From Then to Now

Upon waking up, Facebook reminded me of a post I made a year ago. On this date, I announced my decision to leave Holyoke Medical Center after working there for almost two years. This caused me to start thinking about how my life is now compared to what it was then. Back then, my mind jumped rapidly from idea to idea, usually without any real reason. As I had explained in earlier posts, that could be called a manic phase. I was probably around the beginning, or maybe middle of it, but didn’t really know what was going on. I simply felt like I was doing really well considering I had been very depressed for the last few months.

The exact thought process is still somewhat hazy to me, as every decision happened so fast, but I remember at one point switching from planning on moving in with cousins in Springfield to deciding on a whim that I would go to grad school in California. Looking back, it is hard to see the logic in the decision. Possibly, I was thinking it was then or never to make a move for the future. I thought if I didn’t do something drastic right then and there, my life wouldn’t work out. Obviously, I didn’t decide to go to California for grad school. It definitely was the right decision, as I didn’t have the money for housing, nor was it planned out well at all.

A staple of the phase I was in last year was spur of the moment trips that were not planned out well at all. One of them included going to see the singer Melanie Martinez in DC and New York on back to back nights. Travelling by bus, I gave no real thought to the extra costs of food or the toll not having a real comfortable place to sleep would take on my body. Another spur of the moment trip was taken to Toronto to see the Blue Jays play the Orioles for the Wild Card game. Although a fun trip and great game, it was still a rather foolish decision to go there by myself and spend the money I did when you factor in the Air B n B, the food, the bus, and the ticket, among other things like a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The whole phase culminated in another spur of the moment decision to book a trip to California with no plans of where to stay really. I remember thinking I would visit the grad school, but one night ended up buying several tickets to concerts and a hockey game. I was luckily able to stay with a cousin who was kind enough to take me in, but the visit was cut short, as he could see I was very emotional. I was at a breaking point after all the crazy trips and travel. Again, I had no thought of the cost of getting around to all these concerts and events I had planned. I ended up selling all but one of the tickets. I remember breaking down right before the flight back home, as I had misplaced my wallet the night before in downtown LA. Thankfully, I was able to get it back eventually, as I left it at a convenience store, but again, that goes to show the state of mind I was in.

As the month has now turned to September this year, I am glad to have started a new position recently at a running store doing something I enjoy. After a couple of recent jobs didn’t work out, I am glad to find something more promising. Although still in training, I can see how gratifying it can be to fit someone with the right shoe. You have the opportunity to really help people out and possible change the quality of their life for the better.

I reread the article I shared last year to go with the post about leaving Holyoke Medical Center, which talked about the impact bias. The basic gist of it is that people overestimate their future happiness. Someone may think they will be so much better off when they get a new car, but the excitement soon wears off and they are back to living their normal life.

I fell into this trap somewhat when I started to take medications a little less than a year ago. I thought my life would take off and be perfect very quickly. Although it is definitely better, as I haven’t gone on any impulsive trips in the last year, it isn’t exactly how I imagined. For one, I thought I would have moved out of the house by now, but I am grateful to have a new job opportunity that will allow me to start saving at least some money. The whole point of the article was enjoying the now, the today. That is the real experience of your life, not some far-fetched future vision of what it may be and how happy you may be. As many have heard before, nothing is guaranteed but today. As cheesy as it may sound, it’s true. I shouldn’t be dreaming about how things will be if a certain event takes place. Rather, I should stay in the moment and try to enjoy what I have now.

If I had to describe my life now vs. a year ago, I would say it has seemed to slow down, but in a good way. I am no longer making rapid fire decisions for the most part. I am able to think about the whole picture of a choice and not put myself into those poorly planned situations. Jumping into something without a plan can be exciting and bold, but for the most part, it is more likely than not to lead to negative consequences. I’ve learned that it is OK to not have my whole future planned out, whereas at this time a year ago, I was in quite a rush to make things happen, with or without a solid plan.

At this point, I am trying to go with the flow more and trust things will work out how they are supposed to. I am probably more optimistic than I have been in a while at this moment. Unfortunately, I had a false or artificial sense of optimism this time last year due to my mind playing tricks on me. As tough as it was to finally realize that, I feel I am a better and stronger person now that I have been through it. The roller coaster ride of emotions I was on has now slowed down. As fun as roller coasters can be, I’d have to say I’m quite alright with hopping off the ride for now.


There’s A Song For That

Anytime you’re feeling blue

Here’s something I’ll say to you

Just turn on some music and soon you’ll say

I found a ditty to make my day

And anytime feelings of euphoria you exude

A multitude of tunes will mirror your mood

If you’re feeling peaceful like a dove

And want to talk to the man above

You know what to do

Yes, there’s a song for that too

When you’re feeling hopeless or lost

You’ll be surprised there is no cost

To listen to a song to carry you along

There is no right, there is no wrong

And do you know how many concerts there are?

There are a plethora near and far

All you have to do is hop in your car

Or a plane or train no matter where you are

When you get there, you will see

You don’t have to simply take it from me

Going to a concert can uplift anybody

And produce feelings of ecstasy

When the lights go out

There’s not a doubt

You think to yourself, “This is what life is all about.”

You feel connected with the crowd

You’re singing along nice and loud

Your favorite artist is standing there

Not one soul has a care

The connection is magic

To miss out would be tragic

There’s no better feeling in the world I swear

So come one come all, and follow my lead

For the advice I mentioned, I want you to heed

On a journey you will be taken

With the power of song, your soul will awaken

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.