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Snake Bytes, 7/6: Schedule change

The very, very different 2020 MLB schedule gets announced this afternoon

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Arizona Diamondbacks Summer Workouts Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Team news

[Arizona Sports] Diamondbacks’ Junior Guerra, Silvino Bracho tested positive for COVID-19 - Relief pitchers Junior Guerra and Silvino Bracho tested positive for the coronavirus, manager Torey Lovullo said during a Zoom call with media Sunday. Both players are asymptomatic. They are two of the three players on the 40-man roster who have tested positive for COVID-19. There was one additional Diamondbacks player who tested positive for the coronavirus. He is not on the 60-man roster and Lovullo did not identify him. The team is still waiting for some players to get through coronavirus protocol, Lovullo said.

[The Athletic] ‘I need to pitch this year’: A pandemic sits between Robbie Ray and free agency - “I’m in a tough situation, honestly, because I’m a free agent next year,” Ray said Sunday on a Zoom call with members of the media. “The more that everyone can see me pitch … Honestly, I need to pitch this year.” Ray voiced less concern about playing than, say, Mike Trout has recently. But that’s not to say he has written off the coronavirus. He said he and his wife have been “super careful,” getting everything including groceries delivered and wiping down items when they arrive at the house. But if baseball’s attempt to play in the middle of a pandemic starts to get out of hand, Ray said he trusts Major League Baseball to shut things down. “That’s on the league to decide that,” he said. “But I’m here as long as they’ll let us play.”

[] Ray impresses with 'max effort,' ready to go - “I know I could pitch in a game right now,” Ray said. “My arm, my body, everything feels really good. Like I said, I threw around 80 pitches today in live BP, and it was pretty much max effort. Hopefully, I can get some simulated games in against our guys. It shouldn’t really take me very long.” Ray dropped weight during the offseason after he remade his diet, greatly reducing his dairy intake. He maintained that during the long layoff while also continuing his workout routine. “I think he is prepped and ready and worked extremely hard through this long layoff, and that’s hard to do with as much uncertainty as there was,” Lovullo said. “That’s incredible discipline, and he was accountable to what he wanted to get to. Those are some of the things that we stand on here. I think he’s going to be as ready as anybody. Based on what I saw here [Sunday], I’m really excited about it.”

[Arizona Sports] Archie Bradley is ready for some socially distanced, fan-free trash talk
- This season, there won’t be any fans at Chase Field, in red shirts or blue. Bradley is curious how that will affect different facets of the game. “I’m interested to hear the trash talk from guys,” he said in a Zoom call with media Friday. “See if people are as brave to shout things out at other players like they have in the past. I don’t think it’ll stop for me. Trash talking in the right way, never crossing the line – maybe crossing the line here or there, but – for me, that’s kind of what I love about baseball, the right way,"

[AZ Central] Pitchers workloads in flux as Arizona Diamondbacks ease into camp - As they make their way through a three-week ramp up before the start of the season, the Diamondbacks are tailoring their players’ workloads on a case-by-case basis. They asked pitchers to be ready to face hitters when they arrived at camp, but some pitchers are ready to do that more than others. The Diamondbacks are fine with that. “I think the biggest thing that we challenged our medical staff and our coaching staff with is, let’s not assume anything coming into this,” Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen said. “Everyone is focusing on infectious disease. It’s our responsibility to be mindful of soft tissue, legs, arms, backs, everything else. Let’s make sure in the first couple of days that we get our arms around exactly where guys are physically.”

And, elsewhere...

[] 2020 MLB schedule to be revealed - The 2020 60-game Major League Baseball schedule will be announced tonight, July 6, on “MLB Tonight: Schedule Release” presented by Camping World live at 6:00 p.m. EDT on MLB Network. Hosted by Matt Vasgersian with analysis from Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci, the one-hour special will unveil key matchups and dates of the 60-game schedule, which will begin on Thursday, July 23 and Friday, July 24. As previously announced, each team will play a regionally based schedule featuring 40 divisional games and 20 Interleague games against the corresponding geographical division. [Rumors indicate the D-backs will start against the Padres in San Diego, for the first time in franchise history]

[FOX[ MLB vets David Price, Felix Hernandez opt out of 2020 season over coronavirus fears - MLB veterans David Price and Felix Hernandez decided to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns from the coronavirus. Price, the 34-year-old pitcher who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox in the offseason, made his announcement in a series of tweets Saturday. “After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season,” he wrote. He added: “I’m sorry I won’t be playing for you this year, but look forward to representing you next year.”

[SI] Yankees, Dodgers fall short of Rays in finding pitching - From pitchers one through 15, the Rays have the best pure stuff in baseball. A short baseball season plays to their strength. A short training period and 15-man pitching staffs will further devalue length from starting pitchers. Workloads will be spread among more arms. No team is better prepared for this kind of baseball than the Rays, who not only prefer this style but also have the most elite arms to exploit it. How they assembled this group is nothing short of amazing.

The Shining (1980)

Rating: B
Dir: Stanley Kubrick
Star: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers

I’m not a huge fan of Kubrick, who to me feels like the Michael Bay of the art-house crowd. By which I mean, both men have a great grasp of the technical aspects of film-making, but haven’t a clue about how to connect emotionally with an audience. 2001, for example, is among the most over-rated films of all time. 2010 is a better, more coherent film. There. I said it. A Clockwork Orange has a great first half, then goes completely off the rails in the second. And Dr. Strangelove may be the least amusing “comedy” in cinema history. Yet, he has his fans. Boy, does he have his “fans”, in a cult perhaps surpassed only by Tarantino, who endlessly discuss and debate the meaning of his work.

But if it’s not clear what a movie means, could this be... bad film-making? Just a thought. Which brings me to The Shining, perhaps the most (unnecessarily) analyzed horror movie of all time. There was even a documentary made, Room 237, in which cult members variously claimed it was a metaphor for Native American genocide, or an apology for Kubrick having faked the moon landings. Kubrick’s PA on the movie, Leon Vitali, said “I’m certain that he wouldn’t have wanted to listen to about 70, or maybe 80 percent of Room 237, because it’s pure gibberish.” I tend to agree. This is a film about a man who spends the winter alone, save for his family, as caretaker of a remote hotel, and goes stir-crazy. As such, it’s perfectly fine, and like most Kubrick films, has some startling imagery.

Like the other most frequently proclaimed Greatest Horror Movie of All Time, The Exorcist, this falls some way short of perfect. Here, it’s partly the director’s desire to throw too much on top. As well as the innate psychoses of Jack Torrance (Nicholson), the place may be haunted by previous inhabitants and their crimes! It was even built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground! Not something found in the Stephen King novel on which this was based, that may be Kubrick’s idea of a joke, though it preceded Poltergeist, the archetypal Indian burial ground horror movie. But it will make any genre fan roll their eyes at the sheer obviousness of it all, and helps weaken the narrative.

The casting feels like another issue. Nicholson was one of King’s main complaints, being too “obvious” a choice; the actor was already well-known for playing a “madman”, a stereotype which only deepened subsequently, with his portrayal of the Joker. Then there’s Duvall as Jack’s wife, Wendy. She’s so damn weird-looking, it’s frankly distracting, and Wendy is such a complete wuss, she’s not allowed to enter the tree-house occupied by horror’s Final Girls. At almost 150 minutes, it’s too long; you can understand why Kubrick was able - and unusually for the film-maker, willing - to cut 25 minutes out for the European release, at the request of the studio. Stylistically, the director clearly fell passionately in love with his (then new toy) Steadicam. The results contain so many tracking shots, it would make a challenging drinking game for Charles Bukowski.

Yet, it still works, mostly due to the technical aspects. The massive set used to depict the Overlook Hotel is a disorienting maze which is physically impossible (as was discovered during an attempt to create it as a Duke Nukem level!). The sense of mental disintegration triggered by isolation is palpable, and enhanced by a soundtrack which mixes classical avant-garde with electronic noise, especially during the second half when the near-relentless heartbeat kicks in. I also like the performance of Lloyd, as Jack and Wendy’s son Danny, who possesses the double-edged gift of the title. He and Crothers, as hotel cook Dick Hallorann, give the film the closest thing it has to an emotional heart, something not provided by his parents.

Finally, I may be reading too much into this (those Kubrick cultists must be infectious), but couldn’t help feeling this influenced John Carpenter’s The Thing. Both have a small group, trapped in a remote, wintry location, who are menaced by an unthinkable evil which takes on human shape. Okay, that may be a stretch - but no more so than a theory which requires you to mistake a poster of a downhill skier as a minotaur...