Friday, December 20, 2013

5 Tools to Maximize Your Productivity

Two non-sports related articles in one day?! Who are we kidding... if the blazers, dodgers, or oregon ducks arent playing... Is the world ACTUALLY turning? Here at the Dodger blog we are always trying to get better in the off season. So lets be savvy and productive while we wait for another day of meaningful sports...

Frank Addante, CEO of Rubicon Project, came up with this list of his favorite productivity tools.

1.  SaneBox: Smart Email Filtering Tool

SaneBox uses advanced algorithms to organize your email into low and high priority buckets. It works with any email client, email service or device. I was slightly hesitant about handing over control of my inbox, but I honestly don’t know how I ever lived without it.  SaneBox has saved me hours of time and works amazingly well.
Check your @SaneLater folder (low priority email) twice a day and mail from senders you don’t want to hear from again to @SaneBlackHole.
http://www.sanebox.com


2.  Evernote (Organizes your notes):

Evernote stores your notes in the cloud and makes them accessible from any computer or device.
Tips:  Evernote is for business and personal use. I use it to take all of my meeting notes and jot down general personal items.  I also use Evernote to scan/fax important documents that I need to keep on hand. Evernote is also helpful for keeping track of project notes and critical documents such as driver’s license, passport, insurance documents, etc.

3. Consolidate your social networks: HootSuite

This website allows you to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, and others all from one place.

Tips: I tend to have pockets of time when I can read and post on social media. Try HootSuite's new "auto schedule" feature, so you can spread out your posts and don't flood your networks with many in a row.


4. Store your documents in the cloud: Google Drive

While many people talk about Dropbox and Box, we are extremely bullish on Google Drive. You can securely file away your digital documents in the cloud, so you can find and work on them from any computer or mobile device later. Plus, it seamlessly integrates with Google Apps.

Tips: We create a specific Google Drive folder for every client with the same sub-folders every time. This serves as our document and project management tool, plus Google Drive allows us to share specific files or documents with specific people.


5.  Assemble your travel plans: TripIt

TripIt files all your itineraries in one place. You can even have it automatically send your itineraries to your significant other, kids, or always-worried mom. The Pro version alerts you of flight delays and gate changes.

Tips: Download the mobile app and put it on your home screen. Create a contact for plans@tripit.com and forward all itineraries to that contact.


Read more on Inc.com

What are your favorite productivity tools? Do you have specific tools for web and mobile?

SaneBox | Email Reinvented

This has NOTHING to do with baseball, but it could quickly become Americas next pastime...

I’ve been using email for most of my life. As I've evolved from a kid needing email strictly for filling out promotional forms, shipping info, or social networking login credentials, to a busy young professional who does most of his communication via email, email has evolved as well. It has improved in 3 key ways during that time:

mobile access
threading/conversations
search

But it’s still a mess, probably more so today than ever before (especially for those like me who have run their email address through the meat grinder of the internet). An average person spends about 28% of their time processing email, and virtually everyone continues to fight with their inbox every day. Just look at the number of folks trying to achieve inbox zero.

A little while ago a close friend of mine, who's pretty much always turning me on to the next cool thing in tech, told me about a product that would save me from email. And after trying it, I've been saved. Hallelujah.

The product is called SaneBox. You know how they say 'coolest thing since sliced bread'? This is the coolest thing since EMAIL started.

SaneBox does a number of things. It looks at your relationship with your emails and decides what’s important to you based on your past behavior. It then moves your unimportant emails out of your Inbox into a separate folder, and summarizes them in a digest. It’s smart, it evolves and it’s done automatically.
SaneBox does other stuff too (lets you unsubscribe with 1 click, snooze non-urgent emails until later, etc) but those are the killer features for me. Best of all, everything works anywhere you check your email (on any provider or device) just by adding a folder, instead of forcing me to use another website or app. And if SaneBox makes a mistake, I can just move the email to the correct folder to train it.

Soooooo... if you’re anything like me and you'd like to read your emails without being pestered by the son of the deposed king of Nigeria, then I suggest you give SaneBox a try.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

So this is what rock bottom feels like....

Dodgers mount a come back and fall short. Dodgers outhit their opponent and still lose. Dodgers starter keeps the game winnable, Dodgers bullpen blows game. Adrian Gonzalez fights through injury to contribute and its still not enough. 2/3 of the outfield gets hits and steals bases while Andre Ethier just gets to be plain terrible.

No matter how many times we've seen this team have various positives , there's always been a charcoal lining in 2013. In the month of May there has been only one unavoidable truth: The Dodgers lose.

It's like watching a sad movie you've seen before. You know it's gonna suck soon but you sacrifice your well being to see the entire thing through. You sit in front of your TV for hours while the few happy parts entertain you and remind you why you love this movie, all the while distracting you from the inevitable unhappy conclusion that you somehow forgot about completely.

The Dodgers 21st loss of the season was their 8th consecutive heartbreak of the month. An all too familiar result for a franchise that has lost any semblance of home field advantage in 2013. Their 7-12 home record at Chavez Ravine is the 3rd worst in the entire MLB and is the only home record in their division below .555. In a division that has annually become a tightly contested dog fight, the Dodgers (13-21) have already put themselves at the back of the pack and on a leash. 2nd best On Base Percentage in the sport, 2nd lowest run total... alot of bark, no bite.

In a year where the front office was curiously mum on the status of Don Mattingly, they have become even more non committal as the mounting losses have shaken the confidence of everyone including the man himself during his unsettling post game interviews. While president Stan Kasten refuses to show his cards, I cant help but think hes already made up his mind to keep things the way they are. If it didnt look as if Mattingly was on the hot seat after last season, he sure must be now. When it comes to Donnie Baseball the prevailing sentiment is that he's a pretty calm guy that doesn't lose his cool when things get tough (MVP's tend to be that way). Most notably, players love to play for him. But considering they haven't ever been a team with the clutch gene or one that has gotten even remotely close to playoff contention since he took the reigns, it's a curious sentiment...

Jon Heyman put it perfectly when he tweeted:




After this tweet, AJ Ellis did his AJ-thing and had an RBI single in the 8th inning, but like we've all come to expect was stranded at 3rd base when Dee Gordon grounded out to end the threat, and essentially the Dodgers evening. And on an night where all the emotional debris floats to the surface of our collective Dodger-conscious, the exhale comes a little easier knowing that it can't get much worse.

And now you're thinking ...

"Oh really Reis? It's always darkest before the dawn?! Thats all you've got for us!? The most pessimistic Dodger fan on twitter is gonna conclude his once-a-month blog post with the 'hey it has to get better' mantra?!!??!!??"

You'll be happy to know that this 8-game losing streak has only strengthened my jaded thoughts to new heights. This year's combination of health issues, lack of clutchness, and head scratching roster management has left me both angry and happy at the same time. A bizarre malaise of numbness and frustration that allows me to turn on Dodger games each night to cap my day with a torturous act of self loathing.

As anyone who follows me knows, I'm still concerned with whether Don Mattingly is the guy who can get this team to the promise land based upon his unsuccessful albeit brief run as dodgers skipper. The front office has painstakingly clung to the "let's see what he can do with a healthy roster", while the court of public opinion is that eventually this falls on the players.

Regardless of what or who is to blame... (I say it's the depth issues brought on by Ned Colletti's apparent lack for long term vision) the point is that the sad movie has played 8 nights in a row. I haven't been able to turn it off and it's getting to the point where I'm not even noticing the good parts anymore (yea... I had to be informed by Vin Scully Matt Kemp has a 9-game hitting streak going on).

Well respected sports psychologist and good friend Dr. Kenneth Hartline tweeted a nice little uplifting note my way this evening:



 Which brings me to my final point... This is rock bottom. It's not as cold as I'd though it'd be... Wait never mind. Booze gives a false sense of warmth.

Monday, April 1, 2013

"A Whole New Blue"

"A whole new blue"...  The official slogan of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers. One that I began to think hard about in the last 6 months, as the billboard campaign littered the skyline of the LA footprint. As if the term "whole" is supposed to somewhat imply we are going to see an entirely diffent entity arrive on their Monday afternoon opening game. Wouldn't "all in" or "its go time" be more fitting? Forgive me if I won't be counted among the dizzying masses who have become entirely enamored by the facelifts that the Dodgers have received both throughout their stadium as well as on their roster.

The might of the "whole new blue" check book is pretty incredible. Stan Kasten and his band of merry men have spent the last calendar year going about their financial business with the type of moral hazard that only Gordon Gecko could dream of. The scary (yet plausible) thought of this "whole new blue" roster not having a chemistry capable of winning baseball games is almost immediately greeted with the notion that this franchise has no qualms with absorbing bloated contracts of any underachieving stars, if it means making a trade. And the whole new blue will stay new. The budding young Cuban named Yasiel Puig tore through spring training, batting over .500 and making the big check the Dodgers wrote last year seem like a bargain. Adding depth to a team that has three all-star outfielders. Unfortunately they are the same three guys that make ALOT of money and each have struggled staying healthy in the past few seasons. If healthy, big things could come fast. If not healthy or just plain not productive, this outfield could give the front office a lot of thinking to do. At which point the whole new blue way of spending will have to be launched into full effect. And we might still be going through the same mind numbing time we had during the stretch run of 2012.

Dodger stadium is still the 3rd oldest stadium in MLB, but according to some of the more recent tweets of players like Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez, you can't tell from the inside. I spent an entire summer in the old dodgers clubhouse (2011) and I can tell you for a certainty that even the reported $100 million spent on all of the stadium's 2013 upgrades had to have been spent very wisely to open up the square footage for the type of amenities they claim to have installed. Think of the nicest gym or sports club you've seen and then imagine trying to fit it into the cupboard under the stairs that Harry Potter lived in. The franchise did a decent job of documenting the excavation and construction with a few clips and pics throughout the winter but they could have honestly just contracted the work out to one of those reality home makeover shows. Getting the job done just under the wire of opening day (The paint is reportedly still drying in the visitors clubhouse). The kind of work that was done in the last few months to have that place ready for a "whole new blue" living standard should have warranted a camera crew!

Speaking of reality TV, the biggest concern for this "whole new blue" roster is that the LA media  could fuel the fire that may ignite from a less than stellar start. Remember what happened when the Miami Marlins put together their expensive team, on a fresh new field, in a shiny new house? It was a season full of speculation and doubt, with the athletes, management and front office "pressing" at every step. Eventually it turned into a total circus and that was in only the 16th largest media market. Not to mention their coach was not in the final year of his contract as Don Mattingly is. Try imagining that same exact scenario playing out in the #2 market in the country (where some paparazzi drive nicer cars than a lot of us) but with TMZ.

If I say any more then you might just think I'm feeling pessimistic about this "whole new blue" season... In fact I'm not feeling so at all. I actually feel that (with the exception of Hanley Ramirez's wrist injury in the WBC) this Dodgers franchise finally has a roster that doesn't have a glaring weakness that jumps off the page and screams "This team won't make the playoffs!" The type of "blue" that we all got very used to feeling, seeing and being for the last 3 seasons doesn't seem to be the tone coming out of spring training. The reality is that there's a big chance that the Dodgers pitching and power could carry them all the way into early November...

Unless it doesn't and the same franchise with the same incessant problems rears its ugly head for another season. Then we'll really be feeling "a whole new blue". And you can be sure that TMZ will be asking Mattingly about his job security.

But again... I'm not feeling pessimistic. I'm just not ready to call this an entirely different franchise quite yet. Which makes this franchises 2013 slogan slightly over optimistic. Not until all the money spent and new faces gathered have found a winning formula and chemistry that we all get to share in. Until then it's the same story with a different cast. Magic Johnson, Guggenheim group chose Stan Kasten to play the Ray Cansella role in the proverbial "field of dreams" story this past year at Chavez Ravine. Everyone said "if you build it, we will come ..." Well, the roster has been built. "It's a whole new blue." The  renovations have been built. "It's a whole new blue." And most importantly, Monday marks the start of this franchise' opportunity to ease our pain and make the last 3 years a distant memory. Then and only then will we know its a whole new blue...


The Dodger Blog is back for 2013, and appreciates all of its new and returning followers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dodgers Searching for 40 Wins

After a four game home stand where the Dodgers were swept at the hands of the sub .500 Milwaukee Brewers, the outlook for a 10 game road trip to Colorado, Philadelphia and Seattle seemed bleak (if not grueling). The Dodgers proceeded to drop two games to the Rockies in Denver, which meant they had lost 6 of their previous 7 games heading into a 4-game set with the Phillies. But after a dominant 4 game sweep in Citizens Bank Park, the Dodgers were showing signs of resiliency in the wake of Kemp-ocalypse Part II.

Then came the No-No. The Los Angeles Dodgers hadn't been no hit since they were blanked by Cincinnati in 1994. Try to guess who the starting CF for the Reds was that day?... Deion Sanders! It had been a long, long time since the blue crew had gone an entire game with out a hit. Lets put it this way, the Washington Nationals' phenom Bryce Harper was a 1 year old! But with the help of 6 different Mariners pitchers and a questionable out call on Dee Gordon in the 9th inning, history was made. And more importantly the fans in Seattle had something to get excited about while their hijacked basketball franchise was going to the finals with a different home crowd. It should be noted that the last two World Series championships ('88, '81) came during years where the Dodgers were on the wrong ends of no hitters. Is it a sign? Here's to hoping.

But the Dodgers, as they seem to do time and time again in 2012, picked up the pieces and salvaged a series win by taking both weekend games. So in a matter of 7 days the Dodgers were able to go from a club who had dropped 6 of its previous 7 to having won 6 of its previous seven. And last night, began their freeway series with the Anaheim Angels (I'm sorry they'll never be LA in my mind), with a chance to be the first team to 40. But unfortunately the sensational 20 year old rookie Mike Trout was doing what he's done since being called up, which was getting base hits, stealing bases, hitting home runs and scoring runs. Just enough to edge the Dodgers 3-2 in the 9th and give Kenley Jansen the loss.

But as the game came to a close on Monday evening, the rumors of an Andre Ethier extension began to trickle through the world of twitter. A deal that was made official this afternoon (Tuesday 6/12) in a press conference, is good for 5 years, 85 million dollars, and a club option for over 15 million in a 6th year (what would be 2018). Now that the Dodgers have locked down their two best position players through the rest of their prime, it will only be a matter of time before Clayton Kershaw gets his extension and free agents of all varieties start to see something brewing in Los Angeles. In the wake of new ownership having the pocketbook to buy a championship, the dominoes are starting to fall in a slow yet strategic manner.

Matt Kemp got his money and in addition to being the teams biggest cheerleader, became the biggest proponent of giving Andre his big extension. Now that the lefty slugger will surely play the rest of his meaningful games in Dodger blue. Now it might be time for Matt Kemp, to continue his vocal-ness towards signing more bats in the coming year.... Saaaay Josh Hamilton? Probably the highest paid outfield in the sport, but it would sure as heck be a spectacle to see those three guys bat in consecutive order. Time for Matt to buddy up with Josh in Kansas city next month. Then Prince might start thinking twice about playing out the rest of his days in bitter cold Detroit.

Dodgers are set for game two with the Angels tonight (Tuesday) at 7. They will be honoring former Dodgers catcher, and current Angels Manager, Mike Scioscia with a "Scioscia Bobble Head Night". The bobble head will naturally be of the young, slightly more slender Scioscia in his Dodgers catchers gear.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dodgers Start It Off Right in Philadelphia

So we meet again... My apologies for the infrequency to what was becoming pretty frequent banter. So much was happening with this Dodgers club and so much was happening for yours truly at work, that I've just been flat out exhausted trying to keep up with it all. I know, I know... No excuses, blog like a champ.

ANYWAYS... as I'm typing the Los Angeles Kings have now taken a three games to none lead over the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup finals. While my main concern is normally getting that big trophy with all the little flags on it in Los Angeles, it will definitely be fun seeing Lord Stanley's behemoth of a silver cup hoisted around tinsel town. As a child of the 90's, the only hockey that I've ever been interested in was the roller hockey in the cultisac after gaining inspiration from Emilio Estevez and the mighty ducks on VHS. So I haven't been glued to this series but I know some are, and for that... congrats Kings fans, its allllllmost wrapped up!

Alright Dodger fans, back to what we really care about... Baseball. Or should I say injuries with a SIDE of baseball. When we last spoke, Matt Kemp was about to make his triumphant return from a hammy issue and Juan Rivera was soon to follow. Instead what we got was about 24 hours of Kemp in uniform, before an Andre Ethier double to the Left Center gap at Dodger stadium not only scored Kemp from first base, but more importantly led to the re injury of said hamstring. So now we could now be without Matt for an even LONGER stint (rumors are that he might just wait to come back after the all-star break).

Right as Matty was making his comeback, Dodger fans were feeling good about themselves with the next-best San Francisco Giants 5.5 games back. But just as quickly, Matt was gone again and the Dodgers would then lose 6 of 7 games. A stretch that saw the Dodgers, who hadn't even lost 3 in a row in 2012, lose 5 in a row. The division lead had shriveled down to 3 games going into the morning of June 4th, and with the Giants beating up on the hapless Cubs early on Monday, the Dodgers were beginning a 4-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies. With the opposing starting pitcher Worley still in the process of coming back from injury, his pitch count for game one was set at 75. The Dodgers cracked into that count early with a 2 run first inning, and 1 run 2nd.  But as Worley settled down, Kershaw's efficient start disappeared just as quickly on a Placido Polanco 2-run home run to the porch in left field.

After the Dodgers had some grief with balls and strikes called in the middle innings. Two Dodger ejections left the away team without a manager. The rest of the game was a chess match as acting manager Tim Wallach and Charlie Manuel. The tie was broken in the 9th inning as Dee Gordon's lead off triple off of Jonathan Papelbon was followed by an Elian Hererra RBI single through the left side. The Phillies manager had called the infield in to prevent the runner scoring from third, and the ball was hit hard enough between 3rd and SS to allow Gordon to walk his way to home plate. Of all the young guns who've been thrown into action in the wake of all these injuries, Hererra has done enough to keep himself in play for an everyday roll and without his mini-stint of reliability, the Dodgers might have given up their division lead altogether. His heroic diving catch in the 9th inning, preserved Kenley Jansen's save and all but ensured he'll be in the lineup tomorrow.

While Kershaw technically might still be fighting his demons with the no-decision against a Phillies team that doesn't have much power (Howard, Utley on DL), the reality is that he did enough to keep the Dodgers in position for a late game win. He was effective enough to stick around 7 full innings in a hitter friendly park like Citizen's Bank Field. The Dodgers are now 34-21 and refuse to relinquish the MLB's best record. During a very daunting stretch of 20 games in 20 days, where the Dodgers play 4 straight in Philadelphia before flying all the way to Seattle for inter league play, getting wins on days that Kershaw starts is key. So step one has been accomplished, and the Giants are kept at bay for the time being. Its important to get wins against good teams on days where the team that is chasing you (Giants) plays a bottom dweller like the Cubs. 

See you all tomorrow on twitter for game 2 as the Dodgers try to ensure, at the very least, a series split.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Dodgers' Final Day of Kemp-ocalype

It's hard to believe that a little over 2 weeks ago, the Dodgers were "playing over their heads" and the bubble was "inevitably going to burst" when Matt Kemp's nagging hamstring issue (that caused his batting average to drop below .400) forced him on to the 15 day DL. What happened next is even HARDER to believe. "Dem Bums" decided to stage their own 2 week rendition of Major League, by going 9-4 and extending their lead in the division to 7.5 games. All along doing so with a half dozen nobodies. The best record in Major League Baseball isn't news any more. Neither is having the largest divisional lead in the MLB. But you know what is news? Tomorrow is the last day of the "Kemp-ocalypse". Assuming Kemp's 2-game rehab stint in Albuquerque goes as planned, May 28th will be the last day the Dodgers (32-15) don't have the best player in the NL at their disposal. The last day Los Angeles wont have have their biggest cheer leader in Dodger Stadium. And most importantly, Monday will (hopefully) be the last game for a while that Don Mattingly is forced to create some sort of Kemp-less game plan with a slew of rookie call ups and career backups.

For the last two weeks, it felt like we couldn't turn on our TV's, computers or phones without hearing about the Dodgers when it came to sports news. Regardless of the heliocentric east coast sports world focusing on the AL East and NL East, the Dodgers' band of under appreciated misfits refused to relinquish the title of "MLB-best". Every night it was another "nobody" taking a turn at hitting the clutch button and getting their 30 seconds of fame on Sportscenter. But now the Dodger bench players are wrapping up their Risky Business moment. It feels as if Matt Kemp left the team with a couple hundred bucks on the counter and a list of food in the fridge on May 14th. And now "Mom and Dad are almost home". Time for the kids like Jerry Sands, Scott Van Slyke, Ivan DeJesus and Elian Herrera to clean the house, take out the trash and restock the liquor cabinet. One more game without the best player in baseball (and Juan Rivera) means one more night for a few rookies to preserve the team's positive momentum until the big boy's get their jobs back.

The club's position in the standings is much better at the end of Matt's absence than we previously expected. Which is only good news now that names like Hairston, Rivera, and Kemp are trickling back into the Dodgers clubhouse. The last time the Dodgers faced the Milwaukee Brewers (19-28) was in the midst of their head turning, hot start to the season. But when Los Angeles dropped two of three at Miller Park, it caused most to question the validity of the Blue Crew's record. But now we're approaching the end of May and it's the BREW crew that is definitively having a poor first-half (5th in the NL Central, 8 games back). While the reigning NL-MVP (in question), Ryan Braun comes to town on Monday, the Dodgers just have to shore up their outfield for one more day. A day that will feel like an eternity ago on Tuesday. Serendipitously the final day of the Kemp-less Dodgers will have "One Dollar Dodger Dogs" at Dodger Stadium. So maybe even the fringe fans might be compelled to come back to Dodger Stadium prior to Matt Kemp doing so. But one thing is for certain, Dodger Stadium should be packed and rockin' on Tuesday night. That is, if we survive the final day of Kemp-ocalypse. Make sure you have the first aid kit, the ramen noodles and a flash light with fresh batteries.