Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 Major League Baseball Predictions

The 2016 season starts in just one week and I like usual I am looking forward to another exciting season. This year, the start of the regular season on  Sunday, April 3rd, features three games instead of the normal one game like in the past. The rest of the teams begin action on Monday, April 4th. If you're an avid baseball fan like me and are looking for a new cell phone provider then you may want to join T-Mobile. This year, T-Mobile is offering anyone who joins their network between April 3rd and April 10th, MLB.TV Premium for the full season for free. (If you are already a T-Mobile member, you also get this deal). More info here

My predictions for the 2016 baseball season are as follows...(* denotes Wild Card team)

Yu Darvish
American League West
Houston Astros  (89-73)
Texas Rangers (85-77)
Seattle Mariners (81-81)
Los Angeles Angels (79-83)
Oakland Athletics (70-92)

After years of being in the cellar and obtaining top draft picks, the Houston Astros showed what doing well in the draft and developing talent can do last season. Reigning Rookie of Year, Carlos Correa, could very well be an MVP candidate in his first full season for Houston. While Cole Hamels is now the ace for the Texas Rangers, if they want to take down Houston, they will need Yu Darvish to be able to return healthy from a Tommy John surgery operation last season. His return is expected in May 2016. The Seattle Mariners lucked out when Hisashi Iwakuma failed his physical when the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to sign him as a free agent. The Dodgers then backed out of the deal and the Mariners then brought Iwakuma back. The Los Angeles Angels have arguably the best baseball player in the game in Mike Trout and the addition of Andrelton Simmons in a trade with the Atlanta Braves should help their defense. The Angels main concern has to be their starting pitching. CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver both need to find ways to be consistently good if they want to succeed. The Oakland Athletics, my favorite team in any sport, will likely finish in last. After Sonny Gray, the A's don't have much in terms of starting pitching. They spent 6 Million for Rich Hill after he played in just 4 games in 2015 with hopes he'd be a starter. He has struggled for most of the Spring. Josh Reddick should find himself on the All-Star team this season but then likely get traded soon afterwards. I hope they prove me wrong though.

Byron Buxton
American League Central
Kansas City Royals (91-71)
Detroit Tigers (88-74)*
Cleveland Indians (82-80)
Minnesota Twins (81-81)
Chicago White Sox (76-86)

The Kansas City Royals will continue to bolster an amazing bullpen as they make their run to defend their World Series Championship. Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis return to anchor the bullpen. Joakim Soria also returns to the team after originally starting his career with Kansas City. The Detroit Tigers should rebound after finishing last in the division in 2015. It seems that Justin Verlander may be looking once again like the Verlander everyone knows him to be. The addition of Jordan Zimmermann to the pitching rotation won't hurt either. Justin Upton provides extra protection in the lineup for Miguel Cabrera so now they just have to hope Cabrera can stay healthy. The Cleveland Indians didn't make many moves during the offseason and I don't expect them to make much of a move in the standings. Last year they finished in third place with an 81-80 record. The Minnesota Twins are relying a lot on a star from Korea in Byung-ho Park and a highly touted prospect, Byron Buxton. Buxton has been a highly touted prospect even though he hasn't played a full season in a while due to freak injuries. It won't surprise me to see him injured again this season.  The Chicago White Sox made a lot of moves in the offseason acquiring guys like Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. Their biggest move though may have been involving this kid which turns out to send the morale of the team in a downward spiral. Robin Ventura's days as a manager may also be numbered. 

David Price
American League East
Toronto Blue Jays (92-70)
Boston Red Sox (86-76)*
New York Yankees (82-80)
Tampa Bay Rays (79-83)
Baltimore Orioles (75-87)

The Blue Jays lineup is ridiculously good. I don't see any reason for it to be worse in 2016. The question is whether or not the young Marcus Stroman can anchor the staff for a full season. I also think Jesse Chavez will be an unsung hero for this team, both out of the bullpen and as a spot starter. The Boston Red Sox acquired an All-Star starter in David Price and an All-Star closer in Craig Kimbrel. These two additions should help Boston get back into the playoffs as long as Pablo Sandoval doesn't eat them! The New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees. They are still considered an old team yet somehow keep winning. Aroldis Chapman was acquired to be their new closer but will be suspended for 30 games due to domestic violence claims against him. The suspension could prove quite costly for the Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays have the worst stadium in all of baseball but won't end up with the worst record. Corey Dickerson was a nice addition which should provide some more pop and the Rays are hoping Evan Longoria can get back on track too. The Rays starting pitchers will do well but the bullpen will not fare as well. The Baltimore Orioles paid a lot of money to keep DH/1B Chris Davis in an Orioles uniform and even though he did pitch in relief in a game in 2012 and got the win, the Orioles are going to wish they spent that money toward more pitching instead. 

Zack Greinke
National League West
San Francisco Giants  (90-72)
Los Angeles Dodgers (87-75)
Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78)
San Diego Padres (78-84)
Colorado Rockies (66-96)

A lot has been said about the San Francisco Giants and their offseason. They acquired starting pitchers  Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija as well as outfielder Denard Span. A lot of their success will depend on how well Cueto and Samardzija do too as they had sub-par 2015 seasons. The Giants would also like to have a healthy Matt Cain in 2016. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost one of their All-Star starting pitchers, Zack Greinke, when he signed with division rival, Arizona Diamonbacks. The loss of Greinke will keep the Dodgers from reaching from first place. The addition of Greinke is a nice move for Arizona but it will be interesting to see if he can pitch well at home as Arizona is known as a hitters ballpark. The San Diego Padres were the talk of baseball after the offseason they had after the 2014 season. They failed to provide results after so many expectations. This year they won't have any expectations and still fail to provide results. The Colorado Rockies have Nolan Arenado so they got that going for them. Carlos Gonzalez's days with the club are numbered and manager Walt Weiss may be out of a job soon too. 

Dexter Fowler
National League Central 
Chicago Cubs (95-67)
St. Louis Cardinals (92-70)*
Pittsburgh Pirates (90-72)
Milwaukee Brewers (70-92)
Cincinnati Reds (62-100)

The National League Central race was close last season between the top three teams and should be close again this year too. The Cubs won 97 games last season and finished in 3rd place! The Cubs obtained two players who were Cardinals before in Jason Heyward and John Lackey. Those additions, plus the return of Dexter Fowler (who turned down more money elsewhere to return) should help the Cubs take first place. The St. Louis Cardinals season will depend a lot on the health of two players, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Mike Leake should thrive pitching for St. Louis. The Pittsburgh Pirates will go as far as Andrew McCutchen carries them. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco will also continue to blossom. The Milwaukee Brewers signed Chris Carter and he could tire out Bernie Brewer as Bernie will slide down the slide in left field when Carter hits a moon shot home run. Bernie may then also pass out from drinking when Carter strikes out more than 100 times. The Cincinnati Reds may very well be the worst team in majors. They got rid of talent but did not add anybody Major League ready. Brandon Phillips, who always seems to have a smile, may find it hard to smile this year. 

Clockwise - Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom,
Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler
National League West
Washington Nationals (93-69)
New York Mets (91-71)*
Atlanta Braves (71-91)
Philadelphia Phillies (69-93)
Miami Marlins (66-96)

Dusty Baker makes his return to managing a Major League team and takes the Washington Nationals to a Division Championship but no further.  The New York Mets welcome the return of a healthy Zack Wheeler and it only makes their rotation better. Yoenis Cespedes will excite the fans again as long as he isn't too lazy to pick up the baseball. The rest of the National League East will stink. The Atlanta Braves are clearly in a rebuilding mode. Ender Inciarte may bring some excitement with his speed to the Braves. The Philadelphia Phillies won't feel much brotherly love from their fanbase. Ryan Howard may very well ask to get traded to a contender. Don Mattingly, now manager of the Miami Marlins, proves that he cannot in fact, manage.  But hey, Ichiro Suzuki should get his 3,000th career major league hit for the Marlins this season. 

Wild Card Games
Boston Red Sox defeat Detroit Tigers
New York Mets defeat St. Louis Cardinals

Division Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat the Boston Red Sox (3-1)
Houston Astros defeat Kansas City Royals (3-2)
Chicago Cubs defeat New York Mets (3-2)
San Francisco Giants defeat Washington Nationals (3-1)

Championship Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat Houston Astros (4-2)
Chicago Cubs defeat San Francisco Giants (4-3)

World Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat Chicago Cubs (4-1) - Sorry Cubs fans...  

AL MVP: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
AL CY YOUNG: David Price, Boston Red Sox
NL CY YOUNG: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: AJ Reed, Houston Astros
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR:  Brad Ausmus, Detroit Tigers
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

Friday, February 26, 2016

My 2016 Academy Award Predictions

The 2016 Academy Awards take place on Sunday, February 28, 2016, at 7pm EST with host Chris Rock. I usually try to see all the Best Picture Nominees as possible, This year, I ended up doing a little more watching. I ended up seeing 43/57 total Oscar nominees. That is 75% if you want to do the math. Wait, nevermind, I just did it for you. That being said, here are my predictions for every category. I am including who I think will win and also who I think should win, because sometimes these are different. The films in italics are the ones I did NOT get around to seeing.

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Who I think will win: The Revenant
Who I think should win: Spotlight

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston - Trumbo
Matt Damon - The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl

Who I think will win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Who I think should win: Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Actress 
Cate Blanchett - Carol
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Brie Larson - Room
Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn

Who I think will win: Brie Larson
Who I think should win: Brie Larson

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale - The Big Short
Tom Hardy - The Revenant
Mark Rylance - Bridge of Spies
Mark Ruffalo - Spotlight
Sylvester Stalone - Creed

Who I think will win: Sylvester Stalone
Who I think should win: Mark Ruffalo

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara - Carol
Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs

Who I think will win: Alicia Vikander
Who I think should win: Jennifer Jason Leigh

Animated Feature Film
Boy and The World

Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Who I think will win: Inside Out
Who I think should win: When Marnie Was There

The Hateful Eight
The Revenant
Mad Max: Fury Road

Who I think will win: The Revenant
Who I think should win: The Revenant

Costume Design
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Who I think will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who I think should win: Carol

Best Director
Adam McKay - The Big Short
George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu -The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson - Room
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight 

Who I think will win: George Miller
Who I think should win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Documentary (Feature)
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

Who I think will win: Amy
Who I think should win: The Look of Silence

Documentary (Short Subject)
Body Team 12
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in The River: The Price of Forgiveness

Last Day of Freedom

Who I think will win: Last Day of Freedom
Who I think should win: Last Day of Freedom

Film Editing
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: The Revenant
Who I think should win: The Revenant

Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent

Son of Saul
A War

Who I think will win: Son of Saul
Who I think should win: not enough data to make personal choice

Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

Who I think will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who I think should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Music (Original Score)
Thomas Newman - Bridge of Spies
Carter Burwell - Carol
Ennio Morricone - The Hateful Eight
Johann Johannsson - Sicario
John Williams - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Ennio Morricone - The Hateful Eight
Who I think should win: Ennio Morricone - The Hateful Eight

Music (Original Song)

"Earned It" - Fifty Shades of Gray
"Manta Ray" - Racing Extinction
"Simple Song #3" - Youth
"Til It Happens to You" - The Hunting Ground
"Writings on the Wall" - Spectre

Who I think will win: "Til It Happens to You" - The Hunting Ground
Who I think should win: "Til It Happens to You" - The Hunting Ground

Production Design
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Who I think will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who I think should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Short Film (Animated)
Bear Story
Sanjay's Super Team
We Can't Live without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Who I think will win: Bear Story
Who I think should win: We Can't Live Without Cosmos

Short Film (Live Action)
Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Who I think will win: Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Who I think should win: Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: The Revenant
Who I think should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who I think will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who I think should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Adapted Screenplay
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay - The Big Short
Emma Donoghue - Room
Phyllis Nagy - Carol
Drew Goddard - The Martian
Nick Hornby - Brooklyn

Who I think will win: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay - The Big Short
Who I think should win: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay - The Big Short

Best Original Screenplay
Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen - Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland - Ex Machina
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley - Inside Out
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff  - Straight Outta Compton

Who I think will win: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
Who I think should win: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy - Spotlight

And that concludes my predictions! I hope everyone who watches enjoys the ceremony and I'm sure Chris Rock will not disappoint as host.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hello again

Hey everybody!

I'm returning to the stage tomorrow, November 30th.

I had my heart surgery on September 28th (it was originally scheduled for September 25th but then got re-scheduled). Now after 2 months off work recovering, I am ready to resume my life,

Sure, life is different now in terms of my diet restrictions and the fact I will be exercising more - but that is probably a good thing anyway!

Come see at a show and watch me share my experiences with the surgery.

Hope to see you at a show!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Surgery Next Week

On August 31st, I had a consultation appointment with a surgeon at Kaiser in Santa Clara and the date has now been set for my Heart Valve Replacement surgery on Friday, September 25th.
The pre-op appointment is on Monday the 21st.

Again, I was born with a Bicuspid Aortic Valve and knew this surgery was something I would need all my life, it was just a matter of when. When is now next week.

So for the heart valve replacement, there are two options. One option is to go with a tissue valve (in this case, it'd be from a cow). The tissue valve currently has a life span of 10-15 years which means another valve replacement surgery in the future would be likely.

The second option is a mechanical valve. The mechanical valve should last for a lifetime but it is required you take Warfarin (blood thinner medication) for the rest of your life as well - to prevent blood clots from occurring.

I have decided I will be going with the mechanical valve option...because I only want to have this surgery once.

Once on the Warfarin medicine - I am to avoid large amounts of Vitamin K which includes the following items:

Brussel Sprouts
Other Leafy Vegetables
Green Tea

Out of these items, broccoli and spinach are the two I eat the most - but it should be easy to refrain from having large amounts of these items.

I've also been told that when you take Warfarin, that you bruise easier. So don't touch me.

The hospital stay will be somewhere between 5-7 days.
The overall recovery time is expected to be 6-8 weeks.

My last day (for a while) at work is tomorrow.

I'm going to be missing some events due to this operation which sucks... I will miss the A's-Giants game on September 25th that I actually had a ticket for already. I will miss the San Jose Sharks home opener game. I will miss numerous Oktoberfest events.  I'm not sure how much I will be able to do on my birthday either.

Missing those events will suck but I have to remember that this surgery will help me be able to attend many more events in the future.

The last show I performed in was on August 14th in Oakland. One thing my current condition does is make me tired quicker. I also seem to sweat quicker after not much exercise. I can't wait to get back on stage with my restored energy - but I also need to make sure I don't push myself too much and take my time in recovering.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Surgery Soon

At the end of July, I went to San Francisco to get an MRI as the second step to check on my current heart valve condition.

After a couple of weeks looking over the results from the MRI and the Treadmill Test, and then discussing it with her colleagues as well, my doctor said it would be best if I get the Heart Valve Replacement surgery done soon.

So the next step for me will be to meet with the surgeon and then a date will be set for the surgery itself.

I've been told that it would be a 5 night stay at the hospital and then about 2 months to recover.

The surgery should take place within a month or so from now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Stress Test

So I took this Stress Test (aka Treadmill Test) at Kaiser in San Jose on July 9th and that was interesting to say the least.

First of all, the co-pay was $70.00 so I don't know how that is supposed to reduce my stress.

I get in the room and they start hooking me up with the EKG devices to monitor my heart which was expected. They also put an IV in my left arm which I did not expect.

Now, I have never walked on a treadmill before this so it was a new experience to me in many ways. I begin walking then one of the assistants on my right side tells me to stick out my arm and keep my palm up. "Don't look at me" she says, as I try to do what she says while walking at the same time.

Then there is a doctor on my left hand side that keeps asking me questions. "Is this the normal pace you go when you go walking?" I'm a smartass with my response and say "well, the ground doesn't usually move when I go walking so I have no idea." But that was the truth... I had no idea if it was my usual walking pace.

Eventually, the test ends - although I am keeping pace fine, my blood pressure had dropped. It is supposed to go up, not down, when exercising. It basically proved what they already knew and that is that my heart valve is narrow...

My next step won't be on a treadmill but in San Francisco next week when I get an MRI. Then I will know whether or not I need surgery shortly afterwards. I'm not really scared (yet anyway)... but it is annoying to not know what the near future holds for me just yet.  I have booked a couple shows for August but have decided to hold off on booking anything else until I get a better idea of what will happen.

I plan on starting a podcast soon - not sure what to name it yet - but I figure it'll be something I can sometimes do while still in recovery at least.

I met a girl last month at the Redwood Comedy Festival in Humboldt County... I was so sure she was "the one" that I even went out of my way to go visit her 3 weeks later (after she said she liked the idea of me visiting too)... It was about a 6 hour drive. Then after I arrived and told her I was there, I never heard from her. I just don't get it... I somehow though got over it....willing to give it another chance.... I then attempted to visit her again recently when she was in SF (her idea), but when I get there she seemed to turn into a completely different person and acts like it was never her idea for me to come visit. That was the end of the line for me. Oh well, I took a chance and I will learn from it for sure. If two people like each other, it should NEVER be that much work.

Anyway, what's up ladies?

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Appointment...

So I went to the Kaiser in San Francisco today to meet up with a Cardiologist that was recommended to me by a past cardiologist that I trusted. Since the past cardiologist isn't with Kaiser, he recommended that I go to the SF office.

So all my life I've known at some point in my life that I would need surgery to replace a valve. I have what is called a "Bicuspid Aortic Valve" - it has something that has been monitored all my life and the question has always been "When will I need the surgery?"

My doctor today is going to do a few more studies and talking with colleagues before we come up with a plan on how to proceed.

Within the next two weeks, I will need to get an MRI to see how bad of a leak my valve might have. I will also be taking an exercise test.

If the results of the MRI show the leak not be that bad then it is possible that I may not need surgery right away. However, the valve is quite narrowed which makes the heart's job of pumping blood to the rest of my body much tougher. So if surgery isn't needed right away, then the other option would be a catheder. The catheder would then be inserted thru my groin (ouch) and then with the catheder they would then open of the narrow valve. Now, the catheder method won't prevent me from ever needing surgery but it could delay the surgery about 10 years if successful. That would be nice. The catheder method would be an overnight stay whereas surgery would be 5 nights.

In the meantime, I am to avoid fast food and red meats and keep exercising as much as possible... as it can only help.

Assuming I don't need surgery anytime soon, you can catch me performing at these places soon...

June 30th - Spice N Ice - Gilroy, CA - 8pm

July 9th - Blue Lagoon - Santa Cruz, CA - 8:30pm

July 15th - San Jose Improv - San Jose, CA - 8pm