Saturday, April 9, 2011

Preseason Predictions One Week Later

Again, I'm one week late to the baseball predictions, so I will jump right into it.

The American League playoff spots: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox. The National League playoff spots: Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Florida Marlins. In the World Series, the Rangers will beat the Phillies. I don't have a surprise AL team because I think there is a team that will surprise us. Despite a 1-7 start, I do think the Red Sox will come back with ease. So unless you don't grasp the concept of sample size, they might be a "surprise team." My disappointing AL team is the Minnesota Twins. My surprise NL team is the Florida Marlins, and my disappointing NL team is the Atlanta Braves.


AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez

NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez

AL Cy Young: Brett Anderson

NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson

Manny Ramirez's Retirement

In a surprising announcement, Ramirez announced his retirement yesterday.

Last year, I compared Ken Griffey Jr's career to Michael Jackson's career. In this analogy, Manny Ramirez has to be Lady Gaga, right?

They're both talked about for their antics but both are powerhouses in their field. Click here for a slide show of Lady Gaga's antics.

This YouTube clip shows the three Manny B. Manny moments, which include him cutting off Johnny Damon's throw and catching a ball, high fiving a fan in the stands and turning the double play.

Manny was one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball and he has been linked to performance enhancing drugs. He also brought two World Series championships to the Boston Red Sox and created Mannywood with the Los Angeles Dodgers. All of that is part of his legacy, sure, but on this day, it's time to celebrate the funny.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

(Almost) Everything I've Ever Written

Here are a collection of stories I've written (for fun and for pay).

Sadly, East Valley Tribune stripped away past byline's so it's too time consuming to search for every story. Also, Arizona Foothills Magazine upgraded their Web site halfway through my tenure so a couple of my awesome stories weren't transferred over. I couldn't find State Press stuff. There are a couple of magazine pieces that do not have an online publication and there are some "just for fun" stories on my desktop that need to go through five million edits before I'd post them.

The Day The Clown Cried
This is a b-spot post that features a collection of some of my creative stories. You get the movie theater awkwardness, third wheel awkwardness, etc etc.

Yard Work
This was my second favorite story to write for Media That Deelivers. My favorite story is only available through the magazine, but even my favorite story went through a good 12 or so edits. This went through the typical two to three edits. I nailed it. This might be the only time they used the title I chose too. The thing about this story is that I had a month to collect facts, interview and write it before it went to edits. I got all the interviews and information done within days but I had huge writer's block. Three weeks later, I was working on the story and wrote a good draft. It was missing the opening graph. I took a nap and in my dream, I was writing the opening and it was good. So I woke up and wrote the opening based on my dream.

"From eco-friendly landscapes to alfresco living spaces, our experts dish the dirt on creating a lavish lawn."

The West's Best Architects
The only thing I remember about this was that it didn't take long to write.

Love Sweet Love
This was the last story I wrote for Arizona Foothills magazine (MTD). I actually finished it after I got laid off. In this collaborative piece, I interviewed Pat and Duffy McMahon. Pat requested I interview him at his house. He has a nice house and has a "Wallace and Ladmo" Wall of Fame. Pat was pretty funny, but as you can tell, his wife Duffy provided the story.

Showhouse Gives Back
I wrote the AZ Giving section during my time at Media That Deelivers for Arizona Foothills magazine. In this issue, we wrote about this one ridiculously lavish house. Top notch designers from the valley decorated rooms and we wrote about it all. During the month, readers could tour the home for a price and each week, the proceeds would go to a charity. This just outlined all of that. Not my favorite story to write, but it was a good cause.

Panda's Puzzle Piece
This is another AZ Giving piece for the PANDA organization. This was fun to write but it took me a while to figure out my angle. Once I nailed down the interview with the doctor, I figured out my story and ran with it.

Women Who Move The Valley 2009
This is a collaborative story. I enjoyed talking to the three women I interviewed. I actually met with them all in person. We honored all the women with a breakfast at a resort.

That's My Dad
This is another collaborative story. I had a lot of input with this story at the writer's meeting. The sources weren't already in place so we had to brainstorm a list. I mentioned the idea of getting a Diamondback so I was in charge of producing a Diamondback. I had zero contacts within the organization. So I google searched and came across some emails and sent an email to the head of PR who got me in touch with another PR rep. I had a meeting with the PR rep and we got Chris Snyder on board.

East Valley Tribune Stories

I'm not a big newspaper guy, but I enjoyed my time at East Valley Tribune. The editors and writers were very nice and helpful. I worked five hours on a Friday afternoon every week in conjunction with my News Writing class at ASU. I had to have six published pieces and there was a list of stories we had to write (sports, government, business, etc etc). Sometimes I would come in and the editor I worked with would ask if I could work on a story. Other times, I would go to this bin that had story ideas and sources and choose a story that could be used for my class. Sometimes I would just search for stories on my own that I needed to write. One time I asked one of the editors if I wrote a story about such and such if he would publish it...he looked at me for a few seconds...and said "yeah, that sounds like a good idea."

Dog Serves As A Reading Mentor at AJ School

40,000 Expected To Race For The Cure
The original writer of this story called in sick, so the editor asked if I would go down, interview Betty and write the story. I did. It was the main story in the Saturday paper.

Valley Christian Mourns Star Football Player
Like eight people worked on this story. I contributed a couple quotes and sentences. I actually went down to the school. It was really awkward.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Don't Get Ruben Amaro Jr.

The Philadelphia Phillies signed Cliff Lee to a reported five year $120 million contract with a potential sixth season. Lee is an awesome pitcher and is comparable to Phillies ace Roy Halladay.

Amaro took over the general manager position with the Phillies after the 2008 World Series. Since then, he has made the following moves:

-He signed Raul Ibanez to a three year $30 million contract

-He signed Jamie Moyer to a two year $13 million contract

-He traded for and then signed Joe Blanton to a three year $24 million contract

-He signed Ryan Howard to a five year $125 million contract extension years before free agency

-He traded for Cliff Lee in 2009, who was amazing in the post season and then traded him after the season

-He traded for and signed Roy Halladay to a guaranteed three year $60 million contract

-He signed Placido Polanco to a three year contract

-He traded for Roy Oswalt

-And he signed Cliff Lee again

The contracts, except Halladay but including Lee, are ridiculous. He gave too many years and too many dollars for players who were a bit long in the tooth. I don't get how he can just sign players to these ridiculous contracts that will take them into their late 30s (or in Moyer's case late 40s), but for the very short term, the Phillies have one amazing team that are deserving World Series contenders in 2011 and 2012 for sure.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Don't Get Jack Z

Since I compared Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Z, and San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean in February, Sabean and the Giants won a World Series while Z and the Mariners lost 101 games. Figures, right?

Sabean is definitely not a genius and he has made some horrible signings, but for all the criticism, he deserves praise for assembling a team and coaching staff that won a World Series. That said, this post is more about Z.

In my post, I concluded with this:

Z brings in the same type of players that Sabean brings in. Z pays them much less than Sabean. Z does not throw all of his dice at said players. Instead, he creates depth and competition. Z is brilliant, Sabean is not.

Maybe Z isn't brilliant. He traded Brandon Morrow. He was erratic as indicated by his walk rate, but he could strike batters out. He's not Nolan Ryan, but he could be a Jonathan Sanchez and is certainly a good mid rotation starting pitcher.

He signed Ken Griffey Jr. Junior's farewell tour was last season. He was serviceable last season, and it was a fitting way to leave the game. While Junior may have wanted to play, his 2009 year wasn't good enough to warrant another farewell year. Predictably, Junior retired before the all-star break.

He signed Mike Sweeney. Junior's slightly younger clone did okay in his brief time with the Mariners, but it was still a wasted roster spot.

And it is being reported, that he just signed Miguel Olivo to a two year contract. It's hard finding catchers with a .283 career on base percentage...

Z is a general manager who is capable of stealing a Cliff Lee from a horrible general manager in Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. But he certainly is not an elite general manager. In my conclusion, I missed the point in the first sentence:

"Z brings in the same type of players that Sabean brings in."

Maybe he pays them less, but he is still filling his roster with bad players. Perhaps like Sabean, he might get a strong rotation (already has the ace) and luck into a few signings and grab a World Series trophy, but he is no genius that I thought he was after his first season with the Mariners.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Derek Jeter's Free Agency

The latest story in the Derek Jeter free agency story is his agent calling the Yankees offer of 3 years and $45 million baffling. His points:

"Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling."

His production last season was poor. Beyond the stats, he is an old shortstop. If the negotiation strategy is so baffling, maybe his agent should go to other teams to see what they would offer. The reason he doesn't: the Yankees are willing to overpay to keep him because of his significance to the team. His significance, however, isn't going to make or break the World Series projections.

"They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek's total contribution to their franchise," Close added, according to the report.

His total contribution was in his last contract of 10 years and $189 million. Also, offering him $15 million a year for three years is one year and $25 million too much. He is coming off a 90 OPS+ season. He is also 36 years old, so it is more likely to remain at that level or go down rather than revert to his 125 OPS+ production the year before.

From Hal Steinbrenner:

"Look, this is a business negotiation,'' Hal Steinbrenner said of the talks last week. "None of us wants to make it personal, because it's not personal. ... My family's got a lot of respect for Derek and I believe it is a mutual thing. It's been a good history. We're gonna do our best to keep it by the book."

Voice of reason. The Yankees foolishly overpaid for Alex Rodriguez when nobody else would've come close. They gave outlandish contracts. Those days are over (maybe). I am interested to see how this plays out. The agent is there to get the most years and most dollars for his player. But I don't see any team offering Jeter a fourth year. And right now, Jeter and his agent look bad.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Guide to Blind Dating: In Braille!

I was sitting at a table by the coffee shop at the outdoor mall with my roommate Jake.

“You know that girl I met at the party a couple nights ago?” I asked pulling out a post-it note with a phone number. “I tried calling her this morning, and it directed me to the rejection hot line.”

“Ouch,” Jake said.

“Right?” I said sipping on my lukewarm coffee. “I guess it’s just easier than saying, ‘Sorry dude, I’m really just not interested.”

“Let me see that,” he said.

I gave him the post-it note. He looked at it for a second and then put it in his pocket.

“What are you going to do with that?” I asked.

“You never know when it can come in handy,” he said.

A beautiful brunette was walking her dog and passed Jake and me. She was wearing all black and complimented the look with very opaque sunglasses.

“She is cute,” I said.

“Go up to her,” Jake said.

“Nah, I can’t. She doesn’t look like she wants to be bothered,” I said. “Plus she is walking her dog. Dogs don’t really like me.”

A grade-school-aged boy with full camouflage face paint was running around pretend shooting pretend people.

“You should throw this tennis ball at this kid,” I said pulling a tennis ball out from my backpack.

“Where did you get that tennis ball?” Jake asked.

“What? I like tennis balls.”

“I don’t want to throw it. You throw it.”

I threw the tennis ball aiming for his chest, but it him smack against his nose. The kid looked at us and ran away.

“Well, that didn’t work out,” I said.

“We should probably leave,” Jake said.

Later that day, Jake and I were sitting in the living room at our apartment. On the couch next to me was our cat, Fredo. Fredo is a very large cat with paws that resemble human hands in front and human feet in the back.

“Did you break up with Samantha yet?” I asked.

“I can’t. It’s hard. I don’t know what to say,” Jake said.

“Just start insulting her.”

“I tried. She thinks I’m playing hard to get. She seems to like me more when I insult.”


“No because I don’t want to give her the wrong idea.”

“She is really ugly.”

“I know,” Jake said. “I’ll probably end up marrying her.”

The telephone rings. Jake picks up and starts talking. A few minutes later, Jake pulls out his wallet and gives his credit card number over the phone.

“What was that?” I asked.

“I just bought the Total Gym,” Jake said.

“You don’t even work out.”

“I know, but it’s kind of code in the telemarketing community to buy products from each other.”

“You never sell products at your job.”

Jake checked his phone for text messages.

“Samantha texted me,” Jake said. “She said she has someone perfect for you.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“We were talking about how you never go on dates, and I guess she found someone for you.”

“I go on dates!”

“Yeah, but they never work out.” Jake responded to the text message. A few minutes later, he checks his phone for a reply. “Samantha said her friend will call you later.”

“You gave her my number?”

“Yeah, just talk to her. Samantha has cute friends.”

“Alright, I can go for that,” I said. I stuck my hand out and gave a high five to Fredo.

Later that night I was playing solitaire and my cell phone rang.

“Hey, it’s Ryan,” I said.

“Hi, I’m looking to speak to Ryan,” a girl said. “Oh, I’m sorry, you said your name. It’s Denise.”

“Hey Denise. I’m not sure who you are.”

“I’m friends with Samantha. She said she is dating your friend and I guess is trying to play matchmaker.”

“Oh, right. Okay. Yeah, that’s cool.”


“Well, how are you?”

“This is kind of awkward, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, do you want meet at a coffee shop tomorrow night? Maybe if we meet it’ll be better?” I asked. “There’s this great place by the outdoor mall.”

“Sure, that sounds good.”

“Okay, does seven work?”




“Okay bye.”

I went to the living room where Jake was playing solitaire.

“Your girlfriend’s friend Denise just called me,” I said.

“Oh yeah?” he asked. “How was it?”

“Dude, it was really awkward. I didn’t even know what to talk about. We agreed to meet up tomorrow night,” I said. “I’m just scared because I don’t even know what she looks like.”

“What’s your breaking point? Kids? Pimples?”

“I love kids,” I said. “Not sure about pimples, but I could deal with that.”

“You should be okay,” he said. “But if it doesn’t work out, we should have a plan.”

“Like what?”

“I’ll give you a call at the beginning of your date,” he said. “Like an exit call. If you know it’s not going to work out, you can just make up some random excuse with me on the phone and leave.”

“Okay, that could work.”

“So Samantha and I are going to hang out at the beach tomorrow afternoon.”

“Are you going to break up with her?”

“I can’t,” Jake said. “I’m going to bring Fredo with me so I have at least something friendly.”

The next day Jake and Fredo met up with Samantha at the beach.

“Hey there,” Jake said.

“What is that?” Samantha asked pointing at Fredo.

“It’s my cat Fredo,” Jake said. “I thought I’d take him for a walk and get him out of the house.”

“Yeah, but he has like hands and feet.”

“It’s a little unusual.”

“Jake, I can’t be seen with this cat.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying get rid of this cat or it’s over.”

“I’m not getting rid of Fredo.”

“Well, then it’s over.”


“Yeah, you’re not even sad.”


“Whatever.” Samantha left while Jake high fived Fredo.

A cute blond came up to Jake and Fredo. “That’s a really cute cat,” she said.

“I think you’re a cute cat,” Jake said. A few moments later, “Okay, that was bad.”

“Yeah that was,” she said laughing.

“I’m Jake.”

“I’m Melissa.”

“I know it’s kind of bold, but I would like to hang out sometime. Can I get your number?” Jake sneezed all over Melissa. “Oh gosh, I’m sorry. That was bad.”

“It’s okay, but strike two, buddy,” she said wiping her face with a napkin.

“I actually don’t have a phone,” she said. “But my roommate does. So why don’t you give me your number?”

Jake reached into his pocket and pulled out a post-it note. “Here you go,” he said handing her the post-it note. He quickly realized that he just gave her the rejection hot line number. “Actually, wait, let me give you this number instead.” Jake and Melissa traded post-it notes. Jake noticed a tennis ball coming right at him from the corner of his eye. In his defense, he ducked behind Melissa. The tennis ball hit her smack against her nose. “Oh, umm, so you’ll call me tomorrow?”

Later that night I met up with Denise at the coffee shop. As I walked in, I saw a brunette wearing all black and opaque sunglasses. By her side was a dog. I approached her, “Denise?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Is this Ryan?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Wow, you look amazing.”

“Thanks,” she said. “I got us coffee. I hope you like mocha.”

“Yeah, definitely.” My phone rang. It was Jake calling about the exit plan. I picked up.

“Hey man, it’s all good,” I hung up the phone.

“What was that about?” Denise asked.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I said. “So I got a new haircut. What do you think?”

“I can’t see it.”

“Well, take off your sunglasses, silly.”

“I’m blind.”

“Ohhhhh,” I said. “Well, that’s cool. I’m glad you aren’t able to see what I look like then.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because I have a ton of acne,” I said. A few moments later, “Totally joking by the way.”

The boy with war paint walked into the coffee shop.

“Oh my gosh,” I said. “Don’t look. Well, it’s not like you can see. But this kid with war paint just walked in. I totally beaned him with a tennis ball yesterday. We need to leave.”

“That’s my son, you jerk,” she said.

The boy came up to the table. “Mom, why are you hanging out with this guy?”

I ran away.

The next afternoon, Jake and I were sitting on the couch in our living room.

“You ran?” Jake asked.

“Yeah, what else was I supposed to do,” I said. “I had to get out, but her dog bit me.” I showed Jake my arm that had a deep bite mark.

“I thought seeing-eye dogs were friendly.”

“Yeah, but dogs hate me.”

“Samantha broke up with me yesterday,” Jake said.

“Really? What did you do?” I asked.

“Nothing. She didn’t want to be seen with Fredo,” he said. “After she left, this cute blond came up to me. We started talking, and I gave her my phone number.”

“I don’t know how you do it, man.”

“It went okay, but I don’t think she will call,” he said. “I kind of hid behind her and let a tennis ball hit her in the face. And then I kind of ran away.”

“It looks like you have a voice mail. Your phone is blinking. Maybe it’s her?”

Jake played the voice mail, all automated, “The person leaving this message has no interest in dating you. Please try again.”