The start of another baseball season!

It’s been awhile since I did a blog. Sometimes other things in life took me away from doing this. Since my favorite sport officially started April 2nd, I thought the time would be perfect to start posting regularly again.

Baseball has always been about connections. The connection of your hometown. The connection of your youth and where you grew up. The connection of your favorite player growing up and your favorite player now. And the connection of a family member (in this case my grandfather) who while in heaven, I will never forget the bond we shared and how I grew to love the game just like seeing him on a summer evening with a game on the radio and a game on television.

Miller Park History

This picture is great. It shows my connection to why I love baseball. And the memories of the day I noticed my Grandfather spending his summers watching Cubs Home games in the afternoon on WGN, Brewers road games on Super 18/Fox 24, or Braves games on TBS at night. If the Brewers weren’t televised, he would have his transistor radio on WTMJ AM for a Brewers game with the TV on another game. Warm summer evenings watching the sun set on another day with the Brewers game by his side was his idea of relaxing.

One day my curious mind asked him what he was watching. He told me a little about the sport and I instantly became hooked. Heck we could clear a room of family with our long conversations about the sport. 🙂

Dodgers fans or not, we all have been connected to the game by Vin Scully for the last 67 years. It may have been a summer night in Southern California, a NBC Saturday Game of the Week, or The memorable calls of the 1986 and 1988 World Series.

Vin Scully connected us to baseball unlike any broadcaster. While I think we will really start to miss him now, here is a reminder of how great he his during Jackie Robinson day Saturday 4/15.

 

Hope everyone is having a good Passover and Easter weekend!

 

Sunday Perspectives

I have not posted a blog in months but felt I needed to today.

It is strange how the world works and how a something makes you stop and put life in perspective.

I have worked pretty much every hour I was not sleeping this weekend. I am cranky, irritable, and tired as I write this.

This morning at the school nearby my place, I was awoken to the 5k run that they are hosting. There is a DJ outside, I can hear him loud and clear and all I want to do is go back to sleep and not get ready for work.

I finally wake up and read the news of Jose Fernandez’ unfortunate passing on my phone.

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/203268704/jose-fernandez-killed-in-boating-accident/

Suddenly, I feel guilty. Like my crankiness, irritability, and being tired does not matter anymore. Indeed it is strange how you feel several things in life and all it takes is one thing to put life back in perspective for you.

I also was surprise and upset to see someone who I have known for years have the audacity to make light of what happened. It makes me pause and revisit who I should share my energy with going forward. Too much negativity in the world to be associated with people who make light out of situations like this.

A promising career and you could argue the start of a Hall of Fame pitching career has now ended too soon. You can’t help but feel for the Marlins, their players, their employees, their fans, and all fans of baseball. One thing great about this sport is that when something unfortunate happens, everyone comes together like a family, and this won’t be any different.

Below is a video that I watched this morning which gives some insight on who the person Jose Fernandez was that some may not know. And it will make you understand why so many are struggling to cope with the news this morning. I want to warn you that it may cause some tears to flow.

Jose’s bond with his grandmother reminds me of the bond for this game I shared with my grandfather growing up. Most importantly it is a reminder that tomorrow is never promise to us and that we should live everyday of our lives to the fullest.

jose-fernandez-marlins

If this is how a rebuild is supposed to go, then count me in

So it has been awhile since I did a baseball blog, and today is June 1st and already 1/3 of the season is over.

At the beginning of the season while I thought this Brewers team is not going to be a playoff team, I thought they would be better than many people think. I was not buying that this is instantly a 100 loss team.

The defense and fundamentals are much better than last year’s debacle. And they still (while not playoff contending) do have talent on this team.

I challenge each and every Brewers fan to just enjoy each game. Don’t worry about Wins or Losses and how many games this team is back out of a playoff spot. One thing I notice is this team puts bad (and yes there have been some stinkers) losses behind them and always competes each and every game. That is all you can hope as year one of the rebuild is underway.

Here are some good observations about this team I have notice in April and May:

Defense is much better. While they sometimes make boneheaded mistakes and bad decisions (which I admit does get to me), there are not the worst defensive team in the majors. Surprisingly their rival The St. Louis Cardinals earn that distinction and which is probably why A: They hover near .500 and B: Are and probably will be the best 3rd place team in baseball.

Jonathan Villar

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers

Who is this guy we got from Houston? Apparently one of the top 5 Shortstops via his stats in the MLB. There is becoming talk that this guy should be placed in the All-Star game. With his batting average a little over .300 at .308, his OBP at .412 and 19 stolen bases, we may have found our new lead off hitter. This also gives time for Orlando Arcia, the highly touted and long awaited SS to get some seasoning in AAA before being brought up. If Villar can figure out how to play 3B or 2B, then we may have a surprising IF piece in the start of our rebuild.

Jimmy Nelson

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After a year of figuring things out in the majors, Jimmy Nelson already looks like a solid #2 or #3 piece that you can build the rotation around. One important thing that I notice about Nelson is whenever he gets into trouble, he has figured out how to limit and even in some cases eliminate the damage. I do think the guy has an outside chance of being a potential Ace in the making.

Josh Hader

Milwaukee Brewers non-roster invitee Josh Hader, points to help his catcher field a wild pitch, Wednesday, February 24, 2016, in Phoenix. Arizona.(Photo/Roy Dabner) ORG XMIT: RD037

Have you heard of him? If you don’t keep up with the minors, you probably have not. I suggest you keep an eye on the minor league teams. This is one of the reasons why I don’t think this rebuild will take as long as many think.

Hader is one of the pieces we got back in return from the Gomez and Fiers trade. This guy is legit and he is a southpaw. In AA this year he is 1-1 with a 0.88 ERA in 10 starts. Hader is the one to watch out for. While he still is probably 1-2 seasons away, if Hader keeps this up, we could have a nice 1-2 combo with him and Nelson.

The Veterans

BREWERS-PIRATES. The Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun, hits a three run homer in the first inning, driving in Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez in the first inning as the Brewers continue their dominance against the National League Central rival Pittsburgh Pirates, Sunday, May 15, 2011 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ryan Braun hit his National League-leading 12th homer, tripled and drove in four runs, helping a shaky Zack Greinke and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-6 Sunday for a three-game sweep.. Photo by MICHAEL SEARS/ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, Aaron Hill, and Chris Carter:

The Brewers have leaned on these guys for a couple of reasons:

  1. Good clubhouse guys who can teach the young players how to play.
  2. Great possible trade chips.

Who would have ever thought tons of teams would show interest in Ryan Braun. While people still don’t forget his PED suspension, he is batting an incredible .348 and showing good hitters can always figure out a way to hit.

Jonathan Lucroy is starting to heat up. After a quiet early start to the season he is now up to .299 and has a .355 OBP. Lucroy is one of the biggest trade pieces for the Brewers as his contract is very friendly through next season.

Aaron Hill has also showed signs he can still hit. Additionally his defense has been better than advertised. His batting average is up to .275.

Hernan Perez

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During the Cubs-Brewers game that last 13 innings I got really upset at Perez for his poor at bat with the bases loaded and nobody out. Maybe he heard me. Lately he is showing Detroit made a mistake letting him go through waivers. He recently is starting to draw more walks and additionally is showing signs of power. This could be the future 3B if or when Aaron Hill gets traded.

Here are some not so good observations during April and May:

Inconsistent. With any rebuild you will notice a team will show signs that in some games they can be really good and other games not so good.

The pitching was all over the place in April and has since showed signs that they can compete. Now recently the offense seems to be struggling. Big innings are few and far away. While this can be maddening sometimes, I have had to learn to let it go just like the team is showing a good example of doing.

Wily Peralta

peralta

It was not too long ago that Peralta was close to a 20 game winner. Now, who knows what we have. I can’t figure out the issue and neither can Craig Counsell or the Brewers coaching staff. He has shown times that he could turn the corner but the minute you think he will, there is a major setback. Peralta has been a disappointment this season. While fans talk about moving him to the bullpen, the best you can do right now is keep him in the rotation. If he still can’t figure it out by July, then it might be time to make changes or even think about if he needs a change of scenery through a trade.

Outfield

Minus Braun and Domingo Santana, the Brewers Outfield situation looks like a work in progress. Guys like Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Keon Broxton, and Ramon Flores bring good things to the table, however nobody has been solid enough in hitting and fielding to take over the position of CF. Alex Pressley has been nice however he is much suited as a bench player. This will remain a work in progress.

Overall, if you are a fan of baseball, you always want your team to compete every day. And Craig Counsell has this team fighting and playing hard. They are also quite fun to watch if you can let the bad play go. It’s all you can ask for a team in year 1 of their rebuild.

North of the Border baseball:

In April I was in Toronto and was able to see Rogers Centre for the first time in my life! What a cool stadium and atmosphere. It reminded me a little bit of how Miller Park is structured. If you love baseball like me and have a bucket list of visiting every stadium during your lifetime, I suggest if you find good airfare, update your passport if needed, and take a trip there.

IMG_0766 IMG_0767IMG_0768IMG_0769IMG_0770

 

Best NCAA Championship Game of All Time?

I don’t know long term, but right now I see points of those who argue it.

Every year when you might have any doubt that this tournament is the best playoff system in all of professional and collegiate sports, it gives you something you have never seen before:

Side note: Isn’t it just great that Bill Raftery calls the NCAA Final Four on TV? His reaction was genuine and priceless. ONIONS!!

As soon as I saw the last shot, all of could think of was this, which is the last time a NCAA Championship ended on a last second shot.

What will go down as one of the most chaotic tournaments perhaps ever, had as fitting ending as you will ever see in sports.

And somewhere in America, the piccolo girl’s tears of sadness last year was not in vain.

crying-piccolo-player-600

 

Piccolo Girl Story

Piccolo Girl Story 2

Notice the team Villanova lost to. It is moments like this which is the reason why we love sports!!

Historic First Round Friday and it may only be the Beginning…..

It’s been awhile since I posted a blog. This is actually my first blog posting of 2016. There are so many reasons why so many people, both sports fans and non-sports fans can never get enough of March Madness. It creates a playoff format where every one of the 64 teams each has (as equal of a chance as you can get) to win a National Championship game. It makes stories that no movie, TV show, or book can ever duplicate. Expect the unexpected is a understatement.

With this year’s parity in college basketball, before the tournament started on Thursday, I predicted that this year’s tournament will be one of the most chaotic in years. Boy was I right. It was more chaotic than I ever thought it would be.

Things turned on Thursday when this happened:

However it was only the appetizer of what was to come.

Friday March 18, 2016 may go down as one of the craziest and most entertaining round 1 days in the history of this tournament. Since no words can describe it, I will be mostly using videos and pictures to describe all that happened:

Practically everyone’s bracket gets officially destroyed at this point by MTSU vs a favorite national champion pick in MSU

Controversy in Temple vs Iowa. Offensive Foul or no foul on Iowa? No foul was called. Iowa wins.

SF Austin’s Thomas Walkup becomes a household name

Before I get to Northern Iowa vs Texas, here is how UNI got into the tournament by winning their conference:

Then they topped it with this in Round 1:

Which caused me to do this again….

 

WTF Face

And almost immediately after that happened, this happened which needs no explanation:

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One week earlier this happened to the Bearcats to cause them to lose their conference tourney in 4 overtimes.

It’s why this is the best playoff system in sports. One play can make you feel like this:

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or like this:

635939495337677721-031816Bearcats-41

Win and survive. What a game!

 

2015 was a great year in music

Uptown Funk

2015 might have been the first time in recent memory where I put away my favorite music from the 80s and 90s & listened to more current than past hits. Last year started the trend towards better music, and this year was a great music year in recent memory!

According to Nielsen, Top 40 radio is having a resurgence as the most popular radio format among the 18-34 and 25-54 crowd.

http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2015/tops-of-2015-audio.html

http://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/148897/nielsen-news-talk-top-40-most-popular-radio-format

 

Music is actually back to being fun to listen to again. This year’s top hits remind me of the days in the 80s and 90s when you heard a song for what it should be: Fun to listen to, have lasting power, & most importantly define a time period.

2015 also reminds me of the 80s and early 90s where you mention a song, and a majority of the people around you would say, “hey I know that song and I like it. This is my favorite one at the moment!”

It also is not hurting that many of the top hits this year have a very late 80s/early 90s retro sound to it.

Note: Remember Daft Punk “Get Lucky” back in 2013? The trendsetters who always seem to define what music may sound like years after they put a song out, may have done it again!!

Below are some of top hits of the year from the Top 40, Rhythmic, & Dance charts (courtesy of Mediabase) that are among my favorite this year! Also I will unveil my personal Top song of 2015!! Full chart is available at http://www.allaccess.com/mediabase/q/report/yearToDate/format/H1/panel/R (Free Registration Required)

Top 40 Charts

1 Mark Ronson f Bruno Mars Uptown Funk   -How could you not like a song that channeled its retro sound and made it sound not only fresh for 2015, but paid homage to those great funk songs of yesteryear!

2 Walk the Moon Shut Up and Dance   -This song was so catchy it got the ladies on the dance floor and the men following them!

3 Jason DeRulo Want to Want Me   -Jason DeRulo was back with a vengeance!

4 Maroon 5 Sugar   -Another retro sounding song that topped the charts from one of the most popular groups of this decade.

5 The Weeknd I Can’t Feel My Face   -When you first heard this song, I am sure some of you thought they uncovered a unreleased Michael Jackson song. Another retro sounding song and was one of the Top chorus anthems of 2015 along with Shut Up and Dance

Rhythmic Charts

1 Fetty Wap Trap Queen  -When I first heard this song, I was like WTF?? No denying that 1738 has been one of the top catchphrases of 2015!

2 Omarion Post to Be

3 Natalie LaRose f Jeremih Somebody

4 The Weeknd Earned It  -Who would have ever thought the song would get better reviews than the awful movie? And no I have not seen the movie, only heard how bad it was from word of mouth

5 Nicki Minaj Truffle Butter  -Raise your hands if you were blasting this song before you looked up the definition in Urban Dictionary……….

Dance

1 Major Lazer Lean On  –DJ producing top hits have defined this decade and that is fine with me. Keep it coming!

2 Armin Van Burin f Mr. Probz Another You

3 Audien f Lady Antebellum Something Better  – Always great when artists from different genres crossover on songs. This defined music this year and hope this continues.

4 Calvin Harris Outside   -Calvin Harris still as popular now as he became back in 2011

5 Tiesto & KSHMR Secrets

Honorable Mentions

Ellie Goulding Love Me Like You Do

Taylor Swift Style

Taylor Swift f Kendrick Lamar Bad Blood    -She has had a great two years. Her 1989 album defined this updated version of the retro sound that has top the charts.

Omi Cheerleader  – With songs like this, music is fun again!

Fifth Harmony f Kid Ink Worth It

Selena Gomez f ASAP Rocky Good for You  -More Hip-Hop artist collaborating with Pop artist has been a big trend for 2015.

Tove Lo Talking Body    -Sexiest song of 2015.

Pitbull Time of Our Lives

Taylor Swift Blank Space

Nick Jones Jealous

The Weeknd The Hills

Justin Beiber What Do You Mean    -It’s OK to like a Justin Beiber song. Trust me. Sorry might even be a better song It is currently the last Top 40 song to hit #1 in 2015!

Hozier Take Me To Church     -A song discussing faith can even be a big hit in 2015!

Demi Lovato Cool for the Summer   -Song=Summer of 2015!!

DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge You Know You Like It   -See more thoughts later in this blog.

Andy Grammer Honey I’m Good    -This song has some soul & good feeling to it!

Fl0-Rida GDFR–    Florida ummm I mean Flo-Rida was back in 2015 with more party anthems and my guess is My House will be one of the top hits of 2016!

Alessia Cara Here–   Wow, she came out of nowhere in the mid-late 2015 with an R&B smash.

Drake Hotline Bling   -Drake proving time and time again that he can appeal to all audiences. He even had Donald Trump dancing to this in a SNL skit.

Selena Gomez Same Old Love   – The older Selena is the more catchy her songs get

Ariana Grande & The Weeknd Love Me Harder

Adelle Hello    -One of the best voices in music today blew up with this song literally overnight

Rachel Platten Fight Song

Lillywood & Robin Schulz Prayer in C

Mr. Probz Waves

Chris Brown & Tyga Ayo

Jidenna Classic Man   – Fun & catchy hip-hop. Reminds me of the early 90s

Ne-Yo She Knows      -Simply a great voice over a great beat

Kid Ink f Dej Loaf Be Real    -Midwest Hip-Hop may be back for good!

David Guetta f Nicki Minaj Hey Mama

Rich Homie Quan Flex   -Ooh Oohh  Ooohhhh. Like I said earlier, fun Hip-Hip is back.

Big Sean f E-40 I Don’t F with You    -One of the Top Hip-Hop catchphrases of 2014/2015!!

Rihanna BBHMM     – You could argue the answer to Big Sean’s song above and another one of the Top Hip-Hip catchphrases of 2015!!

Silento Watch Me   – The top crossover anthem of 2015 that brought everyone together on the floor!! Oooo Watch Me watch me Ooooo watch me watch me….

Jeremih Don’t Tell ‘Em

Beyonce 7/11

IloveMakenon f Drake Tuesday   -The song that made it OK to party….. on a Tuesday!

Tech N9ne Hood Go Crazy

Rae Sremmund f Nicki Minaj Throw Some Mo   – Congrats for not becoming a one hit wonder.

Nelly f Jeremih The Fix   -Remember what I said about Midwest Hip-Hop making a comeback?

Trey Songz About You

Big Sean f Drake Blessings   -Midwest Hip-Hop w a side of Canadian…….

Rihanna/Kanye West/Paul McCarthy FourFiveSeconds   -Who would ever thought Paul McCarthy would collaborate with 2 major hip-hop artists. More of this please!!

Skillrex & Diplo f Justin Beiber Where Are You Now  -There is that concept of artists crossing over on a song again

KYGO Firestone

Galantis Runaway (U & I)

Zedd Beautiful Now

Martin Garrix f Usher Don’t Look Down

Zedd f Selena Gomez I Want You To Know

Martin Solveig & GTA Intoxicated –  For those of you Cubs fans who don’t know, this song was one of Anthony Rizzo’s walk-up songs. You welcome!!

Calvin Harris f HAIM Pray to God

And here is my favorite song of 2015:

DJ Snake f AlunaGeorge I Know You like It

 

This song defined the year in my opinion.  I Know You Like It was originally was released in 2011. This year’s version was a  collaboration between AlunaGeorge and remixed by DJ Snake.

The song is my top song for 2015 because

  1. It has great lyrics –
    Some people want me to be heads or tails
    I say no way, try again another day

    I should be happy, not tipping the scales
    I just won’t play letting my life get away
  2. An awesome hook
    You know you like it but it drives you insane
    You know you like it but it drives you insane
    You know you like it but you’re scared of the shame
    What you want, what you gonna do?
    You know you like it but it drives you insane
    Only because you know that you wanna feel the same
    You know you like it but it drives you insane
    What you want, what you gonna do?
  3. Lets you escape into the beat for the last part of the song.

It was also big enough to crossover on the top 40, Rhythmic, and Dance charts. Let’s hope more of this type of music continues in 2016 making next year as great as this year was!!! Happy New Year!! Wishing you all the best in 2016!!

635862518490700854-886416563_2016-Happy-New-Year-Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Series Preview

New York Mets vs Kansas City Royals All games on Fox

It has now come down to two teams. The New York Mets who many said would not even make it to the playoffs and the Kansas City Royals which was a big pick to repeat back to the World Series.

For the Mets let’s just say Daniel Murphy has had quite a October, in some respects being called “Babe Murphy.”

USP-MLB-NLCS-CHICAGO-CUBS-AT-NEW-YORK-METS-76811106

Which team has the edge to win the World Series and be declared best in the world? Here is my preview:

The Mets will win if:

Their pitching continues its dominance that has carried them through the NLDS and NLCS. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Sydergaard, and Steven Matz are many of the reasons why the Mets are where they are. One of the best performances in the playoffs was when deGrom out pitched both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Also the Mets will win if Curtis Granderson (The Pride of University at Illinois-Chicago) can be the all around player he was during the NLCS, Yoenis Cespedes can be clutch, and Daniel Murphy continues his epic Home Run streak he is on.

The Mets will lose if:

They revert back to the hitting team they were before the July 31st trade deadline, and their young pitching loses steam through pitching so many innings this season (keep an eye on Matt Harvey).

The Royals will win if: 

They continue to play these playoffs like it is personal. There following videos show how they act like they have a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.

I think part of the reason why the Royals got to where they are is because of how they play. From the time they looked like they were set to be eliminated in Game  4 of the ALDS, the Royals play like they are in any game no matter the lead of or inning of the game. The balance attack of hitters like Eric Hosmer who can hit it out of the park along with the speed and contact of hitters like Lorenzo Cain need to continue their never say die swagger. Also, Johnny Cueto has to pitch like he is capable of pitching.

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The Royals will lose if:

Ned Yost makes questionable decisions like he was widely criticized last year. This year has been a different story. He has not really made much headlines. As a former Brewers fan, it is crazy to think he could arguable be called among the best managers in baseball currently, however there is no denying the fact that he always seems to have his players going all out for him.

The Royals will also lose if they struggle offensively just as much as the Cubs did. The difference between the Cubs team that was shut down completely offensively and the Royals team is that the Royals can change their offensive personality depending on the game. They are able to play for contact and hit for power, forming a more balanced attack. Additionally, if the Royals continue to allow Daniel Murphy to beat them, they won’t be finally getting that elusive title.

Verdict: What a trip we have been on during these MLB playoffs. We have had exciting games, great pitching performances, home runs that immediately changed the game, and unfortunate miscues that was the difference between moving on and sending people home.

Even though some people may not watch this series because their favorite team is no longer playing, I would challenge the baseball or sports fan in you to watch this series. On paper, this could be a epic series. The Royals last year in game 7 was one of the best closings to a World Series in recent history. They were 90 feet away from tying the game in a winner take all moment. You can’t get much better than that.

This year’s World Series has the chance to top that. Daniel Murphy two weeks ago was not a household name. Today he is. Lorenzo Cain added to his legacy by his (first base to home) game winning scoring run in game 6 of the ALCS.

Players have made these 2015 playoffs must see TV and I expect nothing more or less now. While the Mets have proved everyone including me wrong knocking off two favorites to get to this place, I just think that experience wins in the World Series as was proven by the Giants last year.

Kansas City has been there, had an off season to think about going back and was determined to make this season a World Series or bust campaign. They are 4 games away from completing that goal, and I think they have the most balance attack offensively and defensively to finally bring home its fans a winner for the first time since 1985. They also have the starting pitching and bullpen to do it as well.

Two years ago, many people would have never thought they would be here, and now they are my favorites to win the World Series.

Kansas City in 6