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Soon

Posted: January 23, 2013 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Sports
Tags: , , ,

The Derrick Rose recovery saga is becoming a daily drama, which is both tantalizing and agonizing.

On the one hand the increase in updates means that a return is soon, on the other it means that we’ll be watching for the white smoke every day for a few weeks now.

I’m excited about Derrick Rose making a return, not only for the entertainment value, but also because Rose feels like one of us.

He seems like a Chicagoan.

There’s one player about which I cannot be objective about, and that’s Poohdini.

Soon my friends.

Soon.

RIP Stan

Posted: January 20, 2013 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Sports
Tags: , , ,

Bless old baseball players.

Steve 1.0

Posted: January 16, 2013 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Boxing, Sports
Tags: , ,

I’ve known Steve for a long time now. We haven’t always spoken and there have been some rough periods, but I think all of that is a misunderstanding more than anything. I was wrong about Steve a lot because I didn’t really understand who he was as a person. When we were in grade school together I thought Steve was just an arrogant prick hell-bent on showing off. That’s not the case. Steve is a confident guy that is hell-bent on being the best. Steve has his layers, and it’s been great finding those layers and understanding who Steve is better.

This is Steve.

We love transformations as a culture. Our most recent obsession with weight loss and transforming ourselves underlies what I think is a universal insecurity about what we’ve become and how we can become better people.

Steve has shown me a mirror that is being held up across the nation.

Steven Villarreal is a Chicago based boxer that is trying to make it in multiple worlds. He had a job he wasn’t happy with so he got another one. He had a life he wasn’t happy with so he’s trying to change it. He’s got a dream that he wants to chase down so he’s going to chase it.

He wants to be a Golden Gloves champ. Steve is chasing Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

He’s willing to go through a lot to get there too.

Boxing isn’t a sport you play. Boxing is a sport you dedicate your life and body to. Boxing is about personal sacrifice and the determination to break through your own personal barriers to chase a dream.

That’s what Steve is doing, he’s becoming a boxer.

I remember what it looked like when Steve started, and he looks like a completely different person now. He was slower before, he had more bad bulk on him. Now he looks like a lean athlete, his training has intensified to a level that I couldn’t imagine before. He’s willingly getting his ass kicked to better himself.

And really, that’s what it’s all about.

Steve recently had a surgical procedure to help someone out that needed it. He doesn’t want to talk too much about it, but it’s delayed his clock by a year.

I know Steve now. This won’t keep him from it.

Steve’s going to compete, and he’s got me believing that he’ll win.

Posted: January 14, 2013 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Sports

Been waiting for this. Big time for you fantasy peeps. (optional)

The Dynasty Guru

Today is Day One. Over the next 31 days, this site will be dedicated almost solely to the task at hand – the 2013 Dynasty League Rankings. If you’re looking for background on both the content you should expect and the dates you should expect them, check out this post from December. And we’re going to kick off the month-long project with the list that I’ve gotten the most questions about since the off-season started. The only difference between the original schedule and what you’ll see this week is that I’ve broken the Top 150 out into five parts, not three. Each day of the week, you’ll get thirty more guys until we culminate Friday with #1.

First, I have a couple of disclaimers specific to the prospect list before we jump in. These rankings are for fantasy purposes only, and do not directly take into account things like an…

View original post 2,578 more words

Steve

Posted: January 11, 2013 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Sports

IMG_6033Quick update on Steve, he had a kidney procedure and he is in recovery. He’s doing well but is in some pain. Story on Monday.

wsox

An animated look at who was left from the 2005 White Sox World Series Roster.
Better version:

wsox14

Here’s a preview of what I’ve been working on for 2 months. The initial finds will be up at WSD.

Wookie Cookies: All The Flaovor, None Of The Hair

Posted: December 11, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Misc

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What it is this cookie?

It’s a “Wookie Cookie.”

It looks like a regular chocolate chip cookie.

Oh no, there’s more to this cookie than meets the eye! There’s a subtle flavor to it that clearly draws it’s inspiration from Kashyyyk culture. I mean look at it, it’s clearly reference 1st era Woo-

Stop bullshitting

Fair enough.

Background

I got my friend a Star Wars cookbook from the Air and Space museum in Washington DC a month ago. This was purely a gag gift. It was clearly intended for little kids as an arts and crafts project they can work on while some poor parent desperately looked to tire their progeny out.

I never thought she would actually make something from the cookbook.

Alas, a gag gift turns itself into real cookies which in turn becomes a fake scouting report on said cookie and the inside joke advances itself to a fairly ridiculous level. At some point this joke will go to far and all parties involved will deeply regret the day I passed up other gag gifts and said, “Hey, you know what would be REALLY funny?”

Anyway. All this will be on the 20-80 scale.

Criteria

For me there are a few key factors that make a successful cookie.

  • Contents
  • Texture/Chew Factor
  • Concept
  • Presentation

Contents:

This is essentially a chocolate chip cookie. This is already coming out ahead in my book. I love chocolate chip cookies. It’s perhaps the most basic of cookies, but it’s also the workhorse of the cookie rotation. You can always fall back on the chocolate chip cookie, you can depend on it to eat innings for you, even if it isn’t solid.

This cookie had an interesting approach. My friend used two types of chocolate chips. Sweetened and unsweetened. At first I didn’t like the idea. After thinking about it I started to appreciate the nuance of using two different sweetness levels in one cookie.

Haha just kidding, I still hate the idea.

Grade: 40. Needs milk to play up to average.

Texture/Chew Factor:

I don’t like thin cookies, so this one was already behind the 8 ball. I heard it from a source that the recipe was flawed. The source indicated that the cookies ended up being larger than they looked in the picture and that they thinned out too much even though the proper amount of ingredients was used. I think we can just hang the L on Lucas on this one and move on.

The texture was fine. I was put off at first but it played well. The chew factor was present, surprisingly. The center retained moisture and had a decent feel to it.

Grade: 55. Can play up to a 60/65.

Concept:

Dude, it’s a fucking Wookie Cookie. I’m only slightly disappointed there wasn’t more gimmick.

Grade: 70

Presentation:

It came in a plastic container topped with aluminium foil.

Grade: 30/80 This has elite potential though. If you got really creative with it you can theoretically have an elite tool here.

Overall:

60 grade cookie, first division starter, teases with elite potential. Needs to refine the approach to become elite, but the potential is there.

Also, it’s pretty fucking amazing that someone made me any cookies, so that certainly adds a lot to the final grade.

Failure

Posted: December 9, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Sports

I think Bobby Hill was the first prospect that broke my heart.

I became vaguely aware of who Hill was in the 2001 season. I think Chip Caray mentioned him in a mini minor league report during some game that is forgotten to me. Obviously, I can be wrong about that.

That was the first time I looked up minor league statistics. I was enrolled in an all boys school at the time and I was using my computer time to scan for this Bobby Hill guy. The internet statistical age was still in its infancy at the time.

I’m pretty sure I typed “Bobby Hill” into Lycos or Ask Jeeves and hoped for the best.

Eventually I found him on some archaic Java site that tracked Cubs minor league players. That’s when I discovered that he stole 81 bases in A ball.

That’s when I fell in love.

I was 15 going on 16 at the time. I didn’t have a solid grasp of player progression at the time. In my mind, if a player was solid at the minor league level it had to mean he would be able to replicate the success at the Major League level. I had big hopes for Hill because of this mindset.

Bobby Hill was really good at baseball, relative to his age group, at one time. Hill was good enough to be drafted in the 2nd round of the amateur draft in 2000. Bobby Hill was one of the best amateur baseball players in the country. Bobby Hill at one point in his life, was better than 99.9% of the population at his craft. Hill was so good at baseball that three different teams drafted him in three different years. The then California Angels drafted him in ’96. He didn’t sign and went to Miami. The White Sox drafted him in ’99. Hill once again declined and decided to play Independent Ball. The Cubs drafted him the next year and Hill finally signed and started his professional career with a Major League Baseball Organization.

I was never in the top .1% of anything.

But I was a photographer with a lot of potential and pedigree. My uncle is an AP photojournalist. I desperately wanted to follow in those footsteps. I picked up the camera and after 6 years I finally started making good images. I worked a lot then. I forced my way onto the Student newspaper, showed up one day and didn’t leave until they paid me. I had the right connections so I did three outstanding internships in three years.

My visual literacy was high then.

I was improving in my craft every year, and I could feel it. It’s hard to explain that feeling, especially in the photojournalism world. At some point during that development I felt, connected. I felt connected to a community of visual communicators whose purpose in life is to record the history of our shared existence. By that extension I felt connected to all of us. There were times when I was sitting at my computer, looking at World Press Photo, and I felt a greater sense of purpose. I felt like I belonged, and that I was going to continually improve until I stood out.

At a certain point Bobby Hill stopped hitting.

He was long forgotten in my mind by that point. Hill had potential, and he was expected to be a piece of a very important Chicago Cubs team. Hill came up in 2002 and didn’t hit enough. The skills that were so evident in minor league ball were not translating to the big league level. Bobby Hill eventually was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a package that sent Aramis Ramirez to the Cubs. Apparently the Pirates liked Bobby Hill too.

Hill played 165 Major League Baseball games for the Pirates.

Bobby Hill’s last at bat as a major leaguer came on July 20, 2005. It’s not noted by anyone, it’s not special for any reason. It was an event, a game in the middle of a long season for a lost franchise. Bobby Hill hit a deep fly ball off Chad Harville that was caught by Eric Bruntlett out in center field.

And then his dream ended.

At a certain point my career crashed.

I’ve had good jobs. I still freelance for a few publications, but the big names don’t call anymore. Not consistently. Not like they used to. The never-ending line of progression that I envisioned for myself did not happen. At a certain point, I plateaued and now the improvements don’t come in big chunks. They are small gains.

That’s on me. I failed because I was afraid to fail. I never challenged myself the way I should have and I’m paying the price now. It’s not all over, but it’s pretty close.

It wasn’t sudden. It didn’t come loudly, it didn’t announce itself with fanfare. I didn’t get a farewell tour (I didn’t earn one).

One night I woke up at 2 am and realized I didn’t get to where I wanted to be.

It was a quiet thing.

I think there is a real disconnect between what we expect and what the reality is.

I was mad at Bobby Hill.

I didn’t know it, because I stopped caring about him, but I was pissed. I had expectations for Bobby Hill. He was supposed to be an All Star second baseman. He was supposed to steal 40 bases in the show. He was supposed to hit .280 with decent on base skills and ok gap power. He was supposed to be good.

Bobby Hill didn’t do any of those things. He failed at the MLB level. Bobby Hill didn’t become what I expected him to become.

Instead Bobby Hill became who he was, and I was mad at him for it.

Well, I was mad at me.

I don’t sleep a lot.

There’s a running joke with my friends that I’m always awake. It’s true. Chances are really good that I’m going to up at night and I will respond to a 2 AM text. I have a lot of excuses for this. I say I’m reading, scouting, listening to music, I’m doing something.

Sometimes it is those things.

Mostly, these days…

I can still hear it. My face is itching, a test my mind runs to make sure I’m on my way to some sort of sleep cycle. I get close most times, but I can still hear that voice in my head. It’s the one that keeps asking “What’s next? What happened to you, and your dreams? Why aren’t you pursuing what you want?” I don’t have a good answer for this voice. Instead of listening to that I try to concentrate on the whirl of my ceiling fan, and in vain I count the RPM’s until I can trick myself into going to sleep.

…it’s that

I can see it in Brett Jackson

There’s a look that I used to associate with being a pouty bitch. We’ve all seen it on a failing athlete at one point. It’s a look that screams “WHY ISN’T THIS EASIER?” Sometimes we interpret this as a spoiled athlete who is crying that it isn’t going their way.

I see it differently now, depending on the situation. Reading body language is awful in almost all cases. I’m not reading it as a future predictor of outcomes for that reason. When I read it it’s as a reaction to what has just occurred.

I’m willing to guess you’ve gotten pretty good at tying your shoes over the course of time. You might even be an elite shoe tier. It would be pretty damn frustrating if all of a sudden one day you weren’t that good at tying your shoes anymore. And people were booing you for being bad.

You see, every player that is in a Major League organization was the absolute best when they were growing up. Baseball was easy for them. Then they hit rookie ball, and it all goes to shit. They aren’t the best anymore. Now there’s a whole league full of guys that are as good as they are, and they have to fight through it to advance. It gets harder as they get older. Somewhere along the way a light clicks on for them and they survive the war of attrition and make it to the show, where they usually get kicked square in the balls for at least a year and a half.

Sometimes it lasts a career.

I was in between Whiskey Sours when I admitted that I didn’t hit my intellectual ceiling.

Poor girl.

It was Halloween on the north side of Chicago, the women were scantily clad and willing to indulge your sloppy advances if you brought them a drink from an overcrowded bar. The lights were dim, the distractions were plenty. The last thing that should have been on my mind came to the forefront eventually. I’m pretty sure I steered it that way. Usually when something is on your mind you steer conversations to either avoid it completely or you end up running right into it.

Sometimes it’s both.

She was leaning in close when she started talking about her schooling.

And that’s when it hit me. And that’s when I finally said it out loud. To her. On Halloween. At a club.

The response was nice enough, but that was pretty much it for me that night. It festers now, inside my brain during any down time. It nags at me and never really lets itself go.

I’m in transition now.

I’ve spent a lot of time laboring over what I didn’t become.

I’m trying to devote time into becoming who I am.

[youtube http://youtu.be/L5KG9h8S13Y]

Cubs sign Nate Schierholtz to a one year deal – He’s guaranteed 2.25mm with 500k in performance bonuses. Last year Schierholtz posted a .728 OPS with a triple slash line of .257/.321/.407. He lacks plate discipline and he has minimal pop, but the main reason the Cubs went after him was his defense. The Cubs have average pitching right now, one way to cover up average pitching is to surround it with above average defense. The Cubs won’t miss many bats, but if they combine their defensive shifting philosophy with good defenders the Cubs can pump some decent value out of so-so starters. In the end that’s what really matters, getting a good return via the trade.

Schierholtz is a league average player, and he’s likely to either be dealt at the deadline or gone after this year. Don’t look for him to provide pop or be a great offensive player. He’s here to help the pitching staff.

Center Field Options – David DeJesus is likely to be pushed to center as a result of this move which sets up an interesting possible rotation in the OF. The Cubs have said that Brett Jackson will start the year at AAA, which is the right move. There are rumors swirling that Jackson has changed his swing which he hopes will cut into his K rate. If the Cubs are unable to move Soriano prior to Opening Day it is possible that both Dave Sappelt and Tony Campana see burn at CF with Soriano, DeJesus, and Schierholtz all rotating off days and positions. Soriano is a player that will need rest as he transitions into the final stages of his career.

Needless to say, this is the best opportunity Brett Jackson is going to have at becoming a Major League regular.