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Snake Bytes: The D-backs won’t lose today!

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Probably...

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Team news

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks' offensive woes continue, drop home series to Dodgers - As usual, the Diamondbacks’ offense could barely muster a whimper. This time, it was Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw who shut them down, allowing just three hits in 5 2/3 innings in his season debut. “Trying really, really hard to get back on a good start and force things is not where we need to be,” first baseman Christian Walker said. “That’s where we’ve been the last couple of days. Everybody is trying to take the swing that’s the three-run homer or wants to put the team back in the lead or spark something that lasts a while and is here to stay.”

[Arizona Sports] D-backs' offensive struggles continue against Kershaw in loss - On the other side of the mound, Kelly did have a solid quality start after the shaky first inning. The 30-year old right-hander went six innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits. He struck out four with no walks. “Other than those two pitches, I think I battled pretty well,” said Kelly on his outing after the game. “You know obviously I gave up a little more hits than I would have liked to, but I was happy when I got out of those situations. I think those two pitches really unfortunately kind of defined the game today, but other than that I was OK with it.”

[dbacks.com] 3 takeaways from D-backs' early troubles - “These are grinding times right now,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “And these are tests. These are tests for our team and our players. We’re going to keep fighting. That’s all we know how to do. We’re going to grind through these tough times. We know that better days lie ahead. To get there, we’ve got to accomplish some things piece by piece and day by day. We’ve got to keep working.” The schedule gets no easier for the D-backs, who have the Astros coming to town for three games starting Tuesday before heading back out on the road for a six-game trip to San Diego and Denver.

And, elsewhere...

[Yahoo] Yoenis Céspedes' Mets career ends with confusing, dramatic day - Perhaps, this is how the end was always going to look, given the Mets’ tendencies toward self-immolation and Céspedes’ eccentricities. That is, a weird statement followed by a puff of smoke with, in between, some security guard jiggling a master key. They went to a World Series once together, which is probably more than a Mets fan could reasonably have hoped for. They split up with so much undone, under the cover of a pandemic, with the team threatening to play itself out of a two-month season in the first 10 days, and with no real explanation, no real clarity, only stories. Which sounds about right.

[CBSSports] Cardinals COVID-19 outbreak: More positive test results expected, per report - The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Cardinals had four inconclusive tests Saturday (one player and three staff members), and those would be in addition to the positive tests already known. ESPN's Jeff Passan adds that multiple new positives are "expected." The team said it did not anticipate having new test results until Monday, however, and would remain in Milwaukee overnight. The Cardinals are scheduled to play four games against the Tigers in Detroit from Tuesday to Thursday, including a Wednesday doubleheader, the league announced. It's unclear how Sunday's test results will affect the Cardinals' schedule at the moment.

[ESPN] Angels' Shohei Ohtani to undergo MRI for discomfort in throwing arm - Shohei Ohtani expressed discomfort in his throwing arm after another abbreviated start on Sunday and was sent for an MRI. The Los Angeles Angels were still awaiting the results moments after their 6-5, 11-inning loss to the Houston Astros. Ohtani failed to record an out in his first start since returning from Tommy John surgery last Sunday and couldn't get out of the second inning seven days later. Ohtani showed good stuff in the top of the first, striking out George Springer with a splitter in the dirt and throwing his fastball constantly in the mid-90s. But he walked the first three batters to begin the second, walked two others after back-to-back strikeouts and exited after throwing 42 pitches in the half-inning.

The Rhythm Section

Rating: C+
Dir: Reed Morano
Star: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, Raza Jaffrey

This long-delayed entry, originally due out in February 2019, is among the worst flops ever, setting a record for the lowest ever opening at the North American box-office for a wide release. It took in only $2.8 million from 3,049 theaters when it opened in January, and ended with a worldwide gross below $6 million, against a budget of $50 million. While smaller in scale, that’s a Cutthroat Island level of failure. Did it deserve such a fate? Well, it’s not that bad. It ain’t great. But it seems almost defiantly unlikable, going against cinematic norms in a way that’s brave - and, I suspect, ultimately foolish. The result is something whose commercial demise is unsurprising, beginning with a title that makes only tangential sense, even after you’ve seen the film.

It’s the story of Stephanie Patrick (Lively), whose family died in a plane accident, causing her to go into a downward spiral. Three years later, she’s a crack whore, when contacted by journalist Keith Proctor (Jaffrey). He tells her the crash was actually a terrorist attack, basing this claim on information received from a source with intelligence connections known only as “B”. After Proctor is murdered, Stephanie finds B (Law) and convinces him to help her acquire the necessary skills to become an assassin. Stephanie then goes after all those involved in the attack, including the shadowy figure known only as U-17. To do so, she takes on the identity of Petra Reuter, an assassin killed by B, and uses the resources of ex-CIA officer Marc Serra (Brown), now working as an intelligence broker.

I think viewer expectations may have played a part here. Reading the above, and with the film coming from the producers of the 007 franchise, you are likely imagining a slick, Bond-esque slice of escapism. It’s not that. First off, Stephanie is... Well, let’s be honest, a bit crap as an assassin. When she asks B how long it’ll take for her to become good, he replies, “Your menopause will be a distant memory.” They don’t have that much time, and the results are consequently rough around the edges, not least because she almost completely lacks the necessary killer instinct. She has the motive, just not the method.

Frankly, she’s very, very lucky to survive the first couple of missions, and that’s only one of the aspects which strains credibility. The makers get a demerit for using Ireland to fake the North of Scotland, and it appears remarkably easy to track down international terrorists. Perhaps the book on which this was based did a better job? Given the gritty nature of proceedings, I was expecting a greater level of intrigue and deception. For example, despite being officially “unattached”, I was predicting B or Marc to still be working on behalf of their former employers, manipulating Stephanie towards their ends. Maybe I’ve just watched too many episodes of Homeland.

There are some impressive elements. Probably the most outstanding is a car chase, filmed to look like one take, shot entirely from inside Stephanie’s vehicle as she flees the scene. It’s almost as good as the one from Children of Men, the gold standard for such things. I also did like Lively’s performance: she has rather more to do here than she had in The Shallows, and acquits herself well, both dramatically and in the action scenes (she smashed her hand up badly while filming a fight scene with Law). However, on reaching the end, I found myself unmoved, and given the general lack of spectacle present, this isn’t one I’ve much interest in revisiting.