Sports: Pirates, A Brand New Team

Before we get to the new look Pirates, let’s quickly, and I do mean quickly, review the month of July. They were 11 and 14 for the month, with a couple of those wins by the new look Pirates, and it was there second best month of the season. The month was “highlighted” by the Pirates coming back from a 6 run deficit and winning 9 to 7, only to score 6 runs in the first inning the next day, and then lose 7 to 6 to the same New York Mets. The first time in the history of the National League, that a team came back from a 6 run deficit, and then blew a 6 run lead to the same team the next day. Another feather in the Pirates cap. It was amazing, that the Pirates managed to play only 3 games below .500, because statistically the bottom fell out. Even their defensive efficiency rating fell down to 21st in baseball. They hit rock bottom 30th in scoring runs. They are 24th in the league in preventing runs. Pitching ERA+ they are 28th. OPS+, they are the same, 28th, in the league. In the art of getting on base, they are 22nd. This team pretty much stinks. It’s hard to say this, but to be 11 and 14 is nothing short of a miracle. But that team is done for the season, and we practically have a whole new ball team, for the last two months of the season. Of course, they were slaughtered today, but one day does not a month make.

The Pirates have acquired 24 players, or prospects, or what ever you want to call them, since the beginning of the year. Everyone is touting the draft. The Pirate farm system is ranked right around the top 5 by most of the baseball media outlets. There will be more dead wood going out the door at the end of the season, and we pretty much know, who they are going to be. I was not surprised at all, by any of the moves, that the Pirates made this past week, as the trade deadline came and went. The only player the Pirates did not move, who I thought, they could get some value for, was Jacob Stallings. At 31, I don’t think he will be much of a factor, if and when, the Pirates become competitive. In this very weak era of catchers, where J. T. Realmuto is considered the best catcher in the game, I thought there would be more interest in a league average hitting catcher, who is an excellent defender. Apparently, there was not. The trade that amazed me the most was getting two players for Clay Holmes. Getting a pair of shoes for Clay Holmes, would have surprised me, let alone two players. Did the Yankee GM owe Cherrington a huge favor. The same thing could be said for the Red Sox trade, but at least the Pirates only got one player in return for another one of their stiffs. Only time will tell if this boat load of trade returns, and draftees of the last 2 years, are going to make the Pirates competitive in the near future. At least from a fans point of view, these next 2 months should be interesting and entertaining, to see if some of the new players on the team, can be long term contributors, or just are flashes in the pan. My final thought is that I am so glad, that according to the Pirate announcers, Gregory Polanco is seeing the ball better. He still can’t hit, but at least his vision is better. Will revisit the new Pirates on September 1.

Meditation: Ego

Ego is Latin for I. That is it. It takes on a much broader meaning, much like karma did, when it is applied to everyday life. Egotistical is a very negative description of a person’s behavior. It is used to describe a person that is excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself; self-centered. The ego is what makes us try to justify our existence, and explain why we are here. Of course, we are here, just by a quirk of fate, because are parents decided to become intimate, at that exact moment. I have often wondered, why that is so hard to accept. Is it just the thought of our parents making love, that we try not to think about. However, those are the facts Jack. One definition of ego, states, that it is the mental organ of justification. Does this mental organ of justification, take on a whole new life, when there are many egos involved? I think, when there are many egos involved, that the justification syndrome goes out of control. I think we have just defined an organization.

An organization is an organized body of people with a particular purpose, especially a business, society, association, etc.. I will not get into specifics, but an organization is formed because a group, in some cases, can achieve more than an individual. Once the organization is formed, there are leaders, within the organization, that help achieve the goal. The other members of the organization will vote on proposed ways of achieving the goal, and will contribute their time and sometimes money, in achieving the goal. Sometimes the goal is to help members with the organization, or it can be to help the general populous, that are less fortunate or infirmed. Once the goal is achieved, that is where the problem can arise. Some organizations may develop some type of natural evolution and really need to maintain their group. In many cases, once an organization accomplishes its goal, it has to create a new problem, to keep its existence going. In some cases, the heads of these organizations, make a substantial salary. They have a big incentive to keep the organization viable, and to convince the membership that they are needed. There can be many officers in an organization, and when these egos are threatened with a loss of substantial income, they are going to find many ways to justify their existence. I call this, the multiple ego syndrome, trying to survive. This is very true, when the organization has been set up, to help the members of the organization. Once the goals are met, the organization needs to take a lesser role. Instead, the leaders of the organization will create problems, in order to justify their existence. This is when egos go out of control, and the membership of the organization will suffer, rather than getting any benefit.

The single ego is rarely a problem. A person may try to justify their existence, by trying to make themselves seem important, but in the long run, they really do very little damage to the general public. They may be obnoxious, and not very much fun to be around, but they are pretty much harmless. However, when egos unite, and their existence is threaten, public beware. The greater good is not being served, and we need to move far away from such thinking. Once an organization accomplishes its goals, it needs to step back, be happy for the achievement and either go into a lesser maintenance mode, or completely disband, and create a new organization that is really needed, to solve a totally unrelated problem. In order for an organization to continue to do some good, the organization needs to become selfless and suppress the ego urge. I am not too sure that multiple egos are capable of doing that.

Meditation: Karma

We have all heard of karma. The literal definition of karma is action, work, or deed. The world thinks of this word in much broader terms. To look at it from a Western point of view, karma would fall under the sayings of ” you reap, what you sow, or positive thoughts will create positive outcomes. The Eastern world wants to have good karma so they will have a happier rebirth. One has to have a belief in rebirth in order to make that work. Karma is associated more with eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. You rarely hear the word karma by itself. Most of the time people refer to something or someone having good or bad karma. Some people have the idea, that if you do good deeds, then good things will happen to you. They also believe, that the reverse is true. Remember however, that karma is an act, and really does not impact the future. Is the idea of karma just another way of trying to keep individuals in line, much like the idea of heaven and hell in Christianity. Then, there is the belief that karma is tied to causality, not to be confused with casualty. Causality is defined as the relation between a cause and its effect or between regularly correlated events or phenomena. In other words, the type of action you take, will effect the next action that is taken. By the strict definition of karma this really is not true. So does karma exist?

Of course, karma exists by the simple definition of action. We take action everyday, and those actions will have consequences, that will either be good or bad, or possibly neutral, for lack of a better term. It is how we feel about those actions, that may be the true karma. That may be what this is all about. Can we feel good about every action we take, and when we don’t, why is that. Why do we do things that we do not feel good about? I don’t know the answer to that one, just yet. Is that what true enlightenment really means? Always doing things that you feel good about. Karma is in the internal world, and in my view, has nothing to do, about the outside world, or your future actions. Does karma or action stand in the way of true enlightenment. Should we just be about inaction as much as possible, and meditate 8 hours a day. It’s a thought, but I don’t think I will be doing that, in the near future. I find it interesting that such a simple word has such a wide and diverse meaning. The literal meaning, does include, work and deeds. There goes work, getting in the way of things, again. You should feel good about the work you are doing, and the deeds you do, on a daily basis. Karma, I believe is quite simple, and I am not planning on a rebirth any time soon. I think we need to take away the power of karma. No more internal judgements of our daily actions. Isn’t this what it is all about, no judgements. Then we should feel good all day long. I am feeling better already.

Food: Hawaiian Style

I spent July 7th, until July 16th, in Hawaii, and it was quite an experience. We stayed on the island of Oahu, four letters, three syllables. It is the third largest island, behind The Big Island( they were up all night thinking of that name), and Maui. We stayed at the Aulani Hotel, which is a Disney Resort. We had a wonderful time, and there was lots of eating and drinking, especially the drinking. A very popular drink in our group, was the Mango Mojito. The name just rolled off your lips with ease, even when your lips did not exactly work all that well, after the third one. The drink went down just as smoothly. The beer was excellent, with many Hawaiian brews to choose from. My favorites were the Longboard Lager, Bikini Blond Lager, and Pete’s Island Wheat. Needless to say, I did no driving, while on the island. Overall the food ranged from good to excellent. There was one extraordinary dining experience, but will save the best for last. There were some surprises, and disappointments, so lets get them over with. The surprise was, there were not that many seafood choices. I expected this to be a seafood feast, but this was not the case. Beef and pork took center, stage at most restaurants, that we went to. The most disappointing experience was the Lua, we attended, on our first night there. Some of that has to be attributed to Covid. Instead of a buffet, you received two prepared plates. One was a salad plate, with macaroni salad, and some greens, and vegetables . Then the entre plate, had some pulled pork, baked chicken, fried chicken thigh, with some sticky rice, and some broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. They did not have any sauces to go with the food. The only thing they had was tartar sauce. Do they put tartar sauce on chicken and pork in Hawaii? I did not go for that and did not care much for the sticky rice. Stinky rice is what I would call it Although the entertainment was very good, the food experience left a lot to be desired. They did make a great Mai Tai, although not quite as good as those Mango Mojitos. They were potent enough to make it difficult to walk back to the hotel, but we made it. Now, lets get to the good stuff.

Other than the Lua, the food overall was excellent. The food at the resort was very tasty, ranging from an almond croissant to a smoked salmon bagel, for breakfast. The coffee was excellent to start the morning. The favorite eating place at the resort was called Off The Hook. Their wings and chicken fingers were great bar food. One night the feature was barbecued spare ribs with mash potatoes and the ribs were tender fall off the bone delicious. Across from the resort was a restaurant called the Monkey Pod, which, by far had the freshest and the best seafood. Their pork tacos were to die for, with raw jalapenos on top. They also had jalapeno mashed potatoes, which is something I will be making myself. For desert they had these cream pies, strawberry, chocolate, and mango, which were some of the best pies I have ever tasted. The most outstanding dining experience though, came at the restaurant, Senia, in the heart of Chinatown, in downtown Honolulu. I started the meal with a martini know as the Buttoned Up, that was very smooth going down. After drinking it, I was probably incapable of buttoning up. We had a private room for 8 and we all experienced the tasting menu of July 14th. It was a dream come true for my taste buds. There were nine items and each one or two were paired with a particular wine. The whole meal included various vegetables, caviar in a sauce with one raw quail egg, Kanpachi, which is a sushi fish, venison tartare, Scallops and a beef selection. Everything tasted superbly with each dish getting better and better. The wines were perfect for each dish. The desert, looked like various bird eggs, that you just popped in your mouth, and this wonderful sweet creamy nectar, would just explode all over your taste buds. Then the meal was finished off, with various chocolate cordials. Overall, it was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had. The wait staff was so informative, as they explained every dish, and every wine that was served. It was a great vacation for many reasons, but the food and drink made it one of the most festive experiences, that was much needed, after this year and a half of pandemic life. Still, it was good to return home, and get back to a normal routine. The blogs should return at their normal rate and yes, I will still write about the Pirates. Too bad, I don’t have the Mango Mojito any more, to make the job easier.

Sports: Pittsburgh Pirates, Swooning Continues.

The Pirates showed that May was no fluke, as they stumbled and bumbled their way, to a 9 and 17 record in June. The highlight of the month was the 10 game losing streak. Again there were no surprises, unless you call the bad players, going from bad to worse a surprise. The few major league players they do have, played some solid to excellent baseball. If baseball only put 5 players and a pitcher on the field, the Pirates could make a run at the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Pirates, there are 3 other players that have to take the field. They are so bad, that they desecrate the game. They are so far below the performance of a major league player, that they could only be productive, at the AA level of the game. These players should not even be playing for Indianapolis, let alone the Pirates. The list, in no particular order, is Gregory Polanco, Kevin Newman, Phillip Evans, Ka’ai Tom, Erik Gonzalez, Michael Perez, and Ben Gamel. Here is their corresponding OPS+, with the league average being 100: 74,46,73,60,55,62, and 87. None of them have a WAR of over .3 and most are negative war. The Magnificent Seven, they are not. These players who cannot hit, average one walk per 13 plate appearances. The league average is one walk per 11 plate appearances. The 5 major leaguers, that the Pirates do have on their team, average one walk per 10 plate appearances. Obviously these players do not learn by example. They really do not learn by any method, really. They certainly do not try and improve their game.

Despite having an overall horrible month, the Pirates did improve their Defensive Efficiency to 12th in all of baseball, from 20th. Ke’Bryan Hayes is probably the main reason for this. He has been a defensive star and is still hitting above the league average with an OPS+ of 122. His bat has been slumping a little of late, but every hitter is going to go through this once in awhile. In less than a month of playing is WAR is already, at 1.0. The Pirates are 29th in runs scored, with the New York Mets dead last, but only 5 runs behind. They are fortunate to be 6 games over .500, and the Washington Nationals are feeling the 2019 vibe, all over again. It will be interesting to see, if the Mets can remain in contention, throughout this season, let alone stay in first plate. It shows you what great pitching can do, but can it hold up for another grueling 3 months. Sorry about getting sidetracked about the Mets, but it is really hard writing about the Pirates. Will the Pirates finally go for the full teardown by getting rid of 3 of the 5 major leaguers they have, namely Colin Moran, Adam Frazier and Jacob Stallings. I am only discussing position players, as there are pitchers, both starters and relievers, that could be gone at the trade deadline. Only time will tell, how far the Pirates are going to go, in tearing this thing down. I mean the Pirates are a thing. They are certainly not a baseball team. They are about as bad as I have ever seen, even though they do not have the worse record in baseball, at least for the moment. Remember, I witnessed the mid 60’s Mets, and believe me, they were better overall, than this group. It would be nice to see 7 DFA’s come August 1st, but I doubt that will happen. Hopefully, Hayes bat will get hot again, and the other 4 will perform, as they have been. I guess 5/9ths of a team is better than nothing, or is it? Will look at them again August 1. Maybe they will surprise, that would be nice.

Meditation: Just a Speck

The world population is approaching 8 billion people, and it is predicted that number will be reached in the year 2023. It is estimated that human civilization has been around for about 8 to 10 thousand years. The total surface area of the earth is 197 million square miles. It has been estimated that the earth has been here for about 4.6 billion years. In about 2 years if you are still living, you will be one of 8 billion people, in the world. The reality is, we are just a speck in the big picture of population and time. There is no room for debate on this point. This doesn’t even take into consideration, the universe and other worlds. These are the facts, Jack. When someone lives into their nineties, people will say that the person had a good long life. Long in comparison to what. I guess it is, when compared to other people, but certainly, to nothing else that has existed on earth. Even though people do not want to think about this, but it is hard to totally ignore it. It certainly can make someone feel insignificant. What are some of the consequences of these cold hard facts?

Does such a reality cause people to do things, to try and create a more “significant” life? Sometimes, this can lead to doing something for the good of the people. It can also lead to behavior that creates attention to someone, with not any good coming from it. It can lead to trying to get as much power and money as possible, at any cost to yourself and other people. It goes back to another topic of fame and fortune. This feeling of emptiness can lead to pursuing illegal or violent endeavors. The bottom line is this, no matter what happens in your life, we are all eventually going to end up in the same place, the end of life. This is really what people have a hard time facing. One way of trying to deal with this extreme vastness in time, space and population, is to create two perspectives. It is simply looking at the big world, and then the small world. The big world is what we have just been discussing. The small world is your world. The world of your friends, family, and loved ones. How should we handle the big world? If can be ignored. There is not a lot of support for this view, but I see nothing wrong with it. If you ignore something, then it really does not have an affect on you. It is fairly easy to do. Don’t watch the news, and don’t think about the problems of the big world, such as climate change, violence, economic issues, war, and all the other issues on the big stage. This doesn’t mean that you would even spend your entire life ignoring the big world, but a 2 to 5 year hiatus, can do wonders for the psyche. Another way to handle the big world is to embrace it, but don’t let big world problems, get you down. Realize that you can not change a lot of what is going on, accept that fact, and move on. Now, lets get to the small world.

This is your world, and you can do anything you want with it. The best thing to do with your world, is to stay involved, and stay in touch. These are the people, and the things that you care about. This is the world that time forgot. This is the world that you can feel, see, and respond to everyday. It is the world where you want to be. It is the place to savor everything that is good. It is the definition of knowing what you want to do each day in your world. Your world allows you to be yourself, and enjoy all the things in life. There can be setbacks in your world, but this is the place where you can get support to deal with these setbacks. Not everybody can change the big world. Can one man really make a difference in the big world? Many people think so, but I would argue the point. You have to be an exceptional person, and there will be many sacrifices made, especially in your world. Is it all really worth it? I am not too sure. What I am sure of, is that I can make changes in my world, that have and will make my world a better place. For me, that is enough and is definitely is worth it.

Golf: U. S. Open Impressions

Yesterday, Jon Rahm won the U. S. Open in grand style, by birdieing the last two holes. He played a great round of golf, and was a very deserving winner. I watch some of every round in this U. S. Open, and the entire final round. This was one of the best Opens in a long time. The venue was set up perfectly and the weather co-operated by not having a lot of high winds. The leader board was crowded with some of the top players in the game, and some regular tour players, trying to make the big splash. In the middle of the final round, there were about 10 players within two shots of the lead. Everybody seemed to be going along just fine, when all hell broke loose on the back nine, and just about everybody fell apart, except Rahm and Lois Oosthuizen. It wasn’t until Oosthuizen took a very aggressive line on 17, and knocked his drive in the hazard, and barely missed a par saving putt, that you felt that Jon Rahm had the victory. I have to give Oosthuizen some credit, for taking the aggressive route, and really trying to make birdie on that hole, but unfortunately it did not work out. During the final round, there were many players, who had a chance to win, but none more so than Bryson DeChambeau. When he almost made the hole in one on No. 8 to take the outright lead, I thought we were going to have a repeat champion. Then after making a par on the par 4 10th hole, he decided to take 40 blows on the last 8 holes to fall all the way to 26th place. Bryson characterized his back nine as having bad breaks and just being “golf”. Let’s take a closer look, and also go back to Fridays round.

Bryson blamed a lot of his back nine on bad luck. I attribute his horrible back nine to some of the worse thinking I have ever seen by a top player. I am not talking about bad thinking on one particular hole, like Jean van de Velde did at the final hole of the 1999 British Open, where he made a triple bogey, when he only needed a double bogey to win the tournament. DeChambeau’s bad thinking, is an overall bad approach to the game. It showed up on Friday, when he tried to reach I believe the first par 5 on the back nine in two. He hit a great shot, but it was just short, and rolled back down the hill about 50 yards, into a sand filled divot. That was a very bad break. This was time to take your medicine, and hit a nice little lob wedge, right into the throat of the green, which would have put him about 30 to 40 feet, right of the pin, for a birdie putt. Instead, he tried to hit the ball directly at the pin, over a bunker. He chunked the shot, right into that bunker, and exploded the ball over the green, and was lucky to chip back, and make a bogey. Then, when he drove it into the rough on Sunday, on the same par 5, instead of trying to get the ball back in the fairway, where he probably could have gotten home in three, he continued to hit the ball down the rough and wound up making a double bogey 7. He has a philosophy, that he can hit any shot he pleases, and get away with it. He has done this, in other tournaments, as his whole game lacks any type of strategy. When things go wrong for Bryson, he calls it just golf, and really learns nothing. Unless this philosophy changes, I do not see him ever winning another major. Only time will tell, of course. One things for sure, it is not for the lack of a golf game.

My overall impressions of the tournament were many. These guys make a lot of putts and shots around the greens. One of the odd things about this Open, was the number of truly great shots from fairway bunkers. Many times, the player who hit from the fairway bunker got closer to the hole, than his playing partner did, from the middle of the fairway. I am not going into specific instances, but it was interesting to see, that all the rough was not created equal. There were some spots that were particularly thick and then other areas where it was not near as penal. I am not talking about areas that were trampled down by the fans, speaking of which, it was also interesting to see players, trying to hit in these areas on purpose, rather than the fairway. It shows you, even the best players in the world are affected by hazards, that are close in play. It seems like no matter who you are you are not immune from the pressure of the U. S. Open. You saw it all Sunday, drives out of bound, impossible lies in bunkers, shanks, and even balls stuck in trees. Now, that’s bad luck Bryson. There are many golfers who have been in contention over the years that just don’t seem to be able to seal the deal. You have to wonder are they really trying to do anything different or are they just looking for the answer, too. In the end Jon Rahm stood out as the best player of the week, and took home the greatest prize in golf, the United States Open.

Golf: Frustration

My last post was about frustration in general. This post is about what has frustrated me the most in my life, and that is golf. There is nothing, that even comes a close second. I have been playing golf since I was 8 years old, beginning in 1958. There were two years, 1964 and 1995, where I did not play at all. There have been years that I have played very little golf, due to other commitments. Since 1996 I have played regularly, at least 2 to 3 times per week. Since 2010, I have played at least 100 rounds every year. When I tell people this, they will comment that I should be able to play well, playing that often. If you are playing badly, it doesn’t make any difference how often you play, you are just playing badly often. The game has many ups and downs, which can be expected in any endeavor, but golf takes this to an extreme. What makes golf so frustrating? Let me count the ways.

Golf has many unique qualities, when compared with other sports, and I have written about them before. These unique qualities do contribute to some of the frustrations, but they are far from being the most frustrating thing about the game. The biggest frustration with golf, is how much your game changes from day to day. If I drove a car, like I play golf, I would have an accident, about every third trip. Right now I am going through a down time in my game, which has developed, into what I call, a full blown slump. About 10 days ago, I had, out of the blue, one my best rounds of the year, which enabled me to shoot my age of 71. In fact, I was going to write a blog about this accomplishment, going into fine detail about the round. However, I slowly, but surely, got back to my slump levels, which dampened my desire to write about the round, which now seemed like such a fluke. The next day I shot 76, and then the following day ballooned to an 86. Last week, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was only able to play two rounds, and did not break 80, either round. Naturally, I was doing some certain swing feelings, when I shot the 71, and I thought wow, this could be what is going to lead me out of this slump. Wrong yip master. This happens all the time. The other frustrating thing about golf is just hitting horrible shots, that should be easy. Missing short putts is another wonderful facet of the game. Not being able to perform at your normal level, when the round is more important, is mystifying and frustrating. Playing well for about 14 holes and then shooting terrible for the last 4 is just another fun part of the game. It does not help, that you see all the same problems and issues at the highest level of the game.

So, how do I deal with the frustrations of my golf game? I have tossed wedges into the woods, never to be found. I have thrown at least 100 balls into various lakes and woods. Slamming a clubhead into the ground seems to relieve a lot of stress. Swearing seems like a nice senseless thing to do. Trying to put my foot trough the bottom of a golf cart, when I hit the accelerator, was another method, that seemed to have some merit. Frustration was a big part of the reason I did not play in 1995, and I almost quit in 2010. I just read my blog about frustration, and I don’t seem to recommend any of these methods. Maybe I am going to have to rewrite that blog. Anybody who plays golf at any level, goes through exactly what I have been describing. It is the nature of the game. If the frustrations of the game are just too hard to overcome, then getting away from it for awhile, or permanently, is a viable solution. Even though I wrote previously, that seeing the greatest players in the world go through the same thing, does not help, but there is some comfort in the fact, that you are not alone. My recommendation to avoid frustration with your golf game, is truly the only way to handle the problem. Other than quitting, how is that accomplished? It is not easy, but I believe there are a couple of things you can do. Have no expectation for any round of golf. When you have that unexpected great round, be happy, and then forget about it. Be ready for the surprises that can happen in any round of golf, good or bad. If you are ready for anything, then whatever happens is not a surprise. Remember, there is a solution out there, we just haven’t found it, yet.

Meditation: Frustration

Frustration is defined as the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something. That definition is pretty tame, when you consider the emotions that frustration can bring on. I put this topic under meditation but it could apply to any of the subjects I write about, which will be covered in future blogs. Frustration has been divided into two types. Internal frustration is where an individual faces challenges in fulfilling personal goals, desires, instinctual drives  and needs, or dealing with perceived deficiencies, such as a lack of confidence or fear  of social situations. External frustration  involves conditions outside an individual’s control, such as a physical roadblock, a difficult task, or the perception of wasting time. We all seem to go through periods of frustration, at some time in our lives and some individuals seem to be frustrated all the time. We are always frustrated with a lack of success. I am always fascinated by fan’s frustration over the performance of the their sports teams. People will get frustrated over what another person is doing or not doing. How many times have you heard some say, I can’t believe he, she, or they did that. Frustration is an emotion, that can lead directly to other emotions, that some people feel can be good and then, there are some not so good.

If you are getting frustrated with some aspect of you life, you can always do something about it. I do mean always. Many people look at a situation and do not see a solution. There is a solution to every problem or desire. The trick is in finding it. That doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel frustration over a situation. Once a solution is found, the next step is to execute it. Sometimes, that can be harder to do than anticipated. If you fail to execute the solution, then that can lead, right back to frustration. The external frustrations can even be more of a problem. Frustrations with other people, companies, government policies, retail services, and certain situations, can evoke strong emotions, that often times lead to no good. There is the added “benefit” of taking out your frustrations on someone or something else, rather than being frustrated with your self. This is where frustration will lead to anger and even violence. A lot of little frustrations, can lead to one major blow up. If you allow frustration to get the best of you, it will lead to regret and remorse. Is it better, to somehow, not ever get frustrated, or do you have to find a better way to handle the frustration, you are feeling?

It may seem unrealistic, to keep from getting frustrated. I can see getting frustrated over getting frustrated. However, despite what people say about frustration leading to some positive emotions, like trying to do better, and having more resolve, for the most part, frustration is simply not a good thing. The easy frustration to avoid, is external frustration. I am literally having external frustration, as I write this blog, because I can not get through to a restaurant, that I am trying to make a Friday night reservation. I am not feeling any frustration at all. Remember, I golf, so I really know what frustration feels like. My only feeling, right at the moment, is that if I never get through, this restaurant is not going to get my business. For external frustrations, you can always have alternative good thoughts. If you are stuck in traffic, because of an accident, be grateful you are not in the accident. If you think you are not being treated fairly, and even have suffered some financial loss, you will know not to do business, with that individual, again. Take legal action if the money loss is severe. Never get frustrated with an individual you know. Accept whatever they are doing, or don’t have the relationship. Remember, when it comes to interactions, never do anything you really don’t want to do. Trying to avoid being frustrated with yourself, is much harder to do, but it can be done. Frustration is usually brought about by failure. Failure to lose weight, failure to perform up to your expectation, and failure to achieve, are just some to the things that can lead to internal frustration. I am not one to say that failure is to be embraced, but realize that the only way not to fail, is not to do. If you fail, accept it and move on. Look for the solution, and try again. Frustration is not to be handled, it is to be avoided at all cost. By the way, I made my reservation.

Sports: Pirates, Not Waiting Till June Too Take A Swoon

When we last took a look at the Pirates, they were 14-19, and were barely hanging on, to make something of the season. They nose dived, in more ways than one, to lose 14 of the next 20 games, gave up 20 runs in one game, and made one of the biggest bonehead plays, in the history of baseball. Two to the wins were walk offs, and one was in extra innings, or it could have been even worse. The collapse was a team effort, as all of their pitching, batting, and fielding stats fell dramatically. Their highest rank is FIP and Defensive Efficiency coming in at 19th and 20th, respectively. The rest of the pitching and batting stats are pretty pathetic with ERA+ and Runs scored coming in at 29th each. No one has hit less home runs than the Pirates. They have taken the deadening of the ball seriously. Even though I have called this a team “effort”, there have been players that have stood out by their extremely poor play. Some have not been surprising, but others had some better expectations.

Expected putrid players, that have lived down to their expectations, are Erik Gonzalez, Gregory Polanco, Wilmer Difo, Michael Perez, and 4 of the 5 in the starting rotation. The most disappointing players, who had higher expectations going into the season, are Kevin Newman and Phillip Evans. These players could be some of the worst players in Major League Baseball history. I am not going to waste my finger energy going over some of their pathetic slash lines. Some of their OPSes are not above the league leaders in slugging. As a group their plate discipline is terrible, with Erik Gonzalez being the worse, and they are all allergic to the walk. This group of players is the main reason the Pirates can not score runs. In the starting rotation there is only one pitcher, J.T. Brubaker, who has an ERA+ over the league average 100, at 107. OPS+ and ERA+ are statistics that compare player performances taking in ballparks and other conditions, with the league average being 100. Bryan Reynolds OPS+ is 143, and he has a WAR of 2.2. He is on his way to having an All Star season. Check out these OPS+: Gonzalez 50, Newman 40, Polanco 89, being paid 11 million this year, Perez 37, Difo 81, Evans 89. Now these ERA+: Keller 61, Kuhl 63, Cahill 59, Anderson 86, who if you listen to the Pirate announcers, you would think he is Sandy Koufax. Then, you had the Will Craig gaffe, with Javier Baez at first base, that cost the Pirates eventually 2 runs in a game they lost. I will say one thing in his defense. Why wasn’t someone on the field yelling at him, to tell him what to do. Both the radio and TV broadcast booths sure as hell were. Was it out of respect, or was the whole team dumbfounded speechless, on what they were seeing on the field. Perez could have taken one step, and tagged Baez, instead of trying to tag the runner. On one of the most bizarre plays in major league history, even though Craig took most of the heat, for the huge mistake, you could say, it was a team effort. Is there any hope for this team?

The short answer is no. I am always the optimist, however, and hopefully some good things could happen. Supposedly Hayes is going to be activated this week. That should move Gonzalez to the bench. Moran will come back this month I assume, and his bat, but not his glove, should be an improvement overall for the team. The sad thing about the rotation, is that the fill ins, have pitched better than the regular rotation. I see no hope for Chad Kuhl. The two, that I am hoping, will turn things around, are Newman and Keller. In 2019 Newman hit over .300 and I don’t mind typing this slash line, .309/353/.446, with an OPS+ of 109, and a solid WAR of 3. If he can approach those numbers anytime soon, it would be a huge lift for this team. Keller, who has become every other start Keller, needs to become every start Keller. Hopefully he can find some kind of consistency, and become a top of the rotation guy. I admit these last 20 games have been discouraging, in more ways than one, and I do not know what the schedule looks like this month, but if Hayes comes back, totally able to play, then maybe this team can have a competitive month. The rotation must improve, by finding some arms. If not, then sadly be ready for that 100 loss season. YUK!!!! I’ll next visit the Pirates, July 1.