Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

In the wake of last weekend's incident in Charlottesville, Va., Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is calling for the city to rechristen Yawkey Way, feeling that continuing to honor the former owner of the team would be to continue to celebrate the team's dubious history of racial intolerance. The Sawx were the last team to field an African American player, all the way back in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. Today's Red Sox have more than their share of African American and Latino players (shortstop Xander Bogaerts is from Curacao in the Netherlands), like every other team in the majors, but to be honest with you, I have never understood why management was so slow to, ah, get with the program back in the day.

Bear in mind, too, that the 3 World Series titles that the Sawx have won in this century have been under Henry's stewardship. Just sayin'.
To the surprise of no one, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has filed an appeal of his 6 game suspension for domestic abuse. Around the same time, it's gotten out that his ex-girlfriend, apparently, was looking to exploit Elliott's fame to feather her own nest. Now, we don't know all the facts, but doesn't it seem as though the seeming victim in cases like this often have hidden agendas? Just sayin'.

Also, it's another case that the NFL has dragged its corporate feet on. Last year, Elliott was 1/2 of a two-headed rookie bulldozer (w/QB Dak Prescott) that carried Dallas to the NFC East title, and any ruling at that time would've had an adverse effect on that playoff run. Hmmmmm.
When the Mets started making trades before the deadline last month---and have made a couple of waiver deals since---it was clear that the white flag had been raised and the team was conceding the NL East. This year's Subway Series ended up a 1-sided affair, as the Yankees swept the series for the first time in 14 years. The Mets lost to Miami last night to run the current losing streak to 5. Some of the online crybabies are calling not so much for Terry Collins' head, but that of pitching coach Dan Warthen. The simple truth is that the injuries have been too much to overcome this year. Pitcher Seth Lugo was put on the DL, along with infielder Jose Reyes, before the Yankee series was over. Lugo going back to the DL had me thinking that maybe, just maybe he and Steven Matz, Thursday's starter, had been rushed back a little sooner than they should've, and now they're paying the price.
Two weeks remain in the Northeastern Football Alliance's regular season, and you wouldn't know unless you read this blog on a regular basis. That's how little attention is paid to the league and the hometown team, the Troy Fighting Irish, who finish the regular season on the road. The local press will only pay attention when it's a slow news day, even if the Irish are in the postseason, which they are every year.
Troy's other summer team, the Tri-City Valleycats, had a taste of first place in the Stedler Division, as we told you earlier in the week, but after the All-Star Game, have extended their current losing streak to 3 after dropping two games to Hudson Valley. Friday's game was rained out, and may not be made up, as the last open date before the playoffs comes the day after the regular season ends, and will only be done if the 'Cats are still in line for a playoff spot. The lone bright spot this week was collegiate HR champ Jake Adams winning the home run derby Tuesday prior to the All-Star Game. Trust me, you'll see Adams in the majors in a couple of years, so enjoy him in a 'Cats uni while you still can, with 3 weeks left in the regular season.
NY Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman often refers to Michael Kay's radio sidekick, Don LaGreca, as the Yankee announcer's valet or houseboy, tongue firmly planted in cheek. However, LaGreca will take umbrage, as any radio host will, with ignorant or moronic callers.

Take for example this choice Yes Network simulcast clip from Thursday, prior to the conclusion of the Subway Series. Seems Steve from Brooklyn isn't an Aaron Judge fan.

Look, I get that Judge has fallen prey to the epidemic of strikeouts, a case of pitchers adjusting to him before he can pick it up and adjust in response. He's hit just 7 homers since the All-Star break, and while he still leads the AL, he's no longer the major league leader. That would be the man he's often compared to, Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (44 prior to last night). Steve from Brooklyn comes across as being dumber than a box of hammers, not so much the clown LaGreca paints him to be, but to think that Judge should've been pinch-hit for in the 9th inning of Wednesday's game? Now you know why Raissman refers to talk radio as the Valley of the Stupid.

Yo, Don, as one Mets fan to another, I feel your pain, man. Local radio legend Bob Mason often had the perfect response to idiots like Steve:

"Say goodbye, dummy!"

Friday, August 18, 2017

Creepy TV: The Man From The 25th Century (1968)

In 1968, Irwin Allen was in transition mode. At ABC, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was about to give way to Land of the Giants. Over at CBS, he had planned on a new series to replace Lost in Space, as that series was running on fumes after 3 seasons. Plans for a back-door pilot, however, had to be scrubbed because said pilot wasn't ready in time for presentation to network suits.

The Man From the 25th Century starred James Darren (ex-Time Tunnel) as an earthling, Robert Prentice, now known as Tomo, who'd been abducted by aliens as a youth, and trained to lead an invasion of his homeworld. The aliens were from a far advanced race. 500 years advanced, that is.

Unsurprisingly, Tomo finds that the aliens can't be trusted after all, and his loyalties are, in truth, to his native world.

The complete 16 1/2 minute pilot is available, but the lone poster on YouTube disabled the embedding code. For now, we'll serve up this morsel:

Had it gone to series, it would've certainly bombed, likely lasting less than half a season. Land of the Giants lasted 2 seasons at ABC, and it would be 5 years before Allen would land another series on ABC, this time an adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson (previously discussed).

Rating: D.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What Might've Been: Harry O (1974)

David Janssen's final series brought him back to ABC in 1974 with Harry O. The O stands for Orwell, and I could imagine that they felt it easier if they went with just the initial, just so's not to confuse people with author George Orwell, whose Animal Farm had been adapted into an animated film that made the rounds on HBO that year, as memory serves.

Anyway, Harry O was the end result after 2 ABC Movie of the Week entries garnered sufficient ratings to warrant a regular series featuring the former police detective turned private eye. Orwell had been forced off the force after being shot by a hoodlum some years earlier. The series, however, lasted just 2 seasons. Why? Then programming head Fred Silverman, who came over from CBS, decided to take the network in a new direction, and decided to end Harry O, despite the fact the series was still generating decent ratings.

Halfway through the first season, the locale changed from San Diego to Los Angeles. Why? Can't really say, as I never saw the show. Anyway, Henry Darrow (ex-High Chaparral) was written out and killed off, and replaced by Anthony Zerbe, who would earn an Emmy for his work as Lt. K. C. Trench, Orwell's police contact in LA. An eclectic supporting cast over the course of two seasons included Mel Stewart (ex-Roll Out, later of Scarecrow & Mrs. King), G. W. Bailey, better known for his appearances on M*A*S*H, and Farrah Fawcett, who would move on to Charlie's Angels after 8 appearances in 2 seasons.

Warner Archive offers a sample clip:

No rating.

Will this nonsense ever end?

It wasn't long after I'd arrived at church for Bible study Wednesday night when the pastor's wife had filled me in on a shooting that took place back in the home district 24 hours earlier. This morning, I've read accounts of the incident in 2 local papers, including a protest that almost immediately followed the shooting of 22 year old Dahmeek McDonald, who'd been wanted on a parole violation, amplified by the fact that McDonald had somehow managed to remove an ankle bracelet meant to keep track of his whereabouts so that he wouldn't get into further trouble.

McDonald was shot twice, once in the head, and once in the shoulder, and is expected to recover. On Wednesday, dozens of people marched down Hoosick Street, all the way to City Hall on River Street. Members of McDonald's immediate family met for anywhere from a half hour to an hour with Mayor Patrick Madden, based on accounts in the two local papers. Troy Police are conducting an internal investigation on the shooting, but on the surface, it'd appear that this is another case where officers, acting on assumption over perception, may have crossed the line. There've been too many of these incidents across the country over the last three years at least, and this is the 2nd in the Capital District in as many years.

Messiah Cooper, McDonald's uncle, called for more African-Americans to apply to become police officers, citing the fact that there aren't enough African-American officers on the Troy force. The officers involved in Tuesday's shooting are on administrative leave, per TPD regulations, until Saturday at the earliest. Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove is, in turn, being investigated by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his handling of an earlier case, and I'd suspect Schneiderman may want in on this investigation as well.

This was the last thing the city needed, three weeks before the start of the school year. Will this ever end?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Creepy TV: The World Beyond (1977-8)

Time-Life had branched out into television in the 70's, first with syndicated nature programs. Then, in 1978, they decided to try to move into primetime. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out.

The World Beyond was tried out in a pair of pilots about a year or so apart. Granville Van Dusen was cast as sportswriter Paul Taylor, who was clinically dead for nearly three minutes after an accident, but after coming back to life, Taylor discovered that the dead can reach out to him to help other living beings.

After the 2nd pilot, "Mud Monster", CBS gave up on the project, as it was perhaps a bit ahead of its time. Then again, the cheesy special effects didn't help matters.

JoBeth Williams (later of "Poltergeist", among other feature films) and Barnard Hughes co-star in "Mud Monster":

Van Dusen is better known to cartoon fans after being cast as Roger "Race" Bannon in the 1980's revival of Jonny Quest, and I'm not sure about any other live action work he had done.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville wasn't funny. President Trump takes the heat from late night TV

It took President Trump 2 days to denounce the white supremacists and modern-day neo-Nazis involved in the incident in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday. Unfortunately for the embattled President, his reluctant denounciation was fodder for late night television on Monday night/Tuesday morning.

For example, Minnesota Senator and veteran comic Al Franken was on Conan:

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon took on a more serious tone:

ABC's Jimmy Kimmel mixed humor with his commentary:

Trump's "many sides" remark had already gotten him in trouble, exposing the fact that he's not as well informed as he'd like us to believe.

Late Night's Seth Meyers has routinely ripped into Trump, and this was no exception:

Later, in his A Closer Look segment, Meyers turned up the heat:

And, then, there is Stephen Colbert on The Late Show:

All they had in common was ripping President Trump a few new ones for his lack of venom on Saturday, then pulling a sort-of mea culpa Monday afternoon. Trump then turned around and ripped CNN's Jim Acosta, again referring to the cabler as "fake news".

The most glaring problem with Trump is that he can't tell the difference between what really is fake news (i.e. The National Enquirer, which belongs in the fiction section of a bookshelf at Walmart or CVS) and what is real journalism. Trump has made himself such an easy target for the late night comics because he's so out of touch with reality. His Saturday statement was slightly off script ("many sides" was not in the statement, I've read), but his press flacks had to give him a new one on Monday so he could redeem himself. Shoot, he couldn't redeem green stamps if he tried when they were still popular.

The more he uses Twitter as a reactionary outlet for nonsense, the more Trump comes off as being disconnected from the country he's supposed to serve. Here's an idea. Get off Twitter, and spend your off-hours watching Green Acres reruns with Melania, since I think you two can relate to that.

2017 NFL Preview, part 2: The rest of the AFC

Last week, we took a look at what is probably the easiest division to figure in the NFL, that being, of course, the AFC East. Today, we're finishing the AFC, as we'll do the NFC over the next two weeks.

AFC North:

No matter what Cleveland does, they're perhaps cursed to remain in last place until the end of time. Johnny Manziel crashed & burned in just 2 seasons, and last year, well, Robert Griffin III wasn't the answer.

That's why this division is a 3-team race every year. Oh, sure, the Browns will make a little noise, but they usually get muted by Halloween.

In Pittsburgh, it seems they're already preparing for the post-LeVeon Bell era, as Fitzgerald Toussaint scored the game winner in Friday's preseason opener at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. Bell is unsigned, but the Steelers would be wise to get him in camp ASAP, preferably yesterday. DeAngelo Williams wasn't retained, either, and he tried his hand at wrestling last month, appearing at a Global Force Wrestling PPV alongside former Falcon Quinn Ojinnaka, aka Moose. Pittsburgh will be there at the end if they can stabilize the offense around Ben Roethlisberger. If not, even a Wild Card would be a longshot.

For Cincinnati, it's back to the playoffs, or it's the end of the line, methinks, for Marvin Lewis, bottom line. Baltimore has to weather the loss via retirement of receiver Steve Smith, Sr., and reload. It's anyone's game, really.

Projected order of finish:

1. Cincinnati.
2. Baltimore.
3. Pittsburgh.
4. Cleveland.
AFC South:

Houston, after the Brock Osweiler debacle last year, drafted DeShaun Watson (Clemson), and he'll battle Tom Savage for the starting QB job. On defense, Vince Wilfork returned to New England, then retired, which means plenty of double-teams on Jadaveon Clowney. All Indianapolis needs is for Andrew Luck to be healthy for the entire season. Hm, seems that applies to some of their other skill position players, too. Tennessee picked up receiver Eric Decker (Jets), who reunites with Jace Amaro, who came over last year. Marcus Mariota has enough weapons at his disposal. It's just a matter of scoring enough to make a run at the playoffs.

Jacksonville? Who cares at this point?

Projected order of finish:

1. Tennessee.
2. Indianapolis.
2 (tie). Houston.
4. Jacksonville.
AFC West:

I still don't see the logic behind the Chargers moving to Los Angeles from San Diego. Relocating back to LA didn't do anything for the Rams last year, so....! On that same note, I don't like the idea of Oakland losing their beloved Raiders again, this time to Las Vegas. Like, how long did the Raiders last in LA themselves before moving back to Oakland?

Digression over. The two California teams will likely fight for Wild Card spots, although the Raiders are a legit division contender as long as Derek Carr is healthy. Kansas City may have their future QB in Patrick Mahomes II, son of a former baseball pitcher whose resume included stops in Minnesota and with the Mets. Andy Reid also got some offensive help in running back C. J. Spiller (New Orleans) and receiver Gavin Escobar (Dallas). If Alex Smith gets hurt, Mahomes should step in. From what I saw of him in college, he is the real deal.

In Denver, year 2 of the Paxton Lynch era should be an improvement. However, the bloom is off the rose for the Broncos.

Projected order of finish:

1. Kansas City.
2. Oakland.
3. Denver.
3 (tie). Los Angeles.

Wild cards: Oakland, Baltimore.

Of course, I could be wrong.