MLB: The Struggle with Identity and Injury

It’s Spring Training and, once again, my beloved Texas Rangers are at risk of of starting off the season damaged and in a weakened state with the possibility of our expensive ace pitcher, Yu Darvish, in need of the dreaded Tommy John surgery. A surgery that can lay a pitcher out for anywhere from six months to a year. A trend that is seemingly unavoidable with pitchers nowadays with an average 18.6 pitchers per year going under the knife since 2000, has led to questions wide and far regarding player safety and health from pitch counts to inning limits even talk of lowering the mound to reduce strain on the elbow.

Simultaneously, Major League Baseball (MLB) has been struggling to retain a young audience with an average fan age of 55 (the only sport with an older fan base is golf) according to an April 2014 Bloomberg report. The MLB has been attempting to speed up the game to address the complaint that games are too long and too slow. In talking with some of my non-baseball-watching-friends, they have continually expressed how there are flat out too many games.

Which brings me to my thesis. Baseball needs to shorten the season to 81 games. Cut it in half. Play every other day. There is no need for back to back games and people get tired of watching baseball games by the All-Star break. Here is why a shortened and spread out season will help MLB’s players and draw in a younger crowd:

  1. Playing less games means less strain on the players who play during the hottest months of the year. Rest will keep your pitching arms fresh, batting back’s strong, catcher’s knees limber. With a healthy roster, each team will be able to field a better team which makes it more interesting to watch.
  2. With a spread out season, pitchers will get more rest than ever. This means we won’t need more than 4 or 5 starting pitchers. Each of the best pitchers throws once a week. It will always be a show down between good teams and their best pitchers. This also means a better bullpen, better closers, and all around better games.
  3. The emphasis will be on the week long series and making sure to win each one to insure a place in the playoffs. each series becomes a bigger event and a loss is much more devastating. The reasons football is so popular is because it only has one game a week. It’s easy keep up with when most of us are off on Sundays and have the overwhelming feeling that each game matters. If the MLB put emphasis on how important each series is and how few there are, it would make for a more intriguing event where young people will not get worn out like they do on 162 games.

With this basic layout of a plan, we can solve the identity crisis which would drive ratings, attendance, and player health all at once. It’s highly unlikely that this will ever be the case. So in the meantime, enjoy the injury talks and seeing AAA ballplayers taking ace roles when they aren’t ready. Enjoy seeing teams take years to rebuild, as the Rangers seem to be stuck doing. Enjoy the lack of urgent competition that keeps the young people from thinking that each game is important. I try to stay a romantic tradtionalist when it comes to baseball, but the times have come to show that baseball has to evolve of watch its fan base die off of old age.

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One Year Married

I am two weeks away from my first anniversary of being married to my wonderful wife. As much as I am not a fan of lists, this is the best way to fit this all in one blog. Here is what I have learned in a year (in no particular order):

  • Happy wife does mean happy life: If you love and care for someone enough, you want them to be happy. Sometimes that means going out with her friends, letting her pick the movie, cleaning up without being reminded, cooking her favorite meal, etc… It isn’t a sacrifice making her happy in turn makes you happy.
  • I am the one who steals the covers: I thought it was her, but it isn’t. She’s taking back what is rightfully hers.
  • If you don’t feel like cooking, don’t critique the way she’s doing it. That is a fast track to an empty belly. Don’t like how she chops veggies? You have two options, step in and do them yourself or shut the hell up. Complaining only leads to a fight and no food in the belly.
  • She will not love everything you do. I will not watch the Bachelor, she doesn’t like wrestling. She hates apples, I hate bananas. She thinks root beer is disgusting, I don’t like sweet tea. Who cares. Who wants to spend the rest of their lives with themselves?
  • Even though you won’t like the same things, it’s fun to try liking what she does. Not only am I addicted to Big Brother now, because of her, but I have had a pedicure that felt amazing. I also learned how keeping the house clean as you go makes it easier when it is time to deep clean things. She has learned to try any kind of food at least once with me and we have found some pretty amazing things with that.
  • Every married couple should have one morning person and one person who is not.
  • Marriage is having someone to support you in the hard times.
  • Every marriage is different. There is no need to try and compare yourselves to someone else’s story, or what they have, or how they do things. Just be yourself in your own relationship.
  • Compromise means pooping with the door closed.
  • Getting home to your wife is more important than happy hour with work friends.
  • Be goofy and laugh often.
  • Say “I love you” everyday when you leave in the morning and before you go to bed everyday.
  • Rainy days stuck inside aren’t near as bad when you have someone to watch movies and play Yahtzee.
  • Going to new places is always better than the same ol’ same ol’.
  • I suck at rock paper scissors. I used to be good, I swear.
  • Hearing “I love you” everyday means more to me than I ever thought.

Of course this list could go longer. But we can save that for another time.

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is”  -Kurt Vonnegut 

Throwback Thursday.

Ten years ago, I was floating through my second semester at a community college. You know, just getting the basics out of the way, or if we’re being honest here, stalling. Classes weren’t incredibly hard, and I took them with a grain of salt. I didn’t really soak in the knowledge or study anything in depth. After all, it was just the basics, I wouldn’t need these again. I can name maybe two of those professors now (Bob Sharp and Larson), but what was important was the people and the fun we had.

I spent most of my days hanging around with the few guys that were in the same boat as me. We were drifting through our community college classes for a bunch of different reasons. Either we didn’t apply ourselves in college, didn’t have the money to waste on four years at a major University, had no clue what we wanted to do, or a combination of all of those. We had to watch our friends go off to bigger and better things while we took menial jobs at the mall or grocery stores. Anything we could do to satisfy the 20 hr requirements by our parents to stay under their roof. I personally had a slew of jobs in this two year period. I was a waiter for about three months. I helped close down an Alberstons grocery store while I worked as their butcher. I even work at the mall at Origins selling beauty products and lotions and tons of things that I had no clue about, but I applied and got the job.

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We did whatever we could to make just enough money to hang out at Starbucks or go to see our favorite bands when they came to town. Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, that whole scene. We grew our hair long, we played in crappy cover/jam bands in our friend’s garage.

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We did all of the things that kids our age had done for ages. We got drunk, smoked pot, tried and failed to meet girls, ate fast food, and shopped at the mall. We read a lot of Chuck Palahnuik and Hunter S. Thompson and watched indie movies. We thought we were more worldly than we actually were. We had answers to almost every questions as long as it wasn’t, “What do you want to do with yourself?”

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We spent our time at home on the computer rearranging our Myspace top 8, chatting with each other on AIM (using embarrassing screen-names like LithiumSideFX, TheJason182, or socoamarretto84)  , and watching Dane Cook flail around on stage at an attempt to be funny (and to us, then, he really was). We wore mostly band shirts that we got from shows or Hot Topic. My jeans were ripped to shreds and it wasn’t a style choice. I just wouldn’t buy new ones.

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It was a simple time. It was responsibility free. The only worry he had was what we were going to do next. What would we major in? Where it would take us? What did we really want to be when we “grew up”? And even that didn’t seem important.

That was ten years ago. Young enough to think smoking was cool and still get a ticket for under-aged drinking. Things have changed, as they should, but there are too many memories in here to forget.

[This post was brought to you by a recovered photobucket account]

One Week Without Social Media…and Counting…

Does anyone realize how boring the Oscars are without live tweeting and bashing celebrities for being less than perfect? When was the last time you felt the intense pain of sitting through an entire commercial break without checking your Facebook to see if anyone has commented or liked your status? This has been my hell for my first week without social media (only six more of these to go). Checkout lines, waiting to get a haircut, and so many more menial downtime activities have become exponentially less interesting.

Sure, I have read more this week that I have since I graduated. But what good is it if I cannot brag about how much reading I am doing to get the approval of my peers?  I also started taking walks on my lunches (before this damn cold streak hit San Antonio). But again, do you think I walk for my health? No! I walk to find cool things to take pictures of and post on Instagram with #SATX #LunchWalk or some crap like that attached to it.

But in all seriousness, I went through my phone today and realized about 95% of the contacts I have on my phone have not gotten a text from me in well over a year, some of the numbers had never been used. I thought about sending some of them a nice text, “Hey, man! It’s been awhile. What’s new?” But I can only imagine their responses, “Who is this?” or “What do you want?” Because a text message should have a purpose, phone calls should have a point. Unless you have established a closer friendship and can do this, it just doesn’t seem like a social norm anymore. Social Media seems the preferred medium for quick catch ups or a hi-how-are-you type of conversation. Text messages are limited to your closest friends and phone calls are for family and significant others only.

This is my generation. This is what we are coming to. 400 friends on Facebook and only 20 of them get direct contact from me outside of a quick like and maybe even a carefully thought out witty comment. But there is a reason it is popular, it’s easy. It’s so easy to keep tabs on people that you once cared for or still think about from time to time. That guy from college that you used to bump into at parties a lot and really only knew while intoxicated or the person from your Spanish class that helped you cheat, these are the people that I am missing right now. These are the ones that I don’t get to see or hear from them.

I was thinking the other day that the number of friends my parents have from high school or that time period is so small that I’m not sure it is much more than 5 total. They moved on and were able to distance themselves from people who were only in their lives for a short bright second, but yet we have a problem getting away from that guy that used to sell you pot or the girl who used to hang around your fraternity house. Most of us don’t have plans to hang out with these people again, but here I am wanting to see what’s going on, if nothing more than to just break up the boring parts of the day.

Train Wreck Theory: Why I Love a Lil’ Bit of Trashy TV

Before we get into this, I want to say that I do have a degree in English. I am educated. I do read. In fact, I have a job that forces me to use my brain daily to hope that a foundation will give our programs money. With that being said, I am not the typical demographic for trashy reality TV, but it is an addiction.

I don’t go all out and watch Real Housewives of (Insert geographical region). It isn’t all that I watch, but I come from the generation that grew up watching Real World and saw Reality TV peak with the overly dramatic Jersey Shore. Now, I cannot turn away from the even more troublesome Party Down South.

I know how bad this is. The show is as awful as the people that star on it. They are misogynistic, under-educated, binge drinking, functioning alcoholics who treat each other like crap. The men treat women like objects to be conquered and they are encouraged by the females who encourage the disgusting behaviors. The women parade around in their underwear or bikinis, vomiting up an entire weeks worth of alcohol, fighting over guys, and sleeping with each other on camera. We could go on and on about how awful this show is (and all of the subsequent sequels that may come up), but that’s been done.

What I love about PDS and other shows like it is what some call would call the “Train Wreck Theory.” This theory is simple to follow, if something is so terrible, yet you can’t look away, it’s due to the Train Wreck Theory (AKA Rubbernecking Syndrome). I cannot stop watching these shows because, in my mind,  I cannot imagine it getting any worse, but somehow they find a way to impress me every single week and by impress, I mean completely lose all hope for humanity.

Watching immature narcissists binge drink their way into D list celebrity stardom is the only rational way to close out a long work week. Let’s face it. By Thursday night, all of our brains are mush. Picking up a book after getting chewed out by your boss for a looming deadline that is out of your control seems like a chore. Honestly, I just want to turn my brain off and watch something that helps remind me that I made some good choices in life.

I want to see them crash and burn. The TV knows what I want to see. I want to see drunken debauchery that I will never again experience. I want to see the drama that I left behind in college. That self-involved and self-destructive behavior that leaves a path of destruction in it’s wake. These TV shows are like a tornado that rips through a town and gives it a bad name. Furniture gets destroyed, people get injured, at some point everyone is in the bathroom crying for it all to end, and, of course, someone is there to videotape it all for my viewing pleasure.

It’s all bad, I know that. But so is the sun, sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, red meat…you name it. That doesn’t stop people from doing those. Judge me all you want. This is some low quality, trashy television and I’m 100% OK with it.

It’s OK Leo, the Oscars Are For Losers

This Sunday, America will gather around the TV for yet another angering award show where the statues never go to the person who we think deserves it. While everyone will be shouting that Boyhood or American Sniper got shafted, I’ll be remembering all of the great movies that we all know and love that never got an Academy Award.

Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction (1994) both lost to Forest Gump. First, let’s take a moment to appreciate what a great year that was for movies. Second, let’s ask ourselves if getting snubbed by the Academy has changed our opinions of the classic films. It doesn’t. I would find it hard to believe that the number of awards a film receive has ever hindered someone’s opinion of a film. Does anyone think, “Well, Shawshank didn’t get the Best Picture, so it sucks.” My bet is in the short history of film, no one has ever thought that.

The Shining never even got a nod, yet it is still, by many experts, one of the best horror films. Hell, Stanley Kubrick was nominated for a Razzie for this movie, an award given to the worst in film.

We put so much weight on the Academy Awards for about a day and after it is over, we all throw up our hands and say, “Oh well.”

There is a long list of great actors that have never received an Academy Award. Leonardo DiCaprio, of course, is one of them, but so is Bill Murray. Does that make Ghostbusters any less funny? Does that mean that we aren’t going to watched Scrooged this Christmas season? Of course not.

These award shows mean next to nothing. They are there to remind us that we know nothing when it comes to film and cinema. At least, that’s what they want us to think.

The End of the Routine

The routine goes something like this:

Wake up, rollover, grab my phone, check Facebook.

Get up, go to the couch, recheck Facebook and now Instagram.

Make breakfast, recheck Facebook, double back to Instagram, upload TimeHop. Repeat.

My day is, like many of you, consumed with staying connected. It is the blessing and curse of our generation and all that follow. We are constantly having public conversations and even arguments over the internet. I know your words and opinions, but I’m not sure that I know you. I have friends that I haven’t seen since high school, if we were to bump into each other on the street, I could easily say, “How was your chicken parm that I saw your post an hour ago?” There would be no surprise, no news to tell.

Even my workday is spoiled by my constant need to be connected to everyone. My browser always has Facebook up so that I can be up to day and current with each breaking moment. Ready to drop a witty line or an overused meme in hopes that I make someone click a button to give me that wonderful sensation of a Like. It has ruined my already damaged attention span, making completing simple tasks at work difficult to finish without interrupting it with quick refresh or status update.

My focus on reading and writing is nonexistent. I can barely get through a single movie without checking my phone for notifications.

Lent is coming up in a few days. It’s a time for deep reflection and conversations with God. It’s a time to get personal. That’s what I’m going to do. Starting Ash Wednesday, I will be deactivating all of my social media, deleting it from my phone. The only site that I will be maintaining will be this blog. My goal is to get back to reading and writing. It’s also to get closer with the friends that I have by calling and texting. Really getting to know who they are and what I am missing out on by only seeing their filtered coffee pictures and well thought out statuses. In the process, I hope to come out of this knowing myself better. I hope to open up to myself.

Songbook

The power of music on our lives has always fascinated me. The memories it brings up, inspiration that it conjures, stories that it creates. Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference” Music controls our emotions.

Whenever I go to the symphony (which isn’t as often as I’d like), I cannot take my eyes off of the conductor. Does he realize what he is doing to the audience? Does he realize he is stirring emotion? He can cause pain and fear with a few well placed notes, in the flick of his baton he can emit joy and hope to an entire crowd of strangers. All of them with different reasons for being there, all with different problems at home, all of them leaving that behind and putting their emotions in the hands of this flailing mad man. The conductor isn’t directing the winds and strings. He is directing us.

Recently, I was talking about how each of us listen to music differently with a close friend of mine. Each of us can listen to the same song and hear completely different things, have different emotions triggered, different memories brought up, and thats what brings me to this blog. I am going to do a series of short fiction essays based on the stories and memories they create. This is my Songbook.