1. After two weeks away from the lab, it feels good to be back home. Sort of. It’s kind of tough to say that I don’t miss Maui, but getting away for a bit has me rejuvenated and ready for another edition of The Numbers Game. This week I bring to you an interesting trade possibility for your Texas Rangers, I give my exclusive The Dark Knight Rises review, and I try and convince you all that it is indeed football season. Let’s talk some sports.
2. I know we are less than a week away from the trading deadline in baseball and we have the Olympics within earshot, but it is indeed the dawning of a new football season. With training camps opening up around the league over the next week, all of the football junkies, (myself included) will begin making their “expert” picks and predictions, most of which will be wrong by Week 8. I will save my Super Bowl pick for later on in the month, but I have mixed emotions about football being back. I love me some gridiron action, but that means baseball becomes pushed down in the sports world order and that fall is almost here. I guess no more 100 degrees days would be nice though.
3. Piece of advice for those football junkies I reference in the previous number: purchase for $70 the Game Rewind package on NFL.com today. Not only do you get access to the full games hours after they are over, but this year the NFL introduces the All-22 camera angle to the mix, which is the same camera angle that coaches watch for game film to prepare for opponents. You also get the ability to telestrate on the screen to make the breaking down of the film as real as you can get, which for me was the selling point that put this product over the top. While it is sure to create millions of sofa head coaches around the world who will use their own sports podcast to try and declare that a certain safety blew his coverage to lose the game, the access is very worthy of its $70 price tag.
4. By the way, I was not referencing myself as the sofa head coach who uses his sports podcast to make points. Totally not me.
5. So when exactly does that Miami Marlins stadium go up for sale? This offseason you spend millions upon millions of dollars investing in an overrated closer, a shortstop with little proven leadership ability, and a starting pitcher who is streaky to say the least. That’s on top of the billion-dollar cathedral you built to create the idea that Miami could care about baseball and that the organization was dedicated to winning. With the Hanley Ramirez trade to the Dodgers happening Tuesday night, the Marlins are more or less declaring this season a bust and beginning their typical fire sale of talent that usually occurs around this time every season. On the bright side, at least the world can watch this all go down on national television on The Franchise on Showtime. Think they are regretting that one?
6. This is a number more for me than all of you, but it might have an impact on gaining back a little faith in at least half of my World Series prediction. Rays third baseman Evan Longoria will begin his 3-4 game rehab stint in Durham tomorrow with the hopes of at least DHing for Tampa Bay in the road series at Oakland on Monday. With the acquisition of Ryan (Tatman) Roberts on Wednesday and the return of your three-hole hitter, the Rays just might have a chance to have an offense to match the dominating performances they have gotten lately from their entire pitching staff. I’m not calling a division title at all, but one of the wild card spots could be grabbed by the Rays come October.
7. I believe it’s time for a little MLB trading deadline talk. The Rangers are in desperate need of an elite starting pitcher. Now, of course teams just don’t give up any kind of pitching, much less an elite arm without getting back some huge pieces. So if the Rangers want a Zach Grienke or a James Shields this week then they are going to have to part with some serious prospects. With Cole Hamels off the list now, after signing an extension in Philadelphia, let’s look at the possibility of James Shields. With the second wild card spot now up for grabs in each league, more teams are within shouting distance of the playoffs, which will have a huge effect on teams buying when they would normally sell. The Rays, who are currently 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot, are one of the teams that would normally be more likely to sell this week if there was only one W.C. team. But while they are in contention, a small market team like Tampa Bay can’t afford to have a pitcher like James Shields walk after this season and only get 2-3 draft picks in return. That is why the Rays and Rangers should pick up the phones and talk out a little trade.
8. Texas would get James Shields while the Rays would get outfielder Leonys Martin and pitcher Scott Feldman. Martin would be the elite prospect that the Rays would desire to quickly fill the role of B.J. Upton next season, while Feldman would serve as an extra bullpen arm that has an expiring contract after this season. While Shields is a free agent in 2013, Texas has made it clear that they are in a win-now mind set and are willing to make reasonable moves in order to get a championship this season. While Shields has a career playoff record of 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA, he is a guy who has pitched and won a game in the World Series and has come up big in games that the Rays have needed him to. Last season he had 11 complete games, which reiterated his nickname of being a bulldog pitcher. Parting with Martin would put some extra stress in resigning Hamilton this offseason, but the ability to get a guy of Shields caliber would make the loss of Colby Lewis hurt a little less.
9. Song of the Week: Pyramids – Frank Ocean. This Odd Future artist released his first studio album last week channel orange, an R&B/alternative pop album that is absolutely beautiful to listen to from start to finish. Never have I been so engrossed in an R&B album before, with even the 45-second interludes of a television going through various channels catching my attention because of the incredible sounds. ‘Pyramids’, a nine-minute journey with essentially two separate parts, is the climax of the entire album and is where Ocean essentially plants himself amongst the big boys in music. With the first half describing the tale of the beautiful and powerful Cleopatra, Ocean then switches up the beat to tell the tale of the modern day Cleopatra, who happen to be women who sell their bodies for specific reasons that we all know of. He uses these two stories to show comparisons to how powerful women have been and still are in today’s world. My little review cannot do justice on the song because there is so much to analyze within the track, so I suggest you give it a try on YouTube and just enjoy. It’s one of those songs that can be game changers in the music industry.
10. Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, please skip ahead to the next number. If you have, let’s talk a little superhero action. I am still constantly thinking about specific parts of the two and a half hour long film almost every day, which shows you just how impactful a movie is. Never have a seen a superhero movie take the economic and social issues of the current society and make it the backdrop to the movie. It created an authentic sense about it as if this could have been real and that this wasn’t occurring in a world far, far away. In terms of the ending, I want to believe the growing conspiracy that has spread like wildfire this week amongst the younger generation that Christopher Nolan’s Superman series will end with the red-capped hero saving Batman and flying him to safety away from the atomic bomb. This will in turn lead to the JUSTICE league movies and bring back the Batman for at least one more film. I know it’s a little far fetched, but how incredibly genius would that scenario be. Overall, Nolan created the greatest superhero franchise ever. It will take several generations for anybody to have the guts to rival his Batman series with their own.
11. I would be remiss not to mention the terrible events that occurred in Colorado last Friday at the TDKR premiere. I know everyone’s thoughts at TSB are with the victims and their families of the horrific shooting. It’s tough to even imagine that there is that level of evil living on this planet. Movies are supposed to be a place where people go to escape the realities of the world for a couple hours, not a place that puts their lives in danger. And I know that there are much more serious problems than this, but you have to feel a little bad for Nolan and the entire Batman team who put the series together. No matter what happens, TDKR will always be linked with the shooting in Colorado. It’s extremely unfortunate for a film that has Best Film Oscar nomination written all over it.
12. Thank you for the responses over my Penn State column from Tuesday. I really do appreciate them and am glad that I have an opportunity like this to present my opinion. It’s columns like those that I really do recognize how lucky I am to be in the position that I am and that I have a platform to share my thoughts to thousands of people. One more time, thank you to everyone who puts up with my columns, stories, and podcasts every week. It’s an honor to be a part of the Town Square Buzz staff.
13. Honest question: Does anybody still take Ice Cube as a serious gangster after making kids movies and TBS comedies over the past couple of years? I only ask because the man made his rounds through the ESPN car wash on Wednesday, rocking one of the sickest Afros I have seen in years. I still love Ice Cube and have several tracks rotating on the iPod, but the question can at least be thrown out there, right?
14. To all of my Texas Outlaw softball brothers out there, here’s to one of the most interesting sporting experiences of my life. Wait, what? We were supposed to have ten guys read this number and only nine showed up? That sounds like what happened every Tuesday night! Weird.
15. I really enjoyed this week’s edition of America’s favorite sports column, The Numbers Game. Ok, maybe I went overboard with stating America’s favorite. Do I at least have Collin County wrapped up? Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.