Thursday, June 29, 2017

3 Things on a Thursday: Baseball & Remembrance

The Yankees won a game last night.  They crushed it, in fact, beating the Chicago White Sox 12-3.  This is important because we’ve now seen the Yanks’ ostensible ace Masahiro Tanaka pitch two quality games in a row, a thing he’s not been much apt to do this year.  At the same time, nearly half the Yankees’ starting roster has headed over to the Disable List (DL), leading the Bronx Bombers to field a team that looks more like last year’s AAA roster than last year’s roster from the Big League club.  Seriously, the team right now is half rookies.
And yet, I am cautiously optimistic that the Yankees’ woes, which started with their disastrous West Coast road trip almost two weeks ago now, are coming to an end.  Though the team is something like 4-14 over their previous eighteen starts, their run differential has remained positive throughout the skid, such that their predicted wins (P[wins]) score remained fully six games better than their real record over that same time period.  To put this another way, the Yankees have never stopped hitting, and their starting pitching hasn’t slumped appreciably despite losing CC Sabathia to a hamstring injury during that fateful West Coast road trip.  The Yanks’ bullpen has instead blown a bunch of close games late, but this isn’t necessarily a trend you expect to see continue over the long term.
At least, that is what the statistics suggest, assuming I’m reading them right.

And again, what does any of this have to do with my running 3 Things on a Thursday this week?  Nothing at all.

NASA has made statements recently that point to an optimism that the discovery of aliens is a matter of when, rather than if. “Taking into account all of the different activities and missions that are specifically searching for evidence of alien life, we are on the verge of making one of the most profound, unprecedented discoveries in history,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, before the House Committee on Science, Space in April.
But while Zurbuchen and others at NASA are undoubtedly enthusiastic about the prospect of finding aliens, they have never claimed evidence to have actually done so already.
Aliens...  Yup.
According to one of my officemates, John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, began floating the idea that Hillary Clinton would release “full alien disclosure” post-election as a way to distract from the scandals surrounding her campaign late last fall in the wake of WikiLeaks’ attack.  Which is brilliant.  Frankly, I’m astonished that it didn’t work, except that maybe it’s a bullshit story.
But I choose to believe that it’s true.
See?  This is why you should’ve voted for Clinton.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is already getting rave reactions from folks lucky enough to see it early, and now the film’s stars have taken to New York City to shed some more light on it.

I’m running this article solely because I’m stoked by the early buzz this movie’s been good.  Assuming decent reviews, Spider-Man is about to take over the world all over again.
In Austin, Young is still the celebrity deemed by his Longhorns coach, Mack Brown, “obviously one of the best to ever play college football.” He’s still the guy the Titans plucked with the No. 3 pick in 2006, who won Offensive Rookie of the Year, reached two Pro Bowls and went 31–19 as an NFL starter. He’s still a friend to Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Matthew McConaughey, Jamie Foxx. No one can take any of that away from him. The problem is, that’s only half his story. The good half. He’s here, he says, to rewrite the ending, to close the disconnect between celebrity and ignominy, between rich and broke, scorned and reborn, to lift now closer to back then.
The more Young talks, though, the less clear it is how far along he is in this transformation. Occasionally he sounds like the young man some of his old coaches describe as lacking self-awareness, as when he explains that he’s applied to trademark the phrase Make Vince Great Again. He says he sent a text message to the pregnant Serena Williams joking about how “that should be my baby.” Even when he exposes his vulnerabilities, revealing that he’s barely watched any football since he retired, he can’t help but say, “I’d see a quarterback and be like, Dude is garbage, and I’m over here in the kitchen cooking turkey necks!?” He’s reminded that the Cardinals recently signed Blaine Gabbert, a first-round failure who never achieved Young’s success, and he pounces: “Exactly. I hate to name-drop, but [Ryan] Fitzpatrick is still playing!? He leads the league in interceptions, and he’s still f------ getting paid? I mean, what the f--- is going on?” (Fitzpatrick was third in picks last year, but Young has a point.)
An interesting article with a lot of must-read points for fans of a particular era of Tennessee Titans’ football.  Rooting for VY could be a frustrating experience, but I’m sympathetic to Young’s desire for fans to just take his career on the merits of his actual accomplishments.
 -- Arguably the best career of any player in college football history (30-2 as a starting QB).
 -- Arguably the best single college football performance in history, the 2005-season college championship game.
 -- NFL Rookie of the Year in 2006.
 -- All-time record of 31-19 as an NFL starting quarterback.
 -- Comeback player of the year in 2009, given after he led the Titans to an 8-8 finish following an 0-6 start during which he was benched in favor of Kerry Collins.
 -- Six seasons in the League.
Via Wikipedia.  Say what you will about VY, he was 30-2 as a college starter.  That's unbelievable.
Is that a respectable career in the NFL?  I think it probably is.  It is certainly more than Matt Leinart, Young’s primary competition in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, ever accomplished.
* * *
Steve was my squad leader during Beast Barracks, and as I've said many times before, I was damned lucky to have him.  He was an excellent mentor and role model to me, a then-newly recruited athlete looking to find my place at the Academy.  My first glimpse at what I was supposed to be was Steve, a successful starting pitcher, squared away cadet, and well-liked man about the barracks.  He was quite an inspiration to my younger self.

I think that's where I'll close it out this morning.  Take care out there.


  1. Steve Reich. Hated that guy. Then loved that guy. Only other guy in our squad who could go under 11 minutes for two miles. Ran into him when I was a captain, just before he was killed. We had a great chat. Good man.

    1. I didn't realize he was that fast. Wow. That's really amazing for a baseball pitcher.