Monday, October 2, 2023

Curveball at the Crossroads at the Bookstore1 Book Fair


I will be at Bookstore1 in downtown Sarasota on October 21st from 10am to 2pm selling and signing my debut novel Curveball at the Crossroads. Bookstore1 is a great bookstore run by great people. This will be my third time doing their book fair.

Bookstore1 already has copies of Curveball at the Crossroads on hand. If you want to buy your copy beforehand, and bring it to be signed, you can do that. Or you can order the book, and pick it up there on the day of the book fair.

I am also happy to be doing this book fair with my friend Josh Ginsburg. He has some great books about the interesting and odd of Tampa Bay and Orlando. Definitely recommend checking out his books.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Edwin Jackson and the traveling Virgos

Growing up, I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. For whatever reason, fate had other plans. But as it turns out, I share a birthday with several Major League Baseball players and a professional lifestyle with a very special group of those players.

There are 63 Major League Baseball players who share my September 9th birthday. There are a few Hall of Famers (old school stars Frankie Frisch, Waite Hoyt, and Frank Chance), several all-stars, and a few coaches (Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder was born on the exact same day).

Of that group, what is especially interesting about my birthday is the amount of extremely travelled ballplayers born on September 9th.

According to research, there are 47 players in professional baseball's 160 year history who have played for 10 or more teams. To be good enough to play is an accomplishment, to be wanted by ten or more teams over the course of a career is a peculiar and interesting oddity. Of the 23,000 professional baseball players, those who have been on 10 or more teams is a microscopic 0.2 percent.

Of that 0.2 percent, approximately 13% were born in September. An even dispersal would have been four per month, but as you can see on the below chart, September has six, 50% more well-traveled Major Leaguers.

If we dive into September's data and we look at the six players who comprise this month of well-traveled professionals, we discover an even more interesting coincidence.

Of the six players born in September who played for more than 10 Major League teams, three are born on September 9th. More well-traveled players are born on September 9th than any other day, including Edwin Jackson, who holds the Major League record for being on 14 different teams. The only other day on which more than one well-traveled baseball player was born is February 14, the birthday of two players who played for 10 or more teams.

I could look up every date and see the average for teams played for per date, but that would be a lot of research and I don't have the time or energy for that. But I did look up September 9th. The 63 ballplayers with whom I share a birthday have been on an average of 3 teams. I didn't do the research on the other 364 days, so I don't know if that is above or below average. Of the 63 of the 23,000 people to ever play in the Major Leagues, three played for more than 10 teams. So in total, 0.013% of all Major League Baseball players ever born were born on the same day and played for 10 or more teams.

That day happens to be my birthday, September 9th.

Ironically, I have also had a well-traveled career. Since my first job at McDonalds in high school, I have worked for 17 different companies in 28 years. Since 2006, when I entered the defense contracting field, I have worked for 10 different companies, including more than half of the top 10 companies in the industry.

Not to brag, and not to downplay their struggle to stay in Major League Baseball, but I think my journey might be more stressful. Perhaps not physically, as they have had to move cities more often, but my journey may have been more difficult mentally. Whereas they have stayed in Major League Baseball, and been good enough to play at the top level for more than ten teams, they have still been under the same umbrella organization of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Union. They have always been Major Leaguers and had the benefits, salaries, privileges, and protections thereof. When I leave organizations, I am done. My benefits go away, my protections disappear, and I am out on my own. I also don't have an agent making calls on my behalf looking for my next job.

Maybe it is something on who we are as Virgos born on the 9th that makes traveling and moving from job to job a regular behavior. Maybe our analytical instincts lead us to find new teams and organizations to work with in our industries.

With Edwin Jackson, Todd Zeile, and Dan Miceli no longer in baseball, I guess it is up to me to continue our shared birthday's wandering professional lifestyle.

Anyone hiring?

Monday, September 18, 2023

Conversing on the Creativity Conundrum

Here is a blog post I don't think I ever published. From the read, it looks like I wrote it 9 years ago while in my MBA program. In 2014, I had the rough draft of Curveball at the Crossroads and I was between jobs. I had no idea what I wanted to get into, I only knew I didn't want to do government contracting anymore. Little did I know in 2014 that I would get back into government contracting several more times and I would in fact still be creative on the side.

The big difference between mid-30s me and mid-40s me is that I don't mind being creative on the side. I have grown to balance my professional and my creative. It is great when they come together, but otherwise, it is always an interesting challenge to grow and excel in both.

But anyway, without making this intro its own post, check out my thoughts on creativity from 2014. I found this interesting.


I've written a bit about creativity before. To me, it's a new and fascinating subject. To be honest, I never realized creativity was a big deal until the last year. My thoughts on the subject began when I was in Afghanistan and was one of few who worked on creative endeavors in my spare time instead of burrowing away in the gym as many others did. I was the one who had a little Yoda figure by my desk, who hung a pic of me in an afro posing with Humpty Hump, and brought a DJ Kitty puppet across the world.

In business school, they talk about creativity as a good thing. Something rare and something that should be celebrated. The guy who's done stand-up comedy, ran around Tampa in an afro, and wrote a fiction book is looked at as unique. Well, that's a good thing.

Now my challenge is to find a job that allows me to incorporate creativity and make good money. Yes, I want to make good money. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I don't want to be a starving writer.

That said, I have been reading a lot more about creativity. What people think about it, how they define it, and how they encourage it.

Fast's Co-Create blog has been a must-read for me. They publish a lot of articles for creative minded companies (advertising, marketing, etc), but I think the lessons are applicable anywhere. As long as people are open to ideas.

This article, for example, discusses how to break out of a funk and disrupt uncreative processes. Sometimes it's as easy as moving to another location. Although I agree and try to do this personally, taking my laptop to Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, etc, I've found it tough, if not impossible, to do so in the workplaces I have been in. Government processes are pretty standard and leadership enforces that. Even if employees end up droopy-eyed and zombified at their monitors.

There is a lot a big push in creativity study to mimic the mind of a child. Kids have great imaginations. Unfortunately, in our current society, jobs, academics, processes, and "life" suck the soul and spark out of peoples' imaginations. That might be because we start getting more number-focused and time-crunched, and our creative muscles atrophy.

Imagination is a muscle, if you don't work it, you lose it.

After seeing The Lego Movie a few months ago, I wrote about the Lego Corporation and their push to keep people, especially kids, creative. Here is another article on CoCreate on how playing with Legos can keep people creative. I think any toy will work. Legos are good because their pieces can build so many different things. But having a Star Wars figure or a Disney figurine, or anything else that will spark the mind will do the trick.

Capitalizing on the idea of the mind of a child is Ethan Nicolle, creator of the comic-turned-cartoon Axe Cop. I love Axe Cop. It's hilarious. According to the backstory, Nicolle got together with his then 5-year old brother and illustrated what his brother wrote. The result is a comic that is more creative than almost anything else on TV. Nicolle writes about his creative process in a recent blog on
We grow up and we get jaded.  We learn that flight is impossible, super powers are imaginary, guns are bad and the only real ultimate good is to put your pop cans in the proper container and don’t judge anyone or anything.  We may get bigger, but our world gets smaller.  We shrink.  We carry our withered and jaded view of reality like a badge of wisdom and we try to force kids to accept it before their time, and it is in that moment that we rob them of what being a kid really ought to be.

The whole read is great.

Of course, once you do create something, you have to get it out there. CoCreate recently posted any interesting blog on self-promotion and getting your work discovered. I need follow those steps closely as I start sending out queries for my fiction book, hoping to get it published sometime soon.

Worst case scenario, I find a job that is not creative and keep plugging away at my creative endeavors in my spare time.

Wouldn't be the first time.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Not so serious Movie Review: DEFCON 2012


Tonight's cinematic misadventure is DEFCON 2012 (2009)

In the year 2209, four interplanetary explorers get lost in an abandoned Earth mall. They run around for 40 minutes until they find a woman who lives in a city under the mall where humans have hid from aliens since 2012. Amidst some terrible special effects and animated scenes of exploding space ships, our heroes continue to run around for 40 more minutes until they confront a space alien who once worked for Earth's Central Extraterrestrial Agency. They kill him and then stare at a picture until they see a sailboat. Wait, wrong mall movie.

Grade: 1 bored alien overlord out of 5.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Meeting Lou Gossett Jr in a chat room


I don’t know how true this is, but I am sticking to it.

Way back in the early days of the social internet, probably in 1996 or 1997, I would spend time surfing the web in whatever chat rooms I could find. This was the days before organized chat rooms, before AOL or Yahoo chatrooms, and way before any social media platforms.

In these web chat rooms, you didn’t need to sign in, you didn’t need an account, and you could be whoever you wanted to be. It was total chaos, but it was beautiful. Most of these chat rooms were run via Java chat, and were what we would call “apps” on a webpage.

I saw some interesting things in these chat rooms. Of course, some people would use the rooms for adult-type private chat. But most used them for a sense of community. I even saw one group simulate an online wedding, with a user acting like a priest addressing vows to two other users. Being mischievous and young, I used the opportunity to private message the virtual groom with messages of “run” and “it’s not too late to log off”.

(If I remember right, his handle was “TheDuck” and he once told me he fought in “a small war with small people with small minds”. I have always loved that phrase.)

But perhaps the most interesting encounter I had in an late 1990s random chat room was when someone claiming to be actor Lou Gossett, Jr entered the chat. I don’t remember his screen name, but I do remember him announcing he was in fact Lou Gossett, Jr.

Upon entering the chatroom, the famous actor started talking with the people in the room, asking if the room was an adult-themed room (I don’t believe it was), and if people there could be trusted (probably not).

Then he asked the room if they had any questions for him, predating the AMA reddit trend by almost 20 years.

Having seen Alien Mine and a few of Lou Gossett, Jr’s other movies, I was familiar with the actor and was surprised a Hollywood celebrity would be in a random chatroom with other bored internet surfers. So I asked Lou Gossett, Jr why he was in this room with us tonight. Of all the chat rooms online, why this one at that time?

Lou Gossett, Jr answered that he saw his son frequenting chat rooms and he wanted to see what his son was doing and whether it was safe or not. Seemed like a good answer to me.

(A bit of research shows Lou Gossett Jr has two sons, one born in 1974 and the other born in 1977. So he did have sons, but worrying about their online behavior when they were in their 20s seems a little fishy to me. Might make a dent in the credibility of the story. But as I said at the open, I am sticking to my story.)

After a few other denizens of the chat room asked Lou Gossett Jr questions that he graciously answered, I asked one more question. I asked him why he acted in Iron Eagle 3.

I don’t remember why I asked him that, nor do I remember ever seeing Iron Eagle 3. I know I have seen Iron Eagle 1 and 2, but Iron Eagle 3 is a total blank. For what it is worth, reviews on IMDB are not good. Maybe I did see Iron Eagle 3 and chose to forget everything about it.

I could have asked him about Enemy Mine, An Officer and a Gentleman, or Roots, but I asked him about one of his worst movies.

I will never forget Lou Gossett, Jr’s answer:

“The money, Mike. The money.”

A few minutes after he answered my question, the account claiming to be Lou Gossett, Jr logged out of the chat room.

That’s my Lou Gossett, Jr story.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Author Josh Ginsburg Promotes Curveball at the Crossroads


My friend and fellow author Josh Ginsberg cut a short promo for my novel Curveball at the Crossroads at Tiger Dust in Tampa, Florida.

You can find Curveball at the Crossroads at .

Monday, August 21, 2023

Curveball at the Crossroads at Green Bench Brewing 8/27/2023


I will be at Green Bench Brewing on Sunday, August 27th selling and signing books! Green Bench Brewing is located near Tropicana Field at 1133 Baum Ave North, St. Petersburg FL 33705.

I will be giving away a pack of baseball cards with each purchase of a book. I have hand-collated packs or newly acquired unopened packs of 1991 Donruss baseball.

Come on out and enjoy some great beer, root on the Rays, and pick up a copy of one of my books! 

Monday, August 14, 2023

Meeting the Fake Randy Meisner

A few weeks ago, founding Eagles bassist Randy Meisner died. The real Randy Meisner.

For nearly 20 years, a man named Lewis Peter Morgan impersonated Meisner. Many websites have written about Morgan. In 2020, wrote an article about Morgan and his history of misleading promoters and organizations who thought they were booking the real Randy Meisner. 

According to, Morgan was arrested in 1998 for impersonating Meisner. He received 16 months and was set free. He resumed his act.

In 2006, Morgan was seen at a poker tournament according to Gambling911. In 2014, writer Nolan Dalla also wrote about meeting the imposter and even having dinner with him.

Five years before the poker tournament, some time around 2001, I met someone who claimed to be Randy Meisner in a bar in Tallahassee, Florida. It might have been Lewis Peter Morgan. Or it very well could have been Randy Meisner. I wrote about meeting this man in a paper I did for an anthropology class.

Here is what I wrote:

After interviewing Jenine, I met a man who claimed to be a founding member of the famous rock and roll band the Eagles. He introduced himself as Randy Meisner and continued on about how he was taking a Greyhound bus to Tempe, Arizona to go to Lake Tahoe with 70’s singer/ songwriter Jackson Browne. A week later I did research on Mr. Meisner, who was indeed a member of the Eagles. However, the man at Fatty and Skinny’s claimed to be 63. Randy Meisner is 55 years of age. I also read an online article about an imposter in Atlanta claiming to be the classic rock band’s bass player. Was the individual I met really Randy Meisner? Or merely an imposter?

I am not sure why Lewis Peter Morgan or anyone else claiming to be Randy Meisner would have been in a college bar in Tallahassee in 2001. But I guess that makes me a small part of one of the weirdest stories in Rock 'n' Roll history.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Drowning in Junk Wax


Like many Gen X baseball fans, I was a big baseball card collector in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I remember my first packs of 1986 Topps. My mother bought me a few packs at the local flea market on Long Island, New York. I had just become a baseball fan and went to my first Major League Baseball game at Shea Stadium.

Baseball card collecting was a passion of mine starting in 1987. The classic 1987 Topps set was the first I actively collected. Card collecting introduced me to all the players and all the teams in baseball. I became a much bigger baseball fan because of baseball cards.

The late 1980s and early 1990s was also the apex of baseball cards. People considered baseball cards investments. How wrong we were.

Years later, collectors realized how little their collections were worth. The law of supply and demand caught up to the baseball card industry. In order to maximize sales, the card companies produced way too many of every card. Millions of every card was made. Most card collectors had every card they wanted. Supply was way higher than demand.

The overwhelming supply of baseball cards from 1986 to 1994 became known as the "junk wax era". Cards in waxy packs were not the college investments young collectors thought they would be. They were junk.

On the website, Spencer Richardson wrote a very informative history of the Junk Wax Era. In his article, he writes: 

"According to one estimate, companies produced 81 billion cards per year in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That shakes out to about 300 cards per person living in the United States. Cards were everywhere."

Dave Jamieson also has a good article on the rise of collecting and the bubble it created. Entitled "The Great Baseball Card Bubble", Jamieson discusses the impact of Beckett Baseball Card Guides and other influencers on the hobby. The article is a must read for those interested in why their collections haven't gained any value in 30 years.

I haven't collected cards since 1993. Like many collectors, the players' strike in 1994 turned me off to following baseball for a few years. Then I joined the military, went to college, discovered beer, and spent my money on other interests. Starting in 2000 or so, I would buy one pack of Topps every year just to see what the new style looked like. But I stopped going to card stores, card shows, or following the hobby in any way, shape, or form.

A few years ago, I went to my parents' house and finally explored the corner of my old bedroom closet containing my old baseball cards. I had two huge 5,000-count boxes of baseball cards, a 3,000-count box of basketball cards, as well as several sealed sets containing over 700 cards each. In total, I had approximately 20,000 cards.

Years ago, I gave away at least 5,000 cards to a local hospital. I sold other boxes at some point. This is what remained.

What to do with 20,000 cards?

After putting aside a small box of cards that had either emotional or personal value, I explored ebay, mercari, etc for the demand of the rest. Dozens, if not hundreds of other collectors have flooded online markets with their collections. Anyone in the market for junk wax, if there was anyone in the market for junk wax, would find hundreds of options. 

Time to be creative.

If you buy a copy of my novel Curveball at the Crossroads from me at book signing, you get a free pack of 15 cards ranging from 1986 to 2022. Packs are either by team or random. Most random packs contain at least one player elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Free baseball cards have been a great gimmick. The words "FREE BASEBALL CARDS (with a purchase of Curveball at the Crossroads)" catch many eyes. It doesn't matter how much or how little the cards are worth, baseball cards still hold a sense of wonder for most fans. They open the pack of cards and reminisce over players from the past or talk about players of the present.

I have to sell a lot of books to get rid of 10,000 loose baseball cards in 15 card packs. In a nice sense of Devilish humor, 10,000 divided by 15 cards is 666 packs. For a book about the Devil and baseball, I swear that is a coincidence.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Counting Wrestling Shows


Wrestling podcasts are all the rage these days. My personal favorite is Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw hosted by WWE Hall of Famers Jerry Brisco and John Bradshaw Layfield aka JBL. It's a good, clean show with great guests who tell great stories. There is no trashing the business, no trashing other people in the business, and there is very little mudslinging, unless it is in jest. It is highly recommended.

A few months ago, Brisco and Bradshaw talked with Rich Achberger, aka WWE Sign Guy. Acheberger is a famous fan of WWE. He has been written about on, supported by wrestlers while on Deal or No Deal, gets twitter praise from people in wrestling, and has amassed a prominent twitter following of over 40,000.

No doubting his incredible fandom.

During his interview with Brisco and Bradshaw, Achberger said he has attended over 1,200 wrestling shows. That's a lot of wrestling shows. As a fellow fan of wrestling shows, his count got me thinking how many I have been to.

Overall, I think I have been to roughly 270 wrestling events. Which to be honest, seems really small compared to Sign Guy. Here is my math:

WWE: 9

I've been six WWE RAW or Smackdown shows in Tampa at Amalie Arena as well as WrestleMania at Raymond James Stadium. That's seven. I went to one Smackdown in Tallahassee and one closed circuit broadcast of WrestleMania 3 at Nassau Coliseum when I was a kid in New York.

NXT: 2

I have been to two NXT events. One in Tampa and one in Cocoa, Florida.

FCW: 50

Here is where the estimating starts. From 2008 to 2010, I went to a lot Florida Championship Wrestling shows in Tampa. This was the Afro-Squad days, where we were acknowledged by Steve Keirn and the legendary Dusty Rhodes. I might be a little low, but I am going with 50 total.

ASW: 40

In 2010, the Afro-Squad stopped going to FCW as often and started going to All-Star Wrestling Florida. ASW was run by local friends as well as part of our FCW fan group. We had to support. It was fun, it was local, it was very indy. From 2010 to 2012, I would estimate I went to 40 ASW shows.

wXw: 70

This number seems low, but I think it might be correct. Since 2009, I have been going to Afa The Wild Samoan's wXw monthly promotion in Minneola, Florida. For 10 of those years, my brother Bryan Maddox wrestled there. During that time, I would go every month. Since he stopped wrestling in 2018, I have gone every other month or every third month, depending on my schedule. I also missed two years because I lived overseas. This might be on the conservative side, but I am going with 70 wXw shows.

Miscellaneous: 100

I would guess I have been to 100 other wrestling events, mostly independent shows. From flea markets to fairs, civic centers to storage units, I have paid to see men and women battle in the squared circle. I can't count how many different promotions I've seen. Many of them might not be around any more. I've seen people dressed as Japanese monsters and barbwire Christmas tree matches. I've seen future superstars and people in it for the joy of entertaining the fans. 

But like my FCW and ASW numbers, my visits to independent wrestling shows has dropped dramatically in recent years. I might be a little conservative, but I think 100 is a fair number.

A total of 270 shows is not even 20% of Rick Achberger's 1,200. Whereas I have spent nine months total at wrestling shows, Rick has spent almost 3 and half years. That's mind blowing.

A big tip of the red hat and doff of the afro wig to fellow super fan WWE Sign Guy. May his seat always be warm and his beer (or soda) always be cold.