Scarred Over

 

“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” - Douglas MacArthur

      A man notices a leak in the dam one day. The next day another leak springs up. Before he knows it, each day brings countless leaks, more than his training and tools can handle. He brings his friends, similarly armed and educated, to patch up the holes and prevent further damage. The leaks keep coming, day by day, and eventually puddles begin to form, pooling around the man and his friends, dampening their shoes, slowly creeping up their legs. Soon the puddles collect into pools, forcing the men to wade, making their repair work difficult and rushed. The pools deepen. Then they run red, and behind the dam a tidal wave waits impatiently, ready to burst.

The mental health epidemic on college campuses threatens to worsen.

      Depression (and suicide) affects harrowing numbers of American college students every year. Away from home, family, and familiarity, students face overwhelming adjustments academically, socially, and personally. For some these come easily. For many more, adjustment gives way to uncertainty, disillusionment, and overwhelmed chaos (better words). Suicide is one of the three top killers of American college students (Burrell; Gallagher; NIMH). In 2008, more than a quarter of students nationally reported feeling “so depressed it was difficult to function” in the year before they were asked (Burrell). Now not every depressive flash leads to suicide, and not every student struggling to function has depression. But the trends cannot be ignored, and our system needs to change. (eh)

      In late August 2007, I teared up as I watched my brother enter New South, his freshman dorm at Georgetown University. The oldest child in our family, Will was the guinea pig for college — the first of us to be thrust into that world of unknowns and changes. Georgetown, of course, expects a lot of its students academically and as individuals embodying Jesuit ideals. Hoyas are supposed to care for others, nurturing their humanity and compassion during their time on the Hilltop, so that they may be able to help others do the same later in life. Looking back, Will seemed perfect for this: blessed with a sensitive awareness of others and a desire to be good, to be decent, he should have flourished as he grew into a “true Hoya.”

Beneath the pristine veneers of prestigious universities lie dark, deadly trends.

      Will never got his Georgetown degree. In the spring of 2010, and surely for some time before, the social and academic pressures weighed him down, driving him into a profound depression. At the time, I didn’t really know why Will was home early or how his illness affected him. All I knew was my big brother was home early, so I got extra time to play with and bother him, as all younger siblings have a duty to do. I find it hard to consider Will lucky; he fought for the better part of three years to truly get back on his feet, to stand up proudly as the genial, witty role model I had known for so long. But Will was lucky in a lot of ways. He had a loving family and support network, and he had a school ready to help him work through his problems. Will is back, and I couldn’t be happier. As my brother struggled to face his demons and sources of anguish, it was easy to wonder how this strange problem had taken hold of such a loving and curious person and learner. He was fitted well to love college — the fun and the work — yet he still fell victim to this illness, this burden, this exceptional issue (better word). I have learned, however, that depression and suicide and mental health crises don’t care much for your disposition or your talents. We all have to be on alert, for college life breeds strife, and Will is no longer an exception.

      Approximately a quarter of college students struggle with mental illness, and more than 40 percent report various symptoms of depression (Kerr; NIMH). The stresses of college life, birthed from the rigors of personal, social, and academic habits, affect an immense number of students at most schools.Many of us go to college and find ourselves far from home, largely alone for the first time in our lives. At some point, everyone longs for the comfort of old friends, of family and familiar roads, sights, and sounds. Between the comfort of home and the challenges of adult life lies college, rife with novel problems and the murkiness of transitioning into a world filled with new people and adversities. According to the ACHA’s most recent undergraduate survey, more than 46 percent of students “felt things were hopeless” at some point in the last year, including more than half of female students. Moreover, more than 84 percent of students reported having “felt overwhelmed by all [they] had to do” (ACHA). Some look at these findings and see nothing more than young people slowly adjusting to the college lifestyle, kids fighting to fit in and keep up with their work. Loneliness or hopelessness seem to these people mere inconveniences, obstacles to be overcome as we age and mature.

Lack of awareness and stigma hurt the fight against mental health issues.

      We see so many numbers in our daily lives that we often forget about the people they represent. So when someone reads the above data, or when someone hears that eight percent of American college students “seriously considered suicide” in the year before they were asked, there is a good chance they forget that this means that MORE THAN 1.7 MILLION STUDENTS CONTEMPLATE TAKING THEIR OWN LIFE EVERY YEAR (ACHA). This is not even considering the additional five percent of college students who considered killing themselves outside of the 12-month frame (ACHA). And when I tell you that the ACHA reports 9.1 percent of students having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, you probably don’t do the math out. You probably fail to understand that just short of two million college students have, at some point, decided that death was their best possible course of action.

      Of course, our universities and institutions are not completely oblivious to the mental health epidemics running rampant on their campuses. Most schools have some form of counseling service available, but the shortcomings of our current apparatus stand out. According to an APA brief, only 56 percent of four-year institutions offer localized psychiatric counseling, and only 13 percent of American community colleges offer such services (Chamberlin). Moreover, even at schools with services available, there has been a stunning shift in the new millenium, with far greater numbers of students seeking help for significant mental health concerns.

Huge numbers of students seek counseling, and many of them have serious psychological issues.

According to the ACCA’s most recent survey of college counselors, 44 percent of clients have “severe psychological problems,” up from only 16 percent in 2000 (Gallagher). In this same survey, 80 percent of reported suicide victims had not “sought counseling center assistance.” The growing number of college students with serious mental illnesses has overwhelmed treatment centers throughout the country. The survey reports increases across the board in colleges providing services crucial to the health of their students and employees, but this growth has not kept up with the rapid expansion of students’ problems. More than 30 percent of surveyed counseling centers report overloaded schedules leading to wait lists being formed for students (Gallagher). Almost half of the staffs reported dealing with their clients in ways developed to avoid wait lists; for example, more than 75 percent of centers report seeing non-crisis patients less frequently so as to avoid waiting lists for students.

      We cannot fault these centers or their universities. Rather, they simply attempt to be as efficient as possible, given the overwhelming numbers of students entering their centers. With 88 percent of centers reporting an increase of clients already on psychiatric medication to the ACCA in 2013, and 94 percent an increase in students with serious problems, radical increases in funding and training for psychiatric centers is necessary in order to adequately serve and protect the at-risk students of American universities.

A gap exists between the prevalence of and awareness and education surrounding mental health concerns.

Considering the increases in students with serious concerns, centers must be able to allocate in-depth, individualized treatment to larger and larger numbers of clients. Many researchers see typical generalized methods as functional, but the consensus is that in order to fully treat students, every case must be treated as “a fresh therapeutic challenge” (Grayson and Cooper). Grayson and Cooper examined contemporary college treatment methods and found that the key to successful treatment is the ability to combine methods and techniques “into a unified, integrative treatment.” This depth of focus is currently unrealistic given the growing numbers of students requiring significant service.

      This is not to say deep, focused personal therapy has been rendered impossible. Rather, solutions do exist and have been enacted at many American universities. The Jed Foundation, a non-profit suicide prevention advocacy group, awarded 30 schools their “seal of approval” for their respective mental health resources earlier this year (Atteberry). The foundation was founded in 2000 after Donna and Phil Satow lost their son to suicide. With Georgetown among those awarded, the foundation advocates free resources and early intervention among students. Jed is still growing in recognition and influence, but its leaders hope these 30 institutions will stand out to other schools nationwide (Atteberry).

Organizations like the Jed Foundation help the cause, but more must be done.

The notion of early intervention, or even prevention, for suffering students, should not be taken lightly. Far too often, students enter treatment, or worse injure themselves, long after they should have been meeting with a psychiatric expert. The Jed Foundation is not alone in this thinking; many studies and national trends suggest schools should strive to assess students’ health early and often, rather than waiting until problems arise (Eshun; Kay and Schwartz). Forcing students to learn about causes and effects of mental illnesses and recognizing early signs of distress could prove crucial in the fight to mollify the epidemic on college campuses.

      Of course, money presents problems for schools looking to augment their mental health resources. Many colleges must sacrifice necessary staff size and depth of individual treatment in order to stay within their financial boundaries. Organizations like the Jed Foundation and Active Minds seek to spread awareness of issues like depression and to minimize the stigma surrounding having mental illnesses, but schools across the country have struggled to provide adequate services in treatment and outreach given the overloaded schedules often found in counseling centers (Domonell). Students in need often face limitations regarding the depth and frequency of their meetings with counselors, allowing for the exacerbation and development of their mental health crises.

Innovative treatments can only be effective if Congress helps allocate additional funding for treatment centers.

      Federally, Congress has taken notice of these concerns but has failed to take action. The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2013 was introduced to Congress in early 2013 but has not been passed and seems unlikely to be enacted in the near future (govtrack.us). The proposal builds off of a 2004 suicide prevention bill named for a senator’s son lost to suicide and would increase grants for colleges nationally, as well as providing state grants for suicide prevention activity (Domonell; govtrack.us). The bill has been introduced multiple times but has failed to even make it to a vote. Considering the national data and trends, even this bill would probably not alleviate the struggles of counseling centers, but federal recognition and action regarding these issues will be vital in progressing this issue to the point of eradication. Without proper funding, we cannot experiment with innovative treatment programs and education. Without leaders acting like leaders, the system’s inefficiency and shortcomings will linger. Certainly we cannot hope to establish a suicide or depression-free environment, but vast room for improvement exists, and our legislators and officials must take action so that we may begin to transition into this space.

Recent history suggests that our federal government is not moved to action easily (no citation needed). The suicide of one senator’s son seems, at this point, unlikely to further the fight against the mental health epidemic. In our world of mass exposure to mass media on a daily basis, issues around the world flash before our faces then quickly disappear. We hear equally of fame and famine, of trivialities and tragedies alike. In the modernizing sphere, it can be difficult to empathize with our fellow human beings, and even harder to recognize the actions necessary for assuaging whatever problem they face. As I scroll through tweets and updates and attention-seeking headlines, I understand our inability to appreciate the profundity of human struggles. But then there’s Will. Maybe it takes a problem affecting our own daily life for us to pursue rectifying it, and maybe that’s okay. But if this is the case, our responsibility as human beings lies in our obligation to speak out and persist in our defense of issues that must be addressed. So here’s my shot. Because statistics don’t scar. There are people behind the headlines, behind the numbers.

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by | November 25, 2013 · 6:54 PM

Ducks on the Pond Looking for Writers!

 

Howdy Reader(s)!

 

We’ve been terrible about posting, we know.  L.J. Hoes is in primetime  Houston, the Celtics are now located in Brooklyn , the Sox have doubled down and cowboy’d up with Peavy, and other gnarly stuff I personally am glad we abstained from writing about.

But football is itching to come about and the playoff picture is coming in to place and we want to get serious.  So help us out!  If you like to write, or ramble, about sports, send us a sample!  We’d love to get some folks contributing on, well, whatever sports you’re into, we suppose.

If you look at the tone of the site, all we ask is you be respectful(ish) and passionate about the sports you write about!  So if you’re looking for a space to vent some thoughts on sports in your idle time, here’s Vinnie the Gooch extending a personal invitation – come join us at Ducks on the Pond, the pay is non-existent, but it feels good to vent, folks.

email anything you’d like us to read at duckscheckemails @ gmail.com or tweet us if you’re interested @duckfromthepond 

 

Here’s to you and your future & current fantasy teams readers, you’ll see no Riley Cooper dark horse candidate articles here.

 

- V 

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Filed under About the Blog, Baseball, basketball, College, Fantasy Baseball, Football, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, offseason, Opinion, PLAYOFFS

Scouts on Scouts on Scouts

 

 

A seriously cool post: being a busy man, I apparently missed where some of these old scouting reports on recent players were coming form.  It comes from here.  This site.  Which is pretty darn neat.  With the draft around soon too, it will become all the more relevant.

 

 

That is all, check it out, and have an awesome holiday weekend.

 

-V

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Letting Go

With Roy Halladay landing on the DL (and in general looking very un-Doc-like), I am reminded some (now many) weeks ago when Curt Schilling streamed a commentary on a very disappointing Halladay Spring Training start.  His concluding, and definitive, tweet is below:

“@gehrig38: Halladay threw 81 pitches and induced the Blue Jays to swing and miss only three of them that’s when I knew things had changed for me…..”

You can say a lot of things about Schilling, on the full spectrum of love and hate. Personally, I like the guy (his sports views, at least). One thing everyone can agree on with Lord Bloodied Sock is that he rarely pulls punches.  Schilling speaks to what he sees, and he saw Halladay’s dominance slipping away before his eyes.  As Schill points out, he would know.  So I trust his assessment completely…

…That’s a lie.  I refused to believe Curt Schilling.  I have been a Roy Halladay fan since I first really dove into baseball.  Truthfully, I’ve been a fan since I got a whollllle bunch of his rookie cards in the thousands and thousands of Topps cards I bought:

Yung Doc and the Wildlings up North (Album TBD)

What did I expect to happen?  Did I really expect Doc to throw 220 WHIP-of-one innings a year until he was 45?  Maybe a little bit.  I ignored Schilling for a while, drafting Halladay late in Mock Drafts over and over, assuming I was cleverly weeding out how long I could wait before snatching up a great fantasy value and, more importantly, a staple of my teams & fandom.

But as then the drafts approached a funny thing happened: I had a big-picture change of perspective.  This certainly had something to do with the Patriot’s handling of the beloved Wes Welker (and in a larger sense, a realization that they truly stuck to their ‘better a year too early than too late’ principles).  On top of this serendipitous timing, though, was a realization of something sort of horrible – it’s actually been quite a while since I was a kid.

I mean in no way that I am an old fogie.  While I do love shuffleboard, I will refuse to use the saying ‘in my day…’ until I have truly earned it.  What I mean is – it’s been a long time, in sports and fantasy terms, since the late 90’s/early 2000’s (my sports coming-of-age time).  My favorites are aging.  Their name often carries more weight than their bat or arm.  Such is life.

This revolutionary show came out in August of 1999. Think about how old Regis is now.

 So this raises the question – when do you give up on a proven warrior for you?  For example, just how long can Lance Berkman be your binky?  The easy answer there, for me, up until  he went to the Yankees.  

I have been pondering this all season.  Another example; It makes sense for the Rangers to move on from Mike Young, as hard as it may have been.  They have young players coming up to fill his spot in the next 2-3 years and, in the Rangers’ mind, he was no longer a cost-efficient part of their equation.    For us fantasy owners?  I sure as hell was not giving up on a 200-hit guy  – especially on the cheap.  But for every Mike Young redemption, there are two more aging favorites falling off the map.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  Sometimes an elder statesman finds a second wind (with assistance or otherwise, Mr. Ortiz).  Sometimes, as in the case of Doc Halladay, age brings a tearing at the seams.  

I settled on this:  Loyalty in fantasy baseball is admirable.  I will hold on to an aging favorite, squeezing every last drop of productivity out of their skills until the crap out and I drop them.  Loyalty in ‘real’ baseball, and in sports-business in general, is misplaced.  Derek Jeter ought to be a Yankee for life – he means more than just his numbers to an entire city.  But for most players, in most sports, someone like Roy Halladay, the hardest part (for both us as fans, and for the declining player) is often letting go.

Now that you are sufficiently sad about your aging favorites getting worse, I recommend that Bolton jam at the top of the page and some Ben & Jerry’s.

- V

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, pitchers

Why Bryce Harper Deserves Our Undivided Attention

I am pretty sure I could write pages and pages about why I love The Natural—its solemn nostalgia and ability to reawaken every part of me that loves every part of baseball—but I will try to contain myself to the subject outlined so subtly in the title.

Perhaps you are wondering what this man has to do with our title figure, Mr. Harper. Patience, I ask only for patience.

Roy Hobbs is not necessarily a fallen hero; he did no wrong but circumstances outside his control doomed him to fall short of the potential recognized by himself and others. We can never know if he would have fulfilled his Williamsesque prophesy, to walk down the street and hear people say: “there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was,” but I am confident he would have. In sports, I see largely ordinary men do extraordinary things. I know they are ordinary because they get hurt like us (Tony Canigliaro); they aren’t ready like us (Billy Beane); they fall from grace and from the public eye, never to reveal just how deep their talent runs (Josh Hamilton).

Both the Rays and Hamilton seemed destined for greatness following the 1999 draft.

The film came out in 1984, when Josh Hamilton was three years old. He quickly became as close to a real-life Roy Hobbs as we will ever experience. Blessed with physical gifts as both a pitcher and hitter, there was not speculation about Hamilton’s potential: it was simply known that he would become one of the best players in the world, never mind that he was just 17 when drafted in 1999. The most “sure thing” prospect since another teen draftee, Ken Griffey Jr., Hamilton was believed to be able to make it in the majors as a pitcher or hitter (very Hobbsish), and would likely do so soon after the start of the new millennium. He was Bryce Harper before Bryce Harper picked up a bat, godly in his talent and titanic in his potential. Then he showed the world how human he was.

Imagine how much THIS would be worth if he was real.

Hamilton fell victim to injuries and drug addiction. Instead of bursting onto the scene with precocious teen talent, Hamilton struggled to find his way to the majors, finally making his debut in 2007. He was supposed to be the best in the league on his way to “the best there ever was” by then, well on his way to cementing his place among baseball’s immortals.

Hamilton has shown his talent over the last six years, even taking home an MVP in 2010, but one night stands out to me, a night that only young boys and Hollywood could have imagined. In 2008, the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium (in New York—the Hobbs comparisons become eerie) allowed the baseball world to feast its eyes on talent unlike most ever witnessed. Hamilton swung 38 times in the first round. He hit 28 home runs, including 13 in a row at one point.

Hamilton put on a type of show unseen since Barry Levinson’s magical 1984 film.

People can’t even do that in wiffleball or video games. Hamilton—or Hobbs—is the player you create in a virtual world because you will never see him in ours, the slugger you pretend to be in your daydreams and fantasies. I didn’t just want to be a major leaguer; I wanted to be THE guy, the player with unlimited talent and even more potential—Nomar in 1997 or Pujols in 2001 or Ted Williams back in 1939.

Whoops. Not this Nomar.

Hobbs makes me smile, but Hamilton breaks my heart. Hobbs ensures that he will be remembered forever, rising from the depths as he lifts a team and city from comparable doldrums, as he carries the Knights to the pennant in dramatic fashion. People may not say “the best there ever was,” but they would certainly say “there goes Roy Hobbs.” I do not know for certain if Josh Hamilton will reach that point, and that kills me. That magical night at Yankee Stadium in the summer of 2008 reminded every person witnessing of the deep well that contains Hamilton’s ability, a place that will perhaps never run dry but has certainly been greatly depleted. Hamilton is a hero to many, not only a great baseball player but also a human being who got his life back together having faced a crippling addiction. But I don’t think he will ever be a hero to himself, because he knows how good he could have been. One must hope he has an Iris Gaines of his own, reminding him of the present and future, lest he forever mire in the missed opportunities of the past.

Hamilton does a lot of looking off into space, as if forging in his mind what could have been. Must be a pretty picture.

I realize now that I failed in my attempt to focus on how Redford shapes the film, but I think this says a lot about his performances and about me as a viewer. He embodies Sundance and Johnny Hooker and Hobbs and all of his characters with seductive magnetism, reminding us of the lives we dreamed of as kids and still remember dreaming of as we age but fail to grow up. Redford’s appeal transcends gender or sexuality or time, I believe. In The Natural, who wouldn’t root for a country boy with a homegrown swing and self-made bat? Who can help but root for the Knights, decked out in the regalia of a time when greedy owners and their corporate ambitions could be overcome by the divine prowess of a single man?

We often place superheroes’ expectations upon the shoulders of our superstars, calling upon them to bring in fans or sponsors or to save fading leagues. Rarely are we granted the privilege of experiencing a Roy Hobbs, but even rarer is the chance to witness someone with that talent who does not lose his years to gunshots or drug addictions.

Watch – witness – Bryce Harper as often as you can while you can. Naturals are in limited supply.

Let’s hope whatever that picture is he’s seeing becomes a reality.

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Filed under Baseball, batter v. pitcher, NBA, Random Thoughts

It’s Time for the Craig Sagers to Go Away

This movie is crazy sad, so it's ok how mean the implication is (...it's that Craig Sager ought to be put down, dummy)

SPOILER: The 1957 Old Yeller  movie is crazy sad.  Make your kids watch it early on to learn some valuable life lessons.

 

Meanness Alert:  Alert Level 10 (on a scale of 1 to Regina George)

Truthfully, I mean to be only partially as mean as it may appear above.  Craig Sager is merely an audaciously dressed version of a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad evolution in sports: the sideline reporter.  Craig Sager is often the most flamboyant, but they all need to be taken behind a shed and put down like Old Yeller  go away.

I mean this not as some groundbreaking revelation. Rather, I have reached my breaking point.

At some point, perhaps, sideline reporters offered a unique perspective. In days of yore (maybe not YOUR yore, but someone’s yore), indeed a sideline reporter was in fact in a unique position – on the sideline. This may have at some points offered them opportunities to find out new information, but in today’s technological, all-access world the sideline is relegated to this:

Or this.  Look Here.  Here.  Deadspin is of course all over this idea.  This thing Here.  Example also found…Here.  Aw, hell, here’s a compilation of Popovich owning sideline reporters.

Embarrassing. This grown ass man (in Sager’s case – I did my best to not provide ONLY Sager links) is made a fool of by asking an entirely irrelevant question, getting a terse if not combative answer, trying again, then grinning like an idiot.  Sideline reporting today has reached the same level as the ‘four corner ‘ offense. It must go, and it must go now, for our sanity.

Again, I do not mean to pick on Sager. It’s just easy. You can quickly find any number of examples on the Internet of sideline reporters’ failures or lack of importance, just as I did above.  It took me all of 4 minutes. I mean, sure, I don’t mind looking at Erin Andrews, but she adds literally nothing of value and should really be an embarrassment to actual, knowledgeable female fans worldwide (this issue of female reporters and commentators in Sports is a larger concern and deserves a longer, better thought out discussion in its own right).

Coaches do not want to talk to someone after a half, quarter or (the most egregious and awful idea ever) inning, and certainly not after a game, win or lose.  Players sure as hell don’t want to talk regardless of outcome partly out of convenience, partly for their own sake. Some guys know in the heat of battle they are going to say something they might have to answer for. OK, only a few of them think like that, most players are one opening of the mouth away from a necessary public apology.  Forget their concerns, I can’t imagine the public is clamoring for more of this:

This example obviously falls under the category of ‘satire,’ but it is not far from the truth.  So maybe that’s what sideline reporting has devolved into – plodding dumbassery, coachspeak and cliches, waiting for that one time where they can catch someone saying something stupid in the heat of a competitive moment. It seems likely to me. Which is very, very sad.

We as sports fans and channels as sports entertainment producers have moved past the need for sideline reporters, nay sideline REPORTING, altogether, the way it is conducted now. The practice is stale, remaining as some foolhardy tradition, an embarrassment of excess and world-class BS. With the amount of pre-game, halftime/break-time, and post-game coverage, analysis and preparation – shouldn’t the men and women covering the games already be capable of reporting the coach was really happy with his team’s choice of pre game snack of Honey Bunches of Oats?

I’m sure there is a place for reporting from the sideline, somehow. I don’t know if I have the answer. I do know that the Craig Sagers of the world need to go away.  At least get a new angle and a makeover.

Or does everyone really feel comfortable with this guy posing as a source of ‘information’?

With all due respect to Craig Sager, you and your brethren make me want to not watch sports. So I suppose if you’re in cahoots with the radio industry… then bravo, you evil geniuses.

-V

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Filed under Baseball, basketball, College, Football, March Madness, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, Posted, Soccer

LIKE SOME KIND OF…MADNESS

STEPHENSMADNESS

h/t to Deadspin, who’s running a photoshop contest for this amazing image.

And here’s your Step Brothers fix:

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L.J. Hoes in Different Area Codes: AK

akLJBEAR

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by | March 23, 2013 · 7:11 PM

L.J. Hoes in Different Area Codes: IA

ljiowa

not heaven.

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L.J. Hoes in Different Area Codes: TX

LJ pensive on a TX ranch...

LJ pensive on a TX ranch…

3 Comments

Filed under Baseball, MLB, outfield