Something to do

Bored? Here is a chance to be entertained and do a good deed. And read this or the Dalmatian will be angry with you

OK, no, the Dalmatian will not really be angry. She is just a nice looking dog who takes great photos. We need some of that in these times.

So most of us are on lockdown. We are bored. We are running out of Netflix and Amazon shows to watch. So maybe it is time to read? Sure, you can get a copy of Jesus Just Left Chicago. But we are going to pitch you on something else.

I have written a new, original short story based on Jesse Christian. I have packaged it with some of my long lost short stories, including the first one I ever wrote. I combined them to create Falcon Tales: A Collection of Short Stories.

For a minimum of $10, you can get some great reading material for this lockdown. And help people who need it.

The plan

So the idea is take all the money from the sales of this and create a fund that we can use to help Gow Media employees who need it to pay bills. If we sell a lot, we will help listeners to our station, SportsMap readers, and whoever else we can.

It is simple. If you want a copy, email me at faour975@gmail.com. I will email you a PDF file you can read on your phone or computer or print it out, and I will give you instructions on how to PayPal or Venmo. The $10 is a minimum. If you want to pay more, you can. Your choice.

If you can't afford to donate and want to read it anyway, I will send it free of charge. It will be a personalized version of five short stories, so if I die, maybe it will be worth something.

What you get

A novella, called Land of the Living Skies, which I am making into a full length novel. It is not available anywhere else. You will also get the first short story I ever wrote, a couple that were available on my old blog, and a brand new short story I just completed called The Perfect Game.

The new one features Jesse Christian, the main character from Jesus Just Left Chicago. I wrote it while on Covid-19 lockdown on March 22, 2020. I am well into the sequel to Jesus (spoiler alert: Jesse survives), and the tale may continue beyond that into a trilogy if I can come up with a viable story line. This short story is how I envision the saga ending if we get that far. The odds of that are pretty low, but if it happens, you will be one of the first to know how it ends.

Of the five stories, three can not be found anywhere else. There is also commentary on all of them, so if you are interested in writing, you will get some insight into the thought process.

Please share this with as many friends as possible. If they can help, great. If not and they want something to read, I will send it to them anyway. Feel free to share your own copy with anyone who can't afford to buy it.

Hopefully this all ends soon and we are back to normal. If not? Please do what you can.

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Yainer Diaz should be a big factor early in the season. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

Opening Day for the Houston Astros is right around the corner and the reigning champions of the baseball world have set their final roster.

Three players whose names stood on the final 26 were catchers Yainer Diaz and Cesar Salazar as well as right-handed pitcher Ronel Blanco, and outfielder Corey Julks.

While some might be surprised to see their names on the main roster, the Astros’ logic behind it reveals the focus is not just on this season, but for the future as well.

Let’s start with Diaz and Salazar, who both edged out prospect Korey Lee for the backup catcher position. Lee was the Astros’ first-round selection in the 2019 draft. His numbers during 2023 spring training were .258/.343/.827 with two home runs and six RBI in 31 at-bats.

In comparison, Diaz’s slashes were .325/.317/.892 with one home run and eight RBI in 40 at-bats. Salazar put together a slash line of .286/.407/.978 with a home run and seven RBI in 21 at-bats.

While not making the opening day roster is a blow for Lee, Houston general manager Dana Brown said it is not necessarily a reflection of where the organization views him as a player.

Brown said it is vital for Lee to play every single day being a first-round sound selection. That would not be the case had he made the Astros roster, with Martin Maldonaldo solidified as the starter.

“He's like a big time, frontline guy with some power, so you can't have guys like that sitting on the bench at the Major League level, so you have to get him playing time,” Brown said. “Whereas Salazar is a backup catcher, and he fills that role better.”

While that argument works regarding Salazar, it will be interesting to see what Diaz does with his roster spot. Both Diaz and Lee are 24 years old. Diaz made his MLB debut last September and appeared in only six games for the Astros.

As for Blanco, the right-handed pitcher put together an impressive spring training for Houston that earned him his spot in the bullpen. The Dominican Republic native pitched 14 innings, giving up only one run. He put together a 0.64 ERA.

Blanco is going to be raring to showcase to Houston his improvement from last season. He had a rough 2022 season in the big leagues, appearing in only seven games and giving up five runs and accumulating a 7.11 ERA.

The 29-year-old beat out pitchers like Brandon Bielak and veteran Austin Davis to make the team’s crowded bullpen. For Blanco, it is all about producing in the majors.

One final player to spotlight is Corey Julks. He came as a bit of a surprise as well, with many thinking Justin Dirden's impressive spring could get him a spot on the roster. But Julks has more experience and posted a big year with the Space Cowboys in 2022. The former University of Houston Cougar crushed 31 home runs for Sugar Land last year and had a slash line this spring of .275/.318/.550 with 2 homers.

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