Baseball Analytics

When I was growing up in Michigan in the 1960’s, I enjoyed following and rooting for my beloved Detroit Tigers. I loved to check out the sports page to study the box scores, from the preceding day’s ballgames. I knew the baseball statistics and leaders of the day, such as the top 10 in each of three hitting categories.

For batters, the main stats were: Batting Average (BA); Home Runs (HR); and Runs-Batted-In (RBI).

For pitchers, there were two main stats: Won-Loss record and Earned Run Average (ERA). In the 1960’s, it was not uncommon to have starting pitchers throw 150+ pitches per game, and complete the game, pitching all 9 innings. Now, 100+ pitches or less per game is the norm; and, a complete game for a pitcher is an outlier.

I kept up with the statistics for my favorite Tigers’ players, such as Al Kaline and Rocky Colavito, as well as the stats for stars on other baseball teams.

Now there are many other statistics, such as WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and OPS (On-Base percentage Plus Slugging); and for pitchers, there is WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched). I know how to calculate many of the newer analytical statistics; and, I recognize good season and career WAR numbers, but I do not know how to calculate WAR!

I love baseball; and, I brought that love of baseball to my wife Sharon. She and I became huge Houston Astros fans in the 1980’s, while we lived in Houston, Texas.

“Baseball has been very, very good to me.” (and, for Sharon)

I Do Life Better Married

During the initial months of the COVID-19 Pandemic, starting in mid-March 2020, I realized that I kind of liked being a home body. Sharon was still in better health and moods, and we were reasonably happy.

I had some prior experience with Zoom, from using it in a virtual Bible study class, prior to 2020. This provided me with service opportunities to be the Zoom master for some Alanon and church groups. I found that somewhat invigorating for a few months, before I passed the Zoom batons to others.

Caregiving for my wife Sharon, living with Alzheimer’s / dementia started to get more challenging for me in 2021. While we were (and, are still) married, I was continuing to lose my partner to the disease.

Most of our marriage, we picked each other up, encouraging each other. If Sharon was discouraged, I could pick her up; and, vice versa. We enjoyed raising our two, adopted (at birth) sons, being active at church and being with friends.

Thus , I came to the realization recently that I do life better married! When I was in my 20’s, before meeting and marrying Sharon (we married, when we were both 30, or nearly 30), I sometimes floundered a bit. Sharon is my love and my foundation. She gives so much to me and our families during our marriage. She still gives, with her gentle spirit.

I have not had Sharon as that anchor and equal partner for the last few years. I miss my “former” (the vibrant wife, Mom, daughter, skilled RN) Sharon.

I am honored to love and serve her “in sickness and in health”; and for “richer and poorer“, “until death do us part”. Sharon is my best girl and the love of my life! Happy Anniversary Month, Sharon!

My Awakening from Caregiving Slumber

As I wrote recently, I was a feeling a bit down and unmotivated for several weeks from the end of April through most of July. Sunday afternoon, July 31, I mark as me awakening from a late Spring / early Summer slumber.

I am not sure what woke me up. But, Sunday afternoon, I became more engaged; and, I started to see clearly again the joys of my life.

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the power that motivates us to change.” This is a quote from authors Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. Jake Townsend. Tony Robbins has a similar quote.

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the power that motivates us to change.” This is a quote from authors Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. Jake Townsend. Tony Robbins has a similar quote.

I have been Sharon’s husband for nearly 39 years (we married on August 13 in 1983). We lived together until mid November 2021. Then, I made the difficult decision to place Sharon in a small facility, that cared for people living with dementia.

The emotional and financial responsibilities of Sharon living outside of our home, and me trusting others to provide loving care for her, is still hard. But, I don’t have nearly the stress of caregivers of spouses, where the spouse, living with dementia, still lives at home. I am grateful for this.

I have an online coach, Tavia Sharp, that is encouraging me to start a facebook support group primarily for spouses of those living with dementia. Since I have many friends and followers on facebook, I may roll out this group in the coming weeks. Please let me know if you have any thoughts on this project.

Intellectually, I knew this was the case, but I was not putting much action into practice for several weeks of slumbering. Once I did, my life got back on track!

I am a big fan of Dr. David Burns, MD/Psychiatrist, who has a weekly podcast, “Feeling Good”, for therapists and non-therapists alike. In his book, “Feeling Good”, he has a simple diagram on page 119, that shows Action on the top and Motivation in the middle, then More Action on the bottom, with arrows pointing at the phrases. Dr. Burns makes the point that actions must come first; then, as we do actions / activities, more motivation comes from those actions. Motivation does not come first!

That is, don’t put the cart before the horse.

Monk

During some of my largely, idle weeks recently, I have watched several episodes of the USA Network TV series (2002-2009) , “Monk”. Surprisingly, I found many of the episodes funny and entertaining.

The title character, Adrian Monk, plays a former San Francisco Police Department detective, who consults for the police on a new case each week. He figures out the true bad guy by the end of each show. Often, Mr. Monk utilizes his hands (see photo in this post) to visualize and see things at the crime scenes, that allow him to solve the case.

Monk was suspended from the police department for his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behavior, after the death of his loving wife Trudy, prior to the start of the series. Thus, he ends up consulting for the police department, with the help of his competent assistant, Natalie Teager. I must admit that I developed a small crush on Natalie, portrayed by actress Traylor Howard (see photo in this post).

I identify a bit with Mr. Monk, for his lack of social skills. While my social graces may be better than Adrian Monk’s, I sometimes feel awkward in certain social / business gatherings.

I also carry some small OCD tendencies. When I go about my day, on walks outside, I often pick up trash. Also, for several years, I have been on the lookout for potential “tripping hazard” objects on the floor, which I often will move or straighten up. I noticed myself doing this at the gym today.

I am also a bit OCD with facebook posts, text messages, blog posts, and business correspondence. While I know this blog will contain some errors, I sometimes obsess too much on trying to be 100% correct with my spelling, grammar, and the best word choices. My mentor, author Seth Godin, advises to “ship it” / publish it anyway.

More importantly, because of his OCD, Mr. Monk generally has trouble having fun, relaxing, and enjoying life. While I enjoy my life, sometimes I reflect too much on the past or future, while I am “pissing” on the present, where life is really lived and enjoyed. Going forward, I plan to be more deliberate each day to try and live generously and more lovingly to those in my life.

Hmmmmm

I am having trouble falling asleep tonight. I tried listening to music. I drank some decaf coffee. I just am not sleepy at Midnight on Sunday, July 31 / Monday, August 1.

I have struggled a bit the last few months. I just have had trouble getting going many mornings. Then, the morning rolls into early afternoon, then early evening.

Once per week or so, I play trivia with my son Steve, his girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s family. I can usually contribute some correct responses for our team, in categories like Sports, U.S. cities, and American Presidents.

My baseball team, the Astros, are playing well. That has been a good diversion for me most days, watching them on TV. I also belong to some Astros fscebook groups; and, it is fun to interact with other fans in Game Thread posts, as the game progresses.

i have been skipping church. I think about going, but then, I don’t get ready.

There are a lot of projects I want to do in my home, but I am largely not getting them done. I visit my wife Sharon, when I can. The place where she stays recently had a soft quarantine for a couple of weeks, because of COVID.

I have a new friend to do some things socially with, such as a meal out, see a movie, improv, and more.

I have a counselor I meet with every other week. I am getting ready to start a grief support group in mid-August. I have some great on-line coaches. I have an Alanon-friendly group I attend on Tuesdays.

Several of my friends currently have serious medical issues, including me with Sharon’s Alzheimer’s.

Well let me post this, and see if I can find some Zzzzz’s.

Good night and Godspeed.

Folding a Fitted Sheet

Early Sunday morning, I watched a short Martha Stewart video on “How to Fold a Fitted Sheet”. The video was helpful in telling me to get my hand inside of all four corners of the sheet. But, from there, I had difficulty executing the remaining steps to fold the fitted sheet into a nice flat package See the photo in this blog / post for my poor results.

My wife Sharon could fold a fitted sheet perfectly. She was a great folder of sheets, towels, blankets, underwear…. See other photos.

Sharon was good at organizing and planning. In our food pantry, she taught me to tear the box tops off of boxes that had additional, individually wrapped packages inside, such as instant oatmeal packages See photo.

For several years, when we lived in Houston, Sharon served as surgical heart RN, worked under famed heart surgeon Denton Cooley, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital /  Texas Heart Institute.   She also worked there at the Clayton Catheterization Lab, where she assisted in heart catheterizations / angioplasties and stents   Once she was one of the nurses for the Prince of Bahrain.  

It was in the Clayton Lab, where she helped organize the medical supplies, by tearing off the tops of box tops, to make for quicker access to the individually wrapped items in the boxes.   And, this best practice translated into our kitchen at home.

If you are good at folding fitted sheets, consider providing me with a in-home lesson.

Singing

In John Wesley’s directions for singing, written in 1761, he said, “Sing all. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep. Do not bawl so as to be heard above the rest of the congregation but strive to unite your voices together. Sing in time and do not sing too slowly. …”

I have always enjoyed singing in church and elsewhere.    The challenge  for me is that I cannot carry a tune; and, sometimes my sense of timing is a half-beat off.

For several years, pre-pandemic, I sang in the Agape Choir at Coker United Methodist Church, San Antonio, Texas, at 8:00 a.m.    Other than having to get up early on Sunday mornings, it was the perfect choir for me.   We did not have practice during the week; rather, we met in the choir room at 7:15 a.m. to rehearse the hymns and our anthem for the service.    We were not expected to be as good as the choir that sang in choir robes at the 11:00 a.m. service.   Nevertheless, many of our choir’s singers were talented, reading music and carrying a tune.  

I always tried to stand next to the best male singer.   I think this may have helped me sing a little better, hearing him as I sang.

I usually tried hard to make eye contact with our choir director and with some in the congregation.   What I lacked in musical talent, I tried hard to look happy and interested in the music we were singing.    Thank you to my choir directors, Wendy and Valerie, for encouraging me.

Consider going out and making a joyful noise, wherever life takes you.

Common Smells

One of my favorites smells is the smell of a fresh cut lawn of grass.   

I also enjoy the smell of Sharon’s perfume:  Romance by Ralph Lauren.

The smell of ground beef being browned in the skillet or bacon frying are also pleasing to my nose.

Cookies or bread baking in the oven are good aromas.    Some of my realtor friends might even suggest that sellers of homes bake some fresh bread a little bit before a showing.  This pleasant smell might encourage a potential buyer to make an offer  on the home

I think even a fresh, clean baby has a wonderful smell.

“Common” sounds, sights, and smells are all around us.   Breath them in.

“Common” Sights

One of my neighbors, in the cul-de-sac across from my home, plants flowers and shrubs that attract butterflies.    I benefit from being able to enjoy seeing the butterflies in her yard; some of them even grace my yard.   I love seeing butterflies and the life they represent.

I also enjoy the sight of beautiful and colorful flowers.

I love seeing the moon and planets and stars at night.

I also love seeing sunrises and sunsets. My east-facing backyard does not give me a great view of sunrises. But, my west-facing front yard provides an excellent front-row seat for viewing colorful sunsets. I often post photos of these sunsets on my facebook page.

Much of what I post on facebook are the “common” things and people that I see and enjoy daily in my life.

Common Noises

Yesterday morning, while drinking my coffee, I heard a familiar sound.  It was the Republic Services garbage truck coming down my street and doing its thing.   Every Monday and Thursday, our trash gets picked up.   Also, on Monday,  a separate recycling truck makes it way through our neighborhood.

I also hear the sound of jet airplanes flying overhead, as they  continue their descent and final approach towards San Antonio International Airport.

Most school days I hear the yellow busses in the morning and in the afternoon.

Some mornings, I hear muffled gunfire in the distance, as soldiers go through training exercises at Camp Bullis

I hear birds chirping throughout the day; and, in the late afternoons, I sometimes hear the pleasant sounds and squealing of kids outside and enjoying life.  

There is something comforting about hearing common sounds.