Saturday, September 11, 2010
The argument for C.C. Sabathia is that he is going to hit and exceed the 20-win mark while pitching pretty well, which indicates that he just "knows how to win." The argument for Felix Hernandez is that he has been better than Sabathia in literally every respect other than the ability to play for a team that scores runs. Quite literally everything that a pitcher does, Felix has done better than Sabathia (including performance in high-leverage situations, which indicates the Felix pitches better when the game is on the line and puts the lie to the "knows how to win" line). Yet Sabathia is the favorite, because 120 years ago some writer decided to assign wins to pitchers, and because a diminishing but still significant number of baseball writers believe that everything that ever was should ever be, to the exclusion of sense and reason.
Yes, I am a Mariners fan. Last year, though, Felix had a great year and more wins than Greinke. You may recall that I said in this very space that Greinke deserved the Cy by a wide margin. Is there really any argument this year that Felix doesn't?
- Yes, it's contrived--we lock down basically the entire regular cast with a group of students as a result of a security breach, and each of them gets a brief monologue to the students "responding to a question"--but it's well made and designed within that contrivance. It was completely put together in two weeks, and given that, it's in decent shape.
- Though Sorkin clearly pushes certain broad points of view, it's significant that the characters are not monolithic on the issues--for instance, CJ's entire monologue is directed to how the CIA is a good thing, while Toby is more skeptical. There's not a lot of debate or interchange, but there's clear difference in where the characters come from.
- Man, John Spencer was good--he has to play the heavy here in a lot of ways, interrogating a White House staffer, and manages to make it work. (And it's an interesting bookend to his plotline back in Season 1 with Liza Weil as the intern who leaked data about him.)
- Even though it's clearly written in and of the moment, it's fascinating how a lot of the issues the episode addresses are still in front of us. (I won't say more so as not to get overly political.)
- While there's an opening warning about "don't worry about continuity," credit to everyone involved for keeping it relatively in continuity--the characters' positions all seem natural and not created for purposes of the episode. The one glaring issue is that Toby talks about a (positive) experience with his father's friend, which seems to be directly contradicted by the 4th Season Christmas episode, which revolved around Toby's frosty relationship with his father.
- Man, Bradley Whitford has aged a lot since then (though part of that is due to the kind of character he's now playing on The Good Guys). It's particularly odd, since the rest of the cast has not seemed to age quite as much.
- I then proceeded to watch Manchester, and had forgotten that Connie Britton recurred in Season 3 as Ron Silver's character's female right hand.
I have nothing new or profound to say today, but it's been a tradition here to provide some apolitical space for members of our community to speak their minds on their memories of or reflections on the day, or on those we lost or anything else you deem appropriate. Below the fold, still the song that hits me hardest about that day:
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
In the NFC? Let's assume some reversion to the mean for New Orleans. Certainly, they were slowed down a bit tonight. Green Bay is the sexy pick to beat them, and with good reason -- indeed, that's one hell of a machine they've built. It may come down to something as simple as who has home field advantage in January, but when we're talking about winners, the conversation ends with those two.
Sure, there's a lot of things I'm curious to see this season: year one of Kevin Kolb, Ryan Matthews, Denver's Virgin Air and Donovan McNabb in crimson; Mike Martz's impact in Chicago and Pete Carroll's in Seattle (presumed negative); just how much longer Belichick can surround Tom Brady with mediocre running backs and a lesser defense and still win; the rise of Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub and (hopefully) Vince Young; and, of course, whether the NFL does take concussions seriously.
This is the first Eagles season in almost a decade in which the playoffs can't be presumed or expected; indeed, I don't know what to expect. I'm hoping for something around 9-7, 10-6; more than anything, I'm just hoping they were right that Kevin Kolb was ready for this. And I hope we don't lose to all three of Dallas, Washington and New York at home. We may not be great again yet, but let's not suck.
One thing Dooley said that is likely to draw some derision is that cutting corners in how you shower "shows in how you practice and elsewhere." But I'm kind of on board with that. I used to laugh at the segment in the John Wooden documentary where a series of UCLA greats talk about how the first thing Wooden did at the first practice every year was break down exactly how to pull on one's socks. Now I'm acutely aware, when I go to the gym, of exactly when I've been sloppy in putting on my socks and lacing my shoes. If Dooley wants to mold his team into a squad of precision showerers, I say it can only help them.
- A lot of the supporting cast is pretty solid and well cast (Gail O'Grady as the lead's trashy mom, Sharon Leal as the cheerleading coach, Ashley Tisdale as the cheerleading captain), but somehow, they've cast Aly Michalka, who's a black hole of suck, in the lead. Michalka's character is supposed to be a sharp pre-law student, but seems to spend most of her time either staring off into space or dancing like a stripper. (Particularly unfortunate given that one montage is set to a song with the chorus "Party like a rock star! Shake it like a porn star!") Add to it that she's called "goth" by characters several times, and the casting makes no sense. (Michalka ain't goth in the least--see also people who need clarification on what is and is not steampunk.) They were plainly looking for an Eliza Dushku-type, and while Michalka has the pretty, she lacks the edge that's sorely needed for the show to work--she looks like a cheerleader. There's a better show there with a different lead (Missy Peregrym? Kristen Bell?).
- While we go to massive pains to stress over and over again that the show is set in Memphis (with random Beale Street exteriors slotted in), it's painfully clear that the show is shot in Vancouver. Leaving aside that both "Lancer University" and "Memphis Christian U" have no basis in reality, there's no local color or interest at all beyond a few random references to barbecue and Beale Street. I had some sizable problems with Memphis Beat (folks, you do not hire Jason Lee as your lead, make him a moderately quirky cop, and then make it an utterly dour procedural), but at least it had local color. They need to use the setting better (or maybe at all) or stop reminding folks constantly of how they're screwing it up.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
So your draft is done, and your starting lineup is capital-A Awesome. You’ve got elite talent at every position, the handcuff to your top RB, and that big sleeper receiver you wanted. Nothing to do now but sit back and collect Ws, right?
Not so fast. If you just leave your team alone for thirteen weeks, you’ll likely be heading into the consolation bracket, wondering what happened to your unassailable fortress of a team. Nothing is certain in football. Players get hurt (and not just the “skill” positions; losing a left tackle can have a detrimental effect on a quarterback’s production). Close position battles remain battles into the season; just because Justin Forsett is starting this week, doesn’t mean he’ll be the starter all year (or even that he’ll be the best RB on his team this week). Someone will take the combination of opportunity, improved skills, and good fortune to “come out of nowhere.” Last year’s “out-of-nowhere” stars will regress towards the mean. Talent in the NFL is fluid, and your bench needs to be fluid, too, as you hunt for the best spare parts for your particular situation. Successful bench management requires balancing two almost-contradictory concepts:
1) Points scored by bench players are points wasted.
2) A team with depth is more likely to win than a team with stars and scrubs.
- Is it unfair to even review critically such a broadcast, given the overall good it does in the world?
- What ever happened to telethons? I feel like local stations used to broadcast more of them. Is it a combination of the dearth of local ownership of network affiliates and the increased focused on the bottom line? Is it that the Internet has made regular charitable giving easier and reduced the need for such broadcasts?
- Can I get through a Jerry Lewis post without referencing The Day The Clown Cried and Spy magazine article on same?
- Shales writes "Big stars like Joan Crawford (seen in a clip on the MDA Web site) don't come on anymore, but then, there aren't big stars like Joan Crawford anymore, are there?" Is this a bad thing? (Do enjoy the MDA's full list of celebrity appearances from 1966-2009. Including KISS! The Jackson Five! And a favorite of mine, below the fold.)
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
(Semi-related--debuting tomorrow night is FX's Terriers, which Alan loved, and which has a pretty damn solid pedigree, but be careful, since even with minimal network programming, there's a fairly severe pileup tomorrow at 10 with Top Chef and Psych finales, along with a Castle repeat, against the Terriers premiere--I'm picking up a later repeat.)
McCartney was first announced for the honor in 2002, but canceled to attend a family wedding. (Paul Simon replaced him.) In addition, this is the first year since 2006 that none of the honorees are best-known for acting, and I believe you have to go back to 2002 to find a year without a film director being honored.
[Much in our archives about these awards. I'll stick with my 2008 call of Woody Allen, Meryl Streep and James L. Brooks as the most-overdue honorees still outstanding.]
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Waiting 10 minutes for someone to defecate onstage is boring in the way that waiting 10 minutes for someone to produce a double pirouette or high C would be boring.