[MiLB.com] 2020 Draft recap: Arizona Diamondbacks - Arizona nabbed arms with four of its five 2020 picks, including its first two, on the event’s opening day. D-backs general manager Mike Hazen was pleased with what came his team’s way early. “We went pitching this year,” Hazen told reporters after the first two rounds. “Had a pretty good idea that that’s the way this was going to go down, just where we had all the pitching ranked on our board. It was pretty stacked up pitching for those first 30-plus picks. We had a pretty idea that’s the way it was going to come down. I’m a firm believer that you can never have too much (pitching talent), and we’re building out a decent crop of young pitchers that hopefully will be part of our organization for years to come.”
[The Rattle] Case to Be the Ace: Robbie Ray - Only five pitchers topped Robbie Ray’s strikeout percentage this past season; they have a combined seven Cy Young awards and 22 All-Star Game appearances. Ray, despite the success of the other strikeout-dominant hurlers, remains an excellent mid-rotation starter but not quite an ace. He’ll have a lot to be proud of if he continues his career on his current trajectory, but one can’t help but wonder whether he has more in him. Now, his final chance to prove himself before free agency has been cut short.
[The Athletic] ASU could have a new student this fall: Diamondbacks top prospect Corbin Carroll - If students can safely return to campus this fall, baseball obsessives among Arizona State University’s incoming freshmen might recognize a face in their classroom. Carroll, the No. 16 overall pick in last year’s draft and the game’s No. 33 prospect according to Keith Law, has his eye on becoming an (academic-only) ASU Sun Devil. “It was always something I wanted to do before this fall, but I don’t think I totally realized it was a real possibility,” Carroll said, pointing to his conversation with Kelly as inspiration to get his collegiate career started. “I’d say it opened my eyes and gave me a kick in the pants to start looking in that direction.”
[NY Post] MLB’s short season comes with unique sense of urgency - “That novelty [of empty ballparks] is going to wear off after about five games,” said Showalter, whose Orioles played without fans once in 2015, following social unrest in Baltimore. “You do need some verification of why you do what you do: ‘If it’s important to the fans, it better be important to us.’ ” The veteran skipper added, “The makeup of players will be more important than ever. … Someone with a look-at-me mentality after a home run, they’re not going to have anybody responding to it. … Teams that depend on emotion every night, it’s not going to play.”
[ESPN] Black-and-blue marks, nausea and all the other fun parts of being hit by a pitch - Mark Reynolds said: "The ribs are the worst. It's like getting hit with an uppercut but without boxing gloves on. When you see a guy bending over at home plate, he is making sure everything is still there.'' Shelly Duncan was hit in the back by Matt Lindstrom at 100 mph. "The pain eventually went away,'' he said, "but when someone touched me on the place where I was hit, it would hurt for a couple of weeks. The bruise starts out black and blue, it looks like the eclipse of the sun, the area around the mark that's left by a ball. Then it gets really blue. It is pretty neat-looking.''
And a really useful thread on how the 60-man roster is going to work...
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
Dir: David Dobkin.
Star: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan
I grew up with the Eurovision Song Contest. I watched ABBA win live in 1974 and remember the British triumphs by Brotherhood of Man and Bucks Fizz, the synthpop appearance by Telex representing Belgium in 1980, and the abomination which was Nicole in 1982. At least Kraftwerk beat her by a month or two, to become the first German #1 in the UK. I taped shows off the radio and my little geeky self kept charts of the voting. I watched the 1998 contest, won by Dana International. from a bar on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. But after I moved to America, Eurovision went dark until a few years ago, when the “usual sources” allowed me to introduce Mrs. SnakePit to its eccentric delights. Good job too, because I really would not want to have to describe the concepts involved to an American. I’d rather explain cricket.
What we have here is your standard plucky underdog story, mixed with the usual stuff about chasing your dreams. Fire Saga are an obscurist Iceland pop duo, led by Lars Erickssong (Ferrell), who has dreamed of winning Eurovision since he saw ABBA do so as a small child, much to the regret of his fisherman father (Brosnan). The other half is Sigrit Ericksdottir (McAdams), who has long harbored unrequited love for Lars. Blind luck gets their entry selected for the Icelandic contest; wild misfortune gets them sent to Edinburgh, where the contest is taking place, to represent their country. The best line in the movie is there: “The elves went TOO FAR…” It’s better in context, trust me. Will they triumph against all the odds, despite the machinations of evil Russki Alexander Lemtov (Stevens), and some at home who do not want Fire Saga to succeed?
There are absolutely no surprises in the story here, and to be honest, Lars is a bit of a dick. I’ve often had that problem with Farrell’s characters, and find they work better when they are not supposed to be likeable, e.g. Zoolander. The film’s emotional heart is much more Sigrit, to the point where I was largely wishing she’d do a Tina Turner and go solo. As far as the contest goes, it’s a very gentle and affectionate parody, occasionally toppling over into self-indulgence. The “song-along” certainly falls into that category, serving no apparent purpose, save to allow some previous real winners and contestants to cameo. It’s still a lot of fun, especially for a fan.
On the other hand, the film does a bang-up job with the songs, which almost entirely seem like legit Eurovision entries. Yes, even the demonic Gwar-lite of Moon Fang. They were clearly inspired by Finland’s Lordi, who came second in 2006 with this classic performance. Though as a devotee, the movie makes an absolute dog’s dinner of showing the voting, which is one of the most beloved aspects of the whole show. Or maybe that’s just my 12-year-old self talking. But if the film helps cause some broadcaster in the US to pick up rights to the event, it’ll have been worthwhile. Especially if McAdams becomes the real representative for Iceland.