Thank God We aren’t in Kansas Anymore

It has been almost three weeks since I came back from a work trip to Kansas, and it is time I  write about it. Kansas itself was fine. I travel for work a decent amount so I am use to sleeping in random hotels and eating dinner in airports. It is part of the job and for the most part I enjoy the airline miles and credit card points. However, getting back from Kansas was travel purgatory.

Trapped in an airport for 9 hours, my coworker and I even lowered ourselves and tossed aside our dignity to get massages in those big leather chairs randomly placed in terminals that if they were a little bit larger could double as casting couches. Word to the wise, hopefully you like a little butt play because those chairs grab hold of your calves and every couple minutes shoot a little rod up just enough for you to jump up wishing this chair had at least taken you to dinner first. We will always have that moment together Wichita.

Now, why were we trapped there for 9 hours you ask? You probably didn’t ask but I will tell you anyways. Our flight coming in from Chicago was late due to fog and Wichita, Kansas is not exactly a travel hub. Flights out were limited and our gate agent wanted to send us to Baltimore because Baltimore is close to Cleveland. I kid you not, this guy actually thought Baltimore and Cleveland were close by. The apparent lack of geography knowledge by some people is mind boggling. I was ready to hang this guy by his 70s porn stache. United, not only do your flight options suck, but your employee screening process clearly is lacking.

When we finally flew out, we landed in Chicago but with no available flights that we could get on for at least 12 hours, we grabbed a rental car and drove back to Cleveland arriving home at 7 am. I even made it into work at 1 PM. I’ll accept my award now for Employee of the Year.

Oh yeah, I had some decent beer at River City Brewing Co., and a pretty good pizza but the overall mess of that flight back overshadowed the whole thing. Never fly through Chicago people or you will end up sitting in a airport massage chair questioning your life choices. Happy New Year!

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New (Old) Look Tribe

The Indians have done a lot of remodeling lately and unlike my garage door that has fallen off, this doesn’t look so bad.

The Tribe said goodbye to Yan Gomes, Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso and Yandy Diaz and welcomed back Carlos Santana as well as picked up two young guys Jake Bauers and Alex Call.

Now, Call is still a very young prospect. He isn’t major league ready. Bauer’s is though and played quite a bit last year in Tampa. He is young with power potential and some rankings had him as a top 50 prospect in baseball just a year ago. With him and Santana in Cleveland, that enabled the Indians the flexibility to ship Alonso’s contract out of Cleveland. Santana doesn’t have Edwin’s HR numbers but he actually has a better WAR. He can play competent first base and his contract is obviously less. Coupled with the fact that I think the Indians can see Edwin aging, this was a good trade.

For Yan, that was a pure contract dump. I was about as pleased with that move as I was when my dog ate my bathroom door. Eric Haase and Roberto Perez both better be ready quick. Can’t afford a let down at the catcher position.

I think the thing these trades do best is free up cash. If the Indians don’t add a decent outfield bat in the $6 million to $9 million range from these cash savings, then I believe these end up as trades that make the team worse. However, I’m optimistic the front office will get that done. Time will tell though. But for now, Welcome Back Slamtana!

Farewell Erik Gonzalez: Tribe Trade Update

The tribe traded Erik Gonzalez yesterday. Gonzalez has been a pretty good utility infielder the last couple years. He has shown potential with the bat, a good glove at multiple positions and the ability to swipe some bases. All in all, he has been a solid backup for the tribe. Side note, Erik Gonzalez looks like he has not eaten in 3-5 weeks. One of the skinniest human beings I have ever seen play a professional sport. Get that kid a sandwich.

Yesterday, the Indians sent him off to Pittsburgh along with two minor leaguers that struggle in Rookie Ball. Both those guys will be selling insurance or laying bricks in two years. No loss there. (Watch, one of them will become a stud and this post will come back to bite me in the ass. Oh well)

In exchange for this, the tribe got outfielder Jordan Luplow and infielder Max Moroff. I’m not going to pretend I know a great deal about either of these guys. Both are probably backups at best (though it does seem Luplow is believed to have some legit starter potential), and more likely 4A players. Never quite good enough to consistently cut it in the show but good enough at triple A to keep getting that shot. I have to assume the Indians felt Moroff and Gonzalez are interchangeable and Luplow is a solid enough outfielder to provide some system depth with options available. Small move for the tribe, but I do not think they are done yet this offseason.

ATX, WVU and a Whirlwind of a Weekend

Texas is a completely different place. I think that’s been pretty well documented #texasforever. This was my first time in the state for more than just a layover and I took my talents to Austin. Talents is a loosely defined term.

In a whirlwind of a weekend, I accomplished quite a bit here. The highlight? Witnessing WVU knock down the Longhorns with a two point conversion to go up one point with just seconds remaining. Will Greer is a God.

While the game was amazing, I also managed to go to an EDM concert (The people watching at that is entertainment) and checked out a couple breweries. I visited Brewtorium for lunch and also made a stop at Live Oak. I need more time here as there were plenty more I wanted to check out, but both delivered some good beer. And wow were their spaces huge for craft breweries. Everything really is bigger in Texas. The Spacelaser Double IPA from Brewtorium and Smoaktoberfest from Live Oak were the best of the bunch. The Spacelaser was one of the best Double IPAs I’ve had recently.

Overall, Texas has some great beer, good music and good food. Survived another trip. Till next time, Keep Austin Weird.

Spring Training Starting Yet?

The Red Sox won another title. Hey God, I know they didn’t win for almost a 100 years but I think that’s enough championships for one city for awhile, don’t you think?

Regardless, I miss baseball season already and since the Indians should be poised next year for another division title why not try to predict the opening day roster. The tribe (RIP Chief Wahoo) have some big free agent decisions to make, huge contract increases to make, and virtually no financial flexibility. Making any moves is going to be extremely difficult. This team is going to have to be replenished virtually from within. Unless they get creative and dump some salary and find someone cheap. I’m not counting on it.

So here we go. Let’s start with the pitchers. The starting staff first four will be easy. Kluber, Bauer, Carrasco, and Clevinger make up the best 1-4 in baseball. That 5th spot could be open and I think they let Salazar takes that spot coming out of Spring Training. Now, I think Shane Bieber deserves it but I think they let Salazar start out as the 5.

The pen is where we have the most questions pitching wise. Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, Tyler Olson, Dan Otero and Neil Ramirez I think all make this staff. Nick Goody should be back from injury and I think makes it as well. That should leaves one more spot. Cody Anderson should finally be healthy as well and I think he gets that spot. It’s a very righty heavy pen but you make do with what you got.

In the field, you have Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez begins the plate. Yonder Alonso at first and Edwin at DH. Lindor is of course your SS and I’m going to put Jose at second. Which means Yandy Diaz will finally be your regular everyday third basemen. Erik González once again is your utility infielder. That’s 8 guys. The tribe will carry 5 outfielders. In center, I think they let Leonys have that. Jason Kipnis becomes a permanent outfielder and does it in left because no one wants that contract. Then in right you have Tyler Naquin. The fourth is Greg Allen and the 5th guy is going to be a wildcard here. I think Oscar Mercado the player they traded for from St. Louis makes the roster.

So here it is.

Starting Pithcers (5): Kluber, Bauer, Carrasco, Clevinger, Salazar

Bullpen (7): Hand, Cimber, Olson, Goody, Otero, Anderson, Ramirez

Catchers (2): Gomes, Perez

Infield (6): Alonso, Edwin, Frankie, Jose, Yandy, González

Outfield (5): Martin, Kipnis, Allen, Naquin, Mercado

Now, they could sign some veterans for cheap deals or make a move no one is expecting, but for now this is the roster I expect the Indians to open up the season with.

Oh So Good

Well, I am sitting here in class, munching on Jimmy Johns, hoping it soaks up the beer as I mourn the end of the Indians season. Now seems like a good time to talk about O.H.S.O. Brewery and Distillery in Phoenix, Arizona. Need something to take my mind off that embarrassing sweep the tribe suffered.

I had a work trip out to Phoenix last week,and while my free time was limited, I did find some time to visit one Brewery, O.H.S.O. Brewery and Distillery.

The beer was pretty good at O.H.S.O. The bartender was great giving the guy I made friends with next to me, bonding over the Cubs Rockies game that went to extras, and I tastes of their vodkas. The 89 ale and Orange Pedal were both very good beers. The Orange Pedal reminded me of a creamsicle and who doesn’t like creamsicles? I grabbed some food while I was there as well and the mac and cheese with BBQ pork was very good. Could go for a bowl right now. Something else to take my mind off that display the Indians tried to claim was baseball. There is always next year and another beer to try……

 

I Needed Help and I’m glad I Finally asked

Mental Health is a hot topic these days. Personally, I thought the term was stupid. Until I needed to come to terms with my own.

I was always the fat kid. It was fine for awhile though. In elementary school, you don’t really realize it. Or at least it doesn’t matter too much. I didn’t really become conscious of it till middle school. That’s when I realized elastic waistbands on my jeans weren’t cool and girls weren’t into the fat kid with acne and glasses. Still I dealt with it. School was easy for me so I got by and yeah I had a few fights but nothing major. Mostly though, I always had one outlet that I could poor myself into and that was sports and particularly football. I was good. Football was something where being big helped and I didn’t need to say or talk to people much. I loved it. I spent high school not getting drunk or going to parties but getting up at 6 AM on a Saturday in the off-season to get a workout in. Football was my form of an escape that I didn’t realize I was using.

All I wanted to do was play professional football but at a certain point I realized 6 foot nothing offensive lineman don’t make the NFL. However, I could play in college. So I ended up at John Carroll and for the first year and half things were going ok. I was still fat and maybe a little less awkward but football was going well. Then the injuries hit. I always played through pain, hell in high school my forehead bled every day. Red droplets trickled down my face as I had my head wrapped like Rambo. I was a badass (I was not a badass) I thought, I can play through anything. However, sophomore year of college I needed knee surgery, junior year I pulled both hamstrings and twisted both ankles. Then finally, when I thought I had a shot at meaningful playing time I got a concussion and broken nose in spring practice prior to my senior year. I blacked out during an Econ test that spring. The only thing I remember is writing my name on it and turning it in. The rest is gone. No recollection of it. That’s scary. Not knowing where time went is a feeling you do not want to have.

But like most things, I didn’t talk about it. I pushed through and got ready for the next year. However, the first day of fall practice I needed knee surgery again. When I came back a few weeks later I couldn’t move like I use to. My strength and power were gone too. I sucked. Now my identity was gone. I checked out mentally. I let myself go, my grades suffered. But I kept this to myself. Emotions? Feelings? Struggles? No I don’t know talk about those things. I can push through. My biggest regret from that is checking out on my teammates and coaches. I am truly sorry for disappearing.

I didn’t realize it at the time but I was depressed. I went into a 8 month long depression. I stopped working out and let my body fat soar to dangerous levels. My anxiety didn’t help as I worried about getting a job. See, I never realized I was an anxious person but if you know me you know I bite my finger nails to the point they will bleed. The problem is I think through every scenario before doing something. Every negative possibility runs through my head. This was great in football because I knew what could go wrong before it happened so I knew how to avoid it when I played but in life it causes me to worry about everything. I would never have admitted to being anxious because I thought that was a weakness.

Life improved after graduation. I realized that day that my gown was tight and I needed to get back in the gym. This was the start of a 4 year process of ups and downs that led me to more then cut my body fat in half and lose over 80 lbs. Still, I didn’t know how to talk about my feelings as my confidence did grow. It’s not something I did, talk about feelings. I bottle that up. Like Adam Sandler in Anger Management this builds to the point where I explode. I unleash a yell and an episode that is unfair to everyone around me. But this has always how I have been. I didn’t think there was anything really wrong with it or that could be done. Again, feelings weren’t talked about in my mind. Get through it on your own.  I dated a girl for almost 5 and a half years and never really told her what I was going through. She was there for me throughout my injuries and when I was my lowest. We had issues that I didn’t address with her and I bottled them up. But like my anger, these issues eventually became too much and it was too far gone down the road. The relationship ended. I hurt the most important person in my life at the time because of my failure to communicate and admit I had problems. That was a mistake on my part.

But that brings us to what was the best decision of my life. To ask for help. I made the call one morning to a therapist and scheduled an appointment. I asked for someone to talk to and they listened. They helped me recognize things I knew but refused to acknowledge. It became ok for me to ask for help. And that’s why I am writing this. It’s ok to ask for help. I was the most anti-therapy person for quite some time. I never though it was for me. I thought it was for the weak and I prided myself on my mental strength. Yet, it was exactly what I needed. It wasn’t weak to ask for help. Asking for help and admitting you have issues is where true strength comes from. So don’t bottle it up, don’t tough it out. Instead, make that call because I sure as hell wish I had sooner. It’s a good life out there, we all just need someone to talk to about it sometimes when we hit those bumps in the road. I’m glad I asked for that assistance. I needed it. Just wish I knew that sooner.

A Bit too Early Tribe Playoff Roster Prediction.

IMG_4402Pending the biggest collapse ever, the Tribe is in the playoffs. So why not get a jump start on predicting their playoff roster?

First, I am going to assume Andrew Miller, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Donaldson will be back from injury. The playoff roster is 25 guys. In 2016 in the World Series, he carried 12 guys and in 2017 in he brought 11 pitchers along to face the Yankees. In 2013, Tito carried 11 pitchers into a wild card game. A 1 game playoff  and Tito still felt he needed 11 pitchers. Safe to say the breakdown will be 11 pitchers and 14 batters.

Here are the easy ones.

Pitchers:

  1. Kluber
  2. Carrasco
  3. Bauer
  4. Clevinger
  5. Hand
  6. Cimber
  7. Allen
  8. Miller
  9. Perez

Position Players:

  1. Gomes
  2. Alonso
  3. Ramirez
  4. Lindor
  5. Donaldson
  6. Perez
  7. Kipnis
  8. Brantley
  9. Cabrera
  10. Allen
  11. Edwin

That leaves two and three spots respectively. For pitchers, it comes down to the following guys.

  1. Shane Bieber
  2. Adam Plutko
  3. Neil Ramirez
  4. Josh Tomlin
  5. Dan Otero
  6. Tyler Olson

For the hitters you have:

  1. Rajai Davis
  2. Brandon Guyer
  3. Erik Gonzalez
  4. Yandy Diaz

Tito is loyal as they come but there is just no way Josh Tomlin makes this roster. Tyler Olson is out too. Bieber is in. He has earned this spot. That give the final spot to either Neil Ramirez, Dan Otero or Adam Plutko. Neil Ramirez has been trash of late. Dan Otero has been pretty shitty all year. Adam Plutko makes most sense but Tito is loyal (see above). Dan Otero makes this roster.

Now for them hitters. One of Guyer and Rajai makes this roster at the very least. I’ll get back to that. Yandy is hitting too well to keep off of here. He is in. 2 spots left. I think Erik Gonzalez is needed too. So we have one spot left. I can’t really believe Guyer or Rajai will be left off but spots are limited. Rajai is great for speed and defense. Guyer hits lefties and plays ok defense. This is difficult to do but I think Guyer makes it for his ability to hit lefties and Rajai is left off. Tough call and could be either but that’s how I see it falling. Personally, I’d rather Tito go with 10 pitchers, leave Otero off and bring Rajai around. We need his 2016 Magic.

Projected Playoff Roster

  1. Kluber
  2. Carrasco
  3. Bauer
  4. Clevinger
  5. Hand
  6. Cimber
  7. Allen
  8. Miller
  9. Perez
  10. Gomes
  11. Alonso
  12. Ramirez
  13. Lindor
  14. Donaldson
  15. Perez
  16. Kipnis
  17. Brantley
  18. Cabrera
  19. Allen
  20. Edwin
  21. Shane Bieber
  22. Dan Otero
  23. Brandon Guyer
  24. Erik Gonzalez
  25. Yandy Diaz

Vermont and the Search for the Holy Grail

I know I should have written this sooner. Whatever, I have a life (I don’t have a life, I am just lazy). So here is my recap of the beer I drank in Vermont.

How could I not talk about Heady Topper. The Holy Grail (one of them at least) for beer nerds. It was good but that beer was destined to not live up to the hype same as In’N’Out doesn’t live up to the hype. Yeah California, your burger is not that good. You talk about something so much that you think it’s literally birthed from God’s nuts and then it cannot possibly meet that expectation. Nothing against the Alchemist. Their Stowe location was great and I still bought $100 worth of beer. It’s just not the Jesus juice it was talked up to be.

Now, the beer & cider in Vermont is good. Lots to choose from for such a small state. Stowe Cider has some awesome selections and interesting takes on Cider. Same with Woodchuck Cider. The Raspberry Hard Cider was my favorite of the ciders. So drinkable.

I went to several other breweries as well. Ottercreek, Trapp Family, Idletyme, Vermont Brewery, Zero Gravity, Foam, and Lost Nation. Plus, I grabbed other local beers while eating out throughout the week. I drank a lot for 7 days. 2000 vertical climbs though justify this consumption. Each of these places had some great beers. I think though Zero Gravity and Lost Nation were my favorite of these bunch. The Wind (Sour) at Lost Nation was a great beer. Highly recommend that one.

Overall, it was a great trip and I drank some really good beer. Thanks VT. Cheers!IMG_4595

Escape to the Mountains

Life gets really busy sometimes. It gets cluttered and confusing. We get pulled in a million directions. Some we want to do, some we have to do and some we feel we should. Sometimes we just need a break. Vermont to me is a great place to get away. Particularly, the mountains in Vermont. I spent the last week in Stowe, VT doing not much else but hiking, drinking beer and sitting in the hot tub. While I did have some great beer, even tried out the famous Heady Topper from the Alchemist (I’ll detail all the beer in another post), the mountains are my favorite part of being up there.

In the mountains, cell phones barely work, if at all. Modern civilization is not around you. It’s quiet. The only thing to listen to is your own mind. I hiked on average about 22,000 steps and over 150 flights of stairs per day. Don’t worry I drank and ate all those calories burned. It can be quite a climb sometimes. The views are worth it though.

View from the Summit of Mount Hunger

I hiked Mountains like Mount Hunger, saw three different waterfalls, and countless other trails such as the Stowe Pinnacle. Each view more gorgeous than the last.

Reaching your destination after a grueling climb, dripping in sweat is a self accomplishment you can take satisfaction in. From up there, you realize how small you are but how much you can accomplish. Getting away sometimes is exactly what you need to think clearly, to understand your next step. Or just realize you want to chase waterfalls.

Bingham Falls