I’m Happy… And I Have To Admit, That Scares Me…

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I’m happy.

And I have to admit, that scares me.

First, let me put my life into perspective. I’m a generally happy guy. I have a good sense of humor, and I love to laugh. And when I’m not happy, I’m miserable. But that hasn’t been the case very often. In fact, I can easily say I have been legitimately happy through 75% of my life.

I’m 41 years old and obviously I have no memory of the first few years of my existence, but from everything I have seen and heard, I was happy. I do know that, from my earliest memories (1981?), I was happy. I was happy all through elementary school, junior high and high school. I’m not saying every day was perfect but the good days outnumbered the bad 100 to one.

I was also happy in college, in fact, that was one of the happiest periods of my life. And after college, for the next eight-plus years, I was happy. And I mean happy, fulfilled, loving life and truly enjoying myself.

That changed in the spring of 2005. And then it kind of snowballed and I was unhappy pretty consistently for the next 12 years, some years were worse than others (for instance, 2010 was a great year overall, with the exception of the last six weeks, while 2011 and 2012 were just miserable).

I started to feel some happiness begin to run through my veins in 2018. And like an addict needing a fix, I knew I needed a lot more of that and a lot less of the unhappiness I had dealt with the previous decade-plus.

So I started to take a look at my life, where I was then, where I had been in the past and realized exactly what I needed to make myself happy.

GETTING OUT OF PRESTON COUNTY

The most important thing was to get out of Preston County.

Preston has a reputation, and I dare say, it was earned. Moving to Fairview was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Preston County is the cesspool of the state of West Virginia. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everyone in Preston County is gutter trash (though I would say about 90% are), there are some great people there. But the human garbage outnumbers the good folks by a huge margin. And it seems to be getting worse as time goes on.

There’s also a feeling of impending misery at all times. When I’m in Preston County, I can’t sleep, I can’t focus, it’s just like I’m waiting for something bad to happen. When I get to Fairview, I have a habit of falling asleep in my recliner because I am so relaxed and my worries seem to melt away.

I’m about an hour away from Preston County now, and that’s a nice buffer. I come back occasionally to visit with mom and dad and check my mail that hasn’t gotten the address change processed yet, and it still has that same old Preston County feel, as soon as I get there, I start to feel miserable again.

And now, I wonder if I wouldn’t be even happier getting even further away. I’ve fantasized about leaving for Illinois or, especially, Arizona a lot over the years. I never had any intention of staying in this state all my life. I think just getting out of West Virginia in general would do a lot for me going forward.

BEING SINGLE

I had to take a real close look at my life and realize something that was told to me a year ago by my friend April, who told me how easy it is to get comfortable being single. The sad thing is, I should have already known that from my own life experiences. I have lived on each side of that situation.

The happiest I have ever been in my life were times that I was not involved with anyone, from my earliest period of recollection through the end of college. Now, I do have to admit that one of my longer relationships took place within that time frame, with my girlfriend from 1994 to 1996, but we had a very good rapport while we were together and when it ended, I think we were both really glad it was over, as I just get tired of someone after a certain length of time.

From the end of that relationship, I was single until the very early summer of 2005, and boy, did my quality of life go down when my love life was on the rise. As I look back at the mid-to-late 2000’s, the only good thing I can say about them is that the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005.

That’s literally the only good thing I can say came out of that era.

Then, 2010 to 2017 was even worse.  That was, without question, the unhappiest, most miserable era of my life. The only redeeming happening from that period was my son, everything else was suicide-worthy.

And what do those two periods of time have in common? I wasn’t single.

BEING SELFISH

For the first time since 2005, I’m doing for no one but myself. And I love it. I do what I want, when I want, where I want and how I want. I don’t argue with anyone over anything. It’s all about me, and it’s going to stay that way. With the exception of my son, whom I would have done anything in the world for and who came first, regardless of circumstance, this will never change again.

I don’t have to answer to anyone. If I want to get up at 3 AM and play MLB The Show on my PS4, I do. I don’t have to go spend the night anywhere that I don’t want to. I can go eat anywhere I want. I don’t have to negotiate about where to go or what to do with anyone. “Being selfish” is a big plus after you realize how important “being single” is. And while people may seem like they’re being selfish in relationships, ultimately there has to be some level of give and take, whether it’s 50/50 or 95/5, no one is having it their way 100% of the time.

This brings me to the second part of this piece, why being happy scares me…

After 12 years of unrelenting despair, 2018 felt like a breath of fresh air, but I still did things I shouldn’t have done. I got involved in situations that I should have known in advance were better to be avoided. And that’s what scares me, could I still have the potential inside of me to screw my life up again?

My mind says “no,” but if you went back 25 years ago and asked if I would possibly screw my life up as bad as I did the past dozen years, I would have said “no” to that as well. And even though I knew how happy I was in 1999 and 2002 and 2004, I still made decisions back then that could have completely ruined my life, rather than just making it unbearably unhappy. And it’s not like I was in one bad relationship from 2005 to 2017, I was in four of them.

How could anyone be so stupid as to continually putting themselves into bad situations like that is beyond me. And each one got worse, making the previous one seem not as bad, until it hit rock bottom. So, clearly, I had no sense of timing or the ability to distinguish trash from treasure.

Not that there were any treasures to distinguish, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact remains that I still made those stupid decisions.

So, here I am, single, selfish and out of Preston County. What could possibly go wrong? On the surface, nothing. One thing I have now that I did not have 12 years ago is the experience of being so unhappy that I don’t want to live, as I did on numerous occasions in the 2010’s. I am hopeful that experience will steer me away from any future issues, because I should be a little smarter now than I was a decade or two ago. As the old saying goes, live and learn.

I have so much I want to do in 2019. I want to watch ALL of my baseball movies, I want to play MLB The Show and watch every White Sox game (again) this year and I want to watch every episode of every Star Trek series and I want to smoke cigars and I think I have set my life up to do just what I want.

So long as I don’t do anything stupid to screw it up.

and that’s what scares me.

Peace.

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My 2019 Thoughts On Relationships… and why they are far more trouble than they’re worth…

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I was doing some basic reading online this evening and came across a few relationship articles, and I realized that there is a real dearth of articles about relationships written from the male point of view. This bothers me. I’m not sure if there’s a lack of men qualified to discuss this topic or if most men just don’t care.

One of the few articles I found basically said “just do whatever you have to in order to keep your girlfriend/fiance/wife happy. If spending a lot of time with your friends or working on your car annoys her, then stop it. This isn’t rocket science.”

I cannot even begin to express the rage that ran through my body at the point I read and allowed my mind to comprehend the advice that was being offered.

In other words, just sit down, shut your mouth and do what you’re told. And I’m sure a lot of women would be in 100% agreement with this process of thought.

And this is exactly why relationships don’t work in the modern era. They are far too one-sided. I have been a sad witness to many guys who basically had no freedom as human beings to do anything, more or less they were just there to do as they were told, make the money, pay the bills, hand out cash and shut up.

Allow me to correct this injustice by laying out my own set of relationship rules, and these are from the man’s perspective, not just because there is an extreme lack of male relationship advice, but because, well, I’m a man and that’s just how it is.

I’m going to start at the beginning with this piece, and the beginning is deciding if you want to be in a relationship in the first place. While it seems like I am dumbing it down a bit, it’s amazing how many bad situations could be avoided at this first step.

In a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” type conundrum, ask yourself if you met someone special and realized you could see yourself in a relationship with her, or if you want to be in a relationship and latched onto a girl because of that mindset. There is a lot of pressure to be “with” someone these days, and some simple thought could keep you from getting into a situation that you’re going to want to get out of.

If it is a case of “I met someone and she’s great and I see a future here,” ask yourself what you see in that future. A long-term relationship? A one-night stand? A single date that is completely platonic? Could you see yourself someday marrying this girl?

If you see yourself doing more than just banging her and releasing her back into the wild, you then need to take stock of your situation. Women today, from seeing what has happened to some of these poor guys, have an outrageous expectation for you to be living together as quickly as possible. My assumption on this is so they are not having to pay their own way through life. They’re now only responsible for paying for half of life’s expenditures, or in some cases, sadly, you’ll take on the full amount.

At this point, decide if you’re willing to completely abandon the life you had before because, buddy, it’s over. Once a woman pulls you into her home or moves into yours, the rules have changed. Because now, it’s serious. Maybe you enjoy watching the ball game, but if she doesn’t, you have an argument on your hands. Maybe you want to work on your car or go fishing or just lay on the couch and vegetate. If she has other plans, then you better be ready to change yours. Or you better be ready for battle.

Now, I do need to acknowledge that there are different kinds of men. Some men can’t function without a woman. I’ve known guys like this. These are guys who don’t want to wash dishes or vacuum or do laundry so they figure they’ll just marry or move some broad in to do the “woman’s work” and however much suffering they have to do, it’s worth it in the end because they don’t have to do a few trivial chores around the house.

Then, there are guys who are FIERCELY independent. They don’t need anybody for anything. They don’t need anyone to pump their gas, pack their lunch, cook their food, wash their clothes or anything else. They are fully capable of doing anything that needs to be done and don’t need a woman to tell them how to do it differently.

That is the camp to which I belong.

Naturally, there are a lot of guys who fall into areas in between. And that’s why you have to figure out who you are and what you want out of life, and with whom.  My independence will make being in a relationship incredibly difficult in the event that I ever decide to make an attempt at doing so again.  That’s just how life shakes out.

Now, let’s say you met a girl, you see a long-term future with her and you’re the kind of guy who really sees a relationship as a 50/50 proposition. Where do you go now?

The first thing is to lay down some ground rules. Lay it on the line and explain that you are not giving up your hobbies or making some drastic change in your lifestyle. I’m not saying be an asshole and institute a “my way or the highway” mentality, but if, for instance, you enjoy fishing, explain that you will continue to go fishing and this is non-negotiable. If you have a set time for it, i.e. Sunday morning, you will continue to go fishing on Sunday morning. She can sleep in or find her own hobby. No arguing about it.

A lot of women will take this opportunity to flex their muscle and try to start changing things. And a lot of guys will back down and just let them have their wayt, and it does nothing but make things worse overall down the line. Period.

Let me now back up and take a different path in this journey. What if you’re not 100% sure you see a future with someone? Then you need to put the brakes on and not let the situation get away from you. You could end up engaged or married before you realize what hit you. You can know you’re in a bad predicament with the wrong person and it can still just snowball until you’re neck deep and you feel like there’s no way out.

Going back even further than that, do your homework. Find out who this woman is that you’re interested in. See what kind of reputation she has. People are all too willing to gossip, and you can use that to your advantage to pick up on things people may not be likely to tell you, since most people don’t want to get involved when they see someone walking into a death trap. But they do love to run their mouths about things.

From that point, for the love of God, don’t sell yourself short. A good, clean, middle-class guy should find a good, clean, middle-class girl. Don’t blow off the nice girls and go straight for the gutter trash. There is no way that will work out.  Leave the trash can whores for the guys who are cooking up meth and taking selfies at the bar.

That’s where doing your homework comes in. If a girl is trash, tell her to hit the bricks. Do you want the other guys laughing at you? You want the reputation as the guy who married the neighborhood prostitute? This ain’t “Pretty Woman,” this is real life. Don’t be stupid enough to ruin your life and reputation over a woman with a bad social or sexual past. It’s not worth it, on any level. You’ll be miserable and the butt of a lot of jokes.

Now, as far as meeting a great girl and wanting to spend time with her and wanting to marry her and be with her for the rest of your life, I can’t really give any advice from that area, because I’ve never experienced that. And at my age (41), I am more than willing to accept, maybe even anxious to accept, that my ship sailed a long time ago. But that is my own personal failure, and anyone who may happen to read this will have had a completely different set of circumstances in their life, and they can adjust accordingly.

The upshot of all of this is that you need to figure out who YOU are and then decide if there’s room for anyone else in your life. If you’re open to relationships, that’s great, but you need to be VERY discriminating when deciding if a girl is right for you.

Understand, I am NOT anti-relationship. But in looking at the situation from a personal standpoint, I am just a lot happier as a single man.  Part of that has to do with my poor decision-making skills when it comes to choosing women, and part of it comes from not wanting to waste my time.  I know what I like and what I like to do.  So unless a girl comes along that fits into a very specific spot in my life, I’m not interested.  But I don’t want my personal decisions to keep anyone from making their own.

In closing, thank you for reading and if the advice of an old man helps anyone out there from making any life-altering mistakes, I’ll consider that a victory. Life is good, and despite being battle-worn, I’m happy. And I want to pass that happiness along to a new generation, and hopefully those lessons will stick for someone, somewhere.

God bless.

The Chicago White Sox 2018-19 Offseason, Part II

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Let me preface this piece by saying this has to be one of the most boring offseasons in history. I can remember around 25 years ago when things would really pop at the Winter Meetings, days of trades and signings, surprise moves and lots to talk about. I spent more time yawning than talking about the Winter Meetings in 2018.

It’s January 2 as of this writing and the Chicago White Sox offseason moves are as follows:

– Signed pitcher Evan Marshall to a minor league contract with a Spring Training invitation.

– Traded for pitcher Manny Banuelos from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

– Traded catcher Omar Narvaez to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Alex Colome.

– Non-tendered IF Matt Davidson and OF Avisail Garcia.

– Traded for pitcher Ivan Nova from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

– Traded for 1B Yonder Alonso from the Cleveland Indians.

– Signed catcher James McCann, who was non-tendered by the Detroit Tigers

That is the sum total of the White Sox offseason so far. Now, I know a lot of people legitimately believe the Sox are going to sign either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, that they are going to put a ten-year, $350 million – $400 million offer on the table and one of the two of them will accept, and then we’re set at third base or right field for the next ten years. I have a multitude of issues with that on several levels.

First is the obvious, this team doesn’t spend that kind of money. Ever. After all, the White Sox could have had Babe Ruth but elected to lowball the Red Sox and he ended up with the New York Yankees, so this isn’t an organization known for liberal spending. And, as has been brought up numerous times in the media, the largest contract the team has ever handed out was six years and $68 million to Jose Abreu prior to the 2014 season.

Second, we have two guys here who have never won. Both have played on solid teams in the past, but neither has won a ring, and in fact in their combined 14 years at the MLB level, they have made one World Series appearance, Machado last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. So they have not known a lot of success.

Yes, I know the most important thing to them is their wallet, but does anyone really believe that (a) the White Sox of all teams will have the largest contract offer, either overall or AAV, or (b) that the White Sox window of opportunity for winning will last any longer than, say, 2026? This is when several of the prospects will be hitting free agency, so there’s a pretty solid chance that in 2027 the team will begin to rebuild again.

More importantly, neither Harper or Machado is a pitcher, and the White Sox have a black hole in the bullpen and at least one opening in the starting rotation. If the season began today, the rotation would consist of Carlos Rodon, Ivan Nova, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dylan Covey. While Giolito and Covey will more than likely have ERA’s over 5.00 by the end of 2019, Rodon is a good bet to have at least one trip to the disabled list. That leaves two pitchers that we should be absolutely able to count on in the rotation. And this is assuming the White Sox don’t offer James Shields a minor league deal and an invitation to Spring Training, which I said months ago I expected without question.

The bullpen looks worse. While there may be a legitimate closer for the first time in a long time (and I don’t consider David Robinson a “great” closer, by any stretch) in Alex Colome, getting a lead to him may be a problem with that rotation and a bullpen that lacks arms, beyond a guaranteed-to-get-hurt Nate Jones and a solid Jace Fry.

The White Sox will play their yearly game of picking up scraps from the garbage dump and plugging them into the bullpen in the hopes one will pitch to some level of decency and he can be flipped to a contender at the trade deadline.

One of the main problems I see with this franchise is that someone in the front office, or maybe everyone, thinks that putting together an offer for Harper or Machado is somehow a “win.” Like somehow you get a consolation prize when Machado goes to the New York Yankees and Harper goes back to the Washington Nationals.

No one cares who finished second in these free agent chases. I direct your attention to 2016, when the White Sox were the “clear favorites” to sign OF Yoenis Cespedes as a free agent. Of course, he resigned with the New York Mets for $110 million over four years and the White Sox were blown out of the water. This time is no different.

As much fun as it may be to sit and hope that either Harper or Machado will decide that they’re willing to play for half what they think they’re worth and they’re willing to play on losing teams for five years out of a ten-year deal, assuming all the prospects the Sox have collected pan out and they can contend from 2022 to 2026, I prefer to take a more intelligent approach and wonder what happens when they DON’T sign with the White Sox, because there has to be a plan B on the table in Rick Hahn’s office.

Or Kenny Williams’ office, you know, whoever is running this team, for real.

Do you feel comfortable heading into 2019 with the rotation mentioned above? Do you not worry about the bullpen arms evaporating and going elsewhere before you have a chance to sign them, or do you just bring up fringe prospects from Charlotte to fill out the bullpen until you find an arm to plug in? An outfield of Leury Garcia, Adam Engel and Daniel Palka, with Nicky Delmonico filling in as needed? The only upgrades this team has made will make no difference once they start contending, as Nova is a huge upgrade over James Shields (I guarantee that Ivan Nova’s 2019 season will exceed James Shields’ 2018 season in every measurable category so long as he stays injury-free this season) and Yonder Alonso is a huge upgrade over Matt Davidson. But neither will be here in 2022.

And I still think Alonso was acquired as an enticement to Machado.

So, we wait. Eventually Machado will sign with the Yankees and Harper will return to the Nationals or may sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then the White Sox will announce that they made “significant” offers to both. No one will care, the lack of bullpen arms will remain, the lackluster rotation will remain, the lack of offense from the outfield will remain and another 100 loss season will be in the cards.

And then the press will begin (actually, have already begun) to tout the 2019 free agent class, and how much better it will be for the White Sox than Harper or Machado. The three names I see most often are Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole and our old buddy, Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale.

Next offseason will be just like this one, as the White Sox are on the outside looking in as those three and many others sign (or resign) elsewhere. Hopefully, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease will join the Sox at some point in 2019 and make a smooth transition to the big leagues and become solid contributors, which will help the lack of free agent signings and take some of the sting out of that situation.

The bottom line is this team isn’t very good, and even if everything breaks right, they’re not going to be good for a couple or three years, and once they are good, they’re only going to be good for about a five year window, before these youngsters hit salary arbitration and, eventually, free agency. That’s the problem with a rebuild and bringing in a large number of prospects, it’s guaranteed to fizzle out after five to seven years.

So if I were Machado or Harper (or Arenado or Cole or Sale) I would want to go to (or stay with) a team that has had consistent success over a long period of time. If we look at the White Sox from 2012 to, say, 2029, which would be the third year of a potential second rebuild, and we’ll say they’ll be a juggernaut from 2022 to 2026, that would leave them with 12 losing seasons out of 18. I wouldn’t call that sustained success.

I don’t think the White Sox will be looked at as a front runner in free agency until 2023, once the prospects are called up and they have had at least one season of legitimate, on-field success, along with replacing manager Rick Renteria, who is not the second coming of Tony La Russa no mater how you slice it. Renteria’s star was rising a decade ago, and he’s done nothing since to enhance it or show he’s at all capable.

As we’re now down to the final six weeks of the offseason before Spring Training, maybe the White Sox will bring Shields back on a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite and a $3 million MLB salary, or maybe a Francisco Liriano or a Marco Estrada on a one-year deal to hold a spot for Michael Kopech, and maybe a John Axford or a Brad Boxberger or a Brandon Maurer for the bullpen with hopes of flipping a formerly successful pitcher into a minor leaguer at the trading deadline. That’s about the best we can expect.

I honestly wonder if the Machado/Harper “chase” is just a way of laying off free agency until most of the big money players are off the table (like Adam Ottovino, who would be a great addition but I’m sure the three years and $30 million are more than the Sox want to pay for a 7th or 8th inning guy) and then the Sox can sign whatever is left over at bargain prices and blame their lack of spending on Harper and Machado.

Now, I’m not saying I want them to spend without reason, I don’t want to see Dallas Keuchel in Chicago under any circumstances. But there’s no reason the White Sox couldn’t have taken Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp off the Dodgers hands instead of the Reds. Kemp could have filled in at DH this year (he’s a free agent after the season) and Puig could have been a fixture in right field for the next five years, or even through the entire contending process. And probably at 1/5 the price of signing Bryce Harper. Or pretending to try.

In closing, I’d like to say the White Sox can surprise me and make a really great move this offseason and next and build a team that can be competitive immediately, but as a fan of this sport for more than 30 years, I’ve seen enough to know how this movie ends.

Thank you for taking the time to read, and I’ll probably post a final piece about the offseason the second week of February, prior to teams reporting for Spring Training. We should have a much better picture of what we’re dealing with by that point, and I doubt it’s going to be a whole lot different than what we’re dealing with right now.

I hope I’m wrong. But I rarely am.

God bless.

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.

2019 [redux]

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I have updated this article since it was first posted.

There are 23 days remaining in 2018, as of the time I write this blog entry.

I want to address my New Year’s Resolutions, and what I hope will be a personal New Year’s Revolution. While 2018 was a good year in many ways, and one of the best I have had in many years, it still came up well short in a number of areas. The way I figure it, 2018 was for licking the wounds of years’ past. In 2019, it’s time for me to take a big step forward.

Here are some of the basic changes I want to make for 2019 and beyond:

I. Get my body back in working order

I know that it’s a common practice for people to plan to get themselves into better shape when each new year rolls around. In my case, it’s more a matter of survival. I’m 41 years old and I’m around 60 pounds overweight, maybe as much as 80 pounds. I certainly can’t continue on the path I am on. Most of this weight is due to a decade-plus of overeating due to an insane amount of stress and unhappiness.  Now that I am at a happy place in my life, it’s time to turn things around and put my broken body back together.  I want to look like I did when I was 22 again.

II. Get my mind back in working order

This could easily cover two resolutions. First, I want to do what I should have done in 2018 but didn’t due to the fact that I didn’t know what was happening in my life for the first several months of the year. I was going through a period of trying to “re-establish” myself, so to speak, rebuilding friendships that had been lost over time, and gaining new friends. But I didn’t take enough time for myself, as I tried to navigate through a world I was unfamiliar with. I had a hard time getting my “sea legs” under me and learning what it was like to be social again.

Second, I want to start learning again. I didn’t pursue my passions for years and I have a lot of regret inside of me because of that.  And I don’t like carrying regret with me.

I have a thirst for knowledge, and in 2018 I started studying some of my favorite subjects again, from mathematics to physics to anthropology to engineering to astronomy. I want to expand that exponentially in 2019, and soak up as much knowledge as my brain will hold.

III. Learn to leave the past in the past, and concentrate on the future

This is a BIG one, and I’m not just talking about the unhappy parts of my life, either, few as they may be. One of my problems is that I spent way too much time sitting around reminiscing about 1982 or 1995 or 2002 or 2010 instead of focusing on the time at hand. This is a mistake I have made all my life. I long for happier days, instead of making the present day happier. In high school I longed for my childhood. In the early 2000s I longed for my high school days. In the late 2000s I was yearning for the early 2000s.  To this day, I still find myself reminiscing about happier times.

Living in the past has eaten me up at times over the years.  Back on December 29, 2008, I tried to relive December 29, 1995.  Yeah, I went to the same places and did the same things to the extent that I bought the CD copies of two albums I had bought on cassette on that same date in 1995.  While I can’t deny that 1995 was the happiest year of my life, I absolutely have to let it go.  I spent times that were just as enjoyable (the early 2000s, for example) longing for 1995.

IV. Clean up the trash in my life and put it where it belongs

As I have brought new friends into my circle, I realized that not all of them are on an acceptable level, and some cleaning will need to be done. Two years ago, at this time, I had 162 Facebook friends and around 200 Twitter followers and I didn’t even have an Instagram account. As of now, I have over 1,100 Facebook friends, nearly 1,300 Twitter and 600 Instagram followers.

While I managed to clean out the gutter trash, there is still some sidewalk trash that needs to be swept up and thrown away. I have an excellent and well-earned reputation and I intend on keeping it, which means eliminating the riffraff from my life. Permanently.  So, I see a mass deletion in my future, and I’ve already begun to compile a list of people who won’t see me by 2019.

V. Learn to forgive, by trying to forget

I carry grudges.  And sometimes, those grudges completely eat me alive.  I can’t eat or sleep, all I can do is picture justice being served.  I still carry grudges against people who wronged me 35 years ago.  And that is completely ridiculous.  This goes back to leaving the past in the past.  If someone wronged me in first grade, or as a high school freshman, or when I was 28 or 41, it doesn’t matter.  The bad memories and injustices need to be left back at the point that they happened.  Being annoyed or carrying hatred for things that happened in the past doesn’t do any good for anyone.  Especially when I let it eat at me day in and day out for years.

VI. The UCLA Conundrum

This will make no sense to anyone who reads this without some explanation.

And frankly, I don’t want to dive too deeply into it. I’ll simply say this: In 2019, I want to make a decision once and for all as to whether I am going to get NCAA Football 14, NCAA Basketball 10 and MVP NCAA Baseball 07 out of my attic and play a full career as a three sport student-athlete at UCLA. This project has been done twice before, once in the late 1990s and once in 2004. I have wanted to do it again in the 14 years since, but have never had a better opportunity.

The problem lies in the fact that I’m 41 years old and I haven’t watched a single college sporting event since the West Virginia vs. Marshall football game in 2012. I’m not only out of the loop, I’m not even in the same area code. And I don’t know if the desire is even still there. It may be time to put my UCLA project out to pasture. I’ll know better around April of 2019, because if I do decide to go through with the project one last time, I’ll want to start in August 2019.

VII. Decide once and for all if I want to be a single man for life

I have debated with myself on every side of this issue. Yes, I want to get married and have a family. I think. The fact remains the best thing that ever happened to me is the fact that I have never been married.  I saved myself a lot of problems over the years.  Of course, to be completely honest, I never once had a situation in my life where I ever came close to getting married.

Do I want to? Or do I want to just continue as a happily single man? I don’t know.  I don’t know how I would fit into a marriage.  I’m too much my own man, and to quote Stone Cold Steve Austin, “nobody tells me what to do, and that’s the bottom line, cause Stone Cold said so.”  I like the idea of being married, I like the idea of falling in love and having someone fall in love with me, because my experiences in that department are minimal and it’s been a long time since anything close to those kinds of feelings have risen up inside of me.  In fact, it’s been 23 years since I even would have considered marrying a girl.  So I really don’t know if I even have it in me anymore.

But as 2019 progresses, I intend to find out. And I mean that, once and for all.

VIII. Maintain this list, not just for 2019, but for the rest of my life

I don’t want to sit down here one year from now and have to think about the same things I’m thinking about now. I want to be past that. Once I have climbed the mountains before me, I want to move on to other mountains and climb those as well. And more after that.

I wouldn’t trade my life to anyone for anything. I would change a few things if I could but I’ll take what I have been blessed with. I just want to take better advantage of the gifts I was born with. I will not deal in the slums anymore. I will not waste my days reminiscing or lamenting about past happenings. I’ll make the most of what I have.  I’m moving forward and not looking back.

IX. Get back into video gaming again

I haven’t gamed regularly in years. In my younger days, I played daily, whether it was Tecmo Super Bowl or Super Mario Bros. 3 or something entirely different. I have neglected my gaming over the past decade or so. I had made a good turnaround after buying my son a PlayStation 4 and several games he enjoyed for his PlayStation 3, including Ghostbusters and Batman/DC Comics games. Now I want to get back into retro gaming. I have a Retron 5 console that plays NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games. I also still enjoy titles from all four PlayStation consoles, and I have a backward-compatible PlayStation 3 that plays PSOne, PS2 and PS3 titles. And a PS4.

I purchased a number of well-known Western games, from The Lone Ranger for the NES to Gun for the PS2, Call Of Juarez for the PS3 and the entire Red Dead series. I also bought as many Star Trek titles as I could find, from the NES to the PlayStation 3. And, of course, I used to make a habit of playing Grand Theft Auto III every October/November years ago.

In closing, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read and know that I am absolutely convinced that 2019 will be the best year of my life, so far. There will be good times upcoming, and there will be bad times, but as long as the good outnumber the bad, I’ll not complain. My life as a whole has been far, far more good than bad. The last decade? Not so much. But I will do whatever it takes to make 2019 the most successful year of this millennium for me.

Peace.

Today I’m Thankful For…

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I would like to touch on a few of the things I am truly thankful for on this blessed day.

I. My Health. At this time one year ago, I truly had one foot in the grave. Between heart problems, stomach ulcers, migraine headaches and the abundance of other problems that were eating me alive due to stress, I couldn’t believe I was going to live to see the end of 2017. My son was the only thing keeping me going, the only thing in my life that really mattered to me at all. A year later I am truly on the road to recovery. I have a long way to go, but the majority of my problems have been overcome, once the issues that were causing me so much stress were eliminated. While I still deal daily with stress, as everyone does, my stress level now has lowered so much it’s barely a blip on the stress radar.

II. My Friends And Family. I often say I owe my friends a debt of gratitude I can never repay, and that is so true. So many that I was not “allowed” to remain in contact with over the years that I have been able to reconcile with, you helped to fill the hole in my soul this year. I cannot stress enough how much all of you truly mean to me.

III. Technology. This has been the greatest tech year of my life. I upgraded my cell phone, I got a new 4K Smart TV, upgraded the RAM in my PC, bought two new stereo systems, two Amazon Fire Sticks and upgraded my video game collection. I often sit an reminisce about my younger days, without thinking about the fact that I have everything I had in my younger days, and I have it at my fingertips anytime I want it. As a young lad I loved watching The Dukes Of Hazzard but I could only watch it on Friday night’s, when it was on the air. Now I can put in a DVD or turn on Amazon Prime video and watch it anytime I want to. And that goes for anything else I want to watch. What a time to be alive.

IV. My Mind. No one has ever accused me of not being intelligent, in spite of the large number of stupid decisions I have made in my life. One of those decisions was to allow my brain to stagnate for the past 10 or 12 years. Not only was I not learning, I was dumbing myself down by being around too many people who lacked not only a higher level of intelligence but, in some cases, even basic intelligence. That’s a bad place for an intellectual mind. Now I’m able to learn again and I’m taking full advantage of it. Physics. Engineering. Mathematics. History. Social Sciences. Chemistry. Paleontology.

V. My Life. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything or anyone. If I could just rewrite my life from 2006 to 2017 (with the exception of every second spent with my son) and make a few more intelligent decisions in my teenage years and I would call my life “perfect.” While I can’t change the past, the future is mine for the taking and brother, I’m taking. I’m living for me, doing what I want, when I want and how I want. Thankfully.

Thank you for reading, God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

The Chicago White Sox 2018-19 Offseason, Part I

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With news of the Chicago White Sox decision to extend the contract of manager Ricky Renteria yesterday (November 6), I decided I would do a two, or three-part series of blogs on my thoughts about the 2019 offseason.

Naturally, I am disturbed by the first major decision and question it.

Someone, somewhere, once thought Rick Renteria was a good manager. I’m not sure how they came about that opinion, because his record as a manger (264-384, a .407 winning percentage) would get him fired from any other job in the league, let alone his inability to handle a bullpen (who else wears their bullpen out in the first game of a series?) and write out a sensible lineup every day?

The White Sox front office is still living under the delusion that they pulled something over on the Chicago Cubs when they hired Ricky after he had been fired by the Cubs to make room for Joe Maddon, who is clearly superior to Ricky in every phase of managing a baseball club. That’s not even debatable.

So, the Sox extend their clueless manager. That’s the first step to guaranteeing that the better free agents are not going to want to sign with you. That’s not the kind of move a winning organization makes. And regardless of who wants to fight about it, nothing this team has done yet in this rebuild has actually paid off.

Yoan Moncada was supposed to be a superstar. Some of the preseason baseball literature actually had him winning Rookie Of The Year in 2017 and being an All Star in 2018. Instead, he’s carrying around a .234 career batting average and striking out once every three at-bats, while looking disinterested in the field.

Then there’s Michael Kopech, who looked outstanding overall in four starts despite a 5.02 ERA. In 14 innings, he struck out 15 and walked two. But all that is meaningless because Tommy John surgery has put him on the shelf until 2020.

None of the other prospects, whether it be Dylan Cease or Eloy Jimenez or Micker Adolfo or our 2018 #1 Draft Pick Nick Madrigal has done anything at the MLB level. And with Moncada looking like an overrated bust, who is to say any of the other youngsters won’t turn out the same way in the long run?

No rebuild is guaranteed. Ask the Pittsburgh Pirates.

So, now the White Sox are blowing smoke about being in the running for major free agents. Sometimes I fall in and think anything is possible. Then I remember how this team operates. The largest contract ever given out was a six-year, $68 million deal to Jose Abreu, who has been worth every penny, no doubt.

In my mind, I see free agent targets Manny Machado and Bryce Harper signing ten or 12-year deals for over $350 million elsewhere as Rick Hahn announces that the White Sox made a “very competitive bid” but won’t elaborate.

Behind closed doors, those offers were in the six-year, $75 million range.

Then, to prove that the team isn’t tanking in free agent negotiations, Hahn offers someone like pitcher Dallas Keuchel a monster deal (three years, $60 million) and badly overpays just to show that the Sox will spend money.

While Hahn acts like a schoolboy trying to impress the girls, most of the baseball press has already figured this team out, and I have read on a number of sights that the best bet for a White Sox free agent signee is pitcher Anibal Sanchez.

Sanchez had a career revival last year with the Atlanta Braves, compiling a 2.83 ERA in 136.2 innings with 135 strikeouts and 42 walks, he certainly isn’t the franchise-defining free agent signing that Hahn is trying to fool us into believing is just around the corner. Sanchez will be 35 in 2019, and no part of a contending team, assuming the Sox are able to actually put together a contending team.

If I were running the White Sox, my first move would be to trade for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, whom I sincerely believe is the Carlton Fisk of this generation. His 2018 season (.274, 21 home runs, 74 RBI, All Star) dwarfs anything any White Sox catcher has done since A.J. Pierzynski. And there is no question that catcher is the most important position on the field. At least, there shouldn’t be.  I would give the Marlins whatever they want, short of Jimenez, in terms of a three or four-player deal and then sign Realmuto to a long-term contract.  Not a second thought.

But, the Sox are happy to get by with Omar Narvaez, who is a solid hitter but lacks any kind of real defensive prowess behind the plate, along with journeyman cheater Welington Castillo, while waiting for top catching “prospect” Zack Collins (who has a .232 career minor league batting average while only working his way up to the AA level) to develop into a guy that can actually hit in spite of his subpar defense.

I would sign Jose Abreu to a contract extension. He’s the only guy on this team over the past several years who has produced any kind of quality numbers. Yes, 2018 was an injury-plagued season, but his injuries certainly were not typical “wear and tear” injuries that guys suffer, and he still hit .265 with 22 home runs and 78 RBI.

As for free agency, there are clearly some holes on this team, starting with third base. I like Yolmer Sanchez as much as the next guy, but .242 with eight home runs and 55 RBI isn’t going to cut it at the hot corner. That’s always been one of the traditional power spots, unless you had a once-in-a-generation hitter like Wade Boggs. Yolmer is no Wade Boggs. He’s a good little utility player. Nothing more.

As free agency goes, Mike Moustakas is clearly the best third baseman available, coming off a season of 28 home runs and 95 RBI split between Kansas City and Milwaukee. Here is a guy with four 20+ home run seasons in the past six years and is not even a blip on the White Sox radar. Why? Because Jake Burger is the answer?

The outfield is also a sore spot, but I don’t see a lot being done there, with the expected promotion of uber-prospect Jimenez likely in April and the eventual promotion of Luis Robert to play CF. More than likely, a utility OF who can handle all three spots will be about as far as the White Sox go. They may want you to think that Bryce Harper is on the radar, but take my word for it, he isn’t going to sign for six years and $75 million when someone else will offer him four times that.

The pitching staff is where I expect most of the “action” to take place, much like last year and the year before. Several down-on-their-luck relief pitchers will sign and the Sox will try to flip them at the deadline for some borderline talent.

I sincerely doubt that one move the team makes this offseason will have any impact whatsoever on the roster once the team is competitive. I suspect Hahn will sign stopgap players again just to get through to 2020 when Kopech returns, and hope that Cease develops into a reliable starter and then the team can consider trying to fill holes with players who are a little more Bryce Harper than Melky Cabrera.

Which brings me to next offseason. If this offseason plays out as I think it will (i.e. exactly like last offseason) then there will be a drumbeat to sign third baseman Nolan Arenado. That’s assuming he even reaches free agency, as the Rockies are already rumored to be trying to sign him before he reaches the market.

As of tonight (November 7) the big name flying as a potential White Sox free agent target is pitcher J.A. Happ. Happ is coming off a 17-win season split between the Yankees and Blue Jays, and I’m not quite sure why anyone sees him signing with the White Sox. He should be able to turn that solid season into a nice payday with a contending team. But I’ll leave that for the “experts” to explain.

The more I look at the list of free agents, the more I realize the White Sox are in a state of purgatory. Even pretending to pay top dollar for a player on the wrong side of 30 makes no sense because this team isn’t going to be contending for at least a couple of more years. I think a run at a Wild Card spot in 2021 is their best bet.

But attempting to sign a young player like Harper or Machado makes little sense, as players of that caliber have been adding opt-outs to their contracts which lets them get out of a long-term deal after three years if they so desire. The upshot of that is if the Sox sign them before 2019, they can hit the market again after 2021.

Having said all of this, I’m willing to set back and let Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf prove me wrong. I sincerely hope they do. But coming out to the press and announcing a “competitive offer” isn’t going to fool anyone. If you want to impress me, make Machado a 10-year, $350 million deal and make it public knowledge. Then, if he declines, the fan base can say “they tried.”

But make those kinds of offers to the players who really deserve it, don’t overpay an over-the-hill pitcher twice what’s he is worth just to show that you are willing to spend money. And that is what I am most afraid is going to happen.

I’ll write another entry on this subject after the MLB Winter Meetings are held in Las Vegas, December 9 through December 13. I don’t expect any major happenings between now and then, but, who knows. In the meantime, this is how I see it playing out and if something unforeseen happens, I’ll address it.

Thank you for reading and GO SOX!