Padres 2018 Outlook in 3 Games

Padres start 0-3, and it’s how they’ve lost that tells their story. The season opener against the Milwaukee Brewers was played in San Diego, of course. Great start by Padres LHP Clayton Richard, but Brewers rotation ace Chase Anderson was better. Padres tied the game at 1-1 in the 9th with a single by new-addition SS Freddie Galvis, but the Brewers won in 12 innings. No run supports by the Friars, mostly due to poor AB’s with RISP, and good bullpen work by the Brewers.

The Padres bats show up in game two, but closer Brad Hand blows it, by giving up 5 runs in the 9th. The dagger was a two-out, 3-run shot by 1B Ryan Braun. Padres snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’ve been speculating the Padres could use Ryan Braun for a long time, and I’ll keep at it.

The pressure was on for RHP Luis Perdomo to deliver in the series finale on Saturday, at the team let him know it. He had pitched poorly in spring training, and barely made the rotation. He laid another egg by getting bombed in his 4 innings of struggle, giving up 5 runs.

When I watch Luis Perdomo, I am reminded of when I was a Devil Rays fan watching a young Edwin Jackson. Edwin Jackson actually pitched with Perdomo in 2016. Then Edwin Jackson moved on, as he always does. Padres fans would love to see Luis Perdomo move on for the same reasons. He has tantalizing potential, but just isn’t interested in maximizing his abilities.

Those are the early returns on the 2018 SD Padres, and this is what they are, and once again it hurts for their fans. This will be yet another rebuilding (sub .500) season. The off-season moves made by GM AJ Preller were correct, but there are still too many holes to fill in the rotation, and in the OF. The additions of SS Freddie Galvis and 1B Eric Hosmer are huge pluses, and they will keep the Padres from being really bad in 2018.

Manager Andy Green is one of the best, and they have plenty of young talent with their farm system depth, so this will be a call-up year, which in fact has already begun. Expect 3B Chase Headley & RF Hunter Renfroe to be traded, along with Perdomo and a bunch of other AJP fungibles including: 2B/3B Cory Spangenberg, OF Travis Jankowski, OF Matt Szczur, etc…

Young LHP Joey Lucchesi has already been called up, taking injured RHP Dinelson Lamet’s spot in the rotation. Lucchesi pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 3 runs in game two against the Brewers. LHP Robbie Erlin, back from Tommy John surgery: 3.2 IP, 2 R. This is what these guys are, which isn’t much.

The best Padres pitching is at AA (San Antonio) & AAA (El Paso), or still recovering from TJ surgery (Anderson Espinoza & Chris Paddock). The object for manager Andy Green will be to get through yet another season without enough starting pitching. This is his 3rd season, and he’s used to this by now. Nothing will be as bad as 2016, when GM AJ Preller traded his entire rotation & closer by the deadline (James Shields, Drew Pomeranz, Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea & Fernando Rodney).

Andy Green has Daren Balsley, one of the best pitching coaches helping him, but their biggest issue is with injury prevention. Too many of their arms are getting hurt. That’s the biggest danger to their prospects, many of whom have high ceilings. Also of interest, RF Will Myers who put on 20 pounds of muscle in the off-season, has been having lingering back tightness for two weeks. [1]

Injury prevention can only be called medicine when it follows a rational & scientific method. In MLB, as in all other professional sports, injury prevention is poorly understood. There is too much old-school (lack of) ethics in its brain trust, and therefore it falls into all the old traps.

Pitchers don’t need to get hurt, but they almost always do. There’s no reason for this continuing to happen, outside of arrogance & contempt for the truth. People who are in charge simply can’t admit they are wrong. Once exposed, they will lose power, and that can’t be allowed to happen because sports is a business. It’s always been this way.

Fans can root for this stuff, but that doesn’t mean being naive. For me, it gets more painful to watch this carnage every year. I’ve become more of an analyst than a fan anymore. Already, every DL in MLB is piling up with arm injuries, because coaches & training staff don’t want to understand biomechanics & medical science.

They gotta keep pushing for that extra edge, using all the self-regimented, old-school ways (PED’s) that are proven to get you injured & shamed. It’s ignorance & arrogance that’s killing our pastime.

It’s the home run era again, in case you haven’t noticed. With Giancarlo Stanton in pinstripes, we’re gonna get blitzed with long ball hype this year. We’re talkin’ military parades down Pennsylvania Avenue, and maybe even another war…

I have reported here on the Padres since late- 2015, as they have been a fascinating case study in sports franchise management. This organization has been turned around by a brilliant young GM, who in the process has been sanctioned by MLB old guard (Red Sox, White Sox, ESPN, MLB commissioners office) for taking advantage of the rules and making dupes of their GM’s in trades & International free-agent spending.

That talent AJ Preller acquired in 2016 is about to hit the beach in San Diego. When Preller trades a veteran or young player this season, he will be replacing them from within, while looking for prospects in return. As for 2018, look for more rotation struggles, as their depth is thinning fast, due to lack of effectiveness and/or injury. Look for SS/3B Fernando Tatis & 2B Luis Urias sooner, rather than later. The same with their stud pitching prospects. Wil Myers may be hopeless, and if he is deemed so by the Padres, they will look to move him.

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World Cup 2018, Politics & US Soccer

The fact is that MLS really stands for Minor League Soccer in the eyes of the world. The MLS level of play isn’t close to world class, yet they seem to believe that they belong in that discussion. Yet, on the pitch nothing has been proven. The US has failed to qualify for the World Cup (WC) for the first time since 1986, so clearly it is moving backwards in it’s “progression.”

On October 10, 2017, all the USMNT had to do was draw against Trinidad & Tobago’s “C” Team in their final WC qualifying match. Instead, they lost 2-1 on an own goal, and failed to qualify for Russia 2018, as Panama will go instead. That was a watershed moment for US soccer. [1]

Now the US media propaganda against WC 2018 in Russia begins, which smacks of sour grapes. For all the money the US puts into youth & MLS soccer ($1B+/year), the results are an embarrassment, and no amount politicking can cover that up. As Claudio Reyna said after that elimination loss, “We’re far too arrogant.” [2]

Let’s evaluate what has happened to the US Men’s National Team since 1986, which was the last time it failed to qualify. The 1986 World Cup was held in Mexico, and was won by Argentina on Diego Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal.

In 1990, the WC was held in Italy, and the US qualified as one of two CONCACAF teams, with Costa Rica the other. Teams qualify by geographical region. The CONCACAF region is North America, Central America and Caribbean; giving the United States a huge competitive advantage in qualifying, as most of these nations are third-world countries which have been devastated by US imperialism.

In Italy 1990, the USMNT went 0-3 in group play, and finished 23rd out of the 24 teams in the tournament. The USMNT goal differential (GD) was -6, and only the United Arab Emirates finished worse (-9 GD).

In 1994, the US hosted the World Cup for the first time. That was a big deal. The host country automatically qualifies, and this was to be the launching pad for a future professional league (and springboard for youth soccer in North America), as the MLS was actually founded on December 17, 1993, and began play in 1996.

The USMNT did well in their 1994 tournament, surprisingly making it out of their group and into the Round of 16. This was the best result the USMNT could have hoped for, as they were eliminated by eventual champion Brazil in the first game of the knockout round, 1-0.

But their success was a chimera, as their advance out of group play was aided by a surprise 3-1 victory over then-world soccer power Colombia. The Colombian national team had some of the best football players in the world, but their country was also being ravaged by George H.W. Bush’s “Plan Colombia,” (now directed by Bill Clinton), a US military and covert war against the country in the name of the “War on Drugs.”

Colombian National Team players were threatened by drug lords and other criminal types. Perhaps the ugliest incident in the history of the World Cup came as a result of this Colombian loss, when defender Andrés Escobar scored an own goal, putting the game out of reach. Nicknamed “The Gentleman,” he was well-known for his clean style of play and calmness on the pitch.

On the evening of July 1, 1994, five days after the elimination of Colombia from the World Cup, Andrés Escobar went to a bar in the El Poblado neighborhood in Medellín. At 3:00 AM, when Escobar was alone in a parking lot in his car, three men approached and began arguing with him. Two of the men took out handguns and Escobar was shot six times. It was reported that the killer shouted “¡Goal!” after every shot. Escobar was rushed to the hospital where he died 45 minutes later. Those are the sordid facts surrounding the USMNT founding success at the World Cup in 1994.

World Cup 1998 was held in France. Zinedine Zidane & the French national team owned the tournament, embarrassing Brazil 3-0 in the final. The US was in Group F that tournament, with powerhouses Germany and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia– who survived and advanced. The United States exited the World Cup suffering a devastating defeat against Iran. The USMNT in WC 1998 went 0-3, with a GD of -4, as they finished last among the 24 teams that qualified.

The 2002 FIFA World Cup was held in South Korea & Japan, the first to be held in Asia. This was the last World Cup to use the golden goal rule. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, winning the final against Germany 2–0.

Group D was South Korea, Poland, United States and Portugal. The US shocked world-power Portugal in it’s opener, and made in into the knockout round, with co-host South Korea. The USMNT then defeated Mexico (2-0) in the Round of 16, before losing to eventual runners-up Germany 1-0, in the Round of 8. This would be the USMNT high-water mark in international competition.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup was held in Germany. The US was in Group E: with Italy, Ghana, the Czech Republic. The US finished 0-2-1 in group play, with a draw against Italy, and didn’t make it into the knockout round. Only Costa Rica, Serbia & Montenegro, Japan, Togo, and Saudi Arabia finished with less points and a worse goal differential.

The 2006 tournament marked a qualitative degeneration of the sport, as players received a record-breaking 345 yellow cards and 28 red cards. The low point came in the the Italy-France finale, when all-world midfielder Zinedine Zidane head-butted an opponent, after being repeated baited, and was subsequently ejected from the match. Italy won in penalty kicks.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup took place in South Africa. In a bidding process that was open only to African nations, FIFA selected South Africa over Egypt and Morocco to become the first African nation to host the World Cup. The 2015 FIFA corruption case reported that high-ranking officials from the South African bid committee had secured the right to host the World Cup by paying US $10 million in bribes to then-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner and to other FIFA Executive Committee members.

In June 2015, FIFA executive Chuck Blazer, having co-operated with the FBI and the Swiss authorities, confirmed that he and the other members of FIFA’s executive committee were bribed. Blazer stated, “I and others on the FIFA executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup.” In June 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported that Morocco had actually won the vote, but South Africa was awarded the tournament instead.

On the field in WC 2010, Group C was: England, United States, Algeria, and Slovenia. The United States and England finished tied at the top of the group with five points each, in this lackluster pool. Their goal differences were also level at +1, but the United States won the group having scored more goals than England in their three games. As group winners, the United States advanced to face Group D runners-up, Ghana, and were immediately bounced out 2-1, in the round of 16. Spain would win the tournament for their 1st World Cup title.

2014 FIFA World Cup was held in Brazil, with Germany winning its 4th title. It was a huge disappointment for Brazil, who was expected to win on their home field. Group G was the “Group of Death” this time around, as it included Germany & Portugal, with the US and Ghana rounding it out.

The USMNT surprisingly beat Ghana in their opener, then played to a draw against Portugal, and advanced to the round of 16 based on Goal Differential, with Portugal being eliminated. Brilliant goalkeeping by Tim Howard kept things close against Belgium in the knockout stage, but the US lost in extra time 2-1.

Results: Without going into details concerning specific players, coaches and events that have transpired over the past 25 years or so in US soccer, a few general statements can be made with surety. Soccer in the US really hasn’t progressed much, since it hosted the World Cup in 1994. The coaching at all levels is still poor quality, and is marred by egos & monied interests.

Young talent isn’t recognized & nurtured, while billions of dollars are spent promoting garbage. There are no impact playmakers on the US Men’s National Team, and there never has been. The only position the US consistently excels at is goalie (Kasey Keller & Tim Howard).

The US players simply aren’t that skilled. They may get paid to play MLS, but many perform (& behave) like bush-leaguers. This isn’t because of lack of talent, it’s due to lack of organization. The Men’s National team is a coaching carousel, which continues to recycle the same losers.

This filters all the way down to the youth levels, which has become Pay to Play. Basically, disadvantaged kids with talent are being priced out of competitive youth soccer. “Without a doubt, soccer has become a rich kid’s sport,” said longtime coach Shane Kennedy of Mill Valley, CA.  [3] 

When you can’t win, you are left with talking trash. That’s what all this money has added up to, in youth & professional soccer in the United States. America will be outside looking in this summer, as Russia hosts World Cup 2018, while the US Men’s National team continues to play Minor League Soccer.

For players there are half a dozen or so who should stay, with everyone else finished for the US National Team. The entire coaching staff and player development hierarchy needs to be cleaned out, and re-conceived before being re-staffed. The current model doesn’t work, and American soccer need fresh ideas & leadership with a global perspective. This goes all the way down to the youth level.

The problem is that most of the US professional players are spoiled whiners, who never step up to accept accountability for themselves or others. Basically no leadership. It’s just a hot mess. That’s why there’s no team identity, no recognizable US-style.  All this is why the results in US soccer have never significantly improved.

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2018 MLB Pre-season Predictions

This analysis only covers the regular season. The MLB post-season can’t be predicted until the season (and trade deadlines) play out, as injuries and other factors are impossible to know. My methodology incorporates these factors: 1) last season’s W-L record, 2) off-season moves, 3) team payroll & flexibility, 4) farm system, and 5) front office & ownership brains.

As of this publication, the only significant remaining free agent is RHP Alex Cobb (above). I anticipate him signing for 1/$12M (or 2/$20M) as a mid-rotation starter for a small or mid-market team. He’s an injury risk, with his TJ history. He also comes with draft pick compensation, which diminishes his market value. Nothing else remains in free agency but scrap heap players, therefore we can now handicap each division and expect to be in the ballpark.

AL East
Contenders: Yankees, Red Sox (WC)
Pretenders: Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles

The Yankees are everyone’s favorite after acquiring DH Giancarlo Stanton this past winter. Have no illusions, this helps the Yankees win now, but it will be an albatross contract after a few seasons, and it runs through 2027. They have plenty of starting & relief pitching, with a balanced line-up that is young with upside, as well as experienced. Their farm system is still strong (top 5-ish), and they’ve cleared payroll room for additions in July.

The Red Sox will be right there too, but I see them as slipping. They now have (by far) the highest payroll in MLB. Trades have eroded their farm system, and there are already more than a few regrets, with more to come. Red Sox fans would surely prefer CF Manny Margot (Padres) to Jackie Bradley Jr. for instance. JD Martinez (age 31) seems like a redundancy at DH, as 1B Eric Hosmer (age 27) made more sense for the Red Sox this past winter. Instead they’re going with Mitch Moreland/Hanley Ramirez at 1B, which hurts.

The Blue Jays could possible make some noise if their top prospects (3B Vlad Guerrero Jr & SS Bo Bichette) make an impact. They are already having injury issues with their rotation (RHP Marcus Stroman), and this has been a problem for them in the past. More than any other AL team, the Blue Jays could go either way.

The Rays are experimenting with a 4-man rotation, with the 5th day being a “bullpen start.” This is completely insane, and promises to fail miserably. The Rays have already lost two young arms to TJ surgery this spring: RHP’s Brent Honeywell & Jose de Leon. Expect RHP Chris Archer to be traded by the deadline.

The Orioles are a complete joke. No international drafting presence and poor scouting has doomed this franchise to the basement for any foreseeable future. Their starting rotation for 2018 is awful, as their pitching staff will be the worst in MLB by a wide margin. This franchise desperately needs a new owner.

Late entry 3-21-18: Just announced, the Orioles & RHP Alex Cobb have reached an agreement on a 4/$60M deal. Because the Orioles receive revenue sharing, they will lose their third-highest pick in the Amateur Draft as a result of this deal — the No. 51 pick overall. No team need starting pitching more than the O’s, so this is a good deal for them. Unfortunately it’s way too little, too late to be much help.

AL Central
Contenders: Indians, Twins (WC)
Pretenders: Royals, White Sox, Tigers

The Indians are still a heavyweight WS contender, with enough system depth to aid in another championship run. Their pitching is elite. Losing Carlos Santana could hurt some.

The Twins made some of the best off-season improvements this winter. They added two helpful starters in Jake Odorizzi & Lance Lynn who can provide 300+ above-average innings to their rotation, which is huge. Throw in bargain-signing Logan Morrison at DH, and the Twins have a mashing heart-of-the-order. They’re still a notch (or two) below the AL heavyweights, but dangerous nonetheless.

The Royals have gone into rebuild mode after losing ace RHP Yordano Ventura to tragedy, and 1B Eric Hosmer & CF Lorenzo Cain to free agency. They re-signed 3B Mike Moustakas because no one else wanted him. Moustakas is an example of how much of a disaster this new CBA is for the players, as a Scott Boras client who initially refused the Royals qualifying offer of $17.4M, then eventually inked for $6.5M plus incentives. This organization is now in no-man’s-land after winning it all in 2015.

The White Sox committed to their rebuild by trading their best players last year and reaping a bevy of top prospects. This is now one of the best farm systems in baseball (with the Braves & Padres), but a mess at the MLB level. RHP James Shields personifies this 25-man roster disaster better than any other White Sox player.

The Tigers finally threw in the towel last July, and it will be a long time before they are relevant again, as their farm system still stinks. Their 25-man roster has a two albatrosses in 1B Miguel Cabrera & RHP Jordan Zimmerman.

AL West
Contender: Astros
Pretenders: Angels, Mariners, A’s, Rangers

This division is really bad outside of the defending World Series champion Astros. For the Astros, it’s all about being able to win in October. This is a smart organization, that is set up for a nice run.

The Angels made some nice additions this off-season, but are still a long way from having a competitive 25-man roster. They’ve got a smart young GM in Billy Eppler, who makes things happen. He needs to find some more pitching for the Angels to take the next step.

The Mariners aren’t going anywhere, despite the flurry of deals GM Jerry Dipoto has made in the last two years. There’s no financial flexibility due to payroll obligations. Spring training has been a rash of leg injuries, including: DH Nelson Cruz, SS Jean Segura & OF Ichiro. This roster is thin on depth to start, and can’t afford significant injuries to any key players.

The Rangers are also spinning their wheels, and will probably be trading ace LHP Cole Hamels at the 7/31 deadline. A point that needs to be made concerning the Rangers’ front office, is that the juggernaut of homegrown talent they had ~ 10 years ago was the work not of GM Jon Daniels, but of then-scouting director A.J. Preller. When Preller left to become GM of the Padres, the young talent stopped coming to Arlington.

The A’s are once again the young Moneyball up-&-comers (as they should be), but it will take another year or two for their system to bear fruit. They could surprise sooner if their prospects hit. If they ever committed to a respectable payroll, they could actually do something.

NL East
Contender: Nationals
Pretenders: Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins

Not much of a race here, as the Nationals are a NL heavyweight. Expect them to win this division by double digit games again in 2018. It’s all about their performance in October anymore, and winning a division series for a change. This is their last run with RF Bryce Harper, and they are doing it with a rookie manager. Believe it or not, that’s a dugout upgrade in Washington.

As for the rest, the Braves have the best farm system, followed by the Phillies. Both of these franchises mark 2018 as critical development years. The Phillies have gambled by signing 1B Carlos Santana (3/$60M) & RHP Jake Arrieta (3/$75M*) in a push to accelerate their window of contention. I see it as too much, too soon, and don’t see this turning out well. The Phillies needed to be patient for at least one more year before making such splashes. If this backfires, they’ve screwed themselves; and they did it for a long-shot.

The Braves have had a top-rated farm system for ~3 years now, with meager results at the MLB level. They need young outfielder Ronald Acuna, SS Dansby Swanson, and their pitching prospects to deliver soon, otherwise it was too much hype. I’m talking mostly to Keith Law and the rest at Fangraphs.

The Mets are already having injury issues (again), with RHP Jacob deGrom the latest pitching casualty. 3B David Wright will probably be permanently inactivated sometime this season, due to his ailing back. RF Yoenis Cespedes and LF Michael Comforto are also having early tweaks, and at some point someone in the Mets organization needs to be held accountable for all this, otherwise they’ve wasted their chances in this window and learned nothing from it.

The Marlins put Derek Jeter’s “Project Wolverine” into action this winter, and dumped four (4) All-Stars– for not-nearly-enough in return. They are going to stink for a LONG time, and no one will care.

NL Central
Contender: Cubs, Cardinals (WC)
Pretenders: Brewers, Reds, Pirates

The Cubs still have plenty enough to cruise to another division title. The issue comes in October, in how they will match-up against the Dodgers & Nationals. RHP Hu Darvish feels like a last plunge in this window. RF Jason Heyward’s contract is an albatross that limits their flexibility.

The Cardinals are my iffiest NL post-season prediction, as they may be too old. I never count this organization out, as they always have depth and a plan. If they crash, look for the Brewers, Braves, or Padres to sneak into the 2nd Wild Card. CF Marcell Ozuna was an off-season steal.

The Brewers have gotten a lot of press this winter for the moves they’ve made. They acquired LF Christian Yelich (below) & CF Lorenzo Cain (5/$80M), but the problem is they now have no position for LF Ryan Braun– who is untradeable. He’s not a 1B, and besides they already have Eric Thames there.  There’s not enough pitching in their rotation behind Chase Anderson either. Their payroll is maxed, with their farm system depleted, and they still come up way short.

The Reds have built their farm system back into respectability, or so we are told. I’m not convinced, as this organization never seems to produce enough pitching. Or when it does, it gets hurt.  Projected starters Anthony DeSclafani’s oblique injury, and Brandon Finnegan’s biceps strain in spring training already point towards that same trend again in 2018.

The Pirates went into rebuild mode again this off-season, when they traded CF Andrew McCutchen & RHP Gerrit Cole. Their farm system isn’t much these days, and their 25-man roster is below average. Cheapskate ownership really hurts here.

NL West
Contenders: Dodgers, Diamondbacks (WC)
Pretenders: Padres, Rockies, Giants

This is the best division in the NL, and only the AL East can claim to be tougher. Top-to bottom the NL West is probably better, as the Rays & O’s are basically hopeless in 2018. The Dodgers still have the best roster, with the best pitching, and a top-10 farm system. Money is never an object in LA, so expect them to be there in October again.

The D-backs will probably regress some in 2018 without J.D. Martinez, but they still have a play-off rotation. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is their franchise player, but 3B Jake Lamb & particularly RF Steven Souza Jr. are the keys to their 2018 line-up.

The Padres have the best farm system in baseball by a wide margin. It’s become clear in spring training to many scouts & prospect experts, that the Padres system is actually underrated. This team is about to be good for a long time. Additions of 1B Eric Hosmer, SS Freddie Galvis, 3B Chase Headley, and RHP’s Bryan Mitchell & Tyson Ross add at least 10 wins to a team that went 71-91 in 2017. The waves of talent to come, make the Padres the organization to watch in 2018. Andy Green may be the best manager in MLB, and Darren Balsley is probably the best pitching coach.

The Rockies graduated most of their top talent in the last few years, and it netted them a WC (and immediate bounce out) in 2017. I see that as the Rockies ceiling with this current group. Their starting pitching is solid (mediocre), with little upside. Their line-up is still potent, but aging, with some bad contracts. Most likely their defense won’t be very good. Expect regression in Colorado.

The Giants have doubled down on their expensive veteran roster by adding RF Andrew McCutchen & 3B Evan Longoria to get some power into their line-up. It’s still not enough, and besides it’s pitching that’s now become suspect in San Francisco. RHP’s Johnny Cueto & Jeff Samardzija, along with closer Mark Melancon, are all albatrosses. Win or lose in 2018, Giants GM Brian Sabean will be blowing this aging team up in the near future.

My final thoughts on this past winter and the upcoming season are that these predictions aren’t hard to make. It’s going to be the same teams competing in October again. That’s why so many organizations declined to participate in free agency this winter. Splashes don’t make sense when you have no shot to start, and that’s about half the teams overall.

The name of the game today is acquiring young talent. Young players throw harder, run faster, cover more ground, and (most importantly) cost less than veteran players. Signing qualifying-offered free-agents costs an organization valuable draft picks & international spending money, which are the two quickest pipelines to a competitive roster.

This is why I’m so down on the Phillies in 2018. Santana & Arrieta probably aren’t enough, and they lose future talent by surrendering compensation picks, when they still should be in young talent acquisition mode.

Analytics and a scouting eye can tell us a lot, and help fans make better projections, but in the end it’s a random game and no one really know what will happen.

Play Ball!!

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Ambidextrous Tennis

Two forehands beats one. That’s the philosophy behind ambidextrous tennis. This means eliminating the backhand, and hitting with a right-handed AND left-handed forehand– depending on the situation. Nothing in the game of tennis has as much revolutionary potential as this style.

Firstly, why take up ambidextrous tennis? For me it was a right elbow injury that caused me to put down the racket. Like most athletes, I couldn’t sit still, so I decided to try the racket in my left hand. I quickly discovered that I had more power on my left side than my right! That really got me thinking… and now here we are.

In this video below I demonstrate the basics (& a few nuances) of ambidextrous tennis. The advantages to hitting this way are multi-fold. Ambidextrous tennis provides: 1) More power & higher spin rates; 2) Better court coverage with less effort; 3) Better attack angles while closing off windows-of-vulnerability. 4) Numerous openings to close in on the net, and finish.

I predict (in the future) that ambidextrous tennis will outlast everything else, and become the dominant style among top professionals. The advantages of this style are too apparent, and eventually some ambitious young boy (or girl) is going to master these concepts and win a lot of tennis majors. Why? Because two forehands beats one.

Does this mean that I can now beat Roger Federer? Of course, not. I’m too old, and don’t have his ability. What the ambidextrous style will do is raise the level of anyone’s game, just by becoming more aware of the other half of one’s body. As a footnote: I wouldn’t even want to imagine Roger Federer with two forehands [!], he’s good enough already.

The point is, few of us have anywhere close to Roger Federer’s ability. Imitating his style can help to an extent, but you aren’t going to get better than him by copying him. He’s the best. If young tennis players want to consistently break through Federer-Nadal and the rest on the men’s side (and Serena Williams on the women’s side), then they are going to have to be extraordinarily talented– and still think outside-the-box. The top players are the best for a reason, because they have the talent & dedication, and it takes a lot to get past them.

Ambidextrous tennis (when mastered) gives anyone the tools they need to attack & defend against the best players. Most tennis player’s are taught to attack an opponent’s backhand. In ambidextrous tennis there is no backhand, thus most opponent’s strategy is foiled before they even step onto the court. This is a frustrating style to match up against, and many people I’ve hit with, have disappeared over the years. People generally like to hit against people they can beat, so many of your ‘tennis friends’ will bail on you, once you get good at this style.

Final tips: It’s what your body is doing during pronation that counts in tennis. If you don’t pronate, while maintaining vision & balance– then you’ve got nothing. Consider the racket as a sword, and the tennis ball as a bullet. You are always protecting your head & body while being ready to move in any direction, for any required shot. Ambidextrous tennis allows quick & efficient movements, combined with controlled power.

Light feet skate. Keep everything in-line– from eyes to toes. Stay low and get lower as you approach the net. Stay down until the point is over. Ambidextrous tennis conserves energy, which makes all this easier. The best reason for playing (and mastering) ambidextrous tennis, is that you will have no weaknesses.

Wednesday  2-28-18—  P.S on endorsements:  I’m going on the record in saying, I would love to have a shoe deal. I would obviously need a manufacturer as a partner. Today, most athletic footwear sold in stores, is junk. It only enriches the corporate manufacturers, and the handful of celebrity athletes endorsing their signature series. Poor materials, bad design, and shoddy construction are major issues with athletic shoes– especially considering their price tag.

Since most shoes are sports specific, and already have top-athlete spokesmen/women, I would propose to design a shoe that works for serious amateur athletes. That’s a big demographic, hungry for innovation. Tennis is a good model, because you can wear any kind of footwear you choose, as opposed to other sports, which have restrictions on style & design of the shoes.

If I wasn’t blacklisted, I would surely have been contacted by now, after posting “Ambidextrous Tennis.” This only proves (once again) that there is now no room for outside-the-box re-thinking, anywhere in the capitalist market. Censorship bites everybody.

July 1, 2018 Final Notes on Ambidextrous Tennis:

I’ve made a few changes to my featured routine since I’ve posted this piece. I now practice barefoot, because you finish with your feet. I also don’t serve off the wall and chase for the return anymore. I now hit into the corner and let the ball bounce back in my direction.

Remember this is a racquetball court being used for tennis training. The bounce will typically hit off two walls, reducing the pace and allowing you time to move your feet. You don’t know which wall it will hit off of, because you are aiming at the corner. When you hit dead into the corner, it bounces back with crazy spin or knuckleball effect. This really improves footwork & focus on the ball.  Do this right-handed & left-handed, as shown in the video, and you will get better at tennis.

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What is 1B Eric Hosmer Worth?

This article began as a commentary on the slow free-agent market in MLB, and soon metastasized into a serial edition. It’s still in-progress, as it has become a serious labor & political issue for players & fans. The latest updates are at the end.

In 2017, Hosmer had a career year, good for 4.0 WAR. I postulate that one win should cost $5-6M in today’s MLB free agency, and that you can never assume more than 4.0 WAR for any player. That means $20-24M/year is the free agency annual maximum, and this $1M/year ‘wiggle room’ is dependent on market size, competitive window, television deals, and other franchise considerations.

Keeping the free agent cost/win locked in at $5-6M makes sense, because it’s the fans who pay for the game, and too many can’t afford the current rate of star player salary escalation. MLB has reached it’s ceiling with many, many fans.

I believe even RF Bryce Harper & LHP Clayton Kershaw are in for rude surprises next winter, as any more $300M deals (Giancarlo Stanton) have been ruled out, and probably even $200M will be criticized as an overpay.

It’s the length over 4 years that kills organizations, and their fans recognize this & don’t like it. That’s why you have so much antipathy towards Scott Boras & the rest of these “super agents.” Fans can now do their own research, and often form better arguments than these high-powered lawyers. This tells you what Boras & Co. are really worth, and also that their influence (at this point) is entirely dependent on connections, instead of brains.

With all this said, Eric Hosmer is worth 3/$48M to the SD Padres, with an option year and $1M buyout, as he’s probably worth ~3 WAR/season over that deal. This also would keep the Friars under the $50M cap for forfeiting their second round draft pick, next June. These draft picks are EXTREMELY valuable to franchises today, and GM AJ Preller would prefer to draft another young arm, versus giving that selection to Kansas City in compensation for signing Hosmer.

If the Padres have to go over $50M & 4 years for Hosmer (most likely), then the average annual value (AAV) of the deal is lessened to say 5/$65M. Why? To make up for the cost of losing that draft pick. Otherwise, it’s an overpay.

Ideally the Padres would move Wil Myers to LF for 3-4 years, after which he will (most likely) need to move back to 1B. Anything <$100M for Eric Hosmer doesn’t cripple this franchise in 2019, or beyond. It would add a great defender with good OBP to a line-up that desperately needs it. In other words, from age 28-30 he’s a winning piece, but not the entire answer. From age 32 on, he’s a liability at anything over $10M/season.

There are new rules now in MLB free agency, since the current deal was ratified over a year ago. Signing qualified free agents can now force teams to forfeit international bonus allotments. The hard cap on international spending is new to the 2017-21 CBA. Also, exceeding the luxury tax by a wide enough margin will eventually cause teams to see their top pick pushed back 10 slots. The new CBA also added surcharges of 12% & 42.5% for exceeding the CBT by $20M & $40M, making $197M a hard team payroll cap for all intents & purposes [1].

With all this, the MLB owners have effectively found a way to de-incentivize signing top-dollar free agents. It can’t be properly labeled collusion, because the MLBPA agreed to these rules. This only proves that MLBPA executive director Tony Clark and the rest of his cohorts are incompetent puppets in the hands of ownership and its MLB commissioner’s office.

The vast majority of MLB players (at any time) are arbitration or pre-arb, and are unaffected (for now) by this slow FA signing season. Therefore their unity & readinesses to strike is virtually nil. Until something is proposed to increase pay for the majority of the players at the bottom of the MLB pay scale, then the players will remain divided & helpless. The problem for most professional baseball players are their sellout ‘representatives’ occupying the union leadership, working in collusion with ruthless ownership negotiators.

Update 2-7-18  Wednesday ~2:00 PM:

The MLBPA did nothing in the last round of CBA to help the players. Recall this was a historic negotiating session, as new rules for the international draft & free agency (as always) were on the table. Ownership set the framework for all the negotiations, as everything pertained to caps on spending.

For instance, in 2016 AJ Preller & the SD Padres broke the bank in international free agency, spending ~$75M and reaping an unprecedented talent haul. Now that can’t be done, as the cap is <$15M. The owners rigged MLB free agency the same way, essentially capping spending with it’s agreed-upon collectively bargained rules.

The union leaders & all the players’ agents did NOTHING to significantly raise the salaries of young players, who are the most-exploited & vast majority. That’s why free agents demand overpay contracts, as they’ve been underpaid for so long. I’m okay with the players striking, as long as it leads to more equal pay among ALL players. It’s a team game, and that means actual unity to win. This requires real leadership, which is something you can’t fake [2].

Update 2-8-18   Thursday ~Noon

Yesterday JD Martinez was reportedly (per Ken Rosenthal) “frustrated with the pace of negotiations,” but today Scott Boras is “serene and patient” in an ESPN interview. Do you believe any of this?

The free agent players are under pressure, as they have to play to get paid. The teams already have players, so they can hold out for the right price. That’s what’s going on. There is no mass player sentiment for a strike, as that trial balloon was shot down with violent reaction from the fans on social media when an agent brought it up a few days ago. How can there be player unity when each player retains their own agent? A handful of super agents control all the MLB players, with in the framework of a sellout bureaucratically-run union– the MLBPA.

When either Hosmer or Martinez first capitulate (as they must), that will signal the collapse of the free agent bubble, and you will then see a flurry of bargain free agent signings. Look for numbers in this range: JDM 4/60, Hosmer 3/50, with only 2-3 year deals for any pitcher. Pitchers & catchers report next week, so it’s about to get busy. This has actually been an amazing off-season to follow, due to it’s uniqueness.

Scott Boras sounds delusional in his analogies, don’t you think [3]?

It was Ken Rosenthal who yesterday reported ‘allegations’ of JD Martinez’s “frustrations” in these negotiations, which is really a non-story. Everyone gets emotional when money is on the table, so that’s only natural. Why didn’t Rosenthal report any MLB front-office frustrations? ESPN bias is against the free agent players, in an attempt to vilify ALL players (even the underpaid younger ones) as greedy & selfish. If no one wanted JD Martinez or Eric Hosmer, then there wouldn’t be all this cyber ink being spilled.

Miami Marlins news: An apologist & anonymous [!] AP writer assumes outfielder Lewis Brinson and the young prospects they received in their dump deals will pan out, only questioning whether the Marlins will be able to retain them in arbitration or beyond. But what if they don’t pan out? If that’s the case, then Derek Jeter & GM Mike Hill got nothing in return for four All-Stars. That leads Jeter to say stuff like, “I didn’t answer [the question], but we are listening.” [4]

Update: 2-9-18  Friday ~ Noon:

The shoddy & biased journalism continues. This free-agent hotstove piece is another buffer to blow smoke between the fans who want to know and the people who want to stay hidden. Just read these “updates” from MLB.com, which are entirely innuendo (whose?), as no one is on record:

“Brewers and Twins could be among the teams who have offered Darvish a nine-figure contract, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Thursday….”

“A source told Heyman that Milwaukee is one of the clubs that has made Darvish a $100 million-plus offer.”

“Also per Heyman’s report, the Twins are believed to have been willing to offer Darvish a deal of five years or more…” [5]

Who are these “sources,” and what’s their credibility? I’ve seen online comments that say these things– is that a “source” here? This is speculation and nothing more. Until any of these “sources” can be confirmed with specifics, then there is nothing going on but manipulation. The question becomes: who’s behind this?

What’s going on is a factional war, much similar politically to the Trump military fascists (hard-line MLB owners), going off against the Democratic deep state Wall Street-intelligence apparatus (MLBPA & the agents). The minor leaguers & arbitration & pre-arbitration players are the working class, underpaid, exploited, and the vast majority.

The sell-out union bureaucracy signed off on this rotten CBA, which now even prevents free-agents from maximizing their value, due to the structure of the deal. No one feels sorry for guys who turn down 7/$140M or 5/$125M deals, but experience told Scott Boras (and all the rest), that was the play. Up until this year, the agents had always been right, and have profited handsomely. Remember, most of these player end up broke, five years after retirement. It’s the agents & networks who stick around to become rich & powerful.

So here we are, with pitcher’s & catcher’s reporting in less than a week, with RHP’s Hu Darvish & Jake Arrieta still unsigned. I believe the reports that claim the Brewers & Twins have made offers for Darvish, as he’s more desirable (< risky) than Arrieta. It’s a crapshoot with either, and that’s why so many have stayed away. Most don’t believe either pitcher can hold up, for the money they’re demanding.

The point is, it’s apparently two small-market teams making the strongest offers. That tells you the price has gone down dramatically. It’s the Yankees, Red Sox & Dodgers that drive up the free-agent market, and they aren’t interested. The Cubs are luke warm. That’s the dynamic in play, but never reported or analyzed in any meaningful way. That too is by design, and is in line with the “fake news,” Internet censorship & witch-hunting campaigns that are going on daily in what is called “news & politics.”

A small market team looking to boost their rotation would love to have Hu Darvish, but the terms need to be fair for the club and their fans. An overpay will cripple either of these franchises. A fair contract, followed by an arm blow-out is another deadly risk. I don’t see anything more than $60M and 3-4 years for either. It could even be less. If these pitchers get more, then someone overpaid, and it will hurt– sooner or later.

Updated 2-10-18   Saturday ~ Noon:

Here’s a look at the current MLB free-agent headlines, along with my comments…

Teams eyeing shorter-term deal with Arrieta [6]

“CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine reported in November that the starting point for negotiations between clubs and Boras were in the six-year, $160 million range.”

Last year was RHP Jake Arrieta’s age-31 season, where he produced 1.9 WAR while being paid $15.6M by the Cubs. In 2015, he was the best pitcher in MLB, winning the NL Cy Young Award; he made $3.6M that year while being worth 8.4 WAR.

This is the problem with MLB contracts. The don’t pay the player what he’s worth, when he’s young & valuable. Now the players can’t get paid to make up for it, even in free-agency! Most players never reach free agency. This is the problem with the new CBA, negotiated by the sell-out MLBPA and the influential agents.

Rangers won’t rule out major free-agent grab
Stagnant market leaves things up in air for many, including Darvish, Rangers [7]

“Stagnant free-agent market” means no Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers or Dodgers blowing up the bidding. That’s either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

With eye to future, 5 clubs primed to pounce
Expiring contracts after ’18 has these teams in position to make a splash now [8]

Everyone of these listed FA players could help the assigned team in the article above. No question. The rub is: How much do they pay and for how long?  On that there is nothing.

IMG Academy, MLBPA join forces to host free-agent camp in Florida [9]

It will be the camp that no one wants to attend. Will they be selling tickets?

==== Saturday  ~10:00 PM ====

How Darvish deal impacts FA market
Dodgers could pursue available right-handers Arrieta, Lynn and Cobb [10]

Hu Darvish has reportedly agreed to a 6-yr/$126M deal with the Cubs, pending a physical. Darvish was the best pitcher available, but it’s still an overpay, because it’s the Cubs. That’s what top pitching costs, even in a depressed market. Darvish was traded from the Rangers to the Dodgers in 2017, so he doesn’t have a compensation pick tied to his signing.

Therefore, this free agent market is now capped at $21/year, as no remaining player is more valuable than Hu Darvish. One can now infer that the reported offers for OF/DH J.D. Martinez (5/125– Boston) and 1B Eric Hosmer (7/140– San Diego) are fictional at this point, and not-to-be-believed in media reports. Teams don’t need these bats like they need pitching. The big free-agent crash is still yet to come…

 

Monday 2-12-18 ~5:30 PM

Even as spring training begins, baseball’s endless offseason lingers [11]

The SD Padres under GM AJ Preller are the most-current example of why we have these new CBA rules. The Padres went into rebuild mode after their 2015 disaster campaign, where they had loaded up on free agents & contract veterans– James Shields, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, BJ (Melvin) Upton, Craig Kimbrel & Ian Kennedy– and then crashed spectacularly.

Preller got busy after that season by trading Kimbrel to Boston for a huge prospect haul. AJP also collected compensation (QO) picks for J Upton & Ian Kennedy. Preller dumped the rest (and ate contract as needed) for whatever he could get in 2016, including SS prospect Fernando Tatis Jr from the White Sox for Shields. AJP even dumped his best organizational players, in sending RHP Andrew Cashner to Miami, and LHP Drew Pomeranz to Boston.

The Padres finished 4th in the NL West in 2015, and last 2016– netting high picks in all the drafts (Amateur, Rule 5 & Intl), and used them to their advantage. Example: carrying five Rule 5 players in 2016 & 2017 combined! AJP then broke the bank on the International draft in summer of 2016, spending ~$75M in acquiring a once-in-a-lifetime bounty of young talent. That provoked all the CBA rules changes, to which the players, MLBPA, and agents have yet to figure out.

Arrieta market may be down to Brewers, Twins [12]

The fan comments to yet-another ‘rumor piece’ on MLB.com are brutal & enlightening in their clarity & honesty. The fans know, and are now talking back to Scott Boras & the media… 120+ people listening…

It has been this author’s contention that a handful of super agents led by Scott Boras have been able to control the players’ union and manipulate MLB GM’s, to inflate the value of free agency– for decades. Now the market has come down to Boras, as he holds the top remaining pitcher– Jake Arrieta; along with the top remaining position players in: OF/DH JD Martinez, 1B Eric Hosmer & 3B Mike Moustakas (age 29, career: .251/.305/.425)– whom the Yankees would like at the right price. This is where the market will set, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whom among them will sign first? It will be a shocker to many (I can assure you), and a bloodbath from there on… Stay tuned!

Tuesday 2-13-18  ~ 9:00 AM

MLBPA bars media from covering free-agent training camp [13]

Tony Clark and the agents need to make a statement on this. What if a player gets seriously hurt in this free -gent camp? Who will pay for that player’s treatment and rehab? Why are they here in the first place? Why all the secrecy from the MLBPA? Is it because these are tough questions they can’t answer?

JD reunion with D-backs seems unlikely [14]

Did anyone notice the price tag on JD Martinez has just been dropped?!

“Reports have the Red Sox offering Martinez five years at over $100 million…”

That’s down from 5/$125M, which has been the number MLB has “reported” all off-season.

Wednesday 2-14-18  ~ 8:00 AM

Padres have Myers focused on first base
Club confident slugger could make quick adjustment back to outfield if Hosmer signs [15]

There is no other team interested in Eric Hosmer, as the Royals don’t want him back. He not going to sit the season out. Eric Hosmer has to play somewhere, and San Diego is the only fit. AJ Preller will wait as long as he has to, for Boras & Hosmer to give in.

This article is a message to them, the Padres have a contingency plan they can go with if they don’t sign him, which give them extra leverage. I put the chances of the Padres getting Hosmer at over 80% at this point. The contract length will be 4 years max, and no more than $75M.

D-backs exploring ‘creative’ ways to sign J.D. [16]

It’s now officially 5/$100M from Boston for Martinez, with no other bidders. The D-Backs can’t afford JD Martinez, with RHP Zack Greinke & 1B Paul Goldschmidt on the payroll already, as they are not a top-10 revenue club. The price for these remaining free-agents will continue to drop, unless other teams get serious, which doesn’t appear will be the case. That’s how this free-agent market is not working.

Yu’s a Cub, so Cards must make a FA splash

Closer Holland and third baseman Moustakas would both fill voids in St. Louis [17]

This is a shamefully obvious Scott Boras propaganda piece for 3B Mike Moustakas by Richard Justice. No mention that the Cardinals already acquired a major bat this off-season in CF Marcell Ozuna. What the Cards need is young starting pitching– like everyone else, not an aging & expensive closer in Greg Holland. Lazy & deceitful sports journalism from ESPN & MLB– all down the line.

Sunday 2-18-18 ~10:00 AM

Sources: Padres, Hosmer agree to 8-year deal [18]

The best free-agent position player signed with the Padres (8 yrs/$144M). When have you ever read that? This team is going to be competitive much sooner than people believe. I’ve seen prognostications for the Padres getting a few as 67 wins this season, which is silly & lazy analysis. This team will approach 80 wins in 2018, and be ready to compete for a WC in 2019.

Hosmer’s arrival will reshape outfield, lineup [19]

The Padres got the player they needed. As far as the contract numbers go, it’s hard to tell how it will all shake down with the opt-out (after the 5th year) and limited no-trade protection (after 3 years). Hosmer gets $20M for the first 5 seasons, the $13M for the last three. There is a $5M signing bonus, all totaling $144M. This deal doesn’t break the Padres, and gets them the OBP and improved defense they desperately needed. I can see AJP dealing Hosmer after the 3rd or 4th year. The Padres can hold on to Hosmer (if he’s aging well), and still trade him later if necessary, because his contract doesn’t balloon at the end. That’s the problem with albatrosses. Injury is the most significant risk for the Padres here.

Good day for Padres fans, as this was a bit of an overpay, but not a franchise back-breaker. They lose their third pick in the upcoming June amateur draft, which goes to the KC Royals as compensation. If the Padres had been picking outside the top-10, this contract would have been for less money, as the Padres would have been forced to forfeit their 1st-round pick– which is much more valuable.

You KNOW there was tough negotiating on all sides, as a whole lot of issues are in play, These are highly-intelligent & competitive people involved. Now the Padres have their 2018 lineup, and their fans are happy because it’s a whole lot better!

Tuesday 2-20-18   ~4:00 PM

JD Martinez has reportedly agreed to a 5/$110M with Boston Red Sox, with opt-out clauses after the second and third year. Martinez will be paid $25 million in 2018 and ’19 before the first opt out, Then $22 million in 2020 before the second opt out, and $19 million in the last two years, if he remains with the club. [20]

Everyone loves baseball again, how nice! Look for the top pitchers: Arrieta, Cobb & Lynn to go next… Then it’s one-year and even minor-league deals for most of the rest. Owners and GM’s have gone with youth over expensive veteran players, so many won’t even get a guaranteed contract offer it appears. Major CBA disaster for the players, that’s the off-season lesson in MLB.

Final Padres Notes:

Padres 2018 Opening Day line-up: CF Margot (R), 3B Headley (S), 1B Hosmer (L), RF Myers (R), LF Renfroe (R), 2B Asuaje (L), SS Galvis (S), C Hedges (R), LHP Richard. That’s a measurable improvement in OBP & L/R balance. The power is there too. If Myers & Renfroe can put it together, this lineup will be a monster for years to come.

Padres starting pitching is still too mediocre (and right-handed) to be competitive. When it comes to making the post-season and winning, it’s all about pitching. Clayton Richard & Robbie Erlin are the only lefty starter options for the Padres. This team can’t contend without better frontline starters, especially lefties. Their bullpen is solid, with LHP Brad Hand signed for the next 4 years, instead of traded away like all the ‘experts’ predicted. I predict 81-81 for the Padres in 2018.

Consider that AJP filled (or upgraded) every positional hole this off-season, and almost pulled off landing ace RHP Shohei Ohtani! Since Ohtani went to the Angels, Padres fans will have to wait another year for their top young pitching to arrive.

Every GM wanted to get at AJP’s prospects, and the only thing he dealt was RHP Enyel De Los Santos (minors) in the Freddy Galvis trade. AJ Preller also picked up a back-up catcher (AJ Ellis) and possibly a #2 starter (RHP Tyson Ross) on minor league deals. That wins the off-season for efficiency & brains, and only the Angels can rightly claim they did better than the Friars.

The market for free agent starters: Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb & Lance Lynn will now take shape and consummate. All are probably too expensive for the Padres– and the rest is junk. There is nothing among this trio better than a #2 starter, and it’s high risk– especially with Arrieta. Lynn & Cobb are solid but more like #3 starters on championship teams. Luckily, AJP did a nice job stockpiling cheap arms over the winter, among his other activities, so he won’t be tempted to overpay for mediocrity.

The simplest rules in free agency are: 1) don’t over spend, 2) and sign the right guy for your needs. The Padres did both here, so it’s a successful off-season for them. The Padres needed a stabilizer in the middle of their line-up, as well as a team leader. Eric Hosmer provides that, as Wil Myers wasn’t the guy for that role. That’s a wrap. Over & Out on this free agency season.

Play ball!!

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Wannabe a Sucker?

On August 11, 2017 it was announced in the Miami Herald that owner Jeffrey Loria had agreed to sell the Miami Marlins for $1.2 billion, to a group led by New York businessman Bruce Sherman and former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter. Much exhalation ensued, as fans celebrated the exiting of one of the most hated owners in sports history. But like so many other major stories, when people think it’s over, it’s really only the beginning. For Marlins fans, how could anything be worse than the Loria-era?

The story of this MLB off-season, since the Shohei Ohtani affair (which of course never happened), has been the on-going fire sale of the Miami Marlins. Derek Jeter is now CEO of Marlins baseball operations. So far he has given away RF Giancarlo Stanton, CF Marcel Ozuna, and 2B Dee Gordon; each of them All-Stars and one the reigning MVP. Now Jeter is dangling LF Christian Yelich, and catcher JT Realmuto.

When you say you’ll only accept an “overpay,” yet put your team in a position where it MUST sell– then you won’t make a deal with grown-ups.

Notable Unsigned MLB Free Agents:

1B Eric Hosmer
RHP Yu Darvish
RF J.D. Martinez
RHP Jake Arrieta
CF Lorenzo Cain
3B Mike Moustakas
3B Todd Frazier

The reason the MLB free-agent market has been so slow the winter, is because everyone is waiting for the Marlins to complete their fire sale, now with Yelich & Realmuto on the block. Unfortunately, Jeter has once again over-valued his assets, and can’t pull either of them back, without losing even more value. Jeter is putting the Marlins franchise in a position to make another mistake, by insisting on too much, and thus freezing out the market which includes the Braves, White Sox, Padres, Phillies, Nationals & Diamondbacks among others.

One point on money & wins above replacement (WAR). It can’t be valued at anything higher than $5M/win on the free-agent market, without becoming distorted. Contract length should not exceed 5 years, as these players are all age 27 or older which means they are about to go into decline. Albert Pujols & A-Rod albatrosses not only cripple individual franchises who buy into them, but also irrationally set the market.

There are smart GM’s in play, and top prospects are gold, so you can’t steal top talent like you used to, even a few years back. This gap between Derek Jeter’s wannabe-GM expectations, and current market realities, is what’s holding up this off-season. As of now, no GM wants to make a big free-agent signing until Derek Jeter is done blowing up the Marlins. That’s why Eric Hosmer & JD Martinez are still unsigned, and haven’t drawn much interest as of yet.

Derek Jeter is way out of his league running a franchise, and the only reason he’s doing so, is because he’s 4% owner. The reason your hire a front office & GM is to separate money from brains, as much as possible– which is wise. Jeter is simply making decisions that benefit him as an owner, under the guise of being a qualified baseball executive. The baseball fans of Miami, who have been swindled over & over again, are seeing it happen once again right before their eyes, and they aren’t fooled.

If Jeter doesn’t like the prospect packages that are being offered, then why doesn’t he insist someone take LHP Wei-Yin Chen, to move some dead money? That’s what Jeter really wants, as we all saw in the Stanton dump/gift. Proof? Look at the three players the Marlins are apparently going to arbitration with, the difference in money is $1,175,000– total! It doesn’t get much cheaper than this:

MLB.com has confirmed JT Realmuto has filed for $3.5 million, while the Marlins’ offer is $2.9 million. Justin Bour’s figure is $3.4 million, with the team countering at $3 million. RHP Dan Straily is seeking $3.55 million, to the team’s $3.375 million. [1]

When you poison the mood of the franchise, by immediately coming in and putting the reigning NL MVP on the trade block, before ever consulting him and his teammates, then you are not respecting the players. When you disrespect longtime fans by summarily dismissing popular announcers & other organizational personnel, then business will suffer. If you then try to hire some of them back after the negative PR backlash, then you haven’t planned anything [2].

Jeter was “The Captain” in the Bronx at shortstop, and pretty much demanded he be given that title from ownership, which George Steinbrenner did– against manager Joe Torre’s advice. Management of the NY Yankees franchise suffered from that point on, as they became married to an expensive and aging SS (a poor defender from the start), who still demanded superstar pay & pampering. Now as Marlins GM & owner, Jeter skinflints three valuable young players in arbitration.

Alex Rodriguez was never allowed to play SS in the Bronx, because of Derek Jeter’s ego, and the Yankees suffered for it, winning only one World Series (2009) while the two were “teammates,” on a roster with annually the highest payroll in baseball. Of course, teammates in any real sense of the term implies support & love for one another, and clearly that was never their relationship. It was always Jeter’s call, since he was the prince of the town, with all his past World Series glory in the bank.

Instead, he chose to be selfish and flex his muscle as “The Captain,” making Alex Rodriguez move to 3B. The Yankees could never fill CF adequately, and still haven’t. A winning team positions it’s players carefully, where they are most valuable; not according to the whims of a star player or media clamoring. Instead of moving to centerfield, like the team needed, Derek Jeter stayed at shortstop and distanced himself from Arod at every turn. If you didn’t see this when it was happening, then you weren’t paying attention.

The Marlins did have a great CF, until Jeter gave him away to the Cardinals. Marcell Ozuna slashed .312/.376/.548 in 2017, worth 5.8 WAR. On December 14, 2017, Derek Jeter flipped two years of Marcell Ozuna under arbitration control for Daniel Castano (minors), Zac Gallen (minors), fringy righty-reliever Sandy Alcantara, and light-hitting lefty outfielder Magneuris Sierra. The two prospects (Castano & Gallen) are middling-to-fringy.

The week before, on December 7, 2017, Jeter traded 2B Dee Gordon along with international bonus slot money to the Seattle Mariners for Robert Dugger (minors), Nick Neidert (minors) and Christopher Torres (minors). Gordon hit .308/.341/.375 with good defense in 2017, good for 3.1 WAR. This was probably Derek Jeter’s best trade so far (not saying much), getting two pitchers and a switching-hitting middle infield prospect. Dee Gordon will be age 30 this April, and is a luxury the Marlins probably can’t afford for the next three seasons. Let’s see how the player development & farm rebuilding pans out for the Marlins.

Of course, a major MLB earthquake occurred on December 11, 2017, when the Marlins dumped RF Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, who took on $265M out of the $295M owed to him. The Stanton deal was a straight salary dump for the Marlins, and a poorly executed one at that. The Miami Marlins will pay $30M to New York Yankees when Stanton does not opt-out, following the 2020 season. The Marlins also took on $24M for 2B Starlin Castro over the next two seasons, including his buyout after 2019. Expect Jeter to dump Castro, after Yelich & Realmuto. The two “prospects” the Marlins received in the Stanton deal were:

1) RHP Jorge Guzman, about to turn age 22, a starter who never pitched above low-A, with only 162 IP in 3 professional seasons.

2) SS/2B prospect Jose Devers: 1 pro season .245/.336/.342.

This is what the Marlins got for the NL MVP! When Jeter couldn’t get a decent offer for Giancarlo Stanton, he should have taken him off the market and rolled through 2018 with him. Stanton has 10 years left on his deal, so why the rush to trade him? Derek Jeter got a 28-YO poor-fielding 2B with a career line of .282/.320/.413, who is owed $24M through the next 2 seasons in Starlin Castro. Giancarlo Stanton is worth much more than that, even with his backloaded contract. The Marlins desperately need prospects, and got junk. Jeter opted for cash savings, and the Marlins franchise got fleeced. Now Jeter insists anyone else who deals with the Marlins must “overpay.” That’s delusional. How about some solid work instead, Derek Jeter?

Ownership in Miami is short-stacked. Derek Jeter owns 4% non-controlling stake of the team, which means he kicked in ~$50M towards the $1.2B purchase-price for the Marlins. Bruce Sherman is the majority owner, and he put Jeter in charge of the baseball side, with a five year deal worth ~ $50M in salary. Convenient, huh? Jeter has no GM experience. It is clear that this new ownership group overpaid, and is now out of cash. That’s why they dumped the reigning NL MVP to the Yankees. Meanwhile the taxpayers of Miami continue to pay the $1.2B note on the bond to build the new Marlins stadium, which no one wanted– except their owner.  BTW, that stadium debt and the Marlins sale price being identical (at $1.2 billion), is just another coincidence.

While all this looks good for the Marlins bottom line, it hurts their ability to compete & their fan friendliness– immeasurably. Most of this is on Jeffery Loria, as he pumped & dumped the Marlins, but Sherman & Jeter are also at fault for overpaying, and putting themselves in this no-win situation. Under this existing plan, Marlins fans are looking at a 6-8 year rebuild– minimum. If you know anything about this franchise’s past, then you know there won’t be any Marlins fans left by then.

MLB.com Censorship:

Since the Ohtani Affair, everyone who posts on mlb.com lost their screen name, and reclaiming it has been a difficult process for most. I have reclaimed mine, and am no longer “commenter,” like many others– still.  Unfortunately, I am now unable to post a comment:

Even my “Likes” get ghosted!

Fans everywhere have noticed all this, and are starting to figure it out & direct their anger towards those responsible. This is the greatest fear of MLB owners, the corporate media, and the entire political-economic set-up. This is why everything on the Internet is being censored at this point.

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Power Couples & Brain Drain

Danica Patrick & Aaron Rodgers (QB– Green Bay Packers), are dating. Have you heard?  It keeps showing up in my online news feeds, so I suppose I must comment. For the record, I am a fan of both of them. I don’t like the NFL, just as I despise NASCAR, as both are fronts for capitalist hypocrisy– like the rest of sports & entertainment. As a socialist, I always support the workers who create the actual value. Sports are entertainment, and athletes are the performers we pay to watch. When our needs are met, we all like to be entertained.

Fact: Both of these world-class athletes have had numerous concussions in their careers.  “Why Does Danica Patrick Wreck So Often in NASCAR?” is the most-read piece on this site. Published in the spring of 2016, a few YouTube videos I used as evidence, have since been taken down by their owners. I’ve left everything alone, as everything stands up, while illustrating the progression of reaction [1].

Danica Patrick has been wrecked so often, and so violently, that she surely has a level of CTE. Her behavior at the end of the 2017 season betrayed an inability to process reality, namely that her career was ending [2]. The word around the track was that she often exploded with a torrent of expletives.  Many blow-it-off as her being a superstar, and snapping under the pressure. But it’s on top of the repeated concussions she received, that puts everything into context. The point is, she was never intentionally wrecked in Indycar, compared to the way she has been viciously taken out of races in NASCAR. She’s likely suffered brain damage from this, but no one will admit it– or even comment on it. Except me [3].

Keep in mind that Daytona & Talladega Superspeedways are the two most dangerous race tracks in the world [4]. Danica Patrick rarely even finishes those races anymore. Her last run in NASCAR is to be this year’s Daytona 500, their signature event. This mass insanity is the Super Bowl kick-off to NASCAR’s premier series, which is losing sponsorship by the second. In this sense, NASCAR is grateful to have Danica one last time, until the race actually starts that is. Then NASCAR wants her out– ASAP. Nothing shrivels up NASCAR faster than Danica running up front.

In 2017, corporate sponsors insisted on a staged-race format, which allowed more TV timeouts for advertisers & the networks [5]. It’s so interesting to hear them talk, while the race is stopped, just for them. Of course, fans universally hated it, but have been told they have no choice but to agree, as television money is the only thing keeping NASCAR from bankrupting itself [6].

Owned & run by the France family since its inception, NASCAR prospered during the post-war boom, and became a trademark of pride in the South. Since the mid-1990’s, it has been forced to expand into other US markets, in order to find the money. NASCAR die-hards don’t get excited about races in Chicago, Kansas, Las Vegas & California; but that’s where NASCAR’s owners built the new tracks for its premier series.

I don’t write much about the NFL, because I feel I covered it already in two pieces I published in 2015, just before the Ray Rice incident hit the media [7]. Nothing has changed, in terms of the NFL (or the NFLPA) in getting better, so the final score on that piece remains: Ric Size– 256,  NFL– 3  [8].  Jan Stenerud (and too many others) were just too great, otherwise I had a shut-out. I tip my helmet to all the players, for their toughness, while being sympathetic to the pain & injustices they’ve had to endure from their owners and the league.

As I mentioned in that piece, Aaron Rodgers is a HoF QB. As of this publication, he is still recovering from a gruesome collar bone injury he sustained during the 2017 NFL season. I recall him appearing on a late-night talk show soon after he had surgery, claiming he had 13 screws in his shoulder, and was narced up on opioid painkillers [9]. That’s life in the NFL, boys & girls. Whatever he gets paid, it’s probably not enough, as 80+% of NFL players are broke 5 years after they retire [10].

As for brand Danica, she always finds a way to hustle the money. That largely defines her, and it’s why she manages her image so carefully. Her retirement campaign slogan is “1000 Miles,” in that she plans to run Daytona in February, which will cap her NASCAR career, and then run the Indianapolis 500— one last time. The rumor is she will do this with Chip-Gnassi Racing, but nothing has been made official yet. Therefore it may, or may not happen– we still don’t really know?

Here it is on her site [11]:

02.18.18 Daytona 500 Daytona Intl. Speedway FOX – 2:30 PM

05.27.18 Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway ABC – 12:00 PM

I hope it happens, but I don’t expect her to get to 1000 miles. She always seems to get wrecked at the Daytona 500, just check the records & review the video. She’s been wrecked in qualifying & practice there, mostly by Denny Hamlin. Joe Gibbs Racing targets her, and she no longer has the protection of Stewart Haas Racing, or her “boyfriend” Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. I put that intimate term in quotation marks here, because I never saw anything but a relationship of convenience between those two. Many NASCAR fans will be interested to hear what Stenhouse has to say at Daytona. Honestly, I’ve seen & heard enough already.

Personally, I hope Danica Patrick sponsors herself at Daytona, as she has plenty of product in her clothing line, winery, etc… If it’s your last run, do it for yourself– I say. She can surely afford it. Aspen Dental was her primary sponsor in 2017, and they are a criminal corporate enterprise, which is starting to negatively impact her brand [12]. That’s when things get serious for her. These are the most-interesting storylines, for me.

Mostly I only hope she doesn’t get wrecked. At least it’s not Talladega, which is the most dangerous track in the world [13].  My final thoughts on safety at both those tracks is for all their races to become road course design. You can run part of the lap on the fast track, then divert to road course to spill the drivers out somewhere else up the track. This would eliminate the all-dangerous draft, which happens when cars build up speed lap-after-lap on a super-speedway, especially as they run together. These death tracks becomes two long lines of cars separated by mere inches going ~200 MPH, while surging forwards & backwards. Mayhem ensues when someone (inevitably) bumps someone or goes three-wide at the wrong time, usually in a corner. This road course innovation would also eliminate the hated restrictor plate.

I’m more excited to see Patrick finish (for real) at the Indianapolis 500. For those who don’t know, this happens every Memorial Day weekend, as it’s a big event in racing– worldwide. The Indianapolis 500 is much bigger than anything NASCAR puts on, as they run their Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day. Their goal is to claim superiority at their new home track, on mileage, if not in quality of the race. Note that when NASCAR last ran at Indianapolis, they ended up cutting the race short– due to reckless incompetence & impending darkness [14].

Danica Patrick will go down as one of the all-time great drivers, simply for surviving her career. Her skills behind the wheel are elite, and can’t be measured by her finishes– especially in NASCAR. She faced obstacles no other competitor ever had to face. Perhaps her greatest contribution will be her part in exposing the hypocrisy that is NASCAR, and it’s broadcast partners in the media. Her fans were shell-shocked for the longest time, until something [?] woke them up.

Danica Patrick was never (& still isn’t) allowed to say how she really feels about everything that’s happened to her, as the sponsors have her under contract. When she wrecks, they make more money. Parading across the finish line in 23rd place doesn’t have the same effect. You understand, pardner?  Her fans now understand all this much better.

In many ways, Danica Patrick & Aaron Rodgers are trading in their brains for all the money they can get now. This is only natural, as they both are still smart enough to know they are probably going to need the money. But what about their brains? Note that these are the winners, whom everyone admires. No one sees anything else, because no one actually cares about them as people. Few of us think outside ourselves, in the context of the greater hypocrisy that is capitalism. This new couple is simply presented as the best of capitalism, personified.

They are only admired & coveted because they are beautiful & rich. Too many people still want this for themselves, not realizing that the existing economic set-up is unsustainable. I hope Patrick & Rodgers stay together and take care of each other, even if they become afflicted & poor. They are going to need each other. Others need to realize that, and what all this means.

Update January 23, 2018;  ~ Noon EST:

RE: Danica Patrick to drive Daytona 500 for Premium Motorsports

NASCAR social media is dead all off-season, until Danica Patrick finds a ride– then the comments start, and it gets passionate in a hurry!  NASCAR is gonna really miss her star power, even though they mostly hate her.

Premium Motorsports is down there with Tri-Star & BK Racing, as the worst-of-the-worst teams. Owned by Jay Robinson, this criminal operation was Reed Sorenson’s ride last year, and was also the team that ran the infamous “Trump car” in 2016 at Texas [15].

This is Danica, with GoDaddy as her sponsor, and no real friends in NASCAR. The draft equalizes things at Daytona, which helps significantly here, but don’t expect much from her in her last run. Simply finishing the race would be an improvement over SHR. I believe she’ll have an easier time finding a competitive ride for the Indianapolis 500, but we’ll see…

Update February 13, 2018 (Tuesday) ~10:30 AM

Bubble drama for Daytona 500 not the same, and that’s a shame [16]

So much of racin’ is hatin’ on others– as much as rootin’ for your favorite(s). People won’t admit that, because so much of this sport is about lyin’. Whether you love her or hate her, Danica Patrick’s last run is THE story of this Daytona 500. NASCAR is really going suck without her & Junior.

After Daytona, it’s back to reality with all of NASCAR’s issues. No sponsorship, and their charter system about to collapse. It will be official when BK Racing defaults their charter to their lender, which is now in court. Then we’ll get an independent appraisal of a NASCAR charter, which should be very interesting. Note that there are many connotations for “interesting,” and most are negative.

Danica Patrick featured in GoDaddy ad, showing transition off the track [17]

This is an amusing article, in that it’s partly Danica (through the anonymous AP) telling all her haters to fuck off. She’s a busy beaver, no question… LOL!!

Update: Thursday 2-15-18

Danica Patrick joining Ed Carpenter Racing for Indy 500 swan song [18]

Nice reportin’, Bob Pockrass. That was the final question in this saga.

Sunday 2-18-18  ~9:30 PM

Danica Patrick wreck in Daytona 500 ends NASCAR racing career prematurely [20]

Story of her NASCAR career. No one better to be a fan of in racing than Danica Patrick. Thanks for the NASCAR run, and good luck at Indy!!

Over & Out

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Dragons & Dialectics

Since I left dental school, I’ve made an intense study of martial arts. I started in tae kwon do, then moved into mixed-martial arts, and finally kung fu & tai chi. It’s all the same, just a different form, and each must be trained with focus & diligence to get any kind of worthwhile results. All gains are measured internally. The ultimate purpose is mastery so you don’t have to use them.

One teacher of mine, who is no longer with us, was Cliff Black. At the time I knew him he was around age 60, but looked much older– as he’d lived a hard life. First as an outlaw & drug addict, then rehabilitated & a drug-addiction councilor; he taught tai chi as a passion. He also was a professional bouncer as some of the roughest redneck bars in central Florida. He worked alone, and had plenty.

I’ve had some bad-ass instructors, which is what you want if you are serious here. Martial arts isn’t a game. It’s about defeating your enemy. Cliff Black knew this well, and had plenty of stories, which he loved to share before, during, AND after class– which could go on for awhile. It was always worthwhile, I remember.

He used to describe his strategy against hyper-aggressive patrons, who wanted to test their karate-kicking skills under the influence-of-alcohol. He’d say softly but with glee, “I LOVE those high-flying dragons. I just wait to get underneath them, and then take out their leg. It’s over after that. I’m a low-flying dragon.”

THE END

Post-script:

 

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Releasing the Pain

As first discussed in “Undiagnosed Hip Injuries & Stubborn Fat,” there are two types of fat which are of concern. The first is visceral fat, which surrounds the internal organs. When you see someone with a huge gut (50+ lbs. overweight), that’s mostly visceral fat. [1]

The second type is subcutaneous fat, which is the ‘stubborn fat.’  This stays, even through dieting & regular exercise, and becomes more difficult to remove after the human athletic peak ~ age 27.

Almost every Americans today has a stubborn fat problem— due to hip & back injuries. Most chose to ignore their pain by limiting their mobility, as canes, walking sticks, back braces and electric wheelchairs are now all-too-common crutches among the crowd.  Youth with back injuries, are often reluctant to participate in strenuous physical activity. These people, young & old, all share a common suffering which they don’t understand, causing their lives to be filled with unnecessary pain.

Stubborn fat is a protective mechanism. When a severe deep muscle injury occurs, a layer of fat is deposited to protect that area from further injury. If the injury isn’t properly diagnosed, treated and rehabilitated; then the injured muscle will atrophy over time, leaving only skin & stubborn fat for protection. This is a biological reflex mechanism, to ensure the internal organs always have an adequate layer of protection. What it isn’t, is healthy healing.

The problem with stubborn fat is that it’s not healthy. It slows the individual down, as “dead weight.” It leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a host of other unhealthy diseases & conditions. Plus it looks ugly, because it is.

So what is fat really? It’s stored energy from over-consumption of food & drink. In the injury-affected area, stubborn fat surrounds thin bands of atrophied muscle & their nerve fibers. The idea is to activate these “dead zones,” to stimulate muscle activity & growth. This will immediately use up the surrounding stubborn fat, and make the area stronger with muscle.

The pooch gut, love handles & back fat are all symptoms of an injury in the lumbar-sacral region. When these vertebrae are injured, the individual loses mobility in their waist, hips, & back. Their butt starts to sag, and incontinence/constipation issues can arise, as sacral nerves downstream are cut off due to the injury directly superior. Remember all voluntary impulses emanating from the spine, start from the brain. The only way to lose the flabby butt, is to heal the back completely, so energy (nerve stimulus) can flow from C-1 through S-5 (and the coccyx), with no glitches.

As much as 80% of the US adult population is likely suffering from an undiagnosed apophyseal avulsion fracture, or some similar type of injury. The apophysis is the projection on the spine that links the brain & central nervous system to every skeletal muscle. Every woman who gives birth, whatever method they decide, suffers deep tearing of her hip, groin & back muscles. If those muscles aren’t rehabilitated, that woman will never regain her youthful figure.

Those individuals that have suffered apophyseal avulsion fractures, should be able to recall a specific event that triggered the pain. It was a traumatic injury somewhere, often during sports activity. In adolescents & teenagers, these injuries occur frequently and are seemingly ‘minor tweaks,’ so they often remain undiagnosed. The young injury victim may recover (some), but they will never be the same. Their explosiveness & quickness erodes due to deep groin & back injuries, which limit certain directional movements. Over time (years/decades), these injuries become disabling for those who don’t deal with them directly.

As an untreated condition, the pain is most severe during activity, and improves with rest. Tenderness can be observed by palpation, and the athlete may actively guard against contraction of the musculature attached to the injured apophysis. Passive stretch of these muscles will reproduce the pain. Into adulthood, a limp often presents itself, and there is a noticeable atrophy in the muscle group attached to the avulsed apophysis, compared to the contralateral side.

The lower back, where the legs meet the torso is an evolutionary weak point, a relic of our common quadrupedal ancestry. In the injury-recovery process, it is helpful to imagine the anterior torso wrapping in-between & under the legs. The trunk & legs fuse in the butt. Sending flexion in that direction, under control, is the key to recovery.

This is accomplished through repetitive waves of focused & painful exertion. Many people can’t even visualize what’s being described here, because they are so dead (atrophied) from their belly button to their thighs– anteriorly, and their lower back to the butt– posteriorly. Atrophied abdominal regions in old age are full of fat, infection, tumors, and other nasty surprises. The nerves can barely sense what’s going on here, and not-coincidentally that’s where the cancer starts. That’s why fat is a killer, medically speaking.

Once the injury victim fixes all the torn muscles in their back & hips– the abdominals & buttocks will be tight. With a properly maintained diet, all the stubborn fat will melt away– and stay gone. This is the best weight-loss program, as it’s based on science. I have recommended marijuana for the pain, and will continue to do so, as the rehabilitating patient needs something to deal with this intense pain-releasing process. It’s the most organic choice, and easiest to cease when finished. Use only the good stuff, by whatever delivery method you prefer.

You must maintain a caloric deficit to lose weight. Eat a sensible whole food diet, high in fresh vegetables (juicing) and lean protein. Going vegan gets you there quicker. Most of the metabolic fat should come from visceral & stubborn fat burn-off. Carbohydrates should be mostly organic, and as needed for energy boost & craving relief. This is a healthy diet. Simply adjust the portions until all the extra fat is lost, and then find a new “normal” that is actually healthy.

Pain is stored energy, and the proper method is to release it while immediately putting it to good use. Tai Chi & yoga principles are helpful in rehabilitation of hip & back injuries. This means creating energy with small inward & outward spiraling movements, then flowing it through the body to release pent-up pain. This will create ‘popping’ sensations all along the nerve/muscle chains, activating atrophied muscle all down the line.

Energy will ‘pop’ at the downstream insertion and often flow to the next insertion point for more popping. This quickly activates long-line muscle tissue, which will stabilize & strengthen the body. The hips & back are the most critical area, as they are devastated by atrophy.  It is wise to apply engineering principles to muscular-skeletal development, by creating triangles of muscle bands. Triangles are strong, and allow a framework to  be ‘filled in,’ similar to a road worker grading in a pothole with asphalt. Once a band of muscle has been lashed together triangularly, that area can be flexed. Muscle groups can be quickly rebuilt in this manner, with maximum efficiency & minimum pain. This especially helps with superficial sheathe muscles that have been herniated.

A couch, mattress & beanbag can be useful tools, as an injured back needs stabilization & flexible support. This bracing is needed to go after deeper injuries. Nothing really heals until the deepest injury is resolved. Use your imagination to flex your hips & back into every uncomfortable position imaginable. This needs to be done over & over, for weeks, months, even years in some cases– to fully recover and release all the pain. The best method is to slowly build the muscles using isometrics, then work standing up– using a kettlebell. “Handcuff yourself,” with the kettlebell held by both hands behind your back, letting it hang. This helps hip stabilizers, legs, butt, abdominals & grip strength, while not exhausting you with too much cardio. Keep going back & forth, using all the ideas (and whatever else you can imagine), until the injury is resolved.

Do this rehabilitation at climate. That means no A/C or heat. Make your body one with nature, and it will be better. If you have 15 pounds (typical) of stubborn fat to lose, you will add ~ 3 pounds of muscle, for a net weight-loss of ~12 pounds. Muscle is heavier than fat, but takes up much less volume.

Since all movements start with the hip & back, the flash-release of the stored pain energy will reveal other injuries downstream. The injury victim will soon realize that most of these tweaks were caused by the original hip/back issue. A breakdown of the central hub (hips & back), causes later breakdowns all along the kinetic chain.

Further benefits of fixing your spine will be: improved hearing, clearer eyesight, deeper sleep, healthier skin/hair, better coordination, more energy, and sharper mental awareness. How could it be otherwise?  These back injuries also affect the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the function of all the internal organs.

Also note, this is probably the definitive cure for hiccups, which I postulate is caused by the disruption of nerve impulses through the spine in the region of the diaphragm. This creates that irregular & uncontrolled waves of spasms known as the hiccups. As an individual case study, I have suffered them much less frequently as my rehabilitation has progressed, and haven’t had an episode in a LONG time.

All book images taken from Gray’s Anatomy– 22nd edition, edited by Warren H. Lewis

In conclusion, I rank this thesis on hip & back injuries affecting stubborn fat loss, to be among my greatest professional & artistic achievements. It is a human triumph to synthesize the process of pain release & rehabilitation for the world, using valid science to form a concrete & rational program that people can apply for themselves.

Pain is a very real & complicated phenomenon. There is a physical component to pain, which is the body telling the brain there is an injury that needs attention. There is also an emotional component of pain, which runs both ways. This allows some people to ignore pain & press on, while others are hypersensitive to pain. In dealing with deep spinal & hip injuries, there are significant levels of both mechanisms going on simultaneously. It is by learning the anatomy & science underneath, that allows the individual to endure & master the emotional elements of pain. I have chosen neurology as the scientific basis in this discussion, because all muscles are connected by nerves.

Deep groin injuries, limit sexual prowess– a primal instinct. These untreated injuries are a source of sexual frustration, jealously & anger for too many. Luckily one of the best ways to rehabilitate the hips is to have straight sex. It turns out that a man’s & woman’s body were meant for each other. There are many delusional fanatics in morality & identity politics that would argue otherwise [!], but that doesn’t change the fact that sex is healthy– provided it is consensual & safe. My take-home message is for more people to boink, simply for the enjoyment & healthy results!

There’s obviously ego & emotions with all this. The best way to motivate people is by building a program which corresponds to their material interests and emotional needs. Fact: every adult wants better sex, and more of it. Everyone also wants to be without pain, as much as possible. The relevance of these discoveries discussed above is that anyone can apply this knowledge, and begin to achieve immediate (and lasting) pain-relieving results. While there has been never been a shortage of people willing to do the work to achieve their personal fitness & pain-relief goals, there has never been a worked-out method with corresponding scientific validity that anyone can safely apply– until now.

Previous writings in this series:

The Ambidextrous Athlete

Hip & Back Rehabilitation Protocol

Hard Lessons from the Other Side

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The Shohei Ohtani Pitch

This piece was originally written as a baseball free-agent signing analysis– but became much, much more. It now reads as a serial, dating November 29 – December 8.

 

The biggest news of this MLB off-season is the soon-to-happen posting of Japanese two-way pitching & hitting star Shohei Ohtani. It will cost one MLB team a $20 million fee, but the winner will likely be getting an ace pitcher, who can also hit like a regular player– at a bargain salary & signing bonus. That has every organization and their fans’ attention. Every team in MLB is waiting to see where he signs before making a significant move.

Where he goes apparently depends on the terms of use & marketability, as all 30 teams get to make their pitch in writing to his agent, per his request. That’s poise & presence, and Shohei Ohtani is a generational talent– age 23. These are the teams that can offer Ohtani the most bonus money according to the new international draft rules:

Rangers ($3,535,000)
Yankees ($3,500,000)
Twins ($3,070,000)
Pirates ($2,266,750)
Giants ($1,835,000) *
Mariners ($1,557,500)
Royals ($1,505,000) *
Marlins ($1,490,000)
Cardinals ($1,247,500) *
Braves ($1,210,000) *
* Teams that exceeded their bonus pool under previous CBA and cannot sign a player for more than $300K [1]

As shown above, the difference in bonus money for Shohei Ohtani ranges from a minimum of $300,000, up to $3.5 million for a few teams. He’ll make many times more than this difference in endorsements, so bonus money isn’t a deciding issue, which certainly irks some big-market behemoths. This is limited form of free agency, and Ohtani is handling it with a maturity that has obviously caught a few franchises off-guard. That makes him even more attractive to those who correctly judge & value talent.

Here is Shohei Ohtani’s summarized questionnaire to all 30 MLB organizations:

An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter;
• Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities;
• Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities;
• Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation;
• A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization;
• Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play;
• Relevant marketplace characteristics.

Facts: an ace pitcher makes an entire rotation & bullpen better. It makes a manager’s job infinitely easier. There are only a few true aces in all of MLB at any given time. This is probably one, who can also hit [!], so he fits best in the NL. Why?

Assuming Shohei Ohtani gets 35 starts for an NL team and he pitches well enough to get 3.5 AB’s per start, this translates into ~125 AB’s over a season. Furthermore, these AB’s come with much less pressure to produce, as compared to DH-ing in the AL. He doesn’t need the extra pressure to produce at the plate, when he’s already considered an ace pitcher. In the NL, his plate production is “bonus,” which makes his job easier, and exponentially increases his value to those teams.

Furthermore, he could pinch hit (left-handed hitter) in every non-start game where a pitcher is removed, allowing the creative manger to maximize his value in versatility. That could be another 100 NL AB’s– at least. If he doesn’t produce at the plate, there’s limited downside in the NL. In the AL, he must produce on the mound and at the plate (at the DH standard) to be perceived as valuable.

Plus the fact he wouldn’t have to face the DH on the mound regularly in the NL. Which would you prefer for career longevity. and better numbers as a pitcher? Shohei Ohtani fits best in the NL and from a senior-circuit fan perspective, it would be nice to see the AL get hurt by their DH (artificial offense) rule once in awhile. They get too many advantages from it already.

There’s been only one Babe Ruth for a reason, baseball is the hardest sport. Even Ruth didn’t do both full-time simultaneously, and that was in the pre-integration era. Being a two-way player is a tough enough task in the easier baseball league, which is the NL. Shohei Ohtani is worth an extra 2-3 WAR per year in the NL because of this.

Everyone is just guessing where he lands, as no one knows the content the any of the teams’ questionnaire responses, or what’s in his heart. But undeniably, this is a brilliant approach for a man in Ohtani’s position.

He’ll likely choose a creative new-school manager & innovative organization. Maximum money is mostly out of the equation, to the dismay of the Yankees, Red Sox, and other big spenders. Any narrative that suggests the American League is Shohei Ohtani’s preferred destination is media propaganda & east coast bias, which favors AL power teams, but ignores inherent baseball logic & statistical analysis.

I’ll list my four National League favorites to land Shohei Ohtani. 1) Cubs have a championship roster and are in desperate need of an ace. They probably can’t win it again without one in their current window. Joe Maddon is a progressive manger, and so is their front office. Lots of media exposure and potential marketing deals in Chicago. One of the favorites, for sure. 2) Cardinals are another smart organization with qualification & need. They desperately need an ace to solidify their young starters, or else they face a rebuild. 3) Brewers need an ace to give them innings so their young starters can keep their arms attached. Their line-up is solid, and front office above average. Milwaukee is a tough blue-collar city.  4) Padres are a dark, dark horse in the media, but a serious contender in this sweepstakes. GM AJ Preller has been aggressive in the international draft, establishing baseball academies in the Pacific rim for just this reason. Ownership will now spend the posting fee, and they have plenty of young talent, as well as an ace manager & pitching coach. Ohtani could play LF for them if he’s serious (and qualified) at being a two-way player. They can only offer a $300,000 bonus.

The rest of the NL teams already have an ace (Dodgers, Nats), or are moving in the wrong direction in the win curve (Mets, Pirates, Marlins, Phillies, Reds), with behind-the-times front offices.  The Diamondbacks, Rockies & Giants have significant payroll issues affecting their rosters, making their attractiveness fleeting at best. The Braves just were sanctioned by MLB over previous improprieties, so that probably eliminates them.

If Shohei Ohtani goes to the AL, it’s the Yankees. The questionnaire sent by Shohei Ohtani to all the clubs asks specifically about game usage. The Yankees can’t really answer that question, because they haven’t hired a new manager as of this publication. [2] Ohtani will be posted in a few days, so the Yankees front office & ownership better decide on the correct skipper (& soon), so they can properly finish their homework assignment. Otherwise, they will surely lose the Ohtani sweepstakes.

So let’s summarize. This is potentially the biggest impact player to come into MLB since CF Mike Trout. That means 8-10 WAR per season, for 6-8 seasons before regression. That is inner circle HoF talent, which smart teams want for a career to be a superstar for their organization. Signing him will require more than the usual maximum money, as it will also entail a mutual agreement; first proof-of-goods by the player, then a career extension deal from the organization when it’s time. Every team has evaluated what he’s worth to them. Shohei Ohtani is methodically doing his evaluation of each organization, to find a best career fit.  I can’t wait to see him go to work on the mound.  Evey MLB fan wants him for their team, but the best fans really only wish him well in his decision….

Update: December 4, 2017– noon

It’s now Monday morning and the Padres are still the name everyone is mentioning on Shohei Ohtani. Or not mentioning actually, as “small market west coast team” is the buzz phrase, providing a fig-leaf of anonymity. Anyways– that eliminates the Dodgers, Angels & Giants. The Oakland A’s are also reportedly out. That leaves the Mariners as an AL team (disadvantage here), who are also a mess organizationally (HUGE problem). The media keeps clinging the the ghost of Ichiro-past, as if that will summon this Japanese baseball prodigy to the northwest. Anywhere but San Diego!! In reality, it is the Padres who will be getting RHP Shohei Ohtani. I know that still sounds impossible to some, but get used to it.

All the other possible-team names keep changing, and are getting no traction, but the Padres stubbornly remain on Ohtani’s list. It’s a mystery? These meetings he’s holding with the other teams are (probably) a formality, which he’s scheduled and will go through, but it’s clear (to those who see) that he’s already decided. This is also a play for time at this point by AJ Preller, with roster crunches and the Rule 5 Draft next week. That’s why the Yankees and the rest of the ESPN-led media are so upset, as they’ve been played by the maestro. It’s been beautiful to behold!

AJ Preller won this prize by out-thinking & out-hustling his opponent GM’s. He’s been the best GM in the game for awhile now, recognized by a few who notice & care. Now a few more will notice this baseball genius. Preller has a long-standing relationship with Shohei Ohtani. Preller even speaks fluent Japanese, as well as Spanish. How’s that for presentation?! Other teams are cry-babying over how they didn’t get a real chance to make their pitch, or they didn’t know what he wanted; while Preller has worked to know this kid personally for years. It’s over: Shohei Ohtani is going to San Diego, and that is why AJP just got a 3-year extension– yesterday. How upset is ESPN & the east coast media? They know all this, but don’t mention it in their write-ups or on TV. They can’t, they’re too enraged, self-interested & bitter…

AJP went into shutdown mode on Shohei Ohtani. There was zero media in the Padres forums concerning contending for Shohei Ohtani, which is what both sides (that mattered) wanted. The only flak or mentions in their forums came from this inquisitive independent baseball writer with too much time on his hands. When posting time came (Friday), AJ Preller flew in under-the-radar, and is about to land the pitching prodigy everyone coveted– for the minimum signing bonus & the $20 million posting fee.

It takes a genius to see the inconceivable and then pull it off. Preller has now won the last two international drafts by a wide margin, seeing how the Braves were recently stripped for their 2016-17 improprieties. Preller did it by spending more than anyone ever thought possible that time around. It was an ingenious strategy that caused great consternation & envy, leading to changes in the CBA rules last winter, with caps now set on international spending. This time around, with the Padres supposedly sitting in the $300,00 penalty box, Preller cashes in a longterm relationship for his organization, landing the biggest prize of them all. That’s magic [!], and Padres fans love it!!

A few points on usage with Padres manager Andy Green, and their ace pitching coach Darren Balsley. Shohei Ohtani is a pitcher first. Pitchers are typically at the mercy of their manager & organization, when it comes to game usage & medical brains. See RHP Mark Prior, who incidentally is now with the Padres front office. The best way for a stud pitcher to avoid a blowout, is to pick an organization that takes medical science seriously and values their players as more than just a piece of meat. An organization needs to take a pitcher’s opinions & philosophy into account on a human interaction level. The Padres now do this. Honestly they are the only team that checks all these boxes, so this choice is perfectly rational for Shohei Ohtani– despite what conventional-wisdom pundits may blather.

Too many old school managers push for too many innings from their young pitchers, while not expecting enough out of their veterans. The new school (correct) thinking is just the reverse, as young arms need extra protection from fatigue, until their arm strength builds up. Veteran starters need to pitch effectively through 6 innings minimum, and better yet into the 7th & 8th, to have much value. Veterans should 1) win games for good teams; and 2) have lower bullpen usage during their starts– as compared to younger starters. The same concept also applies to relievers on their usage scale.

Shohei Ohtani is probably a right handed ace (and no less than a #2), who hits left-handed. Reportedly as a hitter he strikes out a lot, but has good power. Possibly a left-handed Hunter Renfroe [?], meaning he could hit as high as 7th or 6th– on a good team. In any instance it gives him (and his team) an edge on the mound and makes his manager’s job much easier– if used properly. He’ll be giving his team more wins per start in the NL due to this. Baseball is much more interesting & real this way, don’t you think?

The San Diego Padres now jump two steps ahead in their winning curve, and every plan towards winning a World Series just got accelerated. This ship had already been moving faster than the rest in it’s building, and now they have signed the equivalent of LeBron James. In the NL West, Shohei Ohtani will be featured in LA, SF, Denver & Phoenix regularly as they play each other 18 times/season. I imagine the Yankees & Red Sox will now want the Padres to visit their ballparks when Interleague play rotates back around, instead of playing every game at Petco. The Padres are also about to sell 20,000+ new season tickets. How does that grab you?

Monday 6:00 PM

The Padres plan when Ohtani signs with them will be to sign a veteran pitcher to perform well and eat innings. I said it already: RHP Hu Darvish for 4 years for a rotation of #3 Clayton Richard, #4 Luis Perdomo & #5 Dinelson Lamet. LHP Robbie Erlin & RHP Colin Rea sent to AAA as TJ rehabs, waiting if someone falters or goes down, or a 6-man rotation becomes necessary. Plenty of young pitching depth with upside at AA on down, so it only gets better moving forward. No more talk anymore about reuniting with RHP Jhoulys Chacin, which is a nice upgrade.

LHP Brad Hand is the Padres closer, and everyone else will regret not getting him when they had their chance(s). Preller would have dealt him if someone had made a fair offer, but everyone low-balled him. That has a way of motivating players & organizations. A few effective bullpen pieces are also returning, with AJP likely finding the rest at a discount– as usual. RHP Carter Capps is the wild card in the 2018 bullpen mix.

C Hedges, 1B Myers, 2B Asuaje/Urias, SS stopgap FA/Tatis Jr, 3B Solarte/Spangenberg, RF Renfroe, CF- Margot, LF Pirela. In LF the Padres could make a trade for Christian Yelich or Ryan Braun to fill a huge need.  JD Martinez in free agency?  With Ohtani, Darvish & LF; the Padres are a wild card team in the NL West.

Padres will have improved OBP & defense, with a rotation to now match up with the big boys. AJ Preller needs to carefully manage payroll because Ohtani, Margot, Tatis and the rest need to be locked up for this plan to work. Note that neither Hu Darvish nor JD Martinez cost a compensation pick, because they were traded in 2017. In the NL, the Padres will have leap-frogged the Braves, Pirates, Marlins, Cardinals, Brewers & Rockies to be about even with the Diamondbacks, but with more upside. They were already better than the Reds, Phillies, Giants & Mets.

MLB Winter Meetings run December 10-14, and end with the Rule 5 Draft, which Preller takes seriously. I don’t know what the lag time is between signing Ohtani and having to add him to the roster, but it matters, if indeed the Padres are about to close this deal, which I believe they are. As far as the rest of MLB goes, everyone will be sour grapes and hate on the Padres for this. People publicly wish Shohei Ohtani the best, but really want him only for themselves. It’s human nature, but I agree it gets ugly too often in sports (and everywhere else) these days.

Here’s a lesson in cyber-warfare. During spring training 2017, I published an article on the possibility of the Padres acquiring Ryan Braun. It was a theoretical trade piece I wrote, because I had a strong notion that deal was being quietly discussed. Evidently was on the mark, and it exploded that trade possibility. Since then I have had a much-more difficult time posting in all MLB forums. It has required finding and removing an encryption code, which holds-up posts from publication. I was also never allowed to edit in the 5-minute window anymore. It had to be perfect when it was posted, or else I had to delete & repost, or just leave it. Responding to others was limited or impossible. Ghosting & playing with the window in-your-face, are other nasty tactics.

Since about a week ago, I’ve magically been allowed to do everything normally again.

Anyone seen this beauty before?

img {-moz-force-broken-image-icon: 1;}

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Fangraphs published an Ohtani piece yesterday that mentioned the Padres, then immediately dismissed them as a serious option. And this is called “serious” sports journalism? The Hardball Times and the rest are all the same, meaning they’re in denial.

Today it’s a concession piece, that reads as if it’s been wrung out of them, as Fangraphs HATES this, but acceptance is slowly coming as we can see. It feels like outsiders are listening in here (sorta call & response like), don’t you think?  We’re all being played, Black Hand interests lurk everywhere with AJP conducting. Shohei Ohtani the subject, and I the artist narrating.

What is real & fake news? One dialectical discovery I’ve made in this process is the east coast bias is a specific political tendency, with serious reach & power. The puppet masters remain hidden, but their masks are being exposed, layer by layer. They fear & hate this above all.

Tuesday–  December 5, 2017:   ~10:00 AM

“Stability” has become the new Padres buzz word in their media releases. AJP will likely soon get back to scouting for next June’s amateur draft, where the Padres pick 7th. The international draft can be won even when sitting in the $300K penalty box, that is this year’s lesson. AJP is already planning his strategy for the next round, in which the Padres will again be limited to $300,000 max signing bonus. AJP is a baseball savant who outworks everyone else by miles.

BTW, “stability” is another signal for an Ohtani signing, as it means you have an ace, so you can settle down in the acquisition market. Stability in MLB means filling in needs, without making big trades– and then going with it. We’ll see if he actually means this, or if this is just another balloon being floated. Their current 2018 payroll commitments are well-under $40 million. Padres 2018 could be anything from another tough learning year, to a magical one. Certainly it will be more exciting.

The Padres dead money is: Matt Kemp (Hector Olivera), James Shields, Jedd Gyorko; minus KCR money for LHP Travis Wood, and LAD money for Matt Kemp– all of which balances to $6 million in 2018. Another $2M for the Padres in 2019, and that’s it.

AJP got compensation picks for J Upton & I Kennedy; traded Kimbrel for a bounty; then dumped the rest in 2016 including: Shields, Rodney, Pomeranz, M Upton, Kemp, Cashner & Norris; while keeping his best players: Myers, Solarte & Hand. Longtime prospects Renfroe, Hedges & Margot have filled in much better, with more to come. Soon it will be time to step up and fill in some needs, possibly in free agency, since they are acquiring an ace in Ohtani.

When Shohei Ohtani signs in San Diego, the Padres have the money to get a top-tier free-agent starter (ie– Darvish, Arrieta) and a LF bat (JD Martinez), without breaking their budget. This allows them to not have to trade any of their best prospects from their top-rated system. The Padres are about to become “instant contenders,” although knowledgeable fans know this took a lot of hard work. This team will have competitive staying power & upside, which is the last thing Dodgers & Giants want. That’s why this narrative is being dismissed by the biased media.

More reports of the Padres as leading contenders for Ohtani are starting to filter into MLB & ESPN news feeds. They’re going to have to report it, when it happens, after all this hype. Most aren’t thrilled, and certainly don’t understand. Anyone who has read this piece, knows more on this story & the Padres than all the mass media writers contributions– combined!

One week ago, I was the only person in the world (outside of those few who secretly already knew), who considered this deal a possibility for the Padres. I have written this story as it has developed, dissecting every relevant aspect. Normally a writer could expect to sell this story to a major media outlet (when it actually breaks), as this is the authentic account, and people would love to know how it actually happened. The only mainstream “analysis” will be clips, snippets & watered down versions from what I’ve written here. I will receive no references, nor acknowledgment that I was correct all along.

When you are blacklisted, you have to set your expectations differently. There will be no Sports Illustrated or Yahoo for me, only the satisfaction that I unfolded this story in inimitable artistic style in real time, and it will stand over everything else here for posterity. I did it when everyone else either: 1) didn’t have a clue, or 2) was lying.

Tuesday ~12:30 PM

Here’s my comment on this MLB piece concerning Shohei Ohtani’s meeting with the San Francisco Giants bandwagon delegation today.

Reality check for Giants fans: No Ohtani. No Stanton. Still old, contract-laden, and a last-place team. Time to rebuild.

This is fun.  Who’s next?  Working on a haiku for the Dodgers [!].  Seventy (70) people listening in that Giants MLB forum right now. This is how I have to market, promote & distribute myself as a blacklisted artist & journalist. Making money and getting ‘hits’ for others…

Tuesday ~2:00 PM

Source: Angels agree with prospect Maitan

Plan A: Ohtani, not happening

Plan B: top SS-prospect Kevin Maitan

A+ grade GM work getting that money from the Braves, to steal their stripped prospect!  I respect that, in this line of work.

Padres fan cheatsheet for Red Sox haters on the 2016 “AJP Suspension” by MLB

1) The suspension was officially for “undisclosed anti-inflammatories” used by LHP Drew Pomeranz. Pitchers take ibuprofen regularly, so figure that weak stuff out.
2) AJP offered Anderson Espinoza back, and the Red Sox (Dave Dombrowski) refused. They whine either way.
3) Red Sox used ESPN and their media mouthpieces (Buster Olney) to slant national coverage in their interest.
4) Red Sox have a notorious history of whining when they don’t win.
5) Red Sox are the most ungracious winners in MLB, their fan’s conduct is insufferable and that is why they’re hated even more than the Yankees these days.
6) RHP Anderson Espinoza is recovering from Tommy-John surgery, he’ll be back in 2019.

Tuesday 3:00 PM

I’ll publish my haiku titled “Sunday Match-up” now, since it’s unlikely to be seen or appreciated in the Dodgers MLB  forum– which moves at 10-12+ comments/minute, and ejects non-Dodgers fans quickly. Their television market is largely blacked-out, as ~60% of the LA residents can’t watch a Dodgers game on TV.  Thus the intense social media activity, which has more volume than the Yankees, by far. I wonder if the Dodgers brass even considered this to be a negative when they began in this “sweepstakes”?

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A haiku is a Japanese poem, 3 lines in length, with a 5-7-5 syllable structure.

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Sunday Match-up

Kershaw — Ohtani

Padres baseball thus springs forth

It’s best– don’t you think?

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Tuesday, ~5:30 PM

Fangraphs prospect chat today:

Gavin: Where would Shohei Ohtani the pitcher and Shohei Ohtani the hitter fall in MLB Prospect Rankings, respectively?

Eric A Longenhagen: #1/In the 125-200 range

Eric Longenhagen is one of the few baseball analysts in the media I actually respect. He takes prospects seriously, and uses a sound method in his analysis. He has quite an online following. The chat begins with a barrage of questions on Ohtani going to the Padres, which he really can’t answer.

Tuesday, 6:30 PM

Seattle Mariners record in 2017: 74-88

Seattle Mariners payroll obligations– no options 2018-23:

$151.5M $131.7M $108.3M $120.9M $129.2M $108.1M

So where do the Mariners fit in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes? They have an important role as the ever-hopeful dupes. The “west coast small market” label is Seattle, but comparable to the real winner– San Diego. This throws enough people off the scent for AJP, who needs until the end-of-the-week or so, to clear the Rule 5 Draft– as previously discussed. Hard to believe that a fringy minor-leaguer Preller is unwilling to part with, and a prospect arm from another organization whom he likes (?), are what’s holding everything up on Ohtani– but there you are.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto declined to comment on the current situation, he spoke openly of his team’s plans to pursue Ohtani on his Wheelhouse Podcast two weeks ago.

“We’re not joking around,” Dipoto said on the podcast. “We’re bringing the big guns. We’re bringing the ‘A’ team. When we sit down, we’ll be sitting down with very notable faces, and that is a part of what we want to sell. We want to sell the Seattle experience and what it means to Japanese-Americans, our culture and how this organization has trended so positively when we have the star Japanese player. And make no mistake, this is a star Japanese player. He’s gifted. He’s going to make some team a lot better.”

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Think of the Mariners as the dopey guy who thinks he is about to meet (and possibly win) the most beautiful woman anyone has ever seen, but in reality is being played– as she’s already taken. Even if Dipoto feels he being used (which he is), he still can’t resist, because the prize is too beautiful.

Tuesday 9:00 PM

The Rule 5 Draft is where many GM’s make mistakes that cost their organization, without anyone knowing until much later. AJP got right-handed starter Luis Perdomo from the Cardinals in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. The Cards sure could use that extra starter now. Last year Preller traded to corner the top three picks [!] in the Rule 5 Draft, and every selection is still with the organization & protected.

Catcher Luis Torrens is an illustrative example of sloppy management leading to opportunistic vulturing. Preller knew the Padres weren’t going to win in 2017, so he gambled on talent acquisition and came up huge. NY Yankees GM Brian Cashman had four prospects Rule 5 drafted a year ago, and three were returned– all are now gone, either washing out or traded away. The fourth guy was Torrens, who now is safely tucked away in the Padres system. Luis Torrens will start in AA or AAA, and be ready for a call-up, as he saw quite a bit of MLB action in 2017. Padres kept three Rule 5 players, and went 71-91, as Andy Green & Brad Hand got them 12 wins above their Pythagorean.

The real reason the Yankees lost this valuable catching prospect is because Cashman was too hasty in signing free agent DH Matt Holliday. There wasn’t even a hot market for him, but Cashman inked him on December 7, 2016. and had to had him to their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft on December 8, 2016, leaving Torrens exposed. If Brian Cashman had waited another day or two on Holliday, he could have avoided this loss. Holliday was worth 0.0 WAR in 2017, and is now a free agent again.

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The Rangers keep being mentioned in the Ohtani mix, but really were a shaky bet (at best) from the start, even when no one knew. When they dumped RHP Hu Darvish at the 7/31  deadline, that killed any chance they could ever have. Darvish was reportedly upset that he was even offered, then ultimately traded to the Dodgers for a prospect haul.  He wasn’t consulted, or asked how he felt about it. The Rangers have 0% chance of re-signing Darvish now, and the only “Ohtani connections” the Texas Rangers ever had, were when AJ Preller was their director of scouting before he came to be GM of the Padres. Those stale ‘connections’ won’t help Texas in this case.

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After the Yankees, the Cubs were the toughest competitor for the Padres in this hunt– in my earlier estimations.  Still a heavyweight but look closely, as this organization is already starting to crumble after its magical 2016 World Series season. RHP Jake Arrieta is gone, and not worth resigning– due to over-usage. Ace closer Aroldis Chapman even voiced his feelings over being abused my Maddon in the World Series after he signed with the Yankees.  Joe Maddon has slipped quite a bit in the eyes of those who seriously evaluate MLB managers, especially after a few Anthony Rizzo dirty slides, which he defended adamantly. Pitching coach Jim Hickey has been a big part of Maddon’s success, and that gets overlooked too much. Cubbies have the resources, but are not as progressive as some would have you believe.

That covers all the candidates, as of today the field has supposedly been reduced to seven (7) teams: Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres and Rangers. I’ve outlined the facts with all the reasoning. Now you decide: fake news or the truth?

Tuesday ~ 10:30 PM (Last post for today)

As typhoon Ohtani starts to zero in on San Diego, AJ Preller is doing what he’s done a few times already, to the irritation of more than a few rival GM’s. AJP is controlling the market, as he’s held the winning lottery ticket from the start, with the 29 other GM’s (more-or-less) in the dark. Recall that AJP managed the 2016 trading window up to the 8/1 deadline in that campaign in the same fashion; dumping junk and grabbing whatever he could get. He glutted the market with mediocrity, thus devaluing everything in its wake. It was a tsunami, and 15-20 teams got washed up in it.

As far as this Rule 5 Draft goes, which is to be held on  December 14th from 9-11 AM in Orlando, FL: there is no way AJP is scrapping any long-held plans for acquiring young talent on the cheap. The east coast media will surely pressure him to get this Ohtani deal done faster, when they figure out what’s been going on here. Leadership means hold fast, when others advise you to yield. All this is why AJ Preller is the best GM in MLB.

Wednesday  December 6, 2017:  ~11:00 AM

When Shohei Ohtani declares his intention to sign with the Padres, the other 29 teams can finally get back to business. The actual signing process involves the Padres paying the $20 million posting fee to MLB, which is then transferred to Ohtani’s former Japanese professional club. When the paperwork is finished & returned on that, then Ohtani is officially released from his Japanese-league contract, and can sign with the Padres. I’m estimating the whole process will take about a week or so. Just as long as Ohtani is officially inked with the Padres by next Friday (December 15), or later. This is so AJ Preller can do his Rule 5 Draft magic, and then make the necessary roster adjustments afterwards, so he doesn’t lose any assets. AJP dosen’t want to pull a Brian Cashman/Luis Torrens boner here.

Of course, the Padres brass will need to appear surprised & completely tickled over this unexpected turn-of-events, when the Ohtani decision is announced. They could never dream of being the recipients of such good fortune [!], but nonetheless it’s true. At that point, everybody in the Padres organization will have to screw on a straight face for the media, in the final act of this affair. By now, astute baseball readers should understand this whole ordeal to be the “Ohtani Affair,” as opposed to “sweepstakes.” There was never any ‘open’ competition, once it was agreed-to by MLB to post Ohtani– allowing him a 21-day free-agency window. When that owners’ agreement was unanimously ratified, the Padres had just won– although no else knew it. That’s the definition of under-the-radar.

More & more, the truth is start to filter into the major media sports news, and especially into the comments section of MLB forums. Most baseball fans are actually ahead of many of the MLB writers and “experts” in their assessments & conclusions. Many eager fans have been digging for days & weeks, trying to find some relevant facts & analysis they can hang their hats on– mostly to no avail. Slowing, but surely the facts & broad outline of events are seeping onto the Internet, somehow [?].

I expect Friday to be the Ohtani announcement day. After that, everyone in MLB packs up & flies to Orlando, for the Winter Meetings, which start on Monday, December 11. Not much left for me to discuss until then. I’ve covered it all, and once again have gotten ahead of the story. This happens to me a lot. I get my hooks into something compelling, just as it’s developing, and then find myself ahead of the curve during my research and writing. This has happened again, so now I will patiently wait for the predicted & inevitable result…

I also feel we are near the end, because this whole affair reminisces my Hurricane Irma Diary. In both situations, I place myself within the actual story, and consciously direct the action– while narrating it to the world. I feel this good-time movie is about to end, as it feels like Midnight Run (1988), in which I am Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (Charles Grodin); trapped, compelled, and carried along in a mad adventure that drives everyone crazy. It’s running time is 126 minutes, so it goes on somewhat longer than your typical movie, but you’re never bored; just exhausted, satisfied and relieved when it’s over. If anyone asks for my credentials: Special Agent Alonzo Mosely– FBI.

Wednesday ~2:30 PM

The Padres will end this charade with Seattle & themselves being the finalists. I forecast this list will go from 7 to 2– suddenly. Seattle’s GM Jerry Dipoto is comparable to Midnight Run-character Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton), a useful but greedy tool whom everyone keeps around when needed, but is cut-out when the pie is sliced at the end. Both see success in visions before their eyes, and both are always thinking– just before they crash their planes into a mountain. Dipoto too will be flying home, unfulfilled. All flights are non-smoking now, so I still wonder on that one a bit…

AJ Preller has to repair all this collateral damage which has occurred during this bloody campaign. This whole process was considered “going to war” by all 30 MLB teams. That’s how high the stakes are. Simply understanding AJP’s rationale (as I’ve shown) goes a long ways towards healing for many. Honestly, a lot of teams & their fans behaved very badly during this whole Ohtani-affair. The should be ashamed of themselves and look within, but instead heap derision & scorn at the victors and the prize. These haters all need to be exposed as frauds and shouted-down, permanently. The Ohtani campaign by the Padres since his posting, has been a coming-out party for this organization. Call it a surprise party, if you will.

This franchise is now officially a heavyweight, for the next 6-8 years. No other franchise outside the Yankees & Dodgers can own that statement. Can you imagine Clayton Kershaw facing Shohei Ohtani on the mound, AND in the Padres line-up? It’s happening, as it’s already a haiku. That’s going to be an AL-type batting order 1-9, when he pitches & hits for the Padres. No one in the NL wants to face that, and most in the AL doesn’t either.

Wednesday ~3:30 PM

I’ll admit I’ve had a roaring fun time crashing this Padres private party. I figure that after I get done bringing in Ohtani’s ass, I’ll call up AJP & get my cut of that $300,000, and then open up a nice coffee shop. For all you aspiring bloggers, let me just say that doing what I’ve done requires talent & dedication, as it’s a very tricky business. Over half of new blogs go under within a year. I’m not saying that as your advisor, I’m just saying that if I was your advisor, I’d have to strongly advise you against it, because it’s a very tricky business.

Wednesday  ~5:00 PM

A final significant parallel to this 1988 cinema classic are the surveillance teams. “Are they good or bad guys?” is the question that runs throughout the film. You can now figure out your own scorecard on any covert media activity in the Ohtani affair.

As far as the inner loop for the Padres goes, it starts with AJP & majority-owner Ron Fowler. AJP has been given complete control of baseball operations, so this was his baby all the way. His core group is manager: Andy Green, farm director: Sam Geaney, and scouting director: Mark Conner. They were undoubtedly in on this, early. Their media has been perfectly in-sync, indicating a long-planned & well-executed PR campaign, which went under-the-radar. That means the Padres media was in on it too. Preller unplugged the east coast immediately, particularly when the Yankees (and such) tried to bring out their brass bandwagons. That reduces buzz factor, and that was what the primary interested parties wanted.

The midwest big boys (Cubs & Rangers) have been left on low heat all along. Just being “alive” is consider awesome by some still. The west coast has been split between big & small market size. This put the Padres, Mariners & A’s in one camp; and the Dodgers, Giants & Angels in the other. The A’s were immediately eliminated. The big-market angle has been played as a negative, while small-market as positive. This keeps the west coast on a medium simmer overall. Nice hot stove cooking by AJP.

Wednesday  ~6:00 PM

In poker, it’s how you play em’ that counts. In this game AJP held a straight flush all along, even before the cards were supposedly dealt. The Angels adapted quickly, shifting to the top international prospects which the Atlanta Braves had just lost. That makes the Halos big secondary winners here. Meanwhile, the Yankees, Rangers, etc have all sat on their thumbs waiting for Ohtani to change his mind.

The Angels even used next year’s bonus pool money to make these valuable talent acquisitions. This year’s international talent is going… going… gone [!], and the east coast big boys are still at the table with the biggest piles of unused chips. Who do you spend those millions on now, if you are Brian Cashman or Jon Daniels? It’s only usable until early-July, 2018. Then everyone replenishes & resets, as the next wave of young exploitable intentional talent gets this form limited free agency. All the cream has been signed.

Look at the list I copied & pasted from MLB.com at the beginning of this piece, which showed top remaining international money to spend, by team & amount. Those teams that wished instead of worked, lost all around. You gotta admit it, AJ Preller played this one beautifully.

Shohei Ohtani has handled his interests impeccably, as he was obviously asked to work with the Padres organization concerning the exact date of his signing. His Japanese club the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League, and all his support staff have surely aided in this. Shohei Ohtani is already proving he’s an accommodating team player, even in making his American star debut.

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I have to keep reminding myself that I need to report the mass media activity, as an accurate representation of what’s happened. Because as soon as this real story breaks, everyone changes their narrative and claims “I knew it was the Padres all along.”  I posted the earlier “Kershaw vs Ohtani AL-lineup,” snippet as a comment in the MLB Ohtani piece this afternoon. At the time, the Ohtani story was positioned second, below Aaron Boon as new Yankees manager, but above yet-another Giancarlo Stanton trade-talk piece. An hour later in the MLB main feed, the Ohtani story was dropped to 5th. Impressive, no?

Wednesday  ~8:15 PM

Bonzai!  I just checked the Padres MLB site and there’s this new article.

Preller expects to be busy at Winter Meetings

From talkin’ trade to the Rule 5 Draft, GM has full to-do list

Preller said. “I get the sense that things are going to start to open up, and you’ll start to see some activity.”

Padres beat writer AJ Cassavell & AJ Preller are just precious together, don’t you think?

I’m sitting in my underwear & t-shirt in central Florida, on the edge of my seat with anticipation…

Actually I’m grateful, as I interpret this as tomorrow. That’s nice, I can finally sign-off for the day. Sayonara.

Thursday  December 7, 2017  ~ 10:00 AM

As expected this morning, nothing new on MLB.com or the Padres MLB site, so I check back with Fangraphs. Fangraphs is baseball analytics site is run by Dave Cameron, who held an online fan Q & A chat yesterday. Here are some relevant questions he fielded on Shohei Ohtani, along with his replies…

12:05 PM
Jack: What team would benefit the most from acquiring Ohtani?

Dave Cameron: Probably the Giants or Mariners, both of whom have questionable futures once their core ages out of contention in the not too distant future.

12:14 PM
Hae-Lo Dee: You’re handed a thousand dollars with the stipulation that it has to be placed on a bet for what team Ohtani signs for. Which team do you put it on?

Dave Cameron: Probably the Mariners.

12:18 PM
Hae-Lo Dee: What do you think the chances are that Ohtani has decided already, but is playing out the decision for no reason other than due diligence?

Dave Cameron: I’d guess he probably had a preference going into this thing, but is open to a team changing his mind.

12:25 PM
Bob: Rank the 7 teams still in on Ohtani in order of probability of landing him (in your opinion).

Dave Cameron: SEA-SF-big gap-LAD-ANA-SD-TEX-CHC

12:33 PM
Matt H: What would a moderately optimistic estimate of Ohtani’s 2018 WAR be?

Dave Cameron: +6

12:59 PM
Dave Cameron: Alright, have to go meet with a lawyer for a bit. Thanks for hanging out everyone.

Fangraphs also published an Ohtani article, making a case for him going to the Cubs. I wrote-up that angle a few days ago, and today it’s dead; but here’s Fangraphs covering it now. Almost every time I go to their site, I get a pop-up window asking me for money. No thanks.

Thursday ~ noon

Why do I keep punishing Fansgraphs, ESPN and the shills at MLB? It’s not just because they are liars. AJ’s Cassavell & Preller lie too, but when I bust them in the comments section of their forums, they’ve learned to notice & react appropriately. They acknowledge my power & influence, and know they can’t fool me– so we’re cool. A lie only hurts, if you believe it.

With Fangraphs and the rest of those fucks, they simply refuse to admit they’ve been busted down to their underwear, and continue to lie as before. This is the same as Trump, Clinton, Bush, Sanders and all the rest of politics, personified and refracted through the lens of media manipulation– known as east coast bias.

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Today is Pearl Harbor Day. On this day in 1941, Japanese imperialism launched a surprise attack on the US naval base in Hawaii, thus bringing the United States & Japan into conflict. World War II ended with two atomic bombs being dropped on the civilian cities of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Most Japanese people still consider this horrible act to be a war crime. Most Americans view it differently.

San Diego maintains the largest naval fleet & marine base in the world, so any of this “small market” stereotyping that’s been going on during the Ohtani affair, is completely ridiculous. I often wonder how foreign players feel when the “Star-Spangled Banner” is being played, while they are surrounded by full military trappings & jet fly-overs? Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one who thinks these thoughts.

I’ve gone back and edited everything from start to finish, correcting all typos and other mistakes, added links, etc. This running summary of events is around  7500 words, spanning a week-and-a-half in time.  The irony of this Ohtani story is that when it “breaks,” this authentic account will be completed, while everyone else scrambles to get their version of the truth published & noticed. That’s how blacklists and fake news interact.

Thursday  ~1:30 PM

This is new, (but listed 3rd) on the Padres MLB homepage:

Report: Padres met with Ohtani on Tuesday
By AJ Cassavell / MLB.com | @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO — The Padres were the last of the seven teams to meet with two-way Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, doing so on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan…

It appears that Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan is about to “break the story,” Shohei Ohtani is going to the San Diego Padres! Soon will be “official.” Ain’t that something? I know I’ll be relieved, because if it had been the Mariners or Dodgers, I was going to have a lot of re-editing to do.

Also in the news during this 10-day span: Trump ready to go to war with North Korea; Wildfires burning out of control in California; Massive tax cuts for rich approved by both houses of Congress; Conflicts within US ruling class intensify following Flynn guilty plea; Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital sparks anger & protests; etc…

Over & Out

Friday, December 8, 2017 ~1:00 PM

There’s an old expression is baseball that goes; it ain’t over until it’s over.

It looks like there are a few clowns who want to go extra innings, when the score is 128-0. I’ve already introduced this Charlie Brown caricature, take a look at his latest weak stuff.

Despite scrutiny, officials expect MLB probe after Shohei Ohtani decision

11:55 AM ET Buster Olney ESPN Senior Writer

This will surely backfire into kamikazee, anti-east coast bias feedback– from fans who know the source.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t try their worst! These rabid dog pack-journalists never will learn, and therefore they must be beaten into submission. That is a valuable lesson. I’m thinking possibly an “undisclosed Rule 5 Draft agenda…”

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Still no “official” announcement Shohei Ohtani has chosen the Padres. Likely later this afternoon (IMO), west coast time. The posting & transfer process will then begin. Of course, it’s late on the east coast and already Saturday in Japan, so they’ll get back to it on Monday there, which will be Sunday here. Crazy timing, huh?

Here’s another little coincidence for you. When I went to check the MLB site(s) on Friday morning– December 8, their page format which they have used for the last 5+ years has been completely changed. This is for the main site and ALL the teams; COMPLETELY reformatted, with everything repositioned and jumbled around. People are obviously confused, as the number of comments is way down. Maybe this is due to the fact that many comments’ sections that don’t even load. I try to post something on the latest Stanton piece— forget-about-it!  This gets me thinking…

I click on a few of my links above, and they all load, but only the article [!]– no comments that others & I posted are to be seen. It’s a good thing I saved & published everything I posted, otherwise MLB, it’s writers, and fans wouldn’t have access to what happened during the Ohtani affair. Hey, I’m always thinking.

Friday,  2:18 PM

It would be wise & brave for the Padres war room to agree to whole-heartedly take on this unfair east coast bias, while the iron is hottest. The east coast powers-that-be will never respect the Padres, until they kick a little ass in this area.  Also, what about the kid’s feelings? Speak from your heart when you declare Shohei Ohtani!  This is a watershed franchise moment for the Padres, and a crossroads for MLB.

I can interfere no longer, you must use the force wisely AJP.

Friday,  3:40 PM

If A.J. Preller is a genius (and he is), then what am I?

Wile E. Coyote, super-genius, and it’s just like that Mel Blanc cartoon character, as we both have guile & ingenuity, but ACME keeps sending us defects, so everything always blows up in our faces. We’re both funnier & easier to understand when our voices are heard. It may be hilarious to watch on television, but how many times can you be sent off a cliff, plunging a thousand feet below into a ‘poof’ of smoke, and then dust yourself off still dazed & hungry, trying to figure out another brilliant plan while the brainless roadrunner zooms by again?

Proof: MLB reports Shohei Ohtani signs with the Angels.

Friday, December 8  6:11 PM

I had waited to see if this was a zig-zag by AJP, to short-circuit a potential MLB investigation, but it isn’t. He may still be investigated, even though he lost.  I leave what I’ve published above untouched, as this article is a character study more than anything else, and I have no issue admitting I was wrong about where RHP Shohei Ohtani would land in the end. It appears the Black Hand has stepped in, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that at this time.

The official Padres narrative is now that they lost Ohtani because they didn’t have enough money, and he wanted to DH. That’s just the opposite of what everybody claimed & indicated for weeks & weeks, but now it’s suddenly peddled as the truth.  In a nutshell, the Red Sox were never players here, so their strategy was to foil the apparent victors– the Padres (whom they HATE), forcing Preller to kick Ohtani to his buddy Billy Eppler, or else MLB (Red Sox) would have eventually stripped and sanctioned the Padres. When ESPN media ran out Buster Olney, that was the signal. AJP complied.

The Black Hand message: move along everybody– move along; nothing to see here. This blog has done major damage to MLB, ESPN, many others’ credibility– even the Padres. No apologies to any of them.

That was my ultimate purpose from the start, as I am a revolutionary socialist, against this form of capitalist exploitation. Shohei Ohtani is worth many times more than what he’s getting, and so are all the others. As a Padres fans I would have loved to have him, but wish him well with the Angels. In sum, AJP may have  overplayed his hand [?], and probably should have closed the deal with Ohtani as soon as he could of, instead of concerning himself too much with the Rule 5 Draft. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and sometimes something greater things matters more.

Wile E Coyote is at his wits end, a bit scathed, and “officially” Over & Out in this blog episode.

[Final editing completed 9:52 AM Saturday, December 9. No one is smart enough to figure all THAT out– instantly.]

Buster Busted:

Final image uploaded at 12:13 PM, Sunday December 10, 2017

Final score in extra, EXTRA innings: Angels— 150, as they got Ohtani, Maitan and a few others for being Johnny-on-the-spot, combined with good hustling by GM Billy Eppler. That earns him a promotion to Taipan; Padres-– 50, (for merit in wisely avoiding a bigger trap (set by the Red Sox); MLB & the rest— 0. Ric Size— infinity.

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