Ann Arbor

This one pains me to write. I hate the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor to me is representative of that. Ann Arbor is the city of Arrogant Assholes. Their Walmart Wolverine fan base is insufferable. I have a strong rule when rooting for college sports teams at a school you didn’t attend, if you ACT score was not within 2 points of the school average you can’t cheer for them. It’s my rule and you must obey. Yet, spending all day Saturday in Ann Arbor was a good time. There, I said it. I had a good time in that city. Like a drug addict admitting their short comings, that was good to get off my chest.

During our day visit to Ann Arbor, we tried three different breweries, Arbor Brewing, Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak. Each had some good beers and good food. We went heavy on the carbs going with soft pretzels, truffle fries and mac & cheese at each respectively. I like to justify this as carb loading. Regardless, the food was good. Arbor Brewing was probably my favorite of the three with the large selection of beer variety. The Pollination Sensation Honey Lavender Ale was the best one of the day. Top notch beer. Though, if sours are your thing then head to the Jolly Pumpkin. They specialize in sours and have quite a large number of them. The state of Michigan continues to be near the top in beer quality and Ann Arbor did not disappoint despite their reputation as Arrogant Assholes. I may even go back.

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It’s the God Damn White Sox

How do you lose to the damn White Sox? Who still suicide squeezes? Two in a row. Jesus Christ. This will easily be the most frustrating season as an Indians fan. It makes me want to drink bleach at times.

Let’s be honest. This division is the Indians. No one is going to win it other than them. But losing back to back games to the White Sox is worse than Rickey Davis trying to get a triple double on his own basket. Oh well, we will complain about these issues till playoff time…When’s Miller come back?

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Peak Preak: A Preakness Story

Can the written word do justice for what was 10 hours of wall to wall bros, beers and mud? That is up for debate, but oh what a day.

A horse race is always a great day to throw on obnoxious clothes like your name is Wilson Wellington Williams the Fourth ready for another day at the Country Club (Side note, we really did meet a guy who referred to himself as “The Fourth”, dude was blacked out by noon and a douche since birth). The Preakness is no exception with this. From there, the day is filled with booze, music and of course the race.

I can’t begin to explain how we took over the Mug and Vine Club part of the infield. We had a group of 20 plus shouting random phrases, pounding Barefoot mini wine bottles in hopes to fill up the whole table, and forcing each other to chug pink moscato. We ran that place up until the largest man at the table puked for the second time of the day all before 1. Unfortunately, the big man could not rally from this one. RIP to those tables. Despite the loss of those tables, we charged on. There were more Black Eyed Susans to drink.

Did I tell you about the mud? My dry cleaner has her work cut out for her. Girls, check the weather before wearing heels. Eating it face first in the mud is a good laugh for the rest of us, but you will quickly regret it. My shoes didn’t survive the weekend and I am hoping my red pants do. Then there was music. Who knew these fine gentleman named Post Malone and 21 Savage were good? Rap music and horse racing are a shit show match made in heaven.

Then there are the races. The thing about the infield is, you can’t see the race. You see 2-3 seconds as the horses flash by. Yeah, betting on things you have no knowledge of is a rush, but in fact I think most people just wanted the horses to finish so they could drunkenly call a surging Uber ride home. The Preakness was everything I hoped it would be and more. That place is THE PLAY.  However, it is Monday so back to the Rat Race.

Is Naquin for Real?

Tyler Naquin is off to a pretty good start for a guy that for all intensive purposes lost his MLB job a year ago and struggled to get it back. And if it was not for an injury to Lonnie Chisenhall, he would not have received this opportunity. Naquin is taking advantage of it though. As of 5/7/18, Naquin is batting .319 and playing pretty good defense. Right field seems to be a good spot for him. His on base is solid as well though his slugging percentage could improve.

If Naquin is just a line drive singles hitter who plays solid defense, I can live with that.  The thing that concerns me though is his batting average on balls in play. He is hitting over 400 on balls in play. That is not sustainable. Naquin is due to come down to earth. I think we will see him settle in to being a .270 hitter. That though is pretty good coming from him. I think Naquin understands himself now. Naquin can be a solid piece for the Indians the remainder of the year and for the next few seasons to come. Another example of the Indians developing talent.

Fix the Pen

It’s become pretty clear the Indians bullpen is in shambles right now. Between the injuries and the home runs, the Tribe pen needs some work. However, I don’t think it is far off. Some guys are just in the wrong role.

Cody Allen will be fine. I’m not worried there. Andrew Miller will come back from injury. The top two guys will still be shutdown pitchers this year. After that, is where it gets interesting.

They need a third guy. Nick Goody can be a good 4th. Dan Otero needs to be your 5th guy. Tyler Olson should only face left handed batters. I think McAllister’s time in Cleveland will be ending soon. Tomlin will stay in the rotation. I do not see that changing. The remaining guys of Ogando, Marshall, and newcomer Oliver Drake will have to battle it out. The real help though I believe does come from outside the organization. A guy I think they could target is Raisel Iglesias. He is 28, under contract for two years after this season and is only 28. I think the struggling Reds would be willing to trade him. The Indians farm system is not loaded with Talent but I think the Indians could make something work without mortgaging the house. Hopefully they figure something out soon. 

First Four, Dayton, and a Gas Leak

There are certain sporting events that every guy should go to. Things that don’t require being a fan of either team to enjoy. The NCAA First Four in Dayton is one.

My buddy and I drove down for Day two of the First Four and took in the city of Dayton. We managed to stuff our faces in food ranging from poutine to pizza. We visited five breweries. Lock 27, Dayton Beer Company, Warped Wing, Carillon and Toxic City are all doing really good things with beer. Dayton Beer Company had a great stout. I really enjoyed Lock 27 as the best of the bunch though. Really nice location next to the Dayton minor league baseball team. I imagine that makes for a great summer night.

Then, there is the First Four. We saw two games with the second one being a great one. Syracuse vs Arizona State came down to the end. The crowd was dyed orange as this was clearly a Cuse home game. Really not a bad seat in that arena. I can see why they play those games there in this small midwestern city. Just pure hoops fans in Dayton as we saw people wearing shirts ranging from Ohio State to South Dakota State. First Four does not disappoint.

Now, I have to say I’ve never had and issue with AirBnB and credit to the company and our hosts for refunding our money. See we couldn’t stay in the house because not only was the furnace broken, which they told us as we arrived but we walked into the place and it clearly smelled of a gas leak. If you lit up a cig, I’d imagine that placing blowing up like a fireworks display. So after a day of drinking and right as the hangover hit due to no alcohol in the First Four, we drove home at midnight. Three hours back to Cleveland made for a late night but it was a hell of a day. Dayton didn’t disappoint.

2018 Tribe Roster

It’s almost time for pitchers and catchers to report. So why not get a jump start on predicting the Cleveland Indians 25 man roster. Most of the roster is pretty much set, but there are a few key battles that will play out. While I think a trade could still happen, you never know if someone will get hurt or a free agent will be signed, I’ll assume none of those things will happen, except for one prior injury you’ll see below.

1. Two starting rotation spots

2. One to two bullpen spots

3. 1-2 backup infield spots

4. 1-2 outfield spots

Let’s review the players that will make the roster without question.

Rotation: Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber.

Relievers: Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Nick Goody, Zach McAllister, Tyler Olson, Dan Otero.

Catchers: Yan Gomes, Roberto Perez

Infielders: Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Jason Kipnis, Yonder Alonso, Edwin Encarnacion

Outfielders: Michael Brantley, Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall

That is 19 for sure spots locked up. Let’s start with the two rotation spots. Mike Clevinger, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Ryan Merritt all have shots. However, I think it ends up being a fairly easy choice. Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin get it and Clevinger goes to the bullpen and takes that spot. I would love to see Clevinger in the rotation and Salazar become a reliever but I don’t think it happens. This brings the total to 22. Three spots remain. At least one will be an outfielder, one will be an infielder and one open spot that could go a variety of ways.

For the infield I think it’s really between three players. Erik Gonzalez, Giovanny Urshella, and Yandy Diaz. I want Diaz to hit his way into the spot but he I think ends up in AAA. Urshella and Gonzalez are both major league level backups but are out of options. One of them will be on another team this year. Tito I think will go with Urshella. 23 spots gone.

Next, the outfield. Melvin Upton Jr., Tyler Naquin, Abraham Almonte, and Brandon Guyer are all options here. I think Guyer is not healthy to start the year. I’m going to cancel him out for now. The 4th outfielder could go so many ways here. I lean toward Almonte or Naquin winning out. Likely Almonte will snag it.

One spot left. Gonzalez, Naquin, Upton, or Merritt. With this spot I think Tito keeps an extra outfielder and leaves Naquin on the roster. Upton gets released and Merrit and Gonazalez are traded since they are out of option.

There you go. The 25 man Cleveland Indians roster. Let’s play baseball.

Filled to the BRIM

East side vs west side. Each part of Cleveland has a very distinct feel and culture. Sometimes, it is hard to believe they are the same metropolitan area. While I am a West sider, I do venture on over to the East side often where my girlfriend lives.

Saturday night, we went out with friends to BRIM Kitchen & Brewery in Willoughby. While I had quickly stopped in once before for a drink while killing a few minutes, this was my first time really sitting down to enjoy the place.

BRIM is located just passed the main portion of Downtown Willoughby. The inside is very modern and has that clean, slick feel to it. The brewery process is visible behind the bar as well.

I tried a couple of the beers BRIM had on tap that night as we grabbed dinner. They had a real interesting Christmas Fruit beer called Mr. Kringle and a pretty decent light blonde ale called the Brim Less. Both were solid, though nothing blew me away from a beer standpoint.

For dinner, I had the Sunday Gravy and a side of mac and cheese. The Sunday Gravy red sauce was definitely the best part of my meal. I cleaned the plate for your reference.

Overall, the place is solid. It was busy throughout and has a good ambiance. Nothing blew me away but no complaints either. Solid experience sums it up perfectly.

From Lineman to Lean

The unfortunate thing for all athletes is that eventually our careers end. For 99.99% (made up statistic) of us, it does not come on our terms. It is forced upon us when we likely don’t want it to. That can be in high school, college or even a professional career ending because sometimes no one wants you anymore. Not matter when it happen,we are each left with a void we must fill. Well, try to fill.

For me, it was November 2013 when it officially ended. Though, it really ended before that, I just couldn’t give it up. This is that story and how I went from from 295 lbs with a body fat percentage probably tipping close to 40 at its peak.

I came into college with great aspirations of football dreams and glory. Yes, I was going to be playing Division III Football but still a guy can dream. All you need you need is a chance right? While I showed some promise through freshman and the first half of sophomore year, it quickly became apparent that those dreams were fantasies. And I guess it all started coming down sophomore year when I hurt my knee for the first time (well officially hurt it, turns out it probably had been hurt since high school). I rehabbed, worked out hard and came back for my junior season and actually saw some action, albeit mop up duty and being on the Field Goal unit, but then two pulled hamstrings and a high ankle sprain derailed the remainder of that season. When I came back in the spring healthy, bad luck struck again when I suffered a concussion and a broken nose. From there, it spiraled down.

I spent the summer bulking, trying to grasp onto the one last shot I had. I though maybe if I could get my weight up I could play more and my body could take the pounding. I was eating over 4,000 calories a day. If I saw food, I ate the food. However, I put on too much weight. I went from 240 lbs at spring break March 2013 to 270 by August 2017.

By this point, my knee was in pain again and I knew it was a matter of time. Turns out, it took one practice and one MRI for them to send me back under the knife. Clean up the knee they said and hopefully I’ll be able to finish out my senior season. Starting on the offensive line was gone from my mind at this point. I was hoping I could maybe just contribute. I rehabbed, I worked hard to get back but whatever ability I had prior was gone. I couldn’t move my feet as fast as I use to. Freshman were beating me in practice. Football and sports had been my identity for so long and now I couldn’t even do that well. I pretty much cashed it in. This is one of the hardest things for me to admit, but I gave up. So while we made the playoffs that year, and trust me I had zero contribution to that incredible playoff run other than the occasional joke and laugh in the locker room, my career was done well before that last November playoff game.

If you stuck with me to this point in this story, this is where it truly begins. NARP. Non athlete Regular Person. That is what we called people who weren’t on a sports team in college. At some point we all becomes NARPs. In my NARP life, I let myself go even more. I’d occasionally do a small workout or play some basketball but I still ate like I was bulking and drank PBR like a fish. I went from a beefy 270 to a blubber filled 295. Yes, on the day I graduated from college I weighed 295 pounds in May 2014. My body fat was approaching 40%. I was morbidly obese. Here I am at graduation. Yes, my gown was tight. Those things are supposed to be loose!

That day was the day I made a change. Bit by bit. Step by step. Honestly, the first 20 pounds were fairly easy. I know that probably won’t help people but for me it was. I still drank a lot and ate a lot, just a little less, but I got down to 275 and 36% body fat by July 2014. The next year was a slow process. I dropped 15 lbs then put 5 back on. Around January 2015, I was about 265. Then I stared kicking it in, I counted calories, got my steps in (thanks Fitbit), worked out 5 times a week. I busted my ass for that next 25 pounds over the next year. And then from January 2017 to now I really started to focus. I am now at around 218 lbs and under 19% body fat. The last time I weighed this amount I was 15.

I don’t have a secret for you. No special pills, trust me I have tried (though green tea fat burners do seem to help with the hunger). I still drink beer multiple times per week. If you offer me a cookie or a steak, I won’t say no. Every day is a process. As many people embark on their New Years resolutions and current gym goers complain about the crowd, I’ll give you each my two cents. For those that are already in the gym and are complaining, just remember we all started at some point. We all became meatheads, fitness fanatics, or whatever it is you do there by going the first time. If that was in January or June, we all had a first day. So be patient. For the new gym goers, stick with it. Don’t give up but don’t be to hard on yourself. It’s a long grueling process and it won’t be easy.

I’ll leave you all with what got me to where I am. It isn’t for everyone. You need to find out what works for you. I work out 6 days a week and twice a day probably 3-4 of those days and sometimes three, sometimes that just means an extra 30 minutes on the elliptical after work or playing basketball at night. I just like being active. What I do is definitely not for everyone but I knew I couldn’t drastically change what I eat so I controlled what I could. And that’s my first step for you. Control what you can. Try to cook breakfast at home. Pack your lunch. Plan when you will work out. Control what you can and live with what you can’t.

Second, track yourself. Set a goal, an achievable goal. It can be small or it can be grand, but be patient. Put what you eat daily into a calorie counter. Log your physical activity. When you start to see what you do each day, you become cognizant of it. Track yourself and you will make it.

Step three, you will fail and stumble at some point and when you do, don’t get on yourself. We do that enough in our lives, let yourself have that one.

Four, do what you like. I have come to legitimately like working out multiple times a day. But I do what I want. If I hate an exercise, I skip it. I eat what I want, I just limit myself. I love beer, chocolate milk and red meat. I still eat them, but I explore new things. Tofu and garlic and spinach have all become part of my diet and my mom, my dad and sisters are now reading this wondering who the hell has replaced their brother and son. Experiment, explore. Do what you want in life, you only have one so live it.

And finally, step five. The most important step in my process. The mantra that got me here: Don’t have two bad days. Life can be hard. Work can get difficult. Tragedies happen. But try to avoid the twos. You eat a lot one day? Try to get an extra long workout in the next day. You need to rest and relax after a long week? Go for it. Enjoy Friday night. Just try to get up by 10 AM so you can have a productive Saturday. And yes, sometimes you will have two bad days. Sometimes you will have two bad weeks. But making a conscious effort every day to try to avoid the twos, as I call them, is vital to the success in this process.

So that’s it. That’s my process. That’s my story. That’s how I went from lineman to lean(er).

Country Music and Beer: An American Tradition

Friday morning I caught a plane out to Nashville, Tennessee for work and after taking care of some business, I had the rest of the day, and Saturday, to take in the area. I have been to Nashville before, (Check that trip out Here) but had not been to the breweries in town. So this time, I made sure I got to some of them.

I was able to visit three breweries. I had a couple beers Friday at Cool Springs Brewery in Franklin and then Saturday I visited Yazoo and Jackalope. Before I get into the Breweries, take note of Franklin, Tennessee. It’s a small little suburb of Nashville and the town is pretty much a southern picturesque city. Definitely a cool spot a little away from Downtown Nashville.

Now, onto beer. The one brewery that really stood out for me was Yazoo. I took the tour of Yazoo, relaxed in their tap room and had some of their beers in the city as well. The Hop Perfect IPA was exactly like it’s name, pretty much perfect.

Yazoo was a top notch experience and it’s away from the tourist village known as Broadway. A little less honky-tonk and a little more quality (though who doesn’t love some live country music?).

The tour at Yazoo included three generous samples and while I felt like $8 was a pricey tour, you did get the samples, and a small tasting glass to take home. The tour was a good insight into their history and provided some interesting stories about their beers. Overall, it was easily my favorite of the three breweries I visited. Nashville is known for its music and food but they are doing a pretty good job with the beer over at Yazoo. Yahoo for Yazoo.