True Detective Parody Starring Corey Kluber

(Image courtesy of MLB.com)

Anyone who knows me, knows that my two favorite things in the world are television and sports (because I have no friends) and when the two of them come togetherI get more excited than a kid in Miami getting on the jumbotron.  True Detective had quickly become one of my favorite shows on HBO in recent memory. I have even re-watched the series three times (see: note above about no friends).

So, when Corey Kluber released this video  of his True Detective Season 2 audition tape I naturally had, nay – needed –to watch it. There have been rumors of the addition of Vince Vaughn to their cast, but why not Corey Kluber?  And since I was a film and screen study major I feel I’m qualified to critique it. Some notes:

  • He first says that he’s known for being composed on the mound. So, I had to check the tape in order to be sure of his credibility. I found that yes, he was right .   But, when he said he looked comparable to Rust Cohle I just thought there was no way. Then, he put on that wig and I could not have been more wrong. I will never doubt you again, Corey.
  • When they start the interview I giggled to myself (because I’m at home by myself) when it was Pepsi that Kluber was cutting with his knife instead of the classic Lone Star beer that Rust, seemingly solely, drank. Product placement for the win!
  • I gotta say, Mathew McConaughey’s aluminum cut-outs of tiny men were way better.
  • Out of all the monologues that Rust goes through in the first season I’m a little disapointed they didn’t use this one . Definitely the scene where McConaughey first shows the true nature of his character.
  • If time is a flat circle like they say, I hope Kluber keeps reliving this moment .
  • I know this has nothing to do with Corey Kluber,but this was easily the best scene in True Detectives first season . I feel like it needs to be shared, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing my job as a “journalist”.

Grades:

Parody/Humor: A; MLB fan cave did a great job with this remake. The opening was remarkably similar to the show itself, just with a Cleveland background. They used some of the best monologues from Rust Cohle that they could show (or were allowed to say at least).

Acting: C-; Yikes, bro. Not a great display of your emotional range. It’s almost like you never attended any sort of acting/improv class. It’s almost like you spent most of your time practicing pitching. To each their own, I guess.

Corey Kluber: K; See what I did there? Plot twist!

Overall:  B+; I might be a little biased since this was the combination of one of my favorite pitchers with one of my favorite shows, but I enjoyed this little clip. MLB Fan Cave has really tried to reach a new younger audience this year. Their first attempt with the show Off The Bat was poor at best. These viral clips parodying popular television series are a much more suitable approach to enticing to youth because I can really only focus for about 3 minutes at a time. Side note: using the word “enticing” also entices the youth.

What We Learned: Kluber may not be the best actor, but he is the ace of the Indians’ staff and we will need him down this stretch. We’re coming for you Sung Woo!

http://SportsRants.com

Hot Take: AL Wild Card is Yankees’ to Lose

There. I said it.

The Yankees are in perfect position to snag one of the AL Wild Card spots.

Here’s why:

As of this morning (Tuesday, August 26), the Bombers are 2.5 games back in the WC race, behind Seattle and Detroit for the second spot.

The Angels and A’s are currently locked in a AL West race for the ages, so it is likely one of them will snag the first spot, while the other takes the division title.

Reason #1 I think the Yankees will take the last spot in the WC:

-They will get hot at the right time.

They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and have won five straight games, which is the longest active win streak in baseball. They are red hot right now. But, as the baseball gods will tell you, with great highs come great lows. They’re having a great end to August, which makes you think they’ll have a measly first have of September. But, they may hit their next heat wave at the end of the season just right to go on a nice run. This is a weird prediction I know, and it has nothing to do with anything other than a simple momentum assessment, but if they’re going to do it, they need to be this hot in exactly a month.

Reason #2 I think the Yankees will take the last spot in the WC:

-Pitching.

The injury title wave  left a heap of unidentifiable rubble that had to be called the New York Yankees pitching rotation. Girardi, with a weary had, gave the ball to an untested guy each night. But, for some reason, their hobbling rotation has been the reason why they have stayed in contention as of late.

Even more exciting for the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka is possibly going to return for the run, and Michael Pineda has returned as nasty as ever. Their rotation should improve greatly.

Now, the biggest question mark is offense.

With pitching continuing to carry the load, that means offense has lacked greatly. But, in this most recent heat wave, they have managed to pound out 27 runs in their five-game win streak.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Those five wins came against the Astros, a three-game sweep of the White Sox and last nights Royals routing.

However, they will go toe to toe at Detroit for three games starting tonight.

Wild Card standings may drastically change by Friday.

Let’s wait and see.

With an improved staff with Tanaka and Pineda, and an enhanced batting order with new additions, like Martin Prado and Chase Headley, the AL Wild Card is the Yankees’ to lose.

 

http://SportsRants.com

Times Running Out for Jeter/Yankees

(Photo Courtesy of: http://sportsvivo.com)

The New York Yankees are running out of time if they plan to make the 2104 postseason. As it currently stands, they are 7 games back of the Orioles for the AL East crown and 2.5 games out for the second Wild-Card spot. If the Yankees miss the playoffs again this year, it will be the first time in two decades that New York has missed the postseason in consecutive years. It’s a troubling thought for Yankee fans and it wouldn’t be a good look for the owners (Hank & Hal), especially since the team hasn’t done much since they took over following the passing of their father.

As the Yankee’s season begins to dwindle down so does the career of Derek Jeter. Jeter has not had the most impressive season statistically (.264, 3 HR, 34 RBI’s) and it’s clear from watching him, that his best days are behind him. However, it would be nice to see him play in the postseason one more time. After all, it’s the postseason (158 games: .308 BA, 20 HR, 61 RBI) where Jeter has shined the brightest and it wouldn’t seem right for him to leave the game forever, without one more shot at another World Series title.

Realistically speaking, the Yankees have a legitimate shot at making the postseason but they won’t make any noise if they get there. They have a completely depleted pitching staff and an offense that is as inconsistent as any in the majors. There’s a slim chance that they will catch Baltimore (even with the loss of Manny Machado) but the second Wild-Card spot is still within reach. If the Yanks can buckle down and play some consistent ball for the next four weeks, they could find themselves back in the postseason. If they don’t make it, it will be a disappointing end to not only a promising year but an unceremonious end of an icon and baseball legend.

http://SportsRants.com

Dodgers’ Joc Pederson Joins 30-30 Club!

As of August 23rd, there is a new member of the 30-30 club and his name is Joc Pederson!

Joc is one of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top prospects and plays for their triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes.

The last triple-A player in the PCL to hit 30 homeruns and steal 30 bases in a season was Frank Demaree in 1934. Pederson is only the second in Dodgers minor league history to accomplish this; first being Chin-Feng Chen in 1999. Chen was with Class-A San Bernardino.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Joc will be called up in September when rosters are expanded. He isn’t expected to get a lot of playing time, though, just like any other minor leaguer that gets called up.

I got to see quite a few of the current and former Dodgers starters in triple-A before their call ups and although I didn’t get to see Joc add to his 30-30 count, I did get to see him play in person, as well. I’m definitely excited to see him up with the club!

Congratulations, Joc!

 

Follow me on twitter @NikkiBaseball_

http://SportsRants.com

Vin Scully Returns For 66th Year!

Unless you’re living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Vin Scully is returning next year for his 66th year with the Dodgers!

This is amazing news. News that has seriously made my whole year. Vin is the voice of the Dodgers but he is much more than that to Dodgers fans. He has touched the lives of so many people so deeply and all while being so incredibly humble.

The way he talks about baseball, his stories, the way he describes absolutely everything, his voice.. There is just no one who compares. He is never one-sided, always classy, always informative, always enjoyable to listen to. I mean, could it get any better?

The announcement was on July 29th and the way it was announced that Vin is returning next year was very cool. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner were all involved, then you see the very excited crowd and a humble-as-usual Vin. I urge you to check out the video if you haven’t already.

There is also a video of Vin’s press conference talking about his return.

(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

He begins by saying “I really think I should begin by owing an apology to you because I’ve gotten enough attention yesterday and today to last a lifetime.”

Again, I use the word humble because well, how else would you put it?

A little after that, he says “Well, it’s probably from all the years, the fact that every time they’ve turned on the radio since 1958, here I was.. jabbering away. And after all those years like an old pair of slippers or something, it would be strange, I guess, not to hear this voice.”

So true, Vin, so true. It would be VERY strange not to hear your voice! Extremely strange. A strange I do not want to experience.

When talking about Puig’s first inning play after a fly ball was hit to him on Vin’s microphone giveaway night/the night his return was announced, he said “But I thought, ‘Here you are, doing the same thing, getting the exact same goosebumps and that thrill of anticipation of seeing a great play. So I guess I really haven’t changed much over the years..”

A special and huge thank you to the Dodgers for continuing to give Vin those goosebumps and the thrill and anticipation! I appreciate it very much and I know countless others do, as well.

Also, an even more special and even more huge thank you to Vin Scully. You are an amazing man who has touched my life forever. Here’s to another 66 years, Vinny!

 

Follow me on twitter @NikkiBaseball_

Re2pect

(Photo Credit CBSNews.com)

Re2pect. For many Yankee fans and all around baseball enthusiasts, nothing else needs to be said.  Number 2 for the New York Yankees, has done more for baseball than even his harshest critics can refute.
 
Derek Sanderson Jeter is staring at the finish line as the final stretch of his brilliant baseball career is underway.  It’s astonishing to think how fast time flies especially when you’ve grown up watching Jeter as I have.  I still remember watching him win his first of five championships sitting in my dusty, damp basement overcome with excitement and joy.  Being eight years old and watching your first “idol” win the ultimate prize is what sports is all about; and from that moment on I have been nothing but a fan.

The number speak for themselves. Jeter has a .311 career batting average, 3,411 hits, 14 time all-star, and is a World Series MVP. In his 18 year career with the Yankees he has the most hits (3,411), at-bats (10,164), stolen bases (348) and he is third in runs (1,876) trailing Gehrig and Ruth. As impressive as his stats are, they don’t tell the whole story. Watching him hustle out an infield groundout or witnessing him dive headfirst into the stands to make a crucial out against the Red Sox, shows the commitment and drive to excellence that he has had throughout his career. He should be admired not so much because of his success, but because he always put forth his best effort, even if seemed as if a game was out of reach.
 
Jeter is more than just a baseball player, he’s an icon; a man that women want to be with and who men wish they could be.  In the age of social media and rabid reporters, Jeter has stayed out of the tabloids and kept as low a profile as any superstar can. It’s refreshing to see, especially when so many athletes are more interested in campaigning for their “brand” than they are on winning (RGIII anyone). While he’s been seen on commercials for Visa, MasterCard, Nike and Gatorade, it’s never seemed as if that’s what he was striving for. He’s never used the media as a tool to make a name for himself (i.e. RIchard Sherman); rather he has done the exact opposite and let his play do the talking.

There is no doubt that there will be plenty of read this, roll their eyes, and think that I am nothing but a Yankee homer and Jeter lover. While that might be true to an extent, please take the time and really think about this athlete and what he’s done not only for the Yankees, but for baseball in general. In a time where steroid rumors run rampant throughout the league, Jeter’s name has never been whispered. The face of the league, arguably the biggest star in his sport, and no one has ever considered him dirty. That speaks volumes for the type of man he is and the respect that his contemporaries have for him. For those who still don’t agree, I challenge you to give me another athlete who has done more for their sport, stayed with the same team their entire career, and is respected and revered throughout sports in the way that Jeter is. Go ahead and try, It’ll be more difficult that you think.

Dodgers in a pitching pickle…..

It is a tough situation when you are stilling 3 games in first place in the National League West. You have a team, that for the most part, is now healthy, you have reserves on the bench, even costly ones (consider the crowded outfield with Andre Ethier on the bench at $18 million a year), and your starting pitching rotation with 2-time, and current Cy Young dominant pitcher Clayton Kershaw as #1, former Cy Young, Zah Greinke, and Japanese sensation Hun-Jin Ryu as your top 3 starters. But that is only 3 pitchers. Most teams have 4-5 starters. Our #4 guy, the veteran, former Red Sox World Series winning Josh Beckett, has been great (and I mean that in the past tense). He came off the All Star break only to find out he has 2 bone spurs, and a torn ligament requiring surgery that there is no time for, that he is playing through, and not well. He can’t get past the 4th inning in the last 2 starts. There is Dan Haren, who has lost his fast ball to under 90mph, and even though he has had some decent outings when the players give him run support of at least 5, he has been nothing but batting practice to opposing teams in his last few starts.

So last night, was a mess from the start. Haren, giving up his 23rd home run this season in the 2nd inning, just had everything over the plate, and hittable to a Chicago Cubs team that is under .500 as usual. The Dodgers are coming off a 6-game, 2 series win vs, The SF Giants, and the Atlanta Braves, only to lose their minds in the game last night. Our catching staff of Ellis (dropped balls at home plate) and Butera (pass balls) both have sub .200 BA. Justin Turner, our off the bench IF, giving Juan Uribe a night off, made a mental and physical error in the game costing a run or 2. Yasiel Puig, who everyone wants to enshrine as a God before he even has 2 full seasons in the league, was trying to be a one-man OF, almost colliding with Carl Crawford in left on a ball that was clearly Crawford’s (luckily he made the catch without collision), but Puig pulled his hamstring on the play and was taken out for Ethier in the 7th. Adrian Gonzalez, was sent home on a short single from first base, and if you know anything about his lack of speed, that 3rd base coach made a bad decision, and Gonzales awkwardly slid into home, contused his knee and was called out. Then Paul Maholm, in on relief, ran to 1B to make a play from Scott Van Slyke filling in for Agon who was pulled out, and he looked as though he hyper-extended his knee getting to first, but today the Dodgers confirmed he has a torn ACL. That is a tough break.

So now that the trade deadline has passed, and Nick Colletti was interviewed saying he didn’t want to just make any pick up, better look to see who he could convert as a starter from our bull pen (Jamey Wright perhaps?) or go get a pitcher. Yes, we will be dealing with waivers, and more money now, but a move needs to be made, and fast or the first place Dodgers will be out of that spot within 2 weeks.

An Irrelevant Rivalry

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have the most storied rivalry in sports. For many years it was the most compelling and riveting rivalry without a close second. Since the late 00’s the Sox vs. Yanks popularity in the sports landscape has really taken a nose dive. The best rivalry in sports has become irrelevant. The past two seasons, the Red Sox have more of a rivalry with another team in the same division (Tampa Bay) than they do with the Yankees. How could such an intense and exciting rivalry become a boring dud in such a short period of time?

The first explanation is that the teams aren’t very good. Now, I know that the Sox won the World Series last year, but that was lightning in a bottle. They’ve come back with the same roster that won it all last year (minus Elsberry) and they are one of the worst teams in the league. The Yankees after winning it all back in 2009 really haven’t done much since. They missed the playoffs entirely last year and are looking poised to do the same again this season. For a long stretch in the late 90’s and into the new millennium, every year these two battled for AL East bragging rights; that seems like an eternity from right now. Neither team has a roster that feels like its championship worthy, which negatively impacts the state of this rivalry. It’s tough to keep the fans interested when you’re not putting a great team out on the field. In that same vain, it’s not much of a rivalry when you’re not playing for anything except to try and stay out of last place.

The second explanation is, there are no more rivalries amongst the players. In the late 90’s and early 00’s, there was the “who’s better” argument between Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra; they didn’t have a personal rivalry, but it was a fun debate for the fans. Then there was the Pedro Martinez vs. everyone on the Yankee roster battle which lasted many years. Martinez was arguably the best pitcher in baseball for a stretch during this time and owned the Yankees. He was someone Yankee fans hated because of his outspoken and arrogant approach to the game; the very same reason all Red Sox fans loved him. And last but not least, there was the A-Rod factor. He started things off by flirting with the Red Sox before the ’04 season to quickly veer away and sign with the Yankees for an absurd amount of money. Things escalated quickly when he was getting beaned at least once every series between the two teams. Then they hit a boiling point when he and (then) catcher Jason Varitek fought each other after Rodriquez was plunked yet again (that was also the same fight where Pedro threw the Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground after Zimmer when charging after him). There are many who believe that this benches clearing brawl was the turning point in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry because at the end of the ’04 season, the Red Sox won their first World Series Championship since 1918; and beat the Yankees in the ALCS after being down 3-0 in the process. They didn’t just break the curse of the bambino, they shattered it.

The third and final explanation is that baseball is dying out in popularity. The once most popular sport in the country is now behind the NFL and NBA in popularity. In a society that has become fast paced and impatient, baseball is arguably the slowest sport in the U.S. With sports like Football, Basketball, and Hockey with constant action, baseball tends to be slow and methodic. With game times averaging three hours, many fans have become disinterested in spending that much time in front of the television for maybe twenty minutes of excitement. With its dwindling popularity, baseball has become more of a regional sport than anything. Most Red Sox /Yankee fans are found on the east coast and (most) aren’t tuning into ESPN for Sunday Night Baseball featuring the Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds. Whereas during the NFL season, those same fans will turn on NBC and watch Sunday Night Football if it’s the San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints. It’s just the way the tide has turned in the sports landscape.

The Sox vs. Yanks rivalry has not only fizzled out but has become irrelevant in recent years; which is too bad for the fans and baseball in general. When the two most popular teams aren’t winning, it can make it tough to draw interest into dying sport. Hopefully in the coming seasons these two once great teams can get back to their winning ways and rejuvenate the best rivalry in sports.

The Link between Major League Baseball’s Popularity & Steroids

(Photo Courtesy of: http://www.lineupforms.com/steroids-in-baseball.html)

It’s no secret to anyone who pays attention to sports that Major League Baseball’s popularity has steadily declined in recent years. There are plenty of suggestions as to why, but no one seems to be able to put their finger on it. There’s no denying that baseball has had a dark stain on it since the wake of steroids in the late 90’s and has been struggling to recover. However, if you push aside all the negative press and backlash that the MLB has received since then, the question becomes; “Was the game better during the steroid era?” The simple answer is yes.

Before we go any further, it’s important to point out that the MLB knew there were steroids and performance enhancing drugs in their sport and chose not to do anything about it; that was until it became “public” knowledge. Once that happened, Bud Selig knew that the only way to save face was to make drug testing more prevalent; hence the dawn of the steroid era.

Major League Baseball hasn’t been as exciting as it was during the steroid era. Thinking back on all of the home run chases that took place during that span, it was as exciting as it was polarizing. It started in 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had their epic home run battle and climaxed when Barry Bonds became the all-time home run king in 2007. It was a time where the term “slugger” really took a whole new meaning. Most teams had at least one hitter that was considered their “slugger”; those that could afford it had multiple. The point being, there was always an opportunity for the fans to get an offensive show at every game.

Just to gain some perspective, I looked at the “steroid era” which lasted arguably ten years, the ten years prior to the beginning of the steroid era and the six years following it (current baseball season not included). During the steroid era (1998-2007) there was a total of 52,802 home runs hit and an average of 5,280 per season. From 1988-1997, there was a total of 37,020 home runs and an average of 3,702 per season. That means that during the steroid era there were 52,782 more home runs hit then the previous ten years; which averages out to roughly 1,578 more per season. That’s an astonishing difference. From 2008-2013 there has only been one season with more than 5,000 home runs (there was all but one year during the steroid era when the total was less than 5,000) and a total of 28,680. (Baseball Almanac)

It’s clear that home runs are steadily declining since Major League Baseball has amped up its drug testing. In doing so they have cleaned up the game but at what cost? June, July and August used to be the three months of steady baseball highlights and coverage on SportsCenter. Now, June is the month of the NBA Finals, July is the month of baseball (because there’s nothing else on) and August is all about pre-season football. The sport that was once the centerpiece of summer has now become the red headed step child of the two other major sports. The biggest joke in all of this is, it’s the other sports that are interfering with baseball’s coverage but you’d think it was the other way around.

The media alone has shown that their interest in baseball is only in the post season and even then it’s limited. Baseball is no longer America’s Pastime and it hasn’t been for years. Taking homeruns out of the discussion, baseball has ignorantly refused to implement changes that would help not only keep fans interested but make the game better. Instant replay is the best example of this. Selig and his minions were adamant that there was no place for replay in baseball; that changed under constant pressure and scrutiny from the media and fans alike. The stubbornness of baseball executives/officials to make changes that will improve the game is baffling. It’s long been understood that baseball is very much about nostalgia and that’s lovely, but when you’re beloved game is plummeting in popularity clearly not everyone is as sentimental as you.

Moralistically speaking, steroids and other performance enhancing drugs have no business being a part of baseball; realistically speaking, baseball needs steroids. The homeruns were what drove fans to the seats and to their couches. In an era where everything comes at high-speed, baseball is still in the “dial-up” frame of mind. With games that last for more than three hours and pitching duels at an all-time high, baseball fans are itching for some excitement back in a game that they grew up loving. There’s that old saying “chicks dig the long ball”; well, clearly they’re not the only ones.

Rodriguez Centerpiece of Biogenesis Scandal

<http://www.thehollywoodjunkies.com/arod/ >

It’s been a drama free summer for Major League Baseball, which has been a welcome change from recent years. Much of that has to do with the year-long ban of Alex Rodriguez for his excessive use of performance enhancing drugs. Since spring training, not much has been said about Rodriguez and he has wisely stayed away from the media/public eye. That all changed Sunday night when disgraced clinic owner Tony Bosch was interviewed on “60 Minutes” and gave further details of Rodriguez’s involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Bosch stated that “Rodriguez became his client in 2010. Bosch said he’s supplied pro athletes with banned drugs almost 10 years — a corrupt sideline to his anti-aging clinic based in Florida.” He continued stating that “to tailor a doping program for Rodriguez, he needed to know how long various drugs stayed in Rodriguez’s body. He said doses and timing were critical so Rodriguez would not test positive after a game.” (CBSnews.com)

Bosch has already lied to the media before so it’s important to keep that in mind every time he opens his mouth. With that said, Rodriquez has done the same, so if you’re looking for a sympathetic figure, you’re going to be out of luck. Rodriquez has brought all of this on himself and it’s truly sad. He was considered one of the greatest players of all time and many believed that he would overtake Barry Bonds to become the “true” Home-Run king. His fall from grace is one for the record books (excuse the pun), and the ignorance he’s displayed through all of it has become nothing more than a bad joke. He alienated himself first from his team (New York Yankees) when he was first caught back in 2009, and then from baseball when he was caught last year.

Through it all, Rodriguez has put forth a smug and arrogant persona that has not done him any favors with the media or fans. He already was one of the least liked players in baseball before all of this transpired, his arrogance has just fueled the hate that so many have towards him. To make matters worse, he’s constantly looking to anyone he can to try and deflect blame, rather than taking ownership for his mistakes. At this point, he might as well accept his fate as a disgraced athlete that will never gain the public trust or admiration again. It’s too bad because he was an amazingly gifted and transcendent baseball player. I was one of the millions hoping that he would cleanse baseball from the steroid-era; I never imagined that he would leave the biggest and darkest stain of all.