Tag Archives: Black Friday

Cyber Monday Deals of the Baseball Variety

Today is known across much of the internet connected world as Cyber Monday.

While Black Friday involves sales from the brick and mortar stores, today is the chance for online retailers to lure shoppers in with discounts and free shipping on everything from Apple Computers to Zenith televisions. (Granted Zenith is now owned by LG but I needed something that started with the letter Z for the sake of an A to Z analogy).

Personally I have never understood the herd mentality that has people camping out at stores to save a few bucks on an off brand appliance or some fleece pullovers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bargain as much as the next person, but I am not going to body check hundreds of other people trying to get the same item.

Online shopping provides the ability to get deals without feeling like one has survived a heavyweight title fight but it still only includes savings on the items that the retailers want you to buy.

So instead of getting corralled into buying things that I don’t need on this Cyber Monday I am going to focus on four baseball teams and what needs they should address in terms of their holiday shopping.

After losing Nelson Cruz to the Seattle Mariners the Baltimore Orioles are in need of a new designated hitter under the Birdland Christmas tree this year. Photo R. Anderson

After losing Nelson Cruz to the Seattle Mariners the Baltimore Orioles are in need of a new designated hitter under the Birdland Christmas tree this year.
Photo R. Anderson

Let us begin with the defending American League East Division winning Baltimore Orioles.

Earlier today it was announced that the O’s had failed to sign free agent Nelson Cruz. Instead Cruz is taking his league leading home run bat west to Seattle for the next four years.

In the end it may prove to have been a wise decision by the Orioles to not overpay for a slugger who has battled injures throughout his career. Recent history is full of examples of teams who have overpaid for players long past their productive years. The contracts of Josh Hamilton, Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder come to mind.

But in the short term the Orioles need to do something to replace the bat of Cruz if they want to defend their division title so for the residents of Birdland I will put find a new Designated Hitter on their Christmas list.

Further down the American League East in both geography and the standings sit the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tampa Bay Rays are looking for only their fifth manager in franchise history following the unexpected departure of Joe Maddon at the end of last season. Photo R. Anderson

The Tampa Bay Rays are looking for only their fifth manager in franchise history following the unexpected departure of Joe Maddon at the end of last season.
Photo R. Anderson

The Rays have already traded several players since the end of the season and will likely make more tweaks to the roster as they look to regroup and rebuild after a disappointing 2014 season that started with preseason predictions of a playoff run and ended with the team’s first losing season in six years. The Rays were also left with the departure of manager Joe Maddon, who decided to take his muscle cars and hoodie up to Wrigley Field.

While it is unlikely that the Rays can find a manager right out of the gate with the same skill set as Joe Maddon, they need to find a manager who can handle the challenges the Rays face in a way that sees them remain competitive and not fall into the devilish ways of their pre Maddon years.

Failure to find a strong manager who can find a way to remain competitive in the toughest division in baseball against retooled Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox could very well doom the Rays for decades to come.

So while many may think replacing Tropicana Field is the team’s biggest need this Christmas, I maintain finding the right manager is the most crucial holiday need. I just hope that one of the three identified finalists becomes at least a fraction of the manager Joe Maddon is.

After suffering their first losing season since a name change and new uniforms the Tampa Bay Rays may need to dust off the old uniforms if a new manager fails to maintain their winning ways. Photo R. Anderson

After suffering their first losing season since a name change and new uniforms the Tampa Bay Rays may need to dust off the old uniforms if a new manager fails to maintain their winning ways.
Photo R. Anderson

If he does not then even a new Ballpark would not be enough to help the team’s long term future and they may as well dust off the green uniforms that took the field for many previous losing campaigns.

For our third holiday need we travel west from St. Petersburg, FL and find ourselves in Houston where today marks the 50th anniversary of the Astros being called the Astros.

For most of their five decades of existence the Astros found themselves in the National League. The 2015 season will mark the team’s third season of American League play and yet another season of rebuilding as the front office tries to find the right formula for building a winner on a budget.

Of course the build a winner on a budget approach only works when the other teams in the division play along. With skyrocketing salaries within the American League West and the Mariners, Angels and Athletics entering an arms race the best the Astros can realistically hope for in the coming years is to do better than their in state rivals the Rangers.

With a steady diet of Mike Trout and other power sluggers in the American League the Houston Astros are likely hoping a return to the more friendly National League Central is in their stocking this year. Photo R. Anderson

With a steady diet of Mike Trout and other power sluggers in the American League the Houston Astros are likely hoping a return to the more friendly National League Central is in their stocking this year.
Photo R. Anderson

A division title is likely not in the cards for the Astros in the American League any time soon. One can preach the sermon of rebuilding until they are blue in the face but that does not make it so when other teams aren’t reading from the same playbook.

With that said, my Christmas gift for the Astros would be a move back to the National League. Of course like that brown Matchbox police car that Santa could never locate for younger version of me despite the best of intentions, a move back to the National League is likely another unfulfillable wish no matter how much one wants it to happen.

For our final stop along the holiday gift giving trail we move a little south of Houston to Sugar Land, TX which is home of the Sugar Land Skeeters. The Skeeters, who play in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, will start the 2015 season as defending champions of their division and with new ownership in place.DSCN7359

With all of their opponents located on the Atlantic Coast, my gift to the Skeeters, were it in my power, would be closer opponents to make those road trips not so long.

There are plans to expand the Atlantic League’s footprint in Texas in the coming years so it is likely that the Christmas wish will become reality before too long.

There are my four Cyber Monday gift ideas that are not available in stores but if they were they would certainly make the perfect stocking stuffers for the Orioles, Rays, Astros and Skeeters.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to take care of a little Christmas shopping while I am in the Holiday spirit.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Time for Thanks, Turkey, and Football

Tomorrow people in north and middle North America, also known as Canada and the United States, will celebrate Thanksgiving.

While there are of course other areas of the world that celebrate a day of thanks over the course of the year the American and Canadian version are the most similar to each other and just so happen to occur on the same day.

I am sure we all remember the stories from grade school when we made construction paper hats and played pilgrim while learning about the first Thanksgiving feast which may or may not have had fish as the main course instead of what we have today.

This year is also the first time since 1888 that Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both occur on the same day.

For the first time since 1888 Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah occur on the same day which means there will be plenty of dreidels being spun alongside the turkey and dressing. Photo R. Anderson

For the first time since 1888 Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah occur on the same day which means there will be plenty of dreidels being spun alongside the turkey and dressing.
Photo R. Anderson

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are both times to reflect on what we are thankful for and spend time together with friends and family.

Of course in recent years Thanksgiving seems to have become less about the time with family and more about the planning for Black Friday shopping.

While stores once waited until the predawn hours of Friday to start their sales, more and more stores are now opening on Thanksgiving day to allow shoppers to get an even earlier start on the holiday of commercialism.

When I was younger very few stores were open on Thanksgiving. There were of course the diners like Waffle House that never closed their doors and a smattering of gas stations and convenience stores to help travelers reach their destinations.

Aside from that you would be hard pressed to really find anything open on Thanksgiving that counted as a shopping experience.

During college I worked for Albertson’s grocery store. At that time Albertson’s was the only grocery store in town that was open on Thanksgiving which meant that I worked on Thanksgiving.

I was amazed at the number of shoppers who seemed genuinely surprised that a grocery store would be open on Thanksgiving to which I would usually respond, “Well we are here because we knew people like you would have last minute items to get.”

And most of the customers were getting one or two items that had been forgotten during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (I lost count of how many cans of cranberry sauce I rang up). There were of course also a few people that decided that Thanksgiving was a good time to do their monthly shopping as well.

The first year I worked on Thanksgiving was also the first year that I did not spend Thanksgiving with my parents. They went to Georgia to visit my grandmother but they were kind enough to leave me a cooked turkey leg before they left.

While I did not like missing time with my family due to having to work I could understand that a grocery store being open on Thanksgiving was providing a service to help bring those family gatherings together.

What I can’t get behind are stores that do not sell groceries being open on Thanksgiving just so people can shop for the latest gadget or other must have item.

Such is the world we live in today where even the thought of taking one day to reflect on thankfulness is turned into a reflection on give-me-ness. In the coming years I fear that all stores will be open on Thanksgiving as the commercial aspects and need to make a buck trumps the tradition of the holiday.

Speaking of traditions I will be heading once more to see my parents for Thanksgiving as they were kind enough to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to make the trip out to see my grandmother this year.

As in years past with Thanksgiving with my parents there will be parades and football to watch and of course lots of food to consume while watching the parades and the football.

As a former Boy Scout I was taught to always be prepared regardless of the situation. As the son of a mother who believes ham is not a Thanksgiving meat, I always keep an emergency ham in the freezer. Photo R. Anderson

As a former Boy Scout I was taught to always be prepared regardless of the situation. As the son of a mother who believes ham is not a Thanksgiving meat, I always keep an emergency ham in the freezer.
Photo R. Anderson

One thing that there will not be this Thanksgiving however is ham. The lack of ham on the table has become an area of debate over the last few years between my mother and me.

For my part I recall that Thanksgiving was always a two meat holiday where both turkey and ham were on the table joined by stuffing and various other side dishes of the season.

My mother is convinced that Thanksgiving was always about turkey and that the ham was only on the table for Christmas and Easter.

It is hard to say who is right in the meaty debate since neither of us is backing down from our positions any time soon. What is known is that ham and other pork derivatives are my favorite type of meat.

Given the choice and an unlimited ability to process sodium I would have some part of a pig for every meal whether it was ham, bacon, pork ribs, or pulled pork.

While not quite playing like the defending Super Bowl Champions the Baltimore Ravens will cap off a busy day of holiday football when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow night. Photo R. Anderson

While not quite playing like the defending Super Bowl Champions the Baltimore Ravens will cap off a busy day of holiday football when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow night.
Photo R. Anderson

So while I would love to have some nice warm ham tomorrow I am resigned to the fact that the only meat on the table will be from a plump flightless bird.

But Thanksgiving is not about the food, it is about the time with family. And for my family it is also about a house divided over the Dallas Cowboys.

I am just glad that I will have a decent Baltimore Ravens game to watch tomorrow night after witnessing what I hope is another colossal collapse by the Cowboys in the fourth quarter.

So on this Thanksgiving spend time with your families if you can and know that the shopping can wait. But if you simply must shop on Thanksgiving remember that we have the internet for that so you can order all of those must have items from the comfort of your couch with your belt undone because you are too full of turkey and pecan pie to move.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to see about finding somewhere to get a nice ham I can sneak into the Thanksgiving feast. I am sure I can hide it under some stuffing.

 Copyright 2013 R. Anderson