Unmentioned Crimes

The Indians’ mascot is offensive.

His name is Chief Wahoo, as if that matters. A red-faced grinning caricature of a human with a single feather behind his head in case you were wondering who precisely they were trying to offend.

It’s easy to look at Chief Wahoo and get mad. It’s easy to write Twitter rants or blog posts or both denouncing this hilariously offensive representation of pre-European American civilization. You’re certainly not wrong, but to me it misses the damn point.

I’m a huge Indians fan, but I’m also Indian. Indian from India, not a made-up word for some brown people a genocidal maniac found in 1492 (lol dots not feathers, good one Robin Williams). While it is easy to rail against this comically dumb grinning red face, the actual disease is the team name. Yelling about Chief Wahoo is fine and easy, but when he’s gone you’re left with a team named after a generic term white people gave people who have brown skin, but not quite dark enough brown skin to call black. That is more offensive to me than a dumb cartoon face.

“[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

Let’s Go Tribe

We moved to Cleveland in the summer of 1997. My family had spent the last 8 years in San Antonio, so my relationship with baseball was almost non-existent. Occasionally I’d catch a Braves game or Cubs game on cable, but for me, the sport of summer (and fall and winter and spring) was basketball. Being born in Chicago, I rooted for the Cubs, but only because they always seemed like a fun team to like. Good, but not too good. Ryne Sandberg. Andre Dawson. On TV more than most teams. Weird TV personalties. And so forth. I had a Cubs hat and I’m pretty sure there’s a picture somewhere of me dressed up as a Cubs player for Halloween when I was 8 or 9. I gave no damns one way or another about a goat, though. I didn’t live or die by their wins and losses. That was reserved for Tennessee football and Spurs basketball.

But then I moved to Cleveland in 1997 and began to understand that while basketball may be more entertaining and football might capture America’s short attention span, baseball is the sport that feeds your soul. I spent the summer not knowing anyone, (badly) shooting baskets in my driveway during the day and watching the Indians from time to time at night. I lived in the same town as a baseball team in the summer and they were on every night! I had never experienced this growing up – a team and a sport that was available to you every day.

Baseball fits life. Every day is the same but slightly different. Some days become magical. Others become regrettable. Every once in a while you get a bunch more good days than bad and all of a sudden it’s October.

I wasn’t a fan of the Cleveland Indians in 1997, but I watched, and then school started, and it became clear I should be watching, so I watched more. I watched a team that I guess wasn’t as good as the team two years prior make it to the World Series. I saw the error and Jose fuckin’ Mesa and Edgar fuckin’ Renteria and the Marlins celebrating.

The following season, my friend Chad demanded that I take some unused Indians tickets and go with him to a seemingly unremarkable game between the Tribe and the Rays. It was May and I wasn’t ready to care about the Indians again yet. It turned into the best baseball game I’ve ever seen live, an entire master class on mid-90’s John Hart-built Cleveland Indians baseball in one spring night that was in turn average, regrettable, and then magical.

I’ve followed the Tribe since that day. High school summers consisted of going to the games or watching the games in one of my friends’ basement. In 2001, my college roommate Thad, a Mariners fan, and I were not on speaking terms for ALDS week, despite my low expectations and his historically good team. The next year the Tribe traded Bartolo Colon for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Grady Sizemore, a trade that showed me and Geoff and Chad how much better fantasy sports could and should be. In 2007, I went to the Midges Game and I watched in my apartment in Boston as Kenny Lofton got held at third base at Fenway.

Now it is 2016 and I run a fantasy sports company I founded in large part thanks to that baseball game in 1998 and that trade in 2002. I met the danged Indians GM. I’m still close with my friends who taught me about baseball, Cleveland fandom, and life. There were some average days, a bunch of regrettable days, and even more magical days. All of a sudden it’s October and the Indians are back in the World Series.


Yesterday, I wrote about my last 100 days.

Today, I’m in Kacey’s parents’ kitchen, listening to her vacuum the basement and waiting to go to the hospital.

Everyone’s story is the same, and everyone’s story is different. All your personal dynamics are magnified and all your relationships are strained. You plead for every minute you can get and then wonder if it is even fair to want more time. You expect to reach a limit of how much you can cry.

There isn’t a limit. You don’t run out of tears. That miracle of science, the human body.

One day, and it is impossible to know when, everything will be over. You have no say in how and when it ends. At the very end, you will have no one to answer to except yourself.

Terry Cox welcomed me into her family before I even met her. She has raised two daughters, one of whom I am in love with. She is smart, funny, caring, and makes the best steak I’ve ever eaten. She is why I had to try.

100 Days Gone

Screenshot 2015-08-25 10.22.33

Today marks 100 days since I left Vox Media to work on ottoneu full-time. I only decided to give notice once I set some goals for myself, and 100 days seems as arbitrary a time to check in on progress as any.

In no particular order, my goals were:

  • Be happier
  • Eat healthier
  • Pick up a freelance contract or two
  • Cut expenses
  • Launch a fantasy football game before August

Be Happier

Without casting aspersions or unpacking my various neuroses, it was pretty clear that I was very unhappy with my full-time job. Once I recognized this, I had to move on to another project, because it was clear that the enjoyment I had working at Vox Media was not going to return. Until biting the bullet and leaving Vox, I was not sure if my unhappiness was directly related to my job or if my unhappiness at work was a symptom of something else. I can say pretty confidently that I am happier now for a variety of reasons, so in the end that is all that matters. I loved working at Vox Media and gained some of my best friends while working there, but all things must draw to an end so that the next thing can begin.

Eat Healthier

I eat out less, I cook more, I eat fruit, I don’t have soda or a fistful of M&Ms available whenever I want, and thus I have been eating healthier. Most of this is due to my wonderful girlfriend, who I live with as of last week. She does crazy things like “buys groceries” and “encourages me to eat things other than candy and meat”. Either way, healthier eating was a goal going into this whole thing and progress has been made on that front.

Pick up a freelance contract or two

I’ve had one completed contract, one contract that is on-going, and potential for a couple more contracts in the near future. If you want to get a contract, you are not above getting a beer or taking a phone call with anyone. I took all the phone calls, listened to all the half-assed ideas, went to bars in faraway lands like Foggy Bottom and West End, and I landed enough income to keep things going for a few more months. Without a full-time job, I believed that this effort was required, and it has paid off so far.

Cut Expenses

Eating out less helped a lot on this front, but making a plan with Kacey and keeping track of it has helped a lot too. It is also a lot easier to mindlessly buy things when you have a full-time job than when you don’t. There is still a lot to be done to improve this, but the plan is continuing to come together.

Launch a fantasy football game before August


I’ve accomplished all of these goals to various degrees. I know I could still eat a bit healthier, but who couldn’t? I could always be happier, but again, who couldn’t? My mood has improved a lot, my diet has improved a lot, I feel in control of my own destiny, and hey, I launched a fantasy football game too! Overall, I give myself a B+.

ottoneu, Round 2

I’m going back to working on ottoneu full-time. May 15th will be my last day at Vox Media.

I started working at Vox Media in October 2011. I’ve learned a tremendous amount there and was able to make a significant impact on the teams I worked on and the overall company. It has been a great place to work.

The first time around, I only gave myself 11 months of working on my own business full-time. ottoneu has grown, and I need to see if I can make it better. My immediate plan is to launch a dynasty football game in early-to-mid-July and then revisit daily fantasy sports contests. This might be wildly successful and become my last job, but it also might be a waypoint to the rest of my career. One thing is for sure – I will be able to say I tried.

Try To Breathe As The World Disintegrates

TV On The Radio released a new album today (Monday). I saw them last night (Sunday) at the 9:30 Club, and it was excellent. But let me back up.

I’ve seen TV On The Radio 3 times by my count (as if any other count matters) – once in Boston, once in San Francisco, and now in DC. The Boston show was excellent, but the San Francisco show in 2011 struck me as rather sad. Well, of course it did – the bassist passed away from lung cancer about 20 days before the show, and I couldn’t imagine trying to entertain the SF yuppie crowd after going through THAT. But let me back up.

Sophomore year in high school, some kid gave me Hum’s Downward is Heavenward. This album remains one of my favorite albums of all time, a space-rock epic in which the songs all sound like the future instead of a collection of easily decipherable instruments played in a studio or a garage or whatever. Radiohead then dropped OK Computer and everyone understood that sentence I just wrote. Textures, other-worldly sounds – a huge departure from The Blue Album or The Colour and The Shape.

Fast-forward a couple more years and Zach lightly recommends an LP (not quite an album, but longer than an EP, ugh remember all these terms?) from some band called TV On The Radio. I ignored his recommendation at my own peril. Then 2006 rolls around and Return to Cookie Mountain and all that spaced out future-rock is back, except with a tighter connection to the realities of the human condition.

So, TVoTR was making all this excellent other-worldly beautiful music full of textures and significantly lacking obvious guitar parts, and then their world exploded in April 2011.

And then today their new album comes out, and last night at the 9:30 Club they started their all-around excellent set with … “Young Liars”, track 4 of their 2003 EP that was released before Return To Cookie Mountain, before their first album Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, before all of it. And then they ripped into the rest of the set. And then it was fucking amazing.

Let me be clear – I’ve been listening to Seeds on repeat for the last week straight and I am far from tired of it. It is an excellent album from a band that just keeps making excellent albums, full of songs that don’t sound like prototypical songs but are at the same time so very dance-pop. TV On The Radio went away for a few years, for which no one could blame them, and they came back with a fucking epic. And instead of immediately demanding that the DC crowd humor these new songs, they went back to the beginning.

And then they built it all back up right in front of us.

And it was awesome.

Life is what it is – it’s hard but easy, and challenges come up all the time. Sadness fits me like a glove, and so it seems difficult to step past challenges – it is easy to call life hard in a way. Seeing this excellent band come back to form by doing exactly the easy thing in front of them – make a fuckin’ record, make the best goddamn version of the music they already have made – when sadness was easier, when saying the very easiest, most natural thing for this band to do may have been too hard – and then to take this amazing thing they made and remember that it wasn’t some sort of standalone accomplishment but fits naturally within all their accomplishments – well, well-played, TV On The Radio. Well fuckin’ played.

Basically, sometimes shit seems hard. It seems really fuckin’ impossible. But then you see a real good show by this real good band that somehow remained really good through some actual difficulties, and you realize that maybe, just maybe you are making shit harder than it needs to be. Those things you thought were easy actually took more effort than just, you know, enjoying life.

And then you just have to hope it isn’t too late, and maybe you can build it all back up right in front of us. Because, shit, that’s what you’ve been doing this whole time.