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Snake Bytes, 6/1: June arrives

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Baseball? Not so much. The clock continues to tick...

Computer calendar illustration Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

[CBSSports.com] MLBPA proposal for 2020 MLB season includes 114-game season and player opt-out - On Sunday afternoon, the players association delivered a proposal to the league outlining its vision for the year, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Per Passan, the union’s proposal calls for a 114-game season that would begin on June 30 and end on Oct. 31. (The postseason would then take place throughout November.) Other key parts of the plan include every player having the right to opt out of participating (with those who are deemed “high-risk” receiving salary, and others receiving only service time), and a salary deferral plan in the event that the postseason is canceled due to another wave of COVID-19.

[MLB Trade Rumors] Edwin Jackson, Aaron Blair Among D-backs' Released Minor Leaguers - The D-backs have released more than 60 minor league players over the past couple of weeks, and Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports several of the names that were cut loose. Veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson was the most experienced player to be released. Arizona also parted ways with outfielders Travis Snider and Dalton Pompey; right-handers Aaron Blair, Mauricio Cabrera, Damien Magnifico and Michael Tonkin; and lefty David Huff. All have big league experience. Each of the releases technically took place on either May 28 or May 22, per the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page.

[masslive.com] Daniel Bard has nothing to lose in comeback attempt at age 34 - It turns out it began with an innocuous game of catch with some Diamondbacks teammates last season. Bard, who spent the 2018 season working as a player mentor for Diamondbacks minor leaguers, spent time with the big-league team in 2019 and sometimes brought his glove to the ballpark to shag fly balls during batting practice and play catch with pitchers. Midway through last season, he was throwing before a game when some of Arizona’s pitchers began telling him how impressed they were with his throws.

[ESPN[ MLB is having a tougher time returning than NBA, NHL. What's baseball's problem? - While it's not really a competition, as different aspects of those possible plans have drifted into the public sphere, it's become apparent that the tenor of conversation in baseball has been remarkably different than that of the winter sports. For one thing, more of those baseball talks have played out in the public, with management proposals frequently finding their way into the headlines and players responding to them with often harsh language in both public statements and social media blasts. The end result is at least a perception that basketball and hockey will be ready to go if and when the public health crisis allows, while the incertitudes in baseball only seem to mushroom with each passing week.

A couple of good films seen over the weekend on Netflix. One was The Plagues of Breslau, which starts off looking like a Se7en clone, before making an abrupt right turn half an hour in. It’s grisly as hell though, and a Polish-subtitled movie is probably a little too esoteric for this site. So let’s instead go with:

Extraction (2020)

Rating: B

Dir: Sam Hargrave
Star: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Faraha

There has been a trend of late to have stunt co-ordinators direct films. John Wick opened the door, with Chad Stahelski, and its success helped uncredited co-director David Leitch get Atomic Blonde. Now Hargrave, a stunt co-ordinator on Blonde, gets given $65 million by Netflix, and sent off to Bangladesh, where mayhem is cheap. Well, for Bangladesh, it’s mostly India or Thailand standing in, where mayhem is almost as cheap. The results are about what you’d expect: a slew of highly impressive action, which falters on the dramatic level. Still, you want great emotional depth, you’re not hiring Hemsworth, are you?

He plays the oddly-named Tyler Rake, a mercenary with issues. The operative is hired to free Ovi (Jaiswal), the son of an Indian crime-lord, from kidnapping by a rival. That succeeds, but Tyler and his team get stiffed on the payment before they can escape the city. His partner, Nik (Farahani), suggest dumping Ovi and bailing. But remember those issues I mentioned? Turns out Tyler had a son, whom he lost. And he’s damned if he’s going to lose Ovi. In the end, he teams up with Saju Rav (Hooda), the very same person who scammed him, to get Ovi to safety.

At the risk of stating the obvious, you’ll like this if you like this sort of thing. By which I mean, the hard-hitting John Wick style of action, which employs long, unbroken shots to showcase things, rather than the rapid-fire editing style regularly used by, say, Michael Bay. Personally, I’m a big fan of the former, and this has some great examples. Most obvious is the 12-minute “single take” – quotes there advisedly, since it’s actually spliced together, more or less seamlessly – in which Tyler and Ovi try to escape their pursuers. Gun-battles, fist fights, high falls and not one, but two car chases are included. If it reminds you of a similar scene in Atomic Blonde, it should: Hargrave helped choreograph that.

It’s certainly not perfect. Tyler proves so indestructible it’s amusing, while at the end, Saju Rav is such a bad-ass, you wonder why he simply didn’t rescue Ovi himself. The efforts at giving the hero motivation are so token, you wonder why they bothered. If you’re the kind of sensitive flower bothered about “white savior” films, you should probably give this a wide berth – as if that weren’t already clear. And some citizens of Dhaka are apparently upset over the way their fine city is portrayed here. Interestingly, the graphic novel on which this is based, was originally set in Paraguay, though to be honest, they could have thrown a dart at a map to pick the sepia-tinted location.

For the rest of us though, this is a high-energy blast of kinetic energy, which cinematically, is as close as you’ll get to playing a really well-rendered first-person shooter. Empty, meaningless adrenaline rushes don’t come much better than this, and I say, more power to the stunt co-ordinators of this world.