Blogging 101: Saying “Hi!”

The 3rd assignment in the Blogging 101 class is to make some new friends:

Today’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs.

Community has become a big part of why I blog- to meet other like-minded writers and share stories, tips, and generally find folks who want to discuss the matters of the day. You can see my blog roll to the right of my page, and to stay true to the course I’ve added 5 more today. I’ve also written briefly on a daily prompt below, from The Daily Post:

Happy Radars

I’m usually a pretty good judge of the temperature of a room. If you’re reading this and know me and disagree, please say so in the comments! Do we (collectively) tend to put on a “good face” when we’re unhappy or feeling low? Yes. I can almost always tell when that smile is hiding sadness or anger.
Maybe because a large part of my job involves listening to people talk, listening for clues and cues as to their wants and needs, but I can usually hear the underlying sentiment even when it’s being sugar-coated outwardly. Can I read minds? Of course not, but I’m a very empathetic person.
Unfortunately, I seem to be able to communicate far more eloquently through the written (typed!) word than in face-to-face conversation, but that’s probably a topic for another chat. Or maybe for a therapist ;)

Absolute Beauty

For the next Daily Post Blogging 101 assignment, we are supposed to edit our tagline and title. I’m pretty happy with mine for now, but reserve the right to change it without advance notice. Instead, I’ll take up their daily prompt:

Absolute Beauty

We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? is all beauty contingent on a subjective point of view?

Ultimately, beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. I’m a man of Faith, and for me there is in many natural creations an inherent beauty.

NASA/ESA/Alexander Gerst

The stars, sunlight through clouds, or a majestic mountain range, to name a few. I have no doubts that there are those who do not share my opinion on what is beautiful, and there will certainly be things others find beauty in that I do not.

It would be quite presumptuous of us to say what another person should or shouldn’t find beautiful. It’s what makes Art such a wonderful and personal experience.

Teaser Tuesdays – September 16

This is a weekly feature at Should Be Reading. Play along and remember to link your post in the comments there!

TeaserTuesdays2014e

I’m currently reading Fluke, by Christopher Moore. If you’ve never read his novels you’re truly missing out on one of the funniest dark humorists of our time.

p.211 After the left, Clay turned to the two surfers. Thirty years of working with the best scientists and divers in the world, and this was what it came down to: two stoner kids.

Blogging 101 Assignment #1: Introduce Yourself

In an effort to inject some life into my stagnant blogging, I’m participating in WordPress University’s Blogging 101 class. School starts today and the first assignment is to post an introduction so readers know who I am and why I’m here in the first place. Here we go.

When I started blogging, years ago now, it was an exercise in self-therapy. I had things to say that were simultaneously clogging up my brain and keeping me from sleeping soundly every night. I decided to share some of those in a blog format though I kept readership private and for my eyes only. The physical act of typing things out was cathartic, as was being able to go back and re-read my thoughts. Could I have written them in ink or pencil in a notebook? Sure, but I’m a computer geek so I preferred the blog format. I think I knew then I would eventually open up my writings to others but had no interest or motivation for it at the time.

As I worked through some personal issues and started sharing more random, philosophical-type musings, I decided I would take down the privacy screen and allow others to read what I was sharing, if for no other reason than I didn’t want to deny anyone the pleasure of hearing my wisdom. Ha, that’s a joke, though not an especially funny one. Am I truly an egomaniac? I really don’t think so, but maybe my subconscious is in which case… well, who knows?

I always claimed I didn’t care if anyone else was reading my blog and I certainly didn’t care (then) what people thought about the things I had to say. I was writing/blogging/sharing because I found the material interesting and enjoyed the process, period. Over time though, I found I really enjoyed the idea that people, even strangers, might read my blog and then hopefully interact with me about what I’d written. I wasn’t blogging/fishing for comments, but I enjoyed being able to converse with readers, many of whom were writers too. I still enjoy the community that comes from being a blogger, even if I’m not as active as I’d like to be. I hope this class changes that.

I have written about Life, Love, Food, Sports, Parenting, Gaming, and other topics in my blog that blend between multiple genres. I’ve written poetry and fiction. I’d love to continue connecting with other fiction writers, food/cooking bloggers, and sports bloggers, and parents. I may start sharing more opinions on, as I learn more about the subject, whole foods/nutrition/natural health.

I wrote about the St. Louis Blues. I’m a big fan if you couldn’t already tell from my nom de blog, and I had the chance to write articles and opinions on a “fan site” called BleedinBlue.com. It was enjoyable but time consuming and I had to step back from it. I will continue sharing my thoughts on the team as the new season starts this month with training camp and pre-season games. A big part of my reason for participating in this class is to make my blog more current, more frequently read, and to make some contacts in the blogoverse/writing world that might eventually lead to getting paid for doing something I love.

In Response: Voice Work

This is in response to this post from Daily Post:

Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?

I’m going to have to say Martin Shaw, English actor and reader of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion audiobook. I hope he would do different voices and I know his accent would make my posts sound so much more interesting!

Support Players or Athletic Supporters?

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Sometimes a baseball team fields an entire roster of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers (though rarely) and sometimes you can look at a roster and see maybe half of it providing you top-tier production. If you can’t get that other half to contribute at least every once in a while then you’re not going to play very deep into October.

The Cardinals have had ups and downs this year with their bullpen, sometimes the last line of defense in a tight game. On the flip side, at the plate, the St. Louis bench is dreadful. If there is a weak spot on this team that is it, and if they don’t end up in the playoffs Mike Matheny can look back at his reserves and find a big reason why.

Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Some of the relief pitchers the Cards employ are outstanding in their roles, yet unprecedented success last season hasn’t completely transitioned into this year. Righty Seth Maness, practically a lock for an inning ending double-play when appearing last year, has struggled and found himself in Matheny’s dog house at times in 2014. He’s about the only right-handed option for more than 2 innings though because the Cards have FOUR lefties in their bullpen at the moment, Sam Freeman, Kevin Siegrist, Nick Greenwood, and Randy Choate.

Source: Jeff Curry/Getty Images North America

Randy is a specialist, and has been very good this year, once again, in taking care of 1-2 batters in special circumstances. Freeman and Greenwood have split time between MLB and AAA-Memphis, and Siegrist is trying to recover the form he showed last year, where he was dominant, but ha spent time on the DL this season and hasn’t been the same.

Trevor Rosenthal leads the NL in saves with 34, despite showing flashes of Jason Isringhausen’s cardiac arrest inducing inconsistency. He throws a million miles an hour but he’s also thrown a TON of pitches, and his struggles can be potentially linked to overuse by a manager who inexplicably doesn’t seem to understand how to manage his pitchers.

The brilliant, blinding star of the season has been by far All-Star righty Pat Neshek. He’s having an off-the-charts kind of season many guys experienced last year for St. Louis, and his ERA sits well below 1.00. Watch him pitch if for no other reason than to see his unorthodox windup, but the guy throws darts and just gets outs, every time he’s on the mound. Former closer Jason Motte may not be a factor at all as he just went on the DL today.

Source: Jeff Curry/Getty Images North America

Cardinals starters have been pitching later into games recently, looking more like the early season staff than they did just following the All-Star break, which has lifted some of the pressure off the bullpen, but the relief corps has blown its share of late leads this year, and that can’t happen if you’re going to win it all. Michael Wacha could be pitching out of the ‘pen once (if) he returns from the DL next month, which would give them the additional right-handed innings eater sometimes necessary to bridge the gap to Rosenthal and Neshek. Carlos Martinez could also be given a relief role before September is over, especially if John Mozeliak decides to shelve Wacha for the season.

St. Louis’s bench is one of the worst I can remember, with Tony Cruz (.231AVG/91ABs) Mark Ellis (.190/158) Daniel Descalso (.177/96) Shane Robinson (.130/46) and usually Peter Bourjos (.216/196.) I know there are fancier stats that go even further to prove my point, WAR for example, but I don’t really understand them so I won’t comment. It’s obvious enough with these numbers that the back-ups are awful. I’ll give Bourjos benefit of doubt because he’s not really had the chance to play as often as he should BUT, if he had hit better from the get-go, it would’ve never been a problem. He’s much better defensively than most any other St. Louis outfielder.

Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America

The 2014 Cardinals are 61-52 and only a single game out of first place in their division. The Central is highly competitive. Pittsburgh is only a half-game behind St. Louis before today’s games. Can the Cardinals overcome their opponents and win the Central? Yes, but only if everyone stays healthy. Can they do it without Wacha and Yadier Molina? Yes, but only if everyone else stays healthy, because this is NOT as deep a team as everyone thought in April.

Is the Cardinals Battery Energized For a Stretch Run?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The lineup Mike Matheny has been using lately with some regularity looks about as good as it can right now, and barring some major miracle, these are the pieces St. Louis will put forth in the battle for the Central Division. Lack of offense notwithstanding, taking 2 of 3 from Milwaukee was a good step in the right direction but no matter how many runs they score, if the Cardinals don’t get solid pitching down the stretch their chances will be slim.

July 9, 2014 – Source: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America

Yadier Molina is still eyeing a September return, but for now the task of handling the pitching staff falls on the shoulders of Free Agent signee A.J. Pierzynski. A.J. is the kind of guy you love to hate, especially when he’s on the other team, but since joining the Cards the 35-year-old back-stopper has done a pretty good job filling in. Nobody can replace what Yadi does for this team, but the Cardinals could do much worse (Tony Cruz) on a daily basis than Pierzynski.

Ace Adam Wainwright has given up 11 earned runs in his last 16+ innings of work and with Michael Wacha just now starting to throw again and still on the DL, the rotation is adjusting to the additions of Justin Masterson and John Lackey.

Both veterans picked up wins in their Cardinals debuts, though in opposite fashion. Masterson labored through six innings giving up 5 earned runs and walking 3, but was the beneficiary of a sudden surge by the offense. Lackey threw 7 strong frames Sunday allowing just 2 ER and striking out 4 in a one-run Cardinals win.

August 4, 2014 – Source: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America

Lance Lynn seems to have settled into the #2 slot behind Waino though he’s struggled with his control this season. He’s also had a bit of bad luck in that the Cardinals aren’t scoring runs behind him (or anyone very often, for that matter.) Lynn has only allowed 3 earned runs in his last 3 starts but is just 1-2 in those games, in which St. Louis has only scored 4 runs of their own.

Shelby Miller has made enormous strides in his last two starts, and the difference lies in one immediately obvious fact: he has thrown more curveballs in that time than in most of his previous starts combined! That may be a slight exaggeration, but the youngster has relied far too heavily on his fastball this season, and a Major League starter cannot throw only one pitch.

Whatever the motivating force behind Miller’s decision to finally start trusting his breaking-ball, it’s working for him. Prior to last week’s win in Sand Diego, Miller hadn’t lasted at least six innings since June 19, a game in which he labored. Now he’s gone 6+ (7 last night) innings in two consecutive starts and that bodes well for the Cardinals and their chances for post-season success.

August 5, 2014 – Source: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America

Miller will likely stick in the #3 spot if he continues to pitch this way, but the new faces provide St. Louis with options for a playoff rotation that should keep fans from panicking, even in light of Wacha’s questionable return. Lackey seems to be the most likely to join the top four, with his experience and competitive spirit.

Masterson, the other newcomer to the staff, will likely be starting games down the stretch with Wacha (hopefully) easing his way back into live innings, but Justin needs to get his accuracy under control if he plans to contribute more than long relief. Wacha should also be a middle-innings guy out of the pen upon his return. My playoff rotation would then look like this: Waino-Lynn-Miller-Lackey.

 
I’ll be back tomorrow with some thoughts on the Cardinals bullpen, bench, and perhaps my final opinion on whether they have what it takes to legitimately make a run at another championship in 2014.