Friday, October 20, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: Into Elimination Game #1

This has been a pretty good sports week.  Army won, the Yankees came back from the brink to take the lead in the ALCS, and even the woeful NY Giants have rediscovered their running game.

Can any of this last?

Judge has hit 54 home runs this year. Half of them have resulted from pitches in a tiny 5-mph window, between 89 and 94 mph. He is slugging .825 against pitches in that window. To beat Judge you have to go above or below such hitting speed…
Judge already has made some adjustments, which is why his future as a more complete hitter who makes more contact is not in doubt. He changed his set-up and swing over last winter. He adjusted against high fastballs late in the season by not creating such a severe angle with his shoulders. In Game 1, facing the soft tosses of Keuchel, he moved up four inches in the batter’s box. He is a student, not just an athletic freak.
Judge has been a clutch hitter only rarely this season, but he found something Monday, and it carried through the rest of the week.  He hit a legitimately clutch homer on Tuesday, and last night it was more of the same.  Facing Astros star Dallas Keuchel, all the Baby Bomber got on-point.  For once, the Yankees offense wasn’t predicated on timely homers, it was more about getting steady hits, getting on base, running smart, and getting more hits to drive in runs.  Former third baseman Chase Headly, once a target of fan fury and derision, got three hits as the DH.
The Yankees have been getting hits all post-season, though not necessary Judge himself until just this week, but they’ve been stranding a lot of guys on base.  Now, though, they seemed to have turned some kind of corner.  Keuchel in particular had tormented them this year.  But they beat him, and now they need just one more win to get to the World Series.

Alas, now they have to go back to Houston to face Justin Verlander.  Yankees’ ace Luis Severino can be as good as Verlander, but he certainly hasn’t been as consistent.  In a sense, that is the story of the Yankees season.  Which is why this series may well have more than one game remaining.
An 80-film schedule is going to be bonkers. More films getting made and distributed means more chances someone makes a masterpiece, but it also means more Dancing Co-Eds, no matter how much money Netflix throws at the problem. Which means people who like movies but also like watching Wile E. Coyote run off the cliff will be doubly blessed. With a slate that large, Netflix will probably produce some wonderful movies next year, but they’ll also inevitably have to mobilize their entire marketing muscle to try to sell things that look terrible.
Reviewing movies on Netflix is gonna be a cottage industry next year!
Amongst things I thought we'd never see was a movie based on the D20 Modern: Urban Arcana concept.
Also: I think I am the only man in America who is legitimately interested in the Will Smith / Netflix vehicle Bright.
An investigative journalist in Malta, whose stories linked the small island nation’s political elite to offshore accounts exposed in the 2016 Panama Papers, was killed by a car bomb Monday. Thirty minutes after publishing a story accusing the prime minister’s chief of staff of corruption, a bomb went off in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s car while she was driving near her home. Political leaders in the country are calling the bombing a "political murder." The 52-year-old journalist aggressively pursued instances of corruption in the Mediterranean country and was dubbed “a one-woman WikiLeaks crusading against untransparency and corruption” by Politico Europe for her influential work.
Alas, this is the future.
"What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country," McCain said on Monday night. "With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed…
"We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to."
Look, I get that it’s a waste of time talking politics.  We’re not in any danger of changing hearts and minds here.  I honestly can’t remember the last time a friend of mine changed his or her mind about anything.  We’re all either too successful or too bitter or just too set in our damn ways.  We don’t listen, we push to talk.
And yet here we are.  Sometimes a note comes along to remind me just how far the mainstream has drifted from what Americans once agreed were important principles of shared national values.  Even after all this time, it still feels totally insane.
What McCain's speech shows -- again -- is just how far Trumpism is from the traditional Republican party on virtually every issue. And how much Trumpism represents a break from the ways in which all post-World War II presidents -- Republican and Democratic -- have envisioned the role the U.S. can and should play in the world.
People ask from time to time why I do this blog.  I don’t do it for you, my loyal readers, nor do I think it’s going to make me famous.  If anything, I’m already too famous.  There’s nothing more unnerving than having some stranger say, “Oh!  You’re Dan Head?  I read your blog.”  
It happens more than you might think.
Mostly, I do this as a kind of exercise.  Writing is good for the brain, and for me, it’s been a good way of clarifying my thoughts on a series of complicated topics.  I like working at it and get some satisfaction out of seeing a good-looking finished product.
I get that you don’t care.  You don’t have to.
5. Army Football News & Notes
I’d noticed the increased accuracy in the kicking game but hadn’t realized its source.  I will reiterate, however, that I was surprised when Coach Monken opted for three straight deep bombs from his team’s challenged passing game instead of running twice and trying to kick from, say, 45 or even 50 yards out at the end of the first half against EMU.  I still think he missed an opportunity.  His kicking game could use some confidence, and an extra three points would’ve meant a lot in what became a very tight ball game.
Also worth noting: it was Potter who threw on the fake punt play on Saturday.  He executed what would have been a game-changing play to perfection.

From Army Football Insider:
Army linebacker James Nachtigal was named to the Pro Football Focus College Football national team of the week.
Nachtigal received a 91.6 grade, the second-highest among FBS linebackers, from the analytical website following a career-high 13 tackles in a 28-27 win over Eastern Michigan Saturday.
As I said on Wednesday, this defense still has some improvements to make.  They are much younger than they were expected to be before the season.  But they are slowly rounding into form.
This weekend’s game offers an interesting test.  Army’s D could really gain some ground against Temple’s struggling offense.  I expect they will need a bit of momentum as they head out to Colorado Springs.
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That’s all, folks.  Enjoy the weekend!

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