Marketing 101: Content Creation & Knowing Your Audience

I blog post a lot, and have been active enough for long enough to note trends. I hit upon about one topic per week that my audience clicks and shares on repeat until it gets a viral amount of traffic that I wonder both where it comes from and where it goes the next day. I’m sure there’s others up there who are better about making those reader peaks stay consistent on their own sites. I might add that I did post a few ways you can support content being created, as it does take a significant amount of time to keep generating posts and thinking of topics of the day.  Continue reading

Marvel’s REAL Diversity Problem

In yesterday’s post on Marvel, I talked about the global problems that have gone on for a long time that have consequently torpedoed the comic book industry over decades. Disney is either complacent in this or they are pushing this decline of this division, which can only be described as a complete business failure. It doesn’t make sense at all from a rational economic mindset. The only place it does make sense is in the bizarre emotions of social justice warriors. Like science fiction publishing, like the convention scene that decided I’m not welcome, the exact same issue plagues Marvel to where they can’t make rational decisions.

Marvel has a diversity problem.   Continue reading

Three Quick Ways To Support Your Friendly Neighborhood Blog Author!

I do this reminder every week or two, just as a reminder because every bit helps:

  1. Pick up my book, Star Realms: Rescue Run. Leave a review on Amazon.  Share it with your friends. http://bit.ly/starrealmsnovel
  2. Join my mailing list so you can be instantly updated about new releases/giveaways (rarely email, just for that. ask anyone on the list already, they’ve not even gotten any yet.)
  3. Vote for Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz for the Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy for the Dragon Awards. You can fill in other categories later or not at all if you don’t want, but it’s free, and every vote goes a long way toward getting me on the ballot.

Thank you friends for your support!

That Time I Wrote 40K Fan-Fic and Forgot I Did…

I just found this after years. I adapted someone’s short story for 40k into an audio drama for some people online as I was very interested in audio dramas at the time (still am!).  Tonight, Daddy Warpig sent over a link to some old Shadow radio dramas from the 30s, which I found awesome, so I started going back through my files.

I found this script. Totally forgot I wrote it. So I did a web search, and it got produced:

http://emperorsfadinglight.podbean.com/2011/10/28/a-moment-of-laxity/

I had no idea it got made lol. If there’s any Jon Del Arroz completionists out there, this is for you!

“Make Mine Marvel No More!”

Marvel Comics has a big problem.

I was in my local comic shop today, of which I don’t frequent nearly as much as I used to. I don’t want to say I lost a love for comics, as I recently just plowed through the trade paperbacks of Chew and finished 4 of the end of the series in one night. I feel similarly about Revival and Terry Moore’s Motor Girl. However, it’s been at least three to four years since I stopped making weekly appointments to go to the comic shop on Wednesdays, eager to pick up new books. I mentioned in an earlier post that the way storytelling has gone, I don’t really want to pick up individual issues anymore. That’s certainly part of it, but I’m also consuming a lot less content than ever before.

Around the time I stopped regularly buying comics, I cut ties and dropped the last vestiges of my Marvel Comics reading. EPIC CROSSOVER EVENTS had been anything but epic for me for years, making it difficult to read individual comic storylines (this issue of Amazing Spider-Man takes place after Civil War #4 and continues in X-Factor #17!), and trying to one-up the last with a new “shocking” death or even “shockinger” resurrection. This was hard for me to do. I’d been reading Marvel Comics since I was 10. That all started with a subscription to Amazing Spider-Man that my aunt bought for me for Christmas. If I had to choose desert island top 5 all time favorite comic characters, they would be: 5. Spider-Girl 4. Fantastic Four (I count them as one unit). 3. Captain America 2. Black Cat (way better than Catwoman) 1. Spider-Man.  Marvel meant a ton to me over the years, and if I added up all the money i’ve spent on their comics, I probably could buy myself a new car at the very least.  So it pained me to let them go.

What I heard today was disconcerting to me, because I care about Marvel Comics, and more because of what their mistakes do to the comic industry as a whole. The local shop owner told me that Marvel used to comprise about 48% of their sales, and now they’re down to about 25%. Whoa. That’s a huge drop. And I know that doesn’t mean that people are jumping ship and buying equal amount of titles of other books. The comic book readers like me, are mostly quitting except for picking out a few titles here and there. It’s really sad. Marvel, apparently, has it the worst, as the shop owner mentioned that the distributor comes into the shop, asks how things are going, with a caveat of “other than marvel” and they laugh about the poor sales together.

Now this could be anecdotal for one shop, but it’s not. If you look ten years ago, Marvel led comic sales across the board, every time, hands down, and had for decades prior to that. What happened was laziness, complacency, an unwillingness to learn from business mistakes and a healthy dose of social justice sprinkled in on top of that to seal their coffin.

Marvel went wrong in a few big ways that they need to correct:

  1. Crossover events. I mentioned how they’re just not special anymore. They haven’t been special in a decade. You may get a boost in sales temporarily but it doesn’t do anything for the long term. I hate them. Most readers hate them. We tolerated them for awhile because it looked like Bendis and Co. were doing cool things with the universe, but it turned out there wasn’t much of a real plan there other than to make new crossover events. I pick up a book to read its story. If you want to do a team up whatever with Spidery and X-Men you can make that happen within the confines of the one story and without 50,000 loose tie ins that the writers shoe-horn in. It makes for lousy books every single time.
  2. Variant covers. I was informed that it was recently or is “Venom variant month” where everything has a Venom variant cover. Look, variants were cool a couple of times, when it was special. Once it started happening all the time, it killed collecting. There’s barely any collecting going on now, and that’s your fault, comic industry. Marvel is repeating these mistakes by killing the specialness of such things even more.
  3. Social Justice. It stems from the editorial down to the writers, and they’re al the same lockstep of trying to force a left wing social narrative on everyone trying to relax and read Hulk beating up bad guys in a pure rage. Your overall audience aren’t hipsters in New York City. We’re spread out across the country and are probably split mostly along the way they country’s split. Recognize that. I couldn’t find any book that looked like the iconic characters any longer. Everyone is a gender swap trans muslim whatever gimmick of the month to virtue signal how diverse they are. And it suffers from the same problems as the first two points I made about the industry. When this was done once or twice, it was something different. It was cute. It made news headlines. Marvel got a quick sales bump. They went for that cheap gimmick on repeat rather than maintaining excellence in storytelling. It’s not making something new, it’s using a marketing gimmick for what would have been a single issue of What If? 30 years ago. A bigger problem is it isn’t to evoke the same sense of What If? fun and wonder, it’s 100% completely for the virtue signal. That intent shows through, it annoys people. No one wants it, for real.
  4. Distribution. This is an old problem, but it’s getting steadily worse. Throwing these things in specialty comic shops only or lost on the internet just gets clouded with easier to find, easier to digest content. Not exclusively Marvel’s fault here, but they need to get with a new program. I don’t have an answer here, but someone smarter than me working for Disney probably does.
  5. Not Telling A Story In An Issue. Stories go like this: Issue 1: Thor wakes up, brushes his (or her, or xer or whatever gender this week is popular) teeth. Eats breakfast. Heads out the door. Something happens. Cliffhanger to be continued! That is not enough to get me remotely interested in what’s going on, let alone to remember what happened a month from now to continue it. This is why I’m only buying trades, which hurts sales. I think the last instance I remember where whole stories were told was Tom De Falco’s Spectacular Spider-Girl, the third incarnation of that book. He’s a great storyteller. I miss him on Marvel books. When a book was a book. Cliffhangers ok, but give me a full story.
  6. Resting on the laurels of Stan Lee. There’s nothing new, and that’s nothing new. Really the problem is Iron Man is 50+ years old. And they’ll do their social justice gimmick “what if Iron Man is…. female! Because women and men are interchangeable!” and then, when a movie’s about to hit, they go quickly to revert back to some iconic unchanging Iron Man. Then repeat. There’s no long term investment available for these storylines. Marvel attempted it and succeed to make continuing stories for these characters up until about the 90s, but they couldn’t think of ways to keep them going and maintain continuity. I’m still pissed over One More Day. That was lazy writing. It doesn’t help that readers are disappointing, and any attempt to bring forth something new doesn’t last, but it’s partially Marvel’s fault for letting it get that way, and not really pushing their top talent toward those endeavors. Frankly, I loved Runaways, Arana, Spider-Girl, Spider-Man 2099. Many others did too. They didn’t get a long term commitment or lasting support from marketing or editorial. They were vestiges allowed to exist for a time as an experiment, but they were too little too late. To fix this, Marvel needs to make a real dedicated push and be willing to make a long term plan out of it. It probably involves disconverging the “Marvel Universe” and letting some books be separate, like Image does. I doubt they’ll ever be able to do that.

My last point is my greatest, and the reasoning is that any of these fixes can be done to one or two books, or for a bit. Someone will always come in with an ALL NEW SUPER COLLECTORS #1 and reset it to just these five terrible points on repeat. We know that as the readership, and that’s part of why Marvel’s lost its luster. It needs real creatives, real leadership to take it in a bold and fresh new direction to resolve this. I doubt it’s going to happen any time soon.

I long for the days of someone saying “Excelsior!” once again.

Michael Savage Assaulted While Out To Dinner

Edit: In retrospect, I should have titled this: “Literal Nazi Left: SJW Assaults Elderly Jewish Man”.  Oh well, next time. Cuz it will happen again.

Even formerly nice places like Tiburon aren’t safe. This is why my wife tells me I’m not allowed to wear my Make America Great Again hat out, even to go to Starbucks in Danville, which should be as safe as it gets. Read that again. I cannot wear a hat in public without fear of assault. That fear is not irrational, as I was assaulted twice myself last year. The left is insane, they have no morals, will harass and get violent at every turn. This is not isolated. They are not apologetic. This is the new normal because of an overly-permissive culture that allowed these cretins to fester.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4317798/Pro-Trump-radio-host-Michael-Savage-claims-attacked.html

And of course, California doesn’t allow us to arm ourselves to defend ourselves from stuff like this. I may have to move out of here sooner rather than later. Sick, bigoted people here.

Update: Further degeneracy: http://buzz.blog.ajc.com/2017/03/15/bow-wow-threatens-to-pimp-melania-trump-and-make-her-work-for-us/ The culture is promoting this violence. It needs to stop.

Rachel Maddow’s Lessons for Fandom

I’ll start with some funnies before we get into the serious. Above, I have the exclusive envelope in which was given to MSNBC last evening.  Wonder where it came from?

Last night we saw an all too common event escalate to levels where we haven’t seen it before. All of America tuned in to watch Rachel Maddow smugly go completely overboard to attempt to destroy a person — not critique policies in a fair manner, but destroy a person. This has been what the news media’s been about for over a year now, dedicating themselves wholly to this really bizarre cause that sickens most fair minded people. One would expect them to learn their lessons from this and start acting like professionals at some point, but, as we learn, they always double down.

There’s a global lesson here, however. When you’re so blinded with rage that you lose sight of everything and go hard after a person over and over again because you “must destroy them”,  it’s going to push you too far. This is the exact thing that we were warned about in the film, Dr. Strangelove, when we watch a character go completely nuts in attempt to rid of communists. It further adds to the zeitgeist’s thoughts of irony when we see Russia Russia Russia Russia. We do as a culture link those images in our minds, and rightfully so.

In that situation, people will run into further problems if they’re dealing with someone who isn’t scared to fight back. What’s happened in the modern internet age is that those institutions of TV media and fake news aren’t trusted anymore, because we can look things up for ourselves, can make determinations for ourselves. They try so hard at every moment to spin something negative (look at The Hill’s headline from last night for some lols) that no one except for the complete zealots buy it anymore. That’s very bad for your cause, zealots.

I’ve dealt with this over the last year myself, and seen my friends be even bigger targets of it than I am. For years I saw this writers group in science fiction called the Sad Puppies targeted by the small amounts of science fiction news that were out there. A lot of it came from Tor Books directly, as they saw that their award sales bump was being threatened by outsiders (the company pretty much exclusively had their authors poised for the award for best novel year after year).  But because they were a big platform, not unlike MSNBC, they got their messages that these fiction book writers were basically literally Nazis spread far and wide through science fiction’s fake news. Sound familiar? This sort of lazy mockery of journalism is going on across different spectrums. It’ll take a lot more time than this to root out, but it will spell the end of a lot of these companies as they lose consumer trust.

I had a long time “friend”, one who went into full destructive mode soon as these types of stories started circulating about me, who warned me about these Sad Puppies. He would go off relentlessly about how they’re awful people, ruining people’s lives. How do people who want some representation in awards and achieve that ruin people’s lives? Well, someone else didn’t get the award. It’s that sad of a hit piece for real, but a lot of people were brainwashed on it. I’d hear it over and over. Because of the internet however, I could investigate this myself.

I reached out to Brad Torgersen of said puppies in 2015, and learned that he was a nice guy, and even with his pretty famous status at the time, very approachable. He was very kind to me, still is, and never once seemed angry or distrusting or anything he was painted as.  I soon found out the exact same was true of Sarah Hoyt and Larry Correia. Moreover I read all three of their books over this period, after being told forever they were not worthy, and found that all three produced better works than I’ve been reading out of big SF publishers for years.  Something didn’t connect here.

And that’s what they were afraid of. That we would look up the information themselves. That’s why the media went so hard to destroy these people. It’s a direct parallel and analogy for what Rachel Maddow did last night. The problem is, with sci-fi and with the boogeyman tax returns, it’s been ringing false since the narrative began, and this just gave further evidence of what they’re doing. 

When my own issues began with the local convention programming director that wanted to stick it to me over how I voted, I faced this same thing. They panicked and got scared rather than addressing the problems with politics festering inside what’s supposed to be a gathering of fun. It went overdrive, people (including the “friend” referenced above) got really nasty on me. When they went to the fake news File 770, that’s when it really got bad, but not for me, for them.  They didn’t realize they’d engaged a zealot, a science fiction Rachel Maddow, in pushing there with half-information. When I produced real information regarding this, it was completely ignored. File 770 continues to attack me even after this has gone down. The site owner most recently took to a friend’s website in the comments to call me a liar and fling more mud at me. I have no idea who this guy is or why he’s so angry… but dude, learn from Rachel Maddow’s mistake!

I had to push back, and of course received private messages asking for reconciliation. Like Rachel Maddow, they thought they had got me good in disinviting me from their convention for the year and then hitting the media about it, but like Rachel Maddow, it hurt them badly in the public perception department as their attacks fell flat. I said that it’d gone too far, and they made it personal — and people who I knew personally before had gone off the rails attacking and swearing about me. I wanted a public apology for that and assurances about the political nature of the convention for the future, to make it a fun place for all of it. Sadly, though sounding somewhat contrite via private message to begin with, when met with the reality of what I needed to right situations with former friends that they are completely responsible for turning nasty against me, they wouldn’t budge. I imagine the same will be true with Ms. Maddow as she’s further torched her network’s name. 

As always, my point isn’t to list complaints, but as with the first time when I brought up the very real political problems with bigotry that the science fiction community has, I have a call for action: Be careful. Don’t take personal vendettas into a further personal realm and go off like Dr. Strangelove or Rachel Maddow. If you have a problem (this is mainly for you, Mike of File 770), talk to the person in question instead of attempting to smear them at every turn. If you’re in the media, you likely have that power to reach out. The smear isn’t going to work, it’s just going to make us win more. And you know what? We’re still not tired of winning.

New Projects Round Up

Made a lot of progress in the last couple of days. Here’s the skinny of it while I’m hard at work:

  1. Edits of For Steam and Country coming back today. I’ll have to dive in and make my own follow up corrections to the work and work on the next clean up pass before copy editing.
  2. Last evening, Reach For The Stars became the 4th novel I’ve written, clocking in at 91,000 words. It is set in the same universe as the first novel I wrote. It’s meant to be a standalone series that can be read in tandem with my main space opera line, but it very much launches a distinct and separate story. You’ll see soon enough. I’m very happy with how it turned out. I used 4 different perspective stories that call converge together and it’s awesome how it does.  As this is a first draft, this will take some time before it gets to your hands. It’s a blend of a general science fiction book and space opera and I’m excited about it.
  3. You’re thinking “first book?” and then scrolling through my amazon page to only find Star Realms, which is the third book I wrote. Yes, first book. I don’t even have a tentative title I like for this one. It’s my main space opera line that I’ve been conceiving for more than a decade in my head, but I wasn’t pleased with the draft and went on to work on other projects for the last few years.That experience made me figure out what was missing, how to fix it, and I’ll be hitting a rewrite of this hard over the summer. I’m excited for it as I intend to use this world for many books and a long time. It’s possible Reach For The Stars will be published first even though I utilize the same universe. My blog readers will know there’s a very rich world behind it
  4. Started work on one short story for an anthology I was invited to (about halfway done) and thinking about another. Hope to knock these out quickly while I’m editing For Steam and Country this week.
  5. I’ll be editing a short story science fiction anthology later this year. Preliminarily thinking about how that’s going to shape up. Will have more details later.
  6. I realized I have a LOT of short stories sitting on my hard drive. Part of me wants to put out a collection of short stories. Does anyone buy those?
  7. On the back burner (i’ll get to these when I can, and am thinking about them): A pulpy sci-fi serial which will involve clones and magic. The space princess novel I promised JimFear138.  Sequels to all my books. The baseball in space novella i was touting for awhile, as I don’t think that one’s quite where I want it yet.

And that’s all for now. Hopefully it’ll be enough to keep you guys reading 🙂

Retro Review: Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson

Once more I delve into my own study of the works of Appendix N and the #PulpRevolution, hopefully not to be too redundant with Jeffro Johnson’s wonderful analysis of the works, as I’m more interested in exploring a literary genre to see what I can pull of value for my own storytelling and reading edification, rather than tapping into the roots of gaming and what it brings to the table in that regard. I mentioned last week that I had read Poul Anderson’s Fire Time, which I found to be an extremely compelling book, so much so that I put aside other reading for a quick romp to follow up on Mr. Anderson’s work – as this book clocked in at about 160 pages, and I happened to have a copy.

Three Hearts and Three Lions follows the trope of someone in a traumatic situation getting thrust into a medieval fantasy world. Poul Anderson is pretty self aware of what it’s doing, the main character even referencing A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court at some point. The work blends some of the later sarcastic humor of genre tropes that one would expect to see from the 1970s-1980s even though this was originally published in 1951, which I give Mr. Anderson credit for.

I’m interested to see how many times Poul Anderson uses the “story within a story” concept, as both Fire Time and this have it in common, layering something at a later time to go into the tale of how the characters arrived there. I actually enjoy seeing that in the prologues and epilogues, as it makes them feel like a different aspect of storytelling, which is what those words are supposed to do, rather than just a “before” and “after”.

Holger finds himself in a fantasy world where he goes from one town/quest to another. If this were written in the 80s, I would say this is someone’s loose D&D one off compaigns strung together into a single book, and as I said, a lot of these stories hit on tropes that you’d expect to find in such books. It reminds me of when Robert Jordan meanders into Rand doing X or Y in some village and completely putting his main story on hold to explore their problems in the Wheel Of Time, or rather I should say that annoying bit of epic fantasy there is an extrapolation of this.

The character of Holger is worth reading, however. I like how he holds to some morality, gives into base sins at times which would be hard to avoid (I mean… let’s be honest, anyone would give into the hot faerie chicks from time to time), and I also appreciates how he holds the real woman he cares about to a higher standard to where he won’t simply frolic with her, even though she’s more than willing – the sign of a true relationship and partnership. Very real characterization from a 1951 book at that.

You’ll find pretty standard things in the book: dragons, werewolves, obscene magics, trolls, and the like. That it’s a quick read makes a lot of those readable and redeemable. If this book were double the length I don’t know that I would have enjoyed it, and though I’m talking it down somewhat, I did enjoy it. Out of 10 (as Amazon’s five star ranking really leaves little room for differentiation) I’d still call this a 7.5 overall.

Jeffro pointed out that this book probably gave the inspiration for alignments, as there is a greater battle between Law and Chaos going on in the book, with people choosing sides. He also mentioned that the troll as a monster and the way it’s handled in the D&D game likely stems from here as well. And that historical context makes it pretty neat.

It’s worth a read if you need to kill some time in between books, but I gather there is better Appendix N work and Poul Anderson work worth exploring first.

The Spring Training Experience

Over the weekend I did my first ever Spring Training trip with my father, father in-law and my oldest son. We went to the Cactus League in Phoenix, AZ to see the Oakland A’s for three games: KC Royals (Away), TX Rangers and Chicago Cubs. It was about the perfect weekend trip timing wise, taking off early on Friday and leaving late Sunday to allow us to catch 3 games with a two night stay. The flight isn’t too long to Phoenix, about an hour and forty five,  making Spring Training the perfect weekend getaway.

We arrived with what we thought was plenty of time to get to the Royals stadium after checking in at our Phoenix Doubletree hotel. What we didn’t expect was California-level traffic out to Surprise, AZ where they are located. You could say we were…  shocked. It took us an hour and a half and we didn’t get there until the second inning.

Set up at a table for charity were A’s superstars Rollie Fingers and John “Blue Moon” Odom, heroes from the 1972-1974 championship team. It was cool meeting them, taking a picture, getting their autographs. Nice of them to spend each day of Spring Training at the stadium for charity like that.

Friday night didn’t see much of the A’s starting lineup for 2017. We got a team of mostly minor leaguers going up against a Royals team I didn’t know too much about. Still, the stadium there was nice, had a hometown minor league atmosphere with someone grilling hot dogs right behind the stands, smoke blowing out onto the field. The weather was great for an evening in AZ, for a perfect time all around. The A’s continued their crazy amount of run scoring through training with an 11-7 victory. Home Runs were poppin’ out of that park in Surprise left and right. I did get to see Jharel Cotton pitch, who came up last year and will be part of the rotation this year. He shut down KC pretty well in his outing, which was impressive. Someone to watch.

The DoubleTree Hotel was probably my least favorite part of the experience. A bit noisy, outdoor rooms that felt one step above a motel. Wasn’t too clean either, saw a few stray hairs in the bathroom upon arrival which irks the germaphobe in me. I stayed there because they had a Spring Training deal, knew we’d be out most of the time and was told that several of the A’s were staying there, in hopes my kid might run into them—we didn’t run into anyone. I would probably stay in Mesa or over that direction or at a nicer hotel next time.

Onto day two! We arrived about an hour early, after batting practice but with a lot of players still on the field. One thing I’ll mention here is my 8 year old son is a ball and autograph hound. He managed to get three balls thrown to him from the stands on Friday evening, and already had two before the game started on Saturday. One of those he used to get autographs from A’s players, which by the end of the game he had the ball completely filled. I have no idea who signed which brings me to another cool part of spring training: this above anything else is a nice family atmosphere. I felt completely comfortable letting my 8-year old run around the stadium autograph hunting without my direct supervision. It doesn’t feel that way back in Oakland, I’m sorry to say.

The Mesa stadium is nice, but It think I liked that open back area Surprise version a bit better. It had a nice grassy area in center field, whereas Mesa has this monstrous wall there blocking a snack shack from home run balls. Hurts the ambiance just a little bit, but it is a nice stadium overall. The concessions are down a long tunnel which reminds me of walking through the Coliseum, but if you’re on the home side of the stadium it’s a bit of a trek to go back and forth between everything. A minor complaint as sitting close to the field and really getting up close more than made up for it. The overall atmosphere is pretty nice, and the food options need to be imported to the MLB park – SO much better. Dave Kaval, if you read this, I want the soba noodle group in Oakland!

The game on Saturday actually came down to a walk-off with Oakland besting Texas 8-7.  I think notable was Ryon Healy going 3-3, looked like a stud out there and I’m excited to see him this year in Oakland. Hope he gets a lot of playing time.

Saturday night we hung out with some friends who live in the area, walked around at night, had a good time all around.

Sunday morning we got out early, checked out of the DoubleTree and went early to the Mesa Commemorative Air Force Museum. I saw an ad for this at the ballpark and since we had some time to kill before the game and it was close by, figured we should check something out. I was expecting a little room with some models and some facts but wow was I in for a surprise. They had full on motors on display, more than a dozen planes including a B-17 Flying Fortress, restored to original condition. You could walk through, see all the turrets and cockpit, walk through the bomb bay, it was fricking awesome. This museum was almost worth the trip by itself. If you really plan in advance and save up $500, you can take a flight on the B-17 I learned as well. I might have to do that sometime in the future because how many times in your life will you get to fly on a real WW2 plane?  Apparently there are 7 left in flying operable condition in existence.

The Sunday game vs. the Cubs was crazy. The first two games were half full, very relaxed, people running around. This day was PACKED with Cubs fans. I planned all this far in advance and actually got tickets above the cubs dugout, 2nd row, surrounded by a sea of blue. The Cubs fan base was very nice overall, had some good conversations. Watching the Cubs come out, I have to admit, they look like a far more imposing athletic baseball team than the A’s do, everything you expect out of seeing a baseball team. It was cool to get to see them play. Kris Bryant signed my kid’s glove and Ben Zobrist threw him a ball. Jake Arrietta pitched and he was lights out, scary. He tossed a no-hitter for the three innings he was in.  This was a cool game as a lot of people left because the Cubs went up so much, but the A’s minor league team later on scrapped it out about as well as I’ve seen anyone play. These guys were out there to compete which was nice to see. They came back and topped the Cubs 9-8.

Overall, super fun time. Even though it’s practice and doesn’t mean anything, it’s almost better than watching regular major league games. Highly recommend making the spring training trip.

On the A’s season, I’m not sure how much I can glean here. They’re scoring tons of runs, mostly behind their minor league farm. They’re giving up a lot as well—but again, mostly with their minor league farm. I was happy to see how well Ryon Healy was playing, as he’s probably who I’m rooting for most on the major league club right now position player wise. Jharel Cotton was a treat as well, who is probably my favorite pitcher on the club. Matt Chapman looked solid in at bats, and I expect him to be up later this year. Franklin Barreto was a beast on Sunday – he really is inspiring for the future of the team. Was happy to see Renato Nunes get some hits and if this is any indication I think Chris Parmelee might be a sleeper Major Leaguer who isn’t on anyone’s radar.

Pitching wise: Santiago Casilla looked terrible, zero control. It was his first outing, however, so it may just be warming up. I really hope so. Raul Alcantara is in the mix for starter/long man for the club, and he had a solid outing, despite giving up a couple of runs. Bobby Wahl came in and closed against the Cubs and looked phenomenal – I hope to see him up with the club soon. Ryan Dull pitched Friday (another favorite of mine I forgot to mention) and delivered a pretty great inning. The pitching staff is actually very promising, they just need a little more experience.

Everyone’s been complaining about this A’s rebuild like crazy the last couple years, and I’ve watched them make moves which are intelligent and yet they don’t get credit for it. Josh Donaldson, while I pine for him, wouldn’t have been the difference of 2015-2017 making the A’s contend. Barreto may be that difference in the future, and Kendal Graveman is no slouch either. Yes, the Cespedes trade was a whiff, but that’s behind us now by many years, and he wouldn’t be with us anyway. Look at this though: the A’s went from last in farm system in 2014, to #12 prior to training this season according to Bleacher Report – I think they’re underrated even with that with the way the prospects are up showing off their stuff this week. The A’s have a solid core coming up and they could fluke into a good 2017 season, but for 2018-2019 they’re looking like real contenders. I trust in this plan and like what I’m seeing for the future.