Red Sox in Transition

In a surprising move, the Red Sox have hired former Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to be the new President of Baseball Operations. As you might expect from such a decision, there has been a lot of fall out.

First, Ben Cherington, unexpectedly, resigned from his position as Red Sox GM. That means one of Dombrowski’s first decisions as new Red Sox president will be hiring a new GM. Early reports indicate that former Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren is already the “leader in the clubhouse.” Though I do not know a lot about Wren, Craig Calcaterra seems to like that choice:

Seems like a pretty good combination, actually. Dombrowski is a good trader and a bold big picture guy. Wren had his issues with some of the grander moves made when he ran the Braves, but was pretty darn good at the day-to-day and the more complimentary moves like, you know, building bullpens. And, of course, there is unlikely to be ego issues there. Wren is not really anyone’s idea of a new-breed team president and shouldn’t have issues with the new, somewhat diminished role of the general manager these days.

Of course, as Dave Cameron points out, this move to a Dombrowski / Wren front office could be a shift away from the analytical philosophy that has been a defining characteristic of the Red Sox over the past few years:

Wren was ousted in Atlanta in part because the team had fallen behind the curve analytically, so a Dombrowski/Wren combination would make for one of the more old-school front office tandems in baseball today.

In a similar vein, one of Cherington’s greatest successes as GM was how he had built the Red Sox farm system one of, if not the, best in baseball. Reading Tim Britton’s description of Dombrowski’s team building philosophy, however, makes me think that the farm system wouldn’t be as much of an emphasis under the Dombrowski regime:

Dombrowski has been known for quick turnarounds, often aggressively moving highly rated prospects in order to secure more established major leaguers. He owns a reputation as one of the game’s best evaluators of major-league talent, and time and again, he has brought in impact talent to his roster through trades.

As someone who has really enjoyed watching the young players develop (and finally start to “get it” at the major league level), I’m not sure I really want a team president who is going to trade away a bunch of prospects to get “established” major league players. That seems to be what got the Sox into trouble during the Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford era. (Is there a Red Sox fan out there who wouldn’t want to have Anthony Rizzo right now?)

In the end, I guess I will just hope that hope Jeff Passan is right

The thing is, Dombrowski inherits one of the best situations in baseball. It’s not just the Fenway cash cow or the ownership willing to spend money. It’s Mookie Betts in center field, Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia up the middle, and Blake Swihart at catcher. It’s Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo showing signs of completing the most athletic outfield in baseball. It’s Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens on the mound. It’s Yoan Moncada and Javier Guerra and Rafael Devers in the same infield, with Manuel Margot and Andrew Benintendi providing even more outfield depth.

If I look at things that way, I think I’m ready for Spring Training 2016 to get started.

SIDENOTE: Though the decision to keep John Farrell on as manager will ultimately be up to Dombrowski, Gordon Edes reports that Farrell is likely to stick around. I really would like Farrell to get another year with the team, and, of course, wish him well in his current fight against cancer.

D23 Might Have Left Me a Little Excited

This weekend was Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA. There was tons of Disney theme park related news at the event, but here is what has got me the most excited:

Star Wars Land at The Studios

The rumors are now a reality: Star Wars land is coming to The Studios. In what is being described as 14-acre, immersive experience, The Studios is getting a whole section dedicated to one of my favorite film franchises. I expected the land to have great theming, retail, and dining, but I didn’t expect these kinds of attractions:

These authentic lands will have two signature attractions, including the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.

I get to fly a Millennium Falcon? Are you kidding me? That sounds amazing. With the level of detail expected in this area, it will come as no surprise that Jim Hill has recently said Joe Parinella, who was one of the keys to bringing Harry Potter to Universal Orlando, is the one leading this effort.

Relatedly, and in order to satisfy Star Wars fans while Star Wars land is being constructed, Disney also announced the Star Wars Launch Bay for later this year. The Launch Bar will feature “special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars character.” It also sounds like Star Wars Weekends will be upgraded to the new Season of the Force promotion in “early 2016”, and will include new fireworks show set to Star Wars music.

If you want to hear more about Star Wars land, here a video clip by The DIS from when it was announced during the Disney Parks Panel.

Toy Story Land at The Studios

Though I heard rumors that there might be something Pixar-related coming to The Studios, I did not anticipate it would be an area completely focused on Toy Story. That said, I am pretty pleased with what it appears that we are getting. Yes, the green aliens attraction is only a spinner, but the Slinky Dog coaster looks pretty cool. Also, anything that increases capacity at Toy Story Midway Mania is a welcome addition.

Much like Star Wars land, what really impresses me here is how much detail is being paid to the theming. For example, the story being the coaster is that Andy used a roller coaster set in his back yard, but decided to use Slinky Dog instead of a regular coaster car to go around the track. I love it.

Also, Jim Hill has already said that Toy Story land is just the beginning for Pixar at The Studios. He is still hearing rumors about some kind of Cars Land being added, as well as one other Pixar section (which currently hasn’t been decided.)

If you want more details about Toy Story Land check out thisvideo clip nu The DIS when it was announced.

Jungle Cruise Restaurant at Magic Kingdom

The rumors about this were pretty spot on: [Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen] is coming to the Magic Kingdom. The restaurant is described as follows:

At the Jungle Skipper Canteen, guests will be able to experience “World Famous Jungle Cuisine” in one of several unique dining rooms – including a crew mess hall and a once-hidden secret meeting room of the famed Society of Explorers and Adventurers. The restaurant will also be staffed by Jungle Cruise Skippers.

I would assume that means we get the campy humor that the Jungle Cruise is known for, but the announcement is kind of light on details. For example, will this be a table service only restaurant? Or will it be similar to Be Our Guest, with quick service lunch (and breakfast?) and table service dinner? Personally, I’m kind of hoping they follow the Be Our Guest model.

Pandora – The World of Avatar

Disney announced the official name of Avatarland: Pandora – The World of Avatar. Until I have time to create an auto-replace (and to keep from confusing things with the jewelry brand of the same name), however, I’m going to just stick with Avatarland .

The model of Avatarland was spectacular. The idea of floating mountains, the special animatronic animals and Na’vi, and the change over from day to night make this place seem like it could be really special. Of course, the new land also includes a couple of new attractions: AVATAR: Flight of Passage that will “allow guests to experience what it’s like to fly with a banshee”, and a currently unnamed (??) boat ride.

Here’s a video from The DIS if you want to see more of the model and its exhibit.

Night Time Activities at the Animal Kingdom

In addition to Avatarland, Disney also provided more details on two new nighttime editions to Animal Kingdom. Rivers of Light “will combine live performers with floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery”, while Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris will be “a new nighttime adventure that will allow guests to travel through the African savanna amid the orange glow of the setting sun.” As someone who has enjoyed Animal Kingdom the first day I visited it, I cannot wait to have additional nighttime entertainment to keep me in the park longer. I am especially interested in seeing how they extend “the orange glow of the setting sun” into the night.

Soarin’ Around the World Coming to Epcot Next Year

The original rumors were that Disney’s new Soarin’ Around the World film would be exclusive to Shanghai for five years. Thankfully, those rumors turned out to be false and Epcot will see the new Soarin’ film and a digital projection upgrade “beginning next year.” I am, of course, excited to see this upgrade to Soarin’, but I am also excited to see this pattern of Disney updating or enhancing attractions at multiple parks at the same time. I understand the logic behind having certain parks be “the place you go to see Attraction X”, but I feel like this new approach of updating things everywhere is going to cause more overall excitement to Disney fans.

Generic Disney Trip Planning Outline

On a recent episode of Mighty Men of Mouse, they discussed travel outlines, spreadsheets, etc…

Personally, I have always created my travel outlines in OmniOutliner Pro for the Mac, and then synced them over to my iPhone to use on OmniOutliner for iOS. This allows me to easily navigate the outline, closing and opening various sections as I work through things.

My outline is broken down into the following sections:

  • Packing List
  • Things to do Before we Leave
  • Reservations
  • Scheduling Information
  • Daily Itineraries

Most of the categories are probably pretty self explanatory, but I will clarify the difference between Scheduling Information and Daily Itineraries. Scheduling Information is essentially a “times” listing, while Daily Itineraries is the plan for the day. If it turns out that something unexpected changes in the daily plan, then I can use the data in the “Scheduling Information” section to make adjustments on the fly.

If you want to see a generic version of my outline for using OmniOutliner, you can download that here (Kivus Generic Outline)1, and if you want to see what a PDF of it would look like, you can do that here (PDF of Outline). Unfortunately, I doubt the PDF version will be very helpful to you since it is so generic.

  1. This is a “zip” of the OmniOutliner “oo3 file” (which is technically a folder). You’ll have to unzip it before you can use it in OmniOutliner. 

MMoM Listener Community Vacation Survey Results

tl:dr – October was the preferred month.

The Mighty Men of Mouse Listener Community Vacation survey is now over. In total, we got 30 responses, that resulted in the following summaries of data:

Raw Numbers:

Survey Results

Weighted Averages:

Weighted Averages

Further Analysis:

The survey was rated on a 1-5 scale ranging from “Definitely not” to “Yes, I would be there.” It was the numerical values of the responses that created the weighted averages.

Looking at the numbers, it’s clear October and June had the highest “weighted average.” Earlier in the survey, this was because October had a “stars and scrubs”-style set of “yes” and “no” answers, while June was quite balanced. As time progressed however, things evened out across both months.

Ultimately, it was October has 6 more “I would really try, but no guarantees” (i.e. “4” rating on the scale) that toppled June’s 2 more “Yes, I would be there” ratings (i.e., “5” rating on the scale.)

Some other random notes:

  • One of the “definitely notes” for October is Howie. (Boo.)
  • There was one entry that was “definitely not” for all months, and two entires that were “yes” for all months. I sort of ignored those for analysis purposes.

Strained Attachment

Elyssa and I get attached to places. We go to places that are ostensibly buildings or other structures, but end up getting attached to them because of how they make us feel. We develop emotional connections like joy, comfort, and security to those places, and we frequently do not realize how deep those connections are until something strains or severs them.

Elyssa and I have been members of the same gym for the past 2 years. When we started at the gym, we would have been rated fairly low on any objective fitness scale. Still, we showed up a few times a week, worked hard (well, Elyssa worked hard, I worked hard-ish) and started enjoying things. We made connections to the people there, and we became friends with the owners and the instructors. When an instructor left or couldn’t teach a class that Elyssa and I enjoyed, it felt like a major hole in our lives. Sometimes that hole was never filled, and sometimes someone would come along and provide us with a different sense of joy and accomplishment. The new instructor would never truly replace the original instructor, but we would get attached in a different way.

When Elyssa had her brain surgery, the owners and instructors at the gym rallied around her. They provided her motivation to go from someone who could hardly walk without help to someone who will be running a half marathon in a couple of months. On the one year anniversary of the doctor’s finding Elyssa’s brain tumor, the gym held a special spin class in her honor that included inspirational songs and a little touch of Disney flair. Elyssa cried. I cried. The owners, the other instructors, and the rest of the room cried along with us.

At one point, our connection was so strong to this gym that when Elyssa and I would discuss possibly relocating (whether within our current area or to another area entirely), one of the prime concerns she had was moving away from the gym. She loved that place.

Recently, things have changed. The managing owners that we had a connection to stepped aside, and new managing owners took over. Instructors we loved left. Classes we had taken for years came to an end. Despite hardly any physical changes to the building, we started to lose our connection to the place. It started becoming “just a gym” instead of a place we were connected to.

Looking back now, it is easy to see what had been our real connection to the place: the people. The owners, the instructors, everyone who made us feel welcome, supported us, and drove us to become better. The community of other members who pushed us to ride faster on the bike and then clinked beer glasses with us after. A lot of that has now faded, and so has our connection to the place.

This entire experience has also given me new insight into how people might react in similar situations, including how they may feel about one of Elyssa’s and my favorite places: Walt Disney World. I used to read posts from people saying “things aren’t the same” or ‘I can’t believe they’re closing that thing which I love”, and I couldn’t really relate. Now, I know what that feeling is like. I used to have a place that I loved, that felt like home, and now that place isn’t the same.

In the end, Elyssa and I will continue getting attached to places. It’s who we are. We throw ourselves into things that we love and end up loving them more. It’s why we go to Disney World so many times a year, and it’s why we used to go to this gym every day of the week (sometimes more than once in a given day.) Unfortunately, it looks like our gym has gone from a place with which we had a connection, to just another building.

→ Reports: Justin Fuente to succeed Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech

No surprise here. This has been rumored for weeks.

I guess it helps the ACC is Va Tech is good again, but I haven’t missed having to beat them every year.


→ Supergirl To Meet Flash On CBS For May Sweeps Week?

Interesting. I hope this helps Supergirl in the ratings.


→ The NCAA finally frees prized Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo

It’s about time the NCAA decided on this.


→ WWE Raw’s Ratings Hit A New Low, With The Smallest Viewership Since 1997

Just keep doing what you’re doing, Vince. I’m sure people will eventually come around.


→ Clinging To Relevance, Yahoo Prevents Ad Block Users From Checking Yahoo Mail

Stay classy, Yahoo.


→ Report: Hanley Ramirez to play winter ball, get reps at first base

I hope this is a sign that he’s taking the upcoming season particularly seriously.


→ The two biggest winners of the offseason are Yoan Moncada’s biceps

I’m not sure how he’ll even swing a bat.


→ Utah State denies transfer permission to speak with any other schools

I can’t understand why, Coach Duryea sounds like a real stand up guy…


→ FOX Allegedly removes FANTASTIC FOUR 2 From 2017 Schedule?

Can’t imagine why…


→ AT&T, Verizon try to prevent ban on text message blocking

Shocking. I’m shocked.


→ Former WWE Diva A.J. Lee Just Landed Her First Book Deal

I miss AJ. I imagine I’ll be buying her book.


→ MLB In-Market Streaming a Small Step

As always, the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals games won’t be shown OVER 4 HOURS AWAY in North Carolina. What a disaster.


→ Is WWE Keeping A Healthy Daniel Bryan Out Of The Ring So He Doesn’t Mess Up Their Plans?

This sounds like a crazy conspiracy, but, sadly, I can’t bring myself to just dismiss it out of hand.


→ “Legends of Tomorrow” Targets January 2016 Premiere Date

I’m cautiously optimistic about this one.


→ Chapel Hill Tom and Chee, and Raleigh Tyler’s Taproom close

Major bummer. I liked both of these places.


→ This friendship is magic

I can’t believe Sasha will not be on the PPV tonight.


→ Getting an App Store Refund

I’m glad they ended up making this easier.


→ KATNISS vs HERMIONE: Princess Rap Battle (Molly C. Quinn & Whitney Avalon)

In case you woke up this morning and thoughts “I wish Katniss and Hermione had a rap battle”…


→ Joe Posnanski’s Take on Big Papi’s Hall of Fame Chances

David Ortiz’s full Hall of Fame case is nuanced. His career numbers fall somewhere between Fred McGriff and Frank Thomas, which puts him right on the border. His extra-base hits total is massive — some of that is Fenway Park. His postseason heroics boost him considerably. His failed drug test will be considered. And yes, he spent almost his entire career at DH. I think you have to throw all of that into a tumbler, shake it up and roll it out. I vote for him.

Sounds about right to me.


Big Papi to Retire at the End of the Season

Though there were rumors yesterday, David Ortiz made the official announcement today:

Here are some of the articles trying to put Papi’s careeer into context: