Tuesday, March 27, 2018

30 Teams, 30 Haiku: My 2018 Baseball Preview

I've been doing this for several years now. I assume knows the drill now, right?

I have guarded optimism for my Royals this year. We're easing ourselves into rebuilding; beyond the recent re-sign of Mike Moustakas, my boys will have healthy averages but struggle to drive in runs. The speedster depicted above might ease the pain as we aim for 75-80 wins again.

*notes wild card picks

AL East
1. Yankees. Dominant again/but don't Judge; mashers evoke/Bombers of years past.
2. Red Sox*. These new Killer B's/(Benintendi, Bradley, Betts)/could be fun to watch.
3. Blue Jays. Young hitting prospects/aren't ready yet; pitching health/makes hosers skittish.
4. Orioles. Boom-Boom Mancini/can't power-hit alone; Crush/and Trumbo must smash.
5. Rays. Less sting in Tampa/Kiermaier has a hot glove/...that's the one highlight.

AL Central
1. Indians. A healthy Brantley/would be nice, but depth and weak/rivals won't hurt Tribe.
2. Twins. These Cinderellas/need more consistent SPs/and fewer pumpkins.
3. White Sox. So much turnover/reminds me of '13 Cubs/youth might rule quite soon.
4. Royals. Not unwatchable/slow rebuild, offense struggles/regal fire sale?
5. Tigers. Odd mix of young, old/aging Miggy's huge contract/leaves Bengals toothless.

AL West
1. Astros. Youthful core remains/they won't win 100, but/they'll feast on the West.
2. Angels*. Ohtani, a rare/double threat; I love his arm/but where is his bat?
3. Rangers. Not much pitching depth/beyond Hamels; with hard hits/this offense intrigues.
4. Mariners. Farm system, gutted/ancient Felix, Ichiro/lead a motley crew.
5. Athletics. Fresh Piscotty takes/a baby elephant walk/with rebuilding club.

NL East
1. Nationals. A hundred-plus wins/aside, playoff glory now/or next year's Marlins.
2. Mets*. Vargas paints the strikes/but after lat tear, they can't/let Thor get hammered.
3. Phillies. Fat Odubel whiffs/Arrieta carries this/hodgepodge of youngsters.
4. Braves. Not a playoff team/yet; Acuna and Albies/must get their chops first.
5. Marlins. These fish are dinner/like '98, but way worse/Jeter is too vague.

NL Central
1. Cubs. Yu better, you bet/Maddon must care for pitchers/or '16? A fluke.
2. Brewers*. All bats, no pitching/85 high-scoring wins/quite realistic.
3. Cardinals. Weaver is a dream/if K's pile up. Who is/Miles Mikolas?
4. Reds. Hamilton must learn/to bunt; history has its/eyes on you, Billy.
5. Pirates. These faceless Buccos/have their work cut out for them/grievances abound!

NL West
1. Dodgers. Chokehold on first place/Matt Kemp is back? Good, I guess/on league's deepest team.
2. D-Backs. A small step backward/all that glitters is Goldy/bullpen needs more bite.
3. Rockies. No shade on Jon Gray/at last, an ace bolsters new/Baker Street Bombers.
4. Giants. Offense upgrades? Nice/but MadBum can't catch a break/and old guys must rake.
5. Padres. Very deep farm teams/will pay off by '21/Now? Say a prayer.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
NL MVP: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Red Sox
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, Nationals
AL ROY: Franklin Barreto, A's
NL ROY: Ronald Acuna, Braves
First Manager Fired: Mike Matheny, Cardinals
2018 World Series: Dodgers over Yankees in 6

Friday, March 16, 2018

Random Notes, March 2018

Russians hackers tampered with the 2016 presidential election.

The above sentence is an undeniable fact. What could not be proven, however was the curious but ultimately unconfirmed theory that President Trump's campaign worked with said Russian hackers to alter the course of the 2016 election, essentially performing a massive act of collusion. When it seemed like more time, money, and energy was needed to connect the dots, the GOP pulled the plug on their investigation. Robert Mueller et al. will continue to soldier on, dauntless albeit impartial, sending subpoenas were needed.

Other notes:

+ Next week, I leave for Austin! It'll be my second trip by airplane since 2005 and longest trip out of state since high school. Of course I'll be doing the tourist thing, but I'm going down to Texas first and forement for "The Bob Zula." This is a feature film produced, written, and directed by my friend Brandon Reich. He's crowdsourcing the film's budget, and even though there's enough to start filming, I want to make sure Brandon completes the project. I strongly encourage anyone reading this to donate ASAP. Even a $5 donation gets a "thank you" in the closing credits.

+ Wanna buy some late 60s/early 70s baseball cards? Message me for details.

Next week: my annual baseball preview.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Silure en Fran├žais

I'm very cautious with my Facebook profile, but at the same time I'm not inclined to make assumptions. If I get a friend request from a face or name that I don't recognize, I message that person (or bot) with a simple "hello, have we met?" If I don't receive a response in due time, or a response that makes sense, I either delete the request or report them.

About a month ago, I received a messenger request that landed in my "other" DM inbox. Her name was Angella, and I replied with my usual ice breaker. Everything about this looked fishy. Angella had zero Facebook friends and only a handful of pics on her profile, which was created in December 2017.  She replied no, and in broken English she said my profile pic was cute. She said she was from Belgium by way of France. I asked a series of short but direct questions, and she answered all of them promptly.

As the conversation went on, it became harder to tell if Angella was fake or just had an extremely awkward social media presence. The conversation eventually transitioned from English to French; I'm not fluent, but it was easier for her if I used Google Translate. Angella is 34 (turning 35 this Spring), a part-time model working at a PR firm in Liege. She was a single mom, but her grammar school-age daughter lived with her parents in the Paris suburbs. She had always wanted to visit the US, but money prevented that from happening. Angella did not bring that up immediately, but for all intents and purposes I consider that a red flag.

As of right now, I'm mostly humoring my alleged penpal. We've swapped photos, and with one or two exceptions they all look like the same woman. She is still adamant about visiting Chicago (she spells it "Chicargo") but I am very hesitant to spend any money on air fare. I keep telling her that I don't have much expendable income (which is true) and doing my best to save up money (which I'm not). The conversation has transitioned from Facebook Messenger to Google Hangout. I'll keep you guys posted as this weird "love story" develops.