Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Thoughts 4/30/2010

Here's another edition of my meanderings.

1. There seems to be a 24 hour stomach flu going around, when I got home on Wednesday, my daughter had it and knocked her out pretty good. I'm definitely in the first stages of it today, yech, such a fun thing for the weekend.

2. I hate the Denver airport. For my connecting flight last Thursday, I had 35 minutes in between flights, in which I needed to go 60 gates. What was worse, was that they had to department check my carry-on which meant I lost about 10 minutes there too. I may work out a bit, but I'm in no shape to do the O.J. Simpson charge through the airport after sitting for 4 hours and working all day.

3. Upon arriving home from vacation this week, I found out I had an interview for a new job on Wednesday, it went well considering I had no time to prepare. The good news is it appears I made it to round two of the interview process. If I do get the job it will mean travelling again for work.

4. I'm cutting it short this week for the first time ever I believe, this illness is beginning to take it's toll and for the first time in a long time, I don't have a lot on my mind to rant about.

Have a good weekend, and consider my house quarantined for a week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Checking in and out for the week

I just wanted to drop an update in. I've been working on some posts, but they are far from complete. As I mentioned last week, I'll be on vacation for the remainder of this week and part of next, so it's unlikely I'll be doing much writing.

Hope things are well where ever you are. If you are looking for some interesting reading though, check out this blog. I find the writer to be incredibly articulate, insightful, and humorous. He's very effective at deconstructing topics. (It must be the law education). http://craakker.blogspot.com/

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Thoughts 4/16/2010

Here's my version of micro-blogging for the week.

1. My daughter for the first time ever this week has managed to annoy me at times. I have mixed emotions on this phenomena. On one hand, I'm proud that she's maturing, and although some of the annoyances have been unintentional, some of it's been pre-meditated. On the other hand there is the whole annoyance thing, which I'm not thrilled about, but I'll just have to adjust to her skills.

2. Watching the first week and a half of the Indian's baseball season, this quote from "Major League" springs to mind "They are still shitty"

3. I finally broke down and packed up a ton of clothes from my dressers and closet the other day. I have a horrible habit of refusing to throw clothes out unless they are way past the point most others would discard them. I also hate packing clothes up, as even though I don't wear them, I always think I might under the right circumstance. Actually packing a container full of clothes is 'life progress' on some levels.

4. Imagine walking out of the house at night and seeing a huge fireball in the sky followed by multiple sonic booms. http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/04/15/midwest.fireball/index.html?iref=allsearch

5. I'm glad to see Courtney Love has not managed to fall of the money train, that was her deceased husband's career. http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/movie-talk-robert-pattinson-to-play-kurt-cobain.html . And for those that don't know Courtney killed Kurt.

6. If you are thinking this version of Friday Thoughts seems very link heavy and it's due to me not having a lot on my mind, you wouldn't be mistaken.

7. I'm still amazed at what TV networks (cable and standard) will put on the air. My wife's surfing landed on the 650lb virgin this week, they follow around a man who's lost a ton of weight and show him on dates. In addition, they continuously show shots of him without a shirt prior to plastic surgery to reduce the excess skin. Try as I may to continue focusing on the laptop, my eyes would catch a side view and I'd have to look up. I think I need to bleach my eyes now, as it was that disturbing. http://www.makli.com/650-lb-virgin-006342/ . I understand this maybe insensitive and I don't mean it to be, I'm very happy for the man that he's managed to lose the weight and is acclimating himself to society again. I just think that it's garbage TV.

8. Congrats to my brother who is on his 5th or 6th week of starting a workout program, it's going very well for him and I'm very proud of the progress he's making.

9. After my post on Wednesday, I finally settled into my routine on Thursday, much too late in the week for that. It's fascinating to me how structured our lives become. I'm sure it's not that way for everybody, but I do think it becomes much more common as we get older.

10. I've decided to try and do a 1000 mile challenge for the summer. That is 1000 miles on my bike. That would equate to 100 trips, as I do 10 mile trips and have a great section in Valley View that I ride through for exactly 10 miles. To date I'm up to 30 miles over three weeks and that's low only because there have only been about 3 good days for biking so far. I'll post updates as we go through the summer.

No Friday thoughts for next week, and it's likely to be a light posting week for about 2 weeks, as I have some vacation coming up and in getting things ready at work, will likely have little time to get something down. Have a good couple of weeks!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The minds's willing, the body...

I knew this week would be trouble. Two months ago my group of friends told me they were going to the Indian's Home opener. It's become a bit of a tradition that the day of the opener is a chance for everyone to get together downtown and hang out for the night after the game. It seems harmless on the surface and then I realized what day the Home Opener was on...Monday.

Unfortunately my 'growth' as an adult has included only mild changes to my nightlife habits. There are not a lot of things worse then working on a Tuesday with a hangover and little sleep, well at least at my current age and position, but I decided to take the risk and try to manage the consumption for the night.

I'm happy to report I survived, but you will notice this post is being done on Wednesday not Tuesday. While I did have my share of beverages Monday night, knowing there were four work days ahead for the week kept me in check. That's not to say I wasn't a bit sluggish on Tuesday, although in this case it's more of a result of spending 7 hours out on a Monday night.

It was a great time , there's fun about walking around Cleveland from place to place, especially with the demise of the Flats, everything is a bit more spread out so the excursions downtown tend to be different every time we go. With all of us now living fairly close downtown it's also a bit unique in that none of us are worried about driving and can all relax and have fun for the night.

Since I was one of the few not going to the game due to working the full day, I had to meet the group downtown. I had planned on sharing a cab home that night, but really didn't want to get one for the ride down, so after checking some options, I decided to ride the bus for the first time in my life.

I've used the Rapid Transit trains regularly, especially to the airport, but in my 37 years, I've never rode the bus. To say I was anxious would be a bit of an understatement. I found a stop that was about a 10 minute walk from my house and determined that it would likely get me close to my destination downtown with minimal walking from there. I'm happy to report the bus ride went off without a hitch, I got on the right bus, made it to the stop in plenty of time, and even wound up being dropped off directly in front of Progressive field. It worked out so well, that going forward for a night downtown it's probably the way I'll head down there and just cab home.

The crowd downtown for the Monday opener this year was huge, we were blown away by the number of people in the bars and around town, for comparison, last year's Friday home opener seemed deserted in comparison. (although it was raining last year and cold). Maybe next year we can combine nice weather with a Friday opening.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Follow up to the Cleveland Immigration post

I just wanted to type up a few thoughts from my Cleveland Immigration post the other day. http://lifeandtimesincleveland.blogspot.com/2010/04/immigration-and-bunker-mentality.html

I'd like to thank Robert L. Smith, Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter, and co-author of the book Immigrant, Inc.: Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy. The article I was referencing is an excerpt from the book, which I intend to be checking out as soon as time permits.

The link to the excerpt is here: http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/04/attracting_immigrants_to_revit.html

I'm deeply flattered that Mr. Smith took the time to track down the link for the excerpt and post a comment. As I've mentioned before I don't do any tracking of blog visits, I've registered the blog at Cleveland.com after a comment by the Plain Dealer's John Kroll, director of Training and Digital Development for the Plain Dealer, but that's all of the promotion I've done for the site, so it's always a bit surprising to see new readers pop up in the comments section, which is currently the only way I know anyone is out there reading.

I'm glad Mr. Smith did take the time though, as I'm able to correct some things from before, namely that the article was an excerpt from his book, and my paraphrasing of Mayor Jackson was off a bit.

Mayor Jackson's comment in regards to immigration was the following:

*Excerpted from the article*

Mayor Frank Jackson dismissed suggestions that the city try to attract
immigrants to revive inner city neighborhoods that were mostly black and poor.
Jackson, a multi-racial mayor who identified most strongly with his African
American roots, told civic groups he did not trust immigrants to help his
people.
If someone else wanted to try to draw immigrants to Cleveland, "I
will not be against it," Jackson told The Plain Dealer in early 2009. "However,
as we move ahead, I'm always interested in the self-help mode, in taking care of
our own."

My paraphrase accused Mayor Jackson of referencing immigrants as 'those' people, which is entirely incorrect and my apologies for the mistake.

Mayor Jackson stated that "he didn't trust immigrants to help his people." I suppose that's a fair enough statement, but I'm not really sure what Mayor Jackson means. Is he talking about the people of Cleveland overall, or is he referencing an ethnicity of the city's base?

If he's referencing the people of Cleveland overall, I believe this statement shows him to be severely short sighted and would have me question whether he truly understands the position of power that he occupies. Apparently Mayor Jackson believes "self help" will suddenly impregnate and magically bring 1000's of people to adult maturation in an incredibly short period of time. Then there would be more people to occupy abandoned homes, bring tax revenue, ideas, and initiative to an area that is in the throes of mass population exodus and economic blight.

Perhaps Mayor Jackson wasn't referring to the population overall, but was referring to immigrants not helping the African-American base in Cleveland? After all, it's not out of line to have concerns about mixing racial groups into a homogenized area. Again the term short sighted and incompetent come to mind in this case. As the article referenced some of those issues that took place in Philadelphia. Of course at that point, Philadelphia had an increased tax base to help remedy some of those issues, whether it was through programs or additional enforcement.

Unfortunately in either case, I think the Mayor of Cleveland is making a grievous error in not looking out for the long term interests of the city. Maybe this is the result of being City Council president and continuing to view issues through that filter, but when you become Mayor it's essential that expand that filter and begin to understand the city's impact to the region and the problems facing it. It's not the job of the immigrants to help your people, it's yours. Neglecting the future of the city in order to 'heal' within is malpractice.

A true leader understands that there are obstacles on the path to success. They are able to navigate difficult obstacles and take the long term view in order to lead. When they run into strife, they confront it and manage the situation, they don't run from it based on their bias and small minded mentality. It's obvious from this situation that Mayor Jackson is not capable of leading in this capacity and that's an unfortunate situation for the city of Cleveland.

My hope is that when we elect our czar of Cuyahoga County, they are able to recognize some of these issues and take the appropriate action to lead the region into the future. I'm not optimistic about this possibility, but it's the only hope I have a the moment. Mayor Jackson had a chance as the Mayor of our largest city in the region to enact change and to drive progress, he's failed miserably at that to date. Perhaps there will be a time when the area needs 'self help" and maybe Mayor Jackson is the one to lead that charge, but that time is not now. Cleveland has a bullet hole bleeding population and businesses and 'self help' is a band-aid to the wound.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Friday Thoughts 4/8/2010

1. The last couple of mornings, I've heard a lot of commotion at about 6 in the morning, which sounds like it's in the room next door (my daughters room) although it's so loud it could be the attic too. Either she's getting up early for her and then going back to sleep, or Anne Frank's family has moved into my attic. I may need to investigate further.

2. I'm in a holding pattern on the new band. Looks like some of the schedules changed for the guys, and we haven't been able to practice since before I had the work trip in March. Hopefully that gets turned around soon, as with the weather, I'm really feeling like I want to get out and play.

3. Easter candy kicks Christmas candy's ass. (except for peeps, which suck)

4. The new regime of the Cleveland Brown's is doing some good things in my opinion. While some of their moves could be questioned (who they chose to replace our quarterbacks). The organization seems focused on building a foundation with the players here. In the past 10 years the team has had one or two good years, and that was a result of having talent shine through for that year, but that talent was first line only and combined with a bad schedule enabled the team to play well. Even when the team has been good since coming back, they've covered some bad players in the starting lineup and had worse behind them on 2nd and 3rd string. Which is why when they are exposed they've been horrible in the years they've been bad. The first order of business for this new front office, was getting 'known talent' in here. At the very least if they are bad, they can start to understand why they are bad from a systematic approach. This organization has been so backward, that it's been impossible to build anything as it's had no foundation since they've been back. The current team seems to understand this and looks to be putting a foundation in place. That's extremely good news for the future.

5. The headline read, President Obama met with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. When did Prime Minister Putin start letting President Medvedev do anything presidential? And why do we (i.e the U.S. government) seem to continue to perpetuate the fraud going on over in Russia with their government shell game? I know the reasons why, but if you aren't familiar with any of the above, it's interesting reading on what Prime Minister Putin has been doing over the past couple years, since his term expired for his presidency.

6. We are heading out to the 2nd Annual Burke’s Fan Club for Autism Speaks Fundraiser at the Boneyward tomorrow in Mayfield, should be a great day for a good cause. Here are some of the details for those interested. http://www.shakeronline.com/calendar/EventDetails/Event2650.asp

7. If you are interested in the Cleveland Arts scene, here's a link you might find interesting http://heightsartsradio.blogspot.com/ The blog is run by an Elementary School friend of mine, that I was able to reconnect with through Facebook.

8. I wasn't impressed with the new rum I got last week. The Ron Matsusalem a 15 year old light rum. I'll give it another try as a straight up rum, but it just didn't work for me. The one thing I really liked is that it's 15 year age had a real velvet texture too it that hugged your tongue when sipping it. I just didn't think there was enough complexity though beyond that. Perhaps it was just a bad night though, so we'll see if a second tasting goes better. Otherwise it's off to the mixer shelf.

9. The old adage on Cleveland weather is holding true this week. Don't like the weather, 'wait a minute'. 80 degrees on Wednesday and snowing as I write this. At least it's interesting.

10. I finally got my watch battery replaced this week. I had been to two Fossil stores and 6 different people couldn't get the back off the watch. I finally went to a mall kiosk, and the owner of the kiosk popped it off in 10 seconds and replaced it. Thankfully it was an independent operation and he didn't care whether "I bought the watch there". The kiosk owner who opened it, said "the others should work out a bit more" as it was just a matter or twisting it harder. Very happy to have it replaced though, as I had been missing the watch when I travel, and it's one of the few I've been able to keep in great shape.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Immigration and the Bunker mentality

*Edited: Here's the cleveland.com link to the article.*
http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/04/attracting_immigrants_to_revit.html Thanks to Robert L. Smith for the link in the comments section. Here's the information on the article too: This article, published Sunday, April 4, is excerpted from the book " Immigrant, Inc.: Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy," which was written by Richard T. Herman, a Cleveland immigration lawyer, and Robert L. Smith, a reporter for The Plain Dealer.

Reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday, I came across a great article that took a hard look at how to help Cleveland turnaround it's population exodus. The article's focus was on promoting the city to new immigrants, targeting people who have come over from another country and maybe ready to move from their landing city.


The article does a very nice job of referencing success stories in Philadelphia, which has been aggressively pursuing this path for the last 5-10 years and focused on Detroit's current plan to do the same.


I would love to link the article here for you, but as I've referenced before the Plain Dealer's website on Cleveland.com sucks for finding something, so I was unable to find it.


Which means I need to summarize a bit. The article is pro-immigration policy and explores the impact it could have on the city. It uses Philadelphia as an example and also highlights the negatives of the integration of immigrants into a city.

Some of the positives are, filling up neighborhoods that are emptying up, bringing new ideas and outlooks to a city with new entrepreneurs and workers, and a bigger tax base. It points out that Cleveland's become a native city over the past 10-20 years, meaning that everyone who lives here was born here.

Some of the negatives are incorporating multiple cultures into an area and ramping up social services to meet the influx of population increase, since the trend for the last 10 years has been reverse.

Ok, this summarizing is ticking me off a bit, as I'm not coming close to capturing the information in the article, so I'm taking another look. Damn, no luck.

Anyway, the article made a great case for promoting immigration in order to try and reinvent the city. Since the civic leaders have done a poor job at attracting and retaining businesses in the city, something has to be done to bring in some new ideas and a tax base for a dwindling population.

The Bunker mentality part of it, was this comment by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, (I'm basing it off of memory, since I don't have the story available). "I don't think those people are what we need here to help my people. If someone else wants to promote to immigrants I won't stand in their way, but I believe we should work from within in a self help style system to get Cleveland back on track.

WHAT!!!! His take is that fixing what we have that's systematically broken is the answer to Cleveland's woes. Holy crap, the last 10 years of focusing internally that has seen a net loss for the county estimated at 100k+ of citizens and you think some band aids are going to fix the bullet wound? I think I might actually be wishing that Jane Campbell was mayor again, even with her brilliant ideas that painting garbage cans (the ones she didn't remove for budget cuts as she cut city workers to clean them) would work to cure the city of it's issues.

Ok, I was just kidding on the Mayor Campbell thought. I would take back Mike White in a heartbeat though, for all of the corruption Mayor White seemed to ignite, the fact of the matter is the city moved under him and he at least had the ability to think larger term and to try something that worked for a Top 20 city market. The two that have replaced him sent are likely much better served as small town mayors, I believe there are multiple openings in the area for them.

so it doesn't appear that our area's largest city's mayor has any interest in turning the city around, as 'those' people would not mesh well with the people that live in Cleveland. I know I maybe reading between the lines here, but his position smacks of racism.

I'm going to start taking a look and trying to see whether anyway has taken Mayor Jackson up on his offer to start promoting the city, without his backing. Not only because I think I want to get involved if they are, but just because I wouldn't mind seeing that there are other people in this area that aren't limited by their Bunker mentality.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Baseball predictions for 2010

Here are my 2010 predictions for the baseball season. Last year, I think I managed to get about 50% of my predictions right, which is probably less then what I would have gotten if I threw darts at a board with names on it.

American League

East Division Winner: New York Yankees. Ugh, I really hate putting this here, but you can put this down as fact not prediction. There is just too much depth for this team to not win the division over 162 games. For the fellow Yankee haters out there, I'll add this prediction, Alex Rodriguez's numbers should continue to look a bit more human compared to the 50+ homer years when he was on the 'roids. Boston will be good as they have too much talent not to be, but the team that I would be worried about is the Devil Rays, who after slumping last year, really look to be putting things back together and could give the Yankees headaches all season long if they start the season hot and can build some confidence.

Central Division Winner: Minnesota Twins, I want to pick the White Sox here, as I think they have a bit more pitching then the Twins, but as I started to think about it I just couldn't do it. The Twins have shown they can win with less and they aren't exactly without talent. They have a strong, young ball club and with a new ballpark this year, the crowds should be loud and passionate. I'm guessing they get a 5-10 win increase on the ballpark alone, while the Metrodome benefited the Twins for many years due to it's unique features, it was a huge dome of nothingness, having a baseball park for the team, should invigorate the fan base a bit. At least that's what I'm guessing will happen and I'm using Cleveland when Jacob's Field opened as a reference.

West Division Winner: Los Angeles Angels, this team still has a ton of talent and they are figuring out ways to replace people as they lose them. They filled the losses of John Lackey, Chone Figgins, and Vladimir Guerrero with Joel Pineiro, Howie Kendrick, Brandon Wood, and Hideki Matsui. Their manager is the best in baseball and knows how to get the most out of the team. It also doesn't hurt that they have a stacked farm system and an owner with deep pockets, if they struggle early, they have the bullets to go out and acquire player(s) if needed. Seattle has gotten better, but they are a couple batting slumps away from having serious problems scoring runs. Oakland maybe turning the corner and getting back to where they can compete regularly, but I personally think Billy Beane has fallen in love with the concept of turnover. This team seems to get some nice seasons from the diamonds in the rough that Beane finds, but they seem to have a problem turning these players into consistent producers.

Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays, this team's pitching is starting to catch up with some of their outstanding position players. This team could be very good for a long time. I expect at least one or two more World Series appearances in the next 5 years.

MVP: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays. I don't have a strong feeling on this one, but I believe the Ray's offense is stacked and when that happens picking the best offensive player on the team is never a bad bet. He's in his third year and should be starting to hit his prime, we could see something like .320 40 hr and 130 rbi.

CY Young:
Justin Verlander, Tigers. I'm torn between Verlander and Felix Hernandez. Both should have outstanding years, but Verlander gets the benefit of having a team with a better offense.

Rookie of the Year: The best rookies reside in the National League this year. The favorites are Matsusz from Baltimore and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay. In my opinion pitchers are a tough pick for ROY, so I'll go out on a limb and pick Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians who will avenge Kenny Lofton who lost it many years ago to Pat Listach.

Comeback Player of the Year: Fausto Carmona, I'll go with an Indians pick here, if he has his head on straight again, he could be lights out. If he's back to 2007 form, he also is likely a top 5 Cy Young candidate as well. If I wasn't making a homer pick here, Josh Hamilton would be a solid pick for a comeback year.

Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire, this is a complete crapshoot, as best manager is as much a popularity contest as anything else. I'll go with Gardenhire, as I think the Twins get a win boost from the new park.

Most surprising team: Baltimore Orioles. They won't come close to competing this year, but they are putting a strong nucleus in place and appear to be getting ready to compete again. They have some solid young position players and pitchers. Within two years, people will be talking about Matt Weiter in much the same way they are currently talking about Joe Mauer.

Other thoughts: The Indians could compete this year for the division, but I find it unlikely. Their fundamental problem still is they cannot develop their own talent. Of the 9 starters on opening day all but one were developed by other organizations. (the one is Johnny Peralta). This organization has to figure out how to start developing some type of core player, whether it is pitchers, outfielders, or infielders. At least being good in one of those areas should allow them to move parts as needed and reduce the amount of time that rebuilding takes. A small market team has to have a farm system to compete. Mark Shapiro's legacy is going to be that he made some very nice trades but that he completely failed with developing any homegrown talent.

I wasn't a fan of Manny Acta being named manager, I thought it was time for Eric Wedge to go, as some of his decisions were bizarre to say the least and I think he made it difficult for players to develop under him. However, I'm not convinced Acta is the long term solution. I think he may help get the Major League club on track at least from the standpoint of providing some consistency for the ballclub on that level. I do think the hiring of Sandy Alomar as a bench coach speaks volumes and that Acta is warming his seat until such time as the organization believes Alomar is ready.

There are some bright spots for the Indians, Brantley, LaPorta, Carmona, and Santana have a chance to be special players. If you add in Sizemore who is signed for a few more years, they could have another solid nucleus, but they could use a couple more pitchers.

My surprise prediction for this year, Travis Hafner will be traded, after he gets off to a great start, I can see the Indians dealing him before the All Star Break. This of course assumes that the Indians aren't in contention.

In order for the Indians to be in contention, the rotation has to completely fall into place. Westbrook needs to perform like Millwood from a couple years ago which means 200 innings on the year, Carmona needs to revert to 2007 form, and 2 of the others need to provide quality starts in 75-90% of their starts.

National League

East Division Winner: Philadelphia Phillies. The best team in the division by far, with possibly one of the worst managers in the league in Charlie Manuel. This team just proves Whitey Herzog's quote from the 80's. Managers in baseball affect 10 games the rest is up to the players and we go about 5-5 in those games anyway.

Central Division Winner: St. Louis Cardinals. This team is solid offensively and Dave Duncan could make me a 12 game winner in the big leagues. There is no reason to pick against this team, although Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Chicago could make a run.

West Division Winner: Colorado Rockies. Is there a way we could ship Mark Shapiro over to Colorado and bring Dan O'Dowd back? The work he has done with this organization has been phenomenal. They've now developed a solid core of players in the lineup and some flame throwers on the pitching staff. This team can win it all. The Dodgers and Giants follow behind. The Dodgers have some holes and the Giants still haven't figured out how to put an offense together to go with an up and coming pitching staff.

Wild Card: Atlanta Braves, this team has the most talent outside of the division winners I've picked. They also have an experienced hand leading them, Bobby Cox, who is heading into his last year. Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrgens are going to lead this team's rotation for another 10-12 years.

MVP: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers. Another player hitting his prime and after putting up monster numbers the last couple of years, this could be the year, that he puts the team on his back and gets his MVP. Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, and Ryan Howard are all solid choices here as well, although Howard's average is always going to hurt him.

CY Young: Adam Wainright, St. Louis Cardinals. If he can put up the same numbers as last year for wins, strikeouts, and ERA. He should increase his win total with that offense. If he can get to the 20 or 21 wins mark, he should lead the NL in wins easily, combine that with his other numbers and a top 5 finish last year and I think the voters would award him his first.

Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward, when faced with a ton of great looking prospects, choose the one in the starting lineup and who is a position player. Atlanta doesn't usually miss in developing super prospects. A year of .280 21 hr 80 rbi would blow away last years ROY numbers for all contending and that should be the tip of the iceberg for Heyward. If things go right, Heyward is your new Ken Griffey Jr.

Comeback Player of the Year: Ricky Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers. He was on a pace for a career year last year when he broke his wrist. The injury was early enough in the year, that he should be ready to go from Day one.

Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves. The baseball writers get sentimental after the Braves win the wild card this year.

Most surprising team: The Atlanta Braves aren't much of a surprise, but I expect this team to look a lot like the first division winners that reeled off 13 years straight of division titles. If the Brewers can get some pitching outside of Yovani Gallardo, they have the offensive firepower to crush the division. Cincinnati has some interesting young players. Jay Bruce likely breaks out this year and Joey Votto should be ready to become a dominant NL first baseman in the mold of Todd Helton during his prime. They also have a couple intriguing pitchers with Arnoldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto, if Edison Volquez somehow comes back in one year from Tommy John surgery they could have 3 high end starters by the end of the year. That is until Dusty Baker blows all of their arms out, like he did with Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and to a lesser extent Carlos Zambrano.

Other thoughts: In my opinion we are in the first season of baseball's newest generation. There are some outstanding prospects on the doorstep to the majors and some will be starting their careers in the big leagues this year. It will be interesting to see which ones put it all together and become great and which ones fail spectacularly. At the two year mark of baseball 'cracking' down on performance enhancing drugs, we are also starting to see the numbers fall back to historical levels a bit. The number of 50 home run seasons is significantly down and the number of stolen bases in the league is significantly up. This is a very good thing as during the late 90s and 00's the stolen base was headed for extinction.

So here they are, I'll come back at the end of the season and see how close I came on some of them. Apologies for the run on sentences and paragraph issues on this one. I was doing double duty as I typed it out and based on it being commentary for each segment rather then publication work, I didn't focus as much on the structure as I could have.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Thoughts 4/2/2010

Back to something with a bit more levity to it. This week's edition of Friday thoughts.

1. We are in the middle of a wonderful three days of weather here in Cleveland, 80 degrees, nice breeze and plenty of sun. It still didn't seem like summertime though until I was sitting on my porch and could here by hillbilly neighbor screaming and yelling inside of his house. Ah, life in the suburbs. For a bit more info on my neighbor, you can read my thoughts here: http://lifeandtimesincleveland.blogspot.com/2009/04/bat-shit-crazy-neighbors.html

2. I had a very nice birthday, if you couldn't tell, I'm not a huge fan of 'celebrating' birthdays, but had a nice dinner and got to spend time with family and friends over the last couple days, a very enjoyable experience.

3. I gave into my desires and bought a new computer this week. I wound up finding a great deal at Best Buy, and I highly recommend their Best Buy.com purchase and then pickup in store as it went flawless. They are also offering an 18 months no interest plan at the moment, so even if I don't wind up paying for it this month or next is a nice option to have, as the system itself was a steal in my opinion.

4. Even as a 'computer' guy it's extremely rare for me to buy a new computer, I can only think of 2 other instances in the last 15 years, otherwise I tend to upgrade the ones I have until I've exhausted their use, or build one from scratch. Building one from scratch used to be a much better value, but it seems right now that prebuilt systems have caught up with that.

5. I have a new bottle of rum, I'm eager to try out tonight. It's Ron Matsusalem a 15 year old light rum, hopefully it compares with the Oronoco, which has been my favorite rum lately.

6. The workout streak is alive and well, I've been killing it for the past three weeks, up to 14 visits in that time with a target goal of 12. The extra sessions were necessary due my horrendous eating habits over the last week.

7. Looking forward to some bike rides down in the Valley on the trails tonight and tomorrow. Hopefully the weather holds as I'd love to go Sunday too.

8. The only thing I'll miss about cold weather is eating soup, it just doesn't work as well in warm weather.

9. The case of Al Snyder vs the wacko Baptist church is an interesting one, google it if you aren't familiar. If there was one way to get all groups of people to pull together and rally against a group, they figured it out. It does make you wonder how leaders like this (from the Baptist church) not only come up with their views but how they gain followers as well.

10. After whiffing on my predictions last year for baseball, I hope to have this year's predictions up over the next couple of days. The only advice I can give with them, is if you are betting, choose the opposite of what I picked.

I hope the weather has warmed up for wherever you are and have a great weekend.