2020 A Personal Retrospective

You don’t have to scroll too far back in my blog to see what high hopes I held for 2020. The beginning of a new decade, and putting an end to the worst decade of my life. It felt like the right time and the stars were aligning to make 2020 a real direction-changer for me. It was going to be the beginning of something special.

Well, we all know 2020 wasn’t exactly the “best year ever.”

However, I’m also going to be the first to admit it was far from being the “worst year ever.” Yes, there were challenges and things didn’t always work to plan. But 2020 was still a far cry better than, for instance, 2018. And it was perfection when compared to any year between 2010 and 2017. So I’m not here to bury 2020, just to remember it.

I will say the first six weeks of the year were as close to perfect as they could have been. I was so happy. I was working on my MLB The Show rosters because I wanted to kick off MLB Spring Training on the actual date and play a full season on the game in franchise mode, so when the offseason hit I could make the transactions as I saw fit.

And this plan worked up until COVID-19 shut down baseball for almost five months.

At some point in mid-February it felt like everything changed. Where as everything had been so perfect those first six weeks, there was a negative connotation to everything and when we went on lockdown, it felt like everything had fallen apart. My new year/new decade triumph wasn’t a loss, but it was shaping up to be far from what I had anticipated, which I am sure was the case for everyone on earth, not just me.

One of the highlights of February and March was getting Doom Eternal for my PlayStation 4, as I was a huge fan of the original Doom games dating back to the Super Nintendo in 1996. And I was so happy with Doom Eternal that I also bought the Doom Slayer’s Collection, which covered several of the games for the newer consoles I hadn’t played before.

March, April and May were enjoyable because I played Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption II all the way through to completion, back to back. But I played II before I because I wanted to play the games in chronological order in regard to the timeline of the games. I also was neck-deep in watching old western shows and movies.

Looking back, I wish I had taken that time to play my baseball season on MLB The Show and saved the Red Dead Redemption games for winter.

June and July are a complete blur. I have no idea what I was doing during that time. Clearly nothing constructive. I wasn’t even taking time to smoke cigars or watch Star Trek or do any of the other things I wanted to do even before baseball had been rescheduled. The very idea that I just threw time away like that annoys me to no end.

August brought “MLB Training Camp” and a sixty-game season. So I got a couple of months of baseball and that was enough to whet my appetite for MLB The Show, so when the season ended I downloaded the latest roster and began making all the real transactions (and a few of my own with the White Sox that weren’t made in reality but that I wanted to do) so that when Spring Training 2021 comes, I can do what I wanted last year.

I was also concerned when the season ended about what direction I was going to go in terms of entertaining myself for the winter. I used to play one of the Grand Theft Auto games to completion back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and in 2015 began a yearly tradition of playing a Batman Arkham game as soon as baseball season ended.

This year I thought about immersing myself in Spider-Man games, shows and movies. I bought several Spider-Man video games, as well as the early 1980s cartoon series and the 1994 cartoon series, as well as the original movie trilogy on Blu-ray.

Then, by a complete fluke, I happened onto the show Chicago Fire. And I realized I had my winter all sewn up. So I bought eight seasons of Chicago Fire, seven seasons of Chicago P.D., five seasons of Chicago Med and one season of Chicago Justice on DVD. I started watching them in chronological order, along with the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit crossover episodes. As of today (December 18), I am 111 episodes into a 448 episode marathon, with new episodes set to begin in January 2021.

Enjoying these new shows has definitely been the highlight of the year for me, because I haven’t watched a “current” show since Family Guy debuted in 1999.

So, as 2020 comes to a close, I can’t say I’m altogether thrilled its over, like a lot of people can, but all the same I’m ready for a new year. I’m also ready to do the things I neglected to do in 2020, like working on my White Sox franchise on MLB The Show, smoking cigars and just enjoying life. And working myself back into good physical shape.

In closing, on a scale of one to ten, I’d give 2020 a six. I can’t really complain but I did miss out on a lot of opportunities I’d hoped to take advantage of. The major positives (finishing both Red Dead Redemption games and beginning my fandom with the Chicago shows) definitely outweighed the negatives this year. And I guarantee no one on earth is looking at 2020 ending the way they had anticipated or wanted. Hopefully 2021 will remedy that situation and everyone can move forward with their hopes and dreams.

Peace.

2020 Update: Random Thoughts

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I realize it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and that was by design, as I wanted to let the new decade fully begin before I gave my thoughts on it. I wanted to do a little random “blurb” to give my thoughts on the lay of the land in the 2020s.

First, let me say that this month has been everything I had hoped the 2020s would be. I haven’t been this happy in probably 15 years, maybe more. Admittedly, I take to the single life like a fish to water (yes, I know it’s correct to say “like a duck to water” but a fish takes to water because it’s life depends on it, I think that’s more appropriate for me). So that was a great first step and really helped me to focus on myself.

More so, that allowed me to sit back and watch people who spend all their time on social media complaining and whining about how they were treated by an ex, and how uncouth it all is. We’ve all been mistreated by exes. I’ve been kicked to the curb, ghosted, mislead, lied to, stolen from, cheated on, used for leverage and had fake charges filed against me with the county sheriff’s office, and that’s only the past two years!

Everyone has had bad experiences (in my case I’ve had 100% bad experiences) but that doesn’t mean it needs to be beaten to death on social media. Yes, I have a very anti-relationship stance, and I do occasionally post memes in that vein, but I also love women and I celebrate them on social media as well. I found a middle ground between being ridiculous in any direction. And I feel good about myself for it.

This is why 2020 is being spent focusing on me, because no one else is going to. I have learned the hard way that everyone is out for themselves, and now it is my turn. I am putting myself and my happiness ahead of anything or anyone else. There’s an old saying about the fact that you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself first, and that’s very true. You need to be at peace with yourself and your situation before you should get involved with anyone else. I have my own problems, I don’t need yours. Get your problems taken care of and then we can see where things go.

On a happier note, I am continuing to update my MLB 19 The Show rosters and have done the best job I have done to date on offseason updates, dating back as far as 2014. Usually I try to do as much of the major transactions as I can and let the minor league stuff sit, especially the Class A rosters. But this year I have spent hours every day making sure everything is as it should be. I hope to start playing my franchise on February 22, which coincides with the first Spring Training game the White Sox play.

This will be the 16th consecutive year I have bought Sony’s MLB offering for a PlayStation console, dating back to MLB 2005 for the original PlayStation. I also bought MVP Baseball 2005 that year and have bought a new game every year since. Prior to 2005, I made due with MLB 2000 on the PlayStation and MVP Baseball 2005 on the PS2.

One of the biggest negatives of 2019 was the six stints I spent in Facebook jail. But the silver lining in that cloud was that it allowed me to diversify my social media presence and I have been much more active on Twitter and Instagram, for better or worse, I suppose. While Facebook remains my base of operations, Instagram has become a repository for my daily meme posts and Twitter is a great haven for Chicago White Sox news.

I have worked myself into a very good daily and weekly schedule but that’s all due to change as soon as baseball season begins, and then I’ll have to do a life reboot and change a lot of the things I do to make time for baseball games five or six days a week. That’s definitely not a complaint, it’s just a fact that things will be changing soon.

I continue to feel positive about everything. My decision making has taken a major step in the right direction, I’m not making bad decisions on a daily basis like I used to, in fact, I haven’t made a poor decision yet in 2020. I’m also learning to be less off the cuff and ill-prepared for things, I have a habit of running into burning buildings (metaphorically speaking) without thinking about the consequences and that has been a lifelong issue for me, my attitude has always been “let’s do it and worry about the consequences later” and that has a 0% success rate with me. Now I am learning to do my research and think things over before I act, and not just act on impulse and screw everything up.

I’m the luckiest man in the world. I am financially secure, I have everything I want (that money can buy, that is), I have great friends and their support means the world to me because without them, I would no doubt be in a bad situation somewhere, and the only thing I lack in life is a partner to share it with, and if that’s as bad as its going to get, I’ll take it. I can get by on my own with ease, I’ve done it before (proudly single for nine years between 1996 and 2005) so if a second go-around of that is in the works, I’ll take it and make the best of it. That era was the happiest time of my life, by far.

Which brings me to the fact that I should be living my best life right now, but I am still having to work my mind into accepting the fact that it’s OK to be happy.

So, in closing, I put a lot of pressure on the 2020s, and so far it’s has been everything I had hoped it would be. I came in well-prepared and so far, so good. I just hope it continues to chug along nicely, and that spring and summer offer me the opportunity to catch up on my cigar smoking that has been neglected all winter, and of course I am looking forward to the first winning White Sox season since 2012.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

Quick Thoughts by Jason J. Connor

Quick-Thoughts

“QUICK THOUGHTS”

– I have said on multiple occasions that as bad as the past 10 years have been, 2019 was one of the better years of the decade. That was just a straight up, boldfaced lie. The fact is, 2019 has been as bad as most and worse than many. Five stints in Facebook Jail (including one instance in which I was cleared of any wrongdoing but just left in Facebook Jail for a week anyway) after zero the previous 12 years… Another losing season by the Chicago White Sox (seventh in a row and ten out of 11 overall)… All this promise for a big offseason that just melted away last night with Rick Hahn’s “no urgency to do anything” white flag speech… The only thing that has separated 2019 from any other year is it’s the first time since 2010 that I haven’t wanted to die at some point during the year, so I guess I have that going for me, or something.

– I don’t know what changed with Facebook in 2019 but the Gestapo would fear Facebook had it been around in the 1930s and 1940s. In the old days, you could start an account with an email address, verify the address and you’re good to go. If you violated the ridiculous “too many likes, too fast” rule, you got multiple warnings before they shut down your ability to “like” for 24 hours. And I imagine you would have to go pretty far afield to get put in Facebook jail. In 2019, starting a new account (or attempting to, in my case, because I’m not allowed, for some reason) included email verification, cell phone number verification, head shot photo and, amazingly, driver’s license verification. To start a page on a free social networking site. If you somehow manage to get an account, and you “like” too much, too fast? Instant 30 day block. No warning, no word on how many “likes” are too many, just an instantaneous block for 30 days. And if someone just doesn’t like you? They can report a post and you can go to Facebook jail for offending someone over literally anything.

– For the first time in my life, “I’m not going to date next year” has gotten a 100% positive reaction from everyone I know. That tells you just how bad things have actually gotten. No longer do I get “you just haven’t met the right woman yet” or “things will improve.” Now everyone agrees it’s best if I just remove myself from the situation at large and stop pretending that, at age 42, I’m gonna walk into the forest and find Sleeping Beauty laying there just waiting for me. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I think in the long run it’s going to be a lot better for me, mentally and emotionally.

– It’s hard being a White Sox fan. Listening to Kenny Williams walk into the GM meetings last month talking about how it’s “business as usual, but much more.” Then a month later hearing that there is no urgency to do anything, straight from the mouth of Rick Hahn. Seven straight losing seasons? There clearly has never been any urgency. We’re just happy to show up, take our ass-whooping and go home. For those who aren’t Sox savvy, the White Sox have won three World Series titles in the past 119 years, the first in 1906, the second in 1917 and the third in 2005. They also played in the 1959 World Series and lost. Now if anything says “no urgency,” I think that speaks volumes.

– I have really high hopes for 2020 and the decade of the 2020s. But every day things just seem a little less optimistic and a little more “here we go again.” My personal failings are generally self-induced, like my awful taste in women and my stubbornness when it comes to walking away from a situation that is not ideal. But other issues, like Facebook, I can’t take much personal responsibility for. A week in Facebook jail over a meme about a plate of bacon? Find one person on earth that would be offended by that. Besides some towelhead, I mean. The beheading videos are fine, just don’t show a plate of bacon or someone will be offended. Yeah, that’s me being singled out. That’s someone with an ax to grind or Facebook itself deciding to make an example of someone. And it’s me.

– I’m dedicating 2020 to good cigars, good liquor, good food, good friends and White Sox baseball. It’s going to be the year I turn my life around and focus on me. And if 2020 turns out as badly as the previous 15 years, I don’t know what to do.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

2020: A New Beginning And A New Era

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As I have hopefully made clear in previous posts, I am really ready for the decade of the 2010s to end. This has been the worst decade of my life by a wide margin. In fact, this has been the first decade of my life I would give a failing grade to. I am a generally positive person who can see the good in a bad situation but the good from the 2010s are few and far between.

This blog will not be beating a dead horse and looking back at all that toxic negativity. This blog is about hope, positivity and the future. I think the 2020s have a chance to be great.

I also want to lay out what I want to accomplish as we reach the dawn of a new era.

What has me most excited for the 2020s is the ascension of the Chicago White Sox from laughingstock of Major League Baseball to a viable contender for a World Series title. The decade of the 2010s was just as bad for my favorite baseball team as it was for me. From 2010 through 2019, the White Sox had one (1) winning season out of 10, in 2012, when they finished 85-77 and in second place in the American League Central. Other than that, nothing but negatives.

That is changing, however, as the rebuild that began in late 2016 is starting to bear fruit. It will be fun to follow the team as they continue their improvement for the next several years.

On a personal level, there are a lot of things I want to see change from the 2010s into the 2020s. Physically, mentally and emotionally. I have figured out my mistakes and I am ready to not only stop making them but to move on from them and forget them. Leave the past in the past.

Physically, while I made some strides in 2019, I am far from a finished product. Probably 60 pounds, at least, need to be removed from me when I step on the scale. I want to start making a workout program part of every day, much like I did back in my younger days. In my early 20s, I participated in a weight training program seven days a week and was very happy with myself. I was at my physical peak then. Right now I’m not. I’m still showing the effects of the past ten years and I want to put that in full reversal, with losing weight being the most important. I lost a lot of hair, especially in the latter part of the decade from stress, and am considering just shaving my head. This has been frowned upon by some female acquaintances, but more on that later.

I plan on working out my exercise program in the next week or so, I want to do some combination of weight training and aerobic, while adding endurance exercises later on in 2020.

I debate daily on keeping my beard or trimming it down to a notch above a five-o’clock shadow look. I’ll never go clean-shaven again, but the mountain man look may be a little too much.

I’m thinking maybe a basic buzz cut, not a razor-shaven bald head, with a light beard.

I look young for my age in spite of what stress has done to me in the 2010s and I don’t want to lose that. I have watched my mom age 30 years in the past five and I don’t want to do that at 42 years old. My mom didn’t start to really age until she was 80. I want that kind of longevity.

I also have to start getting more sleep, which means going to bed earlier and actually going to sleep, rather than surfing the web on my phone and being in bed for eight hours but only sleeping for four. I have to make myself understand that the internet will still be there in the morning.

So, if I can drop about 60 pounds, get the “look” that I want and get some sleep, I’ll consider that a victory and a good beginning for the decade. There is no reason I can’t accomplish those goals.

From a mental standpoint, there is a lot I want to do on many fronts. I want to learn. I want to put my mind to work more than I have in the past 15 years. That means exchanging girls for academics, on whatever level of academics I happen to land. I enjoyed scratching the surface on my scientific learning in 2019 and certainly hope to continue that, just on an expanded basis.

Other subjects I would like to study more in-depth include the American Civil War, of which I have been a knowledge sponge for decades. I love American history but haven’t done enough about it. I have a lot of information at my disposal and intend on packing my brain with that info.

Also on the mental side of things, I want to put more time into my MLB The Show franchise on the PlayStation 4. This has been a desire of mine dating back to the mid-1990s, when I was playing Ken Griffey, Jr.’s Winning Run on the Super Nintendo. I want to play the part of general manager and build the White Sox like I was running the team. I have been through a number of video games in an attempt to do this, including every MLB offering from Sony since MLB 98 over 20 years ago. If I fail in this endeavor again, I have a secondary option I would like to give a try to again.

Back in the 1990s, I enjoyed playing NCAA Football games and “creating” myself at UCLA, playing my career there, and then getting drafted into the NFL. The earliest version of this started in 1995, my senior year in high school. I haven’t given it a real try since 2001, but if MLB The Show fails, 2020 may be the time to do it, 25 years after the original run. I have to use outdated games (NCAA Football 14 is the newest to be released due to licensing issues, but it will have to do).

More importantly, from a standpoint of my mental health, is to nurture my friendships with the people who actually care about me and to eliminate the toxic people. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have a really bad habit of being involved with toxic people. And this is not a new phenomenon, this has followed me for most of my life, for at least 30 years now. I need to stop dealing with people who either don’t have my best interests at heart or who only want me around for what I can do for them, or who just get a kick out of seeing me miserable.

Emotionally, a lot of these changes will help me eliminate the stress and anxiety I feel most days that I just try to suppress. The problem is, suppressing stress and anxiety is what got me into the physical wreck I am today. From 2010 to 2017 I put on almost 100 pounds, lost a lot of hair, suffered from stomach ulcers, lack of sleep, twitching eyes, a wrecked immune system and migraine headaches. As I eliminated the stress and anxiety, a lot of these things began to clear up. If I can eliminate all of them, I can begin to rebuild the wreckage that was once my body.

I have also been trying to “clean up my act” a bit on social networking. I am in the midst of a 30-day suspension on Facebook that could lead to a lifetime ban from what I have read and having my account permanently closed, due to memes I have posted that were considered “offensive.” This is borderline hilarious, due to the fact that one of the times I was sent to Facebook jail I reposted a meme I had posted one year previously and nothing was said about it. In fact, I have spent five hitches in Facebook jail in my life and all five were in 2019. In the previous 12 years, I had never been in Facebook jail. Once, I was accused of “posting spam,” which was actually White Sox news stories. I fought the law and I won, as my stories were returned to my wall and no action was taken. I can say 2019 was the worst year I ever spent on Facebook and I hope that will improve going forward, assuming I have a Facebook account to go back to in two weeks time.

I have cleaned up all the sexual posts, bad language posts and the kinds of things that make one look less intelligent or socially unacceptable. I also plan to ravage my friends list and remove people that shouldn’t be there, and I will be very discriminating going forward in terms of who is allowed into my circle. There will be a solid vetting process with who gets into my life.

So, if I can work myself back into shape, get the look I want, eliminate the stress and negativity and toxicity from my life, start learning again, accomplish what I want on MLB The Show (preferably) or NCAA Football and make my social networking pages a reflection of the guy I actually am rather than the off-color comedian I had always wanted to be, I will consider 2020 to be a success. And I think if I accomplish even 10% of my goals, 2020 will be a major improvement over 2019 and a massive improvement over the rest of the 2010s.

I’m staking a claim on the 2020s as “my decade,” the one where I bring out the best in myself and allow God to put me where I should be rather than fighting tooth and nail to make bad decisions and put myself into problem areas that I should never have been involved with in the first place. I have the tools and the ability to make the best of this decade and I’ll do everything I can to accomplish that goal. I want to forget the 2010s ever happened and look strictly forward.

There is no reason I can’t be living my best life in 2020 and every year after that. Its just a matter of actually applying myself to the task at hand and doing it. There is nothing holding me back. If I were to fail, I have no one to blame but myself. But I’m going to do all I can to succeed.

Thank you for taking the time to read. 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.

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.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

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Just some random thoughts that are floating in my brain at the moment, since I have been neglecting my blogging duties.

– I did not watch the MLB Home Run Derby last night nor am I watching the MLB All Star Game tonight. I don’t know if it’s burnout or if I am just past the point of caring about games that have no meaning. I think it’s more burnout than anything. Since 2004, when I went hardcore back into baseball and stopped watching all other sports, I have watched roughly 3,000 baseball games. So there is probably something to be said for burnout at this point. So I’m taking these four days off.

– Part of me wants to start watching college sports again and start following UCLA extensively. And the other part of me says I’m 42 and it’s time to leave that behind me. I’ll continue to debate on this with myself.

– I’ve never seen so many people getting into relationships (as per Facebook) as I have in the past two weeks or so. It makes me smile and it makes me happy that people are out there finding something special. I’ve always said, if the world’s population could just double up and I were the odd man out, I’d still be happy just to know everyone else in the world was happy. Maybe that’s happening now.

– In the next step of getting my life back together, I bought a new grill and grilling accessories tonight and am looking very much forward to their delivery. I love to cook and I love to grill and it’s been a long time since I had a bed of hot briquettes waiting for me to throw a steak or a burger on. It’s time.

– If I don’t do something to make myself remember to make an appointment with my optometrist TOMORROW I am going to be walking around blind very soon. I have been on my last pair of contacts for over a week.

– I’m dying to play the Batman Arkham video game series again but I feel like I need to wait until fall, not only because baseball is over but because it’s tradition to start around October. I always went into a Batman frenzy around Halloween and even though I won’t be doing that anymore, it would still be fun to play the games.

– I am SO ready to start exercising full time again, between the herniated disc in my back and my heel spur, I have been in agony pretty much 24 hours a day. I am also sick to death of being 80 pounds overweight.

– Stella, I’m still alive, honey. 😉

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.

2019: My Year, My Rules

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As we pull into the station at the end of 2018, I have to start by saying it was a very good year. It was a B+ year. Which given the abject misery of the seven years that proceeded it, I think I’ll call that a win. Yes, it had its down moments, and there were more than a few, but that’s to be expected in any year. Hell, the best years of my life (1995 and 2010) had their fair share of down moments.

The year started off horribly, and I literally didn’t know where my life was going from day to day. Luckily, everything worked out and things started to look up. I knew there was no way 2018 could be perfect, but it could be very good. It was just a matter of me keeping my eyes on the prize and going forward.

I met a lot of new people in 2018. That was truly a breath of fresh air. And I needed it. Some have been great, and I hope will remain friends for life. Some have not been and have already been eliminated from my life. More will follow.

In what may have been the biggest mixed-bag of 2018, I got to watch all 162 Chicago White Sox games and every spring training game that was televised. But watching a team that finished 62-100 isn’t exactly a treat, either. On the negative side in terms of baseball, I neglected to play a season on MLB The Show, again, for the 18th consecutive season. I first planned to play a full season with my own transactions on MLB 2000 for the original PlayStation in the year 2000. I’ve failed to do so every year since, always coming up with some excuse why it didn’t work.

That will change in 2019. I am updating the rosters daily, beginning with the first transactions at the end of the 2018 season, with daily attention since. Trades, free agent signings, retirements, etc. I’ve kept them all up to date.

One of my biggest issues in 2018 was my inability to stay out of some type of relationship situation, or the desire to pursue such things. It wasn’t until August that I finally realized I was spinning my wheels and that I was better off not trying to find something that I knew wasn’t there to begin with. But even with that revelation, I still kept trying to beat the system. That won’t happen in 2019.

I’m a single man now, and I’ll be a single man on December 31, 2019. This isn’t up for debate or meant as a challenge being issued. It’s a statement of fact. The situation doesn’t matter, the answer to anyone who attempts to lure me into anything beyond a basic, online friendship, will be “no.” No questions asked.

I was told I was being unfair and closed-minded. Perhaps. But that doesn’t matter to me. I have to live the life that works for me. And this is it.

My life went through a number of upgrades in 2018, not just out with the old and in with the new as far as removing the gutter trash and replacing them all with a much better group of people. I bought a new 55” Smart TV and TV stand, a new stereo for my bedroom with a built-in card reader for a little project I undertook this year, a new stereo for my living room, a new cigar humidor which I filled with some amazing sticks and are seasoning for a great 2019 and a new phone, which I had not upgraded since 2016, but needed to in order to use some of my favorite apps.

I’m not expecting a lot of change on that level in 2019. I’ve been a very lucky man most of my life, when I want something, I go buy it. That was a big part of my life in 2018 and I made the most of it. I’ll go on a case by case basis in 2019.

I lost 20 pounds in 2018 but that’s not even a blip on the radar of what I hope to lose in 2019. Stress helped to put roughly 60 to 80 extra pounds on me between 2011 and 2017, and once the causes were eliminated, I started to drop back a bit but not nearly enough. If I could lose 60 pounds I would be absolutely ecstatic.

I hope to get back into grilling and biking in 2019, which will require me to get a new grill and a new bike, but those are both items that will help me a lot.

I have also been through a multitude of things I would like to watch in 2019, and I finally decided I would like to watch the entire available Star Trek series, from the original 1960s series through The New Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, as well as Discovery and all the feature films available.

If I watch one episode per day, that will more than see me through 2019.

So, as 2018 comes to a close I can look back with mostly happy and enjoyable memories of the past year while also knowing 2019 is going to be even better, because I will live 2019 under my rules. I answer to no one, except myself and my Lord.

In closing, I want to with the best to everyone in 2019. Make it a great one.

God bless.