Speech Contesting: The Farce Awakens

After months of hard work, I accomplished a small goal for this year. I won the District 84 Toastmasters International Speech contest. This is round four out of six. The whole thing starts in February with over 30,000 competitors in 15K+ clubs in over 100 countries worldwide. In August, I will represent central and northern Florida (not including the panhandle) in Round5 – the semi-finals – at the 2016 Toastmasters International Convention in Washington, DC.

I’ve never made it this far. I am equal parts stoked and terrified. I’m just a simple Analytics Nerd who sits in a cube all day, and I’ll likely compete against real, honest-to-Pete professional speakers who regularly speak in front of hundreds or thousands of people.

The contest is in August. Wish me luck!

A Terrible Thing Made Worse: Reds v Brewers

The good folks at Redlegnation have me writing the game previews for the Reds’ series against the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend. The Reds have failed to meet even my low standards for this season. I fail to see how things can get much worse at this point. Of course, saying that means things WILL get worse, and in dramatic fashion if history serves.

Everything is Awesome. Nothing Sucks – Reds v Brewers, May 29, 2016

Calm and gentleness will definitely abound this afternoon as the Cincinnati Reds (16-33) leave their 11-game losing streak behind, hoping to both build on a 1-game winning streak AND win a series for the first time since Teddy Roosevelt was president and people were fascinated by those new-fangled automobiles, as they face off in the rubber match of a three game series against the Milwaukee Brewers (22-27) in Miller Park. I’m sure everything will be calm. Business as usual, as they say. Why would there be tension between these two, uber-professional teams, whose adherence to the unspoken rules of sense and decorum is only matched by their prowess on the ball field and their ability to win games?

There is no light at the End. There is only tunnel – Reds v Brewers, May 28, 2016

The Washington Generals Cincinnati Reds face off against the Brewers tonight in game two of the Battle of Futility at Miller Park in Milwaukee. The Reds, losers of 11 straight (and counting!), have their opponents right where they want them, having lulled everyone into a false sense of security with their sieve-like defense and limp, flaccid offense. Any day now, they’ll open the floodgates and let loose a torrent of runs so potent it will make the famed Murderer’s Row of the ’27 Yankees team look like a bunch of engineers trying to play t-ball on the side of a hill during a snowstorm in January. That’s what’s going on here, right? They can’t really be this bad. Right?

A Woe Continued – Reds v Brewers, May 27, 2016

The Milwakuee Brewers look to continue the woes of both the Cincinnati Reds (15-32) players and their fans this weekend, as they start a three game series in the Battle Of Teams That Were Essentially Eliminated From Contention Before The Season Started with the Bad News Cincinnati Reds. The coveted BOTTWEEFCBTSS trophy has been passed around to the first NL Central Central team to earn the status of “hopeless futility” each season, but the Reds seem to be breaking records in how quickly and with how much intensity they seem to have pursued this award. “This is a team sport,” said Reds coach, Bryan Price, “and it’s taken all of us working together to make this level of … success … happen.”

Zack Cozart Is Your Quarter Season MVP. #FML

Zack Cozart is one of those major leaguers you can’t hate. He grinds. He sacrifices his body for the game (which is probably a bit insane when you think about it. But damn if it ain’t entertaining!). He’s not one of the guys you expect to be a quarter season MVP. But here we are, at the quarter turn, and Zack is pretty much the only guy, outside of rookie strikeout-homerun-strikeout-strikeout sensation, Adam Duvall, to accomplish anything worthy of major league status (unless we’re counting JJ Hoover’s amazing ability to give up homeruns. He’d make a great homerun derby pitcher).

I’m not taking anything away from Cozart’s season, but the fact that he’s the best we’ve got thus far makes be reach for a plastic funnel, a few gallons of cheap beer, and as much Xanax as I can swallow before the men in the white coats come to take me away.

Zack Cozart is your quarter-season MVP! Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.

If, as this season started, you had to guess who might be the Reds MVP at the quarter turn, the first choice would have been obvious: Joey Votto. After that, you might have said Devin Mesoraco, Jay Bruce, or maybe even Homer Bailey. If Homer had come back from off-season surgery early, who knows how many no-hitters he’d have tossed or lions he’d have strangled to death with his bare hands by now?

If I’d have told you that, as the Reds rounded first base on the 2016 season, Zack Cozart would be the MVP, you might not have believed me. But stranger things have happened. This season, stranger things have happened on a regular basis, in fact, especially when the bullpen takes the mound.

Sure, claiming the title of MVP on one of the worst teams in the majors is a bit like winning the title of Miss Congeniality at an inbred retirement community, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t warranted taking the throne thus far.

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Elevator Conversations: The Sound of Silence

I’m standing in an elevator, alone, when a man in a leather coat and dark sunglasses walks in. The door closes behind him.

The man turns his head and stares at me.

Me: Hey, man. How’s it going?
Him: …
Me: …
Me: Hot out today, isn’t it?
Him: …
Me: …
Him: …
Me: You from around here?
Him: …
Me: …
Him: …
Me: …

The door opens. The man laughs derisively and walks out.

Me: Kay … Bye, then.


Reality Check

I’m a big fan of optimism. But optimism can only take you so far. Sometimes, what you need is a big dose of reality to get you where you need to go.

That’s what I think is in store for my favorite baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. There have been some fun stories this year, and the last five or six seasons have been a fun ride, but Reality is here to let us know that some of our most cherished ideas and beliefs about this team and the players who comprise it are on their way out.

Read my article on Redlegnation.