Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Now That The Dust Has Settled

"Walkin' down this rocky road
Wondering where my life is leading
Rolling on, to the bitter end."

So, much like I had anticipated, the Todd Helton trade talks fell threw. Anytime you have two teams being incredibly demanding, and with the Sox having a white-knuckle tight grip on their rop prospects after watching Hanley Ramirez win NL Rookie of the Year last year, I pretty much knew this deal was going nowhere. Fortunately, I've trained myself to not get too beat up by all this, but I can't help but wonder how Helton would have done in Boston. However, when the Rockies were demanding one of the Sox top five prospects (Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen, Daniel Bard, Jacob Ellsbury, and Clay Buchholz), all deals were off. I completely understand this. With Helton's health seemingly up in the air, and with an aging pitching staff (you got two guys at 40 right now), the Sox are going to see how their young talent develops. So, with all that being said, it would be safe to assume the Sox will stand pat going into Spring Training. So now, I'm going to give you an insight as to how I feel this team will perform.

For the first time in a long time, the Sox could not slug their way to wins last year. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz both had tremendous years again, but the lack of a third power hitter really sunk the Sox chances. This totally explains why they went out and threw so much money at J.D. Drew. The Sox know that right now, they cannot overhaul their entire team strategy that they've had since the 50's, and that is to get on base and power home those runners. Drew represented an offensive upgrade over Trot Nixon (the same cannot be said about "heart" however), and the feeling was that he could provide at least a little pop to the #5 hole, which has been a question mark ever since Jason Varitek's numbers have been on the decline. I never felt strongly about the whole Drew signing, but anytime you add a guy coming off a 100 RBI season, you have to at least be somewhat optimistic that he can add a new element to the lineup.

Another questionable move, but a move they probably had to make, was Julio Lugo. The Sox have long been enamored with Lugo, and the Sox play Tampa 19 times a year (also, when you play for Tampa, and you're even halfway decent, you're going to look that much better), so they have plenty of reports on Lugo. He was horrendous after being traded to the Dodgers last summer, but the Sox feel like he can return to the form he showed in Tampa. The Sox can front all they want to about defense, but in the end, this is an offensive-first team. There's no getting around that. And simply put, management felt that Alex Gonzalez, who ended up on Cincinnati, did not have enough offensive potential to be effective in the AL East (although I think that's completely wrong). The Sox simply will not give anyone a chance since trading Nomar. It's as though the expectations are so astronomical for that position that, if you don't live up to the billing, you're axed within a year. The Sox have to learn to be patient with the new guys. It's a tough adjustment to come from Montreal (Cabrera) or Florida (Gonzalez), cities that aren't as rabid about their teams as we are, and expect it to be a smooth transition in their first year. I loved Gonzalez's glove, and I'm convinced that, given time, he would have been more than adequate at the plate. Plus, when you consider all the runs he saves, it's pretty much a wash between that and his offense. We'll see how Lugo does, but again, don't be surprised if he is not able to play out his entire four year contract.

You have to wonder what the effects will be on Mike Lowell and Julian Tavarez now that is what made publicly known by the Rockies' owner that they were definitely involved in the Heltion trade talks. You have to hope that, because they are veterans, that they can shake it off. Lowell, although incredibly overpaid, actually had a pretty decent offensive season last year (.284/20/80). His best attribute has to be his glove, as he made countless hit/run-saving plays last year at the toughest position to field in all of baseball, the "hot corner." Although the Sox were looking to dump his salary, in the end, they will probably be happy that Lowell is still at third. Although Kevin Youkilis' natural position is third, even he can't field nearly as well as Lowell can (I mean I love the guy, then again who doesn't? But still, it's the truth).

Rounding out the infield will be by far the biggest question mark of them all. How effective will Dustin Pedroia be in his first year at second? The hype for him has been gigantic ever since the Sox picked him in the second round in the 2004 Draft out of Arizona St. He quickly moved through the ranks of the farm system, making a major league stop last year, playing in 31 games. This guy will not be a 20/20 guy. Rather, the Sox are hoping that he can be the anchor of the lineup, setting the table for the top of the order. At just 23, he still has a long way to go in grasping the major league game, but the expectations are already rather large on this guy. The Sox were willing to part with Mark Loretta to make room for Pedroia. Look, if he's able to live up to even half the hype, we're in good shape. You can't expect too much from a guy playing his first full season at Fenway. Hopefully the fans and management will cut him some slack in his first go-around, because this guy really has the chance to be special.

Last but not least is the ongoing drama in the outfield that is Coco Crisp (I'm fully aware that I've made little mention of Manny, Papi, and 'Tek, but with those guys, you pretty much know what you're going to get from them; I'm trying to focus on what can be labelled as a "question mark") There's no question that Sox management has been kicking themselves over the past year for letting Johnny Damon (whose game is "tailor made" for Fenway, with the Pesky Pole in right, plus, he runs like Coco and was an electrifying presence in Boston for four years) walk and then giving a three-year extension to Coco while he was on the DL. Now, they are attempting to create a stop-gap situation with Coco for this season. Personally, come late July, unless Coco is playing out of his mind, he will probably be sent packing somewhere. Then, the Sox will call up David Murphy to see if he can handle an everyday role with the big club. The odds are good that he won't impress nearly enough, so look for the Sox next year to be pushing incredibly hard for Andruw Jones when he becomes a free agent. In this day in age, a center fielder either has to hit 25+ HRs or steal 50+ SBs, and Crisp does neither. I will say that I was impressed with his defense, but like Alex Gonzalez, that simply won't cut it here.

The most intriguing stories have to deal with the starting pitching. First, the biggest international splash in MLB history, Dice-K, will be front and center as far as criticism goes. When you throw that kind of money at a guy who has never played in the majors, the scrutiny will be coming at a furious rate (not like it already has been anyway). Again, this is a guy that people are going to have to let grow in Boston. This is his first time in America. I remember my first time in South Carolina, I had no clue what was going on, and it took me about three to four months to get fully adjusted. Now, I'm imagining that kind of scenario, only this guy doesn't speak English! This will be a trial run for Dice-K, but I am begging Red Sox Nation, please, do not get on this guy's back if he struggles this year. Adjustment is going to be the flash word this year. There is going to be a lot of adjustments to be made. This is a team built for next year. Again, it may be hard to swallow another transition year, but when you look at this team, the nucleus will be there next year. Dice-K has incredible stuff, and there's no reason to think he won't excel this year. However, if he doesn't, you cannot simply say that spending that money was a waste. This is a deal where you almost have to wait three years in order to determine if this was a good signing.

Speaking of adjustments, that will definitely be the case when talking about Jonathan Papelbon, as he will be in the starting rotation for the first time in his major league career. Papelbon, who lit the world on fire last year before going down with a strained shoulder at the end of the year. The real question is, can Pap stretch out his stuff to last 6-7 innings? There is no question he can do it for two, but it will definitely be an adjustment for him. Batters will be able to get multiple looks at him instead of just one at-bat, meaning that they will be better prepared to take him on knowing what kind of stuff he is bringing that particular day. You really do have to hope that Jon Lester will be back to somewhere close to 100%, because if this experiment fails, there will be a rather large hole at the back end of the rotation. Ultimately, I feel like Papelbon will be able to come out of the gate strong, but when the "dog days of summer" hit in July and August, things may get ugly. You have to hope that the Sox don't ride him too hard at the beginning of the season, letting him grow into a starter rather than forcing him to go out and try and dominate early.

Josh Beckett is another guy that has some question marks surrounding him. His first season, to some, was a bit disappointing, due to his 5.01 ERA. However, even the nay-sayers had to have looked at his first start against Texas and be impressed by how he handled himself. In fact, it was that same game the world was introduced to Papelbon, and for the first time in a long time, you had guys throwing the ball real hard. I mean real hard. The thing about Beckett is, once hitters were able to time his fastball, he got shelled. That is the difference between the AL and the NL. When you have the kind of hitters you have in the AL, you can't get away with just throwing smoke anymore. You have to be able to have a variety of pitches that you feel confident in. Beckett has a good curveball, and he is going to have to rely on that more and more as the season progresses. Varitek caught him for an entire season, and knows his strengths and weaknesses. If anyone is going to determine how successful Beckett is this season, it's going to be Jason Varitek. Beckett clearly has the stuff to be a top-of-the-line rotation guy, but still needs some guidance as far as what pitch to throw in certain situations. I feel like with a year of pitching in the AL, Beckett now can grasp what he needs to do in order to be successful. Also, now that he's been with 'Tek for a year, he can put more confidence in the decisions Jason makes instead of thinking he can just blow people away.

The bullpen is the biggest question mark in general. First of all, the Sox went out and signed a bunch of set-up guys (Donnelly, Romero, Piniero to name a few), but still do not have a definitive answer as to who will be their closer. Right now, it appears Donnelly has the inside track. If you ask me, I would put Mike Timlin in that role. He doesn't have prototypical closer stuff, but he has played this role before, and has been successful in this role. The other aforementioned guys have been either set-up guys or starters, which doesn't compare to pitching in the ninthe with a one-run lead. You have to be excited about the young guys coming up through the ranks, with Papelbon and Lester flourishing last year, and now, this will be the decisive years for Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen. With a year under their belts, the excuses are gone. Now, it's time to find out if hanging on to these guys through every different trade scenario was worth it. Hansen has been groomed to be the closer for the future. Earlier in the year, they attempted to stretch him out in Pawtucket to become a starter after Papelbon was lights out in the closer role. Ultimately, he wasn't all that successful, and returned to the bullpen. Hansen is probably not ready to become the closer yet, but don't be surprised if he is able to claim the role at some point in the season, as he has the "stuff" that Timlin lacks (we're talking about a 23 year old guy who throws in the high 90s...that's good stuff). Delcarmen is someone who I have always liked, mainly because he is a local product from Hyde Park. Delcarmen has a wicked curveball that freezes batters. Throw in a mid 90s fastball, and you're looking at your "Timlin of the future." These are exciting times to be a Sox fan when you talk about these guys, because this kind of stuff never happened before. Four homegrown pitching prospects all playing at the same time? I don't remember the last time that's happened, but anyway, it's been quite some time. All of these guys have already shown incredible potential, and this is the year that they will have to step up amidst all of the question marks surrounding everyone else.

All and all, the offense will struggle at times. They simply don't have the bats right now to create the "bruiser" effect that they always have. Late July should be an interesting time for the direction in which this team will go in the future. Will they hold onto Coco? Will they continue to keep all of their top prospects and continue the never-ending re-building of the farm system? There are a bunch of question marks on this team, but in the end, I think the pitching is that good. I mean there is a never-ending supply of guys coming out of the bullpen that can dominate. The closer situation is one to watch, but I feel like there's probably someone there, whether it be Timlin, Hansen, or Donnelly, that will be able to perform well enough to carry the Sox along this year. If the Sox can come up with a decent amount of offense, I don't see any reason not to think this team wins 90 games. My prediction is 91-71 on the year, which should be at least close to earning a wild card birth. In any case, this will be one of the most fascinating seasons in the history of the franchise. You can make a case that this season could determine the direction of the franchise for the next five to ten years. With every word I write, I am becoming more and more anxious for this. I need to get NESN!

It's always nice to write about the Sox, and trust me, I could just go on writing about them all day, every day. However, being a Sox fan has been troubling from a social perspective ever since the Sox won it all on October 27, 2004. As with any team that is successful, there will be a fair number of bandwagoners. Ok, well this is almost unfair. In fact, it's completely unfair how many people climbed aboard and started wearing Sox gear. Look, I mean I appreciate anyone just getting on who has a legitament passion for the team and knows about the history of the franchise, but what I cannot tolerate are people just wearing Red Sox stuff because "it's the thing to do." Now I am starting to understand the horrors of being involved with a full-fledged bandwagon craze. So, being the "die-hard" fan that I am, the whole "pink hat" revolution is absolutely killing me (for those who are unaware, the pink hats refer to the yuppee crowd who goes to Fenway and watches games to fit in, instead of following them with a passion that is demanded of Red Sox fans). Trust me, the pink hats aren't checking "Dirt Dogs" every ten minutes to see if we traded for Todd Helton, or scour the internet to find out how the Dice-K signings were progressing, or reading Dodger message boards to find out what Dodger fans thought of J.D. Drew (overall, they weren't too thrilled). Being a Sox fan is a full-time job. I don't even care what anyone says. There is no such thing as taking it "too far" when you're a Sox fan. We have more passion than any other sports fans in this country (the reason I say this country is that, unlike in Chile or other places, we don't burn down our stadium when we lose, not to say that it's never been attempted though). Sure, life is about more than the Sox...but not a whole lot, at least to me. It just is so upsetting when I'm at a party, I see a Sox hat, and immediately want to know what their thoughts are on the prospects coming up, and them giving me a "far away" look, like I have three heads or something. Maybe being in a different locale has put this all into perspective for me. Then again, most of the Sox bandwagoners are in New England, and start rooting for the team if they are doing good, or if they are playing the Yankees, and take the rest of the year off, you know, kind of like Brave fans (ok, I know that's a cheap shot, but anytime there is a team that has won a gazillion division titles in a row, plays in a spectacular park, and only fills it up halfway on the weekends, then you know that you have a legion of bandwagoners). Anyway, the point is, every game counts. If you're a fan of this team, there is no off day. There was not one point in my life when I didn't care about how the Sox did on a particular night. Sure, beating the Yankees is great and all, and I do relish those victories a little more than others, but if you think about it on the whole, a game against Baltimore, Toronto, and Tampa are equally as important. They're all division games, and you never know if an extra inning loss to the Rays in May could determine if the Sox win the division (see 2005). With all that being said, I purposely take precautions to ensure that I will not be labelled as a Sox bandwagon jumper. I never wash anything that has to do with the Sox, especially my sweatshirt and my hat (big time emphasis on the dirty hat; the more "Trot Nixon," the better). When I see a bright, navy blue Sox hat, it screams bandwagon to me. I know that when I get a new hat, I immediately "dirty it up." To be a little philosophical, my hat is almost like why I love the Sox so much. The team gets down and dirty, finding any conceivable way to win a ballgame. I like that. I also purposely am long-winded when talking about anything relatable to the Sox (I don't know if you could tell from the above eight or nine pages). This almost gets to the point of annoyance, but when conversing with a fellow Sox fan, there is no such thing as "long-winded" as far as discussions go. Sure, you may run out of things to say, but you will have one hell of a ride getting to that point. So, the question now is, are you a bandwagon Sox fan? If you think you're not, here's a little test to help you decide:

1. October 27, 2004 was the greatest day of your life unless you have kids. I think marraige is a draw. Kids are forever, marraige, unfortunately, may not be. Truly a JFK/Challenger "where were you when this happened?" day

2. Anytime they air Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, you immediately change the station. Maybe it's because I was one at the time, but I can somewhat tolerate Game 6 of the '86 Series. I think winning it all definitely helped that, because before that, I felt the same way about that game as I did the '03 game. I remember after watching that game literally sitting outside my dorm room on my porch, almost in tears, with my head buried in my hands. Which leads to point #3

3. Outcomes can make or break your day. I'm even that way for a regular season game. If I see we blew a lead, I get in my truck, drive around, and listen to the Beach Boys to cheer me up. If we have a come from behind win, it's almost like anything that had previously happened that day is irrelevant. That day was a good day regardless.

4. Bucky Dent's middle name is "F***ing," not "Earl."

5. Bernie Carbo had the biggest hit in Game 6 of the '75 Series, not Carlton Fisk. Oh you'll hear about the Fisk home run at all ends (I mean that was the best homer in WS history hands down...maybe not significance-wise, because Maserowski and Carter had series-ending homers, but Fisk had the most memorable by far). Carbo hit a three run homer in the eighth to push the game into extra innings. Without Carbo, there's no Fisk. Cause and effect here people.

6. Bill Buckner was not the reason why the Sox lost the '86 Series. Bob Stanley was the reason the Sox lost the '86 Series.

7. When the words "Tony C" are uttered, last names do not matter (Tony Conigliaro for you bandwagoners...look him up!)

8. You don't look forward to Opening Day as much as you look forward to pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training.

9. Being in the bleachers at Fenway on a summer night is as close to heaven as any mere mortal will ever get.

10, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: Every year, outside of 2004, when the Sox have lost their last regular season game, or they have just been knocked out of the playoffs, you analyze everything that went well that season, as well as all that went wrong, and convince yourself that the positives outweigh the negatives, leading to the four most infamous words in Red Sox lore:

"Wait 'til next year."

Honorable Mention: On your AIM profile, voicemail message, and/or your car, you have something relating to the Sox. I know I don't have it on my profile , but I consider linking up a blog that is a never-ending Boston love fest to be sufficient enough.

I hope you passed the test, and for those of you that aren't up to snuff, get on the internet and learn about the team you're pulling for. Red Sox history is as, if not, more important than the Sox of today are, so if you want to be a true member of the "Nation," you need to get your priorities straight...

Now, after saying all that, I'm going to throw a shocker out there. I am almost, and I repeat almost, ready to settle for a girl who's a Yankees fan as long as they have a tenth of the passion I do about anything Boston (the whole Yankee thing...I'm not going down that road yet, when I say almost, I'm referring to literally scouring the Earth, coming up empty-handed, and having to settle for that, which technically doesn't make it blasphemy if I've worn out every other option there is). I mean maybe that's discriminating...actually that's the definition of discrimination, but really, what other choice do I have? It's like why fight it? Realistically, I don't want to convert anyone either. I have thought about it, but really, wouldn't that just be like creating another bandwagoner (and you know I'm not about to do that). I just don't understand people that aren't passionate about sports. I know that could be just me, but I don't get it. How could I conceivably be with someone who isn't? You can throw that "opposites attract" thing at me here, but that definitely does not apply here. And again, it doesn't necessarily have to be about Boston either (although I'm going to end up having to wear out all those options to move off of that). Some people have key issues they concern themselves with when they are looking for a potential realtionship. Politics, religion, looks, so how is that any less strange than me wanting to be with someone who is passionate about sports? This is come all, be all of key issues for me, so I'm thinking for someone else to be able to tolerate me, they are going to have to be able to relate somewhat to my incoherent babbling about how the Sox should have put in a lefty to face Giambi in the eighth and other things like that. Why would I want anything else? For those of you who don't know, I am perhaps the most patient individual alive (I'm a Sox fan, come on now!), so this search may go on and on and on, but the main point is that I gave it a shot, and I know that, in my heart of hearts, I've done everything possible, but it simply wasn't meant to be. And so the struggle continues...

Ok, so I was talking to one of my friends the other day, and we discussed how cheap we are. Here's the thing: If you try and take me on in a battle of how cheap can you go, you will get destroyed, plain and simple. I mean it's not even close. So, in case you don't know me personally, and if you're a college kid wanting to save a few bucks, here's my top 10 (no order) of cheap things I have done, and mostly, that I still do. Granted, some of these may be crossing an invisible line of sane and insane, but just roll with it.

1. Everytime I am in the vacinity of my school's cafeteria (RoHo), I always go in there and go to the juice machine, fill up a cup (see I use the 20 oz. cup, I mean I could be a total bastard and use the big 32 oz. cup, but I keep it somewhat under control) of OJ, and casually stroll out. The key here is that refills are technically allowed, so walking out with a beverage of choice, especially during the busy hours, does not look all that bad. This maneuver is much tougher to pull off when there are only three or four people there, but usually, it's not like that. Now, this could be labelled as "stealing," but considering they've jacked tuition up 20% since I've got here, I label it as "getting back what's mine."

2. After getting my free drink, I proceed to go to the bookstore, which happens to be located in the same building. The bookstore is run by Barnes and Nobles, so it pretty nice, with leather couches, TV's, and a coffee shop right there. Anyway, there are two sections of the store. There is the textbook section and the regular book section. However, it is not required that you pay for your books in the textbook section (located in the back) but rather, the register is up front. So, I came up with a theory. If you can take a book from the back, then pay for it in the front, then anywhere between that point is fair game. Also, when you consider the amount of money you have to pay for books, it's completely ludacrous. So, here's where my sixth sense comes in. If I have homework due in a class that requires you to have a book to answer problems, I simply take out my phone (which happens to have a camera in it...I think you know where I'm going with this) and take pictures of the problems. Now this is an art that needs a bunch of practice. First of all, sometimes, you have to take a couple pictures of each problem, which can get kind of confusing. To make it easier to read, label the pictures "#5 Part A" and "#5 Part B" so you will be able to interpret them easier. Secondly, I'm pretty sure someone will get pissed if they see you doing this, so you need to come up with some kind of diversion. A technique I've learned is to pretend like you are text messaging. I mean I've never text messaged in my life, but they don't know that, and as it has become such an accepted practice, you will look no more than a kid, reading a book, talking to their friend. I'm not saying this practice is for everyone, but if you ever get into a bind and you don't feel like dropping $125 on a book, this one's for you.

3. Reusing dryer sheets. Hey, it works. I've used the same sheet five times, and it still works. The key is to put the sheet back into the package as soon as the laundry is done. This way, when you let it sit, it absorbs some of the moisture from the other sheets, and becomes useful again. Think about it, the clothes are already washed, so it's not like the sheet is going to get dirty or anything like that. I hate having to keep buying those little things, so this definitely helps.

4. When I'm at Wendy's, or any kind of fast food place, I always get something pretty inexpensive (99 cent menu for sure), and then, no matter what I get, I go over to the little ketchup/utensil/napkin area, and just load up on crap. Generally, I take a fistful of napkins (guess who hasn't bought paper towels in two years?...this guy!) and like five forks, spoons, and knives. Hey, maybe they frown upon it, but if they didn't want you to do it, they would make a sign or tell you not to do that. Personally, I think most of the people working at these places aren't into the whole "giving a damn about anything" ideaology, so this is mint, and very effective.

5. Parking is a big hot button item with me. I feel like I should never have to pay for parking. It's bad enough to get taxed like crazy for road maintenence, but now you have to pay a quarter for every 15 mins of parking? What a joke. Anyway, a very easy way to avoid this is parking at a supermarket or a large establishment of some sort. Basically, the lot is so big that no one is going to notice that you parked your car in one spot without going into the store. I've noticed that a bunch of people have started doing this after I was doing it last year, so maybe the cat's out of the bag there. Also, if you have to park somewhere at night or on a Sunday, look for a bank. Sure, the sign says "customers only," but there are no customers at night or on Sunday, so therefore, it's all fair game. My cousin questioned why they don't hire someone to collect money on a Sunday after we parked at one to go to a bar out in California. The answer is: ???...Hey, keep doing what you're doing. There's no reason that banks would want to make money is there?

6. When you have an account with a local bank, and you are outside of an area where your bank's ATMs are readily available, here's an easy solution. Go to a supermarket, buy the absolute cheapest thing you can find (usually it will be Tic-Tacs or some kind of candy) and you can get up to $200 cash back from the cashier. Think about it. If you went to an ATM, you would have to pay $2.50 just to get your cash out. Basically, by doing my thing, you only have to pay like 70-80 cents, and you get something out of it. It's not bad.

7. Anytime I go to a sandwich shop (and believe me, living in a college town, they are absolutely everywhere), I feel obligated to tip the people there. For what reason I have no idea. I think it's just become accepted that, in certain occupations, a tip is expected. Wait staff and anyone who works for tips are out of this equation. I'm talking about sub makers. Now these people are paid decently, and yet, you're expected to give them more money for doing their job. Now I once held a similar kind of position, so I'm not completely removed from this issue on the other side of the counter. I mean, sure, tips are nice. Everyone loves more money. But in my opinion, tips came unexpectedly, as opposed to the majority standpoint that it is expected that you tip these people, no matter how badly they mess up. Why then do you not tip people at Burger King, McD's, Wendy's, or any other fast food place? Is it not the exact same thing? Basically, you have people working for minimum wage preparing food, and yet there is no tip jar there...yet. So, I don't get it. Therefore, if I'm going to tip them, I'm going to get as much free stuff on my sandwich is as humanly possible. Sometimes, I'll put some random stuff on a sandwich, but hey, not only do I want it, I want a lot of it. "Extra" everything. Build that thing so it appears like the sub rolls are croutons, that's my stance on that.

8. Hotels are very easy to scam. In fact, they pretty much know that they are going to get scammed, and set up accordingly. Now towels is a no-no as far as taking. Again, I have experience in this field (I could basically re-mix "I've Been Everywhere" and throw in all the jobs I've done...that's actually not a bad idea...on second thought, yeah it is), and towels are at a very limited supply in most cases. However, when you talk about shampoo, conditioner, and soap, they have plenty. The key is to go to the front desk and ask them to tell the cleaning woman to drop some off for you when she is cleaning the room. This way, she's already going to be there, so she doesn't have to make two trips, meaning that you only have to leave one tip instead of two.

9. Ok, so this one is kind of special to me, but I felt I had to share it. When I graduated from high school, I worked at Foot Locker for a few months before heading down to USC. Anyway, when you are employed by Foot Locker, you get a 30% discount to Foot Locker and Champs Sports, because they are owned by the same company. Anyway, that fully explains my whole fascination with jerseys and why I have so many, in case you were wondering. Ok, so I do the job for a few months, went to school, and that was it. Didn't quit, and never got guess who was still on the payroll? I decided, on a whim, to try and use it when I came home from school my freshman year, and it worked. Then, I decided to do it my sophmore year, and it continued to work (I never tried it down here because back home, the people at Champs know who I am, and they never question if I had stopped working at the store, and needless to say I never brought up the fact I didn''s all about creating the illusion that you are confident in yourself and not scared that you may get caught and, thus, get completely embarassed). Finally, the winter of my junior year (this would be almost two and a half years after leaving Foot Locker), they finally caught on to me. I've learned that if someone calls down to the place where you worked, and your old boss has "never heard of you" because it's been that long since you've worked there, that's generally not a good thing. Anyway, the last discount I ever got was on a Tom Brady Michigan jersey, which is totally sick, so I have absolutely no regrets.

10. Here's something actual human beings have discussed before. Coasting while driving definitely helps save on gas. However, I take coasting to a whole different level. It's almost an art of the way I go about it. Basically, if there is a downhill, all bets are off. I remember when gas was 3 bucks a gallon after Katrina, I literally was going 15 mph down a hill in a 35 mph speed zone, and absolutely did not care. I just refuse to be a slave to the gas industry, although inevitably, they will find a way to screw me over like it has done with everyone else. Surprisingly, none of my friends have really noticed. I think when you have a CD deck that shows random pictures of race cars and skiers and all sorts of other weird things, in tends to distract them from the fact that I'm driving like an 80 year old woman.

Alright, I know that was a lot to swallow, but when you mix the Red Sox and having a forum that has no maximum for how much I can write, forget it. Anyway, I'm working on my first mock draft, which should be up around this weekend. Take care everyone. Peace.


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