Fantasy Baseball 2013

March 28, 2014

I didn’t have time to write-up a self-analysis of my fantasy season last year, so I’m just posting my roster from last year so I can analyze why I finished outside of the top three for the first time in the last four years.

With the right bounce backs from key contributors like Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia, I feel like I can put myself right back in the thick of things. 


Carlos Santana, C-1B [CLE] – Acquired via draft – 2010


Freddie Freeman, 1B [ATL] – Acquired via trade – March 4, 2012 (Joel Hanrahan for Freddie Freeman)


Mark Teixeira, 1B [NYY] – Acquired via trade – June 10, 2012 (Cliff Lee for Mark Teixeira)


Adam Dunn, 1B-LF [CWS] – Acquired via trade – 2008 (Robinson Cano for Adam Dunn), Reacquired via draft – 2012, Reacquired via draft – 2013


Jason Kipnis, 2B [CLE] – Acquired via waiver wire – July 12, 2011


Jhonny Peralata, SS, [DET] – Acquired via waiver wire – April 15, 2013


Andrelton Simmons, SS [ATL] – Acquired via trade – May 12, 2013 (Chris Perez for Andrelton Simmons)


David Wright, 3B [NYM] – Acquired via trade – 2008 (Brett Myers/Miguel Cabrera/Josh Hamilton for David Wright/Matt Kemp/Jake Peavy)


Martin Prado, 2B-3B-SS-LF [ATL] – Acquired via draft – 2010, Reacquired via draft – 2012


Starling Marte, LF-CF [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire – July 26, 2012


Jose Bautista [TOR] – Acquired via trade – 2013 (Matt Kemp for Jose Bautista)


Carlos Gomez, CF [MIL] – Acquired via waiver wire – July 30, 2012


Jay Bruce, RF [CIN] – Acquired via trade – 2009 (Pablo Sandoval/Brian Wilson for Brandon Inge/Jay Bruce




CC Sabathia, SP [NYY] – Acquired via trade – July 14, 2012 (Shin-Soo Choo for CC Sabathia)


Patrick Corbin, SP [ARI] – Acquired via trade – June 17, 2013 (Chase Headley for Patrick Corbin)


Jeff Samardzija, SP [CHI] – Acquired via trade – July 6, 2013 (David Ortiz and Trevor Rosenthal for Jeff Samardzija and Rafael Betancourt)


Mat Latos, SP [CIN] – Acquired via trade – August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)


Gio Gonzalez, SP [WAS] – Acquired via trade – August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)


AJ Burnett, SP [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire – June 10, 2012


Jason Motte, RP [STL] – Acquired via trade – May 20, 2012 (Alex Gordon for Jason Motte)


Tom Wilhelmsen, RP [SEA] – Acquired via waiver wire – May 26, 2012


Jason Grilli, RP [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire – May 11, 2012


Mark Melancon, RP [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire – April 21, 2013


Casey Janssen, RP [TOR] – Acquired via trade – May 21, 2013 (Homer Bailey for Casey Janssen)


Rex Brothers, RP [COL] – Acquired via waiver wire – May 22, 2013





On Art

July 24, 2013

The small, rural high school I attended growing up provided more opportunities for self-expression than I think a high school kid could (or can) understand.

While growing up in a small town doesn’t provide a wealth of cultural or social experiences, the school district I attended really did its best to make sure that every student had a chance to receive a rich and diverse education.  As such, my high school had two art teachers for a building that housed approximately 100 students per grade for grades 7-12.

Because of the small class sizes and two art teachers, I had an opportunity to work intimately with both art teachers while taking the maximum amount of classes offered to students to really find my niche in the art world.  That niche was stippling.

If you’re not familiar, stippling is the art of using small dots to create shading and depth in images.  As a somewhat neurotic person, I immediately fell in love with the monotony and therapeutic value of repeatedly tapping a pen until, little by little, something magnificent emerges.

Through the guidance of both of my art teachers in high school, I grew from using fine point Sharpies (which actually leave very large dots relative to what you create on an 8 x 10 piece of paper) to using pens that are .1 of a millimeter wide.

The best part of learning this artistic skill, however, is that I can improve upon it and continue to learn long after I graduated.  Which is where I am today after finishing my most recent piece of work.

Beatles Stippling

After 40 or so hours, this emerged.

The Beatles Final Stippling

Start to finish, this was a lot of fun to work on.

The Beatles Pop Art Stippling

Art within art.

There’s a lot of value to art programs in school.  And while everyone may not go on to have a vocation in the field, that doesn’t lessen the worth of what art in school can offer.

And this is speaking from experience.

On Teachers and Hard Work

July 9, 2013

Writing around these parts has been sporadic because of my new venture into the world of baseball analysis.  In a way it’s been nice to explore writing in a more analytic fashion (most of the time).

Still, every now-and-then I build up enough information in my mental filing cabinets and feel like I need to organize it.  From this concept, Ramble On was born.

But I digress. (As I often do.)

The other week before school let out I was talking to some of my colleagues about who their greatest educational influences were as students.  Some had mentioned teachers that showed compassion.  Some mentioned teachers that were strict and consistent.  Some mentioned teachers that made them think differently about something for the first time.  When I was posed the same question, however, I had to stop and think.

I was provided a quality education in rural Northwestern Pennsylvania; I truly believe that.  From kindergarten to undergrad, I’ve interacted with some of the most influential people in my life, let alone my learning process.  In some instances I took full advantage of the education that was being provided to me, but other times I didn’t.  So as I was pondering that heavy question, I wondered what made the excellent teachers stand out.  Why did I work extra hard for some teachers, but not for others?

And then I thought about my own teaching style and the students that seem to take away the most from me as an educator.  When I put together my educational career as a student with my teaching career, I suddenly felt like I painted a very clear portrait of the people who influenced me as a student.  I learned the most and gave the most to the educators who connected to me through language.  To this day, I still enjoy nothing more than sitting in a lecture or meeting and hearing someone say something profound enough to catch my attention.  That’s what I crave in conversation as well.

Say something smart enough or clever enough or different enough to pique my interest.  Make me interested in you and what you have to say and that’s when I’ll thrive as a student.

To this day, there are still things that I vividly remember teachers saying that have remained with me since elementary school.

My earliest such memory was in third grade.  Students were ability grouped for reading so that all of the high-achieving readers were in one class, the on pace readers were in another, and the below grade level readers in another.  I’m not, and never have been, a naturally brilliant person, so I found myself in the middle group of readers.  While it was never explicitly stated, in third grade it didn’t take more than a few days to figure the system out.  So there I sat in Mrs. Brown’s classroom reading ‘The Boxcar Children’ while the students in Mr. Seger’s class were tackling Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House’ series.

I remember writing a summary of ‘The Boxcar Children’ and at the end, to close my summary, writing, ‘But I bet it’s not as good as “Little House on the Prarie.”‘

Eventually my passive-aggressive attempts to try and get myself moved up to the top reading group turned into flat out asking if I could change classes for reading.  After a few times pestering Mrs. Brown, I was eventually allowed to go to Mr. Seger’s class where I sat down with the man himself and read from the ‘Little House’ book they were reading in class.  It was the first real job interview or audition I had for anything.  As I walked into the room, I felt just as nervous as I did before a Little League baseball game.  The butterflies were fluttering as I sat down at the tiny rectangular table in the corner of his room and stared at ‘The Little House on the Prarie’.

At that instant, the book looked gargantuan.  Those butterflies turned into a sense of panic as I thumbed to the page he requested.

I remember struggling through reading the few pages that I was asked to read.  Not terribly, but enough that I knew, as a third grader, that I didn’t sound impressive as a reader.  I suddenly felt like that classroom was out of my league.  When I closed the book at the end, I was nearly in tears.  Mr. Seger looked right at me and asked me how I thought I did.  To save face I sheepishly said I thought I did okay.  Then he told me something that, to this day, nearly 22 years later, I still appreciate as a thirty year old man.

He said he knew the books they were reading in his class were going to be challenging for me.  But he told me if I was willing to work hard, try my best, and get all of my assignments finished, he would add me to his reading class.

To this day, whenever I feel like I’m up against someone or something, even if they seem like the best of the best, I recall that moment with Mr. Seger when I may have been in a bit over my head.  I remember the hard work that I put in to earn my spot in his classroom.  It was the first time I enjoyed reading after school at home because I felt like I had a purpose.  All because of a simple conversation; a simple lesson.  Mr. Seger taught me that hard work could pay off.

An Ode to Roommates and Solitude

June 27, 2013

Last summer my longtime roommate told me that he was planning on taking the plunge with his girlfriend and getting an apartment together.  I mentally prepared myself from that point forward for my baby bird to spread his wings and fly.  However, circumstances didn’t lend themselves to the move happening immediately and Dan and I continued our cohabitation, happily splitting bills, the dishes, and trash.  I put the concept of losing a roommate on the backburner and lived my life to the fullest; skydiving, bull fighting, and curling to my heart’s content.  A few weeks after that, the topic was breached yet again.  This time it was a firm reality and the date was set.  Dan would be moving out at the end of November.

A few weeks after that, while eating some of the best chicken wings the Northwestern Pennsylvania region has to offer, I mentioned how, for the first time in my life, I would be living completely independent of a roommate.  I was going rogue.

Sarah Palin Rogue

My life from that day forward.

In the middle of one of his chicken wings, my brother pointed out that I just turned 30.

It was odd thinking of that; three decades of life.  The oddity was highlighted by a thought that popped into my head as well.  By the time my dad was my age, he already had three kids.

I enjoy my freedom too much to hamstring my lifestyle with the burden of children at the moment.  However, one thing I’ve learned about myself since my roommate’s departure is that I enjoy cohabitating.  I’m really not too fond of living alone. Growing up with brothers, I’ve found that having someone close to me is a part of my personality.   I grew up accustomed to having someone to watch TV with, play video games, or go outside and do something.  And really, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a tight group of friends and I’ve always kept them close to me, through proximity or communication, if they happened to live at a distance.

Now I know that causation doesn’t necessarily mean correlation, but over the last few months, I’ve noticed a change in my personality.  I don’t know if anyone else has because I haven’t bothered to ask, but I feel that since living on my own, I’ve become much quieter and way more introspective.  This may or may not be a bad thing.  I guess it’s probably good to be more self aware and evaluate one’s life in solitude for a period of time, a la Henry David Thoreau.

Hopefully I don’t contract tuberculosis and die, however, because no one will be here to help.

So on with life I will go, learning how to navigate the waters of bachelorhood in solitude.

Agere sequitur credere.

I’ve learned to like the sound of my own voice.

March 4, 2013

I’m sure there were times when some of you who are old enough to remember answering machines had the awful experience of hearing your voice for the first time.  Everyone’s responses to this even are pretty much the same: “That’s what I sound like?  I sound awful.”

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve started a website with some of my close friends with whom I spent time coaching baseball with over the past few years.  Throughout our discussions it was obvious how much we all shared a passion for baseball, so when I brought the idea up to them about starting a website that covers baseball in the tri-state area, their responses were both an immediate yes. (And my one friend Jason who joined in on the venture had said that he had been thinking about a similar idea himself.)

One branch of our coverage that we’re going to provide is going to be a podcast that, as of now, we’re producing weekly.  The first time I put on a pair of headphones and sat down to talk into the microphone, I was stunned to hear my own voice.  And then I was mildly annoyed by it.

However, over the last few weeks as I’ve gotten better with the podcasting thing, I’ve learned to enjoy my voice a little more. I’m excited to continue to work on developing unique baseball commentary and coverage throughout 2013.
And hopefully I won’t hate the sound of my own voice by the end of it.

Tri-State of Mind Baseball

February 18, 2013

I’ve finally found a way to blend my enjoyment from writing with my unnatural obsession with baseball.  Along with two close friends who live in the area, we founded Tri-State of Mind Baseball, a website which is going to cover and emphasize coverage of baseball in the Ohio-Pennsylvania-New York area.

Baseball coverage Ohio-Pennsylvania-New York

Bringing you the best of baseball in the Tri-State Area!

Not only are the Pirates, Indians, and Reds Major League Baseball teams in the area, but there are also dozens of minor league teams in the area as well.  If you visit, you can see a list of Major League Teams as well as some minor league affiliates in the area in one of the menus on the right.

We’ve also started recording weekly podcasts, discussing topical news with baseball in the region, pop culture in baseball, and in our second episode, we even featured a musical guest from the area, Tyler James.

Overall, this has been a great venture.  You learn a lot about yourself when you put yourself out there like this.  I think it’s needless to say I’m probably going to focus a lot of my writing and creativity over at tsmbaseball, but it’ll be nice to have this as a creative outlet for when I want to write about something not baseball related.

So if you have some time and are interested in baseball, it’s definitely worth stopping by!  Hope to hear from you soon.

2012 Literature

January 2, 2013

In no particular order, here are the books I tackled during my leisure time in 2012.  There were also quite a few boring text books that I didn’t include.  I didn’t include a little review and/or synopsis because I’m lazy.  I enjoyed most of the books I read this year, especially the new Dark Tower story that Stephen King released.  It made my heart happy to continue the tale of Roland of Gilead.

So without further delay, here they are in no particular order.

Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King

World War Z by Max Brooks

Death to the BCS by Jeff Passan

The Sportswriter by Richard Ford

Black Hats by Patrick Culhane

Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem

Working at the Ballpark: The Fascinating Lives of Baseball People from Peanut Vendors and Broadcasters to Players and Managers by Tom Jones

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver