Some Changes I Would Like To See To The MLB The Show Video Game Franchise

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I had hoped this blog would be about the start of Spring Training and the final destination of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but since that never-ending saga is, well, never-ending, I figured I would take the time to address something else that’s been on my mind lately: The state of the MLB The Show PlayStation franchise.

I began playing the Sony MLB offering back when it was known simply as MLB, in 2000, which featured Mo Vaughn on the cover (apparently in those days it was easier to get an Angels player on the cover than it is now, since Mike Trout is clearly this generation’s Mickey Mantle). In those days, the game was stripped down to the absolute minimum, no franchise mode, a “minor league” system that amounted to three players per team, etc.

Prior to owning a PlayStation, my game of choice was Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run for the Super Nintendo, back in the days of games that either featured real players and was sponsored by the MLBPA but had no real teams or games that featured real teams and was sponsored by MLB but featured no real players. KGJWR featured all the real MLB teams but with made-up player names, including “Big Magoo” in place of Frank Thomas with the White Sox.

Going back even further, my game of choice was Baseball Stars on the NES. Most people seemed to prefer the RBI Baseball series because it was licensed by the MLBPA, but I liked Baseball Stars because it was completely programmable. You could create your own team, players and league as well as having the ability to trade players. Back in 1993, in the days before the current generation of fantasy baseball or games like The Show, a friend of mine and I spent a whole weekend holding a player draft, creating a team, creating a minor league team, and playing a full season on Baseball Stars. It was a lot of work but definitely a lot of fun in the end.

When I bought MLB The Show 07 (featuring David Wright on the cover) for the PlayStation 2, I was dumbfounded. I thought it was everything I could ever want in a baseball video game. Real teams and players, just like the previous generation simply known as the “MLB” series, but with real expanded minor league teams and league rules, to an extent.

Now, I need to point out that, of all the gameplay options on The Show, I am a Franchise guy. I like the concept of playing GM better than the Road To The Show option (where you create yourself as a player and work your way through the system). I also don’t bother with all the bells and whistles including the card collecting and that kind of thing. I’m a baseball card collector in real life and have an extensive collection, I don’t need to collect “pretend” cards.

This is not a complaint, I have no issue with this being part of the experience, but it brings me to my first issue with the MLB The Show series:

Make Different Versions Highlighting Different Aspects Of The Game

As it is now, you can buy three different versions (though I’m cheating a bit because one is an online version and two are physical versions) but why not make MLB The Show: Franchise, where you can play the game in franchise or season mode, without all the extra card collecting and packs and stubs and things that I have no interest in.

Make a second version, or even an expansion pack, featuring the cards and all the extras that have nothing to do with playing baseball.

Release The Game When Spring Training Begins

As one who enjoys playing Spring Training games, there’s no reason why, in this day and age, the game can’t be released a month early. With downloadable patches and rosters, the game could be updated throughout Spring Training and give games like me a chance to play the Spring Training games in real time, with up to date rosters, which I do anyway because I spend the winter updating rosters on the previous year’s game, then I play Spring Training through and then transfer my saves to the NEW game once it’s released near Opening Day.

As an example, Madden NFL 19 was released on August 10, 2018. The NFL season didn’t begin until September 6. The preseason began on August 2 with the Hall Of Fame game. Why can’t Sony release The Show on a similar schedule as EA releases Madden?

Make Saved Rosters Transferable

I do my updates on saved rosters. It would make the game a lot more easy to play if I could just transfer those rosters to the next year’s game like I can transfer my season or franchise saves. This seems like a no-brainer to me, considering that, when you transfer franchise saves, the roster is going along with it, it’s just not transferable individually.

Work on that.

Upgrade The Managerial And Coach Hiring Options In Franchise Mode

While you can trade players from one team to another, and sign free agents, you cannot hire another team’s manager or hitting coach or pitching coach. That is ABSURD. Instead, you have the option of hiring your manager and staff from a list of computer-generated made-up names. There is NO excuse for this. The option to hire another team’s coach should be no different than signing another team’s free agents, it should be part of the experience.

Allow Non-Roster Invitees During Spring Training In Franchise Mode

This could be a little trickier but certainly not at all impossible. As each team has it’s MLB roster, AAA roster, AA roster and A roster, add a roster of NRI’s for spring training that can be added to the main roster if need be and released to the free agent pool if you decide not to keep them. Once the regular season rosters are set, the NRI roster would just disappear until the end of the season. There are a huge number of available free agents on the game, so this isn’t impossible by any stretch, and it would add another level of realism.

Make Regional Or Downloadable Covers For Each Team

Too much is made of the cover athlete and this year showed just exactly what a clusterfuck that can turn into. We’re six weeks from launch day and have no idea where the cover athlete will be playing. Why not make regional covers that are available nationwide via purchase from GameStop and Walmart and Target online? Or, even better, have a generic cover or a “legends” cover and make 30 different team covers available for download on the official Show website. I have made my own custom covers three times over the years, it’s not rocket science. If you can make 30 team custom themes for the PS4, I’m sure you can produce custom downloadable covers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the game and I can deal with not having these options available but, for how little it would really take to make these few alterations, why not do it? Too much time is spent on “1,300 new defensive animations” when, does that really matter? I mean, you make a great catch, but in the long run does the style of the animation of that catch really make that big of a difference in the gameplay aspect? Or is it a wig for a bald personality? It’s just a catch. Basically, what I’m saying is the game needs more steak, not more sizzle.

I love MLB The Show, and it’s a hell of a lot better than lining up Big Magoo to play first base for the White Sox on Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run or having no options to make trades or transactions on the old RBI Baseball series on the NES.

But it could be improved. Let’s work on that.
Peace.

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Talkin’ Baseball, January 22, 2019 (#1)

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Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a running blog series, “Talkin’ Baseball with Jason J. Connor.” Before I jump in, I’m going to kind of explain how I came to be writing this series. I’ve been a baseball fan since 1988, so we’re talking over 30 years. I like to consider myself somewhat knowledgeable on the subject. I also took two years of Journalism classes in high school because, at the time, my dream was to be a sports writer.

I guess this is as close as I’ll come to that dream. But I’ll take it.

While I have been encouraged a lot to do this, I wanted to wait until now and have my first entry cover the 2019 Hall Of Fame inductees. Anyone who knows me knows I am a White Sox fan to the core, but I don’t want this blog to be only about the White Sox. But, naturally, since the White Sox are the only team I follow intently, that’s where 85% of my coverage is going to go. But I want to leave that 15% wiggle room for other important developments.

So, with that, let’s jump right in.

THE 2019 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

The BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) released the results of balloting for the 2019 class earlier this evening. I had planned on watching it live but had a lot going on, I brought the feed up on my phone only to be hit in the face with commercials, and the first sound to come out of my phone was an ominous voice saying “indigestion and gas?”

I closed the screen and figured that was a bad omen and I’d wait to read the results.

When I read the results a little while ago, I was not at all surprised with three of the inductees and pleasantly surprised with the fourth. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Phillies and Blue Jays starter, the late Roy Halladay, Mariners DH Edgar Martinez and Orioles and Yankees starter Mike Mussina all made the cut. Congratulations to the class of 2019.

Rivera, one of the greatest closers in the history of the game and the best I have ever seen, was elected on the strength of being named on 100% of the ballots cast, the first player in the history of the sport with that distinction. As great as Rivera was (an MLB record 652 saves and a career ERA of 2.21, and that’s over 1,115 career games), it’s hard to imagine that Ken Griffey, Jr., Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Cal Ripken, Jr. and even Babe Ruth failed to receive a 100%. For years it was rumored that the old guard in the BBWAA didn’t think anyone deserved to be named on 100% of the ballots so someone would leave the “head of the class” off their ballot just to keep anyone from receiving 100%. Apparently that has now changed.

Having said that, Rivera is beyond deserving and is, in fact, deserving of the “100%.” It just baffles me that no one before him has ever earned that distinction.

Halladay was named on 85.4% of the ballots. Considered one of the last true “workhorses” in baseball, he lead the league in innings pitched four times in his 16-year career, and lead the league in complete games seven times. I do, however, take issue with his being elected, especially his first time on the ballot. Halladay was killed in an airplane crash on November 7, 2017, and I think his passing played a very large role in his induction.

Halladay won 203 games, with a 3.38 career ERA, and a very solid 64.3 WAR. But his numbers across the board don’t scream “Hall Of Famer” to me. The 203 wins are solid, but Mark Buehrle won 214 games for the White Sox, and I doubt he’ll ever see the Hall Of Fame unless he buys a ticket to get in. His 3.38 ERA is nothing to get excited over. He did win two Cy Young awards but so has Corey Kluber and I don’t see him as a Hall Of Fame pitcher.

He also comes up short in some of the “sexy” pitching stats. Halladay was never a big strikeout pitcher, in fact, his career high (220) in 2011 is pedestrian even by today’s standards, when pitchers work far fewer innings. The one area Halladay did excel was in his control, after a difficult first season (79 walks in 149 innings) he would settle down and despite a massive uptick in innings pitched, his walk totals never exceeded 62 for the rest of his career, and generally settled in the 30’s or 40’s. In spite of that, I still see Halladay as a “Hall Of Very Good” type pitcher, who will be remembered for his playoff no-hitter, his perfect game and his untimely death more than his actual across-the-board career.

Also clocking in at 85.4% is Edgar Martinez, who has had the drum beaten for him for the last few years. And my one major sore point in this year’s class. I absolutely do not think Edgar Martinez is a Hall Of Fame player. I watched his entire career, and I saw a guy who was a good, professional hitter. But Hall Of Fame-worthy? No way. To put his career numbers into perspective, he played four fewer seasons than fellow inductee Harold Baines (and one of the seasons Baines played before Martinez was in the Majors was a strike season) but finished his career with nearly 80 fewer home runs and nearly 400 fewer RBI.

Two guys who played the same position most of their careers: DH.

And for a guy who was a “professional hitter,” and not just a “slugger,” Martinez finished his career with 2,247 career hits, far below the old threshold for induction of 3,000. Martinez won two batting titles (and retired with an outstanding .312 career batting average) but considering that 95% of his statistical output came during what’s known as the “Steroid Era,” it really has to make one wonder. From 1990 to 1992, Martinez hit a total of 43 home runs in 1,559 at bats. From 1998 to 2000, he hit 90 home runs in 1,614 at bats. Sounds fishy to me.

I just don’t see anything special about Edgar Martinez across the board.

Finally, we have Mike Mussina, who was named on 76.7% of the ballots. I think Mussina should have been in years ago. Mussina won 270 games (compared to Halladay’s 203 in two more seasons) and compiled 2,813 career strikeouts (nearly 700 more than Halladay) in addition to winning seven Gold Gloves. Mussina also had control just as solid as Halladay, never walking more than 69 batters in a season (in 243 innings in 1996) and usually settling in the 40’s in 200+ innings. I can honestly say that Mike Mussina was one of the best pitchers I have ever watched and was one of the players I would tune in to watch specifically.

Absolutely, 100% deserving and deserved better than 77%, to be honest.

SOX STUFF

This will be where I will tackle Chicago White Sox stuff, thus the name “Sox Stuff.”

Tonight I’m going to tackle the latest White Sox rumor, the rumored flirtation with the Los Angeles Dodgers regarding outfielder Joc Pederson and bringing him to the South Side.

Let’s first look at the White Sox outfield as it stands right now. I am going to assume they’ll be starting some combination of Adam Engel, Daniel Palka and Jon Jay, with Nicky Delmonico and Leury Garcia riding the pine. That group, in total, combined for 48 home runs last year, with Palka contributing over 56% of that total (27) by himself. Engel, Jay and Garcia are not home run hitters and never will be. Delmonico is a guy who, in a perfect world, could probably top out at 15 or 16 and I doubt Palka will come close to 27 again once pitchers figure him out.

Pederson has hit 20+ home runs three of the past four seasons. There’s a track record there. Yeah, he won’t hit for a high average but he has massively reduced his strikeouts in recent seasons and has a quality glove. This is a move I would make in a heartbeat.

This is a move I would make with even more haste given the White Sox lack of production at third base, which is traditionally a power position that’s being manned by Yolmer Sanchez, who topped out last season with a .242 batting average and eight home runs. With it looking increasingly obvious that the White Sox will not be bringing in prized free agent Manny Machado and lesser third baseman Mike Moustakas still available, it would make sense to strike while the iron is hot. And since Moose can probably find a better option than the White Sox (as Machado apparently will do), the Sox need to get power wherever they can.  If you can’t get that 20+ home run production at third, why not get it in the outfield?  And the Dodgers seem keen to move him, so the cost (rumored to be Carson Fulmer and a couple of prospects) is not prohibitive, especially when none of the Sox players mentioned have any production to speak of at the MLB level.  This is a move I would make all day, every day.

I’m just as tired of the Machado/Harper chase as everyone else, and since there hasn’t been any news in days, there’s really nothing to say. Neither will be with the White Sox.

Well, that about wraps it up for my first “Talkin’ Baseball” entry and we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to tie myself down to a rigid schedule with this, I’d rather wait until there’s something legitimate to talk about and then post, rather than just posting for the sake of posting.

Thank you for reading. Peace.

and GO SOX!

The Negative Effect Of Social Networking On Straight Men

As I look over social networking on a daily basis, whether it’s to post Chicago White Sox baseball stories for discussion among my friends, pictures or videos of bikini girls or the best memes I can find, I am consistently surprised at some of the things I see posted by local men who are, supposedly, straight.

Some examples:


Seriously.

A decade ago, this kind of garbage would have been publicly posted only by teenage girls who were upset that their high school crush wasn’t interested or maybe by a complete and total nerd who didn’t know any better.

Now grown, adult men who are supposedly straight post this kind of thing.

Is it subterfuge to try to get women to think they are romantic or have some special feelings that most men don’t have? Because I’ll openly admit I’m just about as romantic as a coconut. So, if this is someway to try to buck the system, I get it. But I can’t respect it. What’s next, selfies in a miniskirt?

If you’re a man, act like a man. Not a teenage girl.

If you’re trying to get a girl’s attention, that’s not the way to do it. I imagine that any woman who sees that is going to think you’re pathetic.

And you know what? You are. No man is out looking for a soulmate. That’s fucking ridiculous, even putting aside the point that I don’t believe in such childish balderdash to begin with. Any woman who gets with a man like this probably will have to paint his toenails and listen to him cry when he gets home from work every night sitting on the couch having a glass of wine.

Pathetic.

Be a man. Watch a porno or read Playboy or Penthouse and post some dirty memes or tell a dirty joke and smoke a cigar and have a beer or a shot of whiskey. Or do you seriously not realize how ridiculous you look?

Like I said, if you’re a man, act like it. If you’re an emotional, heartbroken little powder-puff, you end up looking a lot more like this than a man:

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Peace.

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.