Monday, May 17, 2021

Tipped pitches and injuries. This is what's wrong with the Mets

 The Mets went into Tampa Bay with a 7 game winning streak, and move to Atlanta tonight barely clinging to first place in the NL Least. To paraphrase David Byrne of the Talking Heads, 41 years ago, how did we get here?

The most obvious culprit, of course, is injuries, and as with other teams in the majors, including the Braves, the timing is just so bad.

On Sunday, outfielder Michael Conforto and infielder Jeff McNeil both left the game with hamstring tightness, and were placed on an already swollen injured list this morning, less than 24 hours after the Mets were swept by the defending AL champion Rays. The Mets are hoping in the next week or so to get infielder JD Davis, ace pitcher Jacob deGrom, and outfielder Brandon Nimmo back from the IL, but, considering Nimmo has already had a setback while on rehab in Syracuse last week, nothing's guaranteed.

Meanwhile, Atlanta will have their all-universe leadoff hitter, Ronald Acuna, Jr., back tonight, barring a setback from an ankle injury that kept him sidelined vs. Milwaukee over the weekend. Pitcher Huascar Ynoa, he of the grand slam homer against Washington a couple of weeks back, broke his hand in frustration after getting roughed up by the Brewers on Sunday, and is out for 2 months. Mike Soroka, who tore his Achilles vs. the Mets last year, isn't ready to return after he had to undergo a 2nd operation a few days ago. However, the Braves' offense is a little more intact than the Mets for now. That's trouble for the Mets.

The other problem seems to be pitcher Joey Lucchesi, acquired from San Diego in the off-season. Lucchesi got roughed up vs. Tampa Bay over the weekend, and there are online commentators who've noted that Lucchesi has been tipping his pitches, a problem he might've also had contribute to his demise with the Padres. Manager Luis Rojas is hoping Lucchesi can get one more go in the rotation, covered by an opener, as was the case in his last two games, but Mets Nation has turned on Lucchesi, determining that he's a reliever, nothing more.

Prediction: Lucchesi may be gone by the trade deadline.

The Rays' familiarity with another Mets reliever, Sean Reid-Foley, certainly helped in Saturday's 12-5 win. Reid-Foley pitched for Toronto last season, as did Aaron Loup, so I'd think Tampa manager Kevin Cash might've kept his scouting reports from last season handy.

If anyone thought the injury curse that plagued Citi Field left with the Wilpons, think again. It never left.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

On The Shelf: Man-Thing turns 50, but Marvel fumbles

 The Man-Thing made his debut in the pages of Savage Tales 50 years ago. A scientist, Ted Sallis, had been working on a modified version of the same super soldier formula that created Captain America some 30 years earlier, but, pursued by enemy agents, crashes into the swamps of the Florida everglades, and mutates into a mute monster, powered by emotional empathy, whose touch burns its fearful victims.

Veteran writer Steve Orlando, making his Marvel debut, was tasked with creating an all-new story for the character's 50th anniversary. Marvel, sensing big bucks, decided that instead of a miniseries, there would be a trio of 1-shot specials in which Man-Thing would co-star with the company's big guns, Spider-Man, the Avengers, & the X-Men.

Unfortunately, that strategy backfired. The last two chapters were released a week apart, and it didn't help that Orlando had created a less than appealing villain in the Harrower, an arrogant woman who wants the Man-Thing's powers for herself. By the time the X-Men chapter came out, I'd already decided this was a lost cause. Shoot, RL Stine did a better job with Man-Thing a few years ago.

Rating: C-.
Speaking of the black & white era at Marvel, which we really weren't, ye scribe caught a lucky break, and acquired a pair of issues of Marvel Preview, a quarterly anthology series that would adapt novels, such as Philip Wylie's Gladiator, or creator-owned characters, like Gil Kane's Blackmark. The series gave way to Bizarre Adventures around 1980 or so, so that Marvel could do more black & white uncensored stories of popular characters like the X-Men.

Roy Thomas, who adapted Gladiator into Man-God in 1976, revisited the concept at DC a few years later when he created the character of Iron Munro for his Young All-Stars series. I don't really remember if Marvel let him finish Man-God----he might've, but I'm not sure----, but bringing the concept back now in the 21st century would be nice right about now.

Rating for Marvel Preview: A-. Hey, they actually adapted Sherlock Holmes before DC did. That accounts for something.
We talked up the current Suicide Squad series a couple of months back. This was an outgrowth of a Future State miniseries during the winter, and in the probable future as now, Amanda Waller is more ruthless than ever. I honestly don't know if that would be the politically correct thing to do with Waller, treating her like just another power-drunk politico, which is what she really is.

However, I have serious doubts about whether or not DC will stick with any of the Future State concepts, even though the most hyped, Wonder Girl, debuts this week. Readers are desperate to get out of the grim-dark era that we've been stuck in since the mid-80's, but grim-dark-lovin' fanboys are like, well, do I really need to tell you?

The mistake DC made was piggybacking a Black Adam two-parter that belonged in the back of Future State: Shazam! on the back of this mini, and that was equally dull in repackaging Adam into a tragic hero yet again.

Rating: B--.
American Mythology, the license holders to the Three Stooges, decided to adapt Hanna-Barbera's 1977 bionic parody, The Robonic Stooges. The writers, including SA Check, who writes most of the Stooge adaptations for American Mythology, did their level best to retain the spirit of those shorts, most of which, if memory serves, were written by Norm Maurer, Moe Howard's son-in-law, who also had a hand with a certain pair of Super Friends characters ye scribe is so fond of, while adding the eye-pokes and slapstick antics of the real Stooges, which were left out of the cartoons due to anti-violence restrictions.

Rating: A-.
The Hellfire Club used to be enemies of the X-Men back in the day, but times have changed, and on the living island of Krakoa, a mutant itself, it seems the groups will come together for what is being billed as the Hellfire Gala. So Marvel decides to go all Glamour with a preview guide that shows off some formal mutant fashions for 2021. So not digging Professor X's new helmet, which he's had the last couple of years. The weekly event is a cash grab, nothing more.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The GOPer game plan in 2021: Lie, deny, revise history, and just be stupid enough to think their base is the same way

 The late Robin Williams titled one of his comedy albums, "Reality.....What a Concept". Apparently, the Repugnants have decided to adopt that philosophy, but they're denying reality.

For example, Texas Rep. "Screwy" Louie Gohmert was on the House floor Friday, trying to defend the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, painting the Trump supporters as, get this, political prisoners.


After Schuylerville's Elise Stefanik was appointed to replace Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney as the #3 Republican on Friday, House Minority Leader/Minister of Propaganda Kevin "The Body Snatcher" McCarthy tried to say, just because they were in the same room with President Biden, that all was well, but, yet, they continue to bend the knees and kiss the ring of former president Pecos Pampers (Donald Trump), coddling the delusional, paranoid man-child by pushing his agenda that the election was stolen, when it clearly wasn't.


And, then, you have the House's Duchess of Dumb, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, still trying to pick a fight with Alex From The Block (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), out in the open, like a schoolyard bully. AOC, for her part, dismissed Mushmind's taunts by likening them to the rude barroom customers she used to eject when she was a bartender.

Unfortunately, Mushmind is trying to re-position herself as a victim, because that's what Repugnants do to deceive their base.

By the way, we know Elise Stefanik is kissing the ring of Citizen Pampers to advance her career, nothing more. Prolonged exposure to him, however, could be fatal. Just sayin'.

Finally, certain Repugnants, including Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, are making up a story pinning a recent shortage of Polynesian sauces at Chick-Fil-A restaurants on President Biden. This has been forwarded by Ted "Sea" Cruz and Fox Shmooze. Farron Cousins explains.

Why do they lie so much? Because it's easier for them to deceive their base than telling the truth. These idiots tried to pin the recent gas shortage, triggered by a supplier being hacked, causing panic buying, on Biden, but that didn't work, obviously. Repugnants would rather ignore facts to advance their agenda. However, their false god, Trump, is on the hot seat, as there's reports he could be extradited to New York, something that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could object to, but I don't know if he can object if the Federal Government implements the extradition order instead of New York. DeSantis has done enough stupid things in service to Citizen Pampers, but this would torpedo his Presidential chances in 2024. Stay tuned.

If you've been vaccinated, your card is your ticket to summer pleasures

It's been almost two months since I received my 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine, with no side effects. In light of the Center for Disease Control's amended guidelines, I still carry a mask when I travel, just to be safe. Have to have it when you're riding on a bus, for example. It's called erring on the side of caution. The vaccination card that was issued after the first shot now serves as a golden ticket, if you will, for dining at certain restaurants and attending sporting events or other activities this summer and forward.

All I need, really, is to get a plastic case big enough to hold the card so I can carry it.

Personal feelings aside, there are still some unfortunate pockets of resistance to the vaccine that actually will slow the healing process.

The biggest line of resistance consists of anti-vaxxers, people who have a problem with vaccines in general because of some misinformation that spread online a ways back. I'd not be surprised if some of these people are also members of Donald Trump's Legion of The Brainwashed, because they're gullible enough to believe any lie that comes along. In my mind, I think some of these folks have never gotten past the stage when they were children of fearing the needles that the vaccines are carried in.

Unfortunately, some of these anti-vax knuckleheads have a problem with businesses that are requiring proof of vaccination, including one in the home district.

Matt Baumgartner owns the Troy Beer Garden, formerly Wolfe's Biergarten, on the corner of King & 4th streets. He has a cocktail lounge, the Berlin, on the 2nd floor, set to open later this month, where he's politely asking for people to show proof of vaccination.

Photo courtesy of Bill Dowd, via the Albany Times-Union.

After Baumgartner made his announcement on Thursday, he's been flooded with threats from anti-vax clowns, most of them from out of state, and Troy police are looking into these threats. Baumgartner is doing the right thing, looking out for the safety of his clientele and employees, but the anti-vax tin-heads don't see it. According to the Albany Times-Union, Baumgartner has said that some of the threats come from Florida, which is run by a deranged governor in Ron DeSantis, one of the biggest Trump apologists and sycophants there is, putting politics and state revenue ahead of public safety while bowing at the altar of Citizen Pampers.

And if these anti-vax morons have a problem with just dining out in our fair city, they most likely will have a collective cow over the return of live sports and theatre productions. The Tri-City Valleycats are setting aside certain sections at Bruno Stadium for vaccinated fans, starting with the home opener on June 4. Again, it would be a good idea to bring your vaccination card with you when you're buying advance tickets. The Bruno Stadium box office is open Monday-Friday from 9 am-5 pm. I would imagine the Troy Fighting Irish semi-pro football team will follow suit. Troy Foundry Theatre has a production debuting outdoors (weather permitting, of course) on Wednesday, running through May 30, and vax cards are likely to be required.

To the anti-vaxxers, I have to ask. Why would you risk your health believing a lie?

Friday, May 14, 2021

You don't see ads like this anymore (1968)

 I first ran across a copy of Guideposts in the waiting room of a doctor's office some years back. Founded by Norman Vincent Peale and his wife in 1945, Guideposts is still active today, and has always been a non-profit project. Now 76 years strong, its positive messages are just what we need to wade through the mess of today's society.

However, you just don't see them promoting the magazine or the organization like they did back in 1968, when a series of ads would air. Most, like this one, were narrated by Art Fleming (Jeopardy!):

A little of this and a little of that

 We touched on this over at Saturday Morning Archives earlier this week, but it bears discussing here, too.

The CW, jointly run by ViacomCBS & WarnerMedia, is reviving one of Nickelodeon's popular game shows of the 90's. Only this time, Legends of The Hidden Temple, per its original host, Kirk Fogg, is being targeted at adults, not children.

I think I get why. Any "kids" being interested would be the children of the show's original target audience and/or contestants. That would be a good way to make this more of a generational, legacy series. Interviewed earlier this week, Fogg looks like he possibly could return, too.

Stay tuned.
On the heels of the Legends announcement comes word that the CW will take the last step, and expand their primetime grid all the way across, adding a Saturday slate as early as next year.

Assuming the new Legends, like other game show revivals, is a hour-long block, it'd be a perfect match for Powerpuff, Greg Berlanti & Diablo Cody's updating of The Powerpuff Girls, which is reportedly already in production on a pilot.

Locally, WCWN (Spectrum digital channel 1212) will have to move Ring of Honor Wrestling's weekly show to a later time slot on Saturdays. It already airs Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at midnight. The only disruptions would be for Mets or Yankees broadcasts, usually on Friday or Saturday nights.
The Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday that vaccinated citizens can go without masks outdoors and indoors, the latter except for crowded venues such as hospitals, nursing homes, theatres, et al, or on public transportation, such as buses and trains.

Here in New York, however, Governor Andrew Cuomo is advising caution, since there were 22 deaths attributed to COVID-19 on Wednesday. As ye scribe can attest, local businesses are still requiring masks for the duration, although that could change as summer approaches.
Is this the face of a high school student?

Photo courtesy of Yahoo!

Audrey Nicole Francisquini, 28, snuck into a Hialeah, Florida school, posing as a student, just so she could promote her Instagram page. Otherwise employed by Carnival Cruise Lines, Francisquini took advantage of a day off to attempt her little stunt. She evaded school security, but, unfortunately for her, her Instagram ads gave away her location, and she was arrested later in the day.

The other shoe dropping could very well be Carnival dumping her before she even goes to jail. Just desserts for this week's Weasel.

It was one thing when Hollywood hires actors to play characters much younger than the actors themselves, a practice as old as time, from Our Miss Brooks to Riverdale. But how is it possible that every time we hear about an adult posing as a student and getting busted in real life, it's usually in the south?

The above picture should make a good mug shot, and a caution to anyone else who wants to try something like this. It ain't ending well.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

They're better off putting the cards under lock & key........

 A number of years back, in an effort to thwart shoplifters, a Rite Aid Pharmacy in Watervliet (now a Walgreens) began stocking their sports cards behind the counter, and you had to ask the clerk for what you wanted, just like you would for cigarettes. Customers were coming in, and, not having enough cash or a credit card to pay for the cards they wanted, would steal instead.

I know this because I shopped at that Rite Aid, and purchased a few packs over the counter. It was safe and effective.

Today, Walgreens and other retailers might want to take a look at that strategy.

Ever since the pandemic hit last year, adults, influenced by a YouTube "guru", began hoarding cards, going so far as to camp out in parking lots to await shipments. The kids, unless these hoarders were parents, were being denied. Walmart in Troy, for example, stopped carrying sports cards for a few months, since the hoarders were ignoring collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, the latter a multi-media franchise all by itself. Oh, sure, they still carried supplies like packs of card sheets (35 sheets for $5 is a pretty good deal), top loaders, & penny sleeves, but it just wasn't the same, and it was getting frustrating.

A few weeks back, that same Walmart had blaster boxes of this year's Topps Heritage baseball cards. I bought two boxes, hoping to start building the set. While I was at the checkout, another fellow showed up, scooped up the remaining three boxes, then scurried away to finish his shopping list.

Until Wednesday, no one that I knew of resorted to violence because of the hoarding.

In a Milwaukee suburb, four men were arrested after a scrum over some cards, and one of these goofs decided to pull a gun at a Target store. The chain then posted a sign saying that as of tomorrow, they would no longer be selling the cards, including Pokemon and Magic, at stores, but they'd be still available online.

The greed of these people is ridiculous. They want to hoard the cards and collect the profits for themselves. Either they're flippers, buyers who then re-sell the cards on eBay and other online sites for profit, or box breakers, who go on YouTube themselves and open the boxes, then invite offers for bids from interested customers.

So, is there a solution? Yep.

Stores like Walgreens can go back to keeping the cards behind the counter. For Walmart, Target, et al, putting them under lock & key, where a clerk would be the only one who can open the case, would be the solution, in addition to putting limits on how many packs can be purchased in one visit. The locked cases work in other stores for items like razor blades, which is what CVS does.

And, as for the YouTube "gurus" encouraging this crap, just stop. Think of the little kids who can't afford the inflated prices on packs or single cards. Cards are meant for the kids, but are for all ages, and have been for a while. It's time to stop ignoring the kids, stop hogging the cards, and share.