Pre Spring Preview

Back again and not for the last time. Now that football is done, a ton of eyes have just turned towards the upcoming baseball season. 2 weeks out from the first of the “boys of summer” reporting to their spring homes. The beginning of the position battles, fan battles over projections, the studying of draft orders, studying of potential lineups, rotations, and bullpens. With all of that I am here to bring you my insights on the soon to start Twins season. Instead of starting the analysis on an area of need, I am going to start on the perceived strengths of the Twins and try to work my way into the needs and deficiencies.

Outfield
The biggest plus in Minneapolis according to most is the entire outfield. You have one of the youngest and most unproven “studs” in the game patrolling center in Byron Buxton. He only knock is how easily he picks up “knocks”. He is getting to be known as getting bite by the injury bug and all that we fans can hope is that he figures out soon how to play the game while preserving his health.

In left it is looking more and more likely that Oswaldo Arcia is on his last chance due to the emergence last season of Eddie Rosario. He came up to replace Arcia last season and his play in the Bigs is one of the reasons that we didn’t see Arcia when he was healthy. I personally hope that He can find his way back to Target Field while still wearing our colors cause he is still a young talent. Eddie should find himself with LF next to his name a majority of the time this season.

Now out in Right is going to be a little more interesting. You have Molly saying that they are going to do everything that they can to get Miguel Sano ready to start out there. Many in the organization believe that he has the ability to make the transition, and with out the brass dealing Plouffe, its looking like its a project that they are willing to undertake. I believe that by the end of the season, we will see more games played in Right by Max Kepler than we do Sano. Max is our long developing German stud that analysts are saying is finally growing into his body and developing his power. He has shown the ability to play the OF and even had a late call up last year.

So far we have Bux, Eddie, Sano, and I believe Arcia only because he is out of Minor options. Max is going to be a casualty of the roster game and I just don’t see Minnesota giving up on Oswaldo yet. I would not put it past the front office to quietly shop him, especially if he shows up in Spring. Santana could also play in the OF as a super sub and all around utility man, a Minnesota version of Ben Zobrist without as strong of a bat.

First Base/Designated Hitter
Who would have guessed that we would ever have a bevy of power bats and enough that we would look to maybe even deal one? I never would have guessed but that is where we are right now. The big issue right now is that we are tied into Joe at first. He is owed somewhere over $60mil over the next 2 years. Now this is how you will know that I didn’t grow up in Minnesota but just a fan of the team, I want Joe on the bench. AHHHH, how can I say that right? Now here me out,  I want Joe on the bench as a coach, I just don’t see it happening. I also don’t see Terry Ryan demoting, trading, or pressuring him off of first base. That means that unless Joe has some career threatening injury, he will be there for a large portion of games through next season.

You are asking how I can say that and still say that this is an area of abundance right? That is because of the others that he is “blocking”. First off this is where I should be talking about Sano instead of in the outfield. I am in the camp that thinks this is where he is going to end up playing the major part of his career. I know everyone says that his arm is too good to put at first but he already had to have Tommy surgery on his elbow. That is no joke for a non pitcher. Means that there are issues. Another player that was added to the fold this off season is the Korean HR king, Byung-ho Park. He has been absolutely crushing Korean pitching the last 2 years and turned it into a move stateside, and a pretty good chunk of money. Now don’t get ahead of yourself, some of you are going to be hating this deal by the All Star break and comparing him to the bust of Yoshi a couple years ago. We will have to be patient with him and just hope he develops like his buddy, Kang in Pittsburgh did last year. The odd man out at first and DH is someone that resembled Arcia last year, Kennys Vargas. He came up in 2014 and played pretty well and had people already questioning Joe at first. Last year he disappeared all of the way to AA Chattanooga. He is another player that could end up falling through the cracks of the roster game. I hope we are a little more patient with him than we were with his mentor that has done nothing but have a HOF career in Boston in David Ortiz. He has a lot a similarities in his game except for one huge difference, he is a switch hitter. He needs some time but in the pro sports world, he could be on his way out of Minnesota and I think that would be a travesty.

Second Base
Brian Dozier. Nothing else needs to be said here.

Third Base
Trevor Plouffe and according to Ryan and other brass, nothing else will be said here. You will see Sano here to spell him in some games, and maybe a matchup or 2, but they have said that it is Plouffe’s job. Now here is another spot that Park’s signing is muddying up the waters a bit. Without Park, Plouffe spells Joe at first and gets Sano some at bats while staying fresh at third. Or if you agree with me, Joe could be the issue here too. Either way Plouffe is the man here, Sano will play the games he doesn’t, and if need arises Eduardo Escobar or Nunez could also fill in. Both can also fill in for Dozier too.

With that, the perceived strengths are done. OF, 1B, 2B, and to a point 3B too. Now I move into the dark zone.

Short Stop
Many here are saying that Eduardo Escobar has the job going into Spring this year. Last year it was Danny Santana. The year before that it Pedro Florimon, it was Dozier before he got moved to second, and the list goes on. Just to get an idea, the players on roster that were drafted as a SS are as follows, EE, Danny, Nunez, Dozier, Plouffe, and Jorge Polanco who has ABs with the Twins the last 2 years too. Its so confusing here that the official team roster on MLB has EE listed as a LF, Danny will play outfield if needed, and so did Nunez last year. It is said that the best athletes who can’t pitch play Short. Well we have a lot of high school and college athletes that can’t play Short and need to find another spot. My thoughts here are the EE is going to split time as need and depending on the hot hand with Nunez and Santana, with Nunez being the main back up and Santana like I said as the utility, fill in anywhere guy that the Twins “have” to have on the roster. Personally I can’t wait for Nick Gordon to get to Minneapolis and develops into a better player than his brother Dee is down in Miami.

Starting Pitching
I was tempted to list the catchers here but I think that our starters will be a stronger point this season than the guys behind the plate will be. We have more starters than we have spots for, mainly because no one has taking the rotation as theirs. In some order it will be Gibson, Hughes, Ervin Santana, and … maybe Nolasco? That is where I think the coaches are right now. Gibson came on and pitched like front of the rotation late, but Hughes was a vanishing act a year after setting a record for lowest K/BB ration in history. They will be some order of 1 and 2. Santana will likely get the 3 spot but Im not sold on him until he get a new nutritionist. Nolasco has been another in a long line of reclamation projects for the Twins who had 1 good year and then disappear, a la Pelfrey and Povano, just to name a few. I think that 4 and 5 in the rotation should be an open competition between Nolasco, Duffey, who earned it last year, Berrios, who has earned a chance to play against the big boys, Milone, who pitched decently last year, May, who could be destined to the bullpen, and Meyer, who is right next to him. May and Meyer are the 2 arms that we got when dealing Denard Span and Ben Revere when we were ready to anoint Hicks as the CF of the future. Berrios has started the last 2 Futures game at the All Star week and has done nothing but perform too well to get promoted. This is the territory that other teams keep him down just long enough to get an extra year of contract control over him. If the Twins aren’t playing that game than he should brake Spring with a spot every couple days. Milone has an edge in that he is the only lefty of the bunch. Does that mean that he should get a spot? No, he still has to earn it but it does give him an edge over the others, because no coach wants to have a rotation of all righties.

Catchers
Before dealing Aaron Hicks, Kurt Suzuki was about the only thing that we had. Herrman is gone, Josmil Pinto is gone, and Fryer is gone. The Twins didn’t believe enough in any of them that they would develop into what we need. We deal Hicks and get what some are saying is an every day but not an AllStar catcher in John Ryan Murphy. We also claimed John Hicks, who became expendable in Seattle after they signed Chris Iannetta, shows his believers. Now call me crazy but I think we might still have one of the best game callers in MLB but he plays 1B. I think another way to get everyone at bats is to have Joe get back behind the plate maybe once or twice a week. He said that it helped him when he was batting to be catch so that he could pick up the ball. I say that it can’t really hurt his hitting stats compared to since he was moved. The only reason they won’t is because of health reasons, which I do agree with here.

Bullpen
All I have to say is, OUCH!!! We need help. But I think most of our help is needed in front of the bullpen. We have a statistically bad bullpen, but I attribute that more to how many innings that they have to cover for our shotty starters. 2013, they led the league in IP, 14 they were 4th, and last year they improved to middle of the pack. So good news is that they are trending in the right direction. We have a top of the league Closer, when he is healthy, in Perk. Jepsen filled in admirably when he wasn’t at the end of the year, and will be back as the set up guy, at least until Perk goes down with an injury, or someone offers a stupid trade before the deadline, because he only has 1 year left under contract. Some are saying that May could be the guy for the 7th but that only works if you run your bullpen like the Royals last year, no matter the match up it would be May, Jepsen, Perkins. I just don’t see the Twins doing that, but hope I am wrong. Fien will be back. Meyer will more than likely be out there too. Along with a couple of the cast offs from the SP battle.

My projected opening day lineup and what I wish it was, left and right respectively:
CF – Buxton                                  2B – Dozier
2B – Dozier                                   1B – Mauer
1B – Mauer                                    RF – Sano
RF – Sano                                      DH – Park
DH – Park                                     3B – Plouffe
3B – Plouffe                                   LF – Rosario
LF – Rosario                                  C   – Murphy
C  – Suzuki                                     SS – Santana
SS – Escobar                                  CF – Buxton

They reasoning on Bux at the bottom is to let him develop at the beginning of the season. As he gets the hang of it, move him to the top. I would go Murph behind the plate only because of Kurt showing a half of a good season in the 2 that he has been here. Some of my other picks would change but this is also because of who I am guessing will break camp with the team. The rotation will and should be:

SP1 – Gibson                        Gibson
SP2 – Hughes                      Hughes
SP3 – Santana                      Santana
SP4 – Nolasco                      Duffey
SP5 – Milone                        Berrios
SP6 – Milone

I would add a 6th starter for the first couple weeks only in name. I would have Duffey in the pen for a couple rounds of the rotation and then switch Berrios to the pen for a bit, just to see how Jose handles big league hitting, and the atmosphere. Im off loading Nolasco in any deal that is made. As for the bench and bullpen:

Bench
Santana                               Santana
Kepler                                  Kepler
Arcia                                    Arcia
Murphy                               Suzuki

Bullpen
Perkins                                Perkins
Jepsen                                  Jepsen
May                                      Fien
Meyer                                   Tomkin
Fien                                      Pressley
Tomkin                                Best Lefty Reliever left
Duffey

Now my favorite part, picking break out prospects that will make the Show this year and create havoc on preseason projections. These are the guys that could shake up everything for the Twins this year.

Berrios
I know he isn’t really an unknown but he could play into someone who can’t be held back anymore.

Adam Brett Walker
Has been a beast in the minors and depending on how everything shakes out in the outfield, he could make an impact.

Nick Burdi
Drafted in 2014, many analysts thought he would get called up late last year. Should see time this year at some point.

I also feel that a few of our veterans are in make or break seasons, or they get out right dealt. I see this as the last try for Arcia. Nolasco should be gone if anyone gets dealt. I like Plouffe but just think that at almost 30, if he starts the way he played for most of last year, he will be moved to make room for Sano at 3B. I feel this could be proving year for all of the shortstops because you have Polanco, who the staff has shown trust in, and Gordon waiting in the wings. If they play like they have, Santana will become a casualty, Escobar will be the utility, and I just don’t see Nunez making the impressions that he needs to. May and Meyer are getting what could be their last shots at Starting in the Majors before getting entrenched in the bullpen. Vargas, and I hope I am wrong, might not even get another chance to prove himself. I hope the Twins can keep him long enough to convince Joe to retire.

Forcast
Here is where the title ties in. Most human analysts are picking the Twins to finish last in the Central and it isn’t even close. Most are picking a regression from the young hitters, a lack of development of quality starting arms, and a bullpen that hasn’t been improved at all. To them, I say not all hitters will regress, at least 1 new starter will develop, and I don’t see how the bullpen can really get any worse.

Computers are putting Minny in a solid 4th in the division with us beating KC to escape the cellar. They are thinking much the same as the humans but still think we can do better than the reigning World Series Champs?!?! Weird, that they have KC somewhere around 10-15 games under .500 and not playing as a team. This is where I guess where some of the SABR metrics fall apart, you have a great “team” that has made it to the World Series for 2 straight years, won it last year, and you are looking at a forecast of barely 70 wins.

Me, I put Minnesota in a solid battle for 2nd in the division, battle for the Wild Card in the AL, and overall another solid season. I still think that Ned Yost will have his team on point in KC. I see a rebound from Detroit as they had a full off season to get over injuries while also adding a couple pieces. Cleveland is improving and has a great young talent in Francisco Lindor, but I just don’t see them getting over the dark cloud hanging over their lack of performance the last couple years. Chicago will not allow themselves to be as bad as they have been, but are fighting against a stacked deck.

Final 2016 Forecast:
Kansas City – 95 wins
Detroit – 88
Minnesota – 86
Cleveland – 82
Chicago – 79

I am picking the Central as the toughest division in MLB this year from top to bottom. Analysts will poopoo the records cause, like usual, we will beat up on each other. We won’t have any one team or even part of team stand out like the Mets starting rotation, or others’ top to bottom lineup either. The closest to a stand out squad will be KC in the bullpen again because they are so well coached and managed. I don’t see Miggy getting back to Triple Crown stats, or MVP either. I don’t see any Cy Young winners either in the Central. I am seeing teams that will be coached up to play a team game where the sum is more than the parts. The Central is known historically for teams that represent 1+1+1=5. Teams that play small ball better than sending out a Yankees lineup. Doesn’t mean that they don’t try to play the big money game, just that the most successful teams out of the Central are “complete teams” that don’t have holes and love playing the game for the guy next to them.

League Projections
AL Division Winners:
New York
Kansas City
Houston

AL Wild Cards:
Los Angeles (Win the play in game)
Detroit

NL Division Winners:
New York
St. Louis
San Francisco

NL Wild Cards:
Chicago (Win)
Arizona

Playoffs:
KC over LAA
NY over Houston
Cubs over STL
NY over SF

KC over NY
Cubs over NY

I am picking the Cubbies to hit their stride just in time to make the run to the Series and take it home in 7 game battle with KC. I see KC finally breaking down in the bullpen and see some in fighting that will start the break up. Theo Epstein will cement his enshrinement into Cooperstown by breaking the curse of the Billy Goat.

AL Awards:
MVP: Trout
CY: Zimmerman
ROY: Buxton (call me a homer)
Coach of the Year: Yost (again)

NL Awards:
MVP: Kris Bryant (nothing against Harper, just see a nagging injury during the 2nd half keep him out)
CY: Kershaw
ROY: Seager (Dodgers beast of a SS prospect)
COY: Matheny

All of those predictions are just gut feelings based on my own perceptions, so if you are going to put any money on them, go against. If you are fans of the teams or players listed, I am sorry because I am usually wrong more often than not on projections. Think about it, if I was any good at this, than I would be talking about my opinions on TV for a living. Speaking of, if any network needs someone to analyze and talk baseball, I can be had for a very affordable price.

I will see you guys on the eve of Opening Day and throughout the year. Until next time, get down and dirty cause its not a day at the park until someone hits the dirt.

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Mid Season Minny Update

It has been a while since my last write up on the Twins, their play, organization, moves, and outlook. No excuse except that they have not been fun to watch or write about.

For the 4th year in a row now the Twins will be rolling into the All Star break effectively out of the running of the postseason. As of my writing of this, they are 8 games under .500, 10 games out of the division lead and 8.5 out of the Wild Card. And the worst part is that while they are hosting the All Star festivities this summer, there is little reason that any Twin should be playing in the game. Now before anyone jumps on me for that comment here me out first.

Hitting has been atrocious. After the outbreak that they had in April, the Twins regressed back to their more normal positions these last couple of years, the bottom third of teams. I really hate when I am right about these things but I just knew that the team couldn’t keep up the over 5 runs per game average that they started with. Their hitting with runners in scoring positions was up for just about every hitter in the lineup. People were starting off at paces that would have been career bests. Now everyone is returning to their averages and it shows.

Pitching has seen an uptick in numbers thankfully but still not enough to win more than they lose. Correia is still struggling, Nolasco has been a disappointment so far, Deduno couldn’t replace Pelfrey effectively, Hughes and Gibson have been okay and deserving of a middle rotation spot, Yohan Pino made a 30 year old debut and has been good in the 2 games that I watched but very poor in the other 2 games. The starting rotation is still a huge need. Looking in the Minors and both May and Meyer have been pitching very well with a typical hiccup every couple of starts. Jason Wheeler in New Britain has been doing pretty well enough over the last month to get the promotion from Fort Myers. I am just ready at this point to cut the bigger money that isn’t getting the job done in Minnesota and begin the next round of development.

Fielding has been meh. I wouldn’t say that the guys have been great but not horrible either. As a team, the Twins are 5th overall at this point in the season just in the AL. No one is sticking out as being a liability yet but we have players out of position it seems like everyday. We have had a SS start almost as many games in CF as a true center fielder has. We have let go 2 CF to waivers so far this year partially to keep a reclamation project that retired as soon as he got hurt. Parmelee, who is a 1B by trade even made a start in Center this year. Mauer at 1B is still a learning process. He hasn’t been horrible but at times has looked uncomfortable and according to him, the move there has affected his bat. Plouffe has played pretty reliably at 3B for a SS and the same can be said about Dozier at 2B. The Twins at one point in the season had a player that is currently listed as a SS or was a starting SS at one point for the Twins playing at 5 different spots on the field. Dozier at 2nd, Plouffe at 3rd, and then some combination of Nunez, Escobar, and Santana at SS, CF, and LF. It is hard to win consistently when you have that many people that are required to play new spots. But again it hasn’t been too bad in actual performance so far.

Is there any help on the way? Well I would say, my first move would still be to change managers. I am done with Gardy as the man in charge and even more fed up with Andy as the pitching coach. Crazy stat that I heard during today’s broadcast, Bruno is now 5-0 as the acting coach when Gardy is either not there or has been ejected so far this season. Now does this mean I want Tom Brunansky as the head coach. No. Nothing against Bruno just don’t like Gardy. As for player help, I think that is the only attempt at a fix that we will see. The Twins signed Kendry Morales and he is bound to start hitting like he is supposed to, he just hasn’t yet. Mauer is on the DL with a strained oblique and hasn’t been the Joe that we know. I think once he is back to 100% that he will improve his batting average as long as his chase percentage returns back to normal. Arcia is having some issues with his swing that Im hoping Bruno can fix or at least make him aware of. Santana before his injury was the brightest spot, and could have just secured a starting spot for the rest of the year at Target Field. Now if it is CF or SS (his natural spot) that is going to be the real question. Right now, as long as he is comfy in CF, I keep him there, release Fuld (who was never a longterm solution), and start either Escobar or Nunez at SS. The Twins did just bring Colabello back for Mauer during his DL stint.

Farm help though is a little harder to determine and very unlikely to get an opportunity this year. The best hitting prospects right now seem to all be middle infielders. Polanco got the call for a couple of days all of the way from Single A Fort Myers. Vargas is hitting well but his spot is a little crowded with Mauer at 1B and 3 other guys in MN that can play there also. Walker has had huge power but his average is lacking and he is still at Single A. Kvasnicka has been hitting better over the last month but I think still has some work to do. Rodriguez has been positive of .300 and has some pop so far this year. Romero has good at the dish but needs work in the field. If Plouffe goes down again, I wouldn’t be heartbroken to see him get a shot. I see Bernier get the call in September as a super utility guy off the bench. Ortiz tore up New Britain but has struggled so far in Rochester. Ultimately though, nothing off the Farm really has much of a chance to contribute too much this year. The guys hitting right now are either just too far from being Show ready, need work in the field, or have too many people in front of them right now. That is all including Sano and Buxton who have been nonexistant due to injuries so far.

All Stars will be very scarce after the break because between being small market Minnesota and the stats that the Twins guys are posting, you will be lucky to see 2 guys get to call themselves Allstars this year. Honestly the best chance as of right now is probably Kurt Suzuki. He has been a solid addition behind and at the plate. He has hit above his career levels and done well with the pitching staff. After him you have options in Perkins but his ERA is hurting for a closer, Dozier but 2nd is really crowded with Cano, Pedroia, and even Altuve, oh and he is hitting under .250, and Hughes had a chance but has had a couple of consecutive bad starts that just killed any chances. So ultimately, I don’t see anyone but the required 1 rep from the team getting to officially be a part of the festivities. But we will have 3 players in the Futures game. May, Barrios, and Vargas have all been invited and if I were in charge, I would keep at least May in Minneapolis after the game. Also while I had everyone in town, I am also shopping the hell out of Willingham if anyone is still interested and keeping Vargas in town also.

At 38-47 so far this season, the Twins are 1 game ahead of 2013, 2 ahead of 2012, and even with 2011. That doesn’t bode well for the team. That gives us an outlook of somewhere around 95 losses for the 4th year in a row. At what point does the ownership get tired of bad ball? At what point do the ticket sales decline enough for management to get off of their asses and make some changes? I am not sold on the recent problem solving that Minnesota has employed. For the better years in franchise history the team has developed talent that played solid to great defense, great situation hitting, good averages, and above average pitching. Got free agents in the off season that fit their system and personality while also not being highly sought after. Just cause the Twins have some money now doesn’t mean they should be spending it on retreads from other teams. Reinvest it into our own players that we have developed. Put it into better coaching or scouting cause at least one if not both have been lacking in the last decade. 3-12 record in the last 15 games when every eye in baseball is looking towards your city makes it look almost as bad as a couple years ago when KC hosted All Star week.

Now to try to be a little positive. I am positive that we will see some bright spots through the rest of the year. Santana hopefully continuing his growth. Gibson keeping the good starts number positive compared to the bad ones. Hughes maybe developing into the sole good starting pitching pick up over the last 6 years. Hoping that Buxton gets some time during the September call ups if he is healthy. The MLB debut of Kennys Vargas. Maybe May and Meyer both getting sometime this year. One last thought for tonight though before I go: Baseball is one of the few things that you can be considered one of the best in the biz at a 30% success rate but not as a head coach.

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Minnesota All Star Updates

It has been a while since my last write up on the Twins, their play, organization, moves, and outlook. No excuse except that they have not been fun to watch or write about.

For the 4th year in a row now the Twins will be rolling into the All Star break effectively out of the running of the postseason. As of my writing of this, they are 8 games under .500, 10 games out of the division lead and 8.5 out of the Wild Card. And the worst part is that while they are hosting the All Star festivities this summer, there is little reason that any Twin should be playing in the game. Now before anyone jumps on me for that comment here me out first.

Hitting has been atrocious. After the outbreak that they had in April, the Twins regressed back to their more normal positions these last couple of years, the bottom third of teams. I really hate when I am right about these things but I just knew that the team couldn’t keep up the over 5 runs per game average that they started with. Their hitting with runners in scoring positions was up for just about every hitter in the lineup. People were starting off at paces that would have been career bests. Now everyone is returning to their averages and it shows.

Pitching has seen an uptick in numbers thankfully but still not enough to win more than they lose. Correia is still struggling, Nolasco has been a disappointment so far, Deduno couldn’t replace Pelfrey effectively, Hughes and Gibson have been okay and deserving of a middle rotation spot, Yohan Pino made a 30 year old debut and has been good in the 2 games that I watched but very poor in the other 2 games. The starting rotation is still a huge need. Looking in the Minors and both May and Meyer have been pitching very well with a typical hiccup every couple of starts. Jason Wheeler in New Britain has been doing pretty well enough over the last month to get the promotion from Fort Myers. I am just ready at this point to cut the bigger money that isn’t getting the job done in Minnesota and begin the next round of development.

Fielding has been meh. I wouldn’t say that the guys have been great but not horrible either. As a team, the Twins are 5th overall at this point in the season just in the AL. No one is sticking out as being a liability yet but we have players out of position it seems like everyday. We have had a SS start almost as many games in CF as a true center fielder has. We have let go 2 CF to waivers so far this year partially to keep a reclamation project that retired as soon as he got hurt. Parmelee, who is a 1B by trade even made a start in Center this year. Mauer at 1B is still a learning process. He hasn’t been horrible but at times has looked uncomfortable and according to him, the move there has affected his bat. Plouffe has played pretty reliably at 3B for a SS and the same can be said about Dozier at 2B. The Twins at one point in the season had a player that is currently listed as a SS or was a starting SS at one point for the Twins playing at 5 different spots on the field. Dozier at 2nd, Plouffe at 3rd, and then some combination of Nunez, Escobar, and Santana at SS, CF, and LF. It is hard to win consistently when you have that many people that are required to play new spots. But again it hasn’t been too bad in actual performance so far.

Is there any help on the way? Well I would say, my first move would still be to change managers. I am done with Gardy as the man in charge and even more fed up with Andy as the pitching coach. Crazy stat that I heard during today’s broadcast, Bruno is now 5-0 as the acting coach when Gardy is either not there or has been ejected so far this season. Now does this mean I want Tom Brunansky as the head coach. No. Nothing against Bruno just don’t like Gardy. As for player help, I think that is the only attempt at a fix that we will see. The Twins signed Kendry Morales and he is bound to start hitting like he is supposed to, he just hasn’t yet. Mauer is on the DL with a strained oblique and hasn’t been the Joe that we know. I think once he is back to 100% that he will improve his batting average as long as his chase percentage returns back to normal. Arcia is having some issues with his swing that Im hoping Bruno can fix or at least make him aware of. Santana before his injury was the brightest spot, and could have just secured a starting spot for the rest of the year at Target Field. Now if it is CF or SS (his natural spot) that is going to be the real question. Right now, as long as he is comfy in CF, I keep him there, release Fuld (who was never a longterm solution), and start either Escobar or Nunez at SS. The Twins did just bring Colabello back for Mauer during his DL stint.

Farm help though is a little harder to determine and very unlikely to get an opportunity this year. The best hitting prospects right now seem to all be middle infielders. Polanco got the call for a couple of days all of the way from Single A Fort Myers. Vargas is hitting well but his spot is a little crowded with Mauer at 1B and 3 other guys in MN that can play there also. Walker has had huge power but his average is lacking and he is still at Single A. Kvasnicka has been hitting better over the last month but I think still has some work to do. Rodriguez has been positive of .300 and has some pop so far this year. Romero has good at the dish but needs work in the field. If Plouffe goes down again, I wouldn’t be heartbroken to see him get a shot. I see Bernier get the call in September as a super utility guy off the bench. Ortiz tore up New Britain but has struggled so far in Rochester. Ultimately though, nothing off the Farm really has much of a chance to contribute too much this year. The guys hitting right now are either just too far from being Show ready, need work in the field, or have too many people in front of them right now. That is all including Sano and Buxton who have been nonexistant due to injuries so far.

All Stars will be very scarce after the break because between being small market Minnesota and the stats that the Twins guys are posting, you will be lucky to see 2 guys get to call themselves Allstars this year. Honestly the best chance as of right now is probably Kurt Suzuki. He has been a solid addition behind and at the plate. He has hit above his career levels and done well with the pitching staff. After him you have options in Perkins but his ERA is hurting for a closer, Dozier but 2nd is really crowded with Cano, Pedroia, and even Altuve, oh and he is hitting under .250, and Hughes had a chance but has had a couple of consecutive bad starts that just killed any chances. So ultimately, I don’t see anyone but the required 1 rep from the team getting to officially be a part of the festivities. But we will have 3 players in the Futures game. May, Barrios, and Vargas have all been invited and if I were in charge, I would keep at least May in Minneapolis after the game. Also while I had everyone in town, I am also shopping the hell out of Willingham if anyone is still interested and keeping Vargas in town also.

At 38-47 so far this season, the Twins are 1 game ahead of 2013, 2 ahead of 2012, and even with 2011. That doesn’t bode well for the team. That gives us an outlook of somewhere around 95 losses for the 4th year in a row. At what point does the ownership get tired of bad ball? At what point do the ticket sales decline enough for management to get off of their asses and make some changes? I am not sold on the recent problem solving that Minnesota has employed. For the better years in franchise history the team has developed talent that played solid to great defense, great situation hitting, good averages, and above average pitching. Got free agents in the off season that fit their system and personality while also not being highly sought after. Just cause the Twins have some money now doesn’t mean they should be spending it on retreads from other teams. Reinvest it into our own players that we have developed. Put it into better coaching or scouting cause at least one if not both have been lacking in the last decade. 3-12 record in the last 15 games when every eye in baseball is looking towards your city makes it look almost as bad as a couple years ago when KC hosted All Star week.

Now to try to be a little positive. I am positive that we will see some bright spots through the rest of the year. Santana hopefully continuing his growth. Gibson keeping the good starts number positive compared to the bad ones. Hughes maybe developing into the sole good starting pitching pick up over the last 6 years. Hoping that Buxton gets some time during the September call ups if he is healthy. The MLB debut of Kennys Vargas. Maybe May and Meyer both getting sometime this year. One last thought for tonight though before I go: Baseball is one of the few things that you can be considered one of the best in the biz at a 30% success rate but not as a head coach.

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It’s Been a While

My writing has been stagnant for a while now for many reasons. Haven’t had positive things to write about. Haven’t been in the best frame of mind. Didn’t want to depress the people that do actually read my ramblings on here. But now I am just going to decide to rededicate myself to something that I enjoy doing. Writing what is floating around in my head.

The main idea that has been nagging at my consciousness recently is the oppressive negativity that I have been seeing, reading, hearing, watching, and just been exposed to. Now I am by no means someone that is positive to a fault but at the same time I don’t let others get me down. The only times that I am truly sad or disheartened is my own doing. It is knowing that I didn’t do something that I should of. Now that could me that I was lazy, I procrastinated, or I just might have forgotten, none of which are excuses.

Now what got me to thinking about this tonight was one subject in very different ways. Sports. As anyone that knows me, knows that sports takes up a vast majority of my life. I have played for many years. I worked in sports. I watch sports, I talk sports. Even my favorite video games are sports games. Now today I was watching sports and reading news about it also. I watched part of the Netherlands and Costa Rica World Cup game. I proceeded to then watch the Twins baseball game and then right into watching Bull Durham. The soccer game was fun to watch went to penalty kicks to decide a winner. The Twins game went into extra innings where they won on an error over the Yankees. And then the movie just made me think, which any good movie in my opinion should always do.

Anyone reading this might be thinking by now what does this have to do with negativity. Well the FIFA World Cup has been huge recently with me dedicating many hours of time into watching. There was the emergence of the USA team from the group stage against everyone’s predictions, some great performances by players that were surprises, early exits by teams that were favorites to compete to win. Also there has been huge negativity in the media, mainly from writers that make a living writing opinion pieces for newspapers and websites, about the team, players, coaches, officiating, people in charge of FIFA and many other topics. Some warranted, like the corruption in FIFA, but a lot of it is just to ruffle feathers and convince people to listen to what they have to say. I have read many articles that spin soccer as a non-American sport. My question is who cares? Who is a writer to tell me what I like and don’t like, and why I feel that way. Some of their points about the sport may be true but others are just the way they see it. Their opinions are old hat to anyone that has every tried to defend being a fan of soccer:
– the game is low scoring
– too much flopping
– too little action
– just run around the whole time
– etc.
My response is the same to just about every reason that someone ever gives for not liking a sport, “Its different when you know what is going on.” Now I know that that statement can be taken as being a little elitist but a majority of the time it is true. Plus just think about it for a second, how many things do you like that you don’t know what is going on? Most people, most humans don’t like being confused and if they don’t know a lot about a sport, that is exactly what they are, confused. What I am getting at is that it is easier for a person to say that they hate or dislike a sport than it is to take the time to try to understand what is going on.

Soccer, like so many other sports, isn’t just a bunch of guys on a field, kicking a ball around. But that isn’t the reason for the post today. Why? That is my question. Why does someone feel the need to convince others to hate something? Why does someone that doesn’t like a sport just choose not to watch or converse about the topic. If I don’t like something, I will just distance my self from it. I am not going to go out of my way to try to convince people that do like it to give it up. This view point, if taken and applied more worldly, could have a huge impact. But to take it a step further, my bigger question is why do we, as free thinking and educated people, still let others do our thinking for us?

NOW IM STARTING TO GET AT WHAT MY POINT IS.

Too many people in the world have very narrow views of the world that we live in. There are too many topics that people feel that everyone who doesn’t think the same way that they do, are just evil, sinful, wrong, hateful, etc. There is very little that is truly black or white in this world. (Come a long ways from a post about sports huh? 🙂 ) Why do we let other people tell us how we should think on topics when their reasoning could be faulty or not even their own reasons? Killing someone is wrong correct? Well what about self defense? Some people say that abortion is just as wrong and maybe even worse than murder is because it is an unborn child? Now without getting into my thoughts of it, I pose one question to you? What about a pregnancy due to non consensual sex?

The worst part of this entire post is that me even posting it, could and might ruffle some feathers. My views are entirely my own but my thing is that I never push my beliefs and view points on others. I may express them online so that if anyone wants to read them and have a conversation with me, they can. Why do people feel that it is okay to “persecute” someone due to their views? As someone that worked in and am trying to get back into the business world I am suppose to “act” a certain way and present myself a certain way so as to be more hire able. But most of the time I am just asking why people feel the way they do about topics. Rarely I present a topic and stand so argumentatively on one side or the other about it. I try not to ever post something that I feel would negatively impact my family and friends. Something that I post here should have no baring on my employability. Now I will say there might be sometimes that I will post something that could have been said better or just with better words but ultimately I feel that most of what I post is just to get people to think. I will take this moment to apologize to anyone that I might have offended to way I may have stated something in the past.

I consider my self pretty well educated but even I do make the occasional ignorant comment or make a comment in a disconsiderate way or terminology but I never do mean to disrespect anyone. The way I make comments is sometimes intended to affront people sometimes though. My goal like I have said many times through many different posts about different topics is shake up the WAY people think. And let me clarify again, the way people think, not how they feel on specific subjects.

Just take a second and reread that prior paragraph. Now I want to get in some touchy subjects and I want people to disregard what my stance is on certain topics but focus more on why I think the way that I do. And as a heads up, most of these topics are talked about on political shows and by policy makers daily, to tell us how we should think a certain way.

TOPIC 1: Marijuana Legalization
To answer the basic question, should it be legalized, yes I think it should. Now here is why. Taxes on minor recreational use like in Colorado and Washington would go a long ways to easing financial shortcomings in many different areas in the US. It would ease the burden on our corrections facilities for the real criminals in this world. There are many documented benefits in the medical world for using of weed also. Now do I think that weed is good. No. I think it is slightly better for you than other drugs that we have that are currently legal like nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine to name a few. Oh so I must be a pot head because of the way I think right? Wrong. I am not going to lie, I have tried it a couple of times but it is not for me. Now does that mean that no one should have it. Absolutely not. Just because someone doesn’t like meat, should everyone become vegetarians? Ridiculous right? Just like alcohol though, you shouldn’t be under the influence while driving or working though.

TOPIC 2: Lesbian & Gay Rights
Equal rights across the board. Just like when women and blacks were fighting for equal rights, why are we still denying lesbians and gays? I just don’t get it. Back when it was okay to discriminate against women what was the reason? How about for any blacks? Now lets talk about their rights. Should I not be entitled to the same rights as my neighbor just because of my sexual orientation? How is that any different than my race or sex? I just don’t get what any negative there is to allowing same sex couples to file joint taxes, get married or even civil unions, adopt kids, be covered a spouse’s insurance, or do anything else that heterosexual couples can do legally. How does any of that affect me in my life? And who am I to decide that their preferences in the bedroom make them less of a human being than I am?

TOPIC 3: Abortion
Now this one for me is a little muddled. I don’t agree with abandoning a pregnancy by a couple that is in a relationship. At the same time I don’t agree with telling someone that they have to keep a child that is due to a rape or any unlawful act. I also don’t believe that I am in any position to tell someone else what they should do with their bodies. Now what I do think is that instead of this huge debate on abortion we should focus more on sexual education and awareness with younger people. Don’t teach abstinence, focus on sexual health through safe sex. Teach about contraceptives and educate about consequences. Teach kids about other alternatives to what happens when you don’t use protection. Options of adoption if you carry out the pregnancy, day after medication, and others that I am not even thinking of right now because I haven’t even been educated on many of them.

Now just to go back on each of those, I want everyone to focus on the why’s and not on the actual stance that I have. Basically like I will keep saying again and again, think for your self. Develop your own viewpoints, do your own research and reading, have a thought out reasoning behind why you are for or against things. I don’t mind if you don’t like soccer but help me understand why you don’t like it. Explain to me why you feel that your view is better than the next person’s or mine. I love intelligent conversations about any topics out there.

Now do I think that anything that I have written should affect the way that a potential employer sees me? I hope it does, in a positive way. I hope that I can find a boss or company that likes its employees to be free thinkers but know when and where to express those thoughts. Should we be talking about these topics while on the clock and in away that could show negatively on my company? Absolutely not. Now if I have cordial conversation or post something like this in a forum that has no connection to my job or potential job, should it affect me professionally, I don’t think it should. When did someone’s viewpoints become a companies concern? Now if I post something or say something that is racial, sexually, socially, or any other way insensitive or vulgar I do understand that it could than affect my employment as it should. But stated in a nonoffensive way, my views shouldn’t affect me professionally.

Soap box standing is now over for the evening. Now on to other topics. As always, I open to any conversation on my writing, views, or thinking, just remember, intelligent conversations. Ignorance need not apply.

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2 Week Impressions and the Summer Forecast

This season outlook for the Twins is a little late but I had some personal and professional issues arise, but here it is non the less.

 

New Year and the Same Outlook

The Minnesota Twins made some acquisitions but little has really changed in the organization. Terry Ryan decided to go buy some pitching and bring back some long lost teammates. Since when do we go out and buy pitchers, the thought has always been, we have better stuff in our prospects than we can get on the market. So here we go…

PITCHING:

The starting rotation looks unrecognizable from 2 years ago. Some would think that is a plus, but when you are relying on recovering Tommy John pitchers, and others that are looking to just find a place to play, I’m not very optimistic. Management thought that Correia and Pelfrey did well enough to bring back. They also decided to go get Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, both of whom have struggled recently. And our 5th is the only pitcher that I feel could actually develop, and that is Kyle Gibson, who is home grown but still getting back to 100% after TJ surgery. Diamond was sent to AAA, Deduno is in the bullpen, Alex Meyer is still at least months away, Worley was dealt (let go), May is still waiting in until next year most likely. I bring up pitching because I feel that it is still the Twins biggest weakness. After 2 weeks, the starters are still among the worst in all of MLB and don’t look to be getting any better. 

 

Hitting:

One of everyone’s biggest worries at the end of Spring, is the strongest part of the team so far. Here again is were I say, do not expect the Twins to finish 3rd in the league in scoring, this hitting is not going to continue all season. Hitting comes and goes and that is why I am still more worried about the starting rotation. Here is the Opening Day lineup:
2B Dozier
1B Mauer
LF Willingham
DH Collabello/Kubel
RF Arcia
3B Plouffe
C Suzuki/Pinto
CF Hicks
SS Florimon

Since that day, Willingham is out with a wrist injury, Arcia is out with a wrist injury. Replacing them on the roster was Bartlett and Mastroiani. Since then Bartlett is out with a bruised ankle. So the lineup today as I write this is as follows:

2B Dozier
1B Mauer
3B Plouffe
RF Colabello
LF Kubel
DH Pinto
C Suzuki
CF Hicks
SS Florimon

It is never good to see that much turnover in the roster but they are still getting things done. That is another reason that I am saying to not expect this type of output of almost 6 runs per game to continue. That is why Pitching and Defense wins championships but Hitting puts butts in the seats. The only thing that is scaring me about hitting is strikeouts again. Last year was a record for the Twins and some players are still under the spell. The biggest concern to me is Mauer. Up until last year he was known as a great contact hitter that rarely struck out and last year I saw him being made to look absolutely foolish at bat. His contact seems to be down and just not seeing the ball as well as he used to.

 

Fielding:

This is something that I feel has truly improved. So far the Twins just committed their 3rd error of the season as I write this and it just so happens to be Correia’s 2nd of the season. I feel that the play in the field is where the team has improved the most as long as we do not have to spend extended series with Kubel or Bartlett in the OF. Neither should be playing there. Bartlett has been a middle infielder for his entire pro career and Kubel just has no range. Florimon is getting it done at SS, Dozier is a lot better, Plouffe is starting to look like a true 3B. The biggest hole on defense in the infield is Mauer and that is only because he has around 30 games of experience at the position. Suzuki is awesome behind the plate but he is just playing as a tutor to Pinto until he is ready to be an everyday catcher. Hicks on defense was never an issue in CF, for him he just needs to keep hitting (at present under .200 again). 

 

Seasonal Outlook:

I am going to try to be as real as I can with this so don’t view this as negative or pessimistic. I just don’t see the Twins getting back in the top half of the AL. I see the Twins making small improvements over last season. I see the W-L record right around 90 losses again, maybe a tad better. The hitting is better than last year but I still don’t see enough productive at bats in scoring situations. The defense is improved and you will see it throughout the season but no one will win a Gold Glove because we are Minnesota and only Mauer has the name recognition to get it but not at 1B. Suzuki could at C but I don’t see him getting enough playing time throughout the year because I am hoping that Pinto makes the improvements to steal a bunch of time from Suzuki. Pitching is where the Twins will take it right on the chin again this year. Meyer and May can continue to progress and make some noise this Summer/Fall. The bullpen is always a bright spot until the end of the season when they get over used. The Twins will improve but I still could see them finishing the season back at the bottom of the Central Division because of the improvements that Chicago made. 

Either way the season goes, there is still nothing better than return of baseball after a long Winter, which Im sure was a lot longer for everyone other than me. Well from sunny and almost 90 degree Orlando, best of luck to the Twins and every fan’s fantasy teams this season. 

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Big Trouble in the Big Leagues

Who is Alex Rodriguez? Can anybody tell me who this guy is? I can’t seem to find anyone that tell me what has been happening in his world recently. I might just have to file a missing persons report, maybe the cops can find him?

By following all of the coverage for the last 2 weeks, through all day yesterday, and the MLB games last night, all that I heard anyone talking about was ARod. Not the 12 other players that got suspended for 50 games. Not the couple of other players that get cleared of “wrong doing”. Everyone was talking about a third baseman for the Yankees, who hasn’t played a game yet this season, and who many fans don’t even want on their team anymore. This is part of the problem that is plaguing MLB and its teams. They don’t care about bad press because it is better than no press. 

MLB has seen the popularity in its sport, teams, and players waning recently. The main problem was the last labor stoppage that they had. Baseball anytime that it has received a black eye in public relations has had some type of performance or feel good story, just anything that gets the public to come back to the sport. After the last player strike, that saving grace was Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chasing down Roger Maris’s single season homerun record. That story is turning out to open the public’s eyes to the biggest scandal in the sport’s history, PEDs or Performance Enhancing Drugs.

During the race itself, McGwire was seen with a bottle of supplements that were “legal” at the time called Andro for short. Since ’98 it has been included on the banned stuff and McGwire has been said to have been on other things that gave him an edge. He, like many other players, have stated that nothing in a bottle can help you hit a baseball. Others that have admitted to using PEDs have stated that they did so in response to some type of injury or illness, to help them recover. I don’t care why you took the illegal drugs, IT IS WRONG. There is nothing else to say. Yes some types of steroids are prescribed to help with recovery, but always through your medical doctor (the one doing the procedure or aftercare), and always closely monitered. I am going to take a leap of faith here and guess that if you tell your doctor that they are not allowed in your profession, than that doctor will figure out another method for recovery.

MLB and Bud Selig knew that something was causing these huge home run numbers but didn’t want to “look a gift horse in the mouth”. They saw attendance numbers and tv ratings climbing and thanked their good luck. That has lead the sport to the climax that it reached yesterday. The ending of an investigation that left 14 players suspended (pending their appeals), and everyone talking about the players, not what is fundamentally wrong with the sport or how to fix it. The following is my discussion on how to go about revamping and improving the MLB’s image along with the public’s support of the sport. 

STEP 1: Cooperation
Not 2 people cooperating, but every person that has a stake in the sport. A top down renovation, from the Major Leagues to the Little Leagues. Take a page out of the NFLs playbook on how they are attacking the problem of concussions. The commissioner needs to meet with the lead representative from the team owners and the MLBPA (players’ association/union) just to begin with. They need to decide what they want to do but have the meeting open to public records or even broadcast it. Do they want to clean the sport up or let them play it out. “If” they want to clean it up, then they all need to work together. Stop working at odds and agree that cleaning PEDs out of the sport is in the best interests to everyone involved.

STEP 2: Education
The drugs that do actually help performance. How to better test for those drugs. How the drugs are masked or cleaned from the system. The league, the teams, and the players all need to know these results. Add in a education system for everyone involved to help police the using of those drugs. Make everyone responsible to cleaning up the game. No more excuses like “I didn’t know.”, “I respect peoples’ privacy.”, or “It’s not my job to judge.” 

STEP 3: Punishment
While all of the education is going on, tell them explicitly how the parties involved will be punished. I personally, and have heard a bunch of players agree, think that the punishments need to be increased. Right now, a player can still benefit more from taking PEDs than he will lose by being caught. One positive test, is a 50 game suspension and the forfeiture of their salary during. A 2nd is a 100 game and the 3rd is a lifetime ban. I can understand for there to be a transition period but the 1st step needs to be removed. My idea is 1 season on the first failure, lifetime ban on the 2nd. If baseball wants to stick to 3 strikes, 2nd is 2 seasons, and the 3rd will be lifetime. I don’t see how this is less of an infraction against baseball than the Black Sox “throwing” a World Series or Pete Rose betting on baseball as a coach.

Extend the punishments beyond the players. Make the teams responsible for their players. Make the teams culpable for the cleanliness of their players. First offense for a player is a warning to their team and every other team in the league. The team is not liable for the salary, but on a player’s second offense, the team has to donate the player’s salary to a prevention fund, and have to still count the salary against their team luxury number. I heard that if ARod is suspended, the Yankees actually benefit hugely. They have been above the luxury cap number for a while (no surprise there), but with ARod’s contract gone, their number returns below and their penalty is lessened. That will free up more money for the team to go buy more players with no regards to how the players get their results.

The MLBPA needs to allow the league and teams to void any contracts or at least renegotiate them for any violators of the PED policies. The league should share their evidence with the MLBPA to help avoid the appeals that accompany every suspension. This will help the occurrences of what happened last night, ARod is suspended for the rest of this season and all of next season, but is allowed to make his 2013 debut. How does that show that you are fighting against drugs? Also, no announcements should be made until the entire case is settled including any appeal. 

CONCLUSION: Top Down Change
Have the teams, league, and players all work with colleges, high schools, and childrens’ leagues to promote fair play, policing, and overall education of the drugs and their effects. Teach them young what PEDs can do to negatively impact your body. Work with parents, coaches, and players on what signs to look for in use amongst players. Team up with players that have been caught and players that no longer play, to track down clinics, doctors, and other people that sell and distribute these drugs. Team up with broadcast networks, news outlets, web services, to not promote or talk about guilty players more than just reporting the story once and moving on. 

Baseball is being killed by PEDs. Gone are the strategies for the game. It is won and lost purely by the “long ball”, not teamwork. Baseball is becoming an individual competition masquerading as a team sport. Gone are the teams that play better than the individuals that play. Double switches, hit-and-runs, delayed steals, suicide squeezes, and sacrifice bunts and flies are all disappearing. Strikeouts are rising and walks are diminishing. It is apparent that a free swinger is more sought after than a player that knows the strike zone. 200 strikeouts for a batter is okay as long as he hits 30 HRs and drives in 90 runs. Return the game to the smart players, and take it away from the dumb jocks.

Ultimately Bud Selig and the MLB need to do something. The worst thing in pro sports is apathy from your fans. People care less and less what the sport is doing and that needs to change. And when you promote every at bat of a player that just was announced to be suspended for a year and a half, it is no wonder why that is. Kick out the cheaters, hold those who help the cheaters culpable, and promote those who support clean competition.

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Sports, Racism, and Homophobia

This is going to be a slightly different post from me. The most recent racial issues in the US made me want to comment. There is huge amounts of talk about the Trayvon Martin case and more recently about Riley Cooper and his racially insensitive screaming at a Kenny Chesney concert. I will also talk some about how racial issues are tied to sexual orientation issues. Let me just state that these views and opinions are mine and only mine. I don’t speak on behalf of anyone other than myself.

I am going to start with racism in sports before I disappear into racism in general. I just watched the Riley Cooper video and don’t see the huge story that the news agents are trying to make it into. Does it excuse him for what he says? No. Should he be vilified and condemned for the comment? No. He is a professional football player and has grown up playing next to and with blacks, whites, and if I had to venture a guess, a few other races also. While his comment at the concert did use a racial slur, I want to ask anyone that has known him growing up and longer than the last couple of days, if he has shown any other racial prejudices? Is he racist because he used one word? Or is it how he used it?

In the video that has led the media outcry he states (no Im not going to edit or censor what he says) “I will jump that fence and fight every nigger here.” When looking at the video, he looks to be responding to someone that is off camera and, well to be blunt, not famous. You cannot deduce from the video if he was inebriated, provoked, or if there was more going on here. All that you can tell from the video is that he says that he is willing to fight, and he calls a entire race a term that white people are not allowed to use. Now let me say that again, one race is not allowed to say one certain word to a whole nother race.

I view this incident much in the same light as the story about Paula Dean recently. Both celebrities said “nigger” in description of someone. The only reason that these are stories is due to the status of these people as celebs. Just because someone is famous, they are not allowed to be human. They are supposed to be perfect role models, that never misspeak, misstep, or get emotional. They aren’t allowed to have any privacy, time out of the spot light, or relax in any way. Paula Dean volunteered that she used the term when repeating what someone else had said or in the confines of her home in description of someone that robbed her place of employment and neither time recently. People then immediately said that she was racist because she used one single word, not because of her lifelong actions but because of a one single word.

Lets come at this issue from another direction. If a person goes their entire life in a mixed society, living around and interacting with multiple races everyday, and never verbally or physically attacks a person of another race, never denies goods or services to, or is outright malicious to anyone of a differing race than them, are they considered racist? Most people would respond by saying “Of course not.” Now if that same person is in a situation where they feel that they have been treated wrongly, unfairly, or even attacked, responds in an emotional way under tremendous duress and part of that response happens to be a racial slur that is commonly used by the same race, they are now instantly “racist”? I find that to be really unfair. Now that same person apologizes and continues their life, never showing any signs of prejudice toward another race, will they be exonerated? More than likely not, and especially if they are considered famous and a name that people will recognize. A single word in the heat of a moment undoes an entire life of work.

Is racism a one way street? Any person that says yes is severely mistaken. Racism isn’t just white against black. People often forget that those aren’t the only races in this country, much less planet. They are just the only ones commonly described by colors and be excepted. I pose one question to African Americans, What do you want to be called? You have had many names through the years and never seem happy with any of them. What about white people? Did anyone ask if that was okay by them? Blacks can be decedents from many different places but so can whites. What if I wanted everyone to call me Swedish American or Scandinavian American? Yes I am technically white, but so are Italian Americans, German Americans, Russian Americans, and the list goes on. My problem is with labeling people.

Now  to touch on the mistreatment of Treyvon Martin. I feel that the entire case was mishandled and blown way out of proportion. Murder is wrong. PERIOD. Murder is the killing of someone in a premeditated way, during another another crime, inhumanly or barbarously, or by negligence. People have the right to defend themselves from bodily harm. Now I wasn’t there, at the scene that night, and haven’t spent days upon days reviewing the evidence in the case, but I have read many reports, both on the news, online, and law enforcement reports posted. But it doesn’t matter if I think Martin was an innocent boy walking back through a neighborhood and Zimmerman was looking for trouble or if Zimmerman was defending himself when attacked by Martin. What does matter is that the entire case was in the news before anyone knew what happened. Before the evidence was collected and the statements recorded. It was an immediate transformation into a racial issue before one person’s race was even clarified. Zimmerman is not what most people would describe as white, and his family doesn’t even describe as white. I saw an interview with his brother and he said they are of Latin heritage. So tell me how this is a white on black crime?

My biggest issue with this whole case is a larger issue entirely. I hate labels. Labels are used to quickly categorize and describe someone. Think about it like this, does how you were born define who you are? Every label comes with prejudices. Race, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, hair color, place of birth, even if you served in the military, they all come with ideas and perceptions. Why are we, as humans, worried about everyone else? Prejudices are taught or learned. Just because I was born “white, male, single, straight, blonde, in Fargo, ND, and didn’t serve” doesn’t mean a damn thing. I was raised in a Christian and more specifically a Lutheran family, by parents that if I had to describe might have been Democratic but so what? Do any of those things describe the way that I think or the views that I have, NO. What about marital status? Single or Married doesn’t even describe half of the nation anymore. Think about your “relationship” that you are in right now and isn’t single or married? Unless you have a document from the US saying you are married, you are single. You have been living together for 10 years, might have a kid or 2 but don’t have that license? You are single. How about in conversations with friends and you just started to “talk” to someone, or are “seeing” someone, “dating”, “exclusive”, “open relationship”? Those are all labels to describe 2 other peoples’ relationship, what does it matter to you? Are you trying to have sex with one of them? If so, the only question that matters at the end of the night is how they define their own relationship with their person.

I feel that the worst label and prejudices that are happening right now pertain to sexual orientation. Who the hell am I to ask about what you do behind closed doors, in your own privacy? I do care if you are straight, gay, lesbian, transgendered, or bisexual. Does it define you or is it just one aspect of you. If we ask that question, than we should also have to ask about what they like in bed. Where do we draw the line? Do we ask what fetishes people like? What type of porn they prefer? People say homophobic slurs more often than racial slurs in my experience and are just as hurtful with them. So say that sexual orientation is by birth, others by choice, but I don’t care. It has no baring on me or the way that I will live my life.

Labels should be demolished. They are the lazy way for people in positions of power to categorize and judge people without knowing them. No job application, college app, scholarship app, no opportunity should ever be allowed to be decided by anything other than you, your knowledge, and your experience. College scholarships should be generic. If a personal scholarship fund wants to provide scholarships to specific people and disqualify people on their race, sex, sexual orientation, heritage, social and economical situation, handicap, or even if a person is right or left handed, than that is their right as a private scholarship. Jobs that are able to list being an EEOC employer should not be allowed to list any of these questions on a job application. The government or any other governing association shouldn’t force any person to employ certain percentage race or sex because that could exclude someone that has genuinely earned the opportunity. If a college is required to have a specific percentage of races enrolled or sexes enrolled, they are then discriminating against the other applicants.

If society wants to do away with prejudices (and that is a huge IF), then they need to stop perpetuating those same prejudices. Do away with the categorizing questions on applications. Stop promoting the news that might cause racial tensions and report everything evenly. Report the white on black murders on an even base as the black on white, hispanic on black, asian on white, or any other combination, and don’t allow speculation on motives. Government needs to allow true equal rights to all citizens of the country, regardless orientation, sex, race, economic standing, education, etc. Who is any one person allowed to pass judgement on any one other person without knowledge of said person. If I ever am in the standing to employ, give an opportunity to, or otherwise alter a person’s standing in this society, I will do everything that I can to judge that person on their experiences, pertinent knowledge, references, and an interview with that person.

To people that feel they are being unfairly judged, do your best to rise above the prejudices. And when you get the chance, change the system. Educate those around you and encourage change. As a very famous saying goes “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Meaning you can’t be pissed about being unfairly judged when you do nothing to change the perception.

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