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Month: April 2015

On why the Isle of Wight might just be UKIP’s big shock gain on May 7…

I did not enjoy writing that title.

When Andrew Turner became an MP, I was one of his constituents. I was mere weeks away from being 18 so I couldn’t vote but I was an A-level students studying amongst other things politics at the time. He took the place of a Lib Dem, Dr. Peter Brand, who as I’ve written before was not a great constituency MP and it was no surprise that he only got the one term. To be fair, the Island is very Tory and his victory was mostly down to just being the alternative to a very disliked Tory party in 1997. In any place where the Labour party really weren’t organised or motivated along the south coast in 1997, the Lib Dems had the potential to win seats. That was the climate back then.

So anyway this is why I keep a close eye on the seat despite not having lived there since 2004. It was where I spent my teenage years and despite it being the butt of many jokes that I like to throw at it, I met and grew up with some excellent people.

One thing that some of you may not know is despite living here, I still watch South Today at 6:30 (and at 1:35) instead of my actual local news. I watch Sally Taylor, Jo Kent, Roger Finn, Tony Husband, Laura Trant, Peter Henley, Dani Sinha, Tom Hepworth, Steve Humphrey, Alexis Green and Sarah Farmer (I am impressed that I can recall all of them). I wouldn’t have a clue who presents the local news here but I would by them by face on the rare occasion that I’m watching #101 instead of #964, anyway as I often do I digress.

You see, the reason for the previous paragraph is that the Isle of Wight on paper is one of the safest constituencies in this election in the South Today region. Yet it is the one with the most mentions on the local news (bar Portsmouth South) and that is because Andrew Turner has not had a good run.

His local party tried to oust him as a candidate in part because his fiancee of 17 years left him and moved in with one of his parliamentary aides and the local party thought he’d become the laughing stock of the Island and today his agent quit due to believing his position was untenable and that there were questions over finances. Not a good look. Add the fact that Andrew has been the MP that has been representing the Isle of Wight whilst most of the schools have just collapsed and its become a falling environment for the Island’s young people then there are a lot of things against him.

All this on the backdrop of an elderly population and the Lib Dem collapse means there is a potential of a vacuum of voters who can be drawn in by UKIP. They got 41% in the European elections on the Isle of Wight last year, which is a staggering number even withstanding the fact many were just protesting. The Tories only got 26%. Many of the UKIP voters would surely have been expected to drift back to the Tories this time around but Andrew’s personal life coupled with his health issues will lead to people questioning whether he’s a competent representative for them.

Labour aren’t making a run here, the Green’s aren’t making a run and sadly the Lib Dems on the Isle of Wight are in retreat. The demographics look great for UKIP and the Tories have a candidate who isn’t terribly popular and his campaign only seems to have negative publicity.

I have long said that I think UKIP will only win one seat (Clacton) but there is the possibility that in certain seats which are naturally Conservative, an unpopular defending candidate coupled with no other real strong candidates to rally around the anti-UKIP vote could lead to UKIP surprising one or two. The Isle of Wight has everything going for UKIP and they were available at 20/1 not three onths ago and are now at 5/1 in most places. That number will come down. Had Lord Ashcroft polled the Isle of Wight then I’d bet a lot of money that UKIP would be very much in it and that is partly why I think it hasn’t been polled. The Tories don’t to give UKIP hope in a place no-one thinks they have a chance.

UKIP at 5/1 is far more value than the Tories at 1/7 and could they win the Isle of Wight? Yes they really could. No-one is watching and everyone may well be shocked as there is a lot of anger on the Isle of Wight with regards to politics and the demographics are perfect for UKIP. I’m not going to say UKIP are the favourites but if they were 5/2 or 11/4 then that would be about right. If UKIP’s ground campaign is good then this will be one of the big shocks of the night. Isle of Wight, a UKIP gain…

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On the Lib Dem (and other parties) record on gay rights and equal marriage…

Equal marriage. Something that has recently come about and an issue that is still causing some ramifications across various western democracies. Some people are concerned that by allowing people of the same sex to marry that it is an affront to God.

The bible states that a marriage is between a man and a women is two places. Genesis 2:24, ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh’ and Matthew 19:4-5 where Jesus said, ‘Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one?’

Yeah. A book of stories from 2,000 plus years ago really has any resemblance to modern day life. As if. At best the bible should be an indicator of living a good life but anyone who takes it literally word for word is someone I worry about.

You see I have a very simple outlook on life. Some may say too simple. I simply think that people should be allowed to live their lives in a way that would make them the most happy as long as your actions don’t effect anyone else’s happiness. If what someone does doesn’t effect another then who are we to say that they shouldn’t act like that? A man marrying another man or a woman marrying another woman effects no-one negatively. It doesn’t anger the big man (should he exist, which in all likelihood he doesn’t) because should he exist, then he wants to see his children happy.

This brings me to this video. Two Lib Dems, who I may or may not have met at Conference (I think I have but I wouldn’t put a lot of money on it – I can’t remember) put together the following embedded video about equal marriage. They got married and seem excessively happy for having done so.

Equal marriage was something the Lib Dems have been positive about for a long time and something the party should be very proud of. They brought in legislation (that wouldn’t have happened had the party not been in coalition) that hasn’t harmed anyone and instead has just brought happiness to some. It is essentially legislation with no feasible drawbacks. Yes some people will say its immoral but in all honesty, does it effect them and their lives in any tangible way if two people of the same sex get married? Of course it doesn’t. That’s absolute tripe.

So watch the below video about the recent history of gay people and how their lives have intertwined with the political parties. It is something that I think it is very fair to say is a real tick for the Lib Dems. I know they aren’t flavour of the month for many because of tuition fees and because they couldn’t stop everything the Tories wanted to do but instead of concentrating on what the party didn’t do in government, concentrate on the positive things and this is one of them. Two people are happier than they would have been without equal marriage legislation.

Isn’t that what life is all about? It is hard enough to find happiness in this world without some people’s ill-conceived prejudices. So good on the Lib Dems for pushing forward with legislation to help make people happy. Marriage is not about God but is about two people wanting to show their loved ones that they are in love. More people now have that freedom than they did before and that can’t be a bad thing…

You can read all the text from the video here.

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On the Churches Together Southend West hustings…

Last night was the big Churches Together hustings in Southend West and I toddled along (mainly to take my mind off of other things – seriously what an emotional roller-coaster this weekend has been) but I have to say it was both extremely well attended and also extremely well run. A strong chair who seemed to have both the candidates and audience under control and the addition of a microphone meant that even people at the very back could hear comfortably.

So big props to the organisers, I genuinely thought it was spot on and if all hustings were run like that then they would be better attended as I felt people would be able to come away from it feeling that they knew more about both a) the candidates and b) their policies. It was very worthwhile.

I tweeted the whole thing again and the storify is embedded below. There are a couple of typos which isn’t a shock because I was on my phone and have fat fingers and a hurty brain. So when I said, ‘JWL with a sky at Sir David on the NHS…’ I meant a sly dig and a ‘fully coated 8bn plan for this’ is obviously a ‘fully-costed…’ but I think that is it.

Before you get stuck in I will say that this storify is far less amusing than the last one. I wasn’t on top form last night so this is more of a bunch of tweets about actual question and answers and very few tweets about food or anything extra-curricular. My battery was dying so towards the end there were fewer tweets. I had completely forgotten about the hustings and remembered just before six so didn’t have time to fully charge the phone before I left.

Anyway enjoy and wherever you live, whether these hustings are revealing or not. Do some research and go out and vote on May 7. Even if the Lib Dems aren’t the party for you and you don’t want to vote for them, go out and vote for the person who you think is best to represent you in your constituency (or ward in local elections). People died for the vote and democracy is an important part of our world so use your vote and use your voice.

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On Tristham Hunt’s refreshingly open views on education…

I’m not a parent and I haven’t seen the inside of a school in over a decade. However I have long held views on our education system and believe that it needs a completely different approach. I wrote about it last year in a piece entitled, It is time for the Lib Dems to be truly radical on education and back in 2010, one of my very first articles on this here blog was on education – My rambles on education.

The long and short of it is I believe education is too rigid and too much a ‘one size fits all’ system and that isn’t right for many young people and their aspirations and goals in life. Not all young people want to get into academia. Our education system is geared strongly towards exams and progressing with certain academic skills. Also I find schools care about exam results first and foremost and that isn’t the be all and end all of a child’s time in our education system.

So I was heartened by Tristham Hunt’s comments in the Guardian today. Education is the poisoned chalice that no-one wants to really take on. People don’t like change let alone change for change sake. So being open and honest about a radical change in education policy is refreshing.

There is one quote that made me whoop and holler in delight:

‘It drives me mad when we see the school gates closing at 2.55pm when you have this amazing piece of the public realm in communities paid for by the taxes of the parents. The notion of a school as a fortress needs to be broken down, so as part of schooling 8am-6pm, I would love to see more cookery courses, dance clubs, competitive sports and chess clubs. Parents will have a right to have access to this kind of provision’.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

This is something that I’ve said for a long, long time. Schools are a great resource and I understand the need for academics as a big part of schooling but also these resources need to be used to allow children to express themselves and find non academic pursuits that they would enjoy. As Tristham says above cookery courses, dance clubs, competitive sports, chess clubs but of course there are so much more that young people would be interested in.

The time between leaving school and dinner is generally wasted time. I’m not proposing school kids have academic classic for ten hours a day but what I do think is schools should be open and used for a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. The formative years of schooling scope and mould us to a significant degree and we should be encouraging our young people to enjoy their school days and get as much from it as possible.

At the moment out of school clubs depend both on money and on teachers to staff them out of hours as it were. As far as I understand it, teaching staff do not get paid if say they oversee a cricket team and drive them to matches after school or umpire games or whatever. This is not right and relies on the goodness of teaching staff to believe that their job is not a job but more of a vocation. This is why the education system needs a complete rework to pay teachers a fair wage to oversee these extra activities. If the school day was longer then we as tax payers will have to pay for it but it is a great investment into the next generations.

On his point about a new single baccalaureate that will change our view point in the difference between academic and vocational qualifications, I am less convinced but certainly would want to hear more. Schools do care more about academic children because it makes them look better in exam league tables and we are trained to think that the more A*-C grades at GCSE a school has then the better the school is, the same is true of children, those with higher GCSE grades are considered smarter but that isn’t necessarily the case.

I know of parents who pushed kids into following more academic pursuits because they believed it would open up better doors for them, even if the child wasn’t academic and preferred to do other things. We have this view that those who sit down to work have it better than those who work with their hands. That isn’t completely true. With more people going into academia, trades are becoming more rare and therefore the rarer the trade then the more valuable it becomes. If you are a good plumber then you’ll live a good life, the same is true for many other trades because people give great word of mouth if they’ve found a good tradesman (or woman).

Education is a tough one and everyone has their views and many will say I shouldn’t be allowed one because my lions haven’t fertilised any eggs to produce a small person. I disagree but people are entitled to their opinions. Yet I think it is a conversation that needs to happen. Just because our schooling system has always been the way it has, it doesn’t mean it is the best way forward. Education needs to be flexible and have the scope to adjust to an individuals needs. At the moment education works more for one set of pupils than another and that isn’t right but even for the lucky ones – it could be so much more and that is a goal we should all aspire to.

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On Dion Dublin and Homes Under The Hammer…

There are a few things that bind students, stay at home parents, the unemployed and those who work from home. One of those is that at 10AM on BBC1, more often than not you’ll see two excitable faces shows us around three homes that have been sold at auction.

Homes Under The Hammer has been steered through the choppy waters on daytime TV successfully by just two on-screen presenters since 2003 (although for one series there was an alternative set of presenters, Jasmine Birtles and Marc Woodward) but apart from that one season, it has been the job of Lucy Alexander and Martin Roberts to front the show. They are both fantastic. Like seriously brilliant.

They know what daytime TV watchers want and they deliver it in buckets and spades. We know about Lucy’s love of original features, if a property has a fireplace or a Victorian ceiling rose then we know she’ll be a happy bunny. Martin too has his own quirks but their enthusiasm and charm makes this show stand out from the abundance of other property shows on the box.

The show is essentially as close to daytime TV perfection as you can get. Great presenters, pure cheese half the time with all the music puns throughout, something that can inspire people to try their hand at something and at the very least, it is just perfect TV to have on in the corner of the room when you are doing something else as you often look up and see a home and think ‘wow, that is beautiful’ and gets you thinking about your own home.

The show gets around a 30% share in its time slot for new episodes and has long been one of BBC daytimes most successful shows, so why did the powers that be decide to change the presenting line-up? Former footballer Dion Dublin has joined Lucy & Martin for this series and has already failed to impress. He’s wooden to camera and when he speaks there isn’t that sense of genuine excitement that exudes from the other two. Today he opened with a line about how Oldham was the birthplace of footballer Paul Scholes, who cares? Yes sometimes Lucy & Martin link a place to a person or to an event but when Dion relies on a football link, you just cringe.

He’s appeared in several episodes now and he still hasn’t found his feet. He may well get better but when you are the new kid on the block on a show with two extremely popular presenters and you are edging them out to some degree (mostly edging out Martin as he generally does two homes per episode with Lucy one although that isn’t a hard and fast rule and now in new episodes they do one each), but when you are marginalising popular people then you are always going to struggle.

The forums haven’t warmed to Dion Dublin as yet and most I’ve read think similar to me that why mess with a fantastic set up? I don’t know if Lucy or Martin wanted to scale down their operations for whatever reason but if they had, I still question why Dion Dublin was picked to be the right guy to join in? He just doesn’t fit in the style of the show of knowledge and excitement. You have to be over the top like Lucy & Martin can be, being stilted and wooden isn’t what Homes Under The Hammer is all about.

Dion has proved himself to be a solid (if unspectacular) football pundit, so far he’s proved himself to not even reach those heights on Monday-Friday at 10AM on BBC1…

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On my application to be next Portsmouth Football Club manager…

Dear Mr McInnes,

You may not know me. In fact it is highly likely that you don’t. I haven’t been to Fratton Park in ten years. I used to be a Season Ticket holder but I left the area and fell out of love with the club. Too many crooks spoil the enjoyment and rip out the heart and all that, is that a well-known saying or have I mixed that up?

Anyway when the PST I felt a twinge in my chest. No it wasn’t the abundance of takeaway food in my system forcing my veins to throb, it was actually a sign of life in the portion of my Portsmouth Football Club heart that had been bricked up and left desolate and overgrown with weeds and strewn with litter. It was trying to burst back into life. I backed Guy Whittingham totally and having been one of the very few Pompey fans to have seen Guy as a manager before (I was a Newport IoW ST as well as Fratton Park) I had seen Guy’s work at first hand (had the chairman not pulled the plug on David Laws loan then Newport IoW would’ve survived that year).

So I was confident. Pompey legend. Lots of good will. He would do the job. Yet I found something surprising, Pompey fans demanded immediate success. They didn’t look at the fact the club needed rebuilding from bottom to top. They were just interested in the first team. Whittingham had the side in a solid position but solid wasn’t enough and you got rid of him to bring in your mate Richie Barker. He was shit wasn’t he? In a strange twist of fate I actually witnessed one of his best performances (a 2-1 defeat at Southend) but he was going to take the club down, something Guy Whittingham wasn’t doing. You made a right cock-up there didn’t you?

After that in came Andy Awford. Another club legend who did an ok job but you wanted more than ok. Instant success was demanded and when Andy didn’t get into the play-offs you pulled the plug because that is what you demanded. Now you want an experienced manager because that really worked with Richie Barker…

The thing is you’ve appointed three managers in two years and seemingly according to you, got each one wrong. That is a shit record and you need to look long and hard at yourself. Anyone is a position such of yours would get looks through narrowed eyes making three bad appointments on the spin. Do you actually know what you want? Do you want a manager who’ll be able to coach players up? Do you want a manager who’ll demand money to buy the talent to get the club up? Do you want a manager who’ll oversee a root and branch rebuild of a club that has been on its knees for far too long and that it really really needs? Seemingly not.

I’m not one of those fans who demands immediate success. I know the club needs to be fixed and that doesn’t start at the first team. It starts with the infrastructure of the club, which is seemingly lacking and has been for decades. The last real crop of young players to come through was the Kit Symons, Andy Awford, Darryl Powell and Darren Anderton era. Yes the odd one has come through since but any club who wants to be stable long-term needs to fix this issue. There is plenty of talent around Portsmouth and most of it is being hoovered up by our neighbours up the road. Fixing this issue and getting kids to stay local because the facilities and coaching is first-rate is far more important than upping the wage bill of the first team squad.

Being a community club means being at the heart of community and being in League 2 or League 1 or the Championship makes little difference to that. We’ve nearly gone bankrupt more times than I’ve seen us concede last minute equalisers. So clearly just buying players and spending more money than we’ve got isn’t a prudent strategy. Success shouldn’t be determined just by league position. Success should be determined by whether the club is in a better position as a whole. If the youth set up is better, if the fan engagement is better, if the fan experience is better all these things are just as important as where the club finishes in the league.

So if you want someone who wants to oversee a grand project to fix a broken club then give me a call. My managerial experience is vastly limited and I once helped push start a coach but actual coaching probably isn’t my forte. Yet I spent several years in the commentary box (summerising only – I don’t want anyone to ever think I was an actual commentator) and am rather astute. I don’t expect a call because you’ll go for the easy option like you’ve gone for every single time so far and hire someone who’ll tell you all the things you want to hear and then ask for a surprising amount of money in the wage bill come August.

The next guy will no doubt be hailed as the right man to win the club promotion but I wonder if they’;; be the right person to take the club forward. You need to find the guy who’ll be in place for the long-term and stick with them. Giving managers a few months is just ridiculous. Buy into a vision and let a manager see it through, if it doesn’t work then it isn’t the end of the world but until you actually give someone the time needed to fix a broken club then the club will just stay broken. A brave chairman doesn’t just do what is wanted or expected by the fans, a brave chairman shows leadership and stands up for what he believes in. You’ve yet to do this and until you do then the club will go nowhere and go nowhere fast.

Shall I assume I’m not going to get an interview…?

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On I really really really really really really like you…

Pop music. I haven’t heard a genuinely classic pop music song so far this year. I have heard many good songs but they’ve been in other genres. Yet what do you get when you get one of the greatest actors of his generation to star in a music video for a third placed Canadian Idol? You get one of the most catchy and quality pop tunes for a long, long time.

Carly Rae Jepsen burst on to the scene with Call Me Maybe and also had another hit in a collaboration with Owl City but has been off the radar for a while and then boom, she comes out with this.

Pop music should make you smile. I listen to lots of different genres of music dependent on my mood and some make you think, some make you zone out, some pumps you up but pop music should make you smile, make you bop about. This song does that and does that in spades. Who though had the idea of plonking in Tom Hanks as the lead character and why on Earth did Tom say yes?

Well surprisingly it was reportedly Tom’s idea! Yes the coolest man in Hollywood (bar Bill Murray) heard about the project as he knows Carly’s manager and when told about the music idea wanted to be asked. I mean just how cool is that? Then at the end there’s even a cameo from Justin Bieber (that I missed the first few times I watched the video). So the video ticks a lot of ‘celebrity’ boxes.

I have long thought good music videos will help change my mind on a song. For example I’m not a huge fan of ‘Sky Full of Stars’ by Coldplay but I absolutely adore the video (embedded below) so therefore when it pops on one of the music channels I don’t turn over immediately and subconsciously I like the song more than I would without a cool video.

Carly’s song is extremely boppy and catchy but the video takes it to the next level. I mean who doesn’t want to see Tom Hanks dancing? I know I do. The song is available for digital download in the UK from Sunday 26th April and this has smash hit written all over it. This will surely be her second UK #1 and has the chance to be the song of the early summer. This is pop music at its absolute best.

Catchy, cheery, a happy message. Love it and this is why I don’t write reviews. How terrible was this blog post…? Please don’t send answers on a postcard.

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On the Southend West hustings as organised by the Southend Echo…

I know I said I was disengaging with blogging on the elections locally but I did go to the Southend West Hustings as organised by the Southend Echo this evening and I tweeted the whole thing so I thought I’d share it with you.

Please start from the bottom and work your way up (ooo err…) to read my take on the hustings…

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On meeting the 2015 edition of the Fratton Yankees…

Many many moons ago I had a blog that a few people would read. It was very similar to this blog actually (although this is read by thousands of people a week and is far less personal). One day one of my frequent readers told me that some of my blogs were boring and that no-one cared about my fantasy baseball team. She said from that moment on she didn’t want to speak to me ever again. From that day I vowed to write about my fantasy baseball team once a year in homage to her. So Louise Fletcher of Manchester (this was many many moons ago, good odds that her surname has since changed) don’t read this, it’ll only bore you (actually it will bore you all but still…)

So I’ve been involved in this one fantasy baseball league for ten years. It is a keeper league, 7×7 stats where you have 24 man rosters with eight man minor league rosters for players who’ve never played in MLB before. You get to keep 12 players from your major league roster every year and four minor league players. Then you draft the rest of your roster each off season.

Things though were a little bit different this year, my long time friend and GM of the two-time champion Edinburgh Red Sox, Neil H, quit the league because of the elongated draft that takes me months and is annoying as hell. He’d been threatening to quit for a couple of years and this year was the year. So my main rival as it were was gone. Yet I stuck it out as I look to secure my first title (I’ve been a losing finalist twice and been the overall #1 seed once).

To start with my keepers were as follows:

Buster Posey – C/1B
Josh Donaldson – 3B
Manny Machado – 3B
Rusney Castillo – OF
Brett Gardner – OF
Billy Hamilton – OF
Yasiel Puig – OF
George Springer – OF
Yu Darvish – SP
Collin McHugh – SP
Jordan Zimmermann – SP
Aroldis Chapman – RP

My four youngsters in the minor leagues that I kept were:

Lucas Giolito – SP
Joey Gallo – 3B
Amed Rosario – SS
Miguel Sano – 3B

Two things are clear. I have too many outfielders and I have serious depth/logjam at 3B. Still I decided to just keep the best players I had and planned to work out how to fit them into my team as/when.

I was drafting 11th out of 16 and in the first round you always try to find a player who can be of keeper quality and in a position of need. I am desperate for that impact bat at 1B, I haven’t had one since Justin Morneau’s AL MVP season. Three excellent 1B options were available in Chris Davis, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez. None of them dropped to me but the fourth person on my draft list did – Kolten Wong – 2B. He’s a young player who many are predicting to become an elite bat at second base. He was an Edinburgh Red Sox player but their replacement manager didn’t keep him. I was glad to take him.

Next up I took a surprise. I have learned over the years not to draft value but to go after players that I like even if it means reaching. Still I came to my second pick and I just thought Trevor Rosenthal – RP was too much value so I nabbed him. This gave me two elite closers in Chapman and Rosenthal and that position was sorted. In rounds three and four I took two players in positions of need that I wasn’t crazy about. JJ Hardy – SS and Justin Morneau – 1B. SS is so shallow that he was the last half decent option there so felt I had to take him (and he’s already injured) and Justin Morneau whilst not finding his power stroke last year did lead the NL in batting average so I thought he’d be a solid if unspectacular option.

That filled up my day-to-day batting roster and allowed me to concentrate on my starting rotation. By now Yu Darvish had got injured and was out for the year. Darvish and Zimmermann was a pretty powerful 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation so losing a player of Darvish’s calibre was a huge blow. McHugh was a surprise last season and was I suspect the biggest shock out of my retained list but to expect him to be the #2 starter was an issue. I tried to find a trade partner to bring in a #2 quality starter but managers were asking for the Earth so I had to draft well.

John Lackey, AJ Burnett, Alfredo Simon and Bartolo Colon were my next four picks. Not stellar but not awful in terms of adding depth to the rotation. Colon has already pitched great on opening night. I’m not expecting miracles from these guys but if they can keep me competitive most weeks in terms of Wins, Quality Starts and K’s as well as ERA and WHIP then I’ll be happy. My pitching is not strong but I don’t think its weak either. My offence on paper is better than it has been in recent years so I should be competitive. I have made the playoffs in both of the past two years including a dramatic playoff run in 2013, where when the last pitch of the season was thrown, I wasn’t in the playoffs but when that play ended, I was in. Drama!

Still four more picks and the next two were set up guys. Our league has Holds as a stat so you need to add a couple of set up guys. I chose Joakim Soria and Jordan Walden. I thought both were good options and was happy with them. Then in the final two picks you look to take fliers on guys who might surprise. My first was a guy I nearly took in round four in Steve Pearce. The Orioles’ 1B/DH/RF was a shock last year with a .925 OPS and 21 HR in 338AB but no-one liked him to repeat. I took a chance and he’s already gone deep twice. I loved this pick then and love it more now. Lastly Ricky Nolasco – SP and his first start was shall we say, not great…

So that is my major league roster but wait, I need to take four youngsters to fill out on minor league squad.

Again I picked 11th and I had a guy in mind but at the last minute I changed my mind and took Kyle Schwarber, a catcher out of the Chicago Cubs organisation. I don’t need a catcher as I have the #1 catcher in Buster Posey entrenched in my major league side but when it comes to the minors I just pick the best players available in my opinion. Second round I brought in a Japanese pitcher who is still playing in Japan in Kenta Meada. Lots of talk about him being posted and I wanted to retain his rights for the season to see if he does get posted next off season.

In rounds three and four I took Kyle Zimmer – SP out of the Royals organisation and Yoan Lopez – SP out of the Diamondbacks organisation. I really liked these picks and whilst I felt my major league draft was only ok, I thought my minors went very well and I have excellent depth and hope that some of my minor leaguers become elite major league players.

So there we go. You’ve met the 2015 Fratton Yankees and some people wonder why I’m single… Don’t you want more politics guff instead of this?

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On sometimes forgetting about my disability…

I don’t talk about this much because it is really not much of a big issue in my life any more. When I was young the doctors, they weren’t sure that I’d ever really you know, walk. Yet I did and whilst I may have fallen over a whole lot I could walk and run (and fall over a lot) and I got on with things. I didn’t know any better or any different. My arm was just as bad as the leg but you can get by with one working arm far easier than one working leg.

In 1991 I had an operation to straighten up my foot by doing something to my Achilles tendon. I can honestly say I’m not entirely sure what they did but it worked. I didn’t drag my foot as much and my foot was straighter than it used to be. I would trip and fall over far less. The doctors called it hemiplegia but I’ve always thought of it as hemiparesis, which is a milder condition. I never liked to think of it as a serious condition when in fact it really is.

As I got older I became stronger and whilst my right leg was still dominant, my left leg was gaining some strength. With regards to the arms then my right arm is strong but the left is still pretty duff. If someone was sitting here watching me as I type this, they would be stunned by how quickly I type with just one hand whilst the left just hangs there doing nothing.

I’m writing about this today because a couple of weeks ago I caned my legs, not in a workout on the exercise bike way, which it is used to but the fact that I was on my feet for many many hours in a day. I must have walked 10+ miles in a day and whilst that doesn’t sound like a lot, for my legs that is an issue. I didn’t really think about it but for the next week I was going to bed hours earlier than normal just to stretch the legs out because they were aching and the ache was in both legs.

You see, when I walk I slam down on my right foot instead of walking evenly on both feet (woe betide me if I ever wear high heels – dang that would be dangerous) and so whilst my left leg is the weak one, the right overcompensates and if I overwork that then the right leg starts having issues as well. Having one bad leg is fine but if they are both causing me issues then sad times.

Sometimes I need to remember my limitations in a physical sense. When I put myself in a situation where I am having to lay in bed for several hours a day just to rest my aching legs then I’ve taken it too far. In the past few days my legs have come back to me and I can feel my right leg in its entirety and as for my left – well I’ve never been able to feel that but I get moments of feeling every so often, usually shooting pain or dull ache but still.

I’m all for pushing the limits of our bodies and minds, that is how we grow and develop as people but on a personal level sometimes I need to remind myself that my physical limitations are real and that I need to remember that. This has been the second time in the past year where I’ve spent the best part of a week without any feeling below the knees and just walked on instinct and muscle memory and its not good. Its not good at all.

Still as I sit here I can feel pain in my left foot. Pain means feeling and feeling isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to that limb…

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