My Thoughts On The Red Dead Redemption Series (SPOILERS)

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This won’t be the most timely blog I’ve ever posted, considering that the original Red Dead Redemption was released on May 18, 2010, while the sequel, Red Dead Redemption II, was released on October 26, 2018. I bought both immediately upon release (though Amazon, so I didn’t receive them on release day) but I didn’t play either of them until now, thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown and the lack of Major League Baseball.

If that wasn’t odd enough, I also played them out of order. I played RDR2 before I played the first RDR, which ended up being a blessing in disguise, as RDR2 is actually a prequel, and ends where the first game actually begins. So I’ll review the series in that order, beginning with RDR2 on the PS4 and then covering RDR on the PS3.

It took me roughly 30 days to play my way through 100% of the story mode of RDR2, playing roughly two hours per night. While I was slow to get started, within a couple of days I was completely hooked. The main playable character, Arthur Morgan, is great. He is the ultimate anti-hero. I enjoyed controlling him every bit as much as I did Batman in the Arkham series. Graphically, the game is incredible. A huge open-world, missions that actually make sense and smooth storytelling are some of the highlights of RDR2.

The first RDR is a step down on every level, but that’s to be expected since it’s being played on an inferior console. It took me 16 days to play through 100% of the game but I also put more time in per day. The main playable character, John Marston, is also a playable character in RDR2, following the death of Arthur Morgan. The point at which you take over John Marston was a negative for me on RDR2, and that feeling continued when I played RDR1. I just wasn’t a fan of John Marston as a character.

Just as you have to transition from Arthur Morgan to John Marston in RDR2, you have to transition from John Marston to his son, Jack Marston, following John being killed near the end of the RDR1 story mode. I found this transition much more enjoyable, as I think Jack Marston would have made a great main character.

If there is ever to be a third entry in the series, it would be better to roll it back before the events of RDR2, because there is a lot of talk about what happened prior to the game’s beginning, while the events involving Jack Marston at the end of RDR1 are taking place in 1915, not the best time frame for a game set in the “old west.”

I’m not crazy about the concept of a prequel game being followed by another prequel, but it would be better than nothing and would help to flesh out the story in RDR2, which opens with the Van der Linde gang already on the run after a botched ferry heist in Blackwater. A third game could cover the attempted ferry heist and what lead up to that point, including how the Van der Linde gang came to be together in the first place.

RATINGS

RED DEAD REDEMPTION (2010): FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE

At first, I was going to rate the game three stars out of five, but I realized I was unfairly holding the hardware against the game. Yes, the PS3 isn’t as good as the PS4 and it’s really obvious when playing RDR1, especially in the cut scenes. Bad camera angles were a really bad problem as well. However, when taking that out of the equation, the game is outstanding. The story is really good and well written, but there are quite a few wild goose chases searching for Bill Williamson and Dutch Van der Linde. This is especially annoying when in Mexico. It made the game feel overlong even though I finished it in nearly half the time it took to finish RDR2. There’s just too much “down time.”

RED DEAD REDEMPTION II (2018): FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE

There’s really no other way to say it, other than MLB The Show, this is my favorite video game of all time, and I’ve been playing video games since 1983 when I got my ColecoVision console and fell in love with Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong, Jr. It’s perfect. The graphics, the gameplay, the story telling, the game mechanics, it’s all perfect. The cut scenes are must-watch (whereas I found myself skipping the cut scenes on RDR1 by the time I was 75% through story mode). My only complaint was that Arthur Morgan was killed and the story transitioned to John Marston, but I understand why that was done given the fact that the entire RDR1 game revolves around John Marston and his family.

If you enjoy gaming and you haven’t played both of these, I can’t recommend them enough. I would, however, suggest you play them as I did, playing RDR2 first since it’s a prequel. It makes the story flow better between the games, with the only negative being going from the PS4 graphics to the PS3 graphics. But it’s well worth it in the end.

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

 

Pre-ordering MLB The Show 20 from Walmart: The Jokes On Me

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I have been a fan of the MLB The Show series since it’s inception in 2006. In fact, I’ve owned a copy of every season’s game, including a few years when I owned two copies; one for my PlayStation 3 and one for my PlayStation Vita. I could play a game at work on my Vita when I had a chance and save it and be able to access that save from my PS3 later and continue my season. I think that was a very underutilized option.

But that’s neither here nor there.

I pre-ordered MLB The Show 20 from Walmart on December 19, 2019. And I selected the MVP Edition due to the option of getting it three days earlier than it would be available on store shelves. It was only $20 more and I had regularly bought the MVP Edition in the past, just because I liked the steelbook case. But this year, it was all about the early release.

This was also my first experience pre-ordering from Walmart. I have pre-ordered a number of items from Amazon over the years, but Amazon isn’t one of the “preferred” distributors for The Show, which has become Best Buy, Walmart, Target and GameStop.

I decided on home delivery rather than a trip to one of my local stores for in-store pickup because it’s a 20 to 30 minute drive to a store and a 10 minute round trip to the post office. So I was all set, $84 and change with a delivery date of March 13, 2020.

… and then this happened:

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The product manufacturer controls the release date for this product…” Yes. Yes, they do. And it was known all along that pre-orders were to be fulfilled on March 13. That was literally my ONLY reason for pre-ordering in the first place. But Walmart is attempting to pass the buck off on Sony. Like it’s somehow Sony’s fault that I didn’t get my game.

Except that a number of friends on Facebook have already received their games, having ordered from Best Buy and GameStop. So that instantly takes the blame out of the hands of Sony (where it never belonged in the first place) and puts it SQUARE in the hands of Walmart. The game should have shipped two days ago so it would have been in my hands on March 13. That is a common-sense kind of thing that any idiot could figure.

But it gets better. The game finally shipped today (you know, the day I should have RECEIVED it) and it shipped to me, in West Virginia, from Lake Forest, California. Now, I’ve done enough purchasing and shipping (I run a thriving Amazon store myself) and I know it takes a minimum of two days and usually three for an item from here to reach California, and vice versa. There are at least three mail hubs between California and my house, one in Pittsburgh (though some mail is routed through Ohio), one in Bridgeport, WV and finally, my local post office. So that’s a 2,500 mile trip along with two stops.

And that’s not all:

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It’s going to arrive “by the end of the day” on Saturday, March 14. Yeah, that’s cute. My post office closes at 12:30 on Saturday and isn’t open on Sunday. So even if it somehow made that 2,500 mile trip with two stops on the way in 24 hours, it would sit somewhere until at least Monday morning (March 16). It is far more likely it will be available for me to pick up on Tuesday, March 17. Which just so happens to be the same day it is available on store shelves and any schmuck can go out and buy a copy.

So, let me lay this whole situation out as clearly as I possibly can.

I ordered MLB The Show 20 on December 16, 2019, and selected the MVP Edition because I could get it three days earlier than those who didn’t pre-order that version or the online version. I paid $79.99 plus tax, as opposed to $59.99 plus tax for the “regular” edition for no other reason than to get the three day early release.

Now, rather than getting my game three days early, I will get it on the same day everyone else does, and could have just walked into Walmart on Tuesday and picked up the “regular” edition for $59.99 and been in exactly the same place in life I am right now.

The way I see it, Walmart owes me $20 for wasting my time. And while I’m sure they don’t see it that way (since it’s Sony’s fault, somehow) I figure I’ll take my $20 back another way, if I can keep just one person who reads this from pre-ordering anything from Walmart again, I figure we’re even. I know I will never pre-order another item from Walmart again, if it’s not available from Amazon I’ll find it somewhere else but Walmart is out of the loop from now on. I’ll just consider this to be a learning experience and move on.

So, a word to the wise, don’t pre-order from Walmart. Especially if time is of the essence, because in my case, it truly was. The only positive to come out of this little exercise (if you can call it that) is the fact that the Opening Day of baseball season was pushed back due to the Coronavirus situation, so even if I don’t get my game for another four days, it’s not relevant in the grand scheme of things.

But it’s still my right and duty as an American taxpayer to complain when the rules are not followed. And as Walter Sobchak said in The Big Lebowski, “am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?”

Thank you for taking the time to read.

 

2020 Update: Random Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

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

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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!

My Future On Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

Quick Thoughts by Jason J. Connor

Quick-Thoughts

“QUICK THOUGHTS”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

2020: A New Beginning And A New Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

Facebook: Where Common Sense Goes To Die

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and up yours.

Peace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading. Peace.

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

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

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

So, let’s begin.

STARTING PITCHING

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

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

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

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

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

RELIEF PITCHING

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

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

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

CATCHING

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

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

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

INFIELD

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

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

OUTFIELD

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

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

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

DESIGNATED HITTER

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

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

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

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

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

Peace.