Monthly Archives: April 2015

A quick thank you

Thank you everybody who has viewed and/or read my posts in the last few days. It really means a lot. I know in the grand scheme of things, it sounds inconsequential, but hear me out on this one. As somebody who lives on the spectrum, it can be very hard to be heard, and particularly listened to. And there is a difference. I can come across as a little aloof, perhaps standoffish. I do apologize if this has affected my friends. But sometimes, it just is what it is.

Anyway, thanks again for reading. Will post the next one a.s.a.p.

P.S. One more bit of good news- I get a raise at work as of Friday.

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April

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”

T.S. Eliot, opening lines of The Waste Land

I wouldn’t say that April has been cruel, because I have received several pieces of good news. Additionally, tomorrow (April 30)  is nine months since I officially started at my current job (if you count orientation, then unofficially, it’s today). But I know that from now on April will be tempered somewhat. Since losing my mom last July, it’s understandable that certain months or days in that month would be strange. I’ve had two this month. My mom was born on April 16, sharing her birthday with (among others) Charlie Chaplin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the former Pope Benedict XVI. It came…and then just went. I was surprisingly calm, which I feel somewhat concerned about. You could argue that she wouldn’t want to see me sad, but that was never me. I’m an actor. Unless it’s called for in the story, I can’t do stoic, and even then not very well. Exactly one week later, on April 23, was nine months since her passing. Three milestones all occurring within two weeks to the day of each other. They say it’s not so much the changes as how you react to them. I’m a little unsure about how I’ll react to it. Sometimes, no matter how many people wish you well, it’s not necessarily possible to take it on the chin. But I think that I’m hanging in there. That’s all that a person can do sometimes, right?

Stepping into new worlds

As far back as I can remember (although the how, where, or when escapes me), I have had a book called Our World. It’s dated, sure, from at least 1990 or 1991, because it still lists the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia as republics; Eritrea, Timor-Leste, and South Sudan were not yet countries. Various countries changed their flags since then. But I find that there is still a lot of relevant information, even if it’s out of date for about twenty-five years; I learned the basics of reading a map, and one of the reasons I learned the world capitals by age nine (or so) is through this book. Looking back through it, the pictures were rather good for their time. Perhaps that is what fostered my interest in the world.

Granted, I also come from a mixed family. Although born in the United States, I still have a strong connection with Belgium. My dad and his side of the family are all from Brussels or its surrounding region (known as the BCR, or Brussels-Capital Region). It was through my grandmother that I first decided to learn French; she spoke little to no English, nor did I speak very much Flemish, so this was our common language. I was pretty good at it, even decided to study it in college (although college wasn’t my favorite, but that’s a story for another day). I still don’t know as much Flemish as I should, but with a little bit of practice, it may come to me again. I’m trying to find resources to help, but we’ll have to see. To this day, my dad is the only one from his original family still living in the United States. As tough as it must be for all of them, the love is obviously there.

Last month marked ten years since the exchange trip from my high school. Ten of us (four boys, five girls, and our teacher) traveled from our high school in a college town in the Midwest to the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, with two days in Paris included in the end of the trip. The Musée d’Orsay is one of the most amazing art museums in the world (the Louvre isn’t bad either, wink wink), and walking down the Champs-Élysées on a Friday night with Parisians and vacationing Londoners alike (there’s a hilarious story attached to that, too!) was quite a sight to see. La Tour Eiffel…well, I’ll let you decide that for yourself. For me at least, there are no words. Sometimes, you just have to be. Sometimes, that’s all you can be. You know those moments where you feel very small in a big world? These were those kinds of moments.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself here, but if I am able to be accepted into the Corps in Indonesia, I’m sure that feeling will come back again. The last time I went overseas was in 2010, to see family in Belgium, and also to see England for the first time- London, Wiltshire, and the shores of Devon. This is a place that many may not have the chance to see. Hopefully, this will be my chance to take that risk that I’ve been due to take for a little while now.

One more for the night

It’s been a busy few weeks- getting cast in a show and receiving news about the Corps will hopefully bring good news. I think I’m ready for some good news in my life for once. So, thank you to everybody for their good vibes. I hope to repay your kindness and trust in me. Now, I’m off to relax and get to sleep- work early tomorrow.

Three reasons why I applied to the Peace Corps

Here are my three primary reasons why I applied to the Peace Corps.

1. I was a geography nerd growing up. I knew the world capitals by the time I was in third grade, and I always was interested in learning about new places. I figure there’s no better time than now to try it and see.

2. It can hopefully be used as a platform to other opportunities that I would like to pursue. Having it on a resume would be pretty advantageous.

3. It’s a chance to silence my doubters. Some of you must think I’m crazy right now, but hear me out- if I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t even try to apply. Plus, as I mentioned, I did this all on my own. I think I have the right to be proud of that.

My chance in the world

To those who read this, I actually have good news to share:

In addition to being cast in the show Cymbeline (which most of you already know about), I am officially in consideration for the Peace Corps for a program departing for Indonesia in March 2016. I know no Bahasa Indonesian, and I’m a little unsure of what somebody with a theatre and French degree can do in a country of 252 million people, the fourth most populous country in the world, right after the United States. With that said, how many people even make it this far (i.e. to the consideration stage)? To get a “maybe” is an honor in and of itself.

I remember what a friend once told me in middle school, when I was too nervous to ask out a girl: “If you don’t do anything, you’re guaranteed a ‘no.’ But, if you are brave enough to try, you get at least a ‘maybe.'” Even though I never did find the courage to ask this girl out, somehow I was able to take the steps to do it on my own as I got older.

And this was done entirely on my own. Oftentimes, much of my success came from my parents’ suggestions. I accomplished everything on my own, but I wouldn’t have been able to take the initiative to reach that accomplishment on my own. This one is entirely mine, from beginning to end. In fact, this is the second time I’ve applied since last year. The first time I applied, I was supposed to have a phone interview. Because of my mom’s passing, however, there was a bereavement clause that could not allow me to go right away. The earliest I could leave would be August of this year. For me, I decided to play it safe and put October. March of next year may seem like a short window, but for me, that’s actually a bigger window than I was expecting. I am still trying to face other endeavors, and hopefully if I am accepted, this can be a launching pad, or stepping stone, or whatever you want to call it. It’s still a baby step, but every step forward helps.

Let me also say that this is no guarantee of being accepted. This is a competitive program, and I’m not even sure how many others are being considered. One way or another, I should know by September 1. I’m nervous what would happen. If they say no, I hope it wouldn’t discourage me from trying again. On the other hand, if they say yes, it would be a twenty-seven month journey into myself and into the world. It would be the greatest adventure of my life to date. In my own Walter Mitty story, I am the brave adventurer facing new obstacles. I am checking my e-mail constantly to see if they need a new piece of information, or best case scenario, setting up an interview.

The only thing I can really ask for is luck and best wishes. With all due respect to many of my friends and family out there, I’m not really a praying type of person. If you would like to, that’s fine, but I prefer other forms of well-wishing. Sometimes, just a “good luck” will suffice. I won’t say that if it is meant to happen, it will happen. But I will say that if it does happen, it has been the culmination of a long process and a lot of hard work, and a lot of luck. I do believe in luck, coincidence, etc. I’m not sure how much of it you make, but I will say that I believe I have done everything I can to make this a possibility.

Here’s crossing my fingers and wishing for some semoga beruntung (good luck).

Keltner list- Ken Boyer

I’ve been reluctant to embrace sabermetrics, albeit for different reasons than many others. Still, I do think they did something right with the Keltner list. Basically, it’s a supposed metric to be considered a Hall of Famer.

Today’s potential candidate: Ken Boyer

Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

For several seasons, it looked like he was. He won an MVP award in 1964, leading the Cardinals to the World Series that year. As good as Bob Gibson eventually became, he wasn’t in his prime yet. Maybe there were other players better than Boyer that year, but the 1960s were rough for hitters.

Was he the best player on his team?

For a couple of year, yes. Granted, these weren’t great Cardinal teams, so I don’t know if this helps or hurts Boyer.

Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

Ron Santo was probably better at third base, but Boyer did it earlier and in an era where batting averages were down. Third basemen weren’t considered all-around players, but aside from Santo, it’s hard to find anybody else who was better. And there are years where Boyer was better than Santo. The only other one better during his era was Eddie Mathews, who is already in.

Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

His two big ones were in 1964 with the Cardinals and 1967 with the White Sox. In the former, he was one of the key figures in driving the Cardinals to the pennant. They made a belated charge in 1963, but that’s largely overshadowed by the retirement of Stan Musial. In 1967, the White Sox fell short, but it was a terrific pennant race that year- four teams were tied going into the final week. This is also tempered by the fact that he was acquired in a mid-season trade with the Mets, and he was 36 at the time. Under the circumstances, he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t terrible. If the White Sox had him for the whole year, I think they would have had a good chance. And he also had a grand slam in the ’64 Series in Game 4, helping turn the Series in the Cardinals favor.

Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

This is the toughest question to answer, because he didn’t get started until he was 24 years old. The definition of “in his prime” is the big question here. He probably played better in his late twenties and early thirties, but after the 1964 season, he got old, and fast. You could answer no to this question, but I would argue that he had a late start to his “prime” anyway.

Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

Probably not. Still, there are worse guys in the Hall of Fame. I think a lot of this depends on position. For a third baseman, he had several good to great seasons, maybe finished too early, but for his position, I think he deserves some merit.

Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Again, so much of this is dependent on the fact that he was a third baseman. Mike Schmidt and George Brett played longer, and Pie Traynor hit higher than he did. Ron Santo is his closest comparison. Santo had more hits (2254 to 2143, so not a big spread), but Boyer hit ten points higher than Santo did (.287 to .277). Additionally, Santo never won an MVP Award, and Boyer did. Both played fifteen seasons, both won five Gold Gloves. Santo was probably healthier, and perhaps a little bit better, but Boyer played on losing teams early in his career, and probably hit better than Santo did in the same decade.

Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Although he only had two seasons of 100 RBI, he also had six 90+ RBI seasons, and hit .280 or better eight times, and at least .300 five times. He also won five Gold Gloves, at arguably the most important defensive position. He only hit 282 home runs, but third basemen weren’t really home run hitters until Mike Schmidt came along (and Boyer hit 20 points higher than Schmidt). Up until 1966, he was good for at least 135 games a year, so he had great longevity for twelve out of fifteen years.

Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Depends on what statistic we’re looking at. He didn’t strike out a lot, hit for a higher-than-normal average for his era, but he was never the league leader in anything except for his RBI crown in 1964, when he drove in 119, which is low for a league leader. I still don’t think that should be held against him. He also slugged .462, third highest for a third baseman at the time of his retirement, and was also the second player at third baseman to hit 250 home runs (he finished with 282).

Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

I believe so. After Santo got in in 2012, I can’t necessarily think of anybody better as a third baseman than Boyer who is in.

How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

He won the National League MVP in 1964, and was in the top ten three other times, but the best he did was sixth in those years. Santo never won an MVP, and neither did Pie Traynor, probably the best third baseman before Schmidt and Brett.

How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?

If you consider the fact that there were two All-Star games from 1959-1962, he is credited with at least seven. Santo had nine. Seven All-Star Games isn’t a lot, but it’s still significant. Other players are in with less.

If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

Yes. He drove the Cardinals to the pennant in 1964, and helped their belated run the previous year. If he had played in Chicago for the full 1967 season, he probably could have helped them get closer. Most other years, he played on terrible teams or was too old to make a difference.

What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

He is one of many credited with helping the Cardinals become more cohesive during the desegregation of their spring training facilities, but he is not the only one, nor was he probably the first. Still, I don’t think this should be held against him. Other than that, there’s really nothing major about his career in this category.

Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

I haven’t heard any character issues. He may have been a Southerner in the 1960s, but history suggests that he was for integration, and helped drive the desegregation of the Cardinals’ spring training facilities.

Analysis:

Aside from Santo and Mathews, with whom his career sandwiched, I doubt there was a better National League third baseman during his era. He hit for a higher average than both of them, and won an MVP award, which neither of them did during the era. His last three years led to a swift decline, and his fifteen years may not have been the most, but considering how late he broke in, I don’t hold that against him. Relative to his position at third base, he’s probably in the top fifteen, and he should be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Halfway point to UEFA Euro 2016

With the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers halfway done, here are the standings so far. The following teams would qualify, as of April 3:

France (host)

Group A: Czech Republic, Iceland

Group B: Belgium, Wales

Group C: Slovakia, Spain

Group D: Poland, Germany

Group E: England, Slovenia

Group F: Romania, Northern Ireland

Group G: Austria, Sweden

Group H: Croatia, Italy

Group I: Portugal, Denmark

Best third-place team: Scotland (Group D)

Playoffs

Group A: Netherlands

Group B: Israel

Group C: Ukraine

Group E: Switzerland

Group F: Hungary

Group G: Russia

Group H: Norway

Group I: Albania

Potential playoff matches

Netherlands vs. Norway

Albania vs. Russia

Ukraine vs. Hungary

Switzerland vs. Israel