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Your 2020 Season Survival Guide and R/Baseball Refresher!

Before we dive in, if you want to participate in the annual Call Your Shot season predictions contest, you can find it here.
It's FINALLY coming! Welcome to the 2020 MLB Season! We are so glad you are here. Don't let the length of this post scare you, we just wanted to consolidate all the relevant information that people have questions about into one place to start the season off. This is your survival guide for the 2020 season, it should have all the pertinent information to answer most of your questions!
If you are a brand new fan I'd recommend going through most of it, if you're a veteran you'll know which sections you'll want to read by their headings. My goal here is that both new and returning fans can learn how to better enjoy the season and know what's going on on Baseball this year. Okay, take some time and read through what you want to read through below!
This is the fourth year of doing this. Every year I go through the previous years comments to find things that should be added or corrected for the next edition, so if you have any great resources or information that you think would be beneficial to add, please comment it below!
Sections:

Introduction for new and renewed interest fans.

Baseball normally has a long season. I don't just mean that in terms of time between opening day and the World Series (which can be considered long as it is), but also the 162 games played in 183 days, 18-20 times against the same 4 teams each. It can be daunting, and many people lose interest by "the dog days" of June and July. This year things are going to be a little different. With only 60 games on the schedule (assuming we make it through without a major clubhouse covid outbreak that cancels games versus that team) every game is going to matter about 3x as much as one in a normal regular season. Tensions will be high, but we might not feel it because there won't be that much crowd noise. THAT SAID - they're still playing 60 games in 66 days, which means almost every day for the next two months isn't just packed with baseball, they're packed with YOUR FAVORITE TEAMS baseball, which while exciting after months without any American sports in the regular season (MLS - a tournament is not the regular season) can end up feeling overwhelming when you just finished watching a late game go into extras then wake up to realize there's an afternoon game on in six hours.
This guide is meant to help you if you wish to avoid being one of those who feels overwhelmed and loses interest a couple weeks after Opening Day.
First and foremost if you are a new fan or newly returning, you must remember one thing: you do not need to watch every game. Many football fans, and even some basketball and hockey fans, find this difficult, they're used to setting aside a few nights a week to watch their team, and they can watch all the games. Baseball isn't like that. For the next two months, your team will only have 6 days where they won't be playing a game. And some of the games they play will start as early as 9:20am (Pacific Time), others will end after 1am (Eastern Time). If you miss a game it's okay, odds are there's another one tomorrow. If you miss a week, no big deal, hell if you get busy for a few months and aren't able to watch you team, that's not an issue, because you can still follow your team.
Baseball is a game to be followed. In the old days it meant picking up the morning paper and checking the box scores. Now it means being able to have a final score texted/tweeted/messaged/emailed/what-evered to you the minute the game ends, or rolling over in bed when you can't sleep and grabbing your phone to check the West Coast scores. It means being able to check reddit in the morning to see any breaking news from across the league, or catch a story you missed. We live in a time where you can go to MLB.com and get a recap of every game from last night in less than 10 minutes. Honestly, baseball was made to be consumed, and the technology age makes it easier than ever, whether you want to spend hours every day pouring over stats and analysis, or 15 seconds to see how your team and their playoff rivals did today.
The rest of this guide is mostly dedicated to ways that you can help yourself follow your team, and if you have time follow the entirety of MLB.
Anyways, enough rambling, TL;DR Don't worry if you miss games, there'll be one tomorrow.

Rule Changes for 2020

For this season only (or so they say...):
  • The NL will utilize the DH full time.
  • In extra innings the person in the batting order immediately before the lead off hitter will start on second base.
  • Games suspended due to rain will continue play at a later date rather than be washed out and restarted.
  • Arguing within six feet of an umpire or participating in a fight will be met with heftier fines and suspensions this yaer.
  • Pitchers will be allowed a wet rag to be brought out from the dugout in lieu of being able to lick their fingers for better grip.
  • Each team has a 20 extra players in their "taxi squad" in addition to their active roster and 40-man roster.
  • Active rosters will start at 30 players, then will be cut to 28 after two weeks, then 26 after four weeks.
  • Spitting is not allowed.
  • Non-social distanced celebrations are not allowed.
Permanent (as any rule change can be in baseball) rule changes for 2020 and beyond:
  • Three batter minimum - pitcher entering the game must face a minimum of three batters unless they complete an inning.
  • The MLB Active Roster is expanded from 25 players to 26 players.

Finding a Team

I always recommend following the local team since you'll have more access to news about them in the local media and should be able to get their radio broadcast, as well as TV broadcasts of them if you have cable/satellite/streaming, and depending on where you're at the occasional over the air game, but if you don't live by a team or don't want to follow the local team, or are just looking for a second team to follow, I wrote this in depth guide to picking a team that's the right fit for you.

Knowing Where Different Teams Stand

Every year ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX, NBS, and every other sports related site puts out their season previews. These are great for getting a basic rundown of what is going on with each team, and a simple google search will bring up a plethora of possible articles to read.
If what you really want is a fans perspective on what each team's expectations condensed into a few short comments, I'd highly recommend going through each teams day from our annual "Why will X team exceed expectations?" series. All the previous posts are linked in the Astros thread.

Baseball

Alright, so plugging baseball on baseball seems a bit redundant, but I think it's a good reminder that this is a great hub for all your MLB news throughout the season while still letting you see the occasional amazing college/minor league/foreign league performance.
During the season there are a number of features to keep you informed of all the goings on around baseball.
Every day of the season (and a portion of the offseason) we have General Discussion threads we call Around the Horn. These are great places to ask questions and discuss anything that you want to know about baseball but don't feel like it deserves it's own post. In the Around the Horn post you'll be able to see a full schedule of what is going on around Baseball every week.
Here are the weekly features:
Daily: Nightly Pick'Em - A six year running contest to pick the result of one game every day. Details can be found in this thread.
Monday: Power Rankings - A team of 30 fans from every team in baseball, led by masochist fearless leader kasutori_jack, releases their composite power rankings of the 30 teams. This leads to well thought out discussions and some in depth analysis, as well as salty fans crying about how their team is underrated (there may be more of the latter than the former, but it's still a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of how every team is doing).
Monday (Unofficial) - The last few years thekmanpwnudwn has posted a State of the Subreddits post that gives the top post from each team's subreddit from the last week. This is a great roundup post for staying up to date on what all the different team fandoms are feeling, and helps you catch any milestones you might have otherwise missed.
Tuesday: Weekly Awards - Led by lemcoe9 a different team of a fan from every team releases the results of their weekly (and monthly) voting for who the best position player and pitcher was since the last vote was taken. Once again, a great way to keep track of which players are on hot streaks, and who's dominating the league.
Wednesday: Wild Card Wednesday - Each week a new contest, trivia game, or just out of the box fun thread will be stickied! Got an idea? Let the mods know!
Thursdays: Division Discussions - We rotate between the Easts, Centrals, and Wests to do some more in depth talk about where the playoff races and teams stand. If you only have time for one baseball thread every week and want to keep up with the league, this is the thread to set aside time for.
Friday: Trash Talk/Compliment/Complaint - FRIDAYS ARE FUN DAYS, WE ROTATE BETWEEN TRASH TALK, COMPLIMENT, TRASH TALK, AND COMPLAIN THREADS! TRADITION STATES ALL COMMENTS BE IN ALL CAPS AND ENDING IN EXCLAMATION POINTS! WE ROTATE RATHER THAN HAVE A SET DAY FOR EACH ALL SEASON BECAUSE IT'S A LONG SEASON AND ANY ONE OF THE THREE THREADS CAN GET STALE FAST IF YOU DON'T LEAVE TIME FOR MORE AMMUNITION!
Saturday: Saturday is when we usually plug in occasional things that don't necessarily deserve weekly attention. Things like in depth stat discussions, memorobilia sharing, craft projects, etc.
Sunday: Game of the Week - Sunday is the one day a week where we get together as a subreddit to watch a baseball game together, since it's the one time every week where there's only one game going on and there's guaranteed to be a game. The Sunday Night Baseball game thread is usually posted a couple hours before the first pitch.
In addition the playoffs, and select premier match-ups (mostly at the very end of the season where there is a lot riding on a regular season game) we host game threads for all baseball users. These are neutral thread, for more info on less neutral ones skip to the next section. We may experiment with game threads in baseball for the MLB.tv Free Game of the Day this year.
In addition to all these features, it really is a great place to keep up with breaking news and highlights. It'll be posted here minutes after someone tweets it, and long before it's on MLB.com. Team beat writers get the stories first, and it's easier to check in here a couple times a day than follow every one of them. Plus there's something the kids are calling "dank memes" (but not too many, because us mods don't allow too much moisture to get into the servers).

Your Team's Subreddit (And other team subs as well)

The mods at baseball have one goal - help you have the best possible reddit baseball experience, and a LOT of that is helping you get connected to other fans of your team (which feels a little like a cop-out because it means less work for us if you're doing more on your team's sub, but your team's mods aren't complaining.)
One of the main draws of team subs (other than in depth discussion with like-fan-minded users, getting breaking news and analysis on your team, team-memes, and other reddit discussions that come up from a group of individuals who can agree on one thing) are game threads. At this time (to the best of my knowledge) every team sub hosts game threads for their team's games, and you can easily access them in the sidebar during the season by clicking on the team's logo in the schedule (we're working on getting that up to speed, MLB changed some parts of their RSS and background data and we've had to work around that to get our automated system back up). We like to keep the game threads in team subs for a few reasons, one of which is we want to support the team subs and send them relevant traffic when we can because they really do an amazing job, another is because with 15 games a day this place would look like crap if we had game threads for every game or let users post them as they please (we've tried it, it blots out news, discussion, and highlights and looks like crap, baseball doesn't have only a couple days set aside for games or focus on marquee match ups like many other sports, it's 2430 games played in 183 days and is better when it's spread out.)
Even if you're not a game thread person though, getting connected with a good team sub can make disappointing seasons more bearable, and great seasons more exciting, and I know plenty of users that said that their team's sub basically keeps them fans. Team subs are also a great place to get connected to...

Twitter, Podcasts, and other General News/Analysis Sources

Going to be honest here, I don't use twitter and I do not frequently read other people's blogs. I know many people do and enjoy it, and I believe the best way to find the people to follow/sites to visit that interest you the most are to hang around your team's sub and note which Tweets/Sites that are linked to that most often peak your interest. Your list of favorite baseball writers is going to be different than my favorite list, and finding the right twitter personalities, podcasts hosts, and bloggers can make game analysis more interesting for you even if your team is playing like crap and it's the middle of July.
Here are some common suggestions for some general baseball twitter accounts and podcasts to get you started, but like I said, find what you like and follow those:
Twitter
Account Account Account
@MLB @Ken_Rosenthal @Buster_ESPN
@jonmorosi @mlbtraderumors @MiLB
@JeffPassan @MLBInjuryNews @BNightengale
@keithlaw @based_ball @SamMillerBB
@jonahkeri @BaseballAmerica @brooksbaseball
@BenLindbergh @ChrisCotillo @mike_petriello
@MJ_Baumann @FanRagSports @TheAthleticMLB
@fangraphs @baseballprospectus @baseball_ref
@daynperry @CBSSportsMLB @CespedesBBQ
@GrantBrisbee @JonHeyman @cantpitch
@MLBRosterMoves @darenw @extrabaggs
Podcasts
Account Account Account
Effectively Wild Baseball Tonight The Ringer

The Statistical Titans: Baseball Reference and Fangraphs

Literally every day you will find a link or to BaseballReference.com or Fangraphs.com here, it's a given, and it's because these are the two most extensive free baseball databases that are easy to navigate. If you want to look up anything about baseball history, check Baseball Reference, if you want to look up how players stack up with non-proprietary advanced metrics or read an insightful blog post about why someone is overrated/underrated or overperforming/underperforming, check Fangraphs. With these two sites you have all the stats and figures you need to make a competent argument for basically anything you want with a little cherry picking.
A large part of the modern baseball world is statistics and you're going to find yourself getting more immersed in discussing the game if you can get a handle on all the terms getting thrown around. If you are brand new to baseball, take a little while to get to know the game before diving into these sites, but if you have a handle on the basics and are ready to know what this WAR everyone is talking about is, dive into the glossaries and find the statistics.
When you get the basics, creating your own analysis doesn't seem as daunting, and one of the reasons I love baseball is that I can deconstruct pretty much every play and find some meaning behind it. If you are like that and enjoy numbers, theoretical projections, and breaking things down into simple figures before reconstructing them into something long and beautiful, then learning the basics of sabrmetrics will make you a baseball fan for life. If, on the other hand, you just want to enjoy the game for the beautiful pastime that it is by watching, then we've got a little bit to go through...

Where to Watch? - Your TV and Streaming Guide

So a big part of baseball is, you know, actually being able to watch the games (though as I talk about at the end, it might not necessarily be the case for you, and that doesn't mean you can't enjoy baseball, skip down and see what I'm talking about in the final section).
First off, if you are looking for free games to watch, you are in luck! MLB.tv streams one game a day for free on MLB.com and Yahoo.com. These games are subject to local blackouts (details on those in the MLB.tv section) but are definitely worth watching if you're trying to see if you'll enjoy baseball, or just need a free baseball fix. Facebook is also streaming one game a week during the season for free. The other free games available are from May 18 to July 13 on Saturday night and Thursday nights in September when FOX airs games on their OTA affiliated networks. Believe it or not, TV antennas still work in most areas, and these games are free to watch. Some teams also broadcast select games on OTA networks in their region.
Okay, so now the more expensive stuff. If you have even the most basic cable package (or log in information) you probably have ESPN. ESPN airs games every Sunday Night as well as Wednesday Night and Opening Weekend. These games are also available on ESPN Go.
You also probably have a regional sports channel. This is where almost all of your local teams games will be aired. Here is a decent breakdown of every team and what network they are carried on.
TBS is also on even the most basic networks, they air games the final 13 Sundays of the regular season in the afternoon.
FS1 and FOX carry baseball games almost every Saturday of the season, and MLB Network carries games pretty much every day.
A list of currently scheduled national broadcasts is available here, not all games have been chosen so there will be more added to the list.
For all these networks (except for the Dodgers, Orioles, and Nationals regional networks) there are options to stream the games online provided you have cable login information for the channel. During the playoffs FS1, TBS, and MLB Network will carry most of the games, with ESPN carrying a wild card game and FOX carrying the World Series.
Now there are also streaming services that grant access to most of the previously mentioned channels:
  • Sling TV Orange package gets you ESPN, ESPN 2, and TBS.
  • Sling TV Blue package gets you FOX, FS1, FS2, TBS, and most regional sports networks.
  • Youtube TV gets you FOX, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, TBS, MLB Network, and some regional sports networks.
  • HULU Live gets you FOX, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, FS2, TBS, and your regional sports networks.
  • Playstation Vue Access gets you FOX, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, FS2, and TBS.
  • Playstation Vue Core adds MLB Network to the Access channels.
  • Playstation Vue Sports Extra adds regional sports networks in addition to your other channels.
  • AT&T TV Now Live a Little gets you FOX, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, and TBS and your regional sports networks.
  • AT&T TV Now Just Right adds MLB Network to the Live a Little channels.
  • AT&T TV Now Go Big adds FS2 to the Just Right channels.
  • FUBO Premier gets you FOX, FS1, and your regional sports networks
Also, ESPN+ will carry select games pretty much daily throughout the season.

MLB.TV - the Ultimate Fan Investment

Alright, so a few things to cover with this, first of all YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO LEGALLY STREAM IN MARKET GAMES IF YOU LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES. MLB.tv uses your IP address to see where you are located, and if it pings back that you are in a team's home market it will not let you watch the game LIVE. Here is where you can find what games MLB.tv will black you out from. National broadcasts on ESPN, FOX, and TBS are also subject to blackouts within the United States (MLB Network games are not). Before you ask, yes there are less than legal ways to get around this (spoofing your IP address, subreddit dedicated to mlb streams, etc.), but I won't be talking about those in detail here. IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, YOU WILL HAVE NO BLACKOUTS.
Even if you are blacked out, you will be able to watch the game 90 minutes after it finishes, so if you work a late shift or stay up late it might be worth it for you anyways even if you only want to follow one team.
Military members and college students, don't forget to apply your 35% discount!
"But I don't want to watch EVERY out of market game, I just want to watch MY team!" Cool, for $25 less there's a single team option that will allow you to watch all your team's non-blacked out games! Personally, I'd pay the extra $25 for the opportunity to watch every Kershaw, Bumgarner, and Scherzer start, or put the Cubs on in the background while working on a Friday afternoon, but to each their own.
"But I don't want to commit for a full year!" That's okay, there's a monthly option as well in case you know there are months where you can't watch as much.
Some of the fun features of MLB.tv include the ability to watch four games at once and quickly swap your audio from one to another (seriously, I'm never on commercial break when I'm watching baseball, unless there's only one game on I'm able to watch it all, and in September that's huge) and condensed games. What are condensed games? They go through and cut out all the time between pitches and innings, meaning if you want to watch a whole game in less than a half hour (or are searching desperately for a play to make a .gif or streamable out of that for some reason isn't considered a highlight) it's really easy. If you're someone who really wants to get into the game but can't figure out how to grind through watching a full game, Condensed Games are great for keeping up with a team while you learn the little details between pitches that somehow make watching the catcher twiddle his fingers exciting for some fans.
Also, new this year, MLB has added some great baseball documentaries to your MLB.tv subscription, giving you access to more than just games for the first time.
In addition, there are two great resources to enhance your total immersion into baseball if there are multiple games going on. Please note for both of these you must already be logged into MLB.tv to make them work. The first, and most basic, is Brooks Baseball's MLB.TV Redzone. It will automatically take you to the highest leverage game going on, and will automatically shift you to another game between innings OR if another game enters a higher leverage situation. For a more personalized touch, The Baseball Guage has MLB.TV Game Changer which lets you customize your preferences so MLB.tv will always switch to the game that is most relevant to you. This is great if you play fantasy and want to keep up with your players, are waiting for someone to hit a milestone, or if you want to make sure your action is broken into to follow a no-hitter in progress.
It also gives you a free subscription to...

MLB AtBat - The Most Underrated Way to Stay Connected to Baseball

MLB AtBat is MLB's official application. It comes in two versions, the free version which has ads but is useful for keeping up to date with all the scores, and the paid version ($19.99 for the year of $2.99 monthly) which gives you access to ad-free content, Gameday on your mobile device, and (most valuable) access to every team's radio stream for every game during the season and postseason completely blackout free. If there's a day game, you can bet I'm listening to it at work, if I'm mowing the lawn on a Saturday I'm listening to a game, when I can't sleep at night, on comes a West Coast game. To get the paid version you must download the free version, then subscribe within the app, or log into an MLB account that has MLB.tv.
Baseball was made to be on the radio, it's a sport that is very easy to follow the action with the right announcer. At work (or school) it's great because you can half listen, and when the announcer gets excited you can instantly tune back in to hear what's going on. This is the most underrated way to stay connected to your team throughout the year. Before I could afford MLB.tv, this was the way to go, and it honestly makes me question every year whether getting the MLB.tv package is worth is when I can get 80% of the entertainment value from listening to the games (and every year I manage to forget to unsubscribe, for many reasons listed above).
Gameday on mobile is also a great feature, it lets you quickly check in on the action during brief recesses in meetings (or under the table during meetings), or breaks between classes (or under a desk in classes). This is honestly my primary means of keeping track of Twins games throughout the year. My wife thinks I'm crazy when I could just watch the game, but instead am nervously checking my phone every couple minutes. IF I WATCH I JINX THE TEAM, HONEY!

How to watch baseball?

So this is a question that we get from many new fans who are just trying to figure out what the hell is going on and why people find this game so fascinating. I'll get the elephant in the room out of the way, yes there are some "boring" parts of watching baseball on TV. The camera fans to a batter spitting and adjusting his gloves, the pitcher adjusts his crotch then licks his fingers, random shots of a bored looking manager, etc. When you are actually at the ballpark you can be watching where the catcher and fielders set up to try to predict the pitch that is coming (read The Hidden Language of Baseball by Paul Dickson for some great insight into how to interpret this), but on TV it's not usually the case. This is where I have some suggestions for new fans trying to get into it.
First off, if you are looking for just a relaxing day, embrace the slow pace with a beer and veg out on the couch while watching. It's meant to be slow and relaxing (until it gets tense and exciting, usually with runners on). Seriously, when was the last time you just sat and did nothing? Mid July afternoon games are a perfect way to reach that zen of half-consciousness, until something happens to get you sucked into the action.
Another option to stay engaged is keeping score. I find keeping score relaxing and looking back through a scorebook can be fun to see what you were doing a few years ago (except for that damn unfinished scorecard from 2015 where A-Rod hit the most predictable home run in Twins-Yankees history and I sent my scorecard flying to the other side of the room). As NPR once put it, keeping score is a knowledge making activity, and if you have the time and patience for it it is a great way to learn the game. There are a couple different guides to keeping score, and most scorebooks/cards will have a brief example of how to do so. If you have any questions, the Around the Horn thread is a great place to ask!
Gamethreads are another way to get together with other baseball fans and pass the time between pitches, especially in team subs you get to know the regulars and conversations start to wonder away from baseball at times throughout the game, and that's fine. Baseball is an excuse to enjoy a summer day.
For those that want to actually understand what is going on during that time, though, there are some options. Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample (who despite his reputation on this subreddit knows some stuff and actually pops in from time to time to comment on different things) is a good starting place for new fans. Baseball for Dummies and The Complete Idiots Guide to Baseball are also good starting points for those willing to sit and read for a little bit.
For those who don't want to read a book, I guess I can touch on what I'm looking for between pitches. A big part of baseball is pitch selection, so scouting out a pitchers repertoire of pitches is a good starting point, BrooksBaseball.net has great cheat sheets on every pitcher in the game, and PitcherList.com has a visual example of each pitcher's pitches so you can see what you can be looking for. Anyways, I mention that because the whole reason the catcher is twiddling his fingers behind the plate is to go over with the pitcher what pitch is going to be thrown. What I'm watching for between pitches is where the catcher is setting up behind the plate and guessing which pitch is going to be thrown. A 2-0 and 3-1 count are known as hitters counts because the pitcher needs to throw a strike or risk walking the batter, when the count reaches either of those pay attention, because the hitters going to be looking for his perfect pitch and there's probably going to be some action on the field. 0-1, 0-2, and 1-2 are pitcher's counts, look for curveball, slider or other somewhat nasty pitch to be thrown to get the batter to swing at a bad pitch, or a fastball inside to catch them off guard. If you have any questions about this, go ahead and ask in an around the horn thread.

Where to watch highlights and game recaps.

There are many many places to see highlights and game recaps, this is not an exhaustive list, but is a good start.
For highlights, bigger highlights will often be posed here on baseball a few minutes after they occur, if you wish to post them please familiarize yourself with the subreddit rules. They also appear relatively quickly on MLB.com in each games Gameday area. For a pretty slick collection of highlights from across MLB, https://baseball.theate is a great place to exclusively watch highlights.
There are a few ways to get great game recaps. If you have MLB Network, every day Quick Pitch is an hour-long show that recaps every game from the previous day. It usually starts after MLB Tonight (about 10pm EDT) or whatever game MLB Network is showing finishes up, and runs until 10am EDT the next day. MLB.com also puts out recaps of every game by the next morning, usually a 2-5 minutes quick rundown of highlights that can be found on the game recap. It also puts out Fastcast videos on youtube and their website every morning which has a brief rundown of all the games from the previous day. Here's an example of a Fastcast from two seasons ago.
If you want one concise place to see most of these, efitz11 was amazing last season and posted video links to every game recap and fastcast in the daily Around the Horn thread. Here's an example. I am unsure if they plan to continue it this year, but it would be surely appreciated!

TL;DR Finding what you enjoy about the game.

When it boils down to it, baseball is about finding entertainment and enjoyment, and don't let anyone try to tell you how to enjoy baseball. If you want nothing to do with statistical analysis and just want to enjoy what's going on on the field, don't let anyone tell you you aren't enough of a fan, and if you want to dissect a player into their strengths and components using statcast and advanced metrics don't let anyone tell you you're reading into the game too much. You can follow one team, and only one team, or you can follow multiple teams, don't let anyone tell you you're not a true fan for wearing another team's gear or enjoying their games. You might enjoy bat flips and flamboyance, or reserved speedy home run trots. You might not even enjoy physically watching a game (especially not if your team isn't playing), but find yourself loving keeping track of your team through the season and tracking your players or maybe just the thrill of the standings race and scoreboard watching or maybe you just love all the numbers that get thrown around and arguing about their relevancy. That's okay, eventually I believe enjoyment of the game itself will come, but even if it doesn't, the long baseball season is still creating a place of enjoyment for you, and that's what matters. If you have any questions, once again, feel free to ask them in our daily Around the Horn thread, or below in the comments, or if you really want to feel free to PM with questions and I'd be happy to answer.
So watch games this week and join in the discussion here, you'll naturally find yourself gravitating towards certain players or teams and enjoying different aspects of the game. Baseball is a long season, find what you enjoy, stick to it, dwell on it, and enjoy it.
TL;DR for the TL;DR - Baseball is fun
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Top Ten Greatest Male Players in Challenge History - No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello

Honorable Mentions - Abram, Dan S., Jamie, Mike M., Theo V., Turbo, Wes
No. 10 - Alton Williams (Real World: Las Vegas)
No. 9 - Mark Long (Road Rules: USA - The First Adventure)
No. 8 - Darrell Taylor (Road Rules: Campus Crawl)
No. 7 - Derrick Kosinski (Road Rules: X-Treme)
No. 6 - Kenny Santucci (Fresh Meat)
No. 5 - Evan Starkman (Fresh Meat)
No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello (Real World: Paris)
 
C.T. carrying the Johnny Bananas backpack is the greatest highlight ever recorded in Challenge history.
 
Before the backpack moment, we hadn’t seen C.T. in three years. He was rumored to be forever banned after almost killing Adam King on the Duel II. On Cutthroat, when T.J. announced the heavy hitters twist and C.T. came walking out the dark, challenge fans all around the world were not prepared for what they were about to witness. C.T. was finally let out of his cage and Johnny Bananas became absolute prey.
 
If there were ever to be a logo for the Challenge, a visual image of the C.T.-Bananas backpack moment would be it. Picture this: Replace the Jerry West silhouette in the red and blue NBA logo with a white silhouette of C.T. mid power-walk and Bananas in the back of him imitating a backpack. Then, replace “NBA” with “MTV”. Now, you got your MTV Challenge logo. C.T. being at the front and center of a hypothetical challenge sports logo makes perfect sense considering C.T.’s athletic performances changed the landscape of the Challenge from a regular game show to the series becoming known as America’s Fifth Sport.
 
C.T. is the Peyton Manning of the Challenge.
 
Peyton Manning is the greatest regular-season quarterback in the history of the NFL. C.T. is the greatest regular-season competitor in the history of the Challenge.
 
Peyton Manning only has two Superbowls (and won his second one in his final season in the NFL, while being a shell of his former self). C.T. has three championships (and won his final one while being in his worst physical shape ever).
 
Both, Peyton Manning and C.T.’s regular-season career numbers lead you to believe that they should have had twice as much championships than what they currently have. However, their own blunders (C.T.’s boneheaded mistakes and gassing out right before the finish line on the Exes 2 final = Peyton’s choking) throughout their careers hold them back from reaching extreme success in the post-season.
 
To continue this comparison, Johnny Bananas is Tom Brady (6 championships). C.T. is the more natural athlete and talented challenger between him and Bananas, but Bananas has had the better legacy (Peyton’s the more talented QB between him and Brady, but Brady accomplished a greater legacy).
 
C.T. has seven of the greatest regular season competitive performances that didn’t result in championships.
 
The Inferno: In C.T.’s rookie debut, the higher end competition consisted of Abram, Darrell, Mike Mizanin, Shane and Timmy. C.T. won 4 life shields. C.T. led all the males in life shields and actually won more life shields than the higher end competition as one whole collective (Darrell, Mike Mizanin, and Timmy each won one life shield, totaling up to 3). C.T. was the best performer of the season as a rookie. He made the final challenge, but his Real World team lost to Road Rules in a close race.
 
Inferno II: C.T. was the life shield king. He racked up 6 life shields this season in one of the most competitive male casts to ever be assembled in Challenge history. C.T. led the season in life shields again, Landon came in 2nd with four, Mike in 3rd with three, and Derrick came in 4th with two. C.T. made the final, but he and the final remaining Bad Asses got blown out the water in a triathlon.
 
The Duel: C.T. won three missions and landed in the top 2 seven times. In C.T.’s third season, he was the second best competitor behind Evan, who won six missions (but half of them were due to having the superior partner in Jodi in comparison to C.T. having Diem). Despite being a top 2 performer, C.T. got disqualified against Brad in the final male duel and didn’t make it into the post-season.
 
Gauntlet III: C.T. was co-captain of one of the most dominant regular season teams ever, the G3 Veterans. C.T. was either the best or second best athlete on the team (along with Evan, the other team captain). C.T.’s performance in Piñata Pit (which I delve into later) proved what a freak of nature of a competitor C.T. was.
 
Rivals: C.T. managed to win two missions and landed in the top three overall six times with an average partner (Adam). Rivals C.T. was the scariest. The whole season was based around J.E.K. and friends trying to take him out, because he was such a force to be reckoned with. C.T. lost right before the final because of Adam’s performance in the T-Bone elimination.
 
Exes: C.T. and Diem won two out of eight missions, only second to Bananas and Camila’s three. C.T. and Diem made the final, but got second place. C.T. and Diem had the lead the whole final, but C.T. collapsed moments before the finish line.
 
Dirty Thirty: C.T. was competing in his 11th season and still putting up the best scoring numbers in one of the toughest male casts ever assembled. C.T. won 6 missions. That’s the most out of all males on Dirty Thirty (Not a single other player won 5, Hunter won 4, Nelson and Leroy won 3, and the rest have 2 or less). C.T. made the final on D30, but got third place because his gas tank can’t keep up with the other two finalists.
 
C.T.’s ATG Physical Strength, Aggression, and Athleticism is the most lethal combination in Challenge history.
 
If the Challenge were to ever have a Madden-esque video game, C.T.’s player rating regarding his athleticism and strength would look something like: STR: 99. SPE: 99. AGI: 99. A prime C.T. was a cheat code. The Bananas Backpack moment attests to this. Below are some other missions and eliminations where C.T.’s strength and athleticism proved to us he was of a different breed.
 
In Piñata Pit (G3), players from both teams had to jump in a mud pit, retrieve a ball, and return it to the starting line. The mission was played in rounds. Each round, there were fewer balls than there were players. Players were getting eliminated round-by-round. The game of Piñata Pit came down to the two best players on each team, Veteran C.T. and Rookie Derek McCray. You’re probably reading this wondering who Derek McCray is. I don’t blame you. Let me give you some background information on him. The moment Derek M. first stepped into the Challenge, he was immediately viewed as a competition threat, even with no performance log to back for it. Derek M. came into the Gauntlet 3 with instant respect, based off the fact that he had been recruited by more than 200 colleges for his football talent. Considering Piñata Pit contained all the aspects of a game of football: running, tackling, stripping a ball away from an opponent, and taking it to the end zone, the average betting man would’ve bet on Derek to score and win it for the Rookies. Challenge fans, however, knew to bet differently. When the final round went underway, Derek reached the ball first, but C.T. was inches behind Derek as he gained possession of the ball. C.T. then proceeded to slam him to the ground effortlessly and Derek literally yelped as he was getting manhandled. C.T, with what looks like half an effort, popped the ball out of Derek’s arms and took it back to the end zone to win it for the Veterans. In Piñata Pit, C.T. basically took the manhood out of a Division 1 athlete.
 
In the T-Bone elimination (Rivals), C.T.’s “Choo! Choo!” train almost killed Johnny and Tyler. It’s the biggest near death experience in Challenge history. I have a theory: We haven’t seen C.T. in a physical combat elimination ever since for good reason. I’m positive that’s a calculated decision by the Challenge Gods, not one that’s left up to chance.
 
C.T. faced off against Leroy in Wrecking Wall (FA), an elimination where both players had to punch through a 30-foot dry wall to make holes to climb up until they were able to reach the bell at the top. First player to ring the bell won. Leroy is an elimination beast; he’s won 8 career eliminations because of his physical strength and athleticism alone. He was no match for C.T. though. Anyone who watched the Duel 2, knows C.T.’s punching power is nothing to be played with. His punching power knocked out a whole wall on that season.
 
In the Flying Leap mission (Duel), players, one at a time, had to jump back and forth from one end of a platform to another that was suspended from a crane 20 feet above water. Numerous flags were hanging from poles located on both sides of the platform. Players had to grab as many flags as possible within a three-minute time limit; Whoever collected the most flags won. C.T. won Flying Leap with flying colors. He was the only male to not land on his body when jumping or not use any running momentum to assist his jumping sequences. C.T. instead showed us his athletic prowess, by setting his feet, loading his hips, exploding and jumping across, landing on his feet every time. Everyone on the sidelines watched in awe. C.T. made it look like a walk in the park.
 
C.T.’s All-Time Great Intelligence.
 
C.T. is the perfect two-way player. He not only has the brawn, but he has the brain as well. His long history of solving puzzles makes him an ATG intelligent male player. Below are some of C.T.’s greatest moments in which he had to put his brain to work.
 
C.T. eliminated Evan in Ascender (Duel), an elimination game in which players had to climb up a rope, pull a handle at the top of the rope, to release a basket containing puzzle pieces. The players then had to climb back down the rope to assemble a tiling puzzle similar to a tangram. C.T versus Evan was the second last male elimination on the original Duel. Up to that point, Evan was the clear #1 best competitor of the season and C.T. was the second. The two best players were going mano a mano. Evan got raddled under the stage lights (got caught trying to cheat), and the brain of the cold blooded killer, C.T. solved the tangram with ease.
 
In the Rivals 2 final, C.T. completed the puzzle checkpoint in a flash that Johnny/Frank fell behind in. Upon seeing the puzzle, C.T. straightaway figured it out because the puzzle was one that he played when he was hungover at a breakfast country club.
 
In the Final Redemption Challenge on D30, players had to read a code that provided a combination to a lock that contained puzzle pieces. The first two players to retrieve and complete their puzzle would return to the game, while the rest were eliminated. C.T.’s competition in this challenge was Dario, Jordan, Leroy, and Bananas. C.T. was the first male to successfully figure out the code and complete his puzzle, and re-entered the game as a result.
 
C.T. eliminated Darrell in Knot So Fast (Invasion). It was the last champions elimination of the season. The grandest stage of them all was set and the two all-time great champions had to rely on their strategical intelligence to win this one. Darrell put up a good fighting effort in trying to undo C.T.’s knot, but it looked like a physically impossible task. It actually was. According to Darrell on Challenge Mania, C.T.’s knots were so tight that production had to cut them off with machetes after the elimination was over. C.T. broke the Knot So Fast elimination. That’s how intelligent C.T.’s strategy was. The elimination win versus Darrell gave C.T. a spot in the finals, where he faced off against underdogs Cory and Nelson, who were fifteen years younger and in the athletic prime of their lives. In the final challenge, C.T. still managed to acquire his second season win and proved to the rest of the Challenge world that the underdogs were no match for the champion of champions.
 
C.T. has the All-Time Greatest Eating Abilities.
 
Eating is such an important trait to have in the challenge. It’s often identified as the most difficult portion of the final challenge each season. Players hate it. We’ve actually seen players quit in the final before because they couldn’t stomach eating disgusting things. We’ve seen C.T. devour all types of disgusting things without looking fazed in the slightest, that makes you question whether or not he has taste buds.
 
Remember the pickled fish soup in the Rivals 2 final? C.T. drank his like he was chugging a beer, while everyone around him was vomiting all over the place. Wes couldn’t bother to even taste his drink, so C.T. chugged it down for him.
 
In the Exes 2 final, C.T. ate the deer head and sheep blood as if it was everyday dinner. When he finished his plate, C.T. decided to go for seconds and helped Diem finish up her plate as well.
 
C.T.’s eating abilities are inhumane. Not only is C.T. known for downing disgusting foods in final challenges as if it were nothing, but he’s also known for winning regular season competitions where you had to eat a ridiculous amount of food (Toss Your Cookies v. Shane, eating the entire birthday cake on Race to the Altar in Exes).
 
C.T.’s first championship and third championships (Rivals II and WOTWII) were social-political clinics.
 
C.T. played his first eight seasons without winning the big one. It wasn’t until Rivals II, his ninth season, where he finally got his first challenge gold medal. As usual, C.T. crushed it on the field, but off the field, in the Challenge house, he played one of the best political-social games I had ever seen. On Rivals II, the opposite sex had control over the votes on male elimination days. C.T. was wooing all the girls, and they thought they were going to be apart of the next love big story on the Challenge. C.T. was never voted in because at least one player within four of the female teams had a fling with C.T. or were falling heads over heel for him on Rivals 2 (Anastasia, Cooke, Diem, and Nany).
 
On War of the Worlds II, C.T. was a member of the U.K. Team. He was apart of Cara’s Cult/The Royal Family. The physical shape C.T. was in this season was his worst ever, so him not ever being considered for elimination by his own team is mind blogging. C.T.’s social game was on a whole another level this season. My favorite C.T. moment on WOTWII is when he turncoats on Cara’s Cult right before the final and saves Tori from elimination to strengthen U.K.’s team for the final. C.T.’s political-social finesse on WOTWII rightfully earned him his third championship.
 
C.T.’s social-political skill, in general, deserves more recognition. Every time I hear people talk about C.T.’s eliteness, people only bring up the competition juggernaut and not the social-political mightiness he’s established over the course of his sixteen season career.
 
C.T. has only done three less seasons than Johnny Bananas, but he’s been in 11 less eliminations. Other than the first Rivals, I don’t recall there being a time where he wasn’t at the top of social structures. He has a whole catalogue of seasons where he was either pulling strings from the top or aligning with the biggest playmakers that were ones doing the pulling (i.e: Inferno 2 – CT was in a four person alliance with Derrick/Brad/Darrell where there duties were to not nominate each other in the inferno selections; The Duel – CT/Evan/Derrick/Brad each were paired with the best athletic girls and controlled the chain selections; Exes 2 – in an alliance with Mark/Robin, Johnny/Camila, and DunbaPaula that ran the game till the very end).
 
C.T. made history twice on Invasion and War of the Worlds II.
 
C.T. won his second championship 22 seasons after his rookie season. He debuted on the original Inferno, which took place in 2004, and won Invasion of the Champions in 2017. That’s a span of 13 years. C.T.’s Invasion win broke the previous record of the longest span between a rookie debut and championship win, that was held by Johnny Bananas. J.B. won his sixth championship 16 seasons after his rookie season. He debuted on the original Duel, which aired in 2006, and won Rivals 3 in 2016 (a 10 year span).
 
C.T.’s new breaking record was broken again by none other than C.T, just a few seasons later. C.T. won War of the Worlds 2, which took place 27 seasons after the Inferno, and 15 years later.
 
C.T.’s Overall Assessment.
 
If you read up until this point, I’m guessing a lot of you probably refuse to agree with my opinion of C.T. being the fourth greatest male challenger ever. Here’s my argument: C.T. is the greatest Challenge talent ever, but he doesn’t have the greatest legacy. Like mentioned earlier, he’s the Peyton Manning of the Challenge and I don’t consider Peyton Manning the #1 G.O.A.T. of Football (Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, and Tom Brady fit that bill better). In my eyes, Bananas, Jordan, and Landon are those three guys. The combination of their talent, winning percentage, and accomplishments fair just slightly better than C.T’s.
 
C.T. has just three championships in a sixteen season career. The rest of my top three have won just as much in a lot lesser time (Jordan, Landon) or doubled his wins in the same type of lengthy career (Bananas). C.T.’s temper and poor decision making tossed three years of his absolute prime down the drain (Inferno III, Gauntlet III, Duel II) and his inability to perform in the clutch tossed another year (Exes). That’s five seasons where the ultimate competitor, C.T., missed out on championships.
 
On the Inferno III, C.T. is cast on the Bad Asses; He was the best player on the cast, but he gets sent home the first night in South Africa because he punches Davis. C.T. would’ve been a lock for the final this season, he threw another potential championship out the window.
 
In the Gauntlet 3 final challenge, Big Easy cost C.T. and all the other final remaining veterans a championship win. You’re probably confused as to how this is C.T.’s fault, but he actually had a major hand in letting Big Easy ride to the final. If you go back to the first gauntlet deliberation where Johnny got sent in against Evan, Johnny plead to the rest of the Veteran males that Big Easy should have to go in, because he was going to lose them a final. C.T., who was the leader of the team, didn’t buy into Johnny’s plea; He had personal dislike towards Johnny and his reason for not throwing Big Easy in was because he loved partying with him. What’s the logic in that? C.T., the whole season was preaching about “trimming the fat” (getting rid of the girls on their team) and never worrying about Easy once was a horrific example of how to play a winning game. Prime C.T. was always finding a way to be the author of his own demise.
 
On the Duel 2, C.T. went into cannibalism mode. C.T. would’ve legitimately smashed Adam’s head and ate Adam’s head if it wasn’t for like thirty cast and production crew members successfully capturing him (and then tranquilizing him and putting him in his cage). There’s no guaranteeing C.T. would’ve won the D2, since the top crop of males this season was stacked. But this is an absolute peak C.T. we’re talking about, who’s in contention for the best men’s competitor all-time, so a championship victory is never out of the question.
 
In the Exes final, C.T./Diem lead the whole way until the final run up the mountain. Right before the finish line, C.T.’s tank ran out of gas (mirroring Peyton’s ability to choke in the playoffs) and he delayed winning his first championship for even longer.
 
C.T.’s competitive abilities (ATG physical strength, aggression, athleticism, intelligence, and eating) and his championship success in his career’s second half are sufficient enough to get him into the Challenge Mount Rushmore, but the four seasons he tossed down the drain in the first half of his career are a little too detrimental to have him in the top trinity. I think about it like this: Would I consider drafting Prime C.T. (Inferno - Free Agents) as my first pick when constructing a team in an-all time draft? Nope. He, was easily #1 in terms of competitive talent, but he was a complete hothead with bad decision making and only won one championship in ten seasons. Would I consider drafting Dadbod C.T. (Invasion - Total Madness) number one? Not at all. He’s won two championships in six seasons, with a phenomenal social-political game, but his competitive abilities are half of what they were before. Every version of C.T. comes with a small albatross that keeps him from having top three legacy.
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My personal system for easily creating fun, original essay topics. Introducing: "Half-Ideas"

In my experience, the majority of problems students run into with their application essays are based upon picking a bad topic. By "bad" I generally mean the topic falls into two categories:
1) Done to death
2) Too weird for its own good
The first one I can easily provide samples for: probably my most common one is running track. A lot of students run track and want to write about their experiences. That's great except that a lot of other students also run track and have similar things to say. There are only so many ways to write about track - see if you recognize any of these classics:
- I joined track and was bad at it, but then I tried harder and now I'm good
- I'm really good at track and here is a list of my accomplishments you already saw on my EC that prove how good I am
- I'm just ok at track, but through the team, I have gained other skills like leadership that are important to me
- I loved running track until something made it so I couldn’t anymore. But then I got better and now I can again
- I loved running track until something made it so I couldn’t anymore. And I still can’t. But it’s ok I figured it out
- I don't actually like track, but in being forced to do it, I learned some valuable lessons
- Here is a live recap of me running the anchor on the 400 relay, with every student I pass symbolizing an obstacle I have conquered in life to get where I am
That last one is a bit of a joke. But it's indicative of the problem that I think drives elite students to get so...creative in the framing devices on their essays. You students know track isn't that special, but it is something important to you, and you want to talk about it. The end result is...well…
https://www.reddit.com/ApplyingToCollege/comments/fy37s9/i_think_modern_elite_essays_are_terrible_and/
And then the other problem is with "le quirky teen" essays. These never seem to work out as well as anyone wants. That penguin collection may be as important to you as you write about, but without anything more substantial to link those interests to, the essay falls apart.
So, what do we do about all this? How do we manage to write about what matters to us, but in a way that's still fun and original?
The answer is half-ideas.
"I like track because it taught me responsibility" is a half idea. So is "I have trouble sleeping when I'm nervous. So is "I collect stuffed penguins." So is "I like making people laugh and try to lighten the mood when things are hard." A half idea is anything about you or your world that you think colleges should know about. What makes half-ideas different from normal ideas is that we want to come up with these ideas with the full intention of combing those ideas together to create an original topic.
Some people stumble upon combining half ideas by accident. I did! I wrote an essay ten years ago that perfectly encapsulated how easy and powerful combing two ideas can be. My two half ideas for the topic were:
  1. I have ADHD
  2. I like to run
Either of these topics could be converted into a competent, if unexciting, essay on their own. I guarantee AOs will read hundreds of similar essays this year. But luck would have it, I combined those two half ideas into a full idea that worked a lot better. All I had to do was look at those two topics and try to find a connection between them. I've found that the best connections will pop out to you. Mine did:
How running helps me deal with my ADHD by giving me a way to quiet my mind and think clearly
The hardest part of my ADHD is getting my brain to stop moving so fast. As quickly as I start to think about something important, that thought gets batted away by garbage. I like running because I find when I get tired enough, my brain will quiet down, and I can think about things that are important or bothering me. I get most of my best thinking done six miles into a run. That's my essay.
I guarantee there aren't many students writing that essay. By combing two ideas into a single one, I make the topic much more personal and unique. I also build myself a natural narrative structure by both presenting a challenge and a way I conquer that challenge. "How X helps me with Y" is a great way to frame an essay Cool, right!
So let's get practical. The first step is to build as many half-ideas as possible. Just start posting as many ideas as you can. Don't worry about how you'll match them or if they're even worth matching. You've likely heard similar "just write; it doesn't matter what!" advice before, but I think that advice kind of sucks because it DOES matter what you write. With half-ideas, you should feel more comfortable posting weird factoids about yourself because you'll no longer have to worry about turning those ideas in a full essay. Just write them. Here are some sample list groups you can start with, along with as many personal half ideas I can think of for each.
Cool stuff you've done that would make a traditional essay
4 years Cross Country
3 Years Track
2 Years School Newspaper
4 years Parli Debate
Hosted a school zombie tag game
Active non-fiction writer
Started my own College Consulting business and made a sweet website, nbd (CollegeWithMattie.com)
Obstacles you've overcome
ADHD
I suffered through chronic illness in my 20s
Colorblind
Weird "quirky" facts about you
I love cats and have one named Penny
I love football and refuse to work on Sunday
I taught myself piano using a video game
Positive Personality Traits
My mom says I'm funny
I'm easy to talk to and once won a bet by speaking about my cat and college admissions for 3 hours straight
I think differently and often come up with solutions for problems no one else has (like this one!)
I see patterns well and am always looking for a more efficient way to do things
Goals/Passions/Proof of those passions
Want to be a private college admissions consultant
Finishing UC Berkeley certification on topic
Worked past three years as a counselor with company
10 years of writing experience
​
That's just a short selection. Locate any "idea suggestion" posts and you will find more topics to think about.
Now that I have my list, it's time for me to look for connections between the two. Often the best value for this method comes when one of the half ideas is from the "challenges/hardships" section. This is especially true for URM or any other student with a background hook. You want to present that background but do it in a way that's more tasteful than "I grew up X, and here's why it was hard." Combine that half idea with another interest of yours, so the topic becomes "How Y helped me overcome my Childhood as X". Yay half ideas!
When looking at my list, two ideas that come to mind are my history of illness + that I taught myself piano. I decided to teach myself piano two years ago as a way of signifying that my life was going to be different now that I was better. It turned out that way, and now I celebrate my piano playing as a symbol of the fact that life doesn't take things from me anymore; I gain from it.
Pretty good topic, ya? Seeing these topics all out in front of me made it easy to compare them to one another and see what kind of connections I could identify.
Here are some bonus tips as you develop your half-idea stable:
Your ideas don't have to share 50/50 content.
Sometimes one topic is just more interesting than the other. Don't be afraid for a single idea to encompass 80%+ of an essay, with another idea coming in as support. Maybe you write about charity work and realize that every time you read to a kid in the hospital you leave him with one of your stuffed penguins. That's exactly why you want to introduce those penguins earlier so you can add it to your experience.
You can even have third ideas. Whatever
Going back to my illness/piano essay, I'd probably also want to add my wish to be a counselor in near the end. Just as I gained piano in my life, I also want to obtain success in counseling. Seeeee? It's so fun and eaaaaaasy!
Focus on the interaction between the ideas as much as or more than the ideas themselves
Somewhere out there is another essay involving both a love of swimming and a keen interest in robotics. Simply having two half-ideas existing in an essay is not necessarily going to make it work. Instead, I find it’s the way those ideas intertwine -the connection itself- that is most interesting. I think it’s because that connection entirely relies on you and how you view the world. That’s where the magic happens.
Keep every half-idea about you
This goes into advice for another blog post, but keep the focus of your essays on you. Your friends, family, famous people, politicians, and everyone else can cameo in your story, but the vast majority of content needs to be about you. The easiest way to ensure this is to keep all half-ideas that way from the start.
You can think of half-ideas retroactively
Write something and just feel like it's missing something? Think hard about other aspects of your life that may fit into the essay you've already written. Maybe you wrote about a big camping trip. You can bring up the fact that you're always the one who tries to keep the group calm, so when things were rough, you took it upon yourself to provide moral support. The goal is writing an essay that showcases what happens when different aspects of your life come together.
Try to form your full topics in the form of a narrative
Utilizing "how" is a great way to do this. How my love for paper airplanes made me a better engineer. How my daily NYT crossword puzzle influences my taste in authors. Get both topics in there and try to present one as having a causal effect on the other.
Don't go insane
You may have a topic or two that are awesome and don't need tinking with. Don't! This may be advice for essays 2-27 you'll be writing. Keep the list of half-ideas handy and constantly be adding to it. You never know when you'll be inspired by it.
-
Hot damn you kids like this one.
I’ve heard a lot of people mention this piece is how you found me. If that’s you right now, hi! My name’s Mattie. I run a private college consulting service in the Bay Area. Thanks to posts like these, I’ve been able to transfer into offering my services to students around the globe via Zoom.
If you’re interested, check out my website at CollegeWithMattie.com. All my other blog posts are on there (they’re also all here if you just check my profile). Also on the site is a list of services I offer to students looking for 1-on-1 help applying to schools. It’s a good time.
Real life Redditors have already messaged me, set up consultations, and are now signed on with me to work this summer and fall. I’d love to work with you, too.
submitted by CollegeWithMattie to ApplyingToCollege [link] [comments]

Betting on NFL Futures (and More) Today

Have you been looking for a way to bet on the NFL right this moment? Do you want to bet on sports but know there might not be any big time professional sports for some time? Here at BetNow, we’ve got you covered. When you’ve got a feeling, when you think you know what’s going to happen, we want to back that up. That’s why we make it possible for you to get to betting on NFL futures as well as those of college football right this minute (in addition to other options).
Visit: https://www.betnow.eu/blog/betting-on-nfl-futures-and-more-today/
submitted by BetNowSocial to u/BetNowSocial [link] [comments]

MLB Betting Online will be Back on the Third Week of July 2020

MLB season sets in motion while the NHL, NFL, college basketball and football take a pause. In the world of sports betting, baseball can produce quite a bulk of betting activities, especially during winter months. Major League Baseball betting sites can make this possible as they offer gambling odds for futures bets on spring training, free agency and World Series. MLB betting online will be back on the third week of July 2020 with BetNow to cover the scheduled events.

Visit: https://www.betnow.eu/blog/mlb-betting-online-will-be-back-on-the-third-week-of-july-2020/
submitted by BetNowSocial to u/BetNowSocial [link] [comments]

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Big Bo-obs Old Po-rn
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submitted by 25Julslow to u/25Julslow [link] [comments]

This is a long story, but has ANYBODY ever heard of “The Reject’s Room”?

I must have written, deleted, and rewritten this a dozen times. I am trying to be pragmatic here but can’t seem to describe this fatal situation within the laws of practicality. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, and somehow I feel responsible for this anomaly of a scenario that I physically had no part in. I would never think that a harmless gag could take such a dark and twisted turn. Yet, here I am. Struggling to make sense of this tragedy on a word document at three in the morning. Five milligrams of Ambien can only do so much for a teenaged insomniac. So, I guess I’ll start from the beginning.
I live in a really small town in the middle of bumblefuck nowhere. Like this place is so unheard of I doubt you could even find it on a map (which, again—is a big part of what baffles me about this whole situation.) You would think that everybody who lives here is on the same playing field, but unfortunately my high school follows your standard American caste system just like any other high school.
You have your popular kids (mostly jocks, cheerleaders, rich kids), “the regulars'' or just kids who fall flat in the middle of everything and then you have your rejects (nerds, band geeks, theater kids, punks, addicts or mentally disturbed students who are totally disconnected from reality.)
And then there’s me. That tall, random, white dude who sticks out like a sore thumb but keeps everything under wraps. From the outside you might think that I blend in with the top tier but you would soon realize why I am far removed from that crowd. Like I said, I keep to myself and my studies. It is more than fair to label me as a “loner.” But the main difference between me and the other rejects is that I have never really been fucked with. I think that my size intimidates people. So I can’t say that I have ever been physically bullied or attacked in any way. Though, I am definitely not afraid to defend myself.
It’s quite obvious that people talk their shit. I’ve heard my name sprinkled into conversations here and there. Usually dumb shit about me being so quiet, me conspiring the next school shooting, me secretly running some type of drug ring, me being dirty for growing my hair down to my shoulders. Believe it or not, some of the stuff is quite vulgar—locker room talk between some of the girls in my grade. One time I left class to use the restroom and these two kickliners were in the hallway chatting it up about my privates right in front of me.
The blonde one said verbatim, “I literally want Russ Reid to fuck me. I bet his dick is huge.” I gave her a glance and she exchanged a promiscuous stare. These types of conversations go on right in front of me as if I’m totally invisible. You would think that I’d be flattered by that type of banter but frankly, I find it strange. On the other hand, I never really cared about most of the talk and the rumors. Mainly because none of these people have had a single face to face conversation with me. I guess what bothers me most is being treated like a ghost.
Day in and day out everybody seems to have so much to say about somebody that they barely care to notice or approach. They would rather create these wild fantasies about me in their head and then convince themselves that they’re true. Strange, huh?
Now I lied...I mentioned earlier how I’m pretty much friendless and whatnot. But there is ​one person. New girl that moved down here a few weeks ago but the top tiers already stabbed their hooks into her. I mean, I can’t say that I blame them. She’s definitely easy on the eyes, strawberry blonde, petite...your typical girl next door. Let’s call her, Emma. On Day one she sat next to me in Physics. I’m still not sure what motivated her to do that but she did. My Physics teacher introduced her as “Ms. Emma Leif from Beverly Hills, California. A cheerleader and art enthusiast.”
In the midst of her introduction I was chafed by the bawdy whispers of our esteemed quarterback sitting behind me. He was conspiring with his buddies about how he would have his way with her. Despicable. I turned to the empty seat beside me only to discover that it was suddenly occupied moments later.
It was her. She tilted her head towards me and offered up a warm smile. “Hi, I’m Emma.” she cooed. “Russ.” I greeted back.
She was so sweet and delicate, completely harmless and benign by nature. The beginning of the end. To this day, I really wish that Emma decided to take the empty seat besides Mr. Quarterback. Being finessed by a high school football player into sucking his dick and inevitably getting ghosted was a luxury compared to this sort of demise.
In the last few weeks you could say that Emma and I became close friends. We would partner together for labs, pass notes, crack jokes here and there. On her bad days she would vent to me in class about the struggles of being a rookie cheerleader. I was new once too and I guess that’s where Emma found her comfort in me. To this day I’m glad that she could trust in me and rely on me as a comic relief...at least for a little while. Before I knew it, feelings got involved on my end and I could slowly feel myself getting attached. At first I wasn’t aware of it.
But Emma leaving class to use the restroom turned into me glancing at the lockscreen of her phone to see if there were any other guys talking to her. Our walks from class to her cheerleading practice turned into me pretending to hit the gym just to catch a glimpse of her undressing in the women’s locker room. Her svelte shape and large breasts ignited a fire within me and I felt myself getting a hard on every time I watched her from our athletic quarters. There came a point where I watched her undress so often that I familiarized myself with her collection of bras and panties. I wanted her all to myself but didn’t know how.
One day she asked me for a ride home after school and after I dropped her off I circled around the block a few times to find a private place to survey her through her bedroom window. She cried a lot after school and got wound up in countless arguments with her mother. She loved to read and watch reruns of Seinfield. By that point, I recognized my behavior for what it was—sick and inappropriate.
This was more than just an innocent crush, it was a total invasion of somebody else’s privacy. But I was inexperienced and didn’t know how to approach women outside of a class project. After a while I actually convinced myself that maybe she felt the same way about me too. I mean, how could she not?
We got along so well in class, she was always talking to me and laughing with me. She just ​had ​to like me back. As I stated before, I had no experience with girls up until now. Sure, there were some in my school who wanted to fuck me but nobody who was really interested in. So I did what any guy would do...you meet a girl, you like her, you ask her out. So I did. I tried to lay it on thick that day. I bought a sunflower from the farmer’s market because I knew those were her favorite and I decided to approach her first thing in the morning. Normally she was alone this early in the morning. She would spend a few minutes collecting her things for her first period which was AP Spanish. However, on this particular day there were two other girls chatting it up with her.
I can never remember faces or names at this school unless they’re of importance to me. I hesitated and thought that maybe I was better off doing this sort of thing in private. On the other hand, she might have found it even ​more​ special if I ​did​ ask her out in front of all of her friends. As if I ​wanted t​ hem all to know that I wasn’t afraid to ask her out in front of them and didn’t need their approval.
Slowly, I approached her locker; Despite the burning gaze of everyone else around me. I was now towering over Emma with this wilting sunflower between my fingers. I felt like a total freak. As I shook profusely, beads of sweat spawned across my forehead and my heart beat doubled. “H-hey Em.” I stuttered. As she turned to face me, her smile faded into a look of pity. I already knew what was coming and she did too. But I had come this far and wasn’t ready to give up just yet.
“S-so I’m not sure what your plans are Friday night but I was wondering if you wanted to grab some dinner and catch a movie after?” She hesitated and furrowed her eyebrows as her friends chuckled softly behind her. I must have blindsided her pretty bad because she looked like a deer caught in headlights right about now. “I-I’m sorry Russ, but no.” she replied, flatly. Those soft chuckles transpired into hearty cackles.
I didn’t know where to go from here. I was suddenly seized by an overwhelming feeling of dread. It came so close to a physical sensation that I clutched onto my chest for a moment—as if a bullet had passed through my heart. Rejection and embarrassment are a toxic combination. All I remember was her saying “no” and a surround sound of laughter as I walked away.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. Luckily I didn’t have physics and could avoid the mortification of seeing her face. I do remember driving home, going to my room, obliterating my wall with my fist, then laying in bed for a few minutes. Once I realized the damage I had done, I quickly masked the gaping hole beside my window with an old Rolling Stone’s poster. A grounding by my parents would be the cherry on top of a horrible day and I couldn’t let that happen.
The rage came and went the rest of the night. I neglected my homework, my dinner, my family, and my evening workout. I was too hurt and angry to muster up the energy to engage in a single healthy coping mechanism. To this day, I am still baffled by Emma Leif. I was led on for weeks, used as a high school diary for her own benefit. I think that any normal person in this situation would say “Fuck it.”—”Fuck her. Fuck her friends. There are plenty of other fish in the sea who would be ​honored​ to go out on a date with me. I hope that Mr. Quarterback ​does f​ inesse her into sucking his dick and then pays her no attention until he’s horny again.” But in my mind, she deserved a different kind of karma. Something that was less in the hands of the universe and more under my own control—Revenge.
Around midnight I opened up my laptop. I spent the next hour surfing various keywords “Revenge on a girl.” “How to get revenge on a girl who rejected you?” “How to get back at a bitch?” I must’ve been on the twelfth page of a google keyword search when I clicked onto this unheard of blog. The blog was filled with endless posts created by anonymous individuals. In a nutshell, the page detailed personal sob stories of men and women who were turned down in some way or another. Some of them were long term friends.
Others, complete strangers. Honestly, most of these posts seemed pretty bizarre and pathetic (not to say that what I did was any more acceptable.) This one 50-year old man proposed to a Dunkin’ Donuts employee that he stalked for over a year and then got turned down, she was 19. A college student confessed her love to an English professor, got rejected, then served time in jail for it. Apparently she was arrested for sneaking into the back seat of his car late at night completely nude and putting a switchblade to his throat.
It was just a great big online sob fest full of nut jobs if you ask me. I continued to scroll and scroll through these outlandish stories for sheer entertainment until I stumbled upon one comment at the bottom of the page. Unlike the rest of these long winded posts it was a short blurb with a hyperlink to a different website. The comment read, “I got hurt once too. Until I got revenge in the Reject’s Room.”
Perplexed, I clicked on the link. Suddenly, I was hit with about seven pop ups that I was entering a site that was “not secure” or “unprotected by firewall.” Which somehow instigated this curiosity. I had put my computer through so many illegal torrent downloads in the past that giving it a virus was the least of my worries. This was a site that I had never heard of before so I assumed that it must’ve been discrete and lowkey if it was so difficult to reach.
As I waited for the page to load I conducted another google search in a separate tab, in hopes of finding any reviews, experiences, or basic descriptions of the website. Nothing. I was pretty confused and slightly disappointed to find no documents related to my search. Finally, when I clicked out of the tab, the “Reject’s Room” home page had finally loaded. It was pitch black aside from a bright red “Reject’s Room” opening title that appeared on my screen moments later.
It quickly faded away and was replaced with a question in the same font. “What are you here for today?” There were two options below.
Revenge? OR Karma?
Without putting too much thought into it I clicked onto the “Revenge” option.
I was then presented with a separate question and a series of options to choose from. Who?
Friend?...Enemy?...Parent? ...Sibling?...CoworkeBoss?...LoveEx? ...Teacher? ...Other?
Without haste, I hit the “lover” option. Once again, the screen went black for a minute as the page refreshed.
Choose your revenge
Disaster Date ...Elephant in the room ...Apples and Cream ...Tethered Icebox ...Hopscotch.
As I hovered over each option, there seemed to be no description or clue as to what each of them meant. I thought for a minute and chose what seemed to be the most logical option and clicked, “Disaster Date.”
I was then presented with some boxes to fill in.
Full first and last name of revengee:
Home Address of revengee:
Phone number of revengee:
Date and time of disaster date:
Price: 0.00$ (First revenge free discount.) YOU SAVED: 375.50$
SUBMIT
Despite all of the weird posts that I read through on that blog, there was a part of me that could relate to each one of those OP’s. Hours after Emma had turned me down in front of all of those people, I was still burning with so much rage inside that at the time, revenge appeared to be the only thing that could rectify the situation.
I know now that I was being completely irrational, cruel, and putting an innocent person in danger by disclosing her personal information on a site that according to Google, was completely unheard of.
To this day, I cannot fathom how I did what I did in a state of complete sobriety. However, it was because this site was unheard of that I immediately assumed it was bullshit and would do nothing with the information that I gave to it. I mean, what site gives you a 100% off sale for something that’ is apparently worth $375? Jokingly, I filled in each box with Emma’s information and set it for tomorrow’s date at 6:30 pm (assuming that was a typical time that guys take girls out on dates.) I then hit “submit.”
The words “Submission received.” appeared on the screen followed by a closing message, “Revenge is sweet, isn’t it?” written in bold red font before fading to black.
I scoffed and traveled my mouse to the red “x” button to exit and go to bed. Somewhat expectedly, my browser froze and I received one of those alerts that the page wasn’t responding and to restart my computer. Yet, somehow my laptop suddenly shut down by itself despite having what I ​thought w​ as a full battery.
It took a few minutes to power back on but by then it was nearly two in the morning and I had to be up at seven for school. I then went to bed, quickly forgetting about the site and writing it off as bullshit. I was now even more concerned with finding actual constructive ways to overcome this deep feeling of rejection.
My locker was conveniently located several feet away from Emma’s. I was hoping deep down inside that she would try to approach me that morning and either apologize or talk about what had happened the day before. But instead, she seemed preoccupied with her friends about something else.
Curious, I casually pretended to fill up my water bottle at the fountain closest to her in an attempt to eavesdrop.
“So, you coming to the kick back party tonight?” asked one of her red headed cheerleader friends.
“I actually have other plans tonight.” Emma replied while rounding up her English books for second period.
The brunette friend furrowed her eyebrows in disappointment.
“​Other​ ​plans?​ But there’s a party tonight!” she snapped.
“I know, I’m sorry. This came up pretty last minute but it’s kinda important to me.” Emma professed.
“But let’s do something together next weekend!”
She did that stupid thing with her hair today that cheerleaders like to do...You know, that hairstyle where they fry their ponytails with a curling iron and a ton of hairspray.
“C’mon! We’ll pick you up a little later. It’s supposed to be ​wild​!”
Emma chuckled, “Alright alright, you guys can pick me up ​after.​ What time is the party anyway?”
The two cheerleaders exchanged looks.
“Probably ten or eleven?” the redhead offered.
Emma shrugged. “Guess I’m in!”
“OOO what are you gonna wear?!” asked the brunette.
“I still have no idea! Maybe a cute skirt? The weather’s getting a bit nicer.”
The three headed to their second period class together with no mention of me. I received no confrontation by Emma. Nothing...which could be seen as a good thing. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel gutted when Emma abandoned me for the empty seat beside “Mr. Quarterback.” (for obvious reasons.)
Despite the pain, I really forced myself not to take the rejection so personally. I fought and I fought with those negative feelings and as the day went on I can honestly admit to feeling better. By the time evening rolled around, Emma was barely in my thoughts and I just decided to spend my Friday night the best way I knew how, ordering in and watching movies.
I decided to binge watch a few volumes of Kill Bill that night which has always been my favorite. But because I had gone to bed so late the night before, I fell asleep pretty early into the first volume. I remember this because about an hour or two later I was woken up by a phone call from an unknown number.
The movie had finished a while ago and that “Are you still there?” notification from Netflix was perched oh so annoyingly across my laptop screen.
Sleepily I picked up, “Hello?”
It was an automated message by one of those flat robotic voices. Reminded me of Siri.
“Revenge complete....Goodbye.”
I was half asleep and completely delirious when I picked up the phone. At that moment, I could barely make out what was said to me over the phone.
So naturally, I went right back to sleep. The next morning I felt well rested enough to go out for a jog. When I returned home my parents were eerily glued to the television set with their mouths gaped open. In a sweaty frenzy, I yanked my headphones down to listen to the report. But my heart sank pretty quickly when I caught sight of the headline. “Body found in search of missing high school student.”
“In the tragic end of a search for a missing high school student, last seen on Friday, March 27th, police believe that they have discovered the body of Emma Leif, fifty miles from her home, early this Sunday morning.” reported the news anchor. To the left of her a picture of Emma smiling against a sunny backdrop appeared on the screen. I felt sick.
“Emma Leif, a high school senior and newly elected captain of her cheerleading team was last seen leaving her home Friday night, never to return. After an extensive search party, her remains were found severed in garbage bags at the bottom of Lake Ellwood, fifty miles from her home. As of now, police have found no leads or suspects connected to the crime. One officer deemed it quote, ‘An unfathomable mystery’. Here’s Bill Evans with the latest.”
Without even realizing it, I had zoned out. I think that my parents were asking me if I knew her and whether or not I was going to school on Monday. But their voices were too muffled for me to make out anything that they were saying. Frantically, I jogged to my bedroom. Beads of sweat formed across my forehead as my heart thumped out of my chest. I rushed to my laptop to quickly open up a Google search.
“Reject’s Room” I typed then pounded the “enter.” key
But, of course. Google had no answers for me. Time for plan B. I clicked onto my search history and aggressively scrolled through Thursday’s date. Luckily, I located the link but was instantly presented with an ErrorDocument 404. “Page not found. It appears that the page does not exist.”
My stomach began to churn and I scrambled to my bathroom to vomit. I took a deep breath while hugging the toilet and relaxed for a second. There was no way that I could think clearly in the midst of a panic attack. I then backtracked and searched for the hyperlink attached to the original comment from that rejection blog.
I scrolled and scrolled for about ten minutes, whizzing through all of those borderline criminal posts only to find nothing. The comment had completely disappeared. I even tried to track down the number I received that ominous phone call from, Friday night. But the only thing my call history could offer me was an “unknown number”. I paced around my room for a bit to brainstorm ways of finding that website again. Defeated, I fell against my bed and stared at the ceiling for hours until it got dark.
I didn’t get up to move, pee, or eat. At some point, I started to assume that maybe I made up the whole website. That it was just another one of my delusions, like when I convinced myself that Emma had feelings for me.
I cried a few times and fell asleep around 8:00 from the mental exhaustion of today. I woke up about four hours later and now here I am, typing out what appears to be the confession of my own crime. I am absolutely dumbfounded, confused, and in need of answers. I have contemplated going to the police, despite there being absolutely no proof of this site having ever existed.
They would throw me in a fucking mental hospital and probably accuse me of the murder even though I took no physical part in the act. So I am now turning to the internet for answers. Has ​anybody ​heard of the Reject’s Room? If so, please contact me. For those who haven’t, DO NOT LOOK FOR IT. I regret ​ever ​taking my chances and would do anything to save another person from putting themselves or someone else in serious danger.
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College Football Bowls Week 1 Best Bets College Football Week 14 Best Bets  2nd Part (Saturday's Games) Family Guy Peter Griffin bets on College Football Moving into College // VLOG Popular Texas A&M University & College football videos ...

College football is the second most popular sport to bet on in the United States, behind only the NFL. And with a steady stream of states legalizing sports betting in the US, the 2019 college football season could bring with it a historic amount of college football betting at online sports betting sites. Read More College Football Pac-12 to Start Season Late. Pac-12 finalizing football schedule with mid-September start and three potential dates for championship game (Mercury News) Get all of the latest College Football blogs, videos and podcasts. Live Event The Dozen: Trivia presented by Trends by The Hustle - Brandon Walker, PFT vs. Rico, Eddie & Clem Watch Now Blogs London About Blog Punter2Pro specialises in offering intelligent analyses, expert opinions and resources aimed at helping bettors to make smarter, more informed sports bets. This section contains Football posts from the Punter2Pro Professional Sports Betting Blog. Read this section to learn how to analyse football using statistics - rather than as an irrational, biased fan. How college football teams are prepping for the start of practice. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the "enhanced summer access period," is starting for college football.

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College Football Bowls Week 1 Best Bets

🏈 College Football "Every Game On The Board" (Week 13 Picks and Predictions for Games #165- #187) - Duration: 27:31. WagerTalk TV: Sports Picks and Betting Tips 4,718 views 27:31 VegasInsider.com Expert Kevin Gamble offers up his Best Bets for the College Football weekend. His unique handicapping approach focuses on parlays and live betting. This week's games includes 10 ... Family Guy - Peter Glitches Cleveland With Corner 3's in Basketball Video Game S14E19 3 - Duration: 1:26. Yoni Engel 2,979,078 views VegasInsider.com Expert Kevin Gamble provides his Best Bets for the six midweek games in Week 13 of the College Football season. His unique handicapping approach focuses on parlays and live betting. VegasInsider.com Expert Kevin Gamble provides his best bets for the College Football Bowl games on Wednesday, 1 January. His unique approach focuses on parlays and live betting.