Okay... 2 days remain in the month of January, and Superbowl LIII (no, not Superbowl "L," "I," "I," it's '53' for those who don't understand Roman numerals) is only 5 days away, yet two of baseball's prized free agents are still claiming their free agency titles, leaving fans absolutely puzzled. CAN SOMEBODY SIGN A DAMN CONTRACT?!
It's a new day and age; the era of stupid-long-term-astronomical-contracts are dead. It's apparent. There have been whispers that Bryce Harper will make his long awaited announcement within the next 24 hours, but my guess is he'll wait until AFTER Superbowl Sunday - allowing the NFL to have their moment in the sun until the season officially says bye-bye late Sunday evening (what a great guy!).
Harper can wait until the 2019 season opener to sign a contract for all I care, just as long as he doesn't sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.
As far as Manny Machado? Who in the heck knows. But I've never seen anything like this. MLB's free agency period starts in early December; the superstars of the sport typically sign on the dotted line a good month before pitchers and catchers shake off their rust in February. But not these guys. Perhaps, Harper and Machado are crossing their fingers and toes hoping for those grandiose 300 million dollar contracts (though I wouldn't count on it) or, maybe both stars are anticipating last minute interest from their preferred teams. Harper has gone on record saying how much he idolized the great Yankee, Mickey Mantle - though I'm not certain how that could've happened considering Mantle's last game occurred in 1968... 24 years before Harper was born (I'm guessing his dad was a big fan). Machado has shown great devotion to the Yankees as well. Everybody is Yankee crazy! But with the way things have gone this off season, I don't see it happening (God, thank you for answering my prayers). Both free agents have worked hard to reach this point, so yes, they've earn the right to take however much time is necessary to find the right fit. But the clock is ticking...
Final verdict: Harper ends up in Philly (ugh) and Machado signs a short-term deal with a National League team.
Congrats On This Year's HOF Class!
Did I mentioned a visit to Cooperstown was on my bucket list? What's that? I alluded to this in Chapter 6 of my book? Really?!
Anywho, baseball's Hall of Fame will welcome in its Class of 2019 as it was announced Edgar Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina and the late Roy Halladay will join Harold Baines and former relief pitcher Lee Smith this summer. Thankfully, I had the chance to watch each of these players regularly, and though I have my uncertainties on a couple of names, I was thrilled to see Edgar Martinez finally make it to Cooperstown.
It is very rare for a Designated Hitter (an American League player who typically doesn't play the field due to their defensive inabilities) to receive much (if any) love. Many baseball purists deem them as "one dimensional," finding very little value in their play to receive such a nod to join the other greats of America's Pastime. Though the narrative of a DH is true to some degree, voters shouldn't dismiss the efforts of a guy like Martinez who was as good a hitter as anyone during his day.
Growing up a fan of power hitters, it was common to see them consume the DH role; usually batting around .250, knocking out 35-40 homeruns, driving in 100+ runs. But then, you'd come across guys like Paul Molitor (who DH'ed later in his career) and Martinez (who originally came up as a third baseman), players unknown for their power, but had an apt for hitting the baseball. Martinez, who really didn't turn the corner as a player until his 30s, played 18 seasons with the Seattle Mariners and became of the game's craftiest hitters. And here's a stat that I found to be incredible: he'd only struck out over 100x's ONCE during his career! Martinez, a 7-time all-star, finished his career with a remarkable .312 average, reaching the 300 homerun plateau, and get this... he's a native New Yorker! (I seriously had no idea - shame on me).
I enjoyed watching him bat in a lineup filled with studs like Ken Griffey Jr, Jay Buhner and eventually, Alex Rodriguez. Those Mariner teams were fun to watch (when the Mets weren't busy pissing me off). Unfortunately, for Martinez and the rest of his teammates, their World Series runs were usually cut short by Mariano Rivera and the almighty Yankees. Rivera was perhaps the best closer of his era (some would argue the best of all time), and one of the classiest dudes around. Well deserved, men, well deserved. Congrats on this year's class!
I Don't Think He Had This In Mind
Today, we pay respects to a legacy that has almost been tarnished some 55 years after his death. Some would argue that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was the last great black leader, others say he was the last great leader of a generation. However you wish to spin it, I am truly saddened at how far away we've gotten from King's potent words of wisdom. Sure, I can go ahead and list a bunch of MLK quotables to honor his great name on the day we celebrate him as a nation, instead, I'd like to pinpoint a couple of recent isolated incidents involving young men leaving me angered and outright confused. When will some of us will ever get it?
I probably shouldn't expect much from those born into the 1990s and thereafter. If that comment bothers you, I suggest you remove your blinders and pay attention to your immediate surroundings. Unless you're a Type A Personality type who craves knowledge, history and over-standing the way of the world, Millennials (and others) are decades removed from an era where men like King paved the way for a better America. Many will never know the feeling of racial segregation, senseless hose spraying and vicious attacks by ruthless dogs. All we have left are images and stories from those who are old enough to remember that dark period of this country's history. Despite the sporadic heinous murders of brown men by those in law enforcement; paid to protect & serve, joined by the questionable behavior of those who continue to get a kick out of uttering the N-word and antagonizing people of color, our world today still doesn't compare to what many endured in the south during the civil rights era and before. As years progressed, regardless of how we feel in 2019, opportunity does exist for all (albeit it's broken down into tiers to avoid blatant prejudice experienced in years past). With that said, I expect better from anyone reaping the benefits of that same opportunity thousands died for. The same opportunity MLK put his life on the line for whenever he delivered a heart-felt message. Yet, when I watch the current generation's obsession with gang culture and everything else, I am blown away when that list includes multi-millionaires; the one-percentile, the people we'd expect to be above that.
We've learned over the years about rappers/entertainers and their affiliations with gangs. Oftentimes, when you've become a product of your environment, there's really no escaping it - rich or not. But what about when you're far removed from that environment (or haven't grown in that environment at all), basking in the limelight, enjoying a healthy bank account and luxurious lifestyle? Why then would there be a need to become an "overnight gangster?" I felt my ire rise after watching rappers Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Cardi B (the lone female of my ire), along with NBA player, Marcus Smart, announce their gang ties to the world. That's correct, Bow Wow! I had mixed emotions listening to Bow Wow (real name: Shad Moss) yell "On Piru!" (a well-known set from the L.A. Bloods gang) at the 0:09 mark. Part of me wanted to laugh, thinking I'd just finish watching a comedy sketch, the other half felt like I'd just watch a dramatic plea for help.
Most of us remember Bow Wow (formerly Lil' Bow Wow) as the cute kid who took the music industry by storm after his 2000 debut hit album, "Beware of Dog" captivated children, catapulting him to mainstream success. Many of you us were too old for his music, yet we witnessed Bow Wow influence a generation of kids and watched him grow into a man. Now 31, Bow Wow should be held accountable for his recent attempt to insult our intelligence (declaring his gang affiliation) and it shouldn't be tolerated by OG's - in this case, the older generation. Someone in his camp desperately needs to pull him aside.
Can just about anyone join a gang these days? Sure. The question I have for Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Marcus Smart and others is: since when? and why?! Why come into millions of dollars, fame - the stuff Average Joe's and Jane's dream about - only to renounce it in an effort for street cred? Why not use this platform to your advantage instead of risking it all, dealing with questions of authenticity and becoming a punchline for jokes from people like me? Who in their right mind would be intimidated by Bow Wow, Cardi B, Soulja Boy or a player throwing up gang signs - someone who attended college, currently earning a 7-figure income? (watch 1:03 mark). Does the latter sound like a gang banger to you? If anything, these same individuals have made a mockery of gang culture and that upsets me. Why? Because they have choices. Their income and lifestyle enables them to escape the hardships of street life. They can stay far away from the hood. Furthermore, their paycheck allows them to keep their affiliations to themselves (the way others have; see D.L. Hughley) because the general public really doesn't need to know. No one cares! In the age of social media, it has become everyone's job to share everything. Even senseless acts. But something to keep in mind when you're attempting to become an overnight gangster - think about those who are less fortunate. Think about those who join street gangs because they don't know of another way to survive. Think about those who have never traveled outside of their city or state. Think about the ones who were born into gang culture because it was an essential part of their lineage, engrained in their DNA. Think about the men and women who have actually traded bullets in the streets. Why mimic a lifestyle many everyday people can't escape? Why wait until you've become an established brand, someone who has sat in board rooms with high-level execs signing major contract deals to suddenly announce your gang ties? Why wait until you've become a platinum-selling artist, having traveled the world? Why wait until you've made a couple of bucks to confidently throw up hand gestures in an all out rage on national TV? If entertainers are so desperate in becoming street soldiers, unwilling to separate these contrasting lifestyles, why not relinquish your riches and live the life you truly desire to live? Who's stopping you? What's stopping you?! In the words of the great Big Daddy Kane, 'Ain't No Half Steppin.' Why have one foot in the door of entertainment, the other in the streets? Pick one. Your move.
The fact that this subject matter isn't discussed on a broader platform is concerning enough. Perhaps, people really don't care (or have chosen not to take these entertainers seriously). Clearly, MLK's "Free at Last" message was lost in translation from a group of misguided lost souls; lost souls who derived from a generation of little leadership - parental or public. The individuals I've named aren't free, in fact, they're trapped in a sorry state of mind, oblivious to their privileged lives, unbothered by their acts of unexplained behaviors, unmoved by an iconic figure's impact to the world. This is more than a "day off" or a "holiday," it's a day of reflecting, as we remember a world we used to live in and a man who took a bullet striving to make it a better place. Why wouldn't we want to do better?
Must-Haves For Your Wardrobe
Perhaps it's a city thing, but I've always been one to take fashion seriously. Whether attending a formal gathering or any place simple like the supermarket. My hair usually needed to be in place, colors in accordance, accompanied by 1 or 2 accessories. Fashion is a major part of our everyday lives, but you'd be surprised at the number of people (men in particular) who don't have an outfit for every occasion (sorry, but you probably shouldn't wear joggers and a pair of Jordan's to a job interview). Don't fret, I am here to save the day! Here are some items for any struggling male in need of a little fashion advice. You're all very welcome.
A surprising amount of men dislike wearing suits. In addition, a quality suit can cost an arm & leg. If you happen to make a handsome salary (and can afford a dozen or more) or enjoy a little reckless credit card spending from time to time (which I am adamantly against), I advise you stack up! Those who are less fortunate, well, let's just say you might be hanging onto dear life with that 1 trusty 'ol suit worn on all occasions (job interviews, weddings, funerals, etc). But if your budget allows for it, the everyday working man should own at least 3 different suits. Preferable colors? Black, navy blue, grey. Just make sure your suits are tailor-made (to fit according to size). There is nothing worse than a baggy suit 👎🏾
My favorite accessory, hands down. Not only are sunglasses cool, but the right pair will spike your appearance, adding a bit of sophistication that'll give you the feel of a million bucks! It doesn't matter the brand, simply find yourself a good pair that'll compliment your face and get your style on!
P.S. Just don't be that guy who wears sunglasses indoors.
Every man should own several watches; classy or sporty. Another accessory that adds a bit of sophistication to your 'fit. I'm a watch fiend, commonly wearing watches where the battery has long died (and I'm usually too lazy to replace them so it's worn as a prop 🤷🏾♂️). If you were to ask me, I'd say watches are equivalent to women's shoes.
Plenty of older guys are set in their ways, unwilling to conform to what the younger crowd deems "cool." With that said, there are a ton of fashion trends you wouldn't catch me alive wearing... but a denim shirt isn't one of them. Gents, you need denim in your life! Denim shirts look great with a pair of khaki pants, casual shoes or a pair of all-white sneakers. This is one of my 'go to looks' of the spring. Imagine the above shirt with the sleeves rolled up, added with a nice gold watch, khaki pants, clean footwear and a pair of sunglasses?!
Honorable Mention: V-neck shirts
An outfit isn't complete without a spritz of cologne (and no, AXE body spray doesn't count). Don't be that guy who's dressed nicely, but smells like a gym locker room 🤢. If cologne prices aren't in your budget, ask the wife, girlfriend, family, ANYONE, to load up on some smell good during the holiday. Before you know it, you'll have a nice little stash like me : )
A must-have if you're looking for a 'clean look.' A clean pair of white sneakers usually signifies the beginning of spring (or summer) and they go exceptional well with jeans, khakis or cargo shorts. Just be careful not to wear them too often - especially with jeans. Jeans are known to "spill" its color and there's nothing worse than walking around in a pair of dirty kicks.
Gotta own a pair, fellas - no if, ands, or buts about it.
Honorable Mention: Canvas shoes
Okay, so trendy colorful socks may not be as popular as they were a few years ago, but it is absolutely important to own a form of dress sock to wear with shoes, boots or sneakers (they make dressy Nike socks in case you were wondering). If you want your fashion to be taken seriously, gents, the days of thick white tube socks are long gone.
Straight-leg jeans (not skinny!)
Joggers (especially worn as gym wear)
Classic polo shirts (NOTHING with an over-sized logo!)
8 Desirable U.S. Destinations
January is here - the heart of winter. Some of you are set on traveling to a warm winter getaway, while the rest of us are slowly preparing for a single digit temperature reading in the coming weeks. Best believe. As we gear up for the tomfoolery of winter, here is a nice list to keep you warm: 8 U.S. destinations to include on your bucket list. Why 8? Because I felt like it : ) Enjoy!
8) Honolulu, Hawaii
Expense will likely be the reason I couldn't make Honolulu my permanently home, but one of these days, I'll gladly announce that I was fortunate enough to place my feet in the sand for a week... or two.
7) Hilton Head Island, SC
Look at those lovely chemtrails
Hilton Head Island makes the list simply because I overhead a high-level executive at a former job speak favorably of it. From the reviews read and images I've seen, I'm certainly intrigued.
6) Houston, TX
I was supposed to visit H-Town sometime in 2003, but unfortunately plans didn't surface. Aside from heavy traffic and the threat of hurricanes, Houston remains a favorable choice. The city is booming, homes are affordable, Texas is a tax-free state, and I've finally forgiven the Houston Rockets for beating the New York Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals
5) Las Vegas, NV
You know what grinds my gears? I visited Vegas in 2017, walked to the iconic billboard (above) and promptly forgot to take out my cell phone. HOW CAN YOU GO TO VEGAS AND NOT TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS?! Do you know what else stinks? I accidentally damaged that very-same-phone a few months later, losing a sh*tload of pics. Meaning I have very little proof that I traveled to Sin City. I suppose I'll have to visit once more : )
4) Santa Monica, CA
What you're looking at is an image of the Santa Monica Pier in L.A. The imagery alone is enough for me to hop on the next flight out west.
3) San Francisco, CA
Four things I need to do once visiting San Francisco:
1) Take a trolley ride through the city
2) Visit AT&T Park (now known as Oracle Park); home of the San Francisco Giants
3) Take pics in front of the iconic house featured on Full House
4) Stand next to the Golden Gate Bridge and soak it all in.
2) Grand Canyon in Arizona
I understand temperatures regularly reach triple digits in the summer, but do you see this masterpiece?! I didn't quite hear you! If this image doesn't do it for you, I don't know what does. Grand Canyon - hope to see you soon... during the winter months, of course.
1) San Diego, CA
A lot of California bias going on here, I'll admit, but San Diego has been # 1 on my list for many years; it won't change now. What can I say? I'm a sucker for sunny skies, palm trees and beaches. If all bodes well, I hope to make this my next vacation spot.
A list without NYC, Atlanta and Miami?!... Precisely!
Food For Thought
Look at that good 'ol burger! I don't know about you, but I am salivating at the mouth. All that is missing is an order of fries (not to mention a licensed Physician and an irate PETA member). We live in a society where health and fitness have become king. The world of fatty foods and gluten products have gone the way of the dinosaurs... but not so fast! There are plenty of us who still enjoy a good burger. Here is a list of 5 foods that have me by the b@!!%...
A Sad Goodbye To 'Mean' Gene Okerlund
A part of my childhood was taken away. I felt my stomach drop once news broke of the passing of wrestling announcer 'Mean' Gene Okerlund, who died at the age of 76 - only a few weeks after celebrating a birthday. Death awaits us all, but I wasn't prepared for this.
As fans of 1980s wrestling can attest, 'Mean' Gene played a key role on WWF (now WWE) television, interviewing in-ring legends (adding great banter with the late 'Macho Man' Randy Savage and using priceless facial expressions during segments with the Ultimate Warrior - I'd advise anyone to punch the footage up on YouTube), reporting breaking news, providing top-notch professionalism, commonly giving wrestling a feel of realism (in an era where we didn't know any better). Before making the leap to Vince McMahon's WWF in 1984, Okerlund was a key contributor to A.W.A. television throughout the 1970s. It's where he'd develop a distinct chemistry with Hulk Hogan, before trickling over to the WWF at the start of the 'Rock n Roll Era' of the mid-80s. Their legendary backstage interviews became must-see-TV, as Hogan stared into the camera with enough intensity to persuade millions of fans that his upcoming bout was worth the price on Pay-Per-View.
As a wide-eyed six year-old who worshiped the land of superheroes and villains, I knew Okerlund was a class act. I'd experience a moment of anxiety anytime a "bad guy" threatened him during an adrenaline-fueled interview, yelling at the top of my lungs: "Hey, don't talk to 'Mean' Gene like that!" I was supposed to react that way. Wrestling used to have its way with our emotions; the good 'ol days.
The business has lost many greats over the years; through the law of life, that number will continue to grow, but 'Mean' Gene will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you for the memories.
'Mean' Gene Okerlund and 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
(courtesy of my old wrestling figures - which you can read more about here)