How I Finally Learned To Stop Wasting Time

I walked into 2020 with such high expectations. It was the beginning of a new decade. I had streamlined my life, eliminated a lot of people, especially ones who did nothing but make me miserable day in and day out. I had laid out plans to start my franchise on MLB The Show and was preparing a new workout regimen. I was on good terms with everyone in my life. It was truly the beginning of a new era.

Within six weeks, things started falling apart to the ultimate dimension.

I let people back into my life that didn’t need to be there. I had issues ordering the 2020 version of MLB The Show. I decided it was a better expenditure of time to watch ridiculous YouTube videos than to begin my new workout regimen. Instead of going to bed earlier and getting more sleep, I rarely made it to bed before midnight.

In other words, nothing changed and, in fact, things got worse. I’m a God damned, blithering idiot who doesn’t have the willpower to accomplish anything, no matter how simple. I’ve been furious with myself for a couple of weeks, thinking it all over.

Then, things started to fall into place and I’m ready to stop wasting my life.

First, the biggest albatross in my life blocked me on Facebook. This was a huge tipping point, as I wasted hours upon hours every day messaging with her and, in the words of Judas Priest, “living bad dreams.” I was wasting my time chasing shadows.

Once she was gone, I finished up the run I was on playing Red Dead Redemption II every day for hours. Like most people, when I get into a game it’s hard to put down. I would try to limit myself to a couple of hours a day but that quickly would expand to four or five hours. Time that should have been spent working out and playing franchise games on MLB The Show. I also spent hours watching The Dukes Of Hazzard.

I put the game and the DVDs away, which removed three of the biggest wastes of time I was dealing with. This literally eliminated 15 hours worth of nonsense a day, time I had been completely wasting. That gave me a clear picture of what I was working with.

Now, finally, I’m ready to put 2020 back on track and start using my time wisely rather than wasting it, knowing I’ll never get it back. I’m ready to start focusing on my life now. Home improvement, personal and physical improvement, focusing on my writing, on MLB The Show, on my exercise program, cooking and grilling and smoking cigars. These are all tangible assets that I can see, not ghosts that don’t really exist.

Admittedly, the whole COVID-19 thing was going to put a damper on 2020 anyway, but it wasn’t going to affect me to the level it does a lot of people. The worst thing about it from my standpoint is the lack of baseball this season. But I planned on watching old games on MLB.TV and playing MLB The Show to get my baseball fix. Other than that, COVID-19 wasn’t going to play a big role. It’s not like I don’t social distance all the time anyway. It’s been a long time since someone has been inside of my house.

So, now that I’ve wasted the past three months and have absolutely nothing to show for it, I’m finally to the point that I’m ready to move forward. This is the second time in my life that I’ve literally felt something snap inside of me and my life changed completely, the previous time was in 2013 and it did not turn out well in the end at all.

I expect this time to be different. In fact, I expect this time to be the polar opposite.

Once I have worked myself into a good daily schedule, I’m ready to start taking stock of my future, specifically where I’m going to spend it. If there’s one thing I know for certain, I’m not spending the rest of my life in West Virginia, unless I drop dead in the next few months (knock on wood). My heart is in Illinois but my brain is screaming Arizona. Either one would be a massive improvement over West Virginia.

There’s nothing for me here. There never has been. But I’ve always had a bad habit of fooling myself and then falling for it. No more. I’m tired of sticking my head in the sand and not seeing reality for what it is. West Virginia is a dead-end hell hole, and maybe if I were a worthless, cockeyed, drug-addicted alcoholic with tendencies toward domestic violence and a lack of money and teeth, then I might be all set for West Virginia. But I’m not. I don’t fit here. I never have. And that’s why I have to get out of here.

In 2013, I was laying down the foundation to leave here for Chicago. I ended up getting talked into staying here by something I had scraped off the bottom of a trash can. I lived to regret that decision. I’ll not make a similar mistake again.

But in the meantime, it’s time to get this house in tip-top shape for sale and start getting myself back into the mental and physical shape I had hoped for back in December when I was looking forward to the dawning of a new decade.

On Sunday I plan to start my workout program and 2020 season of my Chicago White Sox franchise on MLB The Show, as well as enjoying a cigar and cooking a nice breakfast and a good dinner. Then I’ll move forward, day by day, until I reach the point where I’m at the point I want to be on every level, mentally, physically and emotionally.

It’s all in front of me now. All I have to do is reach out and take it, stop wasting my time and make the most of every day. Yesterday is in the rear-view mirror, eating my dust. All it takes is a little willpower and focus and I’ll reach all of my goals.

The most important thing is that I have to realize that God has everything in hand and that trying to force things that just aren’t right isn’t going to get me anywhere near where I need to be, it’s like pushing a car that’s out of gas the wrong way down a one way street, and I don’t want my life to be a parallel to that kind of ridiculousness.

Thank you for taking the time to read. I had hoped my blog would be baseball-focused this year but obviously nothing else has worked out the way I planned, so hopefully once the 2020 season starts, I can get my blog focused again as well.

God bless.

Red Dead Redemption II: How Life Imitated Art… And The Closure And Happiness I Got From It

Red-Dead-2-3

For the past month or so I have been playing Red Dead Redemption II on the PlayStation 4. I originally bought this game when it was released (October 2018) but neglected to actually play it until April 2020. Apparently, MLB and MLB-related offseason activities were keeping me from being able to spend the time necessary to enjoy the game.

(That’s probably not accurate since I’ve played the entirety of the Batman Arkham series in the past 5 years beginning when the baseball season ended)

Today I reached the sixth chapter of the game. Today I also had a friendship I had hoped would develop into more end after knowing her for over a year and literally nothing going anywhere. So how are these two happenings related?

I woke up this morning to a message in my Facebook mailbox basically telling me to take a long walk off a short pier from the girl I had been pursuing. While this isn’t the first time, or the fifth time, it is the final time. How does that relate to Red Dead, though?

Today, my character (Arthur Morgan) received a goodbye letter from the woman he had pursued in the game prior to the story beginning and had dealt with on a few occasions during the game, drawing out their history and issues.

Mary's letter

I’m not going to include the full text of the letter here simply because the relevance isn’t in the details, its just the fact that I got to enjoy two curb-kickings in one day.

On the plus side, watching Arthur put the letter away and go back to work without giving it a second thought was a great motivator to me. Not that I was as crushed as I had been the other nine times I’ve endured this, but I was down enough that it ruined my day.

This was the wake-up call I’ve been needing for a long time. I have been trying to fool myself into thinking I was “relationship material” for too long; over 15 years, in fact. And the fact is, I never was, and I never am going to be. Deep inside I’ve known that for my whole adult life, but I guess it took a video game split to make it hit home in real life.

So, I’ll get this out of my system today and tomorrow is a new day, and a new era. It should have been already because 2020 was supposed to be the new start, and for six weeks it was. Then I hit a little detour. Tomorrow will put things back on track, like they should be. Today I lick my wounds, and tomorrow I go out into life a little smarter than I had been.

All thanks to Arthur Morgan getting dumped by his should-have-been girlfriend, Mary.

Life is truly beautiful…


2020 Update: Random Thoughts

international-earth-year

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 (eliminating negative people from my life has always been a blessing, never more so than now) 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.

The 2010’s: Goodbye and Good Riddance

steel-texture-polished-metal-texture-metallic-gray-background-steel-background

I know I’m probably beating a dead horse here, since I have hit on this subject numerous times lately, but I cannot wait for the 2010s to end.

Even though we’re not supposed to wish our lives away, I have been doing exactly that. Every day I wake up and look at the calendar, happier than the day before because this pathetic decade is crawling into it’s final days. Do I expect major changes when I climb out of bed on January 1? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. After all, change doesn’t come from the calendar, it comes from within.

This decade was awful, on every level. I met so many people I wish I had never seen. I watched the Chicago White Sox struggle through nine losing seasons in 10 years. My mom had a heart attack in 2015 and I’ve watched her age 30 years in the past decade. I was introduced to the court system even though I never did anything to warrant it in 2017 and 2018. I put on over 80 pounds and watched my body go completely to hell. I pondered suicide. And I had to accept that I’ll be eternally single.

But I am trying to put all that negativity behind me forever, and I want to leave all of it in the 2010’s when I walk through the door to the 2020’s.

My Facebook blocked list has expanded exponentially over the past decade. As much as I hate Angie, as much as I would love to pick up the newspaper and see that she had been mauled by a bear or had her head caved in with a cinder block, I absolutely have to let that go and leave that anger and hatred behind me. Revenge will be in God’s hands, as Romans 12:19 so eloquently states (and gives me internal peace):

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Yes.

I have to let my personal dislike for Holly and Rebecca go. I wish nothing bad on either of them anyway, but I also don’t want to ever have to see, hear or think about either of them again. I want them as far out of my life as they can get, and the only connection to them that I want is their place on my Facebook blocked list.

I have to let go of the heartbreak of losing Beckett. I haven’t been able to do any of the things I enjoy that we used to do together, like watching Ghostbusters or playing DC Comics video games. I can’t let his worthless excuse for a mother get the advantage of me, and have that kind of hold over me, I have to let it go forever.

Accepting the fact that I’m on my own from here on out makes everything easier and I have to learn to love it, not just accept it. I can’t depend on anyone else for anything, and I have to be happy with it. Is it lonely? Of course, but it’s just a case of mind over matter. Is it fair? Of course not, there’s nothing wrong with me that I have to be alone, but the fact is I made my bed and now I have to lie in it. I have no choice now.

It may have been a mistake to be so anti-social in my 20’s but I have no regrets about that. It was definitely a mistake to date such gutter trash all through my 30’s, and I have nothing but regrets about that. But now I have to accept the consequences of the choices I made in the past because I never considered how it could end up.

On the positive side, I should be finished watching losing Chicago White Sox baseball for the next decade. There is no reason there shouldn’t be at least one World Series title in the future, and possibly more. This team is built for the long haul and as long as nothing unforeseen happens (like a strike) we should be set.

I’m also ready to change myself physically and mentally and that can’t come soon enough, but I also don’t want to burn myself out. I want to get myself back into the shape I was in 20 years ago. My body and my brain. I’m so sick of being a big, fat, stupid, lackluster lump of flesh. I want to feel human again. I haven’t felt like me in so long I barely remember what it felt like. Life took a steep downturn in November 2010 and it hasn’t come close to being what it should be since. Though the past week hasn’t been bad it better just be the tip of the iceberg as far as getting back to being “me.”

I’m not asking for anything specific for the upcoming decade other than I want to be happy. I literally am not asking for anything else. I just want to know that I have the intellect and knowledge to stop doing the stupid things I did in the 2010’s and know that whatever decisions I make in the 2020’s will be what’s best for me.

So here’s to the final four days of this God-forsaken decade, I can’t wait to wake up on January 1 and know that era of my life is finally over. I just hope the 2020’s live up to the hype I have built up for it in my mind. It’s all up to me now.

God bless, see you on the other side.

The Jason J. Connor 2019 Winter Meetings Wrap Up: Chicago White Sox

events_bwm

Overall, the 2019 MLB Winter Meetings, held in San Diego last week, will be remembered for being a lot more action-packed than previous installments. The signings of the top three free agents (Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon) were almost a watershed moment, since we had to wait until Spring Training had started last year for the top two free agents to finally sign their massive contracts.

At last year’s Winter Meetings, the Chicago White Sox made a blip-on-the-radar trade, acquiring starting pitcher Ivan Nova from the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor leaguer Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in International Bonus money. Not exactly setting the world on fire but bigger things were expected with the pursuit of Manny Machado. In the Rule 5 Draft, the White Sox selected pitcher Jordan Romano from the Toronto Blue Jays and immediately sold him to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations.

This year’s winter meetings were not much more exciting than last, and there’s no huge signing to look forward to that explains the lack of movement. The only White Sox transactions to take place were the acquisition of outfielder Nomar Mazara from the Texas Rangers for Steele Walker, the 46th overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft and considered the sixth-best prospect in the White Sox organization.

In the Rule 5 Draft, the White Sox made no moves until the minor league portion, when they selected pitcher Will Carter from the Yankees.

A lot of negativity came from the Mazara acquisition, and I can certainly see the reasoning, considering the fact that the front office made the point that they were going to really shake things up this offseason. A below-average corner outfielder isn’t exactly making anyone buy season tickets, so where do they go from here?

People are down on the team (as usual) but this time, it’s not so much the White Sox fault directly as it is the White Sox fault that they’re just not a “destination team.” It’s a fact that the White Sox offered more money to pitchers Zack Wheeler and Jordan Lyles, but both accepted less to sign with the Phillies and Rangers, respectively.

Both were interesting case studies in the White Sox not being a “destination.” Wheeler took less money because his wife wanted him closer to her New Jersey home, which made the White Sox look even more ridiculous since last off-season they figured the way to get Manny Machado was to tug at his heartstrings by bringing in his good buddy Jon Jay and his brother in law, Yonder Alonso. This year, family did matter.

Jordan Lyles, while not a huge acquisition, struck me as even more strange. He turned down less money to sign with the Rangers without giving a reason, but acknowledged the fact that his best season to date (12 wins in 28 starts with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.7 WAR) was a result of working with catcher Yasmani Grandal, now with the White Sox. But apparently working with the catcher that helped him succeed and making more money than he would have made with the White Sox was not enough to seal the deal.

I truly believe the White Sox were going into the Winter Meetings expecting to “win the offseason,” and they had the rug yanked right out from under them.

Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams love to fall back on the rebuild and use that as an excuse every time something doesn’t go their way. After the Machado deal went nowhere last year, the company line was “we were a year too early,” which I agree, made sense. However, what did I hear from Hahn after the Wheeler deal failed? “we are probably a year too early.” Yeah, that’s the kind of excuse that works exactly once.

Unlike every other team in baseball, the White Sox front office does not want to be competitive one second before they absolutely have to be. I’m not sure where this mindset came from, or if it’s just loser thought from a loser franchise, but they are already falling back on the “it’s just year four of the rebuild,” which I expected, but they are spicing it up a bit with “the rebuild slowed down in 2019 due to injuries in the minor leagues,” which means they can try to add a year or two at the end and make it a six or seven-year rebuild instead of five, simply to cover their butts for more losing seasons.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year contract and I doubt they are going to just lay down and let the White Sox walk all over them when it comes time for the Sox to finally be “competitive.” It may just get uglier.

I still see parts of this rebuild that remind me of the 20-year rebuild of the Pittsburgh Pirates, which began in 1993 and finally ended with a playoff appearance in 2013, the first of three Wild Card appearances. But, alas, it went nowhere, no World Series appearances, let alone a championship. Is that in the White Sox future? Maybe.

So, as we move from the 2019 Winter Meetings into the holiday season, little is expected to change until January rolls around. At that point, expect the remaining free agent pitchers (Ryu, Keuchel and Bumgarner) to finally find new homes and I don’t see the White Sox making a major push for any of the above. I see more of a plan of re-signing Ivan Nova and bringing in a pitcher like Shelby Miller on a minor league deal, like the White Sox did last offseason with Ervin Santana, which was a major disappointment.

The White Sox are not close to contending, regardless of what fan boys and manager Rick Renteria will tell you. The pitching staff has one verifiable starter in Lucas Giolito, followed by question marks with Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon (injury), Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez (poor production) and a few minor league options.

And the push for 2021 being the “White Sox year” when it comes to free agency, it seems the train has already left the station because 2021 is going to be one of the weakest free agent classes, especially for pitching, in the past decade or more.

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts will absolutely be the gem of the players available, while a few will command big money deals and get them (including Astros outfielder George Springer, A’s shortstop Marcus Semien and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto potentially hitting the open market, depending on if any sign extensions before then).

The pitching that will be available is nothing to get excited over, the best likely being Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks (an All Star in 2017) and Marcus Stroman of the Mets (a 2019 All Star despite finishing the season with a 10-13 record). Neither is the kind of pitcher you want as your #1 or #2 option on a championship team.

There is a part of me that truly believes the White Sox hope is that they can fill in their entire team with players they have drafted, minor leaguers they have acquired via trade and castoffs or “change of scenery” players and avoid having to pay a true “superstar” to play for the team. This will get to be a problem as guys like Yoan Moncada and Giolito head into salary arbitration and, eventually, free agency, unless they can pull the Chris Sale/Jose Quintana/Eloy Jimenez trick again and sign them to friendlier deals.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but look at the Astros, whose rebuild is the blueprint other teams like to follow, and even though they have a fantastic minor league system with a number of home-grown talents on their MLB roster, they still had to supplement that group with Cole, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Michael Brantley in order to reach the World Series. You have to acquire top talent to be a top team in this era.

So, a lackluster Winter Meetings performance (which is less the Sox fault than it was last year) will leave the team as a third place entity behind the Twins and Indians in 2020 and if Kopech and Cease and Lopez develop into front-line starters, a run at a Wild Card birth is possible but I’m thinking this team is going to finish 2020 at 82-80.

I’ll blog again in the event there is some kind of free agent signing or trade acquisition between now and the start of Spring Training. Thank you for reading.

And GO SOX!

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… Dealing with women I should never have given a second glance to but keeping one around for nearly a month and another for nearly TEN months… 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 not hours in front of my phone with some harlot, or on the couch in my man cave with some harlot, or with some harlot in any way, shape or form. 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

Screenshot_20191205-172337_Facebook

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 from my life. 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.

Most importantly, it’s beyond time for me to accept defeat and put an end to my lifelong pointless attempt to meet a woman and fall in love. This exercise in futility was put to bed in 1996 but for some reason in 2005 I decided to try again and from 2005 through 2019 I have experienced one failure after another, in the worst-case scenarios I could have lost my life and in the best-case scenarios I suffered daily anxiety, and there is no way that’s the desired result in a relationship. The fact is, I’ve always known I was better off alone and now I am all in on that theory.

This is not a “you’ll meet the right woman someday” kind of thing, I have put that idea away a long time ago. I live in a low-population area and I’m not doing long distance, so I have exhausted all local options and am going to make a point of avoiding anything that may introduce anyone new into the equation. The only way I would even consider entering the dating pool again is if I move out of this God-forsaken area and have an entirely new demographic to work through.

Even then, I’ll be a bit standoffish, but I would definitely be a lot more open to “fate.”

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, successfully end my dating life 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.

The 2010s: The Worst Decade Of My Life

67521565_1341298162708174_2734384559561900032_n

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.

 

2019 Chicago White Sox Wrap Up and Offseason Primer

3c0n04

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!

2019: My Year, My Rules

gettyimages-143216823-640x640

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.