It’s always a quiet baseball day, news-wise and all the more so given the current circumstances. There is literally nothing of note on the Diamondbacks front. But this week could be a crucial one in determining the fate of the 2020 season, with a date of June 1 being suggested as a deadline for negotiations. There appears to be a reasonable consensus on the health aspects, between the owners and the unions. But the financial questions are more likely to be a stumbling block.
[The Athletic] MLB plans to offer an alternative proposal to players on salaries - MLB will not propose a full revenue-sharing system to determine player salaries for the 2020 season. In a scheduled meeting with the Players Association on Tuesday, the league plans to offer an alternative proposal, leaving the union with a potential choice: to hold the league to the prorated salaries the two sides negotiated in March, or accommodate the owners’ desire for a second, possibly percentage-based cut in some other fashion. Deferring 2020 salary might be the choice the union is most willing to accept. Meanwhile, some player agents are open to pay reductions if the trade-off is financial protection for players this offseason, which some fear might otherwise be harsh for free agents and arbitration-eligible players.
[Japan Times] NPB can play ball in Japan from June 19, but minus fans - The Nippon Professional Baseball season, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, will begin June 19, the league announced on Monday. The decision comes after the government’s advisory panel approved the plan to end Japan’s nationwide state of emergency for the five prefectures still under the order, including Tokyo and Hokkaido, earlier in the day. The 2020 campaign will begin without fans in attendance, though the league will continue to monitor the situation in hopes of allowing spectators into ballparks later in the summer.
[TMZ[ Eric Byrnes Blasts MLB's Public CBA Feud - "I don't give two shits about your collective bargaining agreement and neither does anybody else right now! I don't think anyone in our society right now wants to hear about the bickering between billionaires and millionaires... At this point, if you have an opportunity to potentially bring the world this amazing content that we're all starving for, why not be that person?! Sometimes in life -- they say this a lot in sports, too -- it's bigger than you."
[CBS Sports] Which teams are best suited for bullpen games in a shortened 2020 season? - Our guiding light here is depth. Having a strong back-end with little depth (sorry now, Nats fans!) isn't quite as helpful as the teams with a long assembly line of quality relievers. Bonus points for teams who have been doing bullpen games already for the last several years (hello Rays and A's). The manager/coaching staff matters, too. I have so much confidence in the Indians due to how often they bring up pitchers who find immediate success, for example. Their system is excellent. [Arizona is #13: "Welcome back, Merrill Kelly! His stuff will play better in the bullpen. Also, if you aren’t familiar, check out Kevin Ginkel.”]
Dir: Julius Avery
Star: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk
This starts off as a war film, and as such, is considerably more functional than memorable. It’s D-Day, and a group of American soldiers are about to be parachuted in behind enemy lines, to blow up a church tower that’s a key part of the Nazi communications grid. They don’t even reach the drop zone before the plane is shot down, leaving less than a handful of men to try and carry on, led by Corporal Ford (Russell). They recruit a local villager, Chloe Laurent (Ollivier), and take shelter in her house to plan an attack. But there’s something weird about things: the church tower isn’t just a radio mast. It appears to sit on top of a secret Nazi science lab. One of the soldiers, Private Boyce (Adepo) ends up inside the base, and discovers they are carrying out human experiments. A captured SS officer, Captain Wafner (Asbæk) provides more information, and the team eventually decided that destroying the lab is as important as their original mission.
Which is where the fun starts. Because Wafter gets injected with the serum on which his Nazi boffin buddies have been working, giving him a massive swastika-shaped power-up. His strength, speed and, most of all, capacity to take damage, are all radically enhanced. And he’s not the sole beneficiary of this boost, as Boyce, Ford and the rest of the Allied troops are about to find out. As you can imagine, this is where it deviates most sharply from the usual template, established back in the sixties by films like The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare and The Heroes of Telemark. That’s also when it is at its best, to the point you wish they’d spent more time on this fight, with less creeping around the village, searching for their mates, or trying to make us care about the fate of Chloe and her little brother. There’s also the rather obvious historical problem of Boyce being black, at a time when the US Army was strictly segregated. I’m unsure whether such colour blindness is laudable or not.
It’s only when the zombies – for want of a better word – take the stage, that the movie bursts into glorious and gory life, like the cross between Castle Wolfenstein and Doom readers of a certain age probably contemplated. There have been a slew of “Nazi science” related films over the past few years, but these have generally been at the lower end of the budget spectrum. Money, it’s safe to say, does not appear to have been an issue here, and the results are excellent, and it does at least save the best for last. While rumblings about this being a part of the Cloverfield universe do not seem to have panned out, it is possible to see how it could fit in. For the first hour, however, you are probably better off watching Saving Private Ryan, or any of the other, better war films mentioned previously.