Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 MLB All-Stars First Look

Can't believe the All-Star Game is a month from last night.

Time to scour the stat pages and give an early look at the most-deserving rosters. As always, I reserve the right to revisit this if things change in the next three weeks or so.


NATIONAL LEAGUE
  C - Buster Posey
1B - Paul Goldschmidt
2B - Daniel Murphy
SS - Zack Cozart
3B - Jake Lamb
OF - Bryce Harper
OF - Charlie Blackmon
OF - Marcell Ozuna
DH - Ryan Zimmerman
SP - Clayton Kershaw
SP - Robbie Ray
SP - Max Scherzer
SP - Ivan Nova
SP - Mike Leake
RP - Greg Holland
RP - Kenley Jansen
RP - Wade Davis


AMERICAN LEAGUE
  C - Salvador Perez
1B - Yonder Alonso
2B - Jose Altuve
SS - Carlos Correa
3B - Miguel Sano
OF - Aaron Hicks
OF - Aaron Judge
OF - Mike Trout (replaced by Avisail Garcia)
DH - Corey Dickerson
SP - Dallas Keuchel
SP - Jason Vargas
SP - Ervin Santana
SP - Chris Sale
SP - Luis Severino
RP - Craig Kimbrel
RP - Cody Allen
RP - Alex Colome

Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 MLB All-Stars First Look


Can't believe the All-Star Game is a month from last night.

Time to scour the stat pages and give an early look at the most-deserving rosters. As always, I reserve the right to revisit this if things change in the next three weeks or so.


NATIONAL LEAGUE
C - Jonathan Lucroy
1B - Anthony Rizzo
2B - Daniel Murphy
SS - Trevor Story
3B - Nolan Arenado
OF - Yoenis Cespedes
OF - Bryce Harper
OF - Carlos Gonzalez
DH - Starling Marte
P - Clayton Kershaw
P - Jake Arrieta
P - Jon Lester
P - Madison Bumgarner
P - Noah Syndergaard
RP  Mark Melancon
RP  AJ Ramos
RP  Jeremy Jeffress

AMERICAN LEAGUE
C - Salvador Perez
1B - Eric Hosmer
2B - Jose Altuve
SS - Xander Bogaerts
3B - Josh Donaldson
OF - Mike Trout
OF - Mookie Betts
OF - Mark Trumbo
DH - David Ortiz
P - Chris Sale
P - Danny Salazar
P - Steven Wright
P - Rich Hill
P - Marco Estrada
RP  Zach Britton
RP  Alex Colome
RP  Wade Davis

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ten Years Later: Wedding Crashers






Wedding Crashers (Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson) was released ten years ago tonight. It was an extremely defining movie for me. Whatever that means... But it was definitely the only movie I've ever seen in the theater three times. It was the hardest I've ever laughed at a movie. It was the most I ever cared about a comedy. It was the most camaraderie I've ever found with others over a film...it was a uniting factor for myself and two friends that summer. It was the ultimate summer movie--ever. And it just reeks of summer 2005 for me to this day.






I have a weird nostalgic gene. I can be going along--not even consciously aware of something, but I'll get a twinge and a memory. A flash. A hunch. And then I'll go check the date of it and realize it's the anniversary...or approaching the time of year of a particular happening or experience. It's weird, and no one I've ever told about it has said "Yeah, me too."

That happened last week...I just got this weird Wedding Crashersish feeling over me, and checked and sure enough, we were approaching the ten year mark.

The summer of 2005. Life was pretty simple back then. Single. Care free. Largely void of a ton of responsibility. Still living a college-esque life, despite being a couple months removed from graduating with my Masters.

Or maybe not. I found a blog recently that I wrote back then called the The Summer That Never Started or some such. In it I detailed such a tale of woe, that perhaps I'm thankful for my current set of life trials. Or maybe not. Either way, I found earthly refuge in a little summer comedy with a couple of my favorite actors at their best.

I don't think Vince and Owen have come close since. I've enjoyed some of their stuff. Fred Claus is still one of my must-watches every December, and I'll probably eventually pick up The Internship if I see it in a $2 bin someday. But I think WC was their peak. In fact I know it was.

And the scenes. The imagery. Vivid colors. The soundtrack. Wedding Crashers had it all. And I couldn't get enough. Every time we'd go back to the theater we'd catch a new, understated Christoper Walken line we hadn't previously noticed.

Ten years can do a lot to a guy. I plan on popping in my DVD tonight and getting transported to the summer of 2005. We'll see--since I've matured spiritually SO much--if it falls flat. As Matt Drudge called it at the time, there's no getting around the fact that it's a "movie packed with raunchy moments and bare-breasted beauties." But we always looked away during that part. no really, we did.

But for me, I have to scratch that itch. It's a movie I have to watch every summer. But I can't watch it anytime but the summer. And I'll probably long for the days when I was living steps from a college campus, working a 12-6p job (what?), and no inherited school loans, 3am emergency work calls, or family crises. I'll never be not sentimental. I'll never not have my ridiculous traditions. And for me, it's as much recalling friendships and memories as anything else.

And then I'll get up in the morning and thank God for the life I have now. And see what I can make of the day. 


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

MLB All-Stars 2015. First Look.


Can't believe the All-Star Game is a month from tonight.

Time to scour the stat pages and give an early look at the most-deserving rosters. As always, I reserve the right to revisit this if things change in the next three weeks or so.

NATIONAL LEAGUE
C - Buster Posey
1B - Paul Goldschmidt
2B - Joe Panik
SS - Jhonny Peralta
3B - Todd Frazier
OF - Bryce Harper
OF - Giancarlo Stanton
OF - Justin Upton
P - Gerrit Cole
P - Max Scherzer
P - Zach Greinke
P - Shelby Miller
P - Jacob DeGrom
P - A.J. Burnett
RP - Trevor Rosenthal
RP - Mark Melancon
RP - Drew Storen
RP - Jeurys Familia


AMERICAN LEAGUE
C - Stephen Vogt
1B - Miguel Cabrera
2B - Jason Kipnis
SS - Xander Bogaerts
3B - Josh Donaldson
OF - Nelson Cruz
OF - Mike Trout
OF - Josh Reddick
P - Dallas Keuchel
P - Sonny Gray
P - Chris Archer
P - Chris Sale
P - Jake Odorizzi
P - Felix Hernandez
RP - Glen Perkins
RP - Andrew Miller
RP - Zach Britton
RP - Dellin Betances

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Game Seven.

Baseball is still the best. Having a for-sure final game of the year renders me absolutely melancholy. A baseball season is such a constant companion

Starting with the countdown to pitchers & catchers. Then that first Spring Training game on the radio. Taking off work for an Opening Day party.

The grind of fantasy baseball. Daily box scores and the roller coaster of thrilling wins and all-too-long losing streaks.

Meaningless All-Star Game voting. The rush of the trading deadline. Magic numbers. September callups.

And then the sudden realization of how weird it looks to see long shadows in the middle of the afternoon watching a game on TV in late September.

And October baseball feels like a different sport altogether. Players in hoodies. Seeing pitchers' breath on the mound. That weird MLB on FOX ambient sound...

...from Valentine's day to Halloween, baseball doesn't leave you.

 Tomorrow another countdown begins.

Monday, July 21, 2014

REVIEW: Colony House - When I Was Younger




COLONY HOUSE - When I Was Younger (Descendant Records)

Count this reviewer among the skeptics. The Chapman boys have a band? Sure they do... You mean the same guys who were touring with their dad--on stage--as teenagers? The ones who were thrown onto a VeggieTales soundtrack some ten years ago? Of course they have a band.

But then they did something unexpected. They took it slowly. Honed their craft. They hit the road. They built a social media following (over 30K on Facebook). They methodically released a faithful stream of EPs--never biting off more than they could chew--each one sounding a bit more "like them" than the last. By the time they changed their name and released their first EP as Colony House earlier this year, they had accomplished something quite profound. They had created an appetite and an anticipation for a debut release--literally years in the making--that not a lot of bands have the luxury of doing.

Several songs (literally half the album) had been released (or leaked) in recent months. But to now sit down and finally ingest the collection as a whole--each track sitting in its own assigned seat, complimenting the one before and the one after--reveals what I've long now suspected about these guys as artists. I'll admit my expectations were sky high. And like a great meal at a fine establishment, When I Was Younger hits the spot. In all the right spots.

It's not too early to call this a masterpiece. Let alone debut albums, this is the best album--period--that I've heard all year (and maybe in years). A fellow listener put it best: "It sounds like a fourth or fifth album from an established, veteran band." It will be impossible here to overstate the blend of lyrical depth, musical maturity, and artistic tact. The instrumentation almost always elevates the lyric, and that is a rare find indeed in modern music. Each song is extremely comfortable in its own skin. Not one cut feels forced or like filler. Everything fits, but every song is distinct in personality.

A colleague asked me the other day what my favorite CH song was. It stopped me in my tracks. This is so unlike me. I have a favorite of everything. But it had never even occurred to me to pick a favorite off this record. And I realized it was because I couldn't begin to. Nor do I need to. I love "2:20" for its rowdy, surf-rock sensiblity. I'm still partial to "Keep On Keeping On" for its ability to take a cliche, and turn it into a profound, motivating rock song. "Roll With The Punches" will scratch your retro itch. "Moving Forward" would fit nicely on any of Coldplay's last three albums, and reaches incredible anthemic heights. What a profound declaration. And the underrated "Glorious" is among the most practical and unique takes on heaven ever captured in music.

WIWY is marked by layer after layer of production and nuance, all the while avoiding overkill. Thematically, it does a wonderful job of portraying the hope of the Gospel without ever once giving a sermon.

Will Chapman's never-sit-still drumming married with Caleb's singer/songwriter tunes make for a fairly unique brand of rock and roll. And the latter utilizes his falsetto as deftly as anyone you'll hear in modern music. To say it's "Keane meets Killers" is too easy. Tennessee-flavored Brit-Rock doesn't quite do it justice either. As the album ages toward its end, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that these lyrics, concepts and arrangements came from a rookie band comprised of twenty-somethings. It listens like a greatest hits of sorts, but is conceptually too airtight to be so.

WIWY ends with "Lose Control." The song's primary hook is an all-too perfect summary for this collection of music: "We can't keep fighting for a steady life, so I'll ride the wind like a feather toward home." If most of us could have only learned that truth in our early 20s, how much wasted mental energy and frustration could have been saved...

I found myself looking ahead the other day. Can't wait til these guys release the follow up. I quickly caught myself... Their debut album isn't even out yet. But that's what this band will do to you. This record was a long time in the making, and the finished product is every bit as thorough as the process must have been. If CH has the ability to equal this collection both in quality and concept with future releases, they will eventually take their rightful place among the greats. In the meantime, take a long drive and absorb this one for what it is.

***** out of 5 stars




Sunday, July 6, 2014

2014 MLB All-Stars First Look

Usually get them in a little sooner than this. Let the record show I did actually cast my vote(s) before the MLB-mandated deadline though. Again--as in most years--most of these selections were pretty clear cut. Just a couple of them (like NL 2B) didn't have an obvious choice. That said, I have to feel pretty good about my work here...

NL
C - Jonathan LuCroy
1B - Paul Goldschmidt
2B - Scooter Gennett
SS - Troy Tulowitski
3B - Todd Frazier
OF - Yasiel Puig
OF - Andrew McCutchen
OF - Giancarlo Stanton
DH - Adam Laroche
SP - Clayton Kershaw
SP - Adam Wainwright
SP - Johnny Cueto
SP - Julio Teheran
SP - Josh Beckett
RP - Huston Street
RP - Francisco Rodriguez
RP - Rafael Soriano
RP - Jonathan Papelbon


AL
C - Salvador Perez
1B - Edwin Encarnacion
2B - Ian Kinsler
SS - Alexei Ramirez
3B - Josh Donaldson
OF - Nelson Cruz
OF - Mike Trout
OF - Jose Bautista
DH - Victor Martinez
SP - Masahiro Tanaka
SP - Felix Hernandez
SP - Yu Darvish
SP - Mark Buehrle
SP - Chris Sale
RP - Koji Uehara
RP - Greg Holland
RP - Fernando Rodney
RP - David Robertson
RP - Casey Janssen