Ed note: First off, I really want to thank everyone, especially Max, for their patience over these past few months. 2022 was a very difficult year for me, personally, with the loss of close family members piled on top of a myriad of other situations and stresses, some unique to my own situation and many we have shared as a society over the last few years.
I have always enjoyed being a part of and writing for this community but I was just out of time and emotional energy as so much was being channeled into family and personal reflection. Just to give an idea - I’ve written a journal for the past 15 years and I typically write 100-150 pages each year. Lear year I went over 300.
But now it’s time to get back into writing for RR. May we all live in more peaceful and less interesting times.
Ryan O’Hearn penned a Thank You letter to Kansas City after his trade.
Maybe this is old news, but I hadn’t seen it covered yet in this week’s Rumblings. In a Fox4KC story dated yesterday (though the story said the information was from the December 13th meetings), they posted a map of the 14 potential sites for the downtown stadium.
MLB.com’s Mike Petriello took a look at which hitters could be helped by the shift. A Royal makes the list:
Salvador Perez (Royals C)+9 potential hits gained / 76% shift rate
You’re surprised by this one, and so are we, somewhat. But Perez faced a shift on three-quarters of his plate appearances in 2022, triple what it had been in ‘18, so teams clearly felt it was worth doing more and more — i.e., taking hits away from him. His BABIP this past year was 74 points higher against a standard defense than it was against the shift.
It’s good to see that even when I miss some time, both David Lesky and Craig Brown are doing their substack thing. And Kevin O’Brien continues to toil away at the Royals Reporter.
Brown writes about the end of the Brohern era:
Maybe it wasn’t so surprising the Royals were able to trade O’Hearn after all. The Orioles were reportedly in the market for a left-handed bat. It makes sense they would bring O’Hearn on board, despite the underwhelming track record of the last several seasons. A new ballpark, new rules and a contract that is more than affordable make it a worthwhile gamble for Baltimore.
Lesky talks Kris Bubic:
It’s easy to forget right now, but Kris Bubic came into the 2022 season with a lower career ERA than Brady Singer. The underlying metrics were way better for Singer, but Bubic had prevented actual runs from scoring better than Singer had. So when Bubic was named the third starter out of spring training and Singer was put in the bullpen, it kind of made sense to me. I also have a bit of a soft spot for Bubic when I learned how analytical he is as a pitcher. Guys like that, I feel, have a better shot to succeed because they understand what they need to do as a pitcher when adjustments are necessary.
O’Brien tries to find a spot for Nate Eaton:
Quatraro slotting Eaton occasionally at third would also give opportunities to Isbel and Olivares in the outfield, who also could provide value offensively if given more plate appearances in 2023. Olivares has more upside with the bat, but his defense in right field not only lags behind Eaton but Isbel as well.
Eaton would be a true utility guy in that Whit-mold, but unlike Whit, there wouldn’t be that “franchise star” attitude where a certain spot in the batting order was guaranteed (even if it wasn’t always the best decision). It should be a matter of time before Eaton “earns” the right field spot for good and hopefully, for a long time in Kansas City. But for now, the Royals should continue to let him see some time at third sporadically to benefit their roster and defense overall in the short term.
Actually, Royals blogs really delivered today. Along with the big three, we also have these:
- Mike Gillespie at KOK: Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Outfielder Kyle Isbel
- Trey Donovan at Inside the Royals: Royals Free Agent Pitching Targets: Johnny Cueto
- Jordan Foote at Inside the Royals: MLB Pipeline Predicts Rapid Rise for Royals Prospect Gavin Cross
Let’s get transactional.
Ryan O’Hearn was designated for assignment by the Orioles one day after trading for him:
The Orioles have claimed Lewin Diaz off waivers from the Braves and designated first baseman Ryan O’Hearn for assignment in a corresponding move, according to a team announcement. It’s the second time this offseason that the O’s have claimed Diaz off waivers. It’s a bit surprising to see them designate O’Hearn as the corresponding move, given that he was only acquired from the Royals a couple days ago, though the O’s also surely expect that O’Hearn would accept an outright assignment if they can pass him through waivers, as rejecting it in favor of free agency would mean forfeiting his $1.4MM salary. That salary could even help the O’s get O’Hearn through waivers, at which point they’d be able to have both lefty-hitting first basemen in the organization as depth options.
Speaking of Diaz:
To call this a tumultuous offseason for Diaz would be an understatement. He’s been designated for assignment by four different clubs and claimed off waivers four times — twice by the Orioles now. Although he’s just a .181/.227/.340 hitter in 343 Major League plate appearances, Diaz is a 26-year-old former top prospect with above-average power who is also arguably the best defensive first baseman in the Majors. It’s led teams to continue to pluck him off waivers — the O’s, Pirates and Braves have all done so — though the general hope by the claiming team seems to be that it can succeed at passing him through waivers and retaining him as a depth piece without committing a 40-man spot.
Don’t expect a reunion with Eric Hosmer, as he signed with the Cubs on Wednesday. But maybe another old friend?
The #Reds today released IF Mike Moustakas, who was designated for assignment on December 22 when the club signed C Curt Casali.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) January 5, 2023
Blast from the past time? Omar Minaya is heading to the Yankees front office. I was trying to remember the genesis of the term “The Contest” by tossing it, “Dayton Moore”, and “Omar Minaya” into DuckDuckGo. My first results was this story on Fangraphs from Matt Klaassen (aka devil_fingers)
I’m not exactly sure what the goal of The Contest is: to put together a team that might contend in 2005, get fired, or to shatter the blogosphere’s Universal Snark-O-Meter in one fell blow, but it’s been apparent for some time now that Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and his Mets counterpart Omar Minaya have been involved in some sort of bizarre rivalry for at least the last year.
Speaking of the Mets, according to
Scott Boras mouthpiece Jon Heyman, the contract with Carlos Correa has hit another snag and a MYSTERY TEAM is now bidding for his services. How bad must his physical be for 2 teams to back out of a megadeal?
Finally, it’s not really related to anything else, but I saw this list on the KC Star website. Was 2022 the biggest year in KC sports history? It didn’t have one of the two professional teams win a title, but, man:
The Wildcats... winning the Big 12 championship was still one of the area’s biggest sports stories in a year full of them.
A Chiefs victory for the ages, quickly followed by the most crushing defeat of the Patrick Mahomes era
The Tyreek Hill trade
The Royals’ moves and a big decision about their future home
Kansas’ men’s basketball’s season-ending win streak that continued into football season
Missouri’s hot start in basketball with a new coach
And perhaps the biggest news of all: landing a piece of the planet’s biggest sporting event, the World Cup.
We’re going to try something a little different this year for my Songs of the Day. Back in the day, video games garnered a lot of discussion, but, now, not so much, and I feel like I’m running a little low on fun stuff to contribute. There will still be video game Fridays, some with new game discussions and some with old songs from past discussions. But I’m also going to start combining some of my movie/TV reviews into SotD territory so I can use soundtrack songs. While working, I often listen to soundtracks, so this is an opportunity to feature those, as well. There will also be other oddball things. I think today’s fits into both of the “movie” and “oddball things” categories.
Last time we were here, I was writing about Legenday’s MonsterVerse.
I’m so glad we tried to do monster movies with the movie technology we have now. We can finally make cool, mostly-realistic looking Kaiju movies with industry standard effects - you don’t need to have James Cameron spending $300M and 5 years to make the movie or have Roland Emmerich having some shots that look gorgeous and others where the cool stuff has to be off screen or risk it looking like a cheesy guy in a suit.
To expand on that, Kaiju movies haven’t always been popular in the states. There was quite the drought after Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla with only the underwhelming Cloverfield to fill the gap. As an aside: Cloverfield was just not good. I mean, the idea was fine-ish: a Blair Witch kaiju movie. However, when the story has to be told through the “reality TV” musings of your main characters, the main characters need to be interesting or likable or both. Instead, after about 15 minutes, I found myself rooting for the monster to eat them all and get us out of the movie.
Fortunately, in 2013, we get a new kaiju movie (that’s more live action anime than anything). It showed the genre can be done with a modern look and feel and be commercially viable, even if the script is a bit lackluster. Of course we’re talking here about Pacific Rim. I suspect that if it wasn’t successful for Legendary, we don’t have the MonsterVerse. The Godzilla remake was already in the works, but not long after:
Legendary confirmed at the July 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International that it had acquired the licensing rights to Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah from Toho Co., Ltd. and revealed concept footage with the closing title cards reading “Conflict: inevitable. Let them fight”. In September 2015, Legendary announced that the film Kong: Skull Island would not be developed with Universal Studios. Instead, it would be developed with Warner Bros., which sparked media speculation that Godzilla and Kong would appear in a film together.
Pacific Rim (2013) - This is a tough one to review. I hope we’ve already established my kaiju bona fides and love of the genre with the 2000ish words spilled in the link above. Grading monster movies is like grading superhero flicks or horror films - you view them through the conventions of the genre and how well they work as a movie, not, say, against whatever period piece, biopic, or over-the-top drama gets the average Oscar nomination. I have to be honest - I wrote the next two reviews before doing this one as they were just easier.
I really want to like Pacific Rim, but it seems everything I like about it comes with a big caveat. I love Idris Elba. I wish he would have been named James Bond a decade ago: he’s probably too old now, but I’d sign him up today for a 2-3 movie palate cleanser stint between Craig’s Bond and the inevitable reboot that’s coming. He’s an amazing actor who must have some sort of fetish for slumming it in mediocre to bad action movies: this, 28 Days Later, rebooted Star Trek 3, Hobbs and Shaw, Sonic 2, the less bad Suicide Squad, and Ghost Rider 2! He brings his trademark gravitas to most scenes he’s in. But, with this uneven script, there are lines that even he can’t land.
The big problem here is that this movie can’t commit to being serious or not. Some of the time it sells out for earnestness like the Legendary monster movies or District 9. Part of what makes those movies work is that Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and (most of the) others in the cast play the role completely straight. However, at times, Pacific Rim falls badly into B-movie territory where you’re half expecting the pilots to crush a beer can on their forehead before jumping into a mech. Even by action movie standards, the meathead stereotypes and macho storylines are bad and grating. Cranston’s character in Godzilla and Rinko Kikuchi Mako Mori both had the “my family was killed by a kaiju” plot, only he went mad scientist while she is a dainty Japanese girl that has to be protected. Also, I like Ron Perlman but all of his scenes veer into the screwball MCU comedy vein that feels tonally wrong.
What it does well is the effects and monster fights, even if the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese and Guillermo del Toro chose to shoot the movie like they were operating out of a tropical storm at all times so a lot of the visuals get hidden in the rain and dark. The world building is pretty good too, in the “not too distant future” vein. It also appears to borrow heavily from a couple of anime.
Towards the end, there’s a silly plot twist that was silly in Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla, too: one of the monsters is pregnant. There it was silly because it was the climax of the movie but here it’s silly because if it hadn’t happened, our heroes would have lost, so it’s awfully fortuitous. They say that not only are the kaiju a locust-like force of resource devourers (ala Independence Day aliens) and we learn this when one of our characters reads the mins of the aliens (again, see: Independence Day). But it was said that they’re generically bred for the purpose. So did the monster generals just miss that one of their scientifically planned strike force was expecting or were the two monsters about to attack earth and the night before and one was like “hey, baby, we may not make it back from this mission so let’s make it memorable”? Not an important plot point - just something I wondered aloud while watching the movie.
In short, the movie’s a kindof enjoyable mess that helps pave the way for future kaiju movies and, for that, I am grateful. On the other hand, it’s a tonal train wreck with a mediocre script and a lot of forgettable acting, even for an action movie. That said, at least there were legit expectations to fall short of, as opposed to our next two movies.
Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) - This one drops most pretenses of trying to be a serious movie. The opening scene is John Boyega voicing over a clip show of the first movie, ending with Idris Elba, and then saying “I am not my father”, as it cuts to him drinking at a party. He is teamed up with Scott (son of Clint) Eastwood and a surrogate little sister (Cailee Spaeny) who build a homemade Jaeger. Burn Gorman (Torchwood) and Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny) return as the odd couple scientists from the first movie and their plot is interesting-ish. Rinko Kikuchi returns long enough to die in the first act. From there, there’s some generic sci-fi stuff about how humans are being replaced by drones, a lot of pandering to Chinese moviegoers, and a plot that’s even more predictable than its predecessor. My wife actually preferred many aspects of this one to the original as it’s more tonally consistent and less overtly misogynistic. It was mostly a bomb and any plans to expand the franchise were put on hold, including a potential crossover with the MonsterVerse.
Atlantic Rim (2013) - Did you know that there was a movie called Atlantic Rim? It’s from those dufuses (dufii?) at The Asylum. If you’re not familiar with their work, they’re the studio behind Sharknado and about half of what’s on the Syfy channel these days. Actually, after they slashed their budget in the last decade, I have no idea what’s on there these days. But you know those movies with really low budgets, bad scripts, and a cast led by a couple of D-listers like, say, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus? That’s them. Hey, man, Lorenzo Lamas has to eat and those Renegade residual checks aren’t that much.
One of the main lines of income for that studio is to make “mockbusters”. That’s where they copy a popular movie, in this case, Pacific Rim, and apply their formula. In this case, Academy Award nominee Graham Greene is cashing a paycheck fo the role loosely based on Idris Elba. And the main “star” is David Chokachi of Baywatch and Witchblade “fame”. Per its wikipedia page, the film was kicked off a Navy base for negatively portraying soldiers and had to be shot at a “private helicopter airport”. My favorite review cited there describes it as “the ultimate monster movie about booze-hounding broskis in battle bots saving New York City from a crazy-eyed giant sea beast that frequently appears to be merely a lost animal, confused and irritated that these metal men won’t stop hitting it”.
But it’s our connection to the Song of the Day. All because of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Spoiler: We’ll probably talk more about that show in the future.
Back in July I wrote:
Also, I would also be remiss if we were going to talk about Kaiju and didn’t link to Every Country Has a Monster, When I saw this on the first episode of the MST3K reboot (season 11), I figured there was a chance the revival would turn out alright.
“Every Country Has a Monster” is brilliant and wonderful. So, of course, we’re not using that today. Besides, you have the link above and you can see it there. But what we do have is the song from Atlantic Rim, “Get in your Mech”. It’s intentionally bad but, if you listen to it, those awful lines will worm their way into your brain. Your brain will just be minding its own business when suddenly, you’ll be reminded of the great advice “don’t ever sublet your apartment to some polar bears” or ponder the story about how they “built a deck with Alex Trebek”. So, enjoy!