Scotts 2 Cents

December 20, 2014

My Thoughts on the Kansas City Royals 2014 Off Season Moves…so far

Filed under: Baseball,Random Stuff,Sports — Scott @

Because absolutely nobody asked I thought I’d share my thoughts on the Royals off season moves.  Keep in mind, the off season is far from over but as the end of the year approaches it is mostly over so now seems like as good a time as any.

There has been much more discussion and interest around the Royals than usual – and actually that is saying a lot because off season moves is typically ALL Royals fans have starting about June of the still in progress season. This year of course was different.  So very different, and so much better.  But… the season did end and the off season did come and the Royals have needs to fill.

We first must examine what the Royals needed to do.  Did they need to reinvent themselves? No.  Did they desperately need warm bodies? No.  Did they have more needs than they could possibly fill?  No.  I’ve heard a lot about these huge holes the Royals had to fill.  What holes?  Here is what they needed to replace:
Billy Butler – clearly Billy and Ned Yost did not get a long, and that was a problem in an otherwise seemingly cohesive clubhouse and Billy had another (2nd in a row) non-spectacular year.  He did get hot in August and that was absolutely huge for this team, no doubt, but lets not romanticize Billy Butler too much.  He was a below average DH the last 2 seasons who the manager clearly didn’t like.
Nori Aoki – a slap hitting RF who seemed lost in RF many times.  He had his moments and everybody really liked him.  And yes, he did have some memorable moments in the post season.  But he was a below average outfielder and hitter.
James Shields – clearly the biggest name on this short list.  For the record, I was a fan of the trade when it happened and nobody can objectively say that was a bad deal after the magic of 2014.  You can’t replace Shields as a leader in the clubhouse – but that element is no longer as important as it was 2 years ago and at times in the regular season he was a stud.  But many other times he was simply average and in the post season he was the Royals least effective pitcher.

So the Royals NEEDS where to replace a below average RF, a declining DH who the manager didn’t like and an aging pitcher who is going to get way overpaid for too many years by some team.

So, how did the Royals fill those needs…..
New DH Kendrys Morales is essentially a switch hitting Billy Butler.  Disappointing they didn’t upgrade if he is simply what he’s been in recent years.  BUT in 2012 and 2013 he hit  a combined 45 HRs and 34 in 2009.  Billy Butler has not done that.  Do I suddenly expect him to do this again in Kauffman Stadium? No.  But he could, it is possible, and seemingly is more likely to do so then Butler.

New RF Alex Rios is 34 years old and had 2 bad years the last 2 seasons.   Last year, the Royals (and Rios) remind us he battled an injury on his hand all season long.  Maybe. And maybe being healthy he’ll be better.  But again, look at the potential.  Of course (especially in sports) past performance does not indicate future results.  He’s had some nice HR seasons and a lot of doubles – which should only go up at The K.  The downside is about what they had with Aoki, the upside is better than they’ve had in RF in many years.

New SP Edinson Volquez is 31 years old and can be an innings eater.  If the Royals get Volquez from last season, 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA, 192 innings, 2-1 K:BB they’ll be happy – very happy.  Most people know this (although I’m not sure Ned was one of them) – James Shields was not an ACE this season, he would have been the Royals 3rd best pitcher going into 2015.

What the Royals did is fill spots of players that had below average seasons with guys who have huge upside who will certainly be as good as they had in 2014.  And they did all this without trading any part of the future or getting into bad long contracts.

Plus they added a few pieces that really didn’t make headlines – and that’s simply more cards in the deck, more warm bodies that you never know where they may be valuable – future trades, future MLB talent, etc…  And I really like the Medlen signing – it costs us nothing (except money and David Glass has plenty) and the upside of this guy is excellent and he’s only 29 – not young, but not old.

It is a very fair argument that the Royals needed to do more to get better because 2014 was a magical (perhaps lucky) year that you can’t count on again in 2015 – or until 2033 so they have to get more talented, not just bring back the same talent.  Maybe.  But consider that Hosmer, Moustakas, Perez, Escobar, even Gordon didn’t exactly explode with outstanding seasons.  If any of them get better in 2015, the Royals are better.  And I’m as tired as everyone hearing about how these guys still have potential but it’s not unrealistic to believe the core of this team on offense can be better next season.

And one last thing – the real strength of this team was it’s bullpen.  And the bullpen is better this season.  Well, theoretically.  Let’s remember in 2013 Hochevar was dominant out of the pen and now the Royals add that potential to Herrera, Davis, Holland.  Wow.  And the starting pitching….4 of the 5 are back including the 2 best who are young guys who may get even better.  I mean Ventura and Duffy (just in case that wasn’t obvious).

I hate that the White Sox and Twins were very active and seem to have gotten a lot better, Cleveland too who already had a lot of young talent returning and the Tigers are still kings of the division despite aging and barely hanging on last season.

And yes, perhaps – just perhaps, I wish the Royals would have made a bigger splash – Cabrera, Hunter, Upton, Santana.  Heck dare to dream of Lester, Yas.  But nobody really thought that would happen did they?  And I think it’s time to trust Dayton Moore – he got us here, we have to trust these moves were the best for the Royals now and tomorrow.

Lastly (almost) – the off season isn’t over, more moves may come.  Nothing big likely, but the Royals not so big moves are often the most impactful.

This team is going to make 2015 special because of Ventura, Duffy, Herrera, Davis, Holland, Hosmer, Cain, Gordon, Moose, Perez, Escobar NOT because of Rios, Morales and Volquez. Those guys can certainly help – no question but they aren’t MUST HIT guys, they need to be pieces of a puzzle.  A puzzle that literally got about as close as possible to winning the World Series.  Okay, maybe if Gordon is sent home and thrown out at the plate (and make no mistake – there was a 99% chance he would have been out, probably by a a lot) and that ended the series it would have been closer but you literally (I know I just used that word) can’t have a better record than 11-4 in the post season without winning the World Series and the tying run in Game 7 at home was 90 feet away when the game ended.  When the season ended, when the amazing oh so magical season ended; ended in a way that just seemed wrong. It wasn’t supposed to end like that, and when against all odds Gordon’s hit fell in, then skipped to the wall, it seemed the magic wasn’t quite done.  It wasn’t supposed to end like that.  But it did.  And except for 29 years of history that tells us otherwise, maybe 2 more runs next year is all we need.  It wasn’t supposed to end like that.

December 31, 2013

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2014 – Trip Planning – When is the Best Time to Go to Disney World for Low Crowds?

I’m back with my annual sharing of my own Disney World planning tool.

BIG change to this year’s data.  As always, I’m using data from TouringPlans.com – a GREAT source for Disney planning, and they had an amazing year in 2013 and are even better now!  And in 2013 a big change was the way they create level data.  Previously they put all dates in order and the crowd level for each – the bottom 10% of that list were 1’s on the crowd calendar, next 10% 2’s, etc… up to the top 10 on the list of crowd levels at Disney World were 10’s on the crowd calendar.  But they’ve improved on that.  Disney World crowds simply don’t follow a perfect bell curve like that – there are a lot more 5,6,7 days than 1,2,9 and 10 days and the crowd calendar now reflects that MUCH better and overall the crowd calendar is better.  Thus my charts are better and still show the peaks and valley’s of wait times at Disney World.  And remember, the keyword there is wait times – not crowds, this is based entirely on wait times.  Disney World is always crowded, it’s wait times that matter.

Again I remind you that the single best bit of advice on short wait times at Disney World has NOTHING to do with all the data below.  Avoiding long waits is relatively simple – ARRIVE EARLY!  And I don’t mean 8:55 am if the park opens at 9:00 am – I mean AT LEAST 8:30 am for a 9 am opening.  Even during Christmas week (the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day – BY FAR the busiest week at Disney World) you can ride everything you want at Magic Kingdom with very little waiting in line if you arrive 30-60 minutes before park opening.  You’ll ride 7-9 rides with no more than a 5 minute wait before 11 am.  By Noon the shortest wait in the park will be 30 minutes and only get higher most of the afternoon.  If you aren’t an early riser your best bet is to ride rides during parades and fireworks in the evening and after as the crowds start to depart the park.

So, arrive early, have a touring plan and you’ll wait in short lines.  How important this step is will vary by time of year – if you visit during “low” times, so called non-busy times at Walt Disney World then you can get away with a later arrival and less of a plan.  Of course , early arrival and good planning helps anytime of the year.

On to the crowd calendars.  The first image is for every week (Sat – Sat) in 2014, ending on Saturday.  As always, September has the shortest wait times of the year, with early February and early December a close second.

2014 Disney World Crowd Calendar Overview

Next we look at 10 day weeks, Friday to the following Sunday:

2014 Disney World Crowd Calendar Fri - Sun Overview

Back to Saturday – Saturday data – same as above, just a different chart style.  In fact there are 2 versions of the same chart just formatted a bit differently so pick the one that suits your eye better – the data is the same on both.  Again, this is Sat – Sat weeks for 2014  – of course not everyone travels Sat – Sat but in general this will give you a rough idea of expected wait times in general at Disney World.

Disney World 8 Day Crowd Calendar Chart 2014

Disney World Wait Times Crowd Calendar Chart - 2014

Hope this helps a bit – for additional planning and Disney World info I recommend the following websites:

TouringPlans.com

DisBoards.com

WDWInfo.com

EasyWDW.com

WDWToday.com

December 29, 2012

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2013 – Disney World Trip Planning – When is the Best Time to Go?

I’m back with my 2013 version of the Disney World crowd calendar.  Again this year I’ve done Saturday – Saturday crowd levels as well as Friday – Sunday crowd levels.

A couple things to keep in mind:  Data is subject to change, by that I mean it will change.  Individual day estimates do get updated as they get closer but in general this does not change the cumulative data for the weeks shown nor does it impact the relative crowd levels for any given week.  So even though I won’t be updating these charts every time there is an update to the numbers the data remains reliable.

Additionally – crowds levels are relative.  That’s important to keep in mind.  Walt Disney World is always busy.  It’s just less busy at some times versus other times.  So if crowd levels are an important aspect to your trip planning and deciding when the best time to go to Walt Disney World is then you should keep this data in mind when planning.  There are of course MANY other factors to determining the best time to go.   I won’t try to cover them all, but do have this post on WDW trip planning that helps a bit, I’ll stick to crowd levels in this post.  This data is based on wait times for all attractions from TouringPlans.com – a GREAT source for much, much more than these charts can provide, I highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t already.
But, I will admit that lately another site has proven to be a bit more accurate at times on a day-to-day basis when predicting crowds in the parks, make sure you visit EasyWDW before you finalize your daily plans.  Another great resource.

Last but not least the most important thing you can do to minimize your wait times on rides at Walt Disney World no matter what time of year you attend the parks is to have a touring plan!!  And any good touring plan starts with arriving at the parks FIRST THING IN THE MORNING!  People know my family is Disney Parks crazy and I’m a bit of a planning nerd (but nowhere near the level of many) so I get asked about planning a Walt Disney vacation a lot – and my 1 tip (although I never stop at just 1 tip) is always simple – get to the parks EARLY.  And I don’t mean 15 minutes after the scheduled opening time, I mean 30 minutes before opening time.  The difference in wait times you’ll experience is amazing.  Again, I’ll stick to crowd calendars here as there are a great number of sources that attest to how important arriving early really is for low wait times.  And this applies no matter what the crowds are for that day or week.  Even Christmas week is enjoyable if you arrive early and have a plan.  As for the plan, I don’t necessarily believe in the step-by-step minute-by-minute type plan (however – they work great) but you must have some idea of where you’re going in the park and what you want to accomplish.

Okay, on to the crowd calendars.  First is a look at the cumulative estimated crowd levels for an 8 day week (Sat – Sat) in 2013.  As always, September has the lowest crowds – by far.

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2013 Saturday - Saturday Data

Now the same data, in a line chart (Saturday – Saturday) crowd levels in 2013 at Walt Disney World

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2013 Saturday - Saturday Line Chart

I think the above chart shows most clearly the HUGE difference in crowd levels in Sept vs the rest of the year and illustrates very well how crowded the summer is at WDW.

Next is the SAME chart as above, just a different format:

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2013 Saturday - Saturday Fancy Chart

And last but not least, because if you’re like me Saturday – Saturday isn’t long enough at Walt Disney World I created the same data (cumulative crowd levels) for Friday – Sunday’s throughout 2013:

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2013 Friday - Sunday Chart

And just in case you want it, here is the Fri – Sun accompanying data that creates the chart:

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2013 Friday - Sunday

So there you have it for another year, my look at the crowd levels at Walt Disney World for 2013, I hope this helps you plan your next trip if crowd levels are an important factor when determining the best time to go to Disney World.

I welcome comments and questions below!  Thanks!

December 1, 2012

Wii U System Update – Moms, Dads, Santa Clause – Don’t Let Christmas Morning Be Ruined with a 2+ Hour Update

Filed under: Random Stuff,Stuff that really pisses me off — Tags: , — Scott @

Epic fail on part of Nintendo and the new Wii U system.

If you haven’t heard – the Wii U requires a MASSIVE update right out of the box before it will even work.  It will take OVER 2 hours!  Yes, 2+ hours to update your brand new Wii U that everybody is excited about on Christmas morning.  And that’s probably optimistic   Christmas morning around the US I’m guessing there will be A LOT (millions?) updating their new Wii U’s which will slow it down even more.  Here’s a great tip – un-box your Wii U, set it up in secret, download and install the update before Christmas then repack in the retail box and wrap for under the tree.  That way it will be ready to play on Christmas morning.

May 14, 2012

Disney World Trip Planning – When to Go, How to Plan, Lodging, Dining and More

Filed under: Disney — Tags: , , — Scott @

As you know by some past posts (my most popular posts in fact) I’m a big Disney Parks/Disney Vacations fan and part of the fun for me is planning.

I just found a great resource over at WDWPrepSchool.com that I wanted to share.  If you’re new at planning Disney vacations there are a lot of great resources available – absolutely add WDW Prep School to your list of helpful sites.

Here is their infographic on planning a great trip to Disney World in Florida.  Or maybe I should say great planning a great trip.

Disney World Trip Planning Infographic

January 29, 2012

NoMoreRack.com SUCKS – Do Not Order from No More Rack

If you want cheap crap that takes over 30 days to receive NoMoreRack.com is your place.

I’ve only placed 2 orders with them – both were terrible experiences.

Both took almost 6 weeks to arrive. My first order was for what was advertised as iPad charging cables. Problem is – THEY DON’T CHARGE the iPad!!! So, that’s a small problem.

Second order was for Hello Kitty hair clips for my daughter. Just over 30 days later, what should arrive but imitation wanna be Barbie like doll hair clips. So it took them a month to send me the wrong product. Hey, it happens I supposed. So I emailed their customer service this time. Their response was terrible. Basically the told me that I could return the product if I didn’t like it at my expense. So let me get this straight – they send the wrong product, and I have to pay to return it?? And no offer to send the right product.
I followed up by email explaining that I didn’t think I should have to send back the wrong product at my expense and I wanted what I ordered and would return what was sent with a prepaid shipping label. No response.
2 subsequent emails – no response.

So, AVOID NoMoreRack.com – DO NOT BUY unless you feel lucky, like crap and are very patient.

Just my 2 cents!

January 2, 2012

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2012 – Disney World Planning

Filed under: Disney — Tags: , , , — Scott @

Back again with my 2012 Disney Crowd Calendar broken down by week.  This utilizing the data from the fantastic website TouringPlans.com but organized how I use it that I thought you might find helpful.  I’ve created estimated crowds by week.  This year both Saturday – Saturday weeks and Friday – Sunday weeks.  This way, at a glance I can see what weeks are least busy, or at least should be less busy than other weeks.  If you’d like to see what the calendar looked like for crowds last year see my 2011 crowd calendar.

As of the first of the year it looks the least busy weeks for Disney World crowds will again be in September – the week ending 9/15/12 and 9/22/12.

Looking at the charts below keep a few things in mind – first these are estimated crowds based on average wait times throughout all the parks for these times of the year and are shown for the week ending with the date indicated.  Also remember that this data will change throughout the year but rarely enough to change the overall information and advice these charts can provide.

There are many factors that go into planning a Disney World Vacation but if crowd levels is part of your planning in 2012 I hope these help.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

Disney World 2012 Crowd Calendar Sat - Sat

Disney World 2012 Crowd Calendar Fri - Sun

Here’s the same data as the Saturday – Saturday Crowds shown above, just a different view in the chart:

Same Sat - Sat Data Just a Different View

Again, same data as represented in crowd level charts above just another way to look at it.

Disney World 2012 Crowd Calendar Spreadsheet Sat - Sat
Disney World 2012 Crowd Calendar Spreadsheet Fri - Sun


So there you have it – a quick glance at the estimated crowds you might find at Walt Disney World throughout 2012.  It’s one of many factors that should influence your Disney vacation planning.

But keep this in mind…..there is no bad time to go to Walt Disney World, only less crowded times  ;)

October 29, 2011

Do I Need a New Hobby? Maybe Woodworking….

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , , — Scott @

Between work, extra work, family and sleep it’s tough to have time for too many hobbies.  Which is okay of course.  But maybe I need a new hobby….

A long time ago I collected baseball cards, but didn’t all kids?  Then I turned it into a small side business, then a job for a few years but now – years later the industry is very different and I just have the interest anymore.  Plus, one big factor for me in thinking about a new hobby is something I can do with my kids and my son isn’t a huge sports fan so baseball cards doesn’t seem like a great option at this age.

There’s coin collecting – that might be interesting but their are a lot of coins – where would I even start and I’d probably be tempted to just spend the money.

I already play a lot of fantasy football in the fall and do pretty well thanks to custom fantasy football cheat sheets from FantasyDraftEdge.com but again, my kids aren’t football fans so it’s not something I can share with them and I probably already am too involved in it already.

Does yard work count as a hobby?  I do a lot of that.

Maybe woodworking?  That certainly seems to take some patience and a lot of equipment and supplies like router bits, saw blades, shaper cutters and I’d probably need some kind of special table.  My neighbor across the street does a lot of woodworking so I might have a resource to help me out if I decided to go this route with a new hobby.  But I’m not sure I have the patience for woodworking and I’m certain my son does not have the patience.  I’ll have to give this one more thought.

I enjoy planning our family vacations, as evidenced by my Disney World Crowd Calendar from 2011, I’ll be doing another for 2012 at the end of the year.  But again, not sure that’s really a hobby.

I’ll keep thinking about it.  Not that it matters, I still don’t really have much time anyway.  Someday I will, and then traveling often will probably win out as a hobby.

January 5, 2011

Disney World Crowd Calendar 2011 – Disney World Planning

Filed under: Places,Random Stuff — Tags: , , , — Scott @

I am a huge fan of Disney World and a huge fan of the Touring Plans Crowd Calendar; heck I’m a huge fan of everything Touring Plans has to offer.  Planning a potential upcoming trip I decided to look at the numbers how I need them.  Basically Saturday – Saturday (although now thinking why not add a night and go Saturday – Sunday, but for now this data is Sat – Sat) for the entire year.  So here’s a quick look at what I found and how I did it.  I put all the crowd calendar numbers for 2011, except the first week because I started late and didn’t go back and fix it, into a spreadsheet.  Then I totaled the crowd level number for the 8 days from all Saturday to Saturdays for the year.  So of course, the lower the number the less the crowds across all 8 days.  I then made a few charts to represent this, now I’m sharing.

According to TouringPlans.com (as of 1/4/11) the least crowded week at Disney World is 9/17 – 9/24.

Followed closely by any week the rest of September.  The last week of January is also expected to have very low crowds and short wait times.

There are of course a great many factors when determining when to go to Disney World besides simply crowd levels but I thought this was interesting data and some people might agree so I thought I’d share.

Click on an image to view the image larger.

Disney World Crowd Calendar Chart 2011

Disney World Crowd Calendar Chart 2011

Crowd Calendar Numbers - Disney World - Jan 2011

Crowd Calendar Numbers - Disney World - Jan 2011

TouringPlans.com updates this data as needed – usually when Disney changes operating hours and of course these are only estimates (but TP is really, really good at it) so subject to change for multiple reasons.



October 1, 2010

T-Mobile G2 by HTC in my hands for 18 hours compare to Nexus One and G1

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , , , — Scott @

Just got my T-Mobile G2!!!

A quick bit of background.  I had a G1 very early on – pre-ordered and got pretty quickly.  This replaced by Blackberry (which had replaced my Palm) and I absolutely loved my G1.  When the Nexus One came out – again, I jumped on it quickly.  Ordered within minutes of availability and got it very quickly.  LOVED IT!  But…it had issues:  wouldn’t hold WiFi signal at home (well documented issue on forums), battery life is not good at all, and my top button has now died.  Froyo was like getting an entirely new phone – the speed boost was amazing!

So it was not easy to give up Nexus One but if I can solve the issues I had AND get a physical keyboard back (never really loved the virtual keyboard) I was ready to try it!

Ordered the G2 shortly after midnight when it became available.  And on 9/30/10 it arrived!

Here are my first impressions after only hours of use:

Love the touch sensitive pad over the trackball (although I liked the trackball).

The G2 is a bit thicker, and heavier but feels sturdy and isn’t THAT bad.

Keyboard feels sturdy and the buttons are pretty good for a phone that size – I do miss 5 rows (love the dedicated numbers on the top row).

Screen is amazing!

The G2 is absolutely as fast as the Nexus One – no question about it!!!

SO FAR – The wireless connection is holding at my house!!!!!!!  Huge plus for me!!  Hopefully this continues to be the case with more use but the Nexus One would drop pretty easily and although show connected would pass no data.

Battery life – we’ll see…..I hope, I hope, I hope.

Having my top power/sleep button back is very nice.

I don’t care for the camera button – it’s big and very noticeable.  I like the theory of having the quick access button to the camera but it’s a bit intrusive.

That’s it for now….like I said, very initial thoughts – and I’ve literally had it for only hours.  But SO FAR SO GOOD!  The Nexus One may be headed for eBay very soon!

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