchise.

A lot of what I’m going to touch on will be taken directly from the end-of-season press conference with White Sox GM Rick Hahn, who, I assume, knows more about what’s going on within his own team than the fans who watch, so I will take his word about things that he is being, shall we say, “forceful” about. Because he is the man in charge.

Beginning with the coaching staff. I am not expecting much, if any, turnover. However, Hahn did make two statements that caught me off guard. First, he refused to say that the staff would remain intact. Second, he made a point of saying that this staff was built to foster player development. Which I found interesting considering that Don Cooper has been the pitching coach for 17 years and hitting coach Todd Steverson has been in his position since 2014. First base coach Daryl Boston has also been at his spot since 2013. So why these “player development” coaches were in place in 2016, for instance, I don’t know. I do, however, think that is giving Hahn some leeway to make some changes.

I do NOT, however, think that any of the previously mentioned coaches will be going anywhere. I had thought that, conceivably, third base coach Nick Capra could be moved elsewhere (he won’t be fired considering he’s been in the organization for well over 20 years as a coach and manager) to allow Birmingham Barons manager Omar Vizquel to have a spot on the MLB staff and, eventually, replace Rick Renteria. I now realize I was totally off on that because the Sox seem hellbent on allowing Renteria to manage as long as he wants to and Vizquel’s name has already been mentioned for the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates managerial openings. It’s hard to keep a good manager secret.

So, if there is a move, I don’t know where it would be. I can’t imagine the Sox getting rid of Joe McEwing, who I believe has a future as a manager somewhere. Curt Hasler in the bullpen? I mean, the Sox let Bobby Thigpen go and no reason was given.

Now, on to the 2019 roster. There was some amazing growth, with Tim Anderson winning the American League batting title (.335 average) out of nowhere (after hitting a lackluster .240 last season) and Yoan Moncada (.315, 25 home runs, 79 RBI) and rookie Eloy Jimenez (.267, 31 home runs, 79 RBI) showing what they’re capable of doing in a full season.

Joe Abreu (.284, 33 home runs, an American League-leading 123 RBI) had an outstanding season, as did James McCann (.273, 18 home runs, 60 RBI), the two most-veteran players offensively. Both of whom I feel should be locked up with long-term contracts, as McCann will be a free agent following the 2020 season and Abreu will be in a month.

But there were also holes. Second base and right field and designated hitter. Second base seems to already have a superior replacement, with Nick Madrigal (.311, 4 home runs, 55 RBI, 35 stolen bases across three minor league levels) replacing all-glove, no bat Yolmer Sanchez (.252, 2 home runs, 43 RBI), especially with Yolmer about to hit around $6 million in salary for the 2020 season and better players (like Danny Mendick, who hit .282 overall with 19 home runs, 68 RBI and 19 stolen bases across AAA and at the MLB level) available to hold down second base until Madrigal is “ready” to take over in mid-April.

Right field was beyond awful, being manned by Daniel Palka (.107, 2 home runs, 4 RBI), Jon Jay (.267, 0 home runs, 9 RBI), Charlie Tilson (.229, 1 home run, 12 RBI) and Ryan Cordell (.221, 7 home runs, 24 RBI) during the season. An upgrade is badly needed.

Now we start to get into what’s available and what’s likely. Clearly, the biggest available name will be Mookie Betts, even though he’s not a free agent, he is expected to be traded and spend his final season before free agency somewhere other than Boston. That “somewhere” will definitely not be with the White Sox, as the cost in players wouldn’t be worth one season before he would invariably leave as a free agent for a $250 million deal elsewhere. Among free agents, there’s not much available in terms of guys who would “fit” the rebuild, though my choice (Yasiel Puig), does on every level. He hasn’t yet turned 29, he will not be cost-prohibitive, and his numbers (.267, 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 19 stolen bases) dwarf the combined numbers of 2019 Sox right fielders. Adding to that, he made $9.7 million in 2019, so even with a pay bump, he should fit right in. The fact that he would be on a team with a number of other Cuban players will help as well.

Then there are the right fielders I’m not fond of hearing about, including Kole Calhoun (.232, 33 home runs, 74 RBI), whom I believe benefited greatly from the juiced ball, as his previous three season totals in home runs were 19, 19 and 18, respectively, and he’s just about to turn 32. Also rumored regularly are Nick Castellanos (.289, 27 home runs, 73 RBI), Gerardo Parra (.234, 9 home runs, 48 RBI, about to turn 33) and our old buddy Avisail Garcia (.282, 20 home runs, 72 RBI) coming off a one-year deal with the Rays. Another good option in right is Corey Dickerson (.304, 12 home runs, 59 RBI) who played only 78 games in 2019 due to injury but won’t turn 31 until may and has a .286 career batting average.

I keep hearing and reading that potentially the Sox can trade for a right fielder, but this brings up two questions. First, who would they acquire and second, what would they send back in this hypothetical deal? Two things we know about the White Sox minor league system is that it is top heavy (outstanding top prospects and little depth) and injury-prone. And with the lack of depth on the MLB roster, the Sox can’t afford to be sending prospect packages out in trades because this rebuild has been razor thin from the start.

So, in a perfect world, the first move I make (outside of contract extensions for Jose Abreu and James McCann) is a four-year deal for Yasiel Puig to handle right field.

That leaves us with a pretty solid group in the field, with McCann behind the plate, an infield of Abreu at first, Madrigal at second, Anderson at shortstop and Moncada at third, and an outfield of Jimenez in left, Luis Robert (.328, 32 home runs, 92 RBI, 36 stolen bases and 108 runs scored across three minor league levels) in center and Puig in right. That is a group with power, speed and sufficient defensive ability assuming there is some improvement from Anderson and Jimenez and Robert is as advertised.

It’s here I want to bring up Anthony Rendon, who is mentioned pretty regularly as a possible target and it literally makes me angry to hear it. This would be signing a guy just to sign a guy, he doesn’t fit an area of need and there’s no logic to it. And I’m glad I waited until today to write this piece, because just a couple of hours ago I found out that the Washington Nationals had offered Rendon a seven-year contract for $215 million which instantly removes him from consideration because the word in the media is 100% unified that the Chicago White Sox won’t spend $200 million on a player. There may have been an offer to Manny Machado last year that in some way was in the ballpark of over $200 million and conceivably close to $250 million, but that was a once-in-a-lifetime offer. Machado was considered a legitimate franchise player, which Rendon is not. And the fact that signing Rendon would probably lead to Moncada moving back to second base, where he is not as comfortable and removing Madrigal from the equation entirely, makes absolutely no sense in any way. So I’m glad we know that offer is on the table from the Nats.

There is one offensive spot that I haven’t talked about yet, and that’s the DH spot, which was horrible last season, as White Sox designated hitters combined to hit .205 with 17 home runs. As everyone knows, the name that keeps coming up is J.D. Martinez (.304, 36 home runs, 105 RBI), who may opt out of his five-year, $110 million deal with the Red Sox.

At first, I was completely against this idea. But it’s starting to grow on me. The main reason I held my nose at the idea in the first place was Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche and Yonder Alonso, all of whom were signed to be the full-time DH and promptly fell flat on their faces. But now I’m figuring lighting can only strike in the same spot so many times, right? And Martinez is a better hitter than any of the three previous mistakes.

My big issue here is money. I heard on a recent White Sox Talk podcast that the White Sox should just offer him his current deal. OK, I’m not a genius, but even I know that there’s no point in opting out of a contract just to sign an identical deal. His only reason for opting out would be to improve on the deal he already has. So you can scratch five years at $110 million off and consider that below the going rate. Would the White Sox be willing to go five years and, say, $130 million for a designated hitter? Time will tell. Most people (fans especially) seem to think it’s a done deal, J.D. Martinez will be the White Sox DH on Opening Day. I’m warming up to it, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

The other options among guys who are regular DH’s isn’t exactly anything to get excited over, with Edwin Encarnacion (.244, 34 home runs, 86 RBI and about to turn 37) and Nelson Cruz (.311, 41 home runs, 108 RBI and about to turn 40) as the best of the rest.

While Cruz is an incredible slugger, his age clearly doesn’t fit in with the Sox timetable.

So, my choice here is spend the money, see if J.D. Martinez will sign for five years and $130 million and if not, the Sox may be stuck with a revolving door at DH again, with Abreu and Zack Collins and alternating between the spot, with Collins filling in at first base. I think if this turns out to be the plan, the Sox will need to acquire another catcher or hope that Yermin Mercedes or Seby Zavala can somehow hold down the fort for the season.

With Martinez, the Sox have an incredible lineup, assuming Robert and Madrigal play up to their potential and Moncada and Jimenez continue to improve. I’ll take that lineup against most any in baseball. Without Martinez, they still should score some runs.

But no matter how many runs you score, you still have to give up fewer, which brings us to the pitching staff. And before I even begin, Rick Hahn has said as much (and the press has clearly stated) forget Gerrit Cole, the Sox aren’t signing anyone to a $200 million contract and Scott Boras has already said that $200 million will be the opening bid. So the idea of the White Sox signing the best of the best at any position is a pipe dream.

That does not mean there are not some damn good starting pitchers available. My pick would be Zack Wheeler (11-8, 3.96 ERA, 195 K’s in 195 innings), who won’t turn 30 until May, and due to losing the 2015 and 2016 seasons to injury, he has less wear and tear on his arm (749 career innings) than most pitchers at his age. Other reasonable options include Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51 ERA, 178 K’s in 159 innings) and Alex Wood, who is coming off an injury-plagued season of only seven starts but is only 28 years old and was a 16-game winner (and an All Star) as recently as 2017. Any of the three would be a rotation upgrade over Dylan Covey (6-29 career record, 6.54 career ERA) and the other losers who filled in the rotation last season outside of Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Ivan Nova and Reynaldo Lopez.

With Michael Kopech coming back in 2020, we can basically fill in a rotation spot with him, but Nova (11-12, 4.72 ERA, 114 K’s in 187 innings and lead the American League allowing 225 hits) is a free agent, so his spot will need filling, even if he resigns with the Sox.

I think a rotation of Wheeler, Giolito, Kopech, Lopez and Cease is solid and while it’s not at the level of the offense, I think in a couple of years that it could be outstanding.

As starting pitching goes, the name I hear consistently is Dallas Keuchel, and I didn’t like it last year and I don’t like it this year. He’s basically a .500 pitcher now, as he finished 8-8 with the playoff-bound Atlanta Braves and finished 12-11 with the playoff-bound Houston Astros in 2018. He’ll be 32 in January and he’s definitely not a top-of-the-rotation ace anymore, he’s more along the lines of a third or fourth starter, and definitely not worth three years and $60 million. Look how paying that kind of money worked out for the Philadelphia Phillies with Jake Arrieta, who cashed in with a three-year deal for $75 million and has since gone 18-19 with the Phillies, and he’s only a year older than Keuchel.

There’s not much to say about the bullpen, we know Alex Colome will be back in the closer role with Kelvin Herrera and Aaron Bummer representing the best of the rest. I’m hopeful Jimmy Cordero comes back, he was outstanding in 2019 and definitely deserves a spot, along with Evan Marshall. I hope we’ve seen the last of Covey, Ross Detwiler, Jace Fry and Carson Fulmer, as none of them are legit pieces of a playoff team’s pitching staff.

I have heard multiple times that one reliever the White Sox will be in on is Dellin Betances, in spite of the fact that he pitched in a total of one game in 2019 (pitching 2/3 of an inning with 2 K’s) but I’m not sure that’s the smartest move the Sox could make there.

Most of the available free agent relievers are in their mid-30s and probably won’t be around for any kind of long-term run. They’ll be signed and flipped if the Sox fall out of the playoff race in 2020, or replaced from within once the season ends next year.

So, the team I want to see is clear, as I mentioned above. But I am legitimately worried that one of two things could happen that will ruin the offseason, the first being that the Sox, desperate to show they “belong at the big boy table,” will blow their whole wad on Anthony Rendon, who doesn’t fill a need and just upsets the team at two positions and makes a former first-round pick (Madrigal) seem a waste (which rebuilding teams can’t afford to do a lot of) or they are going to play it cozy and we’ll hear “year four” all season and they’ll sign the likes of Drew Smyly for the rotation (4-7, 6.24 ERA, 120 K’s in 114 innings) and Lonnie Chisenhall (didn’t play a single MLB game in 2019) for right field. As a Sox fan, I am conditioned to expect that the team will lowball and try to find players who won’t make much money and probably won’t make much impact and hope to catch lighting in a bottle, as my good friend Paul Scarpelli says. But that rarely works.

So as of now, with the roster in the shape it’s in at this moment, I see a team that should finish 82-80 and probably eight to ten games out of the Wild Card chase. Bring in Wheeler and J.D. Martinez and Yasiel Puig and I think you have a team capable of 88 to 90 wins and a definitive Wild Card contender. This is, of course, barring injuries to any of the main contributors, because the Sox just don’t have the depth to cover a major injury. The fact that Dylan Covey has made 45 starts and made 60 appearances in three years shows just how bad the depth is in this organization. The Yankees can plug and play because they have outstanding talent and outstanding depth, the Sox lack that depth.

I’m excited about the 2020 season and beyond, because even though the White Sox will never compete for top free agents or ever draft exceptionally well, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a player like Luis Robert or Eloy Jimenez or even Yoan Moncada could be an MVP one day, and Giolito, Cease and Kopech could easily develop into consistent contenders for the Cy Young Award. The talent is here, it just needs to be supplemented with quality players who play positions of need. And they need to stay healthy.

I’ll blog again about this around the Winter Meetings, though I do worry that last year’s lack of activity may be an omen of things to come this year, especially with the possibility of a work stoppage looming in 2021, which would be the ultimate slap in the face to any Chicago White Sox fan after what happened during the last work stoppage in 1994. But we’ll worry about that when the time comes, for now, let’s look forward to the 2019-20 offseason.

Thank you for reading. And GO SOX!

The New Era Begins

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Around noon on Saturday, August 24, 2019, the new era begins.

The new era of me on social media.

There will be changes. Not just cosmetic changes (i.e. a new profile pic) but real change, change in substance and change in style.

My reputation precedes me when it comes to the ladies; I love girls, I always have and I always will. There is nothing more beautiful than the human female form, it’s perfect, down to the last detail. And I have always celebrated the female form on my social networking sites, be it in the form of memes or just basic photos of women in various stages of undress.

My male friends have long enjoyed these posts, as have I. However, due to the changing nature of the beast we call Facebook, I will no longer be posting these memes or photos because one person’s simple photo celebrating a beautiful woman is another person’s reason to come unhinged and report the photo as being something it is not.

This will also apply to my memes that are not about celebrating the female body. In the past I had no reservations about posting memes on any subject, no matter how controversial, so long as they were funny. I have no learned that literally anything can be perceived as “offensive” if a person wants to be despicable enough. So I will no longer post anything that could be in any way perceived as offensive to anyone, which means no memes about women in any way, no memes about relationships or marriage, no political memes or anything connected.

From here on out, my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts will feature Chicago White Sox stories, stat pieces and news, which has been a hallmark of my social media presentations for over a decade, and my memes will be the most mundane I can find, featuring Star Trek, science, cats and dogs, pun humor (as long as it’s not sexual in nature) and nothing featuring any level of bad language. Everything right down to the word “damn” is now persona non grata on my wall. My wall, and profile, will be the height of class and dignity from now on.

And I don’t want it to sound like I am doing this against my will, per se. Yes, I enjoyed posting beautiful women for everyone to enjoy, I enjoy dirty jokes and limericks and puns as much as the next person (and maybe more so), but I am not taking any chances on being locked out of my account for an entire month, especially since I am the only person on earth who is not allowed to have a secondary account; I attempted to start one and it was closed on me.

I also would like to change the narrative about myself.

While there has always been enjoyment in posting as I have posted in the past, there is also the thought of how I am perceived online, and “immature” would probably be the nicest way to word it. No one has ever been openly offended by my posts, at least to my face, though clearly someone has been or I wouldn’t have spent 14 of the past 21 days in Facebook jail. I want to get away from that and be taken more seriously as a man and as a human being.

I am also making a major change in the way I interact with others. I have always been very liberal with the like and love buttons. I enjoyed giving people feedback on their posts and I’m not one to shy away from complimenting when the circumstance dictates. From this point on, it will not matter what circumstance dictates, because I will be refraining from participating to the extent that I have in the past. I will continue to engage in baseball talk with the guys, which is literally the only reason I am on social media in the first place, but everything else is over.

Finally, I am going to be a lot more discriminating when it comes to accepting friend requests. In the past, if you were a White Sox fan or a local single female or I knew you in person, you had an automatic “in,” and others would be included on a case-by-case basis. That will no longer be the case. White Sox fandom will continue to be an automatic acceptance, but other than that, I’m going to be using the “decline” button on a regular basis and be more vigilant.

Maybe at 42 it’s just time to grow up and use social networking for the only reason I got it in the first place, to network with other White Sox fans. That’s what brought me to the show in the first place. I had my first social media account, MySpace, in 2005. I got Facebook in 2007 and Twitter in 2009. I held out on Instagram until 2016. I closed my MySpace account in 2010, but still retain the other three. And I have been going through each one, removing any questionable content as I serve out my sentence in the Facebook Penitentiary. And it has been therapeutic.

Going forward, I hope this makes for a more enjoyable experience for all involved.

Peace.