Category Archives: Dance

Handicapping the Oscar Races For Baseball Fans

With the Oscars taking place in just a few short days, we do what comes naturally: make comparisons between nominees and MLB players that may or may not make sense. Everyone does it. If not, everyone will do it.  They put the start of spring training and the Oscars in the same week for a reason…Right?  You’re welcome, internet.

...and you're welcome, Amurrrica.

…and you’re welcome, Amurrrica.

The Actors

 Hugh Jackman

 Oh, Hugh again. Jackman’s Jean Valjean searches for security, for liberation from Javert’s merciless pursuit in Les Miserables (the second word is silent, or at least the pronunciations are trending that way). Jackman has cemented himself as a bankable action entertainer and awards show host, but he is still seeking to earn his place among the finest actors (see the elder three in this category). Perhaps this performance has pushed Jackman from action star to layered big screen performer, but for now he is…Mike Piazza. The ladies love him. Everyone knows who he is. He performs at the highest level of anyone in his position (catcher for Piazza, film actor/host/stage actor for Jackman) and does so with a prominent geniality.

this is not recommended athletic attire.

Bradley Cooper

Baseball-appropriate facial hair? Yes.
Oscars-appropriate facial hair? Maybe.

I cannot argue with Daniel Day-Lewis taking home the award on Sunday night (the essentially unanimous prediction), but Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook is one worthy of the award in most years and worthy of our praise right now. His real, raw, riveting portrayal of a man struggling to find himself amidst psychological chaos has, for this viewer at least, pushed Cooper into that same group that Jackman hovers around the edges of. Having made his mark in comedies like The Hangover, look for Cooper to reach superstar status as an Oscar-level performer in the next few years, perhaps beginning with the promising work The Place Beyond the Pines, coming this year starring Cooper and Ryan Gosling. Having showed off his versatility and ready to establish himself as a consistent, superstar performer, Bradley Cooper is…Andrew McCutchen, the standout who is primed for another elite season.

Denzel Washington

Not Jay Pharoah

This is Washington’s 6th Oscar nomination. Wow. One of the most likable and consistent actors in the world for the past two-plus decades, Washington probably won’t take home the trophy this year, but he has long since established himself as more than just a pioneer for minority actors. Washington will go down in history as one of the greatest actors of this or any generation. With 2 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, and numerous other memorable performances, Coach Boone/Frank Lucas/Det. Alonzo Harris/Mr. Shuttleworth is a surefire “Hall of Famer” for our purposes. He is… Derek Jeter. Sometimes you want to hate him (or his characters), but you just can’t because he is so doggone consistent and effective. Knows how to win on the big stage and constantly delivers, even as he gets older and older and should be breaking down.

Main difference? Denzel does not have a scent.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Oscar-producing machine.

This is Day-Lewis’ fifth Oscar nomination, and he will likely be taking home his third trophy. Having won for his stimulating performance in There Will Be Blood in 2008, a victory this weekend would give Day-Lewis two wins in six years, a remarkable stretch in this field. He will never be the most bankable star in Hollywood, but Day-Lewis has proven over the past two decades that his ability to disappear wholly and beautifully into a character is second to none. He brought Lincoln to life just as he did for Daniel Plainview, Bill “The Butcher,” and many other figures over the course of his career. He’s got a little to a lot of craziness in him, and we can’t always understand him, but his overwhelming talent cannot be denied. Daniel Day-Lewis is… Albert Pujols – the machine pumping out award-winning roles, homers, what have you. We can’t always understand what he’s saying, but he quietly goes about his business and constantly exceeds high expectations.

Run-producing machine.

Joaquin Phoenix

crazy, exhibit (a)

With his role in The Master, Phoenix reminded moviegoers that he is more than a certifiably crazy person. Don’t get me wrong; he is still seemingly absolutely loony. That being said, this role was perfect for him: An unstable man in an unstable world trying to find meaning. This is Phoenix’s third nomination. His performances in Gladiator and as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line were worthy performances but could not overcome more worthy nominees in Benicio Del Toro and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing an uncanny Capote, respectively. A man with a wealth of talent and a impressive body of work, Phoenix’s actual identity has often taken the forefront over his incredible performances. He is…Manny Ramirez. Heck, he’s probably peed in weirder places than the Green Monster. Their offstage, off-field actions often overshadow their Oscar, HOF-worthy work on the screen or field. Eccentric and inane without question, and always entertaining.

crazy, exhibit (2)

The Actresses

Jessica Chastain

Oscar nominations back to back years? She aight. Zero Dark Thirty is a relevant and well-timed work, and the same can be said for its budding star. Seemingly in every movie out there since The Help, Chastain, like Mr. Cooper above, is on her way to reaching superstar status. She’s already taken home a Golden Globe for her role, and she and Lawrence seem to be the frontrunners in this category. A late bloomer who has loudly announced their sticking around, Jessica Chastain is…R.A. Dickey, another performer whose story and work could not have come at a better time. Chastain’s work comes in a film as relevant to American livelihood as any out there. Dickey’s work was a wonderful respite from the talk of steroids and suspensions.

Jennifer Lawrence

I would like to kiss her on the mouth.

Confession: I may be a bit biased here, as I would like to maybe marry Jennifer Lawrence. Moving on. She won’t be going away for some time with The Hunger Games continuing as well as what is sure to be a full offer sheet for at least a decade. Jennifer Lawrence is only 22 (within range for me!). Already a nominee in 2011 for the delightfully titled Winter’s Bone, Lawrence absolutely came alive as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. She and Cooper lit up the screen, and without Day-Lewis, a sweep for Playbook would seem likely. Nevertheless, I am excited for Lawrence not just because she is my future wife, but also because she has decades before her filled with stunning performances like the ones she has turned in for the past few years. With undeniable talent, youth, and a wonderful passion, Jennifer Lawrence is…BRYCE HARPER. Is she a great interview? That’s a clown question, bro. Would I marry him? See last answer.

Yikes.  Still might kiss him on the mouth.

Naomi Watts

 

Nominated in 2004 for 21 Grams, this is Watts’ second Oscar nomination. In all likelihood, she won’t win this year, and she shouldn’t, but her performance as a desperate survivor in The Impossible is worth the OnDemand fee. A solid Hollywood star who isn’t quite among the elite performers of her time, Watts is still a respected veteran. She is… Aramis Ramirez. Yes, the resemblance is uncanny. And yes, they are both boringly effective, producing solid work that may not be remembered years from now without some prompting.

I wish we could provide context for this.

Quvenzhané Wallis 

Wallis is electrifying in Beasts of the Southern Wild, as you have probably heard. You probably also know that she was only 6 during filming…I was starring in critically panned home movies at that age…I haven’t made much progress since. Still only 9, who knows what’s in store for Wallis, and who cares to be honest. For her sake, I hope she lives a normal childhood and goes about life as she pleases…naaaahhhhhht gunna happen. I’m not too worried about her though. With an infectious spirit on and off the screen, I think Wallis will be a Hollywood force somewhere along the road. Given her age, innocence, and unknown future, Quvenzhane Wallis is… Aroldis Chapman, still blissfully immature but brimming with talent and energy. We don’t know what the future holds for them, but we know their work will be done with a room-filling smile.

Emmanuelle Riva

Riva is really old. Sorry, but it is the truth. Having the oldest nominee ever and the youngest in Wallis in the same group is something special that will surely produce laughs or even tears on Sunday night. Riva has been in about a million French films, most of which I haven’t heard of, but her performance in Amour is heartfelt and beautiful, and I’m glad to see her recognized in this talented group. She’s old as balls but dammit she’s got talent. Emmanuelle Riva is…Torii Hunter. She’s done a lot of work we may not remember, but it’s all been pretty good. Little known fact, she also robbed Barry Bonds of a homer in 2002. She loved playing Triple Play, the greatest video game of all time. Also, maybe Torii is a French name or something. Thankfully, she’s far less active on Twitter.

Keep your opinions to yourself. Just rob homers.

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Filed under Baseball, Dance, Fantasy Baseball, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Opinion, Oscars, Posted, Random Thoughts

Why the 2013 NCAA Tournament May Be the Best Ever Part 1

 

Part I: Instability Atop the Mountain

 The defending champion (Kentucky) will not even make the tournament. Whoever they are, the 1-seeds will be beatable and flawed. Butler will be a factor. You could make a case for 15 teams winning the whole thing – and that’s a conservative estimate. We have a fun March ahead of us.

Even Joe Lunardi may have a tough time this year, starting with the perpetual motion among his projected 1-seeds.

The 1-Seeds (For Now)

 

As of right now, Lunardi has Indiana, Miami, Duke, and Florida as his 1-seeds. All four of these teams already have 3 losses, including Miami beating Duke handily (with another showdown coming March 2nd), and both Miami and Florida falling short against Arizona.

Indiana will have a tough time making it through the next few weeks unscathed, with Michigan and Ohio State awaiting them in the next two weeks as well as what is sure to be a chaotic Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers have elite talent and primetime players in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo (absolute X-Factor in tonight’s victory over Michigan State), but we could see them fall from the top line of the bracket, as 2-3 losses before the tournament are not out of the question. All three of Indiana’s losses have come by five points or less, and the Hoosiers are certainly primed for tournament atmospheres due to their brutal conference schedule (in opposition to a team like Florida, see below), but watch out for a slow finish for the Fighting Creans. That being said, Indiana’s inside-outside combinations allow them to match up favorably against perhaps every team in the country.

The passion of Victor Oladipo may be the key to an Indiana Final Four run.

Miami represents a great but unpredictable story. From unranked to receiving significant first-place votes in both polls this week, the Hurricanes have stormed through the depleted ACC, 12-0 in conference to this point. A matchup with Duke on March 2nd (quite the day for watching some ball, evidently) seems to be the Canes’ only challenge before the ACC Tournament, but even if this team makes it to the Big Dance with only their current 3 losses, questions remain. Miami wasn’t even in the tourney a year ago, and their incredible growth this season begs the question: can they sustain their level of play without reverting back to their old ways? These “old ways” include a double-digit lost to Florida Gulf Coast in November and back to back losses to Arizona (a 19-point shellacking) and Indiana State at Christmas. Miami seems to have the talent to beat anyone in the country, but their lack of experience and the mediocrity of the ACC except for—or maybe including—Duke leave us wondering how the Hurricanes will fare come March.

Jim Larranaga has everyone around the U smiling this year, as his Canes have journeyed from unranked to projected 1-seed.

Duke has only lost twice since Ryan Kelly’s mid-January injury, but their performance has left a lot to be desired for Cameron Crazies. Besides the annihilation at the hands of Miami, Duke lost Saturday to an inspired Maryland team and has struggled against the unimpressive likes of Wake Forest (W 75-70 on Jan. 30th) and Boston College (W 62-61 Feb. 10th in a game they did not deserve to win). The Blue Devils have experience at the coaching level (Duh), and Mason Plumlee was a freshman when they won the title in 2010, but no other contributor has been past the Sweet Sixteen. Plumlee, Seth Curry, and Quinn Cook make up a strong nucleus, but the team has yet to find its chemistry following Kelly’s injury. With the March 2nd rematch against Miami as their only true pre-tourney test (maybe another rematch in the ACC Tournament Championship Game as well), look for Duke to enter the Big Dance as a 1 or 2-seed but as an unknown nevertheless. I don’t expect another Lehigh incident, but watch out for a 7-10 seed knocking the Blue Devils off in Duke’s second game. Just looking at Lunardi’s current projections, one has to wonder how Duke would handle Creighton and game-changer Doug McDermott.

Can these two stars get Duke playing at its peak in time for a deep tourney run? They’ve yet to provide a definitive answer.

Florida has probably received the least attention of these top teams, partially due to the overwhelming coverage of conference foe Kentucky’s underwhelming season.

Florida went to the Elite Eight as a 7-seed last year, further than any of the other three projected 1-seeds. Besides respectable early losses to Arizona and Kansas State and tonight’s battle defeat at the hands of Phil Pressey and Missouri, Florida does have a perplexing double-digit loss to Arkansas, but the Gators have won their other 11 SEC games by an average of 25.9 points! Theoretically, Florida can and should win every game remaining on their schedule, barring struggles with Arkansas at home or at Kentucky to finish the regular season on March 9th. Like the ACC teams above, Florida’s lackluster conference leaves much up to the imagination, but their complete dominance in the SEC deserves more love. With a coach who has in fact WON TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, and a versatile core of Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and Patric Young (senior, senior, junior), Florida has the potential to go even deeper than their overachieving squad did a year ago. They may be in the best shape of any of these four to make a run.

Don’t underestimate the King of the Receding Hairline, also known as 2-time national champion Billy Donovan.

My money was on Michigan State beating Indiana in East Lansing hours ago and supplanting the Hoosiers as a 1-seed. Whoops. MSU could still make a run at a top seed with a Big Ten Tournament Championship. Gonzaga may be challenged in the coming weeks, but expect them to run the table to the tournament and replace one of the ACC squads (or Florida if the Gators’ struggles continue) as a 1-seed. All that said, the winner of Michigan-Indiana on March 10th will secure 1-seed position, and I’d expect whichever two of the MSU-IU-UM Big Ten Triangle finish strongest to secure two of the top seeds, with Gonzaga and the stronger finisher of Duke-Miami (my guess is Miami) filling out the remaining two spots.

 

Including all of these contenders, there are, as of February 18th, already 34 NCAA teams with 20 wins as of February 18th and 21 more teams have 19 wins! That means about 16% of all NCAA teams already have 19 wins. Now not all of these teams are threats to win the whole thing (sorry, Stony Brook, Akron, etc.), but with teams like Kansas, Kansas State, Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, half of the Big Ten, and Arizona out there playing well, chances are the aforementioned one seeds will not be the top 4 come selection Sunday.  Furthermore, there’s a good chance a 1-seed will not be cutting down the nets at the Georgia Dome on April 8th considering the amount of good teams and lack of great teams, considering the likes of lesser-known sleepers like VCU, Creighton, Memphis, Wichita State, and Oregon, to name only a few.

She has as good a guess as anyone for what team will emerge in Georgia come early April. She likes Indiana’s completeness but made sure to tell me to watch out for runs by Butler and Georgetown.

Maybe these four projected 1-seeds will all hold their spots. Maybe none of them will. Only time will tell. March Madness has come early this year, so start enjoying now.

-Kenny

To be continued…

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Filed under College, Dance, March Madness, NCAA, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

Texas Two-Step

As in, step one: buy a sports team.   step two: PROFIT!

Not Jim Crane. Sadly.

Baseball is shaking things up.  Let me rephrase that.  As much as they can allow themselves to become more exciting, baseball is making some changes.  As I outlined brilliantly in my 3-part “Gritty MLB Reboot” series (or rant, depending on how you take it), baseball is in dire need of some different spices in the pot (Part One, Part Two, Part Three).  Perhaps this purchase and movement of the Astros, and the dominoes their scenario knocks around, is a step in the right direction.

Let us address the sale of the Astros and subsequent move to the AL West.  Effective 2013, the Houston Astros will join their Texas brethren in the AL West.  This instantly creates a legitimate in-state rivalry, unlike the ones MLB and Fox try to force upon us when interleague play arrives (my distaste for interleague is a different story for a different day).  The battle for Texas will provide an interesting tweak on both the division it is entering and the one it is leaving.  Competitively, the NL Central loses  a punching bag, as the Astros have been downright astro-cious the past few years.  Horrible puns aside, the World Champion Cardinals especially benefitted from the Astros, going 10-5 against the 100-loss Houston team.  With the additional wild-card games and an added loser (the Astros, undeniably, will be bad for several years at the very least), the AL West becomes legitimate players.  Do the Athletics take a big step forward?  And does their impending success help persuade the A’s move out of woeful Oakland?  The ramifications of this move could prove to be far reaching competitively, financially, and emotionally – if Nolan Ryan would just say something outlandish to stir the pot (I sincerely hope this happens).  This nugget does not suffice:

“I’ve always thought of the Astros as a National League team,” said Rangers team president Nolan Ryan (who played for Houston from 1980-1988.)  “But when I look at it from our perspective, I like it.”

With a big, big TV deal in place and a mini-dynasty in the making, the Rangers surely like the idea of having a bad team to beat up on.  But the Astros, bad as they might be, will benefit from this too.  Texans are stereotypically a competitive lot, so, somewhat counter-intuitively, two teams in the same state should build up both teams’ TV share and attendance.  Jim Crane paid a pretty penny for a struggling team.  But he may have lucked into the perfect storm of circumstance.  Additional playoffs and a Champion-caliber, in-state rival should put the Astros in a good position financially going forward.  Now if they could only find some players.

Here are some other bits from around the league:

–> Infielder Matt Antonelli will undergo a physical on Monday to finalize his major league deal with the Orioles, tweets Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.  Matt’s a good dude.  And he’s from Peabody.  And he’s read our blog before, so he’s wicked smaht.  Good to see Dan Duquette give him a go.  Glad he’s healthy again.

—> Joe Nathan signs a 2 year (3rd year team option) with the Texas Rangers.  This really makes me mad, actually.  I have been saying for several weeks now – louder since Papelbon left for Philadelphia – that the Red Sox should make Daniel Bard a starter and sign Nathan to be their closer.  It was a concept borrowed from these same Rangers, and a damned good one, so they did it with their more-than-a-closer Neftali Feliz.  The worst part of this going forward is now the Red Sox must either overpay for a guy who’s not that good, have open tryouts a-la “Invincible” or… gulp… make Bobby Jenks their closer.

—> Philadelphia Phillies acquire Ty Wiggington for a bag of trail mix.  I’m confused by the Phillies reluctance to sign players or develop players under 30.  Between Jim Thome and Ty Wiggington, the Phillies’ bench seems better equipped for lumberjacking than winning baseball games.

—> The Red Sox are circling around Bobby Valentine for their managerial position.  More details and lots of swearing to come in the following weeks.

—> The MLB is working on a new CBA and it will allegedly address issues such as HGH testing and draft slotting.  More details will begin to emerge and once they announce the official parameters, I will break them down.

 

 

Adios, muchachos, enjoy this phenomenal new Black Keys song and the awesome dancing.  Don’t know how this guy stole my moves.

-w

 

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Filed under Baseball, BOOMSHAKALAKKA, Cajones, Closers, Dance, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts, video

Hot Right Now

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I PRESENT TO YOU THE NEW “IT” TREND: TEBOW-ING

 

The act is simple.  The pictures are hysterical.

Tebowing in on the interwebs.  The above link goes to an article in an almost respectable newspaper in New York, so you know it’s real.

Get on board the phenomenon.  Out of respect or irony, makes no difference to me.

 

And here’s a song with the same title as the post.  Epic.

 

That’s Bassnectar.  Get on my level.

 

-w

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dance, DID YOU KNOW THAT?, Football, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts

Is Victor Cruz my New Favorite Touchdown Celebrator?

 

Yes yes yes a thousand times yes.

 

Sorry this took so long for me to put up, I’m still furious I missed out on my waiver claim for him after Week 1….

 

Not only is this an early top ten catch of the year, but Victor Cruz’s repeated salsa-bration (see what I did there?) is one of those Damn-It-Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That-On-The-Playground dances that makes me laugh every time

 

 

That catch is also freakin’ awesome

 

-w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here’s the black keys, in an awesome video, being awesome, continuing a reign of awesomeness

 

 

 

 

Seriously, I want to be in their entourage. And the application isn’t on monster

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Filed under Dance, Football, Opinion, Posted