Robinson Cano Tests Positive For Illegal Substance: Suspended 80 Games

Fan favorite Robinson Cano has tested positive for an illegal substance. His punishment is set at 80 games. This news breaks just 1 day after being placed on the 10 day disabled list for breaking his hand. This is not an easy article to write and I don’t even know what to think of this yet, but I need to get these emotions out. Robinson is one of my favorite players in the game. He is a great team player that always has the biggest smile on his face and seems to be everyone’s friend. He is always the first out of the dugout to congratulate a teammate for a good hit or great play.

I am not going to share my opinion on steroid use in the MLB because it is an unpopular one, and quite frankly it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that it’s illegal and everyone knows it. Robinson broke the rules and the punishment fits the crime. I will however share my theory about why Robinson would risk the Mariner’s season with this seemingly selfish act.

Last year was an extremely aggravating year for Robinson Cano. He saw the disabled list multiple times, with most of the issues coming from muscles strains to his legs. He was moving slow. He could barely run to 1stbase and wasn’t covering his position as well. It wasn’t the same Robbie we had seen in the past. It had looked as if the end was nearing for Robinson at 2ndbase and he would play out his time as a DH in the very near future. Fast-forward to this season and Robinson is a new man. He is running better than he has in years and covering second base like the All-Star he is. Could it be possible that Robinson turned to steroids in the off-season to try to get back to 100%? We have heard of many athletes turning to steroids, not for bigger muscles and an edge, but to simply deal with injuries. Being a professional athlete can cause a lot of stress on your body and you don’t always have the proper time to recover.

Missing the next 80 games almost guarantees Robinson will not hit 30 doubles this year. When he would have hit 30 this year, it would have passed Stan Musial’s previous record of 12 consecutive seasons of 30 doubles or more. It looks like the record will stay at 12 seasons tied between Cano and Musial. I also have to believe this is going to put a damper on his Hall of Fame bids when the time comes. He currently has 10 which was well ahead of pace

I am disappointed, angry, concerned and confused. This is going to be a rough time for Mariner’s fans, but we will get through these 80 games, and welcome Robbie back to the lineup when he has paid his dues.

In the mean time who will fill his position? I don’t think Andrew Romine, Gordon Beckham or Taylor Motter will be able to fill this void and Dipoto already said Dee Gordon would be staying in center field. We may need to make a trade soon if we want to stay in the playoff hunt.

:::::UPDATE:::::

Cano just released this statement:

Media preview

 

If this is all true and I sure it is, this is a huge bummer and miss communication. Cano seems to not be fighting this “technicality” at all because he is not denying the fact that he took this substance. he is however pleading ignorant to the fact that it was illegal when the doctor prescribed it. As a professional athlete I fell like you have to be a little more cautious about what you are taking.

Robinson, we are not mad at you, just slightly disappointed and upset at the situation. Get better and we will see you soon.

-CS

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10 Ways To Not Cheat On Your Diet

Being on a diet is one of the most life intrusive, self-inflicting, eye opening choices you can make. It can immediately takes over every decision of your life. It is constantly on your mind and you never forget you are on a diet. Social gatherings are a nightmare. Being extremely busy can make it almost impossible to eat well on the go, and it drives your mood.

Now, I am not a hardcore dieter and I do not let it completely dictate my life (sorta). I do think it is important to understand what you are putting into your body. That way, when I decide to drink 10 bud lights at a baseball game, I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m not going to give you advice about what to eat and what not to eat because I am not a nutritionist, scientist, dietist (right click: add to dictionary) or any other kind of ‘ist’.

One of the hardest parts about being on any kind of diet is getting over the hunger and taking your mind off all the food that we constantly have at our disposal. So with my expertise in this field I will provide you a list of activities you can perform when you are feeling the need to break down and eat the entire bag BBQ Fritos because “it’s basically just corn”:

1) Get a haircut. To this day I have never eaten anything while getting a haircut.

2) Go to sleep. No convincing needed here. Bonus: Sleep in as long as possible. Before you know it, it’ll be lunchtime.

3) Exercise more. This could include going to the gym, going for a run or simply leaving the house to go for a stroll. Be sure to plan your route accordingly and do not pass any establishments that have a drive thru. Also, you may pass out from lack of nutrients, but that’s ok, it really makes time go by quickly (see step 2).

4) Paint a picture. With your fingers. Be sure to use toxic paint. You know… to fight the urge.

5) Conduct personal hygiene. Sometimes I will take 5 showers a day, but I stick to my diet because I don’t have any food in my bathroom, and neither should you. This also works with brushing your teeth, shaving something, flossing or a number or other bathroom tasks. Caution, this can cause an above average shampoo bill.

6) Make a list. Of anything. Doesn’t need to be a good list. Trust me.

7) Watch those pimple popping videos on YouTube. Appetite will be gone.

8) Get arrested. Be sure to set up auto pay on your bills beforehand.

9) Drink water. No really this can work. Try putting some mio or some other calorie and sugar free mix in it and drink away. I’m sure you have drank at least a gallon of alcohol in a day, so just do that, but with water. This will cause you to feel bloated, but don’t worry; you won’t need to sweat those pounds off. Or maybe you do. Again, not a doctor.

10) Go to the dentist. They frown on eating there.

There you go. 10 things to do to fight the urge to cheat on your diet. I’m gonna go take a shower.

-CS

Seattle Mariners: 30 Games In

Mariners have played 30 games (Only 132 to go)

The last time I wrote about the Mariners was April 8thand they were 4-3 and the outlook was promising. Fast forward a few weeks and they currently stand at 18-12. We are a half game back from the Astros and Angels as we start our home stand against the Angels tonight (look for Albert Pujols to hit number 3000 tonight). Our run differential is at a +6. Through 30 games, this is the 4thbest start in the team’s history. A quick glimpse at the team’s top 6 starts:

2001: 23-7, Season: 116-46

2002: 21-9, Season: 93-69

2003: 19-11, Season: 93-69

2018: 18-12, Season: TBD

1997: 18-12, Season: 90-72

2016: 18-12, Season: 86-76

Ok that was fun. Who doesn’t love meaningless stats?

Let’s jump into how some of our individual players are doing.

Offense: Robinson Cano. Mitch Haniger. Dee Gordon. I don’t know where to begin because they are all playing out of their minds. Let’s start with our veteran 2ndbaseman, Robbie Cano. The man that makes everything looks so smooth and effortless. The man who hits home runs while he is blowing a bubble with his gum. He can make striking out look like the coolest thing since Billy Madison peed his pants. Constantly making the cleanest double plays while shooting a wink to his shortstop as they jog back to the dugout. Robbie has been in the zone for all 30 games this year. He is seeing the ball so well resulting in less strikeouts, more walks and more base hits to every part of the stadium. I could list a bunch of sweet stats to back this up, but I don’t feel like it. I’d rather talk about what he looks like and how he is really playing. Last year he was haunted with constant quad problems where he could barely jog to first base or cover his position on defense. It looked as if the end was near. This year he is beating out base hits, extending singles to doubles and covering more ground at 2ndthan he has in years. I don’t know what he did this winter, but he needs to continue it because he is intoxicating to watch.

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(Picture: Robinson Cano hypes the dugout up after another successful At-Bat)

Mitch Haniger. An early contender to win the AL MVP.  Mitch Haniger. An early contender to win the AL MVP. Not a typo. Just wanted to make sure you read that correctly. Last year, Mitch was leading all rookies early on until he went down with a nasty oblique injury that took him out for a few months. This year has started even better. He was batting clean up for a few games while Nelly nursed his ankle back. During that time, you would have thought he was a natural every day clean up batter. He has already logged 10 HRs (now tied for second in the league) and 27 RBIs (also 2ndin the league). Boo stats. Every at bat for Haniger is meaningful. He is a nightmare for opposing pitchers because he is not going to go down with out a fight. He has the power to go deep in any ballpark or can get you a base hit all day. Oh by the way, he can steal on you too. He is like a really cheap knock off of Mike Trout and that is a huge compliment. He recently pushed Kyle Seager to the 6thspot in the line up now batting 5th.  If you haven’t noticed, the difference between Robbie and Mitch last year and this year is health. Let’s hope it stays that way.

MLB: SEP 17 Mariners at Astros

(Picture: Mitch Haniger admires another long Home Run he lets rip out to center field, credit:Icon Sportswire)

Dee Gordon. Flash. Our leadoff hitter. Our center fielder. Our base stealing, infield single, bunting, energetic, fan favorite player. He is currently leading the league in stolen bases. He has had sixteen (16!) hits in the last 5 games, 9 of those coming in two days. The last time anyone has done that was 2008 (Melvin Mora, BAL).  He has been so fun to watch. He has a chance to beat out any ball he hits and pitchers and catchers hate when he is on the base paths, taking pressure off the batter.  He is unstoppable. His catch phrase has turned into “Dee is going to do Dee things”. He is the catalyst to this offense.

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(Picture: Dee Gordon continuing the dominate opposing pitchers.)

A few other quick notes: Ryon Healy is back from injury and is starting to see the ball really well. Mike Zunino is back and his presence is being felt behind the plate immediately. Ben Gamel is platooning LF with Heridia and Kyle Seager has been struggling a little at the plate. Jean Segura is another key player that has been doing great in the 2 spot in the line up. Nelson Cruz still hits the ball so hard, I am afraid for the spectators in the stands.

Pitching:

I could write another page about Edwin Diaz. He has a league leading 12 saves on 12 attempts. He has given up 4 hits in 17.1 innings with 30 strikeouts. He is clearly far and away the best closer in the game right now, earning Reliever of the month for April. Juan Nicasio has been coming in to pitch the 8thand sometimes 7tha lot and has been a very strong set up man. James Paxton set a league record 16Ks his last start, but unfortunately got a no decision and the Mariners gave that game up. Paxton hasn’t quite looked as dominate as last year until that start. King Felix is holding his rotation spot down. He has the most wins on the team (4), and the lowest BAA. His velocity has continued to decrease, but he still has his command with the slider and change up. The pitching is still the weakness on the team. Our bullpen has been very good but we still do not have that shut down dominate number one pitcher. Paxton could get there if he continues to pitch like last game.

(Picture: Left- James Paxton (Big Maple) on the mound. Right- Edwin Diaz is met on the mound by Mike Zunino after another shutout ninth inning save.)

If the Mariners want to take a run at a playoff spot this year, they will need to acquire a pitcher before the deadline for sure. I think the Astros will win the AL West because they are still really good and the Mariners will need to compete with the Yankees, Angels, and Blue Jays for a Wild Card spot.

Well that’s about all the news for the Mariners for now, nothing else big to note. No big roster moves. No futures Hall of Famers retiring in the middle of the season or anything like that. Oh wait. (Sorry that was lame)……

Ichiro Suzuki has made a switch to be a “Special Assistant Advisor to the Mariners”. He will continue to take batting practice. He will work with the out fielders and base runners as well as help with batting tips. He will remain in the dugout in uniform during games, but he is not on the roster. Some are saying he is retired, but I do not think we have seen Ichiro’s last at bat. It was just announced that the Mariners would open the season in Japan next year. I would bet money that Ichiro will be in uniform for a game or two as the MLB plays its first game in Japan, where Ichiro played for 9 years before coming to America in 2001.  I really hope this is what happens at least. I don’t care if he doesn’t deserve a spot on the roster at the moment. He deserves that respect and the Mariners will not be hurt letting the best batter of all time back in their line up in the beginning of the season. Also, if we lose a few outfielders to injury this year, he could be reactivated.

ichiro7

(Picture: Ichiro Suzuki. Heros get remembered, but Legends never die.)

I love the Mariners and apparently I love writing about them. Thanks for reading.

-CS

New York Giants 2018 Draft Class

We have had a week to digest the 2018 NFL Draft and I am still just as excited. I think we did a really great job addressing the needs of the team and got some great value for our picks. The Giants had the number 2 pick in the draft and a lot of people were thinking we were going to take a QB, but 1st year Giant’s GM, Dave Gettleman, had something else in mind. The moment the Browns selected QB Baker Mayfield 1stoverall, he told his team to not take any offers, they will be taking RB Saquon Barkley from Penn State. This is a running back that he thinks has the most talent and potential to be a game changer in the entire draft. I for one was very happy with the pick. He is going to have an immediate impact on the offense. Maybe I am very naïve, but I like these sexy picks like a top tier RB. I don’t think I could stand another Jerry Reese boring and “safe” draft. With the 34th overall pick the Giants addressed a huge need in drafting the mammoth of a man Will Hernandez, offensive guard from UTEP. I am not a professional scout, nor do I aspire to be one, but I do like to judge a guy based on tangibles such as how fast they are, how strong they are and how intimidating they look on the field, and let me tell you, Will Hernandez is a scary looking dude. He wore a collar roll in college and I really hope he continues to wear it for us, because it looks awesome.

hernandez(Picture: Will Hernandez, moments before eating a defensive lineman in college.)

I’m going to expand a little more about our 1st round draft pick, but first here is the entire draft class:

NFL: New York Giants-Saquon Barkley Press Conference(Picture: Giants 1st year head coach, Pat Shurmur (left), Saquon Barkley (Middle) and Giants 1st year GM, Dave Gettleman (right). Credit: USA Today.)

2nd (1st round 2nd pick) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

34th (2nd round, 2nd pick) Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

66th (3rd round, 2nd pick) Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia

69th (3rd round 5thpick) BJ Hill, DT, NC State

108th (4th round, 8th pick) Kyle Lauletta, QB, Univ. of Richmond

139th (5th round, 2nd pick) RJ McIntosh, DT, Miami

Saquon Barkley was born and raised in the Bronx until he and his family eventually moved to the suburban town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He played three years of high school football and was absolutely dominant, earning a 4 star recruit status. He is 21 years old and stands 6 feet tall. After committing to Penn State he played for three years before declaring for the NFL draft.

NFL: Combine(Picture: Saquon Barkley at the 2018 NFL Combine, Credit: USA Today.)

Of course he racked up a ton of yards (5,557 total) and touchdowns (54 total) in his three years at Penn State, and was 4th in Heisman voting last year along with a number of other awards throughout his collegiate career, but I want to bring forth some of the not so well known facts. For starters, Saquon is not the first athlete in the family. Both his dad and great uncle were very well respected boxers. His great uncle (Iran Barkley) is a former three-weight world champion in the WBC, IBF and WBA leagues. He has two brothers and two sisters. His biggest fan and mentor is his father, who has helped mold and motivate him into the man and athlete he is today. His little brother Ali Barkley will graduate high school in 2020 and looks to be following in the same path as Saquon, however he has not committed to a school yet. Two days before the Giants drafted him in the 1st round, an even bigger event in his life happened. His long time girlfriend (Anna) gave birth to their daughter, Jada Clare. Saquon is known as a humble, hard working, and determined man. I can’t wait to have number 26 dawn that big blue jersey on Sundays.

barkley

Welcome Home, Saquon.

-CS

Disclaimer: I understand I didn’t talk about every new member the Giants drafted, just know they are all really great picks and I am happy with all of them (yea even the QB from Richmond).

Military Academic Model in Public Schools?

Growing up in a public school system, I was never directly compared to anyone academically. Grades were never something that was publically shared unless you decided to be a wiener and tell everyone that you got a 97% on a Chemistry test. Really the only time we were actually ranked was senior year of high school based on our cumulative GPA. Other than that we were pretty much just going through life trying (or pretending) to do our best, and for the most part that was just fine. The truth is, I didn’t want to be ranked amongst my peers. I recognized that there were very different academic levels in my grade alone, and it almost seemed unfair to rank someone like me against [redacted] who was literally taking college level math classes in 7thgrade. I think it would have caused more class divide and animosity. The higher ranked kids would have been held to higher standards and vice versa.

I’ve been in the Army for four short years. I have been through two major schoolings and a few less significant classes, but there is one constant amongst them all. We are all rated publically against each other. As a Lieutenant in BOLC and as a Captain in CCC, there are awards for the officer that scores the highest amongst everybody. They are known as the ‘Distinguished Honor Graduate’. Then there is the 2nd “smartest” officer or the “Honor Graduate”. After that the top 10% all make the Commandant’s list. The remaining 90% of the class are just graduates. This is pretty constant throughout every military class. This really doesn’t create any divide amongst us. Most officers act like they don’t really care about these accolades. It’s always in the back of your mind though. You might score poorly on a test and think to yourself “there goes honor grad”. It’s an interesting dynamic though. You finish class and you know exactly where you stand against your peers. You get a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses and what you need to work on.

I understand the need for the Military to use this model with their schoolings. It gives our superiors more insight on our performance rather than the pass/fail standpoint. The reality is, there is not enough room in the military for all of us to continue to move up the ranks and somewhere down the line these rankings will come into play when the difficult decisions need to be made.

What would the public school system be like if they modeled this, however? Quite honestly, I think it would create more divide in a country that already loves to generalize and divide everyone into separate groups. Would it push students to try harder and care more? Would you see an increase in productivity? Would the “cool” kids no longer be cool because they are ranked lower than others?

I don’t think this concept would ever reach public schools, but I often find myself wondering this as the honor graduates are being announced on stage.

-CS

Mystery Blogger Award

Folks, I have been awarded the “Mystery Blogger Award”.

Major Award

Special thank you to Becky Turner and her blog “Strikeouts & Sprinkles”. Be sure to check out her page and leave her some feedback.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate bloggers you feel deserve the award
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice with one weird or funny one
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

Three Things About Me:

  • I ran a marathon in 2011 and I am 100% positive I will never do that again.
  • I believe I have some sort of OCD and the only person who is affected by it is my wife because I am constantly moving her things because they “aren’t in the right spot”.
  • I judge the gyms I workout in by how much they smell like a locker room and how old their weights are. The more smelly and older the weights the better because they remind me of my high school gym.

My Nominations:

The Baseball Haven

The Myles High Club

Midwest Bliss

Mid-American Culture/ Ian B

Sports Reaction/ Mr.Bassett

Captain’s Speech

Becky’s Questions:

  1. When did something start out badly for you but in the end, it was great?

I had to think about this one for a long time and I think I have the correct answer. In 2016, I left Korea to be stationed at JBLM, WA. I was still a young LT and I was excited to hold an Artillery position such as fire support officer or even fire direction officer. I was quickly slapped in the face with filling the Distribution PL position. Not ideal. I didn’t know any thing about logistics nor did I care to learn about it. Nine months later I was sad to let that job go. I enjoyed who I worked with and enjoyed the obstacles I faced in this position, which I knew I would not have in any other traditional Artillery position. (Shout out to LTC(P) Mungie for this opportunity.)

Distro PL.PNG 

(Picture: My 1SG and I while I was a Distro PL.)

  1. What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

            I can watch The Warrior over and over. I love that movie and I will probably cry every time those brothers leave the cage together. A close second is Invincible with Mark Wahlberg.

The Warrior

  1. What “old person” things do you do?

            This could be an entire post by itself. As I’ve reached the ripe age of 26, I’ve noticed a lot of my interests and actions have changed. I think the biggest change is how much I get excited about strange things, such as seeing a new washer and dryer on sale or shopping for vacuums. It also takes me longer to wash my truck, as I get older. I use to be able to wash my truck in about 2.5 hours inside and out. Now I spend three days washing and detailing it to perfection, which reminds me of my Popop and my father. When I was younger I enjoyed my time driving my vehicles and not cleaning them. “Well well well, how the turn tables” –Michael Scott

  1. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?

            Classic question, but I always struggle finding the right answer. I want somebody with a nice strong smooth voice, but they have to have a sense of humor too. With that being said I am going to choose Mel Gibson. A bit of a curveball, I know. He has the ability to inspire like in his speech in We Were Soldiers and I know he can be funny and joke around a little. Yea, I’m sticking with Mel Gibson.

Mel Gibson

  1. What artist or band do you always recommend when someone asks for a music recommendation?

I can’t say I always recommend this band, but they are an all time band on my list. They are good when you are in a bad good, good mood, drinking mood, relaxing mood and some songs even work for me in the gym. In my opinion this makes them the most versatile and easy to listen to. I’m talking about the Dave Matthews Band. Hi haters.

My Questions:

  1. Other than the default apps on your phone (phone, messages, email, maps, calendar etc.) what is the one app you cannot live without?
  2. What has been your favorite vacation you have been on?
  3. If you could go back and watch any TV series for the first time, what would it be?
  4. If you could make one food item or dish calorie free, what would it be?
  5. If you had a water fountain in your house and could make it dispense any liquid you want what would it be? Here’s the catch, you have to drink at least 2 quarts of it per day.

Thanks again, Becky!

-CS

Life in South Korea: As seen and told by a mid 20’s American

(Header Picture: Taken from the Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, Korea on Feb 26th, 2015)

And now for something completely different. Taking a break from my normal “sport” centric articles to write about an experience in my life unlike any other. Being stationed in South Korea for a year was full of ups and very deep downs. In Korea’s defense, the downs can mainly be credited to my work and not the country. I was lucky enough to live there with my wife and experience the culture with her by my side. What I’d like to do is lay out some of my favorite aspects of life in Korea, separate from my work there.

Korea(Picture: Typical bathroom messages in Korea.)

1) The People

I cannot praise the South Korean people enough for being some of the most kind hearted and thoughtful people I’ve met. With that disclaimer out of the way, they can seemextremely rude in the eyes of an American. For example, the Country is quite populated and Koreans seem to always be moving with a purpose. During these concentrated and purposeful movements, they will bump into you quite often and not acknowledge it. At first I couldn’t believe how often this happened until I realized, that’s just apart of the culture. That’s when I started getting into it. I would slightly bump someone and just keep going about my business without the half hearted “oh, I’m sorry” following. It was actually quite refreshing.

Ok now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the pureness of the Korean population. This can be summed up with a story about my first professional Korean baseball game (Go Doosan Bears). My wife and I got our tickets and our bottle of Cass beer and headed to our seats. It was a hot day in June and the stadium was packed. A father and his son sitting next to us got up to do something and they decided to “save” their seats by placing a WALLET and CELL PHONE in their seats while they were gone for about ten minutes. Now this sounds absolutely absurd and I was taken aback from this wild move. I felt like I had taken on the responsibility to protect their belongings until they got back, and then I noticed, nobody cared. It’s sad to think this is a foreign move to Americans. I’m quite certain if I left my phone or wallet unattended anywhere it has a good chance of being stolen. This was quite the awakening for me. I loved that there were genuinely nice people out there. They didn’t need to worry about their belongings. They had trust in the strangers around them. This was a good feeling and a great day.

Korea8

(Picture: Taken by me at the DMZ between North and South Korea in 2015. North and South Korean Soldiers stand face to face at all times. The crowd in the background posing for a picture is a group of North Koreans.)

2) The Food (and alcohol)

I could write a book about the abundance of amazing dishes, restaurants and food experiences I had in Korea. By far our favorite part about Korea.

Korea1

(Picture: Taken at a street food vendor in Seoul. Generally if you hold a camera up, Koreans will pose for you.)

First let me explain the restaurants. I could never read a menu and to this day I have no idea how I ordered food. I could never tell you what I was eating, but I liked it. Most of the restaurants were mainly Korean BBQ. You order certain meats and they bring you a pile of raw meat to cook yourself on a hot grill in front of you. Accompanying these meats is an abundance of side dishes. Lots of kimchi and other vegetable type dishes. My wife and I would always order a side of white rice to go with our meals.

Eating was an event every time. You often were sitting at a very small table where 80% was consumed by your grill to cook the meat and maybe a small stool to sit on. The waiters and waitresses were very attentive and good at their job. They wouldn’t bother you unless you pushed the button at your table that told them you needed something. I can’t understand why we don’t have this in America yet. It was extremely effective. Dinner was almost always accompanied with alcohol. Not because we were alcoholics, but because it was a custom and because maybe we were alcoholics. We were just trying to fully immerse ourselves in the culture (is what we told ourselves). You would order a bottle or two of flavored soju and a large bottle of Cass beer. Cass is much worse than any American beer but we grew to love it and actually started to acquire a taste for it. The soju was drank like a shot and by the third or fourth bottle was quite tasty. Soju is actually one of the most consumed alcohols in the world, thanks to South Korea. On average, one bottle of soju is consumed a day per male Korean, which is absolute insanity.

Korea11

(Picture: The remains of a Korean meal I had in Uijeongbu. Stacks of plates and empty bottles are always present.)

Drinking in Korea was definitely a culture. All business was done over drinks. You would regularly see tables full of middle aged men on week nights absolutely throwing down in their nice work suits. There were countless drinking customs and games that seemed to have one objective: to get you drunk, and let me tell you, the Koreans always met this objective. The end of the night would end up with a table full of loud Korean men all hugging and singing and tying their ties around their heads, empty soju bottles everywhere, countless empty plates once full of food and usually one or two men seemingly passed out. It was quite amusing every time.

Korea3

(Picture: A farewell dinner for me with another American and two of my best Korean Friends, Ryu and Shin.)

A quick argument against Korean food culture. Their breakfast. In 2016 it was almost nonexistent, however, I was slowly seeing it arise. If you wanted a true American breakfast with eggs, bacon, pancakes and other American delicaciesyou were going to have to search for a while, and when you finally found it, be prepared to wait and pay quite a bit. I don’t know if it was because Koreans were too hung-over to be up for breakfast or they just didn’t like eating in the morning, but finding breakfast was difficult. On the contrary, there were 470 coffee shops on every square block. They loved their coffee, but they rarely sold sufficient breakfast foods; mostly small pastries or some other small desserts.

Korea6

(Picture: My wife enjoying some of the Korean cuisine.)

Eating and drinking in Korea was a very satisficing experience and I barely did it justice. I didn’t even mention the street food, the bars, the McDonalds delivery, or the fact that you can open carry anywhere, which is another page worth of writing. If you plan on going to Korea, walk around and find a hole in the wall restaurant and you will not be disappointed.

3) The Weather

Bit of a set back for South Korea in this category. Winter is a different kind of cold unlike many places in America. It might not reach those sub-zero numbers in Korea, but it can reach single digits quite easily. These aren’t regular sub freezing temperatures either. They are some of the most bone chilling wet colds I have ever experienced. It almost hurt my body to be outside. The same can be said about the summers. It is such a humid heat; you sweat an insane amount just walking around. It can easily reach 100 in July and that is not a time you want to be eating spicy food at a restaurant with no A/C. Then there is the “yellow dust”. I couldn’t tell you exactly what this is, but it is miserable. I was told it was literally pollution in the air coming from China, which I believed. On a sunny day, you can literally see a yellow haze in the air. It covers everything and can really do some damage to your sinuses. Most Koreas wear facemasks to protect them from these nasty particles amongst them. Then there is the rainy season near the end of summer. The rain comes out of nowhere and it can really only be described the way Forrest Gump does about his time in Vietnam. “One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain, and big ol’ fat rain, rain that flew in sideways, and sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.” It didn’t last four months, but it rained harder for longer than I ever experienced and it wrecked havoc on everything. With all of this in mind, April-June would be the time I would recommend visiting, quite lovely in those months.

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(Picture: My wife and I near the U.S. embassy on September 18, 2015, enjoying the city.)

4) The Transportation

I was lucky enough to have my own beater car while in Korea. Let me tell you, as a thrill seeker, driving in Korea was pretty awesome. It wasn’t complete anarchy; people followed normal road rules for the most part, but just like their walking pace, they all seem to be in a bit of a rush. You know that guy speeding down the highway weaving in and out of cars…. Yea that’s about 75% of their drivers and it’s a blast. The speed limit is a bit of a “recommendation” and turn signals are laughable. You can’t get into an “American road rage” mood either. They might be driving wildly, but they don’t get mad or upset at any moment. You won’t find a Korean flicking you off as they pass you.

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(Picture: Left is my wife’s car and mine is on the right. That’s about all I have to say about that.)

The public transportation is really efficient also. Their metro can reach to almost any part of the country. It’s quick, clean, organized, on time and very affordable. What more could you ask for? It can get quite crowded at certain parts of Seoul, but it can’t be related to an American city’s metro. You will never feel uncomfortable or unsafe (unless there is a group staring at your red hair and your wife’s blonde hair). All around, I kind of enjoyed traveling throughout the Country. I always saw new things on the train, and always got my thrill junkie fix driving myself.

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(Picture: My friend and his little brother on the train headed home after a successful night in Seoul.)

This article was more of a broad over view of my time in Korea. I could go into much more detail about my time there, but that is for another day. It is an amazing country with a lot to offer. I will never forget the friends I made and the experiences I now have.

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(Picture: Uijeongbu, Feb 26th, 2015. My first day in Korea I met up with my wife for some shopping and coffee.)

If you would like to know more about my stay or you’re planning a visit/the Army is sending you on an extended stay, please ask, I have many more stories and tips.

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(Picture: Also Uijeongbu. I never learned what this statue represents.)

Thank you for the memories, Korea. You changed my life forever.

-CS

(All pictures are my own)