Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Joe Bruno Stadium will host one more high school baseball game, that being a Class AA regional contest, weather permitting, of course, on Saturday night, as Section 2 champ Columbia will host Baker High, out of the Baldwinsville district. While I'm not privy to inside information, I'd guess that Carmen Erno, who started the semi-final vs. Shenendehowa a week ago, could get the nod here over Tuesday's winner, Danny Watson, but we'll see. Game time is 7 pm.

Meanwhile, Class B champ Albany Academy will play Ogdensburg tonight at St. Lawrence University in Canton. Last year's game between the two teams was played at SUNY-Canton. Same town, different venue. However, at least one parent was not thrilled with having to go on the road, especially since the Cadets are deserving of hosting a regional game, what with a 22-2 overall record this season.

Contracts are signed well in advance between the NYS Public High School Athletic Association and the various venues, including Bruno Stadium, that host state regional games. The semi-finals and finals in all classes will be at Binghamton University June 8-9, but you know there will be a clamor to bring the state title games to The Joe down the road.
Former Shenendehowa star Kevin Huerter has decided to forego his remaining two years of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft, which will take place in 3 weeks at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

My initial reaction? Here we go again. Another local athlete is in line to make the big time, but watch. Despite the raves Huerter has gotten at the scouting combines, he'll more than likely be snubbed, just like UAlbany's Shereesha Richards was two years ago in the WNBA draft.

Do I think Huerter's turning pro too soon? Yes. The last Section 2 player to be drafted was Jimmer Fredette, and today, he's playing in China, not because he wasn't good enough for the NBA, but because there are people in positions of power on various teams that don't see the value of talents from the northeast.

Huerter's father, Tom, Sr., played four seasons at Siena, where Kevin's brother, Tom, Jr., is currently playing. Of course, the elder Huerter was part of a different generation, before the trend became 1-&-done to chase the money. I'm sure local fans are hoping Kevin Huerter lands with a regional team, like the Knicks, Celtics, or the Nets, which would make it easier for the family to travel to see him play.
As noted, Valleycats season is just 2 weeks away, and racing begins at legendary Saratoga Race Course a month later. But before all that happens, there is the Freihofer's Run For Women, which marks its 40th anniversary with this year's race, set to step off from Albany's City Hall on Saturday. It is upstate NY's answer to the Boston & NY marathons. The event not only attracts athletes of all ages, but local TV personalities as well. It's too bad Freihofer's isn't sponsoring a similar race for the guys, and then, if they did, you could make the argument that the event would make up one leg of an unofficial triple crown, along with the Boston & NY marathons.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted in an interview earlier this week that the NFL's new rules regarding player conduct during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner were the result of the league caving in to pressure from America's #1 spoiled brat, President Donald Trump.

What started as a silent protest against police brutality toward African-Americans and other minorities has been warped into a perceived show of disrespect toward the military, which is funny considering that Trump reportedly avoided the draft himself due to foot injuries. It's Trump's way of controlling the narrative of any scenario, even if he's not directly involved. It feeds his overfed ego. A lot of us can see through his phony facade of toughness, but the brainwashed malcontents who voted for him don't. That should make all the difference in 2020.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Musical Interlude: Theme From Shaft (2000)

Everyone knows about "Shaft". Not only the movie series, both theatrical and for CBS, with Richard Roundtree in the 70's. Everyone knows that the soundtrack turned Isaac Hayes into a musical icon.

Nearly 30 years after the first film was released, John Singleton rebooted the franchise. The focus now was on John Shaft's nephew, also named John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson). The film grossed over 70 million dollars by the time it was out of theatres, and Hayes, at the time working on South Park, revisited his greatest hit.

Where there wasn't an actual music video for the original "Theme From 'Shaft'", Hayes made one for the 2000 version, released on LaFace Records, and made the rounds, including an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. This music video will suffice. Like, I only just discovered it, complete with snippets of the movie (and a healthy dose of Jackson) mixed in.

Edit, 12/28/18: Had to replace the video. Here's the clip from Letterman:

A little bit of this & a little of that

The injuries just don't stop for the Mets.

Prior to Monday's double-header in Atlanta, the team placed relief pitcher A. J. Ramos and infielder Wilmer Flores on the disabled list. Flores was removed from Sunday's game in Milwaukee with back issues, and Ramos, it turns out, has a shoulder injury.

Then, prior to last night's game, co-ace Noah Syndergaard was put on the DL with a finger injury, retroactive to Saturday. Luckily for the Mets, last night's starter, lefty Steven Matz won't follow, although he left with a similar issue after just three innings.
In Tuesday's Albany Times-Union, James Allen questioned the wisdom of playing all five sectional softball finals at the same time at two different venues. Timing, I think, might be an issue, as well as concerns about the weather, although yesterday, that wasn't the case. There are some things that Section 2 and the NYS Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) need to address going forward, but if they're too comfortable to the point of complacency, well, as Section 2's Al Roy explained to me the other night at Bruno Stadium, state Regents law dictates that the sports season has to end when Regents exam week begins.

These are things that are not entirely outlined in the press.

For the record, Ballston Spa defeated Columbia for the AA softball title, with the Lady Scotties making the trip to Troy to root for their male counterparts afterward. Ichabod Crane salvaged a little respect in winning the B title after their baseball team fell to Albany Academy Saturday night. Greenville won the C title, Fort Ann remains the dominant force in D, and Averill Park moved back to the top of the mountain in Class A.
If there is one consistent thing that critics will point out about President Trump, it's the fact that he goes out of his way, or so it'd appear, to make everything about him, including what he thought was an innocent tweet on Memorial Day. Apparently, after more than 30 years in the public eye, Trump hasn't figured out yet that there's a certain amount of decorum that comes with the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, one of Trump's most high profile supporters put both feet in her mouth, up to her calves, if you will.

Roseanne Barr, a week removed from ABC having renewed her revived and critically acclaimed sitcom, flushed the goodwill down the tubes with a racially charged tweet blasting Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Barack Obama, who is African-American, and born in Iran. Barr, 65, assumed that Ms. Jarrett was a Muslim because of the Iranian connection. While this is not 100% certain, what is certain is that ABC rescinded the renewal of Roseanne, yanking it off the fall schedule.

Barr apologized for the tweet, then claimed it was due to the sleep medicine, Ambien. Sorry, Roseanne, but you can't have it both ways.

In response, Nick at Nite yanked reruns of the original 1980's-90's run of the series off their schedule, as did other cablers that have held rights. There was a headline on Yahoo! earlier suggesting Barr could shop the show elsewhere, but, as it happens, she's now just as toxic to cablers as Bill Cosby has become, even if it's for entirely different reasons.

The most likely place Roseanne will turn up is a binge-viewing at the nearest redneck rodeo.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Musical Interlude: Bristol Stomp (1961-2)

The Dovells only had one huge hit, and it was 1961's "Bristol Stomp", which sold over a million copies, earning gold record status.

This clip comes from the 1962 movie, "Don't Knock The Twist", whose star, Chubby Checker, introduces the Dovells.

Checker had recorded his version of "Bristol", with the Dovells singing backup, on the album version of "Don't Knock The Twist". Ah, the innocent days.....

Luck of the Draw: Columbia vs. Ballston Spa (Class AA baseball championship), 5/29/18

This is what's known as saving the best for last.

Section 2 saw its largest crowd of the season at Joe Bruno Stadium tonight, so much so that it felt like a Valleycats game, and the New York-Penn League season doesn't start for 2 1/2 weeks.  The Class AA title game already had a tough act to follow, after Queensbury reclaimed the Class A title with a 5-2 win over Amsterdam in the first half of the double-header.

Most of the fans came to root for 7th seeded Columbia, out of neighboring East Greenbush, against 5th seeded Ballston Spa. Everyone was treated to a pitchers' duel between Columbia's Danny Watson and Ballston Spa's Michael Poirer, which meant runs and hits were at a premium.

It was the Scotties who drew first blood in the fourth inning. Junior catcher Jake Manderson, one of the heroes of Ballston Spa's semi-final upset of Shenendehowa, opened the frame with a single. After Chance Checca was hit by a pitch, Mack Bumford was credited with an infield single when it should've been an error. Such has been the generosity of the official scorers in the sectional tournaments in all classes. Manderson scored to give the Scotties a 1-0 lead.

However, Poirer couldn't hold the lead. In the fifth, Nic Stagnitta scored Jack Hernandez with a two out single to tie the game. Next inning, Carmen Erno scored on a base hit by Willie Terrell. Matt Wimmer tried to score on the same play, but was thrown out at the plate by about two feet. Terrell, who appeared to tweak his knee in his first at-bat, was lifted briefly for a pinch runner, but returned in the next half-inning. Matt LaHera iced it for Columbia with a sacrifice fly in the seventh off Luke Gold, who had relieved Poirer with one out. Poirer finished with two earned runs, three walks, and eight strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

Watson, meanwhile, was just as brilliant in going the distance, giving up the lone run in the fifth while striking out eight himself.

Maybe seven is a lucky number after all.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Celebrity Rock: Good Time Music (1973)

From the final season of The Brady Bunch:

In the episode, "Adios, Johnny Bravo", Greg (Barry Williams) lands a deal with an agent----who is only interested in promoting Greg under the stage name Johnny Bravo. In what amounts to a commentary on the state of pre-fab bubblegum pop, "Adios, Johnny Bravo" illustrates the difficult decision Greg has to make, and how to get peace & harmony back in the Brady household.

Without spoiling anything, let's just say that this number, "Good Time Music", sung by Greg with Marcia (Maureen McCormick), provides a cure-all.

Three points to consider:

1. This was a sort-of precursor, take it however you like, to the abysmal Brady Bunch Variety Hour, which Paramount & Sherwood Schwartz's Redwood Productions, in conjunction with the Kroffts, would foist upon ABC and America four years later.

2. This would be the only time and place where the Brady Kids would truly be together as a group, as on the animated series, half the cast left, replaced by Keith Sutherland (Hal's son) and Lane & Erica Scheimer (Lou's kids), resulting in both Brady series being cancelled at the end of the 1973-4 season.

3. The use of a musical number following the main plot was lifted from another Filmation series, CBS' Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids, as the moral lesson du jour was explained in the lyrics of "Good Time Music".

What Might've Been: Medic (1954)

In a way, Medic was a branch off the Jack Webb creative tree.

Writer-creator James Moser had been a writer for both the radio & television incarnations of Webb's seminal procedural, Dragnet, as well as the radio version of Dr. Kildare. What Moser sought to do was inform his audience about various medical maladies, such as lukemia and diabetes, in this anthology series.

However, Medic lasted just two seasons (1954-6), due likely to declining ratings. Richard Boone served as the series host & narrator (and occasionally involved in stories) as Dr. Konrad Styner. I recall seeing reruns of Medic airing on WSMW out of Worcester, Ma., back in the 80's. At the time, it was the only station in my market carrying the show, as it wasn't running locally.

From season 2, a young John Saxon stars in a tale of a prize fighter trying to make ends meet, unaware of his contracting type 1 diabetes. Here's "Walk With Lions".

14 years later, Saxon would himself play a doctor on The Bold Ones. Boone would, of course, become more of an icon with CBS' Have Gun...Will Travel, and would work for Webb in the 70's in the short-lived Hec Ramsey.

Rating: A.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Forgotten TV: Michael Shayne (1958)

Two years before Four Star & NBC adapted Brett Halliday's hard boiled sleuth, Michael Shayne was given a first look by NBC from an independent studio.

The adaptation of "Three Men on a Raft" served as the series finale of Decision, a summer anthology series comprised of pilots from various studios such as Screen Gems and Revue. Mark Stevens not only stars as Shayne, but directed this episode as well.

Decision had started with a half-hour pilot for The Virginian, not from Revue, but, surprisingly, from Screen Gems. The season also included a pilot for a remake of Ralph Bellamy's Man Against Crime, this time with Darren McGavin in the lead. Sadly, NBC decided to go a different route with running unsold pilots in later years.

Rating: B.

Weasel of the Week: Kanye West

"Can't nothin' bring me shame!"--"Weird" Al Yankovic, "Tacky".

That line certainly describes Kanye West, who, in promoting and producing Pusha T's new CD, "Daytona", wasted $85,000 on a 12 year old National Enquirer photo of the bathroom of the late singer, Whitney Houston. Said room was reportedly filled with drug paraphenalia, and West is using the photo as the "Daytona" CD cover.

Not everyone is happy with West's latest screwball decision, including Damon Elliott, Houston's cousin, who spoke out to People on the subject. For all of his supposed genius, West looks more and more like a fraud in a drug induced haze of his own, trampling on the memory of a beloved star of the 80's & 90's, strictly for personal gain, not just Pusha T's, but his own.

There are those who are calling for West to change the album cover, but as of this morning, there've been no plans in that direction. If enough people shame West into doing so, then there stands the risk that there are already copies out there that will become collector's items if/when the cover is changed to something that would be 1) more contemporary and 2) appropriate.

Unsurprisingly, the last time West made headlines wasn't that long ago, when he expressed his support for that other shameless self-promoter, President Donald Trump, claiming the world's oldest man-child inspired him to announce a run for President in 2020---which probably won't come off anyway, the product of little more than a perpetual fever dream.

As a result, West gets yet another set of Weasel ears, and, we hope, someone has the cajones to play an endless medley of Houston's hits, with a side order of Jimmy Buffett's "Come Monday", which references a drug induced haze in its lyrics, in dedication to this hopelessly brain-dead "artist".

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Repeat the sounding joy!: Albany Academy vs. Ichabod Crane (Class B baseball championship), 5/26/18

It wasn't all that long ago that Ichabod Crane inflicted the first Section 2 loss of the season on defending Class B champion Albany Academy. Going into tonight's title game, it felt like a distant memory.

Each team went with their aces on the mound, with Dave Yankowski getting the call for the Riders, and Ben Seiler for Academy. Seiler got through the first inning with no problems, getting his opposite number to fly out to end the frame.

In the home half of the first, Johnny Decker singled, stole second, and, with the bases loaded, scored on a ground ball by Seiler that deflected off Yankowski's glove. Seiler was out at first by a stride, but Decker gave the Cadets a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Short-lived because in the top of the second, the Riders answered right back. Josh Hall drew a two-out walk, and scored on a double by John Wheeler. However, Ichabod Crane could go no further, and we were tied after two innings at a run apiece.

In the Cadet third, Decker beat out an infield single, Danny Moshier walked, and Brett Young was clipped on the helmet by a pitch as Yankowski had lost the strike zone. E. J. Birch then cleared the sacks with a triple to give Academy a 4-1 lead. Seiler promptly brought Birch home with a single to make it 5-1. It stayed that way until the fifth, when Rama Culver led off with a double, and Seamus Wolfe brought him home with a single to make it 5-2.

The Cadets answered in their half of the fifth, and effectively put the game away. Birch, with one out, doubled. Seiler plated pinch runner Joe Whalen with a base knock, and, one out later, Ben Mason lashed a drive to right that scored Seiler, but the Rider defense had trouble handling the ball, which ended up in the Cadet dugout, allowing Mason to score. Ichabod Crane crept closer with two runs in the sixth, helped out by a period of wildness by Seiler, who walked Hall & Wheeler to start the inning. Hall would score on a single by Tyler Daley. Wolfe would bring Daley home with the final run of the game, as Seiler slammed the door shut, striking out three of his last four batters, nailing down Albany Academy's second straight Class B crown with an 8-4 win.

Neither pitcher was sharp. Seiler finished with eight strikeouts and five walks in earning a hard fought victory. Yankowski, for his part, fanned four, hit two, and walked four, but was betrayed by his defense at a critical juncture of the game. Once again, the Riders came up short.

Up next for Albany Academy will be a state regional at Ogdensburg Free Academy on Thursday. For the seniors, such as Young, Seiler, & Birch, a state title would be icing on the cake.

Earlier, the Class D title required an extra frame before Fort Plain upended Whitehall, 10-6, in eight innings. With all the scoring, coupled with the defensive & pitching shuffling employed by both coaches, the game swelled to nearly three hours, delaying the start of the Class B title game by about a half hour or so, such that the Riders-Cadets game was played under overcast skies, in contrast to the opener starting in humid conditions. Well, the crazy weather shouldn't have been a surprise after all.

Classic TV: Cheyenne (1955)

Not only did Cheyenne put its star, Clint Walker, on the map, but it also began the career of Warner Bros. producer William T. Orr, who would be in charge of the studio's live action television output for the next 11 seasons (1955-66).

Walker was cast as Cheyenne Bodie for the series, which was originally part of the studio's anthology wheel, Warner Brothers Presents, before being spun off on its own. After a couple of seasons, Walker wanted to pursue a feature film career, and left the show for a time, so Cheyenne went on an extended hiatus, spinning off Bronco, starring Ty Hardin, as a result. As previously documented, Bronco ran for 4 seasons of its own (1958-62), forging its own identity. Cheyenne would, of course, return.

Currently, reruns of Cheyenne air weekdays on Heroes & Icons (check your cable listings), which is where I finally had an opportunity to see it. For now, however, let's serve up a sample intro:

Walker passed away earlier this week, and while fellow bloggers, such as Sam Wilson over at Mondo 70, have paid tributes in their own way, this is The Land of Whatever's contribution.

Rating: A-.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Musical Interlude: The Heat is On (1984-5)

Glenn Frey's "The Heat is On" was the 2nd single off the "Beverly Hills Cop" soundtrack from the winter of 1984-5. Scope it!

High School Fridays: Section 2 Class C/CC finals, 5/25/18

In Section 2 baseball, Class C is so big (How big is it?), such that come sectionals, it has to be split into two classes, C & CC. Today's double-header at Bruno Stadium provided plenty of excitement, despite the sparse turnouts.

The winners of today's games would move on to a C vs. CC "playoff" on Tuesday at Shuttleworth Park, while the Class AA title game is played as the second half of a double-header with the A title game at Bruno Stadium.

The C title game opened the card, with Maple Hill, representing the Patroon Conference, facing Canajoharie, from the Western Athletic Conference. The Cougars struck first against Maple Hill starter Alec Yager in the first inning. With one out, Aiden O'Neil singled, and came around on a double by Isaiah Logan.

Unfortunately, the Cougars' defense betrayed starter Griffin Collins, committing three costly errors in the home first, leading to two unearned runs. Maple Hill poured it on after that, as they scored in every inning. Yager recovered after giving up the run, and finished with a complete game, striking out seven while walking four. After a sacrifice fly by Tyler Hanrahan in the home sixth, the umpires called the game, invoking the mercy rule for the second time in as many days, as the Wildcats claim the C title, 12-2.

For his part, Collins didn't really do too badly, but coach Cody Lillich left him on the mound a wee bit too long, letting him start the fourth. After hitting Nick Butler with a pitch, and walking Yager, followed by a single by Hanrahan, Collins was finally pulled from the mound, moving to third base in a defensive shuffle. In all, he was charged with eight runs, six earned in three-plus innings.

In the nightcap, the CC title was on the line as perennial contender Lake George took on Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, another team out of the WAC. The Golden Knights are a former Big 10 school, which relocated a while back.

Knights starter Vinny Sorrentino helped his own cause in the home first, as he singled and scored on a double by Jacob Trombley, both wrapped around strikeouts by Warriors starter Tony Abrantes. Bishop Gibbons added a run in the second, and then, their offense disappeared, as Lake George began their comeback. Despite his offensive heroics, Sorrentino was wild, walking eight batters, three of them to start the visiting third. Connor Vidnansky cashed in one of the walks with a sacrifice fly, and Lake George was within one at 2-1.

After Lake George tied the game, thanks to some sloppy Bishop Gibbons defense in the fifth, Sorrentino untied the game with a sacrifice fly, part of a three run frame to put the Knights back up, 5-2. However, that wouldn't last. Two more walks in the sixth set up a four run rally to put the Warriors up for good, and Sorrentino was removed from the mound after 5 1/3 innings in a defensive switch.

Abrantes had similarly been shuffled off to first base in the fifth after going 4 1/3, reliever Nick Hoffis was moved from the outfield, and benefited from the Warriors' comeback in the sixth. However, there was a scary moment in the seventh, as Hoffis was struck in the groin by a pitch from Matt Kordziel, and had to be lifted briefly for a pinch runner, Jack Mellon. Mellon came around to score as the Warriors tacked on three insurance runs. Hoffis came back out for the home seventh, and negotiated his way through, giving up only a sacrifice fly to Trombley, as Lake George outlasted Bishop Gibbons, 9-6. As a result, it'll be Lake George vs. Maple Hill on Tuesday. Hoffis went 2 2/3 innings for the win, while Nick Kownack, who relieved Sorrentino in the critical sixth, was tagged with the loss.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

What Might've Been: Once a Hero (1987)

What if a comic book hero crossed over from the printed page into the real world?

That was the premise behind the short lived ABC fantasy, Once a Hero, which didn't even finish its first month on the air in 1987.

The plot centered on a fellow named Captain Justice (Jeff Lester), who has made his way into our world. Just three episodes aired before ABC pulled the plug. Marvel Comics, which for a time was affiliated with New World Television, the show's producers, served up a Captain Justice book, which explains some familiar faces in the opening montage. Unfortunately, the book was canned after just 2 issues.

Apparently, Once a Hero tested so badly in one city that the ABC affiliate subbed in another freshman series that year, a syndicated science fiction series that went on to a very successful run. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Regrettably, one of the unaired episodes was to feature Adam West as an actor who had played Captain Justice on television, but is being barred from making personal appearances in costume due to litigation, a plot mirroring a real-life issue involving Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) at the time.

Here's the intro:

No rating. Never saw the show.

Shaking up the status quo: Section 2 Class AA Semi-finals, 5/24/18

The final four in the Section 2 Class AA sectionals, predictably, were all from the Suburban Council. However, the results of today's games were anything but predictable.

In the opener, 3rd seeded Colonie took on 7th seeded Columbia, which upset #2 Bethlehem to get to Joe Bruno Stadium. The Garnet Raiders took an early 1-0 lead in the first without the benefit of a hit.

Unfortunately, senior pitcher Kyle Lambert couldn't hold the lead, and couldn't get out of the second inning. Columbia batted around in the frame, scoring six runs while sending Lambert to an early shower. Lambert's control was not as impeccable as it had been in the past.

In the third, Columbia second baseman Justin Pangburn slammed a 2 run home run to pad the lead, depositing a pitch from Spencer Wall into the home bullpen. Colonie got the runs right back in their half, stringing together a walk and three straight hits in an effort to get back into the game.

However, the relentless Blue Devil offense iced the game with three runs apiece in the fourth & fifth innings. Colonie plated a run in the home fifth, but by then it was too late. The game was called via mercy rule after five innings, with Columbia notching their second upset in as many days, 14-4. Carmen Erno pitched three innings before moving to third base, and went 2-3 at the plate with 2 runs scored.

So, now it was a question of who would be next for the Blue Devils, top-ranked Shenendehowa or #5 Ballston Spa. With defending champion Niskayuna eliminated by Colonie on Wednesday, the door was open for the Plainsmen to reclaim the Class AA crown.

The Scotties, however, had other ideas.

Shen starter Mitch Wright gave up two runs in the first, and seemed to settle down after that. However, Ballston Spa erupted for five runs in the third, capped by a 2-run homer by catcher Jake Manderson, to take a 7-0 lead, knocking Wright out in the process.

In the home third, Griffin Wallner singled, and would score the only run for Shen in the game. Scotties starter Luke Gold went the distance, scattering five hits. Manderson hit a three-run bomb that nearly left Bruno Stadium entirely in the sixth to ice the game, and Ballston Spa punched their ticket to the title game with an 11-1 win.

Action resumes tomorrow with the Class CC & C finals. Weather permitting, it'll be Classes D & B on Saturday.

Sports this 'n' that

Jets coach Todd "Salad" Bowles never gave Christian Hackenberg a chance to play after the quarterback was drafted out of Penn State two years ago. This decision may yet come back to bite "Gang Green" on its collective tuchis.

On Tuesday, Hackenberg was traded to Oakland for a low round pick in next year's draft. Oakland coach Jon Gruden, unlike Bowles, may be willing to give Hackenberg a chance. When he was with ESPN, Gruden had nothing but praise for Hackenberg. Stay tuned.
Also Tuesday, the Mets acquired outfielder Jose Bautista, who was released by Atlanta two days earlier. Bautista started his career in the National League with Pittsburgh, but became a big star in Toronto, which let him walk after last season. Bautista should provide some veteran guidance, as well as injury insurance, going forward. Unfortunately, the Mets are 0-2 with "Joey Bats", having lost the last two nights to Miami. The Braves had Bautista platooning at third base, but the Mets have a platoon there already with Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes, and rookie Luis Guillorme.
Rare is the occasion when an expansion team can challenge for a championship right out of the box.

That's exactly what's happening in the NHL, though, as the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights will play the Washington Capitals for the Stanley Cup. Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleuery knows a little something about the Cup, having won a couple of those in Pittsburgh. I haven't followed the NHL enough this season to form an opinion, but might watch a couple of games just to pass time.
The way the media spins it, the NFL is catering to President Manchild (Donald Trump) with new rules regarding player conduct for the National Anthem. The league expects all players to stand for the anthem, or wait in the locker room while it's being played. Penalties will be assessed in the form of fines from the team to players or, if the league mandates it, there may be some flags thrown before the kickoff.

It's funny, really, how President Trump says he wants the athletes to respect the flag and the military, when he kept dodging military service in his younger days, and has criticized Arizona Senator John McCain, just because McCain had been captured behind enemy lines years ago.

I'd say that Vice President Mike Pence might want to dial up a faith healer to clean up Trump's brains........
Spring sports season officially ended at Troy High on Wednesday, as Shenendehowa ended the Flying Horses' softball winning streak at 5 games with a 6-0 shutout. Props, though, to coach Sean Geisel, who got his team into another gear over the last month, winning 9 of their final 11 games.

Catholic Central's season is over, too, as their softball and women's lacrosse teams were eliminated. The softball team dropped a 10-0 decision to Mohonasen on Monday, only to see the Mighty Warriors lose to South Glens Falls yesterday. Burnt Hills ended the Lady Crusaders' lacrosse season on Wednesday.

That leaves Lansingburgh as the only hometown school still in play. The Knights will play in the Class A semi-finals this afternoon at the Plumeri Sports Complex in Colonie, with the winners advancing to the title game at Bruno Stadium on Tuesday. Lansingburgh beat Mohonasen on Wednesday to advance.

We are assured of new champions in baseball in Classes A & AA. In addition to Mohonasen losing to Lansingburgh, defending AA champion Niskayuna fell to Colonie on Wednesday. Today at Bruno Stadium, Colonie will play Columbia, while Shenendehowa plays Ballston Spa. At least Mohon will have a chance to avenge the loss upon entering the Colonial Council next season.

Meanwhile, the Class B title game is set, and it's just as expected. Defending champion Albany Academy will play a rubber match vs. the only Section 2 team to beat them this season, Ichabod Crane. The game is scheduled for Saturday night at Bruno Stadium, but rain is in the forecast as of now, which could move the game to Sunday or Memorial Day, whether Section 2 likes it or not. The Cadets had a rematch of last year's title game Wednesday night, beating Saratoga Central Catholic, 4-1, while Ichabod Crane beat Hudson, 2-1.

Now, if the weather patterns change in the next 48 hours, I'd think it'd be nice if this was hyped up a lot more than it has to this point, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

America's 2nd biggest liar (after you know who) is about to get his

It's taken nearly 5 1/2 years, but the parents of 4 of the 20 children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 have banded together with others to file a lawsuit against conspiracy theorist and radio gasbag Alex Jones.

The lawsuit was filed today. The cash amount is not as substantial as you'd believe, but the fact remains that Jones is finally being called on the carpet, in this case in a court of law, for continuing to perpetuate the false notion that Adam Lanza's one-man rampage on December 14, 2012, was a hoax. Jones has purposely ignored one salient fact, that Lanza took his own life, rather than face justice himself.

Nearly a year ago, amidst some controversy before it even aired, NBC's Megyn Kelly, fresh from Fox, exposed Jones as the delusional jackass he really is.....

Yes, President Trump swears by Jones' hate-fueled rhetoric, which, in turn, misinforms millions of listeners six days a week, many of whom are the disenfranchised, paranoid pockets of American citizenry that Trump reached out to two years ago. You wonder why Trump hates established news media outlets such as that of his former employer, NBC? Because he'd rather bond with his fan base than deal with reality. I'd be willing to bet that Jones may have been his biggest supporter when Trump announced his candidacy in 2015.

You have to hope that Vice President Pence takes Trump to the nearest confessional on a day-to-day basis when they're in Washington.

Classic TV: Solid Gold (1980)

Over the last few years, I've pulled clips from the syndicated music series, Solid Gold, not realizing I hadn't done a full piece on the show itself.

It can be said that Solid Gold was the most successful venture to come out of Operation Prime Time, which otherwise was a series of TV-movies, specials, and miniseries in its time.

Singers Dionne Warwick and Marilyn McCoo each served two tours of duty as host. Warwick was the show's 1st MC (1980-1), then returned four years later for another spin through the revolving door. Each time, McCoo succeeded Warwick. The former 5th Dimension vocalist spent three years the first time (1981-4), going solo for the 1983-4 season after short-term partners Rex Smith (later of Street Hawk), Andy Gibb, and Rick Dees each took a turn. In fact, co-hosting Gold gave Dees his first national television exposure since his late 70's novelty smash, "Disco Duck". At the time, Dees had launched a weekly radio show, Weekly Top 40, in competition with the more established American Top 40.

After Warwick finished her 2nd tour, McCoo returned, this time joined by Arsenio Hall, who'd joined the show as an in house comic a year earlier, after Marty Cohen had departed, and, fresh from MTV, Nina Blackwood, who was also a music reporter for Paramount stablemate Entertainment Tonight. Actor-comic Jeff Altman (ex-Pink Lady & Jeff, The Dukes of Hazzard) replaced Hall as the in-house comic. However, the series was cancelled in 1988.

Another nationally known radio announcer, Robert W. Morgan, served as announcer until the end of the 1985-6 season. Charlie O'Donnell (American Bandstand, Wheel of Fortune, etc.) took over for a year, and then Dick Tufeld stepped in when O'Donnell chose to stay with Bandstand after it ended its ABC run and moved to syndication.

Solid Gold also spawned two spin-offs. The first was the short-lived sitcom, Madame's Place, which came about after Wayland Flowers & Madame had appeared on Gold during the 1981-2 season, sharing the comedy stage with Cohen. The other was a daily companion series, Solid Gold Hits, hosted by actor Grant Goodeve (Eight is Enough). Neither spin-off lasted beyond a year.

Let's take a look at a sample show:

As you can see, the Solid Gold Dancers became a co-ed troupe by this point.

Rating: A-. Comfort food, that's all it is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Forgotten TV: Your Best Friend (1985)

In the 80's, evangelist Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network actually had a space on cable systems across the country. Today, that same space is occupied by Freeform (formerly ABC Family and Fox Family, Family Channel, and CBN), with a proviso that Robertson's long running 700 Club remains on the schedule.

There were quite a few interstitals that acted as public service announcements, scattered all along the schedule, mixed in with commercials. One of these was Your Best Friend, a series of 2 minute PSA's, sponsored by Kal Kan, that offered tips for you and your dog (man's best friend). Actor Clint Walker (ex-Cheyenne) is our host.

In memory of Walker, who passed away at 90.

Rating for Your Best Friend: A.

Sports this 'n' that

When softball sectional play started yesterday, the hometown had 4 teams in the running. Today, we're down to 2.

In Class A, Catholic Central's season came to a crashing end, as the Lady Crusaders got a peek into their Colonial Council future, and it's not a good one. Mohonasen, which is headed to the Colonial Council in the fall, blanked CCHS, 10-0.

In Class B, in a game contested at Russell Sage College's field, Emma Willard was eliminated by Bishop Gibbons, as the latter earned their first ever softball sectional victory. Bishop Gibbons now goes on to play top-seeded Ichabod Crane tomorrow. Also tomorrow, Lansingburgh travels to Scotia in a Class A game, and Troy, winners of 5 in a row, will play Shenendehowa.

Meanwhile, in baseball sectionals, the Class B semi-finals are now set, as Wednesday's double-header in Gloversville sees Ichabod Crane take on Hudson, and, in a rematch of last year's championship game, Albany Academy meets Saratoga Central Catholic. Academy completed a 3-game season sweep of Schalmont, 8-2, while Ichabod Crane blew out Tamarac, SCC beat Schuylerville, and Hudson beat Ravena.

The Class A quarterfinals are scheduled for today, but with rain in the forecast for much of the afternoon, it is doubtful they'll be able to get anything in. We'll just have to wait & see.
Now, here's something I don't get.

The NBA's San Antonio Spurs decided Monday to disband their cheerleading team, effective immediately, in favor of a 35-piece, family friendly, co-ed hype team.


If Yahoo! is to be believed, this is a delayed response to reports that some of the Washington Trumpets' luxury box tenants got to see a video of the Trumpets' cheerleaders going topless in Costa Rica. The two issues aren't actually related, but with the #MeToo movement still gaining traction, there are some nervous suits in San Antonio. The Spurs' dance team aren't happy with this abrupt decision, and, as a result of this knee-jerk decision, the Spurs' ownership gets Weasel ears.
When it was decided a few years ago that NBC-Universal would have the rights to both Monday Night Raw & Smackdown, it was clear that WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon wanted all of his eggs in one basket, if you will.

Not anymore.

After USA Network agreed to a megabucks deal to keep Raw, while dumping Smackdown, effective in the 2019-20 season, WWE agreed to a similar deal with Fox to move Smackdown back to a broadcast channel, but also move the show back to Friday nights, where it aired from 2005 until Syfy moved the show back to Thursday nights before shifting to its current live format on Tuesdays 2 years ago. With McMahon, it has always been more about the money than the quality of the product.

My take: McMahon is also looking for a broadcast partner for the revived XFL, to return in 2020, and may have worked a secondary deal that we don't yet know about with Fox. It's being reported that Smackdown would be repurposed on FS1 on Saturday nights, and various WWE personalities would also be guests on Fox NFL Sunday, with likely crossovers going the other way as well. Stay tuned.
So, like, Johnny Football is headed to Canada, eh?

Yes, Johnny Manziel is trying to revive his career after a 2-year crash & burn in Cleveland. Manziel has signed with Hamilton of the CFL, the latest in a string of NFL players continuing their careers in the "great white north", yet without getting attendant press coverage at home. If he flops here, we can call him Johnny Hoser, eh?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Classic TV: Danger Man (1960)

Before Ian Fleming's James Bond made it to the big screen, Fleming had also collaborated with some writers at England's ITC to develop another spy series, this one for television. However, Fleming left before Danger Man hit the air.

Patrick McGoohan top-lined as NATO operative John Drake in a half-hour, black & white series that made its way to the US in the summer of 1961 as a replacement series for CBS. Most of us remember the hour-long version that CBS rechristened, Secret Agent, complete with a radio-ready theme song performed by Johnny Rivers. ITC got 2 seasons out of the hour-long format, a "4th season", the only one in color, had just two episodes, which were reissued as the feature film, "Kuroshi".

Here's a 1st season sample:

Standard fare of the period. When the series returned after a couple of years' absence, Drake was rebooted as a British agent, and the legend says that Drake was also Number 6 in McGoohan's seminal The Prisoner, but that is open to interpretation and debate.

Rating: A.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Joseph Campanella (1924-2018)

He was a steady, reliable presence on television for several decades, with a resume that includes The Bold Ones, Mannix, One Day at a Time, Days of Our Lives, & The Golden Girls, just to name a few. Hollywood this weekend has been mourning the passing of character actor Joseph Campanella at 93.

He played Joe Mannix's boss in season 1 of Mannix, but, he was gone soon after. On The Bold Ones, Campanella teamed with James Farentino and Burl Ives in The New Lawyers.

In the 80's, Campanella moved into daytime television, appearing on Days, and hosted a Canadian children's program, Science International, known here in the US as What Will They Think of Next? when it aired on Nickelodeon. Following is a clip:

Campanella also was a pitchman for Quaker State motor oil and NAPA auto parts, among many sponsors during the course of his career.

Rest in peace, Joseph.

Sports this 'n' that

Someone asked on a message board the other day if there was a curse attached to the Mets to explain all the injuries plaguing the team in recent years. It certainly feels like there is one.

Star slugger Yoenis Cespedes was placed on the disabled list early in the week with a hip injury. Then, prior to the weekend series vs. Arizona, another outfielder with a cannon for an arm, Juan Lagares, was lost for the season with torn ligaments in his foot, an injury sustained in Wednesday's loss to Toronto. As I wrote on said message board, maybe there's a disgruntled fan who preferred ancient Shea Stadium remain open, and might've placed a curse of a sort on Citi Field before the Mets began playing there in 2009. We just don't know for sure.
LaSalle Institute had their commencement exercises yesterday, this after the spring sports season had officially come to an end at the school.

The Cadets were one-&-done in both the lacrosse & baseball sectionals. Coach Jesse Braverman's baseball club dropped a 7-2 decision to Columbia on Friday, while 1st year lacrosse coach Shane Hendry saw his season end in a loss to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. Hendry's club finishes at 9-8 for the season. The team got off to a hot start, but cooled off late.

At Troy High, the softball team is the only one still playing, and their next game will be against the last team to beat them, Shenendehowa, on Wednesday afternoon. Coach Sean Geisel's squad has won 9 of its last 10 after a non-league win over Class C contender Maple Hill on Friday, 7-1. The lacrosse team saw their season end Saturday morning in a 14-3 loss to Columbia. The Troy laxmen finish at 5-12. As noted on Friday, the baseball team failed to qualify for sectionals, having just 1 win on the season.
The University at Albany moved one step closer to an NCAA title Saturday with a quarterfinal win over Denver. The game was played on a neutral site at Hofstra University on Long Island, which meant Denver had to travel cross-country for the game, which was not considered important enough to air on any of ESPN's over the air channels, but rather online. That won't happen in the semi-finals, I can assure you. What remains open to question, though, is whether or not a NCAA title would merit the Great Danes getting a ticker tape parade through downtown Albany........
Despite the steady rain that fell on Saturday, they managed to get one baseball sectional game in, and it was a Class AA tilt that went to the wire before Guilderland defeated CBA, 8-7. The two schools also met in lacrosse, with the Brothers prevailing, so it all evened out. However, it must come as a surprise that CBA, a perennial power in other sports, went one-&-done in the baseball tournament. The baseball game was set for a 10 am first pitch to avoid the rain, but to no avail, as the rain came around the same time, starting as a steady drizzle. Guilderland will play top-seeded Shenendehowa on Tuesday. In fact, this was the only baseball game on the schedule. As noted, most of the 1st round games originally set for yesterday were moved up a day to avoid the rain and keep the schedule intact.
At the rate things are going, after winning the Kentucky Derby & Preakness, the owners of Justify may be praying for rain for the Belmont Stakes on June 9. Justify has handled the sloppy conditions in both wins, so, karma being what it is, a dry track may be the colt's undoing. Just sayin'.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

In Theatres: Deadpool 2 (2018)

In the 80's, DC Comics introduced a new villain named Ambush Bug. A couple of years later, writer-artist Keith Giffen reimagined the character as a satire on conventional comics tropes. Sales for a pair of mini-series went through the roof. However, Ambush Bug didn't have enough staying power, and hasn't been seen since prior to the New 52 in 2011.

A decade later, on Batman: The Animated Series, the Joker (Mark Hamill) was given an on-again-off-again girlfriend-sidekick, Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin, Days of Our Lives), who today is a card carrying member of the Suicide Squad, and has become more of an anti-hero, or, in the wrestling parlance, a tweener, in her own book, and, like Ambush Bug before her, Harley's solo book is mostly comical in nature, which explains my belief that DC has so far missed the boat by not pairing her with Daffy Duck. Instead, as reported the other day, "Mistah J" meets Daffy in August.

At Marvel, around the time Harley made her debut, the "House of Ideas" introduced Deadpool as a villain in the X-family of books. Predictably, an editorial decision was made to turn Deadpool into more of a comedy character, who, like Ambush Bug, satirizes conventional comics tropes. Unlike Ambush Bug, however, Deadpool has made it to Hollywood, and, as with almost everything at Marvel, he's being pushed to the moon.

In "Deadpool 2", mutated assassin Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) wants to settle down and start a family with his girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, Gotham). Unfortunately, we're spared the thought of seeing how much more of Wade has been disfigured as he doesn't get the chance to get busy with Vanessa, and that will be all I'll say about that.

The core of the plot involves a New Zealand teenager, Russell Collins, who in the books was an American youth. Abused and bullied in the orphanage where he was raised, Collins lashes out, demonstrating pyrotechnical abilities, which gives him the name Firefist. Deadpool, accompanied by Colossus and a couple of other minor X-Men, tries to stop him. Instead, Firefist & Deadpool are captured.

And, then, there is Cable (Josh Brolin, "Avengers: Infinity War"), who has come from the future to try to kill Collins before he becomes a threat in Cable's lifetime. As with the first film, "Deadpool 2" makes with a ton of inside references and jokes, too many to keep track of. It also takes advantage of the R rating to turn the air a dark shade of blue in terms of language. Well, it worked the first time. Just too many F-bombs, even from Colossus.

The soundtrack is eclectic, kind of like the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, but boasting a lineup that includes Air Supply, Cher, Celine Dion, and Barbra Streisand, in a clip from "Yentl".

This trailer is one of the cleaner ones I could find:

No cameo from Stan Lee this time. Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) appears briefly as a member of the newly formed X-Force (which was not actually founded by Deadpool in the books, as it was the team he first fought). Other trailers include not only the predictable "Solo" (next week) and "Ant-Man & The Wasp" (July 6), but also "Sorry to Bother You" (July 6), which was a harbinger of things to come with heavy doses of F-bombs. Doomed to fail, that one. The other one was for "Ocean's 8", a distaff remake of "Ocean's 11", with Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, and Rihanna as part of the gang.

"Deadpool 2" merits a A-.

Forgotten TV: Maybe This Time (1995)

With the success of Boy Meets World, producer Michael Jacobs was commissioned to deliver another sitcom to ABC. However, despite an ensemble cast that featured Marie Osmond, Betty White, and a future star in Craig Ferguson, Maybe This Time is considered a bomb. The series lasted less than six months, ending after 18 episodes in February 1996.

White was fresh from The Golden Girls and its sequel, The Golden Palace. Osmond hadn't done a sitcom before, and maybe ABC suits were thinking she could still pull in an audience, nearly 20 years after Donny & Marie first hit the air. Unfortunately, they weren't paying attention to the fact that Osmond's last primetime series, a solo variety show for NBC, was also a flop 15 years earlier.

In hindsight, Maybe This Time would've been better served being tested on Disney Channel before going to broadcast television. Jacobs was able to sneak in a minor crossover with Boy Meets World, but that wasn't going to be quite enough. Maybe was not part of ABC's TGIF block, airing instead on Saturday nights, back when you could still program first-run programming on that end of the weekend.

Ashley Johnson (Gracie) had previously appeared on Growing Pains, but may be better known today for her cartoon work. She would return to Disney for the animated series, Recess, and has also been heard on Teen Titans, Jumanji, Teen Titans Go!, and other cartoons.

Here's a sample episode:

Well, we can't say if Ashley landed another live-action gig after this series ended. Had Maybe been instead packaged as part of TGIF, it may have succeeded.

Rating: B-.

Friday, May 18, 2018

What Might've Been: Fibber McGee & Molly (1959)

What happens when a beloved radio show moves to television without its lead actors? Disaster.

Jim & Marion Jordan, the stars of radio's Fibber McGee & Molly, were unwilling to make the transition to television. However, in 1959, NBC took it upon themselves, with help from sponsors such as the Singer Company, to develop a video version of Fibber McGee. Bob Sweeney, better known as a writer & director on later series such as The Andy Griffith Show, was cast as Fibber, with Cathy Lewis as Molly. The only other selling point? William Asher, better known for his later work at Screen Gems (i.e. Bewitched), was the producer & director.

Let's take a look at a sample episode:

We'll look at the radio version another day.

Rating: B-.

High School Fridays: Sectional season is here!

The wacky weather patterns in the northeast resulted in Section 2's baseball & softball schedules wrapping up yesterday, but there's no rest for the weary, as sectional play begins today.

To be fair, tournaments were supposed to start tomorrow, but with rain in the forecast yet again, many games marked for tomorrow were moved up to today in order to keep the schedule on track as best as possible.

Before we get into details, we will note the conclusion of the historically worst season in Troy High baseball history.

After beating Averill Park, 7-0, on April 5, 1st year coach Chris Strack knew he needed six wins to qualify for the post-season tournament. Unfortunately, the psychological damage done to the team with the departure of senior 1B/pitcher David Judge before the start of the season set in, and the Flying Horses find themselves packing their gear and getting ready for travel teams. Since not all the scores were reported in a timely fashion, perhaps to avoid further embarrassment, we must assume that Troy finished with just the 1 non-league win. Averill Park collected a receipt on Wednesday, as Anthony Germinerio, cousin of former Troy star John Germinerio (now at Union) pitched a complete game victory for the Warriors, who qualified for the sectionals as a result.

Averill Park's next game is today in what amounts to a play-in game vs. South Glens Falls in the Class A tournament. The winner then travels to Amsterdam on Tuesday, with the championship game a week later at Bruno Stadium.
Troy High's lacrosse team wrapped its season with a 15-10 win over Averill Park on Thursday night, spoiling Senior Night for the Warriors. Troy finishes 5-11 for coach Joe Bennett. Senior star Derrick Cipriani, in his final game, scored 7 goals. Apparently, you also need six wins for sectionals in lacrosse.....
Meanwhile, Troy's softball team is just scorching hot entering sectional play. Coach Sean Geisel's club has won 8 of their last 9 after collecting a receipt from Averill Park on Wednesday, then escaping with a 6-5 verdict over Niskayuna on Thursday. Sophomore catcher Maddie Rifenberick, who has been on the varsity since her middle school days (!), was profiled in today's Albany Times-Union (remember, The Record is not allowed to talk to Troy players or coaches because of a petty district policy that must needs be abolished yesterday). She's batting .419 for the season with 7 homers, most of them coming in the last couple of weeks.

Troy landed the #6 seed in Class AA. That's the good news. The bad? They travel to #3 Shenendehowa, the last team to beat Troy, on Wednesday. Here's to hoping Cinderella doesn't lose her glass sneakers.....
Section 2 has scheduled the sectional title games for May 25-29 at Bruno Stadium, figuring that putting the games on a weekend will draw bigger crowds. Well, duh! The Class A & AA title games, however, will be on Tuesday, May 29, when most folks are back to work after the Memorial Day holiday. Like, here's a thought. If it rains on the 25th or 26th, and also on the 27th, why not try to play on Memorial Day?
Let's try to figure out baseball & softball:


Class AA:

Shen is the top seed, while defending champion Niskayuna winds up as the #6 seed. The Silver Warriors open defense of their title today vs. Shaker. LaSalle, the lone Colonial Council representative, will play at Columbia, with the winner advancing to face Bethlehem in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Bruno Stadium hosts the semi-finals on Thursday. Columbia will be playing their 2nd game in 24 hours, while LaSalle will be relatively fresh. Bank on the Cadets, and look for them to make another run to the finals.

Class A:

Amsterdam is the #1 seed, and awaits the winner of Averill Park-South Glens Falls on Tuesday. We'll be taking a look----weather permitting, of course---at Lansingburgh's quarterfinal match with Mohonasen in what will be a preview of things to come in the Colonial Council next year, on Tuesday.

Class B:

Albany Academy begins defense of their title today at home vs. Voorheesville. All signs point to a rubber match with #2 Ichabod Crane, the only Section 2 team to beat the Cadets, at The Joe on the 26th. At least the Riders have had a game this year on the Bruno Stadium field, even though they lost to Columbia last night. If form holds, Academy would get a 3rd game vs. Schalmont, a team they swept in the regular season, in the quarters. Last year's runner-up, Saratoga Central Catholic, is seeded #4 this year, and would be a semi-final opponent for the Cadets this time.

Class C:

Maple Hill holds the top seed, and will await the winner of a play-in game today between Duanesburg & Berne Knox-Westerlo.. If form holds, the Wildcasts would be playing #2 Rensselaer in the finals at The Joe.

Class CC:

This is the only sport where this classification still exists. Greenwich, which bounces between Classes C & D in football, for example, holds the #1 seed here. Hard to believe a former Big 10 school like Bishop Gibbons is down at this level, but here they are at #2. This will be interesting.

Class D:

The smallest classification in Section 2 gets to wait until Monday to start play, with the title game being the opening act of a Saturday double-dip at Bruno Stadium on the 26th. Whitehall is the top seed, but I wouldn't discount Mekeel Christian Academy, which has been a power in basketball in recent years. This to me looks like a wide open affair.
Now, let's move on to softball:

Class AA:

Colonie holds the top seed. As noted Troy may be the hottest team right now, but their last loss was to Shen, and another receipt may be nigh. I like Troy as a dark horse sleeper pick. Realistically, the winner of Troy-Shen will be in the title game at Luther Forest on the 29th.

Class A:

South Glens Falls holds the top seed here, with perennial Suburban Council power Averill Park at #2. Catholic Central usually fields a strong softball team, but they've struggled just to get here, and have to go through Mohonasen in order to get another look at South Glens Falls. Not going to happen, I'm afraid.

Class B:

Emma Willard School's campus is on Pawling Avenue, but for some reason, they're playing their sectional home game at Russell Sage College vs. Bishop Gibbons. The Jesters don't get the respect from the press that they should. Should they get past Gibbons, they will have to play Ichabod Crane. Here's to hoping they can get some extra eyeballs at the game. Wasaren League champ Tamarac is the #3 seed, and awaits the winner of Cohoes and Fonda. I think the road to Luther Forest leads through Chatham (Ichabod Crane).

Class C:

Maple Hill also tops the class for the women, and will open vs. Cambridge, another school that has hopped between Classes C & D. Funny thing. Saratoga Central Catholic is a B school in baseball, but a C in softball? The mind boggles, man.

Class D:

Salem is the #1 seed, and Heatly, out of Green Island, will be looking for an upset in Wednesday's opener.

The semi-finals & finals in Classes C & D will be at Moreau Recreational Facility, rather than Luther Forest. Makes perfect sense, but in a perfect Title IX world, why not let the girls get some shine at The Joe right alongside the boys? Just sayin'.
For parochial reasons more than anything, we're rooting for LaSalle (AA baseball), Albany Academy (B), Lansingburgh (A), and, just for kicks, Emma Willard (B softball), and, of course, Troy (AA) to continue their late season hot streak and avenge their loss to Shen.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Comics roundup: More DC-Looney Tunes crossovers, and CW schedule shuffling

The CW has announced its fall lineup, which will be 6 nights a week (Sunday-Friday). Unfortunately, there's still not enough room for mid-season favorites like iZombie & The 100 to earn fall berths.

Locally, WCWN will have to bump Ring of Honor's weekly show, which airs twice on Sundays at 9 & midnight presently, to make room for CW's new Sunday girl power package, as Charmed returns, rebooted with an all new cast. Supergirl slides over from Mondays for season 4. Legends of Tomorrow will reclaim the Monday perch it shared with Supergirl this season for its 4th season, and Arrow is on the move again, shifting from Thursdays to Mondays for season 7. Something tells me this could be the beginning of the end for Arrow, which now must contend with sports junkies during the fall (Monday Night Football) who are also genre fans.

Producer Greg Berlanti will have a grand total of 7 shows on CW, and will have all of Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday, as the network would rather not string out his product across the board. In addition to the above named programs, Berlanti also has the returning Riverdale joined by freshman drama All-American on Wednesdays, while the Tuesday lineup remains as it was at the start of 2018 (The Flash & Black Lightning). Berlanti also has two new shows on CBS, plus the returning Blindspot on NBC, and has projects on Lifetime, Netflix, and the forthcoming DC Universe streaming service.

CW had renewed most of the shows on this season's schedule, save for Valor, which got a quick hook. The reboot of Dynasty isn't on the fall schedule, either, and will return at a later date.

Depending on AMC's schedule, comics fans figure to be hunkering down in front of the tube Sunday-Wednesday for much of the season (AMC rotates Walking Dead and its prequel, Fear The Walking Dead, on Sundays, and had moved Preacher to Mondays for its 2nd season at the beginning of the year).
With DC's next wave of Hanna-Barbera crossover specials coming in 2 weeks, the company has announced the next set of crossovers with the Looney Tunes characters, coming in August. Harley Quinn and Daffy Duck will be a part of it, just not with each other.

Daffy instead is matched with Harl's on-again-off-again squeeze, the Joker, while Harley gets Gossamer, the big orange monster in tennis shoes who was given his name on The Looney Tunes Show a few years back. The 1-shot reunites Harley with the husband & wife team of writers Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, as Harl's current series is being handled by other writers presently.

Also, Lex Luthor is being paired with Porky Pig, with Mark Russell (The Flintstones, Prez) writing. That leaves Catwoman with Tweety & Sylvester. Black Canary's in the mix, too, in a story written by Gail Simone. Each 1-shot will have a back-up feature in a more traditional Looney Tunes setting, and carry a $4.99 cover price. My advice? Wait for the trade paperback.
Meanwhile, Fox is getting ready to say good-bye to Gotham, but another Bat-prequel is on the way on premium cable.

Gotham will be on the bench to start the 2018-9 season, and will return as a mid-season replacement for its 5th & final season, one in which the producers claim will complete young Bruce Wayne's journey to becoming The Batman. Given how the series has already majorly mucked with the history of several characters in the Bat-mythos for no other reason than the producers' wish for a pocket universe all their own, maybe it's better this way.

Epix is entering the fray next year with a series focused on Wayne's long suffering major domo, Alfred Pennyworth. Played by Sean Pertwee on Gotham, Pennyworth will tell the story of the former British espionage agent's pre-Gotham City life. Since the same producers, including Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, are also attached to Pennyworth, I'd not be surprised if Pertwee is asked to re-up, given a chance to headline a series himself.
I referenced the DC Universe streaming service earlier, and with good reason. It launches later this year, and DCU already has programming lined up, including a revival of the former Cartoon Network series, Young Justice, a live-action Titans series that TNT rejected (the former Teen Titans as adult heroes), which will, in turn spin off Doom Patrol. Those two series are part of the Berlanti collection I referenced earlier. Also on tap is a revival of Swamp Thing, which spent 3 seasons on USA between 1990-3. I suspect that this time, Swamp Thing would likely be mostly CGI, as opposed to a man in a suit. The late Dick Durock played the character in the series and two feature films prior to that.

Disney is also planning on a streaming service, with a series based on the "Star Wars" franchise reportedly part of the package. Fans are thinking said streaming service may be the next stop for Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, which will have its 6th season serve as a summer entry for ABC in 2019, convienently after the next "Avengers" movie comes out next year at this time. Apparently, the series has been reintegrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it had been operating independently of the movies the last couple of seasons, with reports that Clark Gregg (SHIELD agent Phil Coulson) will return to the big screen as early as "Captain Marvel" next winter. From what I've been told, current ABC President Channing Dungey doesn't like Marvel at all, and has gone out of her way to get rid of SHIELD, only to be overruled by Disney suits.

Conversely, Marvel's Inhumans tanked as a warm-up act for SHIELD last fall, and will not return. And there's talk that Fox might pull out of a deal with Disney, and instead allow Comcast to buy it out. File that under "things that make you go 'Huh?'".

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Musical Interlude: The Other Side of Life (1986)

The Moody Blues jostled the senses with a bizarre video for "The Other Side of Life", the 2nd single from their 1986 CD of the same name. You try figuring out what the video is about.

Sports this 'n' that

The University at Albany has filled its vacancy for women's basketball coach by hiring Colleen Mullen away from Army, where she spent the last 7 seasons, six as an associate head coach. Mullen has signed a 5 year deal, tasked with continuing the winning tradition at UAlbany, where the ladies' string of America East titles ended this season.
Troy High has at least one more baseball and softball game to play. The Flying Horses travel today to Averill Park. Troy's lone win in baseball that has been reported was over the Warriors last month, but coach Chris Strack's squad hasn't gotten untracked since, losing their last game, 8-0, to Burnt Hills on Monday.

In contrast, the softball team avenged a season opening loss to Burnt Hills by beating the Lady Spartans, 4-3, in 9 innings Monday. Serafina French went the distance, pitching all 9 innings, to pick up the win, as the Lady Horses continue their late season surge, having won six of their last seven. They tried again to make up a game vs. Niskayuna on Tuesday, but it was postponed for the 3rd time this season due to rain.

Apparently, sectional pairings won't be announced until Friday at the latest, with tournament action to begin on Saturday.

As for the Troy lacrosse team, last night's game vs. Burnt Hills has not yet been reported.
A month ago, the Mets sat atop the NL East. This morning, they're in 4th place thanks to a recent slump. On Tuesday, they welcomed back Curtis Granderson and his new team, the Toronto Blue Jays, for an interleague series. The game was delayed 90 minutes due to rain, but when they did play, the Mets thumped Toronto, 12-2. Noah Syndergaard labored through 5 innings to pick up the win, and contributed 2 RBI's with a double and a sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, the Yankees and Washington were tied, 3-3, when their game was suspended due to heavy rain in the nation's capital. They'll finish that today before the regularly scheduled game. If anything, the two New York clubs can help each other out. Should the Yanks sweep Washington, and the Mets finish off Toronto, the Mets would move back into 3rd place in the NL East.
They're not done playing high school ball at Bruno Stadium. A non-league match between Columbia (Suburban Council) and Colonial Council runner-up Ichabod Crane was scheduled for last night, but was pushed back to tomorrow night due to the late afternoon storm. The Joe will host the Section 2 title games next week, so the Riders could be warming up for a return trip. We'll know for sure when the sectional pairings are finally revealed.
I can't stress this enough. Spectrum News needs to expand Toyota Sports Night to a full half hour. Yes, they have limited resources, like their print brethren, and can't cover everything, but I'm sure they're finding out that 15 minutes isn't enough for a nightly sportscast anymore.

For what it's worth, the next morning's replay is now an hour earlier, at 5:15 am (ET). Why that is, I don't know. By the same token, WCWN & WRGB would be well served make Upstate Sports Edge a 7-nights-a-week entity, since they're the only broadcast channel with a nightly sports show in the market.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Classic TV: Sheriff of Cochise (1956)

Sheriff of Cochise was a syndicated series that ran for four seasons total, the last two under the title, U. S. Marshal. John Bromfield starred as Frank Morgan, the titular lawman who maintained the peace in Cochise County in Arizona.

Desilu packaged the series with National Telefilm of America (NTA), but you wonder why this ended up in syndication when it could've been on a network.

Following is a sample episode.

No, it really wasn't a Western per se, since it was set in more modern times, just in case anyone asks.

Rating: B.

Comic books on TV: Has fatigue set in?

The broadcast networks are presenting their fall schedules this week. By the end of the week, we'll know if CW, the current "superhero network", will stock their extended schedule (going from 5 nights to 6) with mid-season shows like Black Lightning (which ended season 1 last month) and iZombie (which finishes its 4th season on Memorial Day). In the meantime, it looks like Disney-owned ABC may be phasing out of the game.

Word came down today that Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, which wraps season 5 on Friday, will return for a 6th season-----in the summer of 2019. Declining ratings, likely coupled with the prospect of viewer fatigue among comics fans, contributed to the network's decision to delay the start of season 5, but Inhumans, despite the series premiere being released to IMAX theatres ahead of its broadcast premiere (a tactic that hadn't been used since Buck Rogers in The 25th Century in 1979, and back then, there was no such thing as IMAX), was, for all intents & purposes, dead on arrival. ABC made it official by outright cancelling the series, several months after viewers had already reached that conclusion.

Aside from Fox's The Gifted, which moves to Tuesdays this fall (more on that shortly), Marvel is ceding broadcast television to the CW. Marvel still has a presence on cable, as Legion, like Gifted a product of the X-Men line of books, is in its 2nd season on FX, or is wrapping up, and Disney-owned Freeform (formerly ABC Family) enters the fray June 7 with Cloak & Dagger, a pair of teenagers with odd powers who emerged in the 80's. Online, Marvel has Runaways, which reportedly has been renewed for a 2nd season on Hulu, and their Netflix family of series (Jessica Jones has been renewed for season 3, Luke Cage begins season 2 next month, and you'll have to wait a while for Daredevil & The Punisher).

DC, meanwhile, is moving into the online arena with their new DC Universe streaming service, which will include revivals of Swamp Thing and the animated Young Justice, and new shows such as Titans (which corporate cousin TNT passed on), Harley Quinn (a spin-off from "Suicide Squad" in animated form, bringing Harley full circle), and, as reported yesterday over at Saturday Morning Archives, Doom Patrol, which figures to be spun off from Titans. DC Universe is ticketed to launch their 1st run product next year, but fans are already calling for Lucifer, just cancelled by Fox after 3 seasons, to move there.

Fox also renewed Gotham for season 5, but it will be a mid-season replacement, and the series will end with that 5th season, which, if you believe the producers, was the plan all along.

Meanwhile, at the CW, they may as well offer stock to producer Greg Berlanti, who will contribute to the DCU service as one of the producers of Titans & Doom Patrol, as well as Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, to go along with entries for Lifetime, NBC, and a pair of frosh for CBS, including the fantasy dramedy, God Friended Me. As of right now, if the current schedule remains in place, aside from a Sunday lineup to be announced later this week, it looks like The Flash will air opposite The Gifted. The Fox series just can't get a break, as it was airing opposite Supergirl this season.

As of right now, this is what it could look like come the fall. Remember, CW launches their season in October, so Fox will get a head start on Tuesdays before the World Series:

Mondays: Supergirl (CW).
Tuesdays: The Flash (CW), The Gifted (Fox).
Wednesdays: Riverdale (CW).
Thursdays: Arrow (CW).

Airdates TBA (all on CW): Legends of Tomorrow, iZombie, Black Lightning.

Would CW be willing to checkerboard their entire 6 night string (Sunday-Friday)? We'll know in a couple of days.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Musical Interlude: Traces (1969)

I'm pretty sure everyone has heard this Classics IV hit, "Traces", from 1969.

I figured, why wait 'til Valentine's Day to come around again?

Sports this 'n' that

Basketball season is officially over in the home district.

The Albany Patroons dropped the North American Premier Basketball League championship series, 2 games to none, to fellow Continental Basketball Association alumnus Yakima, on Saturday night. We previously noted that one of the Patroons' current owners, Herb Ellis, doesn't believe the team will return in 2019, citing poor attendance at the ancient Washington Avenue Armory.

A solution would be, as much as the team's ownership is driven by nostalgia for the Pats' glory years of the 80's, to relocate the team down the hill to the Albany Capital Center. It didn't help that the Albany Times-Union stopped sending a reporter to cover home games due to the disorganization of press row, and that El Cheapo Media refused to send a reporter, citing the usual issues (manpower, financial constraints).

If the team doesn't return, Ellis will take the brunt of the heat for giving up too soon, but the reality is, sad to say, that Albany hoops fans are more into the college game these days (Siena, UAlbany, St. Rose), and that was the case a decade ago, too, when they tried to revive the CBA.
Speaking of Siena, new men's basketball coach Jamion Christian has to rebuild his roster after some players chose to transfer out rather than play for a new coach, citing loyalty, in all probability, to former coach Jimmy Patsos.

Luckily, Christian, the former head man at Mount St. Mary's, has managed to sign a local talent who will stick close to home.

Sloan Seymour, who played his high school ball at Christian Brothers Academy and at Shaker, will play for Siena next season, this after Seymour had previously considered going the prep school route before starting his college career. At least he doesn't have too much further to travel, considering the close proximity of Siena's Loudonville campus to Shaker, located in Latham.
The University at Albany's softball team won the America East title on Sunday, sweeping a double-dip from Massachusetts-Lowell. That's the good news. The bad? The Lady Danes will be fed to Pac 12 champ Oregon in the first round, meaning Albany is a #16 seed. The bias against mid-major programs rears its ugly head again, this time in softball. Will the NCAA never get it?

Meanwhile, the men's lacrosse team moves on the NCAA quarterfinals to play Denver after dispatching Richmond on Saturday. Would an NCAA title in any sport raise Albany's profile? Of course, but until the NCAA gets a clue about treating mid-majors with some respect in bigger sports (i.e. basketball, softball), they'll always treat the Albanys and Sienas of the world with little respect.
In Section II, baseball, softball, & lacrosse will wrap up this week, with sectional tournaments to start at the end of the week. Unfortunately, rain is in the forecast for most of the week. Again.

Albany Academy wrapped up the Colonial Council baseball title on Friday by blanking Schalmont, 9-0, behind Ben Seiler, whose ERA is a major league worthy 0.31. The defending Class B champs are set to close the regular season with a non-league tilt vs. Shaker on Tuesday, but that game is not listed on the Colonial Council's website. By the way, the league website hasn't updated the standings to reflect Academy overtaking Ichabod Crane to win the title. That's no way to grow the fan base.

Meanwhile, Troy High's softball team is rolling toward the sectionals as they close today, seeking revenge on Burnt Hills for a non-league loss last month. Coach Sean Geisel's club has won five of their last six after beating Mohonasen on Friday. In sharp contrast, the baseball team dropped a 12-11 decision to Mohonasen, and 1st year coach Chris Strack would be well served to decline a sectional bid.

The Mighty Warriors' defense, however, appears to be on vacation, as Mohonasen came right back and beat Averill Park, 13-11, on Saturday. The defending Class A champs need to find their defense in time for sectionals. Otherwise, they won't repeat. Just sayin'.
Ring of Honor Wrestling has been hit with an injury bug at just the wrong time.

First, current ROH champ Dalton Castle had to be pulled from the War of the Worlds tour, a joint promotion with New Japan Pro Wrestling, last week, due to what reportedly may be a fractured hand. Castle, a Rochester native known to local radio listeners from his days with WQBK-FM, was sent to the ring to make the announcement, but also stated he would not vacate the title.

Since then, former champ Jay Lethal was scratched from the last two shows on the tour (concussion), and they did an injury angle in Deerborn, Michigan, on Saturday with Adam "Hangman" Page, as his match vs. Damian "Punishment" Martinez never officially started. See, it's not just WWE that has injury issues.....
It started as a gentlemen's wager between former ROH champ Cody Rhodes (who can't use the famous family name in ROH or anywhere else because WWE owns the trademark) and Dave Meltzer, editor/publisher of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Now, a self-funded independent show being mounted by Rhodes and the Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) is definitely a go for Labor Day weekend in the Chicago area.

Tickets went on sale for the show, billed under the title, All In, went on sale Sunday, and sold out in 30 minutes. There are some complaints that scalpers & ticket brokers got their greedy hands on the better seats just so they could get their cut of the action. Anyone not think this will end up on PPV?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

When a car gets more attention than its driver (1975)

Dodge embarked on an ad campaign in 1975 to call attention to the Charger. They also managed to sneak some familiar faces into the ads. There's one with Pat Morita (Happy Days), and there's this spot with ol' long of nose himself, Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H):

Saturday, May 12, 2018

On The Air: Andre The Giant (2018)

He was billed as the 8th Wonder of the World. Over 7 feet tall, a worldwide phenomenon, not just in wrestling, but, as the HBO documentary on his life tells us, Andre the Giant was also a gentle, tortured soul.

Andre Roussimoff began growing to his final height as a teenager in France. In a wrestling career that spanned nearly 30 years, he competed on six continents, and the only World title he won was famously tainted 30 years ago, the first screwjob to be telecast live on broadcast television, when, with the help of a referee bought off by Ted DiBiase, Andre defeated his former friend, Hulk Hogan, to become World Wrestling Federation champ. As part of the deal, he promptly gave the belt to DiBiase.

That match is not included in the movie. Instead, they only go as far as an earlier meeting with Hogan at Wrestlemania a year earlier. Hogan gets quite a bit of screen time, not only being interviewed, but also a quick summary of his rise to the top of the wrestling world is inserted to set up the match in Pontiac, Michigan in 1987.

Always one to change the story when it suits him, Hogan claims that he wasn't sure how that match would end, but that he did outline the early portion of the bout for Vince K. McMahon (who was also extensively interviewed). If you believe that, I think I can get a price on a bridge not far from home.

In addition to Vince & Shane McMahon and Hogan, Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, Gene Okerlund, Gino Brito, and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cary Elwes, & Billy Crystal, the latter two being Andre's co-stars in "The Princess Bride", and director Rob Reiner are interviewed, along with Andre's friends & family, and former WWE ref Tim White, who was Andre's "handler" on the road.

There is also a good amount of footage from "Bride". By the time of the film and the Wrestlemania bout, Andre was clearly in ill health. We learn that Andre also played rugby as a youth, and, as a joke, tried out for the NFL's Washington Redskins, before it became fashionable to bash them because of the team name, well before current WWE Universal champ Brock Lesnar famously tried out for the Minnesota Vikings.

Check the trailer:

The film is currently available On Demand (check with your cable provider), and may still be in rotation on HBO.

Rating: A.

Friday, May 11, 2018

YouTube Theatre: Set 'Em Up (1939)

I am not sure if MGM's Pete Smith Specialties were ever shown on television, aside from Turner Classic Movies. That said, if you're a bowling fan like ye scribe, consider this a simple tutorial.

1939's "Set 'Em Up" showcases two of the prominent bowlers of the era, Ned Day and Andy Veripapa. I was remotely familiar with Veripapa from various Pro Bowlers Tour telecasts where color analyst Nelson Burton, Jr. would make mention of Veripapa's legendary trick shot artistry, which takes up most of the second half of this offering.

Rating: A.

On The Shelf: DC warps out the Justice League, more freebies, and other stuff

First, the bad news.

If you've been a faithful DC Comics reader, you might want to sit down.

DC has been gradually raising prices on some of their core titles, even trimming them from bi-weekly to monthly. Come August, the only books priced under $4 will be newer series such as Sideways, The Silencer, The Terrifics, and Curse of Brimstone, and TV-centric books like Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo Team-Up, & Teen Titans Go!. Everything else will be $4.

One theory I have is that the increase is to help pay for writer Brian Michael Bendis' megabucks contract with DC. Talent like that doesn't come cheap. Bendis gets paid, and we're helping pay him. Kind of like as taxpayers we're keeping a man-child in the White House. Speaking of whom.........
Yes, President Trump makes an appearance in a new Captain Canuck book. Invasion was previewed for Free Comic Book Day, and it seems the writers bought into the perception of Trump as a blustery xenophobe. Whooopeeeeee! Trump may actually keep people away from this book if it's more than just a 1 panel cameo.

Rating: B.

Fox's Bob's Burgers rolls along at Dynamite, but unless you follow the show regularly (I don't), you might not get some of the humor. It's not as good as last year's offering. (B-).

Dark Horse has the rights to Nickelodeon's Legend of Korra, which, as I forgot to note last year, is a spin-off from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Delightful fun. (A)

Dark Horse also has something called Overwatch, based, I think, on a video game. The Quantum League backup feature spins out of Jeff Lemire's Black Hammer, and is a left-handed nod to DC's Legion of Super Heroes. This might be worth checking into. (A)

Ben Edlund's superhero satire, The Tick, returns, with no ties to the revival of the live-action series airing on Amazon Prime. Tick is as goofy as ever, even if Edlund isn't drawing him anymore. Edlund's been kind of busy with other projects lately in Hollywood. Without the master's touch, Tick doesn't tickle my funny bone as much. (B-)

Titan Books' annual Doctor Who offering collects three Doctors (#'s 7, 10, & 11), leading to some "event" coming soon. Meh, whatever. (B)

Titan is also the current home of Jamie Hewlett's pride & joy, Tank Girl. Hewlett does the cover for this 1-off, not much else, and, thus, the book loses some of its charm. She just hasn't aged well. (C)

Saban recently sold the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to Hasbro, but a brand new FCBD book recaps the early days of the Rangers, leading to "Shattered Grid", from Boom! Studios. If you're a Ranger fan from way back, you'll want this. (B)

An indie publisher, Sideburns, offers a preview of some forthcoming works, including one written by actor Patton Oswalt (AP Bio, Justice League Action, ex-The King of Queens). Hit & miss. (B-)
DC is cancelling their Young Animal line of books, curated by musician Gerard Way, in August. Way and the DC crew are promising that Doom Patrol, plagued by interminable delays of unknown origin, will return at a later date. Paging Grant Morrison! DC is also dumping Batwoman, also in August. If you've been following what has been going on over in Detective Comics, you might have some clue as to how this series is going to end.
I've noted before how Archie Comics has confined old school Archie stories to digest titles you can find only at Walmart, Rite Aid, etc., but now comes a new Betty & Veronica book, priced comfortably at $2.99. Friends Forever: At The Movies is a collection of 4 short stories involving our girls either going to the theatre or being on movie sets. The usual hijinks result, of course, courtesy of Bill Golliher & Dan Parent. Since it's not advertised as "all new", assume, then, that these are reprints.

Rating: A-.
DC is rebooting the Justice League yet again (when will they learn to stop rebooting to #1 every couple of of years?), this time starting with a weekly miniseries, No Justice, that also involves elements of the Suicide Squad & Teen Titans. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy the idea of Damian Wayne, the current Robin, and Bruce Wayne's illegitimate son (by Talia Al Ghul), as a member of the League any time soon. Too much of a brat. James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, & Josh Williamson are the writers entrusted with trying to sell the idea of not only Lex Luthor as a hero, but also---are you sitting down---Starro the Conqueror, one of the League's oldest enemies if you go all the way back through their history.

Full rating after the series is completed.
Finally, remember these guys?

Last fall, DC entrusted British writer Garth Ennis with, ah, reinventing Dastardly & Muttley. Ennis throws in as many inside gags as possible, and over the course of the six issues, collected in a new trade paperback, we see that in this context, Muttley was a human whose DNA was merged with his pet pooch, whom Dick initially despised. In the story, Dastardly's given name is Richard Ratcherly, and he's a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Air Force. A strange mutagen not only affects the future Muttley, but Dick as well, as he slowly begins to morph into his familiar persona. Meanwhile other folks are turned into animals, including the vice president, which leads to a reference to a movie of recent vintage (I won't tell you what it is, you'll have to figure it out for yourself, as Sam Wilson would suggest over at Think 3 Institute). Yes, Ennis can do comedy, and, like Grant Morrison, has an appreciation for the 60's.

Rating: A.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

So the Yankees have moved into first in the AL East after taking the first two games of their series with Boston this week. The two ancient rivals will be jockeying for position all season long. Problem is, despite the new rules designed to speed up the game (i.e. automatic intentional walks, limited mound visits), the Red Sox & Yanks still play at a glacial pace. Wednesday's game, a 9-6 Yankee win, clocked in just under 4 hours for a 9 inning game. Apparently, when it comes to these two teams, milking the drama is more important......
In contrast, the Mets have fallen to 4th place in the NL East, 3 games in arrears of resurgent Atlanta, after dropping a 2-1 decision to Cincinnati in 10 innings Wednesday. The bigger story, even though it really had little impact on the final tally, was a lineup blunder by the Mets in the 1st. Something like that hasn't happened to them in more than 40 years.

Apparently, the sudden heat wave also resulted in some communication issues, as the computer-printed lineup card posted in the dugout didn't match the one exchanged with the Reds. Even winning manager Jim Riggleman felt sorry for first year Mets skipper Mickey Calloway. That batting out of turn happens so infrequently makes it, really, a non-issue, but fodder instead for jokes for a few days.
The Colonial Council has finally updated its baseball standings. Well, not entirely. Apparently, someone wants badly for Ichabod Crane to win the league title. The Riders, as of press time, are credited with a 14-1 league record. In truth, they're tied with Albany Academy, which is also 14-1 in the league after destroying Cobleskill-Richmondville, 15-0, on Wednesday. The Cadets' record, according to the website, is 10-1, meaning 4 wins have not been included. The Riders & Cadets split the season series, as we've documented, so they would be co-champions at the end of the season, provided neither team loses its remaining league games. Academy closes the league portion of the schedule tomorrow vs. Schalmont, weather permitting, and will finish with a non-league game vs. Shaker on Tuesday.

Luckily, the mercy rule is in place for softball. The Lady Riders got a second straight no hitter from senior pitcher Calista Phippen, this one going five innings, in thrashing Catholic Central, 26-0, on Wednesday. Would that the league would put the rule in place for the regular season, but apparently league officials weren't prepared for all these blowouts this season. The Daily Gazette incorrectly stated that Phippen had tossed a second perfecto, because their own linescore shows the Lady Riders committed 5 errors.

Meanwhile, LaSalle posted its second straight 20-6 win on Wednesday, this time routing Lansingburgh. The message has been sent to the rest of Class AA. These Cadets are ready to make a run.
A couple more no-hitters in Section 2. Ichabod Crane's baseball team had one the other day in shutting out Schalmont, matching Phippen's perfecto. Shenendehowa's Brandon Disonell threw a no-hitter Wednesday, as the Plainsmen defeated Ballston Spa.
Troy High's softball team is definitely ready for sectionals. The Lady Horses beat Bethlehem, 7-2, on Wednesday. Maddie Rifenberick hit a 3 run HR to lead the way, as Troy has now won four of their last 5 with 2 to play.

Unfortunately, the Troy-Bethlehem baseball result was not reported by press time. Troy's lacrosse team will play their final 2 games in twilight, as they host Bethlehem tonight and Burnt Hills on Tuesday, with both games starting at 7 pm. The Albany Times-Union incorrectly listed tonight's game as a noon start.
Most expansion teams are expected to struggle. Not the NHL's Las Vegas Golden Knights, who have reached the Western Conference finals in their freshman season. As was pointed out the other day, this is not new in the NHL, as there've been at least a couple of other teams who have gotten into the postseason right out of the box. It doesn't happen in other sports at the pro level.