Friday, December 15, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: The Last Jedi Awakens

It’s finally here, am I right?

I mean, seriously, this is two perfect weekends in a row.  Army-Navy and now The Last Jedi.  How cool is that?

A day that starts with one of these is
already headed the wrong direction.
Three villages in Changbai County and two cities in the northeastern border province of Jilin, have been designated for the camps…
The camps are an unusual, albeit tacit, admission by China that instability in North Korea is increasingly likely, and that refugees could swarm across the Tumen River, a narrow ribbon of water that divides the two countries.
Well, that is some scary shit.  Granted, Sec. State Rex Tillerson says that the U.S. is open to diplomacy, but the Chinese seem to believe that this thing is going to get a lot worse before it gets better, and they’re actions speak a lot louder than the American government’s words.  If there’s one thing that 2017 has taught us, it’s that you have to pay more attention to what people do than to what they say.
If a team like the Yankees, who have been above the luxury tax threshold for three consecutive seasons, blows past next season’s $197 million threshold, the tax could be as high as 95 cents for every dollar over the limit that a team spends. The worst offenders will also be docked more valuable draft picks if they sign free agents, will be slotted down 10 spots for their first pick in the draft and could lose as much as $1 million in international pool money…
Acquiring Stanton, who is three years into a record-setting 13-year, $325 million contract from the Miami Marlins that is heavily backloaded may not jeopardize the Yankees’ ability to duck below the luxury tax threshold. But it will test their newfound fiscal discipline.
Stanton’s charge against the payroll will be $22 million — the average per-year cost of his contract ($25 million) minus the $3 million per year offset from the $30 million the Marlins have agreed to pay the Yankees if Stanton does not opt out of his contract after the 2020 season. But the Yankees also saved $8.5 million by sending second baseman Starlin Castro to the Marlins.
The article goes on to note that the Yankees could save substantially more money by moving fifth outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and/or third baseman Chase Headley.  Not sure who would want to take those guys at their current price tags—particularly Ellsbury, who’s owed some $68 million over the next three years.  But after GM Brian Cashman succeeded in moving relief pitcher Tyler Clippard amidst his horrifyingly bad slump last season, I suppose that anything is possible.
What to do with that reverence for a galaxy far, far away? Well, spend, of course. And when it comes to Star Wars, there’s always been an almost endless selection of goodies to choose from. Now under the auspices of Disney (dis, +2.48%), the latest push for toys is unparalleled, starting this year in September with a “Force Friday” marketing extravaganza to further boost sales. The first Force Friday in 2015 accounted for about $1 out of every $11 spent on a Star Wars toys, according to NPD Group, and sparked a sevenfold increase in online sales for the month of September.
There are a few pinball machines.  After that, it gets weird.
$7,999 to $8,999 depending on model from Stern Pinball.

I’m trying hard to avoid spoilers, and to that end, I’m not going offer any of the copy out of this article… or even read it myself.  I will note, however, that The Last Jedi is exceedingly fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, scoring a solid 93% as of this writing.  Nearly every reviewer of any social relevance has called the movie some version of “fun”, and most have added that its plot is maybe a bit more aspirational and complex than they expected and that a lot of the cinematography is brilliant and in some cases unique to the series.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I guess we'll talk about that more next week.  I'm hoping to watch The Force Awakens on Friday with my kids to prepare.  We then have tickets to a Sunday matinee in nearby Trumbull.
5. Army-Navy Hangover
Army beat writer Sal Interdonato posted an interesting piece about recruiting on his Army Football Blog earlier this week.  Interdonato is currently tracking some 74 recruits, of whom 24 are listed with competing collegiate offers.  There are probably more.  I’m pretty sure that Interdonato is relying on kids to self-report via Twitter, which has caused his list to undercount by something like 10% over the past few years.  Regardless, he’s got some highly recruited guys on there, especially at D-Line, linebacker, and fullback.  It’s pretty exciting.
I haven’t really started digging into next year’s potential, and I won’t until after the bowl game, but my initial thought is that Army ought to be young next year but also much more athletic.  All other factors aside, Army’s got some big kids coming in to play wide-receiver.  That’s obviously important for blocking on the edge, but I suspect that next year’s team will throw a good bit more as well.  Army’s probably not going to get the kind of mauling inside push they got from the O-Line this year, but they can compensate by getting the ball out in space, especially if they have big bodies blocking downfield.
Anyway, I am very much hoping to get to the Spring Game.  Among other things, we never got to see QB Kelvin Hopkins move the offense with the triple-option for more than a single series at the end of various blow-outs.  We also never saw QB Cam Thomas take the field, though he was one of the most highly recruiting players to come out of the State of New York in recent years, and Army had him dressed for Army-Navy.  Unless Carter comes out on fire this spring, I expect either Thomas or Hopkins to be next year’s starter.
Eh.  I should probably be a bit more focused on San Diego State, right?
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That’s all, folks.  Enjoy the weekend!

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