Mar
25

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Baseball 2018

It’s that time of year once again. Spring training is just about over, and the trucks will be heading north any day to get the baseball season underway. The Northern teams will be trading Florida and Arizona sunshine for much colder temps and drearier skies. A lot of teams will be starting games with temperatures in the 50s and even high 40s on Thursday. The Cubs will wisely trade Arizona sun for Florida sun, and the scum sucking Rat Bastard Red Sox stick around Florida for a few more days opening their campaign in Tampa.
Each year I make these projections, and in truth, we have done a pretty good job of getting division winners and a mixed bag at seasons start of picking the league and World Series titles, although I did have the Cubs in 2016. I do a little better job of the final four teams in the mid-year update. Had you been betting on division crowns and over/under with my picks you have made some money although I highly discourage betting, drinking alcohol and vice in all its forms. Having said that if you make some money with my stuff this year a bottle of good bourbon would be appreciated.
AL East
Another year, another dogfight. Everyone is picking the Yanks and its impossible not to join the crowd. This is not a good ballclub. It’s potentially one of the greatest ever. Good pitching, fantastic bullpen, and a potentially legendary lineup. They have power; they have some speed and some guys who can put ducks on the pond for the big guns. Boston has the pitching to hang with them, but I don’t think they can put the runs up they will need to catch the Yanks. Toronto is projected third, but I am picking them for fourth with a battle for the basement with what is left of the Tampa Bay squad. The Orioles made some pitching pickups, and the rotation will be just good enough for me to stave off full-blown despair and cheap tequila until late August again this year.
New York Yankees
It will be a fail of epic proportions if they do not make the World Series never mind win the division. Vegas has them at 97 wins which is a no bet for me.
The Boston Red Sox
Just enough to keep the Yankees honest all year. If New York naps they can make a run. Vegas has them at 89. I am tempted to take the over since they get to play Tampa and Toronto a combined 36 times but it’s not so obvious a bet that I will take it this early.
Baltimore Orioles
We have a Buck and Manny is playing for the big bucks. If Bundy and Gausman were ot magically live up to expectations, they could challenge for the wild card. Vegas has them at 73 wins, and I am taking the over.
Toronto Blue Jays
Too much can wrong here, and I suspect it all will. Take the under at 81 games
Tampa Bay Rays
There’s nothing left here after they dumped the roster during the offseason. There is some interesting young talent that will show flashes of potential and Chris Archer is still Chris Archer but this team.  A strong contender for worst team in MLB this year. Take the under at 77.5
AL Central
Cleveland is an easy ten games better than everyone else. The Tigers are fading into the sunset and are a full rebuild away from challenging. The White Sox are one year away from being a serious contender. The Twins will finish second, but they will be way back again this year. Kansas Cty is nowhere near the team that went to the World Series a few years ago.
Cleveland Indians
Another division title even if Chief Yahoo is not along for the ride this time. Thye won 100 games last year and could do it again this year given that they should easily sweep all the division series. Still, no bet at 94.5 games. It’s a long year.
Minnesota Twins
Young, fast, improved pitching, a good manager. No bet at 82.5 games. The White Sox will keep them in range all year, and they will struggle in out of division games
Chicago White Sox
One more mid-season fire sale should get it done. They are loaded with prospects and young talent, and we should see a 2019 rebirth of hope on the South Side of Chicago. Take the over at 68 wins.
Kansas City Royals
Ned Yost should consider taking up heavy drinking. No bet at 71 games
Detroit Tigers
Gonna be a tough year in the D. Aging talent, suspect pitching and a bloated payroll at $129 million for a bad team. I think I would take the under at 68.5 games.
AL West.
Houston.
That’s all you need to know about the AL West. Ohtani makes for a nice sideshow, it is a lot of fo fun to watch Mike Trout play the game, but the Astros are a great baseball team.  They have no weak spot that I can see.
Houston Astros
Greatness awaits. The only thing that stops this team from becoming a dynasty is free agency in a few years and the New York Yankees incredible roster. I am taking the over at 96.5 wins. They are that good.
Los Angeles Angels
A solid ball club that unfortunately in a division with a great one. I lose a lot of sleep every summer staying up to watch Mike Trout play on the west coast. No bet at 84.5 wins
Seattle Mariners
A good team with two better ones in front of them. They will make some runs and keep the fans in it until late August. The Orioles of the Western Division. Tempted to take the over as I think they win more than their share from the Rangers and A’s and do well outside the division but for now no bet at 82 games.
Texas Rangers
They will hit a lot of home runs. Unfortunately, so will their opponents. I suspect they lose a lot of 10-7 ball games this year. No bet at 76.5 wins
Oakland A’s
Lots of young talent but will need one more wave of trades to bring in more to compete. Take the under at 75 wins as the challenge Tampa Bay for worst team in the league
NL East
It’s the Nationals, and everybody else in the east again. If the Mets pitching staff remains healthy, they easily take a wild card spot. That’s a big If and a young, hungry Philadelphia squad will challenge them for the spot. Atlanta has a lot of young arms but they so far they are young unspectacular arms. Acuna, Swanson, and Albies are the future of the team, and they are not yet enough to win. They will be fun to watch, but they don’t challenge for the lead at any point. In Miami, I think Jeter is on the right track but it will be a long road to contend. On the upside, it will be easy for me to get tickets in Miami this year. Road trip.
Washington Nationals
One of the best teams in the nation past few years right up until October 1. Is this the year they break the curse of the postseason? Probably not but take the over on 92 wins.
Philadelphia Phillies
I think they want it bad enough and adding Arrieta a big step forward. Take the over on the 75.5
New York Mets
They are, after all, the Mets. Not sure which snake will bite them but pretty sure one will. 81 wins sounds about right.
Atlanta Braves
Exciting, fun to watch. Will frustrate some better teams at times but not often enough to be in consideration. No bet at 74.5 wins
Miami Marlins
There is nothing here this year. Tale the under no matter what it is. They lose 100 games easy so the 64.5 under looks solid.
NL Central
Party on the North Side again this year. They actually got better in the offseason, and there will be no World Series hangover this year. The Brewers will challenge after a very productive offseason. The Cardinals are never a pushover and will make life interesting. Cincy is in the midst of the eternal rebuild, and I have no idea what the ll is going on in Pittsburgh.
Chicago Cubs
I have to try not to piss my son in law off during the season, and he has the World Series tickets hookup, and their apartment is walking distance from Wrigley. Very tough division so no bet at 94.5 wins
Milwaukee Brewers
Hank the Dog and the brew crew improved in the offseason and should take a wildcard spot. They win more than 84.5 so take the over.
St. Louis Cardinals
If the Brewers stumble the Cards will be ready to take the spot away. Almost but not quite. Probably come in under 85.5 wins but too close to wager.
Cincinnati Reds
Baseball is a better game when old school teams like the Reds are in the mix, but that’s going to be the case this year. This may be the year Votto insists on a trade. 73 wins sounds about right.
Pittsburgh Pirates
They just don’t look good coming into the year. Bet the under at 73 games
NL West
Many are picking the Giants to surge, but McCutchen and Longoria is not that big an upgrade. The Rockies and the Diamondbacks were much better than expected last year.  Rockies a year away from big free agency concerns so look for them to try and make a move this year.  The Dodgers take the division easily again this year
Los Angeles Dodgers
All you need to know is Clayton Kershaw. Then add Seger, Bellinger, Taylor and an improving Matt Kemp, and you have a team that will win a lot of ballgames. Vegas says 96.5, and that sounds right. No bet.
Colorado Rockies
A big push to win this year. Lots of home runs for the home team and enough pitching to keep them around. They win more than 82 games so bet the over
Arizona Diamondbacks
They will be in it but fall just short. No bet at 85.5 wins
San Francisco Giants
Not this year. Bumgarner is out until sometime in late May at best, and by then it will already be too late. I like the under at 81.5 games
Al Wildcards
LAAngels
Boston Red Sox
NL Wildcards
Milwaukee Brewers
Colorado Rockies
Al Pennant
I think Houston matches up well in a seven-game with Yankees if everybody is healthy on both sides. Picking a little with my heart here but I am taking Houston
NL Pennant
Chicago Cubs. They didn’t like going home last year, and I think they play with a fury in 2018 to get back to the top
Word Series
Cubs in 7 very close ballgames
Nov
22

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Thanksgiving Reflections

I do love me some Thanksgiving. We usually have fairly loud ones around these parts with lots of noise, way too much food and a liberal amount of bourbon and wine. I love Thanksgiving so much I will even watch football tomorrow just to keep the tradition alive and our guests happy. My wife wanted to do the pay per view crackling fire so I am really thankful for friends that want to watch football so her natural good hostess tendencies save me $19.99. We have a total of 10 tomorrow which is just about right, maybe even a little on the small size. We have enough food and booze to feed a small army and grand times would seem to be indicated. Best all I do not have to buy one person a gift.

Before dinner, my wife will ask everyone what they are grateful for this year. Rather than just spout the usual family, country, friends routine I actually spent a few minutes thinking about my answer this year. Upon much reflection, I have decided that the proper answer is everything. I am thankful for everything and every moment that came before this moment. The good ones. The bad ones.  The exquisite ones. The shitty ones. Each and every moment that lead to this moment and this place in time.

Think about this for a moment. Dr. Ali Binizar calculated the odds of you being born you and came up with roughly 1 in 10 to the 2,850,000 place. He summed it up like this “Imagine there was one life preserver thrown somewhere in some ocean and there is exactly one turtle in all of these oceans, swimming underwater somewhere. The probability that you came about and exist today is the same as that turtle sticking its head out of the water, in the middle of that life preserver. On one try.”

What are the odds of being born in The United States? Roughly 1 in 50 is the answer. The odds of being born in this era with technology leaping forward and making our lives better and longer? 1 in 400,000,000,000.The odds of someone who was the total fuckball I was as a kid reaching the levels I have reached in my 56 years of being? Incalculable. I will let you in on a little secret. When I was 16 or so the idea that I would live to see the turn of the century at the ripe old age of 39 didn’t seem all that likely to me. The idea that I would live far beyond that with many more stretching in front of (I hope) would have been worth little more than a sarcastic nasty chuckle.

So I am thankful for everything. Every sunrise ( I rarely ever see one of these elusive events but they tell it occurs every morning a few hours before I wake), every sunset, every morning, every late night and every minute between them. All of those minutes lead to this minute in this place with these people and there is nowhere else I would rather be.

Every minute. Everything that happened in all of those minutes.  Every breath. Every heartbeat. Every person.

The minutes spent sitting in a jail cell with shit an blood smeared on the w3alls when I was a young shitbird without a clue.

The ones spent reading learning, expanding my horizons to include things I never dreamed possible

The tears

The smiles

The heartbreaks

The first kisses

The last first kiss

The 6am drives to work after all night with a colicky son

The first time I looked into my children’s eyes

The failures

The victories

The first kiss under the wedding tree

Everyone who ever shared an idea or concept that helped my build my own better world.

Everyone who told me I couldn’t

The ones who took a chance on me when there was no reason to do so

Every composer who worked late into the night working on a song that I enjoyed and even those I don’t enjoy so much- except those of you writing rap music. Seriously-stop that shit.

Every author who shared their stories, dreams, knowledge, and insight to educate, entertain and inspire me

Every inventor who filled around in the garage and made part of my life better, faster, cheaper

Every scientist burning the late night oil in a lab developing products to save and improve my life

Every moment and every person that has touched my life along the way I am thankful for today. Some made my world a better place. Some few did their level best to destroy it and my survival of their assault made me stronger and smarter. Some loved me. Some hated me. Many didn’t actually give a shit about me at all but their passage helped steer me to here in this moment with these people living this life.

I won’t blow smoke up your ass and tell you we live in a perfect world. We most assuredly do not. We have people killing each other over which version of the magic man in the sky we should obey. We have a government that makes pimps, whores and thieves look honorable. That dreaded predator, the American Politician, still strides across the land. As does his even more deadly cousin the Religious Leader. The absolutely convinced still stir amongst us and regularly commit unsavory and almost unimaginable crimes in the name of the children.

No, it is not perfect at all. But it is life. something that is statically almost impossible to have achieved in and of itself.   I am here in this place with these people, living this life and I am grateful for every moment that lead to this moment. Scratches dents, blemishes and all I am me and it is every moment and every person who crossed my path that has made that so.

Thank You. I am grateful.

Pass the gravy.

Nov
5

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The Silence is Deafening

Do you hear that?

 

This new and sudden silence is deafening.

 

No crack of the bat. No slap of the mitt. No murmur in the stands. No roar of the crowd. No police whistles as they break up a fight at Citifield. No melodious tones of the announcers as they describe how the pitcher overcame juvenile explosive diarrhea to attain Major League success. Hell, I would go even put up with Joe Bucks annoying cadence and nonsense of the would turn the lights back on and open the turnstiles once more. But it is not to be. The 2017 baseball season is gone now. It had a good, exciting long life-extending as far as the rules allow but it has left the world leaving us only memories of its glory and grandeur. Spring training is 100 days away, and the silence is deafening.

 

Gone are the bright colors and melodic songs of the Blue Jays. Cardinals and Orioles. The Marlins and Rays scamper among the waves no longer. The Padres and Mariners have both ended their voyages for now. Though they are champions only memories of the Astros light the night sky now. The Rangers and Indians alike have retreated from the plains. The delights of spring and summer are gone once again along with the extreme passion and grand intensity of October.

 

Ahead lies only winter with Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Warriors, and Raptors to hold our attention to any degree. They won’t work for me as I find most NBA basketball to be absolutely unwatchable on TV. One can almost succumb to tears comparing Havlicek, Monroe, West, Frazier, Bird, and Magic to the run and slam version of the game played today. I must confess I do watch the highlights most nights but a whole game would be too much for me.

 

I have pondered my loss of interest in the NFL a great deal. Part of it is the fact that the game is shit. The referees seem to be determined to have more airtime than the two starting quarterbacks and flags fly out more consistency that many airlines have ever shown. While I am a fan of celebrating achievements watching some idiot do a victory dance because he sacked the quarterback while his team is losing 31-7 late in the 4th quarter disgusts me. If we are honest, it is just not a very good game anymore.

 

Part of it I think is social. Football is an excuse for the single, or no kids crowd to head to the bar at noon on Sunday and avoid the emptiness of an apartment on Sunday with no work or events to distract you. It is something to do when the snow is up to the low edge of your ass, and the idea of venturing outside is about as welcome as inviting a politician to dinner. It helps pass the winter and gives you something to think about besides frozen pipes salted driveways.

 

I am now married these past seven years and live in Florida. I am not a big fan of day drinking unless I can get a nap before dinner, so I don’t head out to the sports bars much anymore. There is always something to do in Florida and weather that allows you to do things.

 

I am sure it is a combination of things, but the NFL just does not hold my interest. I follow and watch Notre Dame and Navy at the college level but have no interest in the pro version of the game.

No, baseball is the game for me. An evening with a book, while the games played on the TV, has been the preferred activity of many of the last 249 days. Checking the MLB app on a regular basis when the wife wants to watch something else has also been a significant part of my life. Games on the radio version of the app while running around town doing errands while engaging in Florida things has also been a regular activity.

Now, that’s over. One catch, one toss from Altuve to first base and baseball is over. No more home runs, double plays, dumb baserunning, brilliant pitches, astounding catches, stretching a single or stealing a base. No more second-guessing the manager, yelling at umpires encased in my flat screen or wondering how in the hell Chris Davis could let that pitch go by without swinging. No more box score searching, mathematical determinations of how we can catch the division leaders with a little run of luck. There will be the hot stove league, trades and all sorts of managerial stuff going on all winter to follow.  I will probably go sit at the bar during the Winter meetings next weekend to get a little fix. But none of it will enough.

 

The silence is deafening.

 

In the meantime here are the odds for 2018 to contemplate:

 

 

 

 

 

2018 World Series Odds

TEAM OPENING ODDS
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1
Cleveland Indians 6-1
Houston Astros 6-1
Washington Nationals 7-1
New York Yankees 8-1
Boston Red Sox 10-1
Chicago Cubs 10-1
New York Mets 20-1
Arizona Diamondbacks 20-1
St. Louis Cardinals 20-1
Tampa Bay Rays 30-1
Toronto Blue Jays 30-1
Seattle Mariners 30-1
Milwaukee Brewers 30-1
Colorado Rockies 40-1
Chicago White Sox 50-1
Los Angeles Angels 50-1
Atlanta Braves 50-1
San Francisco Giants 50-1
Baltimore Orioles 60-1
Texas Rangers 60-1
Miami Marlins 80-1
Pittsburgh Pirates 80-1
Minnesota Twins 80-1
Kansas City Royals 80-1
Oakland Athletics 80-1
Philadelphia Phillies 80-1
Cincinnati Reds 80-1
San Diego Padres 80-1
Detroit Tigers 300-1

 

Sep
3

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Random Musings on a Sunday Afternoon

It is once again the most wonderful time of the year. Now even though the stores have had Christmas shit out for weeks, that’s not what I am talking about today. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to like about Christmas. There are family, friends, parties, left-over turkey sandwiches, mini-Hershey bars and all sort of things I like about Christmas. As we get closer to the big day I turn into a ho-ho-ho merry motherfucker but let’s be honest there are some things about the season that are a pain in the ass. The decor monster eats my house and yard. The son of a bitch yard guy who routinely runs over my wife’s pants and the garbage guy who is already paid outrageous wages expect Holiday Tips. Charities pop up everywhere with pictures of starving Ethiopian children and puppies tied to a cinder block behind a tenement in search of cash. Fistfight over Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays break out all over the place. Fat perverts with boozy breath in red suits set up shop all over the place. Christmas is nice, but it has its faults.

The most wonderful time of year for sports fans is September to the end of October. Baseball is in the home stretch, and we will soon have playoff baseball. Football is getting underway. I prefer the college game, but for most of America, the NFL is akin to religion. However, you like it it’s the start of pretty much seven days a week football on the television. If you are into tennis the UP Open is underway. The NASCAR playoffs start this month. Indy car racing season is finishing up. It’s the home stretch for MLS as well. This is the time of year that couches fear and TV salesman love. Truly, the most wonderful time of the year.

I don’t care if you are left, right or center if you made Houston, Rockport, and Beaumont about politics there is something fucking wrong with you. Hurricane Harvey had no politics. It was not George Bush’s fault. It was not because of some evil deed by that dastardly Barak Obama. It is not even Donald Trump’s fault. It was a hurricane, and people suffered regardless of race, creed, gender or politics. If politics is such a big part of your life that everything is political you are well on your way to becoming one of the Absolutely Convinced and are in danger of becoming part of the vile group of people whose tainted stench stains the very air we breathe.

If you watched the film this past weekend you saw the best of humanity in action. I am sure that the heroes in kayaks, canoes, john boats, bass boats jet skis and airboats were probably from everywhere on the political spectrum. They didn’t worry about the race, gender or politics of those they rescued. They were just people saving people. We could surely use a lot more people and a lot less politics.

Naturally, the climate change folks were out in force showing up even as people were abandoning their homes and struggling to survive. My dear friends if scientists are still debating the subject it is not settled science.1+1=2 is settled science. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit is settled science. Climate change is a theory, and there seems to be lots of evidence on both sides. It is not settled by a long shot. We should be doing things to clean the air and water and protect the environment no matter which theory is correct, but there is no evidence that climate change is not making the storms worse.

Now the special kind of really fucking stupid among us will ask why we hear so much more about these storms today that our parents and grandparents did? Take a second and work your brain okay? These storms have been happening since the beginning of time but before funs thing like automobiles, air conditioning, mosquito repellant and indoor plumbing not many people lived in the suburbs of Houston. Before there was an oil industry there was pretty much no valid reason to live near Beaumont Texas. Rockport Texas was a fisherman and pirate playground until we got highways, cars, and bridges.

The storms happened. There just was not anyone there. There sure as shit was not CNN shoving a microphone up the nostrils of some poor bastards who had just spent 48 hours perched on the roof of their house until they were rescued. The year we had the most major hurricanes (1961) Jim Cantore was not even born yet.

The climate change true believers will point to the fact that 2005 was the most active year ever. Of course, the fact that Harvey was the first hurricane to hit the US in more than five years does not come up at all. Nor does the fact that the second most active year was 1933. No one likes to mention that third most active was 1886 and the longest hurricane season on record was 1899. 1886 was the year the most hurricane hit the US with a total of 7.

There have always been storms. The difference is that now people live there thanks to” just because we can doesn’t mean we should” technology improvements and the media. We don’t have a climate crisis as much as we have a media crisis.

While we are on the subject of media I have to say I don’t know any alt righters or lefters. I have some friends that have some pretty fucking goofy political ideas, but they don’t stand in the streets throwing bags of piss at police officers. I have met some cops that were real shit bags, but most of are good folks doing a difficult job and really don’t deserves the feces flinging we have seen in recent weeks. I don’t know anyone on the extreme violent edges of the political system, and I do not want to know them. They are no better than the corrupt politicians and crooked churchmen that make up the absolutely convinced, and they are a blight on society. If your ideas can only be distributed via violence your ideas are probably shit.

A very small percentage of the population falls into the “alt” classification but if you watch the news that’s all we see. The worst part is that if you just ignored the racist fucks on the alt right they would go away. The KKK and groups like them love publicity of any kind. They need it in the hopes that in the millions of people that see the shit show on TV there might be one or two other ignorant fucks who will then rally to their cause. The best recruiters the racist groups have are the Antifa morons and the press who worship them. Someone said the other day that we all have to pick sides in the growing political divide. I already picked mine. It’s the “leave me and mine alone, or I will bust a cap in your ass” side. Whether it’s the right or left cheek doesn’t matter to me.

We would be better off if more people chose that side. The greatest thing that could happen in this country today is if they held an election and nobody came. Whatever would we do if we had no one to tell us what to eat, drink, smoke or otherwise ingest. How could we function without Papa Government there to advise us? I suspect we would do just fine.

Same with church. Could we function without someone to tell us who to love, who to hate and direct our acts of kindness as directed? Maybe we would stop feeding the hungry children halfway across the world and feed the ones we stepped over to get into the services this morning. Maybe-just maybe- we stop hating people who believed in a different imaginary being than we do.

I am reminded of the word of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher when he spoke of the Gods. I think it today’s modern times we could also apply them to politicians at all levels:
“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so cannot; or they neither can nor will or lastly, they are able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can but will not, then they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?”

Gods nor politician can do a lot to change your life. You can.

Gods nor Politicians have done a very good job of feeding the poor. We can

God and politicians have done a terrible job of improving our broken education system. We can

Gods and politicians cannot love, protect and support your family. You can

More People. Less Politics

Clueless Code

On Melvin Pond

Monday, July 17, 2017

When we moved a few weeks ago, I jokingly said that since we had a pond, I was going to call the place Melvin’s Pond and walk around…

The Adam Levine Phenomenon

Friday, May 1, 2015

When we use outrage about what’s happening over there as an excuse to avoid taking care of business over here.

The H.L. Mencken Field Guide to Life-Part 1

Monday, April 20, 2015

Paying tribute to our great forefather.

Happiness is….

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The pursuit of happiness is one of your greatest rights granted by a benevolent deity but it is not just going to come to you like fairy dream on a wave of unicorn farts in the middle of the night.