MLB Power Rankings: A Belated Opening Day Preview

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Rejoice, baseball fans: Opening Day has arrived.

Below I’ve compiled some 2016 Preseason Power Rankings, based on a fine-tuned amalgamation of gumption, ESP, and side-eyed glances at PECOTA and Fangraphs. Why is it being rolled out days after Opening Day? Who cares!

As an eternal reminder, yes of course I’m biased against your team. Your team sucks. And I hate it. And that’s why it’s ranked so low. Get over it.

(Special thanks to Geoff Young for his help.)

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Failsafe 2016 MLB Predictions

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You heard it here first, folks.

AL East
1. Red Sox
2. Blue Jays
3. Rays
4. Yankees
5. Orioles

AL Central
1. Tigers
2. Twins
3. Royals
4. Indians
5. White Sox

AL West
1. Rangers
2. Astros
3. Mariners
4. A’s
5. Angels

NL East
1. Mets
2. Nats
3. Marlins
4. Braves
5. Phillies

NL Central
1. Cubs
2. Pirates
3. Cardinals
4. Brewers
5. Reds

NL West
1. Giants
2. Dodgers
3. Padres
4. Diamondbacks
5. Rockies

Wild card: Twins, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Nats

DS: Giants over Mets, Cubs over Nats, Rangers over Red Sox, Twins over Tigers

CS: Giants over Cubs, Rangers over Twins

WS: Giants over Rangers

MVPs – Buster Posey and Mookie Betts
Cy Young – Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber
Rookies of the Year – Corey Seager and Jose Berrios

Here’s All the Stuff I Read in 2015

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Goodreads is a flawed website and I don’t entirely trust it not to sell my deepest, darkest literary secrets to the Russian mob, or whomever, but it’s still pretty useful in arranging and encouraging my reading habits.

According to my Goodreads stockpile, I’ve read an average of 45 books per year over the past five, with a busy 2014 being a down year (19) and an incomprehensible 2011 setting the curve (66). Thus 2015, with its 45 completed books, was, in a way, decidedly average.

To summarize my decidedly average year of reading, here’s a list of all the titles I consumed, plus blurbage. I’ve ranked them in order of enjoyability for your consuming pleasure. Early warning: There’s a lot of Game of Thrones and Freakonomics ahead. Strange bedfellows and all. This was also the first year in which most of what I read was non-fiction, which is what the kids call “adulting” these days. Continue reading

Taking a Swing at Sports

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Obi-Wan’s reaction to being told Grantland was no more.

Let’s go over all the things since last I wrote.

-At the beginning of the month I joined up with the folks at Crooked Scoreboard, a kooky sports-humor site. I’m mostly doing part-time social media manager stuff, though I’ve also authored a couple pieces:

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DeMarcus Cousins Dreams of Playing in the NBA: This is an Onion-esque troll job in which I imply the Sacramento Kings are not a real NBA team.

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Four Rookies of the Year Who Ended Up Being Really Lousy: In which I show off my embarrassing wealth of useless baseball trivia.

My photoshop skillz are all over the Legends image too.

Also, this piece isn’t mine but I wish it was: What Disney Princesses Would Look Like If They Were Black, And Members Of The 1984-85 76ers. That’s the platonic ideal right there.

Please go and check out the site. It’s still in its infancy but it’s got legs. Follow on Twitter and Facebook so you can boost my traffic so I don’t get fired.

-At the same time I’ve moved more into an editorial role at Big Think. I wrote one piece this week (not worth linking) but I’m mostly focusing on packaging for Facebook and Twitter.

-We’ve just wrapped preview week at STC for Kiss Me, Kate. If you like big ol’ Broadway musical type of shows and happen to reside in the Washington DC area, consider coming to see it.

-I reached my Goodreads reading goal for the first time in three years. Selling my car was the best thing that ever happened to my reading habits. Between bound books, e-books, and audiobooks I’ve gone through 41 titles so far in 2015. I’ll post more about that soon, as I like to rank everything I’ve read in one post.

-Sorry for this boring update. If I had any jokes left in me I promise they’d be here.

Recent Writings: Millennials So Millennial That Millennials Start to Hate Millennials

AirSmug city.

Quick link over to Big Think where my latest piece analyzes Airbnb’s disastrously tone-deaf San Francisco ad campaign. Put simply: the residents of SF are about to vote on whether or not to restrict the short-term rental market, which is Airbnb’s bread and butter. The ad campaign’s ostensible purpose was to persuade folks to vote against the measure by detailing all the good things SF does (or can do) with Airbnb’s generated tax revenue. Unfortunately, as you can see from the image above, the tone they opted for was “simpering, smug-ass douchebag.”

The rest of the piece delves into some other recent Silicon Valley PR snafus and basically says this:

The Ubers and Airbnbs of the world are a source of great pride for many millennials because they (we?) see themselves and their own values embodied in them. The recent Silicon Valley boom does feel like a new world order; young ideas are taking hold and (some) young people are thriving because of it.

The problem: These companies too often operate with a snotty sense of entitlement that leads to the belief that they’re above rules and decency. Remember when Uber execs were threatening journalists who dared to investigate the company? Stuff like that isn’t just because Uber’s CEO is a douche. Entitlement and swagger are important pieces of these companies’ cultures — for better and for worse.

The crux of these pieces is this: Sooner or later, the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world are due for a reality check.

Off-topic update — Since I went a few months without posting here I’ll note a few life changes:

-Recently switched jobs from Studio Theatre to the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Still living in DC. Still a House Manager. Still writing for Big Think, obviously.

-Have put myself on hiatus w/r/t playwriting as I focus on knocking down my student loans from undergrad. Tough to work 2 jobs and still put your all into writing when you’ve got other important commitments as well. I’m hoping to maybe re-emerge for Fringe 2016.

-I’m going to miss Donnie Baseball but managers are hired to be fired and life goes on.

Carry on.

Recent Writings: Back to the Future Day

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Zemeckis, you lying bastard.

Brief update: My latest at Big Think is relevant to today, 21 October 2015, because it’s the day Marty McFly traveled to the future and forever cursed a generation with unfairly high expectations of the future.

Not only do we not have hoverboards, a bunch of Nike executives apparently LIED like a bunch of BIG FAT LIARS about self-lacing shoes. Also the Cubs are on the brink of elimination and they’re facing an almost-certainly insurmountable 3-0 deficit to the Mets. Daniel Murphy is definitely Griff/Biff in this awful alternative timeline.

Maybe the biggest bummer? Where are the retro 80’s diners? The 80’s are to us what the 50’s were to the 80’s yet cultural nostalgia for Elvis and milkshakes trumps nostalgia for Depeche Mode and Donkey Kong. It’s not right, I tell ya.

There’s probably a deeper post somewhere in that thought germ but it’s not happening tonight.

Adiós, Tita Ali

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Noticias tristes: Mi tía Alicia murió anoche. Ella era una mujer cubana con mucho pasión. La vamos a extrañar mucho.

As most of you know, I’m a first-generation Cuban-American on my dad’s side, yet for myriad reasons my parents didn’t raise me bilingual. It’s the biggest regret of my life; mi Español es mierda.

But when I was around Tita Ali, just as when I’m around my grandparents, it’s straight up Flowers for Algernon with me and my Spanish. She instilled confidence in me, a confidence that I don’t always feel around other people. Outside of the elders in my family, I don’t really have much cultural connection to my heritage. I’m afraid of what it’ll mean when they’re all gone. Part of being a model minority is assimilation, but I can’t help but feel something vibrant is slowly being extinguished each and every day I move further from where I came from.

Tita Ali died in her sleep last night. She was a fiery, powerful woman who didn’t take no shit from no one. She was the family wit, armed to the teeth with a quick and biting sense of humor. She loved Coca-Cola and Cuban coffee. She was the pickiest eater you’d ever meet. Meghan, my dad, and I got to go on vacation with her earlier this year and she was always so full of life. It’s shocking to think that she’s just… gone.

Since she had no inhibitions about cracking jokes, I feel comfortable making mention that it’s a funny coincidence the U.S. and Cuba re-opened full diplomatic relations in the hours prior to her passing. I suppose if you told her that we were going to bury the hatchet with Fidel, she would have said something like, “¡Coño! Over my dead body.”

We’re gonna miss you, Tita Ali. Thanks for everything.

Aunt Alice and Meg

Returned 04 July 2015

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Anna and I returned a couple days ago from our European vacation.

Reykjavik, Munich, Salzburg, Cochem, Bonn.

Photos are on my Facebook and Instagram, the latter linked below.

It was extraordinary.

-R

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Recent Writings 6/3/15

Beauty (R) and the Beast (L)

Beauty (R) and the Beast (L)

My last post in this space ended with “I hope to begin posting with more frequency in the coming days.” That was 71 days ago. Straight up presumptuous Robert setting himself up for the big time no-go right there.

Within this span I’ve flown on three planes, rode on one really big boat, left the country, returned, went to Miami (which is like another country), and returned. I also embarrassed myself by bungling a commission, trudged through 2.5 George R.R. Martin books, learned about Jesus and the Tsars, peeled a sunburn from my back, and quit my job…. somewhat in that order.

Time for the brief aggregation.

The below is a brief aggregation of recent blogging work authored by yours truly, craftily curated for your perusal, scrutiny, and/or the fulfillment of duties pertaining to loyal readership:  

Big Think

Meet the Tweeting Pothole That Annoys the Local Government – This was, as far as I can tell, the only thing I’ve ever written which was subsequently retweeted by a pothole.

What to Take Away From Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht’s Life Sentence – In which I talk about a guy who probably isn’t as scuzzy as he seems, except he might actually be scuzzier.

When Good Laws Go Bad: How One Professor is Experiencing McCarthyism in the 21st Century – In which I offer my take on the ongoing Laura Kipnis saga. It’s basically The Crucible meets Catch-22, set at Northwestern University.

Internet Trolls Have an Unlikely Ally: The Supreme Court – In which I unfortunately do not detail Samuel Alito’s proclivity for pwning n00bs in Halo, but rather present information relevant to the intriguing case Elonis v. United States.

Here’s What We’ve Learned After Obama’s First Week on Twitter – In which I make fun of the poor president for striving so unavailingly to be America’s cool dad.

Cinco de Mayo is an American Holiday –  In which I accurately explain that Cinco de Mayo as we know it is far more American than anything else, particularly because of how the mid-century Chicano movement appropriated it to emphasize and celebrate Mexican-Americanism.

Tesla’s Worst-Kept Secret Has Become Power Companies’ Worst Nightmare – In which I bring in ten times the pageviews versus everything else I write. Decent research as well.


I promise I’ll update more in the near future.

So see you in a few months.

Recent Writings 03/24/15

jacket

The below is a brief aggregation of recent blogging work authored by yours truly, craftily curated for your perusal, scrutiny, and/or the fulfillment of duties pertaining to loyal readership:

Big Think

The World Should Not Tolerate Modern-Day Slavery in Qatar – In which I call FIFA chief Sepp Blatter many mean names and lament the sad state of affairs surrounding the already-tarnished 2022 World Cup. We’re seven years out from this confounded tournament and the whole thing’s already a grade-A categorical cock-up. Beyond the pig-faced corruption and portended poor playing conditions, we’re somehow sitting here in the year 2015 and Qatar is harnessing straight up slavery to build infrastructure for a major international event. If our leaders are really as dedicated to eradicating modern-day slavery as they like to think they are, the 2022 World Cup needs to become a more major battlefield in that effort.

In The Tinder Age, Even Bad Dates Can Be Useful – In brief, technology allows for people who go on dates to increase the scale of their dating to the point where a reasonable sample size of events can be collected and analyzed in a relatively short amount of time. This means even the worst dates can still be treated as building blocks for introspection and analysis. I should note someone on Facebook said there was a How I Met Your Mother episode about this but I wouldn’t know anything about that. Nor do I know all that much about Tinder dating outside of the enjoyment derived from treating it as a leisurely spectator sport. The late Greg Giraldo had a great routine about online dating that applies well to Tinder, though not vis-a-vis yours truly as I’m rather pleased with my current relationship status. I imagine the routine rings true though to many who got hitched pre-Tinder:

Tinder and modern online dating are pieces of a greater trend in which, as mentioned, broader swaths of data allow for keen and precise analysis. Ever since I got into baseball sabermetrics, the idea that seemingly unquantifiable elements could be condensed to a string of integers has astounded me. High school mathematics would have been so much more fascinating if we had presciently conjured up analytics rather than drill binomials. I think in the shower a lot about how my math teachers could easily have hooked me if they had just thought to explain the why.

How People Analytics Can Kill Pointless Meetings – Staying for now within the subject of analytics, a piece focusing on a brand of analysis that seeks to optimize work methods and company policies. The folks behind VoloMetrix (which sounds like the sort of analytics company a Bond villain would run) glean insight from a data pool consisting of over 1 billion work meetings. That’s an astounding number of meetings. Think of all the bored people. That’s billions of bored people. Billions. Bless their forsaken souls.


Beginning soon I’ll start posting more regularly. This will include some book reviews and other basic updates that I hope you find, at minimum, readable. I begin work on a first draft for a new musical parody (check the Now Playing page for more info) and I think it’d be fun to keep readers informed of how that process goes, so perhaps keep an eye out for that too. RM