Monday, April 22, 2024

My Wife Almost Left Me (And Still Might)

For far too many years on here I wanted to be the good guy. I never slid into anyone’s DMs. I wasn’t inappropriate with anyone. I got suspended for 12 hours because – if I remember correctly – I said I hoped a guy (Cardinals fan, maybe?) got syphilis. But here’s the thing: I’m an asshole.

Y’all never saw it because I had cultivated this online persona of Thickie Don. Having a Twitter account and a blog that had been around for a while came to be my sole source of dopamine. The likes and RTs that came with some joke or comment, or blog post, or [waves hands around head] was the dragon I chased. It’s incredibly embarrassing to say that out loud, a “man” my age was addicted to Twitter (it will never be “X.”)

There were other dragons. Pardon, there are other dragons.

She and I grew up in the Church of Christ. If you’re not familiar with the Southern American Protestant denominations, that’s the one that doesn’t use instruments, politically (and these are sweeping generalizations) to the right of Baptists, and they think you’re probably going to hell. I went to Abilene Christian University, and got a very conservative liberal arts degree. It was a joke that girls at ACU attended with the idea of getting their “Mrs” degree (get it?). The point of dating was to find your life partner, get married so you could finally have sex, and go on about your life.

We got married in Houston and moved back to Abilene while she finished school. I had a very random chance encounter in the nine months I lived in Nashville after graduating in trying to find an apartment in Abilene that got my started on a career in museums which eventually took us to Cooperstown, New York, where I was the Manager of Visitor Education at the Baseball Hall of Fame. She worked five jobs to support us on my ridiculously-low museum salary, and I didn’t really think anything of it, because this was my career.

There were complications in trying to start a family. Miscarriages – six of them – three were ectopic and two of those almost killed her. She put her body through absolute hell trying to have a son (I’m the last male in my family line) until she couldn’t get pregnant anymore. Four weeks post-surgery, stitches still present, she packed up our house and loaded the U-Haul because I wanted to work as long as possible to have a bigger check as we moved to Nashville, another step up in my museum career. I didn’t think anything of this, either.

I threw myself into my job, as I had done since moving to Cooperstown, because I was trying to build my resume. My dad and grandfather are/were Church of Christ preachers, and I was the first of my last name in three generations to not be one, and I was trying to prove something. Moving to Cooperstown brought some legitimacy to my career within my family, and that was another dopamine hit: Validation.

Of the number of revelations I’ve had about myself through a variety of means which I’ll get to soon, I understand that there’s a decent amount of toxic insecurity within me. I need to be constantly validated. My wife was wonderful at this, building me up, supportive in every single way, but I never took that to heart – to my eternal regret. Instead I sought it from others. This insecurity bred arrogance and selfishness.

What I thought made “A Man” was so preposterously off-target. I worried constantly about exactly the wrong things: dick size, body shape (I was 300 pounds when I graduated from college), resume, etc. My wife went to have a D&C after another miscarriage and I was…at work.

We were all at church one Sunday morning in Nashville, our perfect, beautiful daughter included. The sermon that Sunday was delivered by one of my wife’s favorite psychology professors at ACU and our regular preacher, and the theme was “Have The Ego Strength To Be A Nobody.” Later that week – around ten years ago from now – I flew to Texas to interview to become a teacher, and then, eventually a soccer coach.

I worked under a coach who was the epitome of toxic masculinity – I had never encountered that before, really, on such a personal level. I had never failed at a job. I tend to stick to what I know and I don’t like to get out of my comfort zone (i.e., “Astros County”). I’m like Joey in that episode of Friends where he only bought the V encyclopedia. But instead of pushing back and saying, “I don’t really think this is who I am,” I bought into it, trying to match his energy.

It was about this time that my wife found theatre – a true community of like-minded people that not only supported how expressive she is, they encouraged it. Meanwhile, I was sitting at home. Don’t get me wrong: as the Introvert’s Introvert, this was fine with me. But she was screaming for something else. She was screaming for fulfillment and meaning outside of this bubble in which I insulated myself.

Instead of supporting her in all of these endeavors, I doubled-down on being an asshole. I threw a fit that my wife could find any kind of fulfillment outside of me. That is not, after all, what the Church of Christ (and probably most Evangelical churches) told me marriage was about. And I couldn’t care enough to try to find out what it was about – because it wasn’t about me. I had all of the ego and none of the strength. I tried theatre, doing a show with my wife and daughter sounded fun, but I didn’t have an awesome time and so I made sure that she knew that I wasn’t having an awesome time – a petulant child, unwilling to put in the time to understand.

I drank. A lot. I know I can teach history hungover. I know I can run a soccer practice hungover. I also knew that I couldn’t be trusted with hard liquor, so I switched to beer. Then I kind of realized how many calories were involved in that and I switched to hard seltzer. 80 to 100 of them a week.

It was on our 20th wedding anniversary trip last summer that things came to a head. My wife – through a bizarre set of circumstances – was in hospital for the entirety of the trip with hyponatremia, her body didn’t have enough sodium (or potassium, or magnesium) and had about 75 seizures, two of them massive seizures. I knew something was wrong throughout the drive to Colorado but when it started I froze, terrified. I waited way too long to call 911. She’s okay now, but there was about an hour where I thought she wouldn’t be.

When we got back and she was recovering in bed, screaming in pain because her muscles had completely freaked out…I sat on the couch and drank. I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t do anything. Once again, in one of her biggest times of need, I chose myself. I texted someone else, and while it wasn’t traditionally unfaithful (in every sense you might be thinking), I still was talking to another woman, looking for validation, while my wife was recovering from something that almost killed her. That’s not masculinity, that’s fragility.

During the course of this soccer season she (and our daughter) got COVID. She had a recurrence of the seizures. I had a cold, and she asked me to stay home from our game. Now, I will go to my grave swearing that I misunderstood what she was asking, but it doesn’t matter, because she asked me to stay home with her and I said, “But I’m the head coach,” and I walked out the door.

My wife has her own story with her own upbringing and her own traumas (and boy, does she have them), and it’s not my place to share that story. But that moment in January started us down a path that has not been pleasant. We are technically separated. She has not felt emotionally connected to me since at least 2016 (when I think my mental health became An Issue) because I didn’t feel emotions.

None of this was new to me. She had asked, repeatedly, for me to do some very key things differently for her and for our daughter. And I would, for a little while, and then I would get frustrated and go back to doing whatever it was I was doing before. But the fact is that they both saw me throw myself into the soccer program I run (defense mechanism) and not give them the same level of attention. I can’t do that anymore.

I’m figuring out who I am when you take away the ego, the self-righteousness, the social media, the blog (the irony of putting this on a blog and then tweeting about it is not lost on me), the likes and the RTs – I’m assuming Elon hasn’t changed RTs to “florps.” I am an alcoholic who has chosen to not drink for 231 days and counting, not wanting the sound of me opening a beer to be the soundtrack to our daughter’s childhood. I’m in a 12-step recovery program and in therapy. There is meditation and journaling. We’re going to church – not a Church of Christ. In February I was diagnosed with “Recurrent Severe Major Depressive Disorder, Without Psychotic Features” and am on an antidepressant. We’re working on ourselves for our daughter. One day I hope to God she can trust me enough to restart a life together, but that’s not up to me.

Mainly, I’m learning how to be a real man. A man who stands up and shows up for his wife and for his daughter. A man who his daughter can look at and see how she deserves to be treated. A man who can put down his phone and pay attention, look around and see what actual life has to offer. My wife and I are in a good place, working back towards each other. But I have to understand that the hurt I’ve caused may run too deep.

Now, she was sitting next to me as I wrote this out. She read it, and approved.

If any of this comes as a surprise, it’s because I wouldn’t let anyone see who I really was. None of the above are excuses for what I’ve done and how I’ve hurt my family, but I’m trying to make it right. And if any of this sounds familiar to you at all, please reach out. Mental health and masculinity are not a one-size-fits-all band-aid, but I’m more than happy to share ways that I’ve tried to get back on track.

And the Astros kind of suck now?

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

Oh I guess the Winter Meetings started, marking the end of this eternal offseason theory, anyway. Let's see who said what and what it may or may not mean. 

*Dana Brown is "not entertaining" trading Alex Bregman. Check out this Chandler Rome article, where he's as incredulous as I am that Dana Brown and Jim Crane haven't discussed a budget yet.

*The Astros will get a 4th option year on Forrest Whitley, who will apparently report to Spring Training as a reliever, because Dana Brown is "not interested in overpaying for a reliever."

That's smart. Because some idiot gave Rafael Montero a 3yr/$34.5m contract a year ago and set the market way too high. As soon as we find the guy that did that we ought to whoop his ass. 

So it's interesting to note that the Astros are allegedly interested in free agent Cy-Creek guy Jordan Hicks. And have talked to Hector Neris about re-upping.

*Dana Brown says things aren't to the "exchanging medical information" stage yet but things are "heating up."

*Joe Espada wouldn't name an everyday CF yet, saying that Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick will play in Spring Training. Mauricio Dubon will play everywhere.

It's a tough one. On one hand you have Jake Meyers, proud owner of a career 88 wRC+ (albeit with a 7.8 DEF rating). On the other you have Chas McCormick, fresh off a 133 wRC+ and a slightly worse 3.2 DEF rating. That 133 wRC+ is 3rd among CFs with at least 300PAs, behind Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout's 134 wRC+. McCormick was 8th among CFs with at least 300PAs in fWAR, at 3.8 - better than Brandon Marsh. But you know, lotta winter left before you make a decision. 

Okay. I guess I should have made this more clear. Yes, Chas can play LF and Jake can play CF. That's in play. 

*Joe Espada has talked to Yainer Diaz "once a week" since Espada took the reins. On the backup side, the Astros have allegedly been in contact with catcher Tucker Barnhart, giving Real Gs the opportunity to have a fantasy team named "Kyle Tucker Barnhart."

*Speaking of backup catchers, the Angels, White Sox, Padres, and Marlins are interested in the services of Martin Maldonado.

*A few days ago the Astros signed reliever Kervin Castro to a minor-league deal. He's not in the mix for 2024 as he's recovering from Tommy John Surgery.

*You can get tickets to the Astros Foundation College Classic, featuring ut, UH, Texas State, Vanderbilt, LSU, and the University of Louisiana - March 1-3, 2024. 


*A.J. Hinch signed a long-term extension with the Tigers.

*Toronto has apparently met with Shohei Ohtani. But maybe not.

*The Athletic: Quincy Promes, and how Amsterdam's criminal underworld preys on [soccer players].

*Esquire: La Cote Basque, 1965.

*Outside: Running the Nakasendo, an ancient postal route across the Japanese Alps.

*The Texans haven't won seven of their first 12 games since 2019, when they started out 8-4. 

A Musical Selection

Check out the Spotify version here.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Monday Morning Hot Links

Good morning. It appears as though the Astros have their new manager, and will announce Joe Espada as the 20th manager in franchise history at a press conference today at 11am. Espada was hired by A.J. Hinch from the Yankees to be Alex Cora's replacement as bench coach. I got it wrong, I didn't think the Astros would be willing to hire Espada. 

Obviously this is going to be good news for Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, Ryan Pressly, and anyone else who has been with the Astros since 2018 because it provides continuity. There's (probably) not going to be this massive change in style and culture, since everyone knows what Espada is about, and he already knows absolutely everybody. If winning is the standard in Houston, Espada already knows what goes into that level of winning. I think it's a great hire, and I'm happy for the previously-perennially-second place Espada. 

*Espada will be the second Latino manager in Astros history, first since Preston Gomez in 1974-1975.

*Chandler Rome lists the four main challenges Espada will face as the new Astros manager: Alignment with front office/ownership; first-year pitfalls; reminding the Astros how to do the fundamentals (defense, baserunning, things of that nature); who plays where in the outfield.

*'s Mark Feinsand is reporting that "4-5 teams" are interested in Martin Maldonado for 2024, which means that Martin Maldonado's agent told Mark Feinsand that 4-5 teams are interested in Martin Maldonado for 2024.

*The deadline to add prospects to the 40-Man Roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft is tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5pm. The Astros have a number of their Top 30 Prospects that would need to be added. They include: Colin Barber, Kenedy Corona, Justin Dirden, Miguel Palma, Zach Daniels, Shay Whitcomb, Jaime Melendez, and Misael Tamarez.

*The Astros unveiled their plans for an entertainment district around Minute Maid Park.

*Someone in Florida won $5.5m on a parlay when the Texans beat the Bengals yesterday.

*Texas Monthly: A Texas teen is introducing the pedal steel to a new generation.

*A Musical Selection:

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Thursday Morning Hot Links

It's time for the GM Meetings, so of course we're going to hear more from Scott Boras than we will Mariah Carey on the radio for the next few days. Unless everyone poops themselves to death and the GM Meetings end early. UPDATE: Everyone's bowels is definitely loose. GM Meetings have been canceled.

*Boras said there have been positive interactions towards extensions for both Altuve and Bregman, but nothing formally yet.

GM Dana Brown:

I think that we understand they have one more year left. And we want to sign them. I think they're interested in being here. I think it's just going to take time to figure out is there going to be somewhere that we can make it work. And that just takes time sometimes. I wish it was easy...but we do have an interest in both guys, for sure. 

There is apparently interest in extending both Framber and Tucker, but since they're under team control for two more years there isn't as much urgency in getting those done.

*Boras also said that Lance McCullers will "no doubt" be pitching in 2024, though Dana Brown expects that to be in July. 

*I think it's a derivative of the previous Athletic link, but Dana Brown addressed the Astros' piss-poor performances at home:

I think it's a fluke. I think it's an aberration. I think if you look at this club, the success that they've had in Houston has been really good. I don't want to get wrapped up into it and make it this big psychological thing. I think the team's been really good. I think it's a fluke. I think guys started talking about it and they started pressing more.

If this was an AP US History written response, I would cross out all of the "I think" phrases. Make a claim. Own it. Be bold, and if you're wrong, be boldly wrong. But don't forget that two teams in professional sports history have lost all four home games in a seven-game series: the 2019 Astros and the 2023 Astros.

*There's some weirdness with the Joe Espada situation. First of all, I did not realize he was only 48. Second, he interviewed for the Astros' manager gig last week. He's been linked to the now-vacant Milwaukee, and while Dana Brown said the Astros "hold the keys to permission" allowing him to interview with the Brewers...

...but they don't. Espada's contract expired on October 31. Espada doesn't need the Astros' permission to do anything. So either Dana Brown didn't know that Espada's contract was up (which is terrible) or he forgot (which isn't great, either). But click that link to see how highly Dana Brown apparently feels about Espada.

A lot of people in the organization think highly of Espada. I think highly of Espada. I just don't know that Crane will let a first-year manager take the reins of a team looking to make its 8th straight ALCS. Crane has managed to surround himself with Reggie Jackson and Jeff Bagwell. Obviously they know Espada better than we do, but Espada isn't a splashy name, and I think Crane is drawn to the splashy name. 

*Matt Kawahara has five free agent reliever options for the Astros.

*The Astros don't have a ton of financial flexibility with which to operate. 

*All that said, it seems like Dana Brown is enjoying his first-ever GM Meetings. And having fun is all that matters. 

*Mike Petriello notes that the Astros have the 2nd-best roster already, entering the 2024 season. Of course Shohei Ohtani hasn't signed with the Rangers yet...

*ESPN's David Schoenfield graded his pre-2023 bold predictions for each team. Yordan's race for the Triple Crown is still on.

*Let's make fun of Joel Reuter's Top 10 Catchers list (with their wRC+ in parentheses):

1. Adley Rutschman (127 wRC+)

2. Sean Murphy (129)

3. William Contreras (124)

4. Will Smith (119)

5. Cal Raleigh (111)

6. Jonah Heim (103)

7. Gabriel Moreno (103)

8. Willson Contreras (127)

9. J.T. Realmuto (102)

10. Ryan Jeffers (138)

Not Listed: Yainer Diaz and his 127 wRC+.

*You can buy Woody Williams' Newpoint Estates former home for $3.7m

*The Angels hired Ron Washington as their manager, and he's bringing Eric Young, Jr. (who was linked to Houston) with him.

*The Brewers are PISSED at Craig Counsell. And I can understand why.

*Texas Monthly: How the oldest Indian restaurant in Houston prepares for its Diwali rush.


*Rolling Stone: The shocking loss and unbreakable bond behind Sleater-Kinney's new album.

*A Musical Selection:

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Sunday Morning Hot Links

Some guys became available around MLB. If I'm Dana Brown, I'm looking for pitching help. Let's take a look at that, and more? I guess.

*Hector Neris declined his $8.5m option for 2024. Neris threw 133.2IP for the Astros in 2022-23 with a 2.69 ERA / 1.03 WHIP with 10.5 K/9. If I'm Neris, I'm taking a picture of Rafael Montero with me to any meeting and saying, "Give me more than he got."

*Lefty starter Eduardo Rodriguez has opted out of his contract with Detroit, leaving 3yrs/$49m on the table to go to free agency. Rodriguez has posted 3.0+ fWAR in three of the last four seasons. 

*Marcus Stroman opted out of his deal with the Cubs, leaving 1yr/$21m on the table. Stroman has made 50 starts in the last two seasons, totaling 4.7 fWAR with Chicago.

*San Diego and Nick Martinez declined their respective options. Martinez was worth 1.4 fWAR in 2023, his Age 32 season, appearing in 63 games with nine starts.

*Seth Lugo opted out of his deal with San Diego. Lugo posted 2.8 fWAR in 26 starts. 2024 will be his Age 34 season. 

*San Diego also declined the 2yr/$32m option on Michael Wacha. Wacha posted 2.6 fWAR in 24 starts for the Padres.

*Tampa placed reliever Jalen Beeks on waivers. Beeks had an ugly 5.95 ERA in 42.1IP but with a 3.82 FIP.

*Lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez only threw 11IP in 2023, but Boston declined his option for 2024.

*Cody Bellinger declined his option and is a free agent.

Bellinger, 2017-2019: .278/.369/.559, 111 HR/288 RBI

Bellinger, 2020-2022: .203/.272/.376, 41 HR/134 RBI

MAN. If only we knew about what happened between the 2019 and 2020 seasons that changed the way Bellinger, or any member on the Dodgers, really, approached the plate. Crazy to think that after three seasons that included a Rookie of the Year and an MVP award that someone would just forget how to hit. I wonder what might have changed. Nice that he remembered how to hit without getting any signals in 2023 though. 

*Chicago declined their $14m option on shortstop Tim Anderson for 2024, who said in 2020 that he - and presumably the rest of the White Sox - were going to approach the Astros trying to "knock everybody's heads off - from the owner down to the trainer."

*Within his Sunday Links post, FanGraphs' David Laurilia tells us that Former Astros Great Marwin Gonzalez became just the fifth player in MLB history to homer in both the World Series and the Japan Series. The Japan Series was a tale of two fanbases.

*Thank you to the University of Oklahoma, who made sure I get to watch college football the rest of the season with no anxiety whatsoever. 

*Fluminense beat Boca Juniors in dramatic fashion to win the Copa Libertadores.

*Eight things running and the creative process have in common.

*Happy First Day of Daylight Saving to all of us who love the darkness.

*A Musical Selection: