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Snake Bytes, 1/6: Fantasy (Baseball) Island

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In other news... there’s no real news. But James’s internet connection is flaky, so I’m giving him a day off.

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D-backs (not very) news

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks’ winter remains quiet even as division-rival Padres ramp up spending - The vast majority of the top free agents on the market remain unsigned. According to research by ESPN, teams had committed nine times as many dollars on the open market this time last year (almost $1.95 billion) than they have so far this winter (about $209 million). Hall described the club’s financial position as “pretty brutal,” noting the cost-cutting layoffs and furloughs it underwent last year as well as the pay cuts that remain in place for remaining employees. Teams across the majors endured similar losses and cuts.

[] D-backs’ all-time single-season team - You’ve seen the Top 5 rankings for the D-backs at each position, but what were the best seasons by a player at each position? Some will be obvious, but others may surprise you. Here’s a look at the best seasons, by position in D-backs history.

[] A possible fit for David Peralta with the Cardinals - Q: What do you think about a trade for Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta? A: He's a former Cardinal. True story. He was a pitcher in the Cardinals organization before going elsewhere, reinventing himself as an outfielder, and now being someone they should discuss a reunion with. He has been a player the Cardinals have talked about acquiring before. And he's a fit. Worth further discussion.

[Tomahawk Take] Atlanta Braves Trade Candidate: Eduardo Escobar - Escobar is only under team control through the 2021 season. He’s coming off a down year and not part of the team’s future. Of course, the Diamondbacks could hope that he bounces back in 2021 and either helps them become a postseason contender or regain his value for a better trade return at the deadline. I still think it serves them best to move him now if they can and get something.

[The Athletic] Five 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks predictions - 3. Some familiar faces are traded away at the deadline. Last year, it was Bradley and Chafin, the two longest-tenured members of the bullpen. By this year’s deadline, Eduardo Escobar will have two months of control remaining. Kole Calhoun will have the same plus a year given his team option for 2022, although many think that option is a cinch to be declined. David Peralta will have one more year left on his contract, and Nick Ahmed will have two. If the Diamondbacks aren’t in the hunt, some of them will be flipped.

(Not very) news elsewhere...

[The Athletic] why MLB spring training 2021 will likely start on time - As the new year begins, spring training for the 2021 Major League Baseball season remains on schedule. Camps in Arizona and Florida are slated to open in the middle of February, just six weeks from now, and teams and their players have begun to prepare. “We have announced the dates for the start of Spring Training and the Championship Season,” MLB said in a statement. “As we get closer we will, in consultation with public health authorities, our medical experts, and the Players Association, determine whether any modifications should be considered in light of the current surge in COVID-19 cases and the challenges we faced in 2020 completing a 60-game season in a sport that plays every day.”

[] Has an MLB manager ever been ejected twice in one day? - I like watching people get thrown out of places, especially if they really deserve it. There’s sort of a special thrill in seeing a jerk who’s causing a ruckus get the old heave-ho, isn’t there? Haven’t you experienced the satisfaction of cheering while somebody who’s totally asking for it gets escorted from the premises? It’s both schadenfruede and relief, a potent mix. This is why baseball ejections are so good.

Fantasy Island (2020)

Rating: C+

Dir: Jeff Wadlow
Star: Maggie Q, Michael Peña, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell

Kinda surprised to see some of the vitriolic reviews this received on its release. Sure, nobody will mistake this for a classic, but… It’s Fantasy Island, people. One of the cheesiest of seventies television shows. You should not be expecting Shakespeare. With more reasonable ambitions, I found this perfectly adequate entertainment. As, it seems, did quite a number of people. On Rotten Tomatoes, it sits at 7% positive with critics, but 49% positive with audiences. Is this indicative of a cultural divide? Or just the usual sniffy reaction to the horror genre? Discuss.

The concept here is the same as the show: an island where your dreams are granted, by its owner, the mysterious Mr. Roark (Peña). Except, as anyone who has ever played D&D knows, having your wish granted is not necessarily a good thing… In this case, there are multiple people showing up simultaneously, rather than the one or two typically present in the show. There’s Gwen Olsen (Q), who regrets turning down a marriage proposal. Melanie Cole (Hale, looking like a low-rent Drew Barrymore), who wants revenge on the bully she blames for ruining her life. Patrick Sullivan (Stowell), who wants to achieve his dream of being a soldier. And the Weaver bros, who just want to party. They’ll all get what they want… And then discover it has its drawbacks. But more interestingly, find out they are more connected than they seemed.

There are certainly issues. It’s 109 minutes, to start with. There’s not a lot of slack; indeed it feels more like it’s trying to cram too much in, especially in the final act where it kinda collapses under its own weight, as it tries to explain itself too much. I suspect excising one of the stories from the previous paragraph might have reduced the sense of over-stuffing. It also needs to embrace the inner darkness, intrinsic to the concept. Released as a PG-13, I doubt the few extra frames of gore present in the unrated version (literally – in total it runs less than 18 seconds longer) would have made much difference. It’s as much an attitude adjustment needed. This should have been considerably more mean-spirited, in terms of punishing characters who are all entitled, to a fault.

However, there’s never a dull… well, if not quite moment, never a dull 10 minutes, I would say. And the performances are relatively decent, at least for this kind of thing. None of the characters are actively annoying, and Gwen manages to have a couple of moments that appear to have strayed in from something other than a low-budget horror film. A particularly haggard Michael Rooker shows up as a spanner in the works, providing good value as ever. Yeah, I’m not going to claim this is a under-appreciated gem. Yet, any film where we get to yell “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” at the screen on multiple occasions, is never going to be a complete waste of time in my opinion.