Red Sox/ Yankees Weekend Preview

This weekend, the Red Sox and Yankees face off for a crucial 3 game series at Fenway Park. The Red Sox will have either a 4 or 5 game lead over the Yankees going into it, depending on whether the Yankees win or lose tonight at the Mets. Though the Yankees have a 7-5 advantage in the season series, the Red Sox have won 4 of the last 7, including taking 2 of 3 last weekend at Yankee Stadium. No matter what happens, with a lot of talk about the rivalry being renewed with all the young talent on both teams, there should be a great buzz in the air at Fenway.  With 2 of 3 games last weekend going right down to the wire, fans of both teams should be in for a treat. Here, I give my analysis of the pitching match-ups, some questions/ keys I have going into the series, and ultimately, the prediction of who will win it.

Pitching Match-Ups:

Pomeranz (12-4, 3.39 era) vs. Montgomery (7-6, 3.94 era), Friday, 7:10 P.M.

This is possibly the most interesting pitching match-up, with both players coming off pretty solid outings in the last series. Pomeranz went 6 2/3 innings while giving up 7 hits and 3 earned runs in a win Saturday vs. the Yankees, while Montgomery went 5 1/3 innings while giving up just 2 hits and 1 earned run in a no decision vs. the Sox Sunday night, despite some hard hit balls for outs. Both pitchers have relatively similar stats this year and each had success vs. their rival the last time out, making this the toughest one to call as far as the advantage. If I had to give a slight advantage, it would be to Pomeranz, as the Sox are 15-8 in his starts this year, while the Yankees have gone 9-13 in Montgomery’s starts.

Sale (14-4, 2.51 era) vs. Sabathia (9-5, 4.05 era), Saturday, 7:10 P.M.

This is another intriguing match-up. While Sale has pitched very well in 3 starts vs. the Yankees this year, giving up just 3 earned runs, he has yet to earn a win, with the Sox scoring 4 runs total in those 3 games. In a dominating performance Sunday night, Sale registered 12 strikeouts in 7 innings against the Yankees while giving up just 1 earned run and 4 hits. Sabathia has been dominant against the Sox this year, beating them in both starts and giving up no runs. The Sox lost those games by a total of 11-0.

I would give the advantage to Sale here. Although it is possible he may not be quite as dominant the 3rd time around against the Yankees, Sabathia is just coming off the DL. That alone is cause to believe he won’t be able to replicate his first two starts against the Red Sox. Sabathia has struggled some against the Red Sox in previous years and I have a feeling the 3rd time this year will be the charm for the Sox against him. For reference, I had a feeling Luis Severino, who had been on fire, was due for a bad start. Last Saturday, he gave up 10 runs to the Sox. I also had a feeling the Sox were due to win a Sale start vs. the Yankees after losing the first 2, which they did on Sunday night. Here’s to hoping I’m right again.

Gray (7-7, 3.37 era) vs. TBD, Sunday, 1:35 P.M.

This one most likely favors the Yankees, depending on who the Sox start. Sonny Gray, who’s having a pretty decent year, has gone 6 starts in a row pitching at least 6 innings and giving up 2 or fewer earned runs. He’s allowed no runs in 2 of those starts. Doug Fister, coming off a rough outing on Monday, is a likely candidate to start, but the Sox aren’t sure whether he will or not.

Rick Porcello would also make sense since he would have 5 days rest coming off a start Tuesday. Although Porcello has been shaky in some outings, with a 7-14 record overall, he has gone 3-0 in August while striking out 19 batters and giving up 10 earned runs. While Porcello has been a far cry from last year’s Cy Young performance, he has showed signs he may be turning the corner. If the Sox do start Porcello, I feel they have a much better chance to win the game than if they started Fister. However, no matter who pitches, the Sox have shown an ability to come back and have produced some late inning magic this year, with 9 walk off wins.

Food For Thought:

Don’t Judge Me?

Everyone knows Aaron Judge started off the season on a tear, batting .329 with 30 home runs and 66 RBI. After the All- Star break, however, he’s been a different story, batting just .185. The pitchers adjusted to him and he is now in the midst of another historic run: 33 games in a row with a strikeout, the most ever in a single season. However, Judge has hit 2 home runs in the last 3 games, including a 457 foot bomb last night. He’s gone 4 for 13 in those 3 games, possibly showing signs he may be turning a corner. That could be bad news for the Red Sox. If Judge does turn things on this series, it could really spark the Yankees. Although he has been held in check this year vs. the Sox so far, with only one home run in the 12 meetings, it is only a matter of time before he does some damage. Could this be the series? We shall see.

Baby Sox Mania?

We all know about the Baby Bombers, but the Red Sox have some young talent of their own. When Rafael Devers hit a home run off Aroldis Chapman in the 9th inning to tie the game, everyone in the stadium, including the announcers, were shocked. The home run sparked the Sox to a 3-2 win in 10 innings. Devers has batted .348 with 6 home runs and 13 RBI in 18 games this year, showing no signs of being fazed by the MLB. Another hero of the series last weekend in New York was Andrew Benintendi, who has been on fire in August, batting .372 with 5 HR and 12 RBI in the last couple weeks. 3 of those home runs and 9 of those RBI came against the Yankees last weekend.

With a walk off hit last night, Mookie Betts is showing some signs he could have a big series. Xander Bogaerts also may be turning a corner, with a home run in the 9th inning last night, along with 3 hits on Tuesday night. If those four young guns can continue hitting well, the Sox will have a great chance to take this series.

Prediction:

The Sox will take two out of 3. Now, obviously I am a Red Sox fan, so this could be taken with a grain of salt. However, the Sox do, I feel, have the edge in 2 of the 3 pitching match-ups. That, combined with the fact that they have an AL best 38-21 home record and the Yankees are 29-33 on the road, should be reason to believe they can take the series. Even though these 3 games arguably mean more to the Yankees, there has been some real magic this year at Fenway Park, reminiscent of 2013.

Why a Fan is a Fan

Thousands of people are gathered in a stadium. A man steps up with a bat and smacks a ball high in the air. Now, none of these people know the man hitting the ball. Yet, they still want him to succeed in the worst way. As the ball sails further and further, the crowd rises and begins to yell. The ball finally lands over the fence, and the crowd is sent into a frenzy. Why is this? Why do millions of people call themselves baseball fans? Fans of a team of players they don’t know. They don’t have any actual say in what happens in games. Their life won’t change either way whether their team wins or loses. Yet, they still live and die with every pitch.

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Rogers Center, AL Wild Card game 2016, Orioles vs Blue Jays
Even as a big Red Sox fan for almost my whole life, the idea of being a fan still confounds me at times. I suppose it is more understandable for a kid to be a fan, to live and die with their team. After all, they are more innocent and haven’t really experienced as much in life. For an adult, however, it gets more complex. The thought of writing this article came to me this weekend really, as the Red Sox are in a crucial series with the Yankees, battling for first place in the AL East. Memories of old came back to me as it feels the rivalry, albeit different from the past, has been growing in intensity.

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Red Sox vs Orioles, September 2016
I guess you could say I was born into being a fan. Since my dad followed the Red Sox his whole life, I took to watching sports at a very young age. I would study the paper, soaking in all the stats and standings my little mind could handle. When I was around five or six, I tried to bargain with my dad, telling him I would sleep late if he let me stay up to watch a game that started at 10. I remember crying at maybe six years old as the Sox were eliminated from the playoffs , sitting with my dad listening to the game on the radio. At 11, I was heartbroken yet again when they lost the ALCS to the Yankees on a walk off home run. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

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Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays, one of my favorite MLB players
As the years have gone by, I feel like the heartbreak when the Red Sox lose, the feeling that the world is over and nothing will ever be the same, has lessened quite a bit. Just a couple of days ago, the Red Sox blew a 3-0 lead in the 8th inning to the Yankees and ended up losing the game 5-4. Years ago, many objects in the house would have taken a beating and I would have been quite upset for a long time after. Not that I didn’t let out a few choice words this time. However, I didn’t react in quite the same way. I knew the Red Sox would have a chance to win the next day (which they did) and was able to get over the loss much quicker, without harming anything in the house.

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Red Sox celebrating after beating the Yankees, “Win Dance Repeat”, July 2017
Even though the losses are less bitter, I don’t really think the thrill of victory has lessened too much. Just as I was jumping for joy when Big Papi hit a walk off home run to win game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, I was thrilled to see Christian Vazquez drill one over the center field wall to complete a wild walk off win just a couple of weeks ago. I jumped for joy in the same spot in my living room as in 2004. The World Series win in 2013 for the Red Sox was a special one, arguably as exciting as 2004. After the Boston Marathon bombings, everyone remembers Ortiz proclaiming it was “our —- city” and the team rallying together for the city and all of New England, ultimately winning it all. I have fond memories of watching the last game at a bar at UNH, with a wild celebration taking place. Thankfully, I got out of dodge before things escalated too much.

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Yankee Stadium, July 2017
Maybe I just answered the question in that last paragraph, at least somewhat. Part of the reason fans are fans is that they feel the team is representing their city, their region, a large part of what they stand for. New Englanders want the Red Sox to win so badly because they feel they represent the characteristics of the region: toughness, tenacity, and the never say die attitude. Perhaps the reason fans love their team so much is they have fond memories of watching games growing up with their dad, or their friends and other family members.

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Big Papi’s last game in Yankee Stadium, September 2016
When you go to a game with thousands of other people cheering as that ball hit by that man who you don’t know sails over the fence, you feel a connection, a sense that you are all there collectively willing the team to victory. In some ways, watching the game night in and night out, you do begin to feel as if you know the players, at least you know the way they play the game and what they’re like on the field and towards the fans/media. When players like Big Papi give speeches to rally a city as he did in April of 2013, it makes you believe that these players, at least some, are in it for more than just the millions of dollars and the fame. Some really do care about the fans, the city and team they represent, and it shows. That is why fans are fans. That’s why they watch so many games, live and die with every pitch, and shell out thousands of dollars over a lifetime just to watch these guys play. So, the next time someone questions why you do what you do, why you’re a fan, just stop and look around when you’re at a game. You’ll know you’re not alone.

Start Spreading the News

New York, New York. Home of the Yankees. Home of overcrowded streets littered with trash. Those streets have a tendency to not smell so great either. All reasons why I shouldn’t love it, really. Nonetheless, I’ve had the best of times there. I’ve also had some not so great times. Yet, I still love it all the same. I’ll focus on the good times in this post, since there really are far more good than bad. Last summer, New York City sort of became my “go to” place to travel to. I went there several times, for a few Yankees games, for some concerts, and sometimes both on the same day. Man, those days were hectic yet fun in the same respect.

I had been to New York a few times before last summer, but it all started really when I went to a Halsey concert last August. A day I outlined some in a previous blog, it was a sweltering one approaching 100 degrees. I was a little nervous, as I had never navigated the New York subway system by myself, and was going to go from Grand Central to the Yankees game, back to Madison Square Garden that night for the concert. Sounds like quite a day, doesn’t it? Well, it was.

The heat was stifling from the start, and I was sitting way up in the highest part of Yankee Stadium, cooking in the sun. It was a game where I saw a bit of history, with Aaron Judge hitting his first MLB home run, a blast to center field. Who knew then he would turn into what he is now?

Anyways, I managed to make my way to Madison Square Garden for the Halsey concert. A show that had been sold out for months, it was her most anticipated ever. At first feeling out-of-place, I remember gradually feeling more and more at ease as the show went on. It turned out to be quite memorable, with Halsey restarting the show due to technical difficulties.

She also gave quite an emotional speech. Fighting back tears, she outlined how she was inspired by coming to Madison Square Garden to see Ed Sheeran when she was 19. It was a night that inspired her to start her journey as a musician herself, as well as the night where she got her name of Halsey by seeing a Halsey Street Station sign on the train. Surrounded by thousands of other Halsey fans, it was a concert where, as I said before, I got a feeling of euphoria, one I hadn’t experienced in a long time. With Halsey now being my favorite artist, I look back on it with the fondest of memories.

Another memorable day in New York City, I completed my patented Yankee Stadium/ MSG doubleheader again. This time, I went to the Yankees during the day and saw singer Shawn Mendes at night. Another scorcher of a day, I stayed for only part of the game since it started at 4. Upon arriving to MSG, I remember hearing Mendes’ song “Life of the Party” playing. A tune about not worrying about others who may be critical and being yourself, I draw inspiration from it, with my favorite line being “We don’t have to be ordinary, make your best mistakes.”

During the concert, I felt a great sense of love between the fans and Shawn. His live performance is something that really impressed me, showing a poise and confidence far beyond his years. When he played “Life of the Party”, I got a great feeling that I could do whatever I wanted and didn’t have to worry about people who doubted me. He played in the center of the crowd with just a piano for this and a few other songs. It was beautiful.

A trip to see Krewella, a duo of sisters who sing and DJ their electronic style of music, turned out to be quite memorable as well. Waiting in line before the show, I met and conversed with some other Krewella fans, which was a cool experience. I ended up getting in the front of the small venue in Brooklyn called The Good Room, resulting in me being able to reach out and grab both of their hands at different points during the show.

I had a ticket for the “after party” at a night club in NYC, but unbeknownst to me until I was informed that day, the catch was you had to have pants and I was only wearing shorts. A memory I laugh at now, I ran across Manhattan to get a pair of pants at H & M in Times Square and ended up making it.

Yet another day of frivolity included seeing Melanie Martinez, one of my favorites, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in late September. I waited out during the whole day to get a good spot in the front of the stage. Again, I talked to some fans before the show and enjoyed doing so. Waiting in line for a concert for the day is an experience that I’d recommend for any hearty soul, as the anticipation builds and the energy of the other fans is palpable.

This summer, there has been no shortage of trips to New York City. Between waiting overnight to see Halsey at the Today Show, again waiting overnight to see Big Sean on Good Morning America, a Yankees game I viewed from an exclusive club in center field that included a walk off, strolling through the beautiful Central Park for a day, and a Mets game, I certainly have made some more memories in NYC.

Walking around Time Square after I had gone to a Yankees game last Saturday, I got the feeling I was at home, an odd feeling of comfort, peace, and familiarity. As someone who thought Boston was the best place in the world for most of my life since I had been there so much, New York has definitely at least challenged, if not taken the lead over Boston for my favorite place to go. All these visits have certainly made me feel I could see myself living in New York someday. But as the old saying goes, you never know what the future may hold.

Going to God

Lead me not into temptation

I’ve been through too much devastation

Trying to figure my life out, need a revelation

And some candles and meditation

Went to God, asked for re-creation

But he told me no with no hesitation

He said listen up son, here’s a lesson for you

Just listen to me and I’ll see you through

I asked, how’s that, I mean, what do I do?

He said look all around you for the clue

There’s one person there who’s college bound

The other one there, just turned their life around

I don’t mean to pester you like a hound

But just look at the world, blessings abound

If you’re lost, you will be found

Soon yourself you will astound

And on every door, you must pound

You’ll smile at the things you once frowned

So, let me leave you to ponder this

If I didn’t tell you, I’d be remiss

In order to find your life’s bliss

You mustn’t wish, hope, or dream

Throw bad thoughts to the abyss

And let positivity reign supreme

Artist Spotlight: Handsome Ghost

Today, I have implemented a new feature into the blog called “Artist Spotlight”, where I feature a musical artist that catches my eye. The featured artist for this one is Handsome Ghost, an indie/ alternative band with Photo Finish Records. I have had the pleasure of seeing them a few times over the last couple years. The music chronicles some dark times, yet always has a sense of optimism, that there is a light to be seen in all negative experiences.

Handsome Ghost originated as Tim Noyes’ solo project. While he was teaching in New York after college, Noyes (who provides the lead vocals and guitar for the band) would work on songs and do open mics in his free time. Eventually, he decided to take music on as a full-time gig, beginning to collaborate with Eddie Byun, who does some producing as well as keyboard and vocals. Both from Boston, they became friends and released their first EP, Steps, in 2015. The band has evolved since then, with Caitlin Marie Bell (keyboard and vocals) also touring with them now.

Listening to the band gives me a certain nostalgic feeling, as I look back fondly on the first time I saw them. In September of 2015, they opened for Melanie Martinez at the College Street Music Hall in New Haven, CT. It was a special night already, as I was filled with anticipation to see Melanie, who is one of my favorite artists. I remember being drawn in right away by the keypad effect that created a loud bass sound during the opening to “Steps”, one of my favorite songs by them. I was a big fan of the soothing, mellow feel I got while watching the performance.

What strikes me the most about Handsome Ghost’s music is the vivid imagery it produces. One lyric in particular off their Steps EP in the song “Steps” I am particularly fond of is “If oceans are deep enough to drown in/ And lightning may shoot me down.” Those lines bring to my mind the vastness of the world, in the sense that it is amazing how dangerous yet beautiful it can be. Another song I love is “Promises” off their most recent EP, The Brilliant Glow, which was released last year. A line that catches my ear is when Noyes sings about shouting from the Northern Lights how he will keep his promises to be a better man. Although an exaggeration, it nonetheless conjures up a powerful image of Noyes shouting from the top of the world, and is a way to express just how far he will go.

In September of 2016, I again saw Handsome Ghost open for Melanie Martinez, this time in New York. After the show, I met Tim and Eddie when I bought  The Brilliant Glow. We made a connection as they saw my Red Sox debit card, telling me they were Boston guys. They expressed their gratitude for me buying the EP and coming to the show.

Handsome Ghost has had a couple of headlining tours of their own, the most recent coming this past spring with Frances Cone, another great band, opening for them. In early May, I went to the Brighton Music Hall to see them. The show had a very positive and optimistic feel, with the band playing favorites of old as well as their most recent releases. In a highlight of the show, Noyes took it back to his roots, stripping it down to just guitar and treating the audience to one of the first songs he wrote. Again, I chatted with Tim and Eddie a bit after the show. Both of them seem to genuinely appreciate their fans who support their music. They remain humble throughout the process, even as they continue to grow. I heard from Noyes they plan to release their debut album sometime in the fall.

Not only will they be releasing the album in the fall, but they will be performing on the “Emerging Artist” stage at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival this August, a great honor. They recently performed at the Firefly Music Festival. I for one am very happy to see them getting well deserved recognition, and am sure they will continue to have success.

Red Sox Notebook

Things Are Bitter on Twitter:

A few weeks back, when the Red Sox and Yankees played each other, the Yankees fired off a couple of jabs at the Red Sox on Twitter. After one win, they referred to the Red Sox as the “team in second place” and made fun of their slogan “Win, Dance, Repeat”, changing it to “Win. Dominate. Repeat.” The next night, they referred to the Sox as “the team still in second place.” When the Red Sox took over first place, their Twitter account made sure everyone knew they were in sole possession. I took to Twitter, asking the Yankees, “Who’s the team in second place now?” Promptly, the Red Sox lost and the Yankees won the next night, causing a Yankees fan to fire back to me, “I don’t know, you tell me?” The Yankees had been in command of the East for a while before sliding and losing 8 of their last 9 games. With the two teams tied now for first and the resurgence of the Yankees, a less bitter yet fun nonetheless rivalry could be brewing. The current Yankees team, full of young talent, doesn’t have any real “villains” like A Rod, making for a team that I can’t really say I have a strong dislike for.

Pleading (for) the Fifth:

The Red Sox have been struggling all season to find a fifth starter, not that the rest of their rotation has been perfect. Chris Sale has obviously been spectacular for the most part, leading all of the MLB in strikeouts. Drew Pomeranz has been a pretty serviceable pitcher himself. Rick Porcello, coming off a Cy Young year, has been anything but stellar, with David Price not quite performing at the caliber he is capable of just yet. The fifth starter, however, has been the biggest hole for the Sox. With Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, an All Star last year, out with injuries, the Red Sox have used several pitchers to fill the holes. Brian Johnson looked like he could be a good option, pitching a complete game his first start, but went out with an injury as well. Just today, the Red Sox have picked up Doug Fister off of waivers from the Angels. A pitcher who has a career ERA of 3.60 in the MLB but has been in AAA this year, it is not clear whether he could be a useful 5th starter or not. Possibly, a change of scenery could help him. It could be worth a shot to try him out there.

(Not So) Sweet Swinging Leon:

Last year, Sandy Leon was a welcome surprise in the batting department, getting the nickname of Sweet Swinging Sandy Leon from radio announcer Joe Castiglione. This year, however, he has not quite lived up to that name, with his batting average dipping from .310 last year to just .233 this year. The batting of Leon gave a boost to the lineup last year, and if he is able to turn things around, that could be a factor in the Red Sox making a run at the division and in the playoffs. The other Sox catcher, Christian Vazquez, has been a pretty decent hitter, batting .294, and has turned in some great defense. As the two catchers have been pretty much splitting duty, it would be great to have both hitting well.

Searching For the 8th (inning) Wonder

Another question mark for the Sox has been the 8th inning setup man, with closer Craig Kimbrel dominating the 9th inning. Matt Barnes has been the setup man for the most part this year, but it seems to me that Joe Kelly would be the better option. Barnes has allowed 3 earned runs in his last 2 appearances. In the last one, he gave up 2 walks in a row, a game the Sox lead 4-2 when he came in but went on to lose 6-4, with the 2 runners Barnes walked scoring on a grand slam. With a lower WHIP and ERA and the ability to bring more heat, it seems like it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try Kelly out more often as the 8th inning setup man, instead of in earlier innings like the 7th which he has mostly been used in recently.

Will the Real 3rd Baseman Please Stand Up?

Another major hole the Red Sox have had is at 3rd base, where they have used 7 different players this year, the most in the MLB. Deven Marrero has had his moments, but hasn’t really been able to hit consistently. The same could be said for Josh Rutledge. Pablo Sandoval has recently gone to the DL with an “ear infection and flu”. Most likely, this is just an excuse for the Red Sox to sit him down, as he has been a big disappointment in his time in Boston. I have heard different rumors of trades for the Red Sox to get a 3rd baseman, with the Royals’ Mike Moustakas’ name coming up often. He would certainly be an upgrade for the team if the price was right. In any event, with the worst production from any team in the MLB at the 3rd base position, something has to give in order for the Sox to make a serious playoff run.

Best of the Rest:

With all 5 teams in the division being separated by just 5 games, there is no reason to count anyone out just yet. The Orioles and Blue Jays sit tied 5 games behind the Red Sox and Yankees after taking different paths to get there. The Orioles started hot but have been cold recently, with the Jays turning it on lately after a bad start. However, both teams did make the AL Wild Card game last year. With some exceptions, they do have mostly the same teams as last year, so there is no reason to think they couldn’t each make a run at the playoffs or division still. The Tampa Bay Rays have been somewhat of a surprise this year themselves, sitting just 2.5 games out of first. A team that doesn’t have stellar pitching but one that can certainly hit well, they too could contend for the top spot in the division. Overall, the Sox record against the AL East isn’t too great, with all teams in the division usually playing them pretty tough. The only prediction I will give right now is that it will certainly be an exciting and competitive rest of the year in the AL East.

A Concert For Free With Timeflies and Bea

Last night, Hollister hosted a unique concert in Boston at Artists for Humanity with performances by Timeflies and Bea Miller. I found out about the event through Twitter and was able to snag a free ticket on the Hollister website the day before. There were many highlights of the day and event, with the most unexpected coming after the show.

I arrived to the city around 12 and headed to the Boston Common area. There, I passed by some locations that reminded me of key times in my journey of bipolar.

I saw the Wilbur Theatre, a place I had visited to see Melissa Etheridge with my dad and a cousin almost a year ago today. It was a show that for my dad was a real treat, as he was thrilled to see how close we were to the stage. However, I remember during that period being so bogged down by depression that I couldn’t fully appreciate the show. Looking back, it is cool I was able to see her. I’m sure it was meaningful for my dad also to have me there while he was seeing one of his favorite artists, whether I was depressed or not.

I also saw the Orpheum Theatre where I saw the singer Alessia Cara just a few short months later this past October. In a turn of events I described in an earlier post, I was now in a manic phase. I broke down crying at one point during the show, overwhelmed by emotions of missing my mom and feeling caught in the middle between growing up but in some ways wanting to hold onto the past. During that phase, my emotions were on overdrive, with everything seeming extremely emotional to me.

I didn’t think about these two places much more than when I passed them, but thinking about those phases more, I have an odd feeling. It’s not necessarily nostalgia or a longing to go back to them, but rather a feeling that they are part of who I am. Therefore, they do carry a special meaning to me, even if I wasn’t in the best state of mind at either point, if that makes any sense.

Back to the concert. I got there to wait in line around 4:15, with doors scheduled to open around 6. A relatively experienced concert waiter, I have the motto of better safe than sorry when it comes to shows.

Jumping forward, I was able to get into the show and get a great spot near the stage. Hollister went all out for the event, providing plenty of free food, drinks, and other gifts such as a t-shirt and drawstring bag.

One of the highlights for me was the performance of Bea Miller. A singer who is 18 and was on the X Factor at just 13, coming in ninth place, Bea is short but has a very powerful voice. She recently released her second of 3 “chapters” of 3 songs, and is certainly an artist worth checking out if you are into pop music.

Another highlight transpired when Cal of Timeflies ran down into the crowd, coming right up to me. I gave him a pat on the back as he was recording the crowd for a YouTube video, singing their well-known hit “I Choose U.”

To cap off the night, while riding back from the show on the T, I noticed a picture of Bea and Cal I posted on Twitter (the one featured here) was getting more traction than usual. At first not knowing what it was about, I hopped over to Bea Miller’s page to find she had retweeted it, the equivalent of sharing a photo on Facebook. The likes were coming in quite quickly, with Timeflies soon retweeting it as well about an hour later. The combination of retweets resulted in nearly 50,000 people seeing the picture so far. I didn’t want to make this the whole focus of the post, but it was pretty cool I was able to capture a picture they both recognized and shared.

In a new “Coming Soon” feature of this blog, I decided to give a sneak peek of the next post, which may come tomorrow or Saturday:

Coming Soon: The AL East is heating up, with new life being breathed into the Red Sox/ Yankees rivalry.

Mental Health Language

How many times have you heard some variation of the phrase “Looks like someone forgot to take their meds today” or even said it? I certainly know I have heard it plenty of times. Now, this is not meant to attack anyone or say you’re a horrible person if you ever have said something like that. Rather, it is just to get people thinking. Phrases like this, along with others like “I must be bipolar or something, my emotions are all over the place today” are used a little too freely in my opinion. Just as most people are probably aware of refraining from saying things like “that’s so gay” when describing something that makes them upset or frustrated or that they don’t like, they should be aware of the language they use when describing mental illnesses.

Oftentimes, people say things along the lines of what was described above without even thinking twice. I feel this in a way trivializes mental illnesses and people who do indeed take medications for them. As someone who takes medications and sometimes struggles with the thought of it, hearing a joke about someone who is acting silly or different than usual forgetting to take their meds does bother me a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dwell on it all the time, but I have thought about it enough to feel like I wanted to write a post about it.

Even in popular culture, there are references to mental illnesses that are not particularly considerate. In a song “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston that came out when I was in high school, he sings “They’ll have me suicidal, suicidal when they say it’s over.” Now, is he actually saying he will want to kill himself when a girl breaks up with him? Probably not. Personally, I think he is using that word in a way to try to convey just how heartbroken he would be, but that probably isn’t the best choice of words to describe his feelings. Someone who actually is suicidal probably wouldn’t appreciate hearing it in a somewhat glamorized fashion in song lyrics. The song got a lot of radio play and probably millions of people sang it without really thinking of the real connotation of those lyrics, showing how this type of language can spread quickly. This is just an example of something that came to my mind first when thinking about this whole topic.

Going back to when I described someone saying their emotions are all over the place and saying they are bipolar, the sentence is oftentimes accompanied by a laugh by them or others laughing with them. This is something I heard someone say at work just recently, and I know she is not aware I do have bipolar. Thus, the point is, you don’t know the story or situation of everyone around you. If you make some kind of joke like that, it may actually be upsetting to someone else who’s affected by bipolar or other disorders. It also shows there is a real misconception among many people about what bipolar actually is. A common perception is of Jekyll and Hyde, where someone who has bipolar is constantly  changing moods on a dime. However, in my case and probably in many other cases, that is not true. As I explained in an earlier post, I had phases of ups and downs. Yes, I do have some mood swings sometimes, maybe more than many people, but the majority of them when I was untreated came in cycles, not rapidly fluctuating throughout the day.

As I said before, this is not meant to criticize anyone who may read this. It is only to bring awareness to the topic. What is the real solution? Simply try to think about the phrasing you use in everyday conversations regarding mental illnesses, and to encourage others to do the same. You never really know how what you say could affect others due to conditions they struggle with. This is not to say that the whole field of mental health has not made great strides, especially recently. In general, it seems like people do accept the legitimacy of mental illnesses more than ever. With people speaking out about mental illnesses more and more and there being better quality care, I am very grateful and happy in general about the state of affairs. However, there still is some work to be done as far as realizing the need to be more sensitive in regards to language used around mental health disorders.

A Night With Betty Who

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing the singer Betty Who perform at Royale in Boston. Inconspicuously settled near the Boston Common, Royale is a relatively small venue that makes for an intimate concert experience. A place I had visited a few times before, I looked forward to returning for the first time in several months. Also familiar to me was the opener Vérité, who I had seen open for Marian Hill the last time I went. Vérité did not disappoint yet again, but it was Betty Who who made more of an impression on me.

It was an ideal spring day in Boston and I arrived early to take advantage of it. I always enjoy walking around Boston, this time spending most of my time strolling around the Boston Common. It was filled to the brim with others soaking in the beautiful day as well. Some interesting sights were had, including a parade of costume wearing runners. The dinosaur really stole the show amongst onlookers. The energy in Boston was palpable. Several Boston Marathon runners and spectators were walking around, the Bruins had a playoff game in Ottawa, and the Red Sox were hosting a game, making for a packed T ride into the city.

Once I made my way to Royale, the concert began with Vérité taking the stage by storm, opening with her hard hitting new single “When You’re Gone.” I am a big fan of artists who really make you feel strong emotions with their lyrics and the way they deliver them. Vérité is definitely one who does just that. A twenty-something (I think) singer from New York, Vérité has powerful vocals and songs that are usually somewhat angst filled/ angry, yet beautiful all in the same. She is able to sing with such emotion that you are really taken into the song, and almost makes you feel the same way. Vérité referenced how New York crowds at concerts seem bitter compared to the Boston crowds, and admitted “I’m somewhat bitter too, but it’s OK” in a nonchalant way. With her debut album coming out in June, she is certainly an artist to watch.

The anticipation was soon in the air for the singer everyone came to see, Betty Who. A 25 year old Australian singer whose real name is Jessica Newham, she went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and started out as an acoustic songwriter before evolving her music into the more colorful pop sound she is now known for. Right from the start, the crowd really took to her and was loud. One of the things that impressed me most about her was her stage presence. I hadn’t really seen an artist who dances as much as her, especially not with backup dancers and choreography for most of the songs. This made for a fun and playful environment, with Ms. Who really acknowledging her band and dancers and having fun with all of them. Her talents went beyond her singing and dancing, however.

Who knew how to work a crowd, saying in a playful manner early on in the show, “The only rule is that you have to sing the words if you know them. If I see you mumbling the words and I know you know them, we will lock eyes and I will tell you to really sing them.” The playful tone she set at the beginning continued throughout, with her calling out several members of the audience at different points. At one point, she acknowledged a girl who was singing all the lyrics in the balcony, saying she made her heart explode. Other times, she cracked jokes or pointed out people wearing interesting apparel, from asking a boy wearing a Def Leppard shirt if he knew any songs by them (he didn’t) to getting excited when she saw a fan donning a “Who Crew” hat.

In one of the more intimate points of the show, she went back to her roots and played a couple acoustic songs. A powerful moment took place when she asked the crowd to sing back the chorus of one of her more popular songs “Wanna Be.” A tale about wanting to be with a guy who is already taken, Who croons “I know she’s sweet, but she isn’t me/ Where she lies in your eyes/ That’s where I wanna be.” Another great moment of the show took place during her empowering song “Beautiful” where she posed a question to the crowd by singing “Do you feel beautiful?” to which the crowd yelled “Hell yeah!” Of course, the show also included her hit songs, including “Mama Say”, “Some Kind of Wonderful”, and “Human Touch” from her album The Valley which came out at the end of March.

Betty Who certainly has a bright future ahead of her. Referencing Beyoncé as someone she looks up to, she definitely possesses some of her charisma on stage and dancing skills, although she most likely won’t reach quite that level of fame, but who really can?Nonetheless, her tour promoting The Valley should be a great boost to her. I am certain she will continue to produce more uplifting songs that speak to her fans.

Going to a concert is such an uplifting experience, and one that everyone should experience at one time or another. I feel fortunate to have seen so many great shows over the last few years. This one was probably more of a treat for me since I hadn’t been to one since December. Perhaps this blog will take on more of a musical direction, as it is something I have a great passion for. Maybe introducing up and coming artists I have my eye on, or reviewing concerts I go to like this one, who knows. The beauty of the blog that I love is I can take it in any direction. So far, it has been an enjoyable experience I look forward to continuing.

My Journey

Just as I have a habit of putting many things off, I have unfortunately put off writing this blog for quite some time now. If anyone who may be reading this didn’t know, I am now employed for the first time since starting the blog. I began working in downtown Springfield at a company called Stentel with a title of property estimator a couple weeks ago. I won’t be getting into detail with that as that is not the real topic of this particular post, but if anyone feels like finding out more, they can ask me about it and I will be happy to discuss it. I will say it has been going pretty well so far.

For this post, I felt like talking about my journey so far since my mom died. Well, really a little before that. It is something I have been wanting to write about for a while, but as I said, I have been putting it off, telling myself I will do it soon. This journey is particularly important to me since it deals with when my Bipolar disorder, which I was officially diagnosed with in November of last year, really began to take shape.

Soon before my mom died, and especially right after, I went into a phase that could be described as being on the lower end of manic. I developed an intense passion for singing, thinking I was going to sail off into the sunset as a professional singer and be set for life without ever really dealing with my mom’s death. My love for music didn’t necessarily come out of nowhere, as I had years before been called a human top 40 jukebox, but the idea that I was going to be a professional singer was one that caused concern amongst family and friends. It became quite an obsession, where I would stay up all night oftentimes or close to it, singing or watching music videos/ interviews of musicians. As many know, I wrote songs and posted singing clips on Instagram, thinking that would catapult me to a career as some but very few had done. I would brush off any comments or concern others had, saying that it didn’t really come out of nowhere and I was fine. However, looking back, it did take off quite rapidly after singing just once in front of a small crowd of a few friends at a bonfire.

I could go on for a long time about this phase, but really to condense it, it went on for months and the bottom line is I never actually dealt with my mom’s death. Inevitably, I was setting myself up for a crash, although I didn’t really know it when I was going through that phase.

On came the depression, as quickly and seemingly out of nowhere as the manic phase. I can’t really point to a specific event that brought on the depression. All I know is that it hit really hard. I stopped singing altogether and was really down in the doldrums. Things I loved before like sports, I no longer cared for at all. I was living life, but wasn’t really there. Again for months, this phase lasted. Contrary to my more outgoing self during the manic phase, I was withdrawn during the depression. People would call, but I wouldn’t answer. I wouldn’t respond to text messages most of the time. Most days, I didn’t really do anything productive at all, wallowing in my misery. Of course, this again caused concern from family and friends. This time, I knew something was wrong, but as much as I knew that, it was seemingly impossible to bring myself to do anything to change what was happening despite countless suggestions from family and friends. Soon, however, and again seemingly out of nowhere, another manic phase would come.

Perhaps it was already building up, but I can point to seeing Halsey, my favorite singer, last August at Madison Square Garden as a real turning point and possibly a catalyst for the mania. It was a sweltering day, with temperatures reaching the high 90’s. I had been outside at the Yankees game all day, which kind of exhausted me, but I remember even then not really feeling like I belonged there, not feeling like I belonged anywhere in fact. During the concert, however, I started to feel hope again. I can’t really describe it fully, but there is something about being in a crowd of thousands of people who love the same artist you do that brings out a feeling of euphoria. Coupled with the fact that she has Bipolar herself and has battled anxiety and depression, even going through a suicidal phase, I felt like I had a great connection to her. I remember walking out of that concert and seeing the bright city lights of New York. I felt hope again, like life was breathed back into me. It was like a movie.

This set off a period of only a couple months where I went to a ton of concerts and sporting events, culminating with a trip to California on a whim, soon spending all the money I had. Yes, I did literally spend everything I had and at one point went into the negative by a few cents. Again, I didn’t see how dangerous and really sometimes reckless my behavior was. Citing things such as “well I’m not staying up all night or drinking this time”, I had convinced myself I was fine, even great, adopting a me vs. the world mentality. Soon enough, this came to a head, where there was a night family members ended up getting through to me. After I adamantly and quite loudly disagreed for a little while, I finally agreed to think about seeing a psychiatrist.

Soon, I did see a psychiatrist and began taking medications. As some may recall, I made a post back in November about having Bipolar and taking Lithium, a mood stabilizer I am no longer taking due to medical issues it caused. It was a way for me to own the bipolar at that time, and this is a way for me really to work through and in some ways make sense of it all. However, I am still taking another mood stabilizer and anti-depressants, to try to prevent another period of depression from occurring. Right now, I feel pretty decent about where my life is, working full time for the first time in a while and realizing the value of actually saving money and not getting caught up in going to as many events as possible. Really, those events were a distraction for me, but not the remedy by themselves. The cycle of mania and depression has for the time being been broken, as since probably November really, I have not been too high or too low.

If you have made it through this post, thank you. I really appreciate anyone who reads the blog. Hopefully, anyone who read this can possibly get something out of it and know that adopting the mentality of fighting the world as I did doesn’t really work out. Although I certainly would never want anyone to go through the experiences I have, I hope this may be of help to some who are battling or have battled anything like depression, anxiety, Bipolar, or loss of a loved one dear to them. Until next time, which will hopefully be sooner than the last.