Max stole all my news from yesterday.
He had a Rule 5 Draft thread... and then the Royals did nothing. Ok, so they messed this one up, too.
Then he made a story about the CrownVision upgrade. So I can’t link to Lynn Worthy’s story about it at The Star. He even stole Minda’s tweet about it that I definitely would have used:
Today I learned the inside of CrownVision is basically Donkey Kong. https://t.co/pB6aMlefr3— Minda Haas Kuhlmann (@minda33) December 10, 2020
And then he made a new story about Salvy winning AL Comeback Player of the Year. So I can’t link to Worthy’s story about that, either. Or tidbits like this from the story:
His 11 homers tied for third most by a player who played in 37 games or fewer, behind Frank Thomas’ 12 in 34 games in 2005 and Ted Williams’ 13 in 37 games in 1953 when Williams missed most of the season as he served in the military during the Korean War.
Perez is the second Royals player to claim the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award from MLB. He joined former teammate Mike Moustakas (2017). Pitcher Bret Saberhagen also earned Comeback Player of the Year honors from The Sporting News and United Press International in 1987.
Mike Podhorzer at Rotographs, the fantasy baseball side of Fangraphs, looked at the Carlos Santana signing.
While it doesn’t mean you should just take his 2020 HR/FB rate of 12.3% and reduce it for the new park (that’s not how you develop a projection!), it does mean his home run outlook looks a lot worse now than it did on Monday. It’ll be that much tougher for him to push that HR/FB rate back toward his career 14.1% mark or come anywhere close to his 2019 career high. Again, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but his 2021 HR/FB projection will absolutely be lower, and perhaps close to the lowest it could have potentially gotten, given his new home park.
Old friend alert. Apparently Alberto Callaspo has signed with the Welland Jackfish in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL). I have to say - I had no idea where Welland was. Apparently, it’s about 20 miles from Niagara Falls.
Since his last appearance in the majors in 2015, Callaspo has been playing in Venezuela and Mexico and with the Bridgeport, Conn., Bluefish in the independent Atlantic League. He batted .344 for the Bluefish in 2017...
Hall of fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins is the most-notable former major leaguer to play in the IBL. He spent 1984 and 1985 with the London Majors, while Paul Spoljaric played for nine seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Barrie Baycats after pitching in the majors from 1996 until 2000. Former Toronto Blue Jays outfielders Rob and Rich Butler played with the Maple Leafs after their MLB careers.
Joel Golberg has written an inspirational book called “Small Ball Big Results”. The link is to an interview with KMBC channel 9.
- Drew Osborne at Royals Farm Report details the MiLB shuffle
- At Royals Reporter, Kevin O’Brien (no relation to the RR Kevins) lists “Four Royals players most affected by the Santana and Taylor acquisitions”
- Connor Miller at Royals Blue states “The Royals open their wallet this offseason”
Longtime baseball executive Dave Dombrowski has been hired as Phillies GM.
With Realmuto a free agent, the Phillies’ farm system considered among the bottom third in baseball and questions about ownership’s willingness to spend after claiming it lost nearly $150 million in 2020, something will have to give with the hiring of Dombrowski, whose swashbuckling, big-spending ways have exemplified his success.
Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs and R.J. Anderson at CBS Sports break down all the Rule 5 Draft picks.
Eric also talks about how they updated their Top 50 prospects for the 2021 draft.
Because the 2020 Draft was only five rounds, there are literally hundreds of players who would have gone in rounds sixth through 10, as well a few dozen who would have gotten a bonus well over-slot on Day 3, who are now (or again) playing college ball (and will be for a while), while many have spilled over into junior colleges or have transferred... The group of players who was supposed to be in the 2020 Draft class was deep with talent, and so the 2021 Draft class will be very deep, too, but the industry will be working with less information, or at the very least will have one hell of a time trying to acquire it.
How about some “one line” movie reviews to give us something to talk about (disclaimer: reviews are almost never one line)?
Let’s look at 4 animated movies from 1998 - three of which were part of some studio drama. I’ll let wikipedia explain:
After DreamWorks’ acquisition of PDI, Pixar director John Lasseter, Steve Jobs, and others at Pixar were dismayed to learn from the trade papers that PDI’s first project at DreamWorks would be another ant film, to be called Antz. By this time, Pixar’s project, then similarly called Bugs, was well known within the animation community. In general, both Antz and A Bug’s Life center on a young male ant, a drone with oddball tendencies, who struggles to win a princess’s hand by saving their society. Lasseter and Jobs believed that the idea was stolen by Katzenberg. Katzenberg had stayed in touch with Lasseter after the acrimonious Disney split, often calling to check up. In October 1995, when Lasseter was overseeing postproduction work on Toy Story at the Universal Studios lot, where DreamWorks was also located, Lasseter and Andrew Stanton visited Katzenberg and they discussed their plans for Bugs in detail. Lasseter had high hopes for Toy Story, and he was telling friends throughout the tight-knit computer-animation business to get cracking on their own films. “If this hits, it’s going to be like space movies after Star Wars” for computer-animation studios, he told various friends. “I should have been wary,” Lasseter later recalled. “Jeffrey kept asking questions about when it would be released.” When the trades indicated production on Antz, Lasseter, feeling betrayed, called Katzenberg and asked him bluntly if it were true, Katzenberg confirming it...
At the time, the current Disney studio executives were starting a bitter competitive rivalry with Jeffrey Katzenberg and his new DreamWorks films. In 1995, Katzenberg announced The Prince of Egypt to debut in November 1998 as DreamWorks’ first animated release. A year later, Disney scheduled Bugs to open on the same weekend, which infuriated Katzenberg. Katzenberg invited Disney executives to DreamWorks to negotiate a release date change for Bugs, but the company refused to budge. DreamWorks pushed Prince of Egypt to the Christmas season and the studio had decided not to begin full marketing for Antz until after Prince of Egypt was released. Disney afterward announced release dates for films that were going to compete with The Prince of Egypt, and both studios had to compete with Paramount Pictures, which was releasing The Rugrats Movie in November, based on the hugely-popular Nickelodeon cartoon. Katzenberg suddenly moved the opening of Antz from March 1999 to October 1998, in order to successfully beat A Bug’s Life into cinemas.
David Price writes in his 2008 book The Pixar Touch that a rumor, “never confirmed”, was that Katzenberg had given PDI “rich financial incentives to induce them to whatever it would take to have Antz ready first, despite Pixar’s head start”. Jobs furiously called Katzenberg to explain that there was nothing he could do to convince Disney to change the date. Katzenberg said to him that Jobs himself had taught him how to conduct similar business long ago, explaining that Jobs had come to Pixar’s rescue from near bankruptcy by making the deal for Toy Story with Disney. He flat-out told Jobs that he had enough power with Disney to convince them to change specific plans on their films. Lasseter also claimed Katzenberg had phoned him with a final proposition to delay Antz if Disney and Pixar changed the date of A Bug’s Life, but Katzenberg vehemently denied this. Jobs believed it was “a blatant extortion attempt”...
The final product of both films are generally perceived to contrast one another in tone and certain plot points. Antz in the end seemed to be more geared towards older audiences, featuring moderate violence, mild sexual innuendoes, and profanity, as well as social and political satire. A Bug’s Life was more family-friendly and lighthearted in tone and story. The two films especially differ in their artistic look: Antz played off more realistic aspects of ants and how they relate to other bugs, like termites and wasps, while A Bug’s Life offered a more fanciful look at insects to better suit its story. PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III compared the two films and wrote, “The feud deepened with both teams making accusations and excuses and a release date war ensued. While Antz beat A Bug’s Life to the big screen by two months, the latter film significantly out grossed its predecessor. Rip off or not, Antz’s critical response has proven to be almost exactly as positive as what A Bug’s Life has enjoyed.
So where do I fall on these three after watching them (again) this summer?
A Bug’s Life (1998) - It’s not a bad movie, it just feels a hair generic for Pixar, not quite up to their incredibly high standards. That doesn’t make it a bad movie – it just makes it a lower tier Pixar movie. If some new studio had put this out, we’d be praising them as an up and comer instead of comparing it unfavorably to some of the best animated movies of the next decade. Like seriously: of the first 10 Pixar movies, the worst is between A Bug’s Life and Cars. Ratatouille likely comes in a distant third or maybe Up. Because here’s the rest of the lineup: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and WALL-E.
Antz (1998) - I like complex movies. But this is too complex of a kids movie and doesn’t really get where it’s going a lot of the time. It’s still enjoyable, a great cast, a technical feat, and tries to say something although it doesn’t perfectly succeed. Both A Bug’s Life and Antz are both entertaining and imperfect in different ways.
Prince of Egypt (1998) - It’s a very technical retelling with careful care taken – very high production values, basically an animated Ten Commandments. The big problem, though, is that you don’t get any emotional attachment to characters except Moses and Ramses so the whole story feels wooden. It’s a shame – like with Disney they would have given the sidekick characters some minor endearing trait to make you remember them. Here, it’s just a brother story where Ramses can’t live up to his father’s expectations while Moses loves him but has to turn on him. That’s it. Ramses is both bad but sympathetic. With Moses you get that he feels betrayed when he finds out he’s Hebrew but still has connections to his father/brother. He feels weight when he sees the burning bush but it’s more told than shown. It’s very sparse, emotionally.
Just for goofy fun, I threw in one more 1998 movie:
Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998) - Did you know there have been 23(!) Pokemon movies? They release 1 a year in Japan, though most don’t make it over here. They bank between about $25-$40M and just seem to print money. At that point, aren’t you basically making a 3-part episode of the Pokemon cartoon that doesn’t quite fit into the series continuity and dumping it into theaters each year? I mean, I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. This is probably the most notable one as it shows the origin of one of the most popular Pokemon, Mewtwo. It even tied into the first season of the Pokemon TV series. It even follows the same formula: it doesn’t break any new ground but you shouldn’t be expecting it to, either.
Didn’t have a lot of time for writing this week so I’m going to pass taking about Rocksmith for another week. However, here’s another Trans-Siberian Orchestra track from the game, “Wizards in Winter”: