Bad Moms Is An Awful Movie

I recently saw Bad Moms at home thinking it may be okay because Mila Kunis is a self-professed nerd chick and she would present us bad mothers in a good light. I could trust the person brave enough to carry the spawn of the guy who created Punkd! and who was once married to Demi Moore, right? Wrong. So wrong.

In this movie, mothers are complete assholes to each other. Bad mommy, bad, right? No. Being bad to another woman is not what makes a woman a bad mother. It just makes her a mean woman.  Anyhow, brave, beautiful Mila Kunis unites the good mommies against a crazy alpha mommy played by the dumb blonde teen from Married With Children, Christina Applegate. It was awful. Women hating on women. The men don’t get off any better either. The husband is a useless cheater, and the other is eye candy. The women in this movie can’t figure out on their own that they don’t need anyone to liberate them. They don’t need Mila Kunis to save them. They can just do their own thing and ignore the crazy alpha. We all know this crazy alpha, right? Male or female alphas are everywhere. If you follow her, talk to your therapist. You need help too. Do what you think is best for you and your children, and ignore this person.

I was hoping to see a movie about real Bad Moms. You know, the ones whose homes are a mess and who occasionally forget meetings and who don’t buy the right shoes and who sometimes curse their own fertility. The ones who yell and curse at their children sometimes and apologize profusely to them later, and then cry themselves to sleep for being such a bad mom. That’s a “bad mom.” That was the movie I expected to see. This movie was just a shit Hollywood fantasy where drop dead gorgeous 30 year old Mila Kunis is called “old.”

 

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Florida Needs Help Killing Pythons aka Fun Florida Family Vacation in the Everglades

Gator_and_PythonToday (meaning some day in January–this is a repost) begins Florida’s annual Everglades Python Hunt.

How do you kill a python? Carefully.

Burmese pythons play a great game of hide n’seek, and are very difficult to find. They have been wrecking ecological havoc on the natural wonderland that are the Florida Everglades. This little exercise might be fun for the hunters, but last year, the hunt only captured 68 snakes. The exact number of pythons is not known–again, wicked hide n’seek skillz–but best estimates in 2011 were about 2,000. However, according to the state’s wildlife commission, the point is not to eradicate the snakes, but to raise awareness of the problem.

Whoever brings in the most pythons wins $1,500. Second prize is $1,000. If you’re interested in joining, here’s the info: http://pythonchallenge.org/. There’s even official gear. Get your 2016 Python Challenge Sippy Cup.

 

Fantasy Baseball 101: Roto

POSTED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2016

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I’m a relatively newbie myself compared to some of the old-timers, but in the past few years, I’ve learned a few things. I’m no expert by any means and I don’t claim to be. Whether you play in our league or somewhere else, hopefully this information will come in handy. I would not have survived my first year playing without others sharing their knowledge.

Where did the name rotisserie even come from? It makes me hungry.

Back in 1980, a group of guys and a gal met at a New York City restaurant named La Rotisserie Française, where its founders played the game for the first time over lunch. Yes, there was a woman owner in the first fantasy league. Apparently, they interviewed her like she was applying for a job. It reminds me of my first invite into a baseball fantasy league. Although fantasy baseball was played in other forms prior to that, the granddaddy of fantasy sports as we know them today was born there. There’s a great article over at ESPN Insider about this. Yes, you need to pay for the full version but even half of it is excellent.

Why those categories?

Dan Okrent, one of the founding members, decided on the basic categories: average, home runs, RBIs, steals, wins, saves, ERA and WHIP. It was an NL-only League (booo). He prototyped the 6 previous seasons, and realized that using those stats, it seemed to track close to the actual standings. They also used an auction to divvy up the players. It was arbitrarily decided that pitching and offense would be 50-50.

According to Wikipedia, “Ironically, despite having been credited with inventing fantasy baseball he has never been able to win a Rotisserie League he has ever entered.” I’m guessing his competition is pretty good. He seems pretty smart.

(Did you know Dan Okrent also created WHIP? I did not know this.)

Ok, enough with the history lesson. I’ve only played Head to Head because it’s awesome. Now I gotta play my grandpa’s game. How do I score?

It’s not hard. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll keep the categories old school and the team numbers small. I’m going to back up a little. When we say 5×5, that means we have 5 hitting categories and 5 pitching categories. 6×6, 6 hitting categories, 6 pitching categories. (I’m not trying to be condescending–I don’t know your level, so I’m starting at the beginning. It’s a very good place to start.) The original roto people did 4×4.

So, let’s say we have 12 teams and we’re playing 5×5 with the following simple basic categories: R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG/W/SV/K/ERA/WHIP. Since we have 12 teams, the maximum available points per category is 12 points–12 teams, 12 points.

This is a scoring sample. This first table are the actual statistics, pretty straight forward.

BA R RBI HR SB W SV K ERA WHIP
Team 1 .283 825 884 241 99 85 146 1226 3.70 1.26
Team 2 .276 835 798 201 120 81 143 1285 3.58 1.26
Team 3 .277 816 850 225 60 101 116 1119 3.64 1.24
Team 4 .266 817 669 163 160 103 6 1285 3.46 1.22
Team 5 .277 764 628 117 212 90 71 1195 3.42 1.19
Team 6 .275 856 869 231 119 71 75 1204 3.75 1.31
Team 7 .255 792 769 167 109 81 46 1184 3.38 1.21
Team 8 .274 825 664 150 109 99 54 1141 3.61 1.26
Team 9 .280 787 757 205 121 81 1 879 4.01 1.27
Team 10 .264 701 788 175 63 87 53 922 3.48 1.26
Team 11 .276 761 764 191 68 81 99 1122 3.71 1.32
Team 12 .270 774 704 193 155 62 157 852 3.93 1.35

Using the batting average column, Team 1 has the best BA total, .283, and receives 12 points.  Team 2 has the second best BA total and receives 11 points. Team 3 and Team 5 are tied at .277. They receive 9.5 points each. Team 2 is tied with Team 6 and they receive 7.5 points each, and so on. Team 7, as the worst scoring in the BA category at .255, receives a single point. This is what it looks like (please correct me if I made a typo with the numbers, as that will be confusing):

BA R RBI HR SB W SV K ERA WHIP
Team 1 12 9.5 12 12 4 7 11 10 5 6.5
Team 2 7.5 11 9 8 8 4.5 10 11.5 8 6.5
Team 3 9.5 7 10 10 1 11 9 4 6 9
Team 4 3 8 3 3 11 12 2 11.5 10 10
Team 5 9.5 3 1 1 12 9 6 8 11 12
Team 6 6 12 11 11 7 2 7 9 3 3
Team 7 1 6 7 4 5.5 4.5 3 7 12 11
Team 8 5 9.5 2 2 5.5 10 5 6 7 6.5
Team 9 11 5 5 9 9 4.5 1 2 1 4
Team 10 2 1 8 5 2 8 4 3 9 6.5
Team 11 7.5 2 6 6 3 4.5 8 5 4 2
Team 12 4 4 4 7 10 1 12 1 2 1

Finally, these are the standings. Team 1 = 12 + 9.5 + 12 + 12 + 4 + 7 + 11 + 10 + 5 + 6.5 = 89 points! Team 1 kicks ass.

Points Points Behind
Team 1 89
Team 2 84 5
Team 3 76.5 12.5
Team 4 73.5 15.5
Team 5 72.5 16.5
Team 6 71 18
Team 7 61 28
Team 8 58.5 30.5
Team 9 51.5 37.5
Team 10 48.5 40.5
Team 11 48 41
Team 12 46 43
SOURCE: FANTASY BASEBALL FOR BEGINNERS: THE ULTIMATE “HOW-TO” GUIDE. HENDRICKS, SAM.

Hopefully, this helps to explain the scoring basics. You can also see why roto can be bit discouraging at first. When you’re one of the teams at the bottom, it can be a bit daunting. There is also another way to score roto, but this is the most popular way.

Here are some tips I got when I was brand new at this, and I hope they help you:

  1. Know our rules through and through. Read them. I’m serious. I know it’s boring. Did I say read all of them? All. If there is something you don’t understand, ask. It will bite you in the butt if you don’t.
  2. Do NOT drink or get high and draft. I had a friend who did this. His team was shit. It took him weeks to semi-fix it and it was really never right.
  3. Have a plan and strategy for the draft. Tiers are great (ranking players by talent groups).
  4. Know who is hurt/suspended/retired. Study. The software keeps track of who has already been drafted, but pay attention.
  5. Set a legal line-up. If someone is hurt or not playing, replace them. It’s fair to everyone else playing. Remember to restart them after a day off. I forget to do this ALL THE TIME.
  6. Try to improve your team through free agency or trades. No one wins on draft day.
  7. Get help. Again, study. Use web sites. Rotoworld, CBS, ESPN, Yahoo etc. I like magazines too, but they are quickly out-of-date.
  8. Trust no one in your league ever for advice on who to add/drop/trade. No one. Especially @longfootlefty. Seriously, they might think they have your best interest at heart, but c’mon, man. C’mon. No.
  9. Trust yourself. Believe in the numbers, but trust your gut.
  10. Don’t get impatient with good players who have a cold start. Yes, excellent players have off years (thank you, 2014 Bryce), but beware of small sample sizes. Patience. Patience. Patience. Ride it out.

This is a lot for our first lesson, and I’m sure our old-timers have lots to add. It seems like a lot of work, but once your team is set, it’s really not that bad, and it is a truly rewarding and addicting hobby that makes you a better student of the game. I know it’s helped me better analyze talent and appreciate the game even more than I did before I played, which I didn’t think was even possible.

The Business of Professional Sports

POSTED ON MARCH 1, 2016

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Last night, I attended a symposium titled “The Business of Professional Sports” at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg. The event was attended by Stuart Sternberg, Principal Owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, Jeff Vinik, Owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bryan Glazer, Co-Chairman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was moderated by Mary Byrne, senior deputy editor for the NFL, NHL, and NASCAR at ESPN and president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, and Ernest Hooper, columnist for the Tampa Bay Times. The event was sold out, packed with media and fans, including national media like the NYT and the Daily News. I wasn’t expecting that.

The event was entertaining and very informative. As a baseball fan, and super Rays fan, I was mostly interested in the Sternberg questions, but as the night went on, I became interested in everything.

The first question was the biggest challenge facing each of the individual franchises. Predictably, Sternberg said the biggest challenge facing the Rays is their stadium issue. “Our facility and its placement”, he stated.

He also added that another challenge was, “Making sure we are doing our best to keep sports relevant…. many of us in this room, I would think, we sort of read the paper like Jewish people do, from right to left, we start at the sports section…it was always natural for me.”

You youngsters have no idea what that means, but for those of who grew up reading the spawts section, that made me chuckle. Fond memories of reading the New York Daily News as a kid, and yes. I started at the back, with the sports section, working my way left to the comics.

He added that it was a challenge keeping fans interested when there is so much competing for our entertainment dollar and our attention. He said most of us were probably itching to check our phones (wrong). I was engrossed in what they were saying.

Sternberg was asked about the situation with the New York Yankees and Stubhub. Sternberg phrased it as a security issue. He said he wanted to know who was entering his stadium. I call utter bullshit. When I purchase my ticket on Stubhub, they know who is purchasing the ticket by my credit card information and that information could easily be relayed to the Rays. If I were to purchase my ticket off a scalper outside of the stadium, which is legal in Florida, the Rays would have no way of knowing who purchased the ticket. In addition, I am thoroughly searched before I enter the stadium so the security risk is pretty minimal. I wish I could have questioned him further on that question.

He was also asked where the Rays are on the stadium search. He didn’t really answer the question. He answered like a politician. We need a new stadium, we’ve been searching since 2008, and we appreciate this new mayor who has given us this opportunity. You will be shocked to find out that all three owners are VERY PRO PUBLIC FINANCING of stadiums. I know! We could not possibly afford a new stadium all on our own. All three touted the benefits of a stadium. People will travel to see our stadium. Who wouldn’t want to be here? We have great weather! They go to the beach, they spend money, they go to restaurants.

According to Jeff Vinik: “The fact of the matter is if you look just at the financial model for stadiums, for facilities, if the objective is to 100% privately finance a new ballpark or a new arena, the economics are not going to work. So, uh you cannot finance the whole thing privately and then run the business. You’ll be so underwater. It’s just not financially feasible. I think sports teams are critically important to an area. I’ll give a personal example of the $2 billion real estate development we’re doing downtown. We are including a lot of companies right? And I got asked the question once, is it important that major league baseball stay in the Tampa Bay region? And my answer very simply when I’m talking to these companies is, if we lose major league baseball here, I’m not going to be able to recruit a company because the first thing they are going to say to me is ‘you couldn’t even keep baseball in your region. That’s not a place we want our employees to come.’” Sounds logical.

Sternberg was asked about diversity and openly gay players in baseball. He believes that the atmosphere in baseball has changed enough that it would be very accepting of an openly gay player. “I think, quite frankly, it will be very accepting — a dramatic difference even from five years ago.” He noted that the Rays as an organization are supportive of gay rights.

The owners were asked about women executives in their sport. Sternberg noted that as he looked around the room, “while it is male dominated, there’s a reasonable percentage of females in the room tonight.” (I was very happy to see another woman of color in attendance.) He said 10, 20 years ago, there would have been no women in attendance. He pointed out Melanie Lenz, the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development of the Rays, who was in attendance. He said baseball needed to do a better job of hiring more women and improving diversity. He said, “There’s a leg up for people who have played the sport always, however, fortunately we have gotten to a point now where the general managers and the people in charge… it doesn’t matter whether you have been a big baseball fan or not, (we want) people who can code. We want people with interesting ideas. It’s a question of time, but it’s no doubt about it that we’ve moved too slow (hiring women).”

He also spoke about how when he purchased the team, “We had nowhere to go but up. We could do some crazy stuff. We could innovate and incubate.” He noted that now, the problem is they are being penalized for winning.

When the event was over, I walked over the Melanie who was talking to Rays President Brian Auld. I waited patiently until she was done and introduced myself. I told her I write for a baseball blog she’s never heard of. She was very nice. She laughed and said, “Why haven’t I heard of it?!” Why not indeed?

I asked her, “I know you’re very busy. I won’t take much of your time. What advice do you have for a woman who wants to get into this field?”

She seemed excited to be asked a question. I don’t think she expected to be interviewed and seemed flattered. She said, “Work on every project you can find. Don’t pass up any opportunity. Learn everything you can. Just total immersion. Lots and lots of hard work. And you need good luck. Work on interpersonal relationships.”

“Did you know from the start this is what you wanted to do?”

She said smiling, “Since I was a a little girl.”

She then told me she needed to go, but she reached into her purse, gave me her business card, and said, “Email me.”

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Had I realized Sternberg was that close, I might have been tempted to ask him a question. (And wow, I really need to iron my shirt.)

Examining Baseball Fandom and Stereotypes: Why Your Fanbase Sucks

all-30-team-logosA recent lively discussion in which a particular fanbase was disparaged, at first I thought in a joking manner–which many of us, myself included are guilty of–made me want to examine fan stereotypes a little deeper. Why do we hold them? What are they? While I do joke about stereotypes–fan stereotypes, male-female stereotypes, my own Latin culture (what I call the right of inclusion)–they are jokes. In all seriousness, I know these beliefs cannot be applied to a group as a whole. We do it in jest, but intelligent people with critical thinking skills know that you cannot seriously judge people in this manner, whether its based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or something as seemingly trivial as team affiliation.

If, for example, I ascribed negative characteristics to a group of people based on a small sample size, people whom I may or may not have even encountered myself, you would not think very highly of me (or maybe you don’t think highly of me already but for other reasons.) Yet many of us seem to do this exact thing to opposing fan bases, especially rival fan bases. It is an interesting phenomena to me as someone who enjoys studying and analyzing human behavior both professionally and for fun.

Part of it is that we do witness opposing fan bases–people–behaving badly and we have selective memory banks. I mentioned something called groupthink in my comment. In simple terms, when a bunch of people get together, such as fans with one shared goal of their team winning, it’s as if one mind takes hold and thinks for the entire group. There is very little conscience because guilt is shared among all. “But ma, everybody’s doing it.” No one is guilty. One of the characteristics of a groupthink is stereotyping another group with opposing goals i.e. an opposing fan base. That’s why I kept repeating that in totality, all fan bases are insufferable, and a fan base overdosing on winning and its resulting europhic hormones like testosterone, adrenaline, cortisol, and oxytocin is probably the most intolerable fan base of all. For that peroid of time, that collective “groupthink” mind is pretty high and out of its mind. Baseball fans without allegiance to any team must look at us with a cool detachment and shake their heads in disbelief. What the heck is wrong with us, they must wonder.

With our selective memory banks and biases, we also tend to disregard and diminish when our own fan bases have behaved badly, in the same way we are quick to criticize others when they have failed, but are a bit more forgiving of ourselves. “You forgot the milk, oh great!”…”Oh, I forgot the milk. Oh, well. I will get it tomorrow.” “Those idiots never clean up after themselves”, coveniently forgetting that one time we were late and didn’t clean up after ourselves as well as we should have because we were rushed. Most people do it. It’s okay. Humans.

At tbe same time, stereotypes exist for a reason, right? There’s the 1% outlier that make it so. The extreme. So I thought I should analyze all 30 baseball stereotypes for their accuracy. This is (I am) a highly (pulling) scientific (this) study (out) that (of) should (my) be taken (ass) very seriously. I wanted to have some fun and make everybody angry at me.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Uh, they were gritty. Now, I don’t know. Their owners are dicks who won’t allow fans to wear opposing team jerseys behind home plate. I’ll just extend that to the fan base. Seems fair. Dicks.

Atlanta Braves: They are bandwagoners and possibly racist: Native American iconography, tomahawk chop, building white flight stadium. I mean duh, Georgia.

Baltimore Orioles: Don’t mention the Colts. Unnatural love for crabs. They carry Old Bay seasoning everywhere because you just never know. Every single one of them carries Old Bay and drinks Natty Boh. I personally checked.

Boston Red Sox: Formerly semi-tolerable albeit whiny fan base made insufferable by winning 3 World Series in the past 12 years, now they think they’re the fahkin’ Yankees. Cubs fans, if you win, don’t become the Red Sox. City itself has rep for being racist, which extends to fans.

Chicago Cubs: Lovable loser fans who are there just to party and get their drank on. Even though they have an amazing team this year, I think they’re so resigned by decades of losing that the 1998 Yankees could take the field for them this year, and their fans will still think they’ll lose somehow in the end. Actually, they’d be totally right, because those guys are older than dirt now, but you know what I mean. UPDATE: In case you live on Mars or have been in a coma, the Cubs won the World Series in 2016 and cannot be called “Lovable Losers.” A moment of silence please for this fun nickname that fanbase hated. Their fanbase has shockingly not yet become a bag of dicks like the Boston Red Sox fanbase. Give them time. They are new to winning. The Cubs are doing their best to price their real fans out of Wrigley Field. We shall await future developments. 

Chicago White Sox: This is the south side. These are not the friendly confines. They will fuck you up. Just sit down and shut up and eat your hot dog.

Cincinnati Reds: Very, very passionate fans. No one gets offended or mad if you ask for a three way. These people are alright with me.

Cleveland Indians: Racist fans who won’t let go of Chief Wahoo, that awful Native American iconography. You see my cousin’s wife’s brother’s best friend is 1/4 Navajo, and he’s fine with Chief Wahoo, so it’s cool.

Colorado Rockies: Rocky Mountain High. Mellowest fans in baseball, I reckon. I would be too. I’ve been to Colorado. These people are all fit, and have excellent lung capacity thanks to exercising at such elevated altitudes. Hence, they probably don’t share their pot well. Selfish.

Detroit Tigers: Piss them off in 2 seconds flat by telling them Trout was robbed of the MVP the year Miggy won the Triple Crown (he was). Just a strange hate of Trout. They write everything in “D” Olde English font, grocery lists etc. We get it, it’s a cool font.

Houston Astros: Hey guys, you have a baseball team! No, no, it’s not football. It’s a different shaped, round ball and there’s a bat and bases… oh, just forget it.

Kansas City Royals: Paul Rudd is a huge fan. I love Paul Rudd. He is the perfect man. I am giving all their fans Paul Rudd’s characteristics, lucky sons of bitches. Remember, baby, this is all actual and factual. You guys are fine, except for that kcrobert or whatever on HBT, but even he made laugh. Bad boys of baseball. That was gold. We should invite him over.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: That’s the name, right? The team that non-Jews and non-Mexicans root for in LA. Oddly obsessed with worshipping a rally monkey, won’t do anything without his permission.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Eclectic mix of Jewish and Mexican fans. Will arrive in 3rd inning and leave during the 7th inning to avoid traffic. Also hire a bodyguard for the parking lot, just sayin’.

Miami Marlins: Loria es un come merdia, asi mismo como Fidel y por eso yo no voy a los juegos. Dame un cafecito Cubano, por favor, bellisima. Nosotros tenemos un equipo?

Milwaukee Brewers: I don’t know much about Brewers fans. Long suffering, I guess. My knowledge of Milwaukee is limited to the documentary Laverne & Shirley in syndication. When I looked Brewers fans up, I got “fat and overweight” as a stereotype. That’s mean, and really, that’s most Americans based on average BMI. I prefer to call them zaftig and “more to love.”

Minnesota Twins: Obsessed with lutefisk. Transluscent white. I was really worried about them in the Trop; they were so pale that I thought the indoor lighting might cause a sunburn. Very polite.

New York Mets: Blue collar types, underdog complex from living in the shadow of the Yankees despite having an ownership that has the means to provide competitive teams consistently. Remember 1986 better than the birth of their first child. (They gave me some good drugs, to be fair–for the birth of my child that is. Not 1986. My parents did not give me drugs for the 1986 Mets season although it would have been apropos considering the team.)

New York Yankees: They will respond to every debate with: 27 rings, baby!!! “Your starting pitching is questionable in 2016.” “27 rings, baby!!!”  That’s three rings for every orifice in the human body. Tell them that’s where they can keep them. Team has priced real fans out of the stadium. They sleep outside in tents. It’s sad.

Oakland A’s: Nerds! Sabermetric stat geeks. I am so sorry. You don’t even have meth to console you like Rays fans about your literally shitty baseball stadium situation, and we actually have some hope on that front. You guys deserve better. At least Brad Pitt is your GM.

Philadelphia Phillies: Huge bandwagoners and don’t let them tell you any different. CBP is empty now that the team sucks. We’ve all heard the horror stories. “Aggressive, demanding fans who boo Santa” and vomit on a kid. Great dancers though. I’ve been there.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Everybody roots for the Pirates but what y’all forget is that this is Pittsburgh. Have you ever met a Steelers fan? These are the same people! You don’t want this team to win, trust me. Steelers fans are fucking insane. I’ve met them.

San Diego Padres: Super laid back. I heard they do yoga during games or something.

San Francisco Giants: Hate the Dodgers, feeling is mutual, otherwise pretty apathetic. Another fanbase tagged with the bandwagon label. (Seems to be a common theme. Some of us don’t mind paying to watch a bad team, but maybe those with less expendable income have to be choosier about when and where we spend our entertainment dollars? I play sports, and losing isn’t as much fun as winning, duh. I still have fun, but that’s me. I budget because I heart baseball, but not everyone loves it that same way, and that’s okay.)

Seattle Mariners: They eat sushi and talk about who the Seahawks are going to draft. Oh, and King Felix.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Best Fans in Baseball root for their team the Right Way, which is also the way their team does things, and no one better do anything different than the way they do things or Stan Musial will roll over in his grave. You don’t want to make Musial cry tears in heaven, do you? No, Yadi Molina is not a Hall of Famer.

Tampa Bay Rays: Who? We have fans? You can’t even call us bandwagoners because we can’t be bothered to show up to that shithole stadium even when the team is winning. We’re too busy smoking meth at the beach. The cowbells are annoying, and the hard metal makes a great weapon for Florida Man. You’ve been warned.

Texas Rangers: See Houston.

Toronto Blue Jays: All 30 million Canadians possess the same characteristics. Unfailingly sweet and polite until they become drunk and dump beer cans on babies when a call on the field doesn’t go their way, but who am I to judge? Nobody is perfect, to quote the greatest ending line of any movie, Some Like It Hot.

Washington Nationals: Bandwagoners, again. Bryce Harper sucks! Oh wait, he’s awesome!

What did I miss, guys?

Spring Training Tour 2016 Part IV: Toronto Blue Jays

20160313_153222.jpgToday I visited the Spring Training home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was a mercifully overcast windy day today at the awkwardly named Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. It is the only thing awkward about this stadium. I say it is a mercifully overcast day because these poor pasty Canadians cannot withstand sun. If you’re expecting an objective, unbiased report, move along. You have come to the wrong place. I unabashedly love Dunedin and this stadium.

Dunedin is a town of 37,000 with a Scottish heritage in the northwest section of Pinellas County known for being very artsy and gay friendly. It is littered with old bungalows, small shacks, and cool bars like the Chic-a-Boom Room. While a lot of Florida is as sterile and artificial as Edward Scissorhand’s neighborhood (filmed not too far in Lutz, FL) with its cookie cutter homes, there is an authenticity and naturalness to Dunedin with its large oaks and Spanish moss. It has laugh lines; it’s dirty and pretty. It also has the lovely Caladesi Beach, selected as one of the best beaches in the country. It is only reachable by boat, or for the more adventurous among us, kayak. This is no tourist trap. There are no shops here. There are usually few people here during the week. You are likelier to come across a rattlesnake. You own this island. The first time I saw a dolphin not in captivity was here. I could die very happily here.

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But, back to baseball. Dunedin also loves its Blue Jays.

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Sadly, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium won’t be here long. It is old, and it lacks the modern amenities and conveniences that teams have become accustomed to. The Jays’ practice facility is two miles away. Understandably, the Jays want a newer facility. Dunedin is working to get the Jays a newer facility to not lose that sweet, sweet Canadian tourism dollar.

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One of the things I like about it is that is one of those stadiums that is part of the neighborhood. People live right across the street from it. There is no berm here. There is no jumbotron. This is as low frills as it gets. If you park close to the stadium, your car is likely to get hit by a foul ball. It’s that kind of ballpark. It’s a dinosaur, a relic.

I was talking to some people sitting next to me during the game. One of them suggested knocking down the library next door to expand the Jays’ facility. “What do people need a library for anyway? Everyone reads on their Kindles now!” she said. I smiled. Poor, needy people, don’t you worry. You’ll be fine. I think that’s what Maria-Thérèse said: “Let them read Kindles!” I liked the woman anyway though. She’s a bartender at Frenchy’s at Brighthouse Field, and she told me she would hook me up next time I was there. The Rays are going to be there on St. Patty’s Day, and I fully intend to celebrate my Irish heritage. Perhaps I’ll live blog that game.

Anyhow, I arrived early, as I like to do to catch warm-ups and batting practice.

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The Rays were split squad today, and they brought with them huge stars like James Loney and Brandon Guyer. Really, that’s it. MLB should slap them on the wrist for the crap line-up they brought with them today. It didn’t bother me, but I heard some pretty disappointed Rays fans that those were the two biggest names in their line-up. The SP pitcher was Taylor Guerrieri, who is their #2 prospect, but also has not seen higher than Adv(A). Matt Andriese was the original starter, but was a late scratch due to tightness in his abs. You’ll be shocked to know the Rays lost to the Blue Jays today 6-1. Bautista tee’d off for his first homer of the spring, and I am not sure the ball landed yet. It was a 3 run bomb to left field.

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I was happy that the Rays didn’t make an error today. Remember how I said Bahstahn had wicked problahms with defense? Yeah, well, so does the Rays middle infield. The Rays don’t have the offense to make up for defense issues and their defense as it stands will hurt their pitchers. On the Jays side, 23 year old RHP Aaron Sanchez looked good, pitching four strong innings while walking one and striking out four, but he was facing a pretty substandard line-up. Split squad road team blows. He is battling though for a fifth spot in the rotation, and today’s effort certainly didn’t hurt his case.

In any event, it was fun to see the Blue Jays take batting practice. They sure can hit. Josh Donaldson is fun to watch too. My seats were four rows back from third base and the boy has some swag. He’d bounce along to the music, which was all sorts of adorable.

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Other silly notes. The Blue Jays have the most homer crowd I have seen of any Spring Training crowd I have seen so far, prone to spontaneous chanting of “Let’s Go Blue Jays” during the game. That’s a lot of cheering and energy for Spring Training. Games tend to be way more laid back than that. I mean, go ahead knock yourselves out. By all means, cheer for your boys. I’m just saying, it’s a long season and it hasn’t even started yet, and this game doesn’t count so you might want to pace yourselves. I guess they were pretty excited to see their boys. Then again, I guess if I froze my ass off in Canada all winter, I would be really, really excited to be here too.

This guy may have had something to do with it too:

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The World Continues To Suck, But Anthony Rizzo Holding An Actual Cub Is Still Pretty Freaking Adorable

Again this is a re-post. The last time I checked, the world sucks. Don’t turn on the evening news. Just take my word for it. You are going to die, everyone is going to die, something got blown up somewhere. And the weather! Instead of freaking out, just look at Anthony Rizzo hold a baby Cub because that will never get old. 

Courtesy of Deadspin, this is the cutest effin’ thing ever. Like cuter than my newborn baby. Actually, he wasn’t that cute. Ever seen Alien? That’s what newborns look like. Television has y’all fooled. Babies are really ugly. This is so much cuter! Rizzo holding freaking Cubs.

Kudos to Maddon for finally doing something he hasn’t already done with the Rays first.

Seriously, bless Maddon for bringing a smile on a day that a lot of us don’t have much reason to smile. We have received some sad news about one of our own.

 

If Rizzo holding a baby bear doesn’t make you smile, you are dead. I am checking your vital signs and body bagging you.

Baseball season is coming. If THAT doesn’t make you smile, well, what the hell are you doing around these parts? This is a baseball blog! Hello!

Hang in there, folks.

Can You Feel The Love Tonight? Pride Night at The Trop.

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As many people are aware, last night was a special night at Tropicana Field. It was Pride Night in the wake of the Pulse massacre in which 50 LGBT people were murdered last week. All the ticket proceeds were going to the victims, and the Rays were holding a blood drive as well as using the 50/50 Raffle to raise funds. While the outcome of the game was disappointing–the Rays lost 5-1 and Chris Archer continues his struggles on the mound–the game itself was secondary to the joy and good will that permeated the stadium. Everywhere people where smiling, hugging, laughing, and waving the little rainbow flags that the Rays gave away. It felt like the most laid back playoff game you have ever attended. You could really feel the love. I know how corny this sounds, trust me. I’m originally from the Bronx.

Normally I’d choke on a cucumber before listening to a song like this, but really, this is what it felt like:

I am so torn between knowing how sappy this is, and sincerely trying to communicate the emotion in that stadium. I guess it’s okay to be sappy sometimes.

It felt like the stadium had a heartbeat. It pulsed. The colors, so vibrant. Everywhere people were high fiving, saying hello, and smiling. Giants fans, Rays fans. We were all there for one common cause: to show love and support to a community that for too long has felt like outsiders, unwanted merely for being who they are. No more. We are all in this together. Tolerance? No. We tolerate things that bother us. Love, accept, nurture, as we should everyone. To have Major League Baseball, which traditionally has been a very conservative sport, open its arms so lovingly to EVERYONE–I thought I was going to burst with joy and pride. My sport that I love so much. Thank you.

Last Saturday, you saw humanity at its worst. Yesterday, I saw humanity at its best. Fans raised $300,000 for victims. They were lined up to donate blood. I am telling you, it was like something out of a movie. Just this positive vibe permeating everything. No hate, just love.

Early in the day, I realized I had a surplus of tickets. I could not in good conscience sell them on stubhub. I had to give them away. I went on Facebook on the Rays page for people going to the game. I saw one person looking for two tickets. Her photo said, “My God Loves Everyone.” I responded to her, “I like your God. This is a legitimate offer, I have 2 extra tickets. They are yours.” I left my phone number for her to text. We coordinated meeting at Ferg’s later. It turns out they were this drop dead gorgeous engaged lesbian couple. They bought me a drink that far exceeded the cost of the tickets. I didn’t drink much of it, but I appreciated the gesture. They were amazing; we have plans to go to another game together.

The National Anthem was sung with the Stars and Stripes surrounded by two Rainbow Flags at its side. “O’er the Land  of the Free…” The Free to love whomever you want, to be whomever and “The Home of the Brave.” The Brave Ones who stand up and say so no more. The past is not acceptable. We can do better.

Sung by Una Voce, the Florida Men’s Chorale

Here is a picture taken of my friends and I as we were leaving the stadium. When I got home and saw it on my laptop, it took my breath away. Every color and nationality is represented in this picture: White, black, Asian, Native American, name it. Every person in this picture is a mutt; we are America. The glow behind us of Tropicana Field looked like heaven. Probably because most of it is obscured, I have never seen the Trop look so beautiful.

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The sun beckons. This is Florida. I am going to enjoy the morning with my children. Go hug someone. Hug yourself if you can’t find anyone. Be nice to each other.

Happy Saturday. May your team win. Except the Red Sox.

I picked a really bad time to stop drinking whiskey.

 

We Are Orlando. We are the Rays.

imageI have neglected my little blog for awhile. I can’t say I will publish every day. That is too much pressure and I have a lot I need to do. I am a registered nurse who works full time. I have two children and two pets. I am undergoing a divorce, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I write this as I work-out on an elliptical.

Tonight, there is an important event in St. Petersburg, Florida occurring at Tropicana Field: Pride Night. St. Petersburg has a small but vibrant gay community. When I lived in a community of beautiful old majestic bungalows and cobblestone streets a stones throw from Tropicana Field named Historic Kenwood, my ex and I were the token straights on the block. My friend said she felt she was visiting “flat San Francisco.” She also added, you would love San Fran. Noted.

Yes, other teams have had their pride nights. None have had their Pride Nights 90 minutes away from the greatest massacre on United States soil where 50 young lesbian, gay, transgendered, and bisexual people were murdered and 53 were hurt for simply being who they are. Take it in: 103 people. Soak it in. To add insult to injury, these people were mostly brown, Latinos, the face that stares back at me every morning, the face of my children, my family. To add further fuel to this fire, the assailant who shall not be named here used a semi-automatic weapon. He was known to be a danger to society, a domestic abuser and on terror watch lists, yet Republicans decided that there should be no limits on gun rights and this monster should have access legally to a weapon that can do this.

I was told I should not see politics in a game like this. I was told “ewww.” I cannot NOT see poltics. The Rays have rebranded themselves with the LGBT colors and have gone out of their way to make it known where they stand to everyone around the world. Not with a little fucking candle ceremony or a bullshit moment of silence. My moment of silence is done. I am ready to talk and talk a lot and you are never shutting me up until what happened at the Pulse never happens again. Until gay people have no reason to fear loving who they love. Until I have no reason to fear going to a movie theater because some asshole is going to shoot up the place. Until then. Hear my voice.

If you think baseball is not political, I truly lose some respect for your intellect and ability to think critically. I still like you, even love you, but I believe you to be either simple, or a blind fool in my deepest heart. You can fool yourself and lie to yourself all you like, but that is not me. I will always tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. The ugly truth too. Of course, you should not care what I think of you, just as I do not care what most people think of me. There are a few select people whose opinion of me truly matters to me. I am not arrogant. When they talk and tell me–you are out of line. I listen. They know me and my heart.

You probably think I am an arrogant bitch for thinking this. I am an uppity opinionated woman who does not back down easily and that can upset some people. Sexism still lives and if you think it doesn’t, again, lie to yourself all you want.

I play nice but when you burn me, I will not take it. That is not me.

You got a woman who knows her worth and ain’t prepared to compromise it. You can’t treat me that way. Maybe it’s just some shit we blew into space, but if you meant it, it’s too late.

I will be at the game tonight, which promises to be a special event. The Rays are playing the San Francisco Giants, a team whose city has a rich LGBT history. All sorts of festivities are planned. I will be there early to take it all in, take pictures, and report back here tomorrow. Archer will be pitching for the Rays. He has struggled this season, however most of his issues lie in the first inning. If he can survive the first unscathed, we’ve got ourselves game. Samardzija is pitching for the Giants, and he is always a formidable force. The Rays have been red hot of late. It should be fantastic. This is the game to watch tonight. The biggest party in baseball tonight. And those who can’t appreciate it? Their loss.

Everything the Rays are doing tonight:

  • The Rays are donating 100 percent of the proceeds from tickets sold since Tuesday as well as from the 50-50 raffle to help victims’ families and will have donation centers around the Trop (also at gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund).
  • There also will be a blood drive (starting at 4 p.m.) with donors getting a voucher for two tickets to any future 2016 game.
  • There will be a moment of silence with the victims’ names scrolled across the video board
  • The national anthem and God Bless America will be performed by Una Voce, the Florida Men’s Chorale.
  • All fans will receive a “We Are Orlando” T-shirt
  • MLB VP of Social Responsibility Billy Bean will throw out the first pitch
  • Commissioner Rob Manfred will provide a videoboard message.

The game is a sell-out. When that ugly dome sells out, it rocks.

Stuff That Can Kill You in Florida

I recently met a woman who told me the reason she moved from New England to Florida was her fear of ticks. Apparently, she was very frightened of Lyme disease and thought that Florida would be a good place to move to protect herself and her family from ticks. She moved to Florida to escape ticks. I wanted to laugh. I thought, “Lady, are you insane? Do you know how much stuff can kill you in Florida? I mean, have you even seen the size of our bugs?” Of course, I didn’t say that. I merely smiled politely and nodded while I kept thinking. If safety was your number one priority, would Florida be your pick? She couldn’t think of a safer place to move? Does she read the news? That’s when this list came to mind. I know some of these things are not unique to Florida (e.g. deadly hurricanes hit other states), but does any state have this many weird things? So here, in no order of likelihood or importance, is a list of 19 things that can kill you in Florida. Why 19? Because I could only think of 19. If I think of more or if anyone has any suggestions, I’ll add more.

1) Alligators

2) Lightning

3) Sinkholes

4) Your neighbor’s meth lab exploding

5) Red ants

6) Killer bees

7) Pythons

8) Tornadoes

9) Hurricanes

10) Florida man

11) Riptides

12) Sharks

13) Sting rays

14) Jellyfish (even dead ones washed up on the beach can sting. Bastards.)

15) Flesh eating bacteria at the beach. This lucky guy was attacked by a stingray and then he got the flesh eating bacteria.

16) Mosquitoes

17) Cigautera fish poisoning

18) Brain eating amoeba

19) Digging in the sand at the beach

Remember to buckle your seat belt and wash your hands. Welcome to Florida.