Blog #25: Movie Reviews: Contagion, Moneyball, Killer Elite, Abduction – More…

This blog comes to you in seven parts.  First though, I had wanted to give you my thoughts on the new television season, but I haven’t had a chance to do that yet.  Hopefully next week I’ll have that along with reviews of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, and the new Hugh Jackman movie, Real Steel.

Part 1, The Red Sox plunge a dagger into my chest…again.
Part 2, Parting is such sweet sorrow, but Tito wasn’t the problem.  What now?
Part 3, Rays Manager Joe Maddon is a classless hypocrite.
Part 4, Transformers ArtifactS of the Week
Part 5, Toy Review: Collector’s Club Sideburn
Part 6, Movie Reviews: Contagion, Moneyball, Killer Elite, and Abduction
Part 7, DairyCon 2012

One of these days I’ll actually start doing shorter blogs more often.

Part 1, The Red Sox plunge a dagger into my chest…again.

It doesn’t hurt as much as 2003, which still feels like a raw nerve eight years and two World Series victories later.  It doesn’t hurt as much as 1986, because, let’s face it, we were one strike away twice.  It doesn’t hurt as much as 1978, because that was against the Yankees.  But it still hurts a lot.

I’m not going to go on for hours about what went wrong, because honestly, I haven’t the first clue.  What I do know is this.  Something was wrong on that team, something that had nothing to do with hits, runs, and outs.  They had everything.  A top starting rotation, a well built bullpen, and a lineup even the ‘27 Yankees would be impressed with.  Buchholz and Matsuzaka’s injuries hurt, but we should have been able to overcome that.

So, like I said, something was wrong on that team, and while I don’t know what it was, I know what it wasn’t, and that leads me to Part 2.

Part 2, Parting is such sweet sorrow, but Tito wasn’t the problem.  What now?

Terry Francona was not the problem.  I don’t know what was said between Francona, Epstein, and the owners, but I’d really like to know.  I have a theory with nothing to back it up but a gut feeling. Terry Francona fell on his sword to save someone’s job.

Whose job?  I have no idea, but there was some one, maybe more than one someones in that clubhouse that was a problem.  At this point the more important question is, what now?

I really don’t have any idea who will be the manager next year.  The three most likely names that people are talking about (in my opinion) are DeMarlo Hale, Bobby Valentine, and (I may throw up) Joe Torre.

Reasons are simple.  Valentine and Torre are big names, and you’re going to want a proven manager to replace the man who brought us two World Series victories, one, just a year after arguably the most disastrous debacle in Red Sox history.  Hale on the other hand already knows the personal, and also likely knows what the problem was.  Whether he can overcome that and succeed where Francona claims to have failed is anyone’s guess.

I just don’t want it to be Torre, or I’ll throw up in my mouth every time I see him in our dugout.  The Yankee stench doesn’t go away easily, though it will likely make Steinbrenner roll over in his grave, so there is that.

As to personnel, there are some question marks for next year  I’m not going to go into all the minor players, only the important ones.

Ortiz, Papelbon, Varitek, Wakefield, and Drew are all free agents.  I think you have to resign Ortiz and Papelbon.  This lineup isn’t the same without Ortiz, and I don’t think Bard is ready to close.  Papelbon had an amazing year this year.  I think Varitek’s leadership is essential, and he and Saltalamacchia are a pretty good catching tandem.  I would like to see Wakefield back in the bullpen and maybe getting a few starts here and there.  He’s only 7 wins away from being the all time Red Sox wins leader.  Frankly, I want to see him pass Clemens.  As for Drew?  Well, he’s had his streaks where he’s been great, but he was never worth $70 million.  Good luck to him elsewhere.

There is an option on Marco Scutaro, which the Red Sox should pick up.  He had a great year, and while I prefer Lowrie as a long-term solution at shortstop, until he proves he can go a season without being hurt, I’d keep Scutaro around.

Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia, Buchholz, Bard, and Lowrie are all arbitration eligible.  No question they should keep them all.  Ellsbury is going to be expensive.  He will likely (I think) be the MVP, but they will need to open the checkbook.

The rest of the major names are all signed, Crawford, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Pedroia, Beckett, Lester, and (for better or worse) Lackey.  Assuming the Red Sox do (and there’s no guarantee they will) make the above moves, the only question left is right field.  Personally, I’d like to see Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish fight it out in spring training for that position.  I like Kalish, but he was hurt this year, otherwise I think we’d have seen him when Drew was hurt.

I can’t imagine anyone major currently under contract being traded.  The only one they *might* consider trading would be Lackey, but no one wants him, and honestly, he pitched great at times this year.  I wouldn’t give up on him just yet.

Of course, we still need two more starters (unless they keep Bedard which I think they should do), and the bullpen needs work.

All in all, I’m glad I don’t have Theo’s job.  Of course, it should also be noted that his contract is up, so we don’t even know if Theo has Theo’s job.  That might be the biggest question of all.

Part 3, Rays Manager Joe Maddon is a classless hypocrite.

Last Thursday, Rays manager Joe Maddon tweeted a thank you to Baltimore Orioles saying that “We don’t do this without their respect for the game.”

Now, let’s examine this a bit.  He’s right.  The Orioles could have played their rookies and given up on a lost season.  They did in fact show their respect for the game and play right to the end.

Here’s the problem.  The only reason it mattered is that the Yankees DIDN’T have that same respect for the game.  Now, to be fair (and I’m throwing up in my mouth a bit typing this) I can’t really blame the Yankees.  All playoff teams that have secured their spot do this.  They rest their players and set up their rotation, and I can’t blame them for that.  The Red Sox would have done the same in their position.

On one hand Maddon is benefiting from the Yankees lack of respect for the game, and on the other hand thanking the Orioles for doing the opposite.  It’s classless, it’s hypocritical, and it makes him look like a buffoon.

Hey, Joe, why don’t you have a little respect for the game yourself?  Just shut up and consider yourself lucky.

Idiot.

Part 4, Transformers ArtifactS of the Week

Here we have a 1984 Transformers AM Personal Wrist Radio manufactured by Nasta Industries.  Nasta produced quite a few Transformers items back in the day, including a number of different radios, intercoms, and voice synthesizers.  I also have a pair of sunglasses made by Nasta as well as an electronic toothbrush, and probably some other items that don’t actually say Nasts on the box.  This particular items seem pretty rare (or at least I haven’t seen many of them).  Other items suck as the AM Radio & Headset pictured below seem to be much more common.

You can see these and over 7000+ other items at TFMuseum.com.

Part 5, Toy Review: Collector’s Club Sideburn

I don’t have too much to say about this toy.  It is a repaint of Classics Deluxe Rodimus.  It looks awesome in car mode and equally awesome in robot mode as log as you don’t look at the head.  The head is painted asymmetrically to make it look more like RID Sideburn’s head.  Problem is, it fails at that completely.  It just looks badly painted.  I would have much preferred they just paint it uniformly.  It just looks dumb like this.  If they really wanted it to be more accurate they should have done a new head sculpt.  It’s kind of a kick in the teeth that I had to wait so long to get it (mine never arrived and I had to wait until September 1 to report it, even though it was obviously lost in the mail weeks earlier).  A bit disappointing, but I’ll just leave him in vehicle mode.

Part 6, Movie Reviews: Contagion, Moneyball, Killer Elite, and Abduction

Contagion (No Spoilers):

I enjoyed Contagion, but it wasn’t what I was expecting, and could have had a stronger plot.  More on that later.

I would say that if you’re even mildly germaphobic, don’t go see it.  I’m not, and even I noticed someone in the theater cough as I was leaving.

Contagion (Spoilers):

The movie starts on day 2 of the epidemic and doesn’t reveal the cause until the end of the movie when day 1 is revealed.

On day 1, in China Mr. Bat was sleeping peacefully in a tree when a bulldozer uprooted it.  So, having his night’s sleep interrupted, Mr. Bat decided to stop off at a banana tree to grab a snack.  He then carries his chunk of banana to a pig farm and hangs above the pens to eat his snack.  Suddenly, the wire he’s hanging from shakes and he drops his banana.  Sucks to be Mr. Bat.

Down in the pens, Mr. Pig eats the banana, but his day goes downhill when he’s sold to a casino to be the evening’s main course.  Sucks to be Mr. Pig.

The casino chef, avoiding any kind of proper kitchen cleanliness, is preparing Mr. Pig for dinner, which includes sticking his hands in Mr. Pig’s mouth.  It’s at this point where the virus jumps ship to our unsuspecting chef.  When he’s called to meet a visiting businesswoman he wipes his hands on his filthy apron.  Then he shakes her hand and 26 million people die.  Sucks to be human.

So essentially, since the chef at a Chinese casino didn’t wash his hands, 26 million people died.  Not exactly a great plot for a movie.  In fact, the trailer made it sound like this was going to be some man made virus, and I think they did that on purpose to mislead people.  In the end, while I enjoyed the movie it really wasn’t what I was expecting and could have had a better plot.

I’m also not totally sold on this being a realistic happening.  I get it, I do.  The wrong bat happened to come into contact with the wrong pig and a virus was created, a one in a (insert really big number) happening.

Here’s my problem.  How many times in a day is there a one in a (insert really big number) happening like that?  Millions?  Tens of millions?  Animals, bugs, and people interact at random all over the world all day long.  It seems like this kind of thing should happen more often than it does.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it doesn’t.)  The last time there was anything on the level of the virus in this movie, was the Spanish flu which killed anywhere from 50 to 100 million people from 1918-1920.

Admittedly, I probably don’t know what I’m talking about.

Moneyball (No Spoilers):

I loved Moneyball.  Such a great movie.  I feel like I understand Billy Beane (assuming the movie’s portrayal of him is accurate), and I love the way baseball gets romanticized.  I won’t try to equate Little League to Major League Baseball, but on some level it’s all the same.  I watched my team win the last game twice, so I kind of know how he feels.  I love baseball, and while I will never have the privilege to be part of the game, this movie really spoke to me.  Go see it.  It’s funny and has heart (something that is as important to winning as anything else).

Moneyball (Spoilers):

Problem is, as much as I loved this movie, I really don’t get why it’s been made into such a big deal.  Moneyball doesn’t work.

For all the attention this book and movie has gotten, the baseball theory behind Moneyball is still flawed.  In 2000 and 2001, the Athletics made the playoffs and lost 3 games to 2 in the first round both years to the Yankees.  They were one of only two teams to blow a 2-0 lead in a five game series (the other being the Indians in 1999) in 2001.  In 2002, Billy Beane used the Moneyball approach and they lost 3 games to 2 to the Twins in the first round.  In 2003 they became the only team to ever lose a series 2 different times when leading 2-0 in a five games series when the Red Sox beat them.  (The Sox incidentally being the only team to come back and win from down 0-2 twice.)  They finally managed to win a series, sweeping Minnesota in the first round in 2006 only to be swept in the ALCS by the Tigers.  Since then an 81-81 season in 2010 is their best.

Also, it wasn’t even mentioned in the movie that the reason that Oakland went to the playoffs for four straight seasons.  It was their starting pitching staff.  I don’t think Mulder, Hudson, and Zito were mentioned once in that movie.  Those guys made that team a winner those years.  Moneyball was about the undervalued guys.  Other teams would have paid piles of money for Mulder, Hudson, and Zito, and once they left Oakland, they did.  It seems a bit disingenuous to ignore that.  Oakland had three big name big money guys.  They just didn’t have to pay them the big money yet, and once they were going to have to, they were gone.

Now, is it just me, or does all this prove that Moneyball is a failure?  Oakland hasn’t won anything and likely won’t for a long time, and I ask again, why has this been made into such a big deal?

Billy Beane has now been GM in Oakland for thirteen years and is a part owner of the team, and if he’s happy, that’s great, but there’s one thing I don’t understand.  He says that his decision to sign with the Mets instead of taking a full scholarship to Stanford was the “only decision he would ever make in his life about money.”  That’s why he turned down the Red Sox when they wanted to make him the highest paid GM in baseball after the 2002 season.  I think he was looking at it wrong.  He was given the opportunity to win that last game with the Red Sox and didn’t take it.  It didn’t have to be about the money.  Maybe he had other reasons, I don’t know.  I doubt he’s ever going to get another chance like that, and he won’t get it in Oakland.  I’m just as happy he didn’t.  As I always say, in Theo we trust.  Still, I’ve got to wonder if Beane regrets it.

Of course, if Theo leaves, could be he might have another chance.

Killer Elite:

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know I wasn’t a huge fan of the last Jason Stratham movie I saw, The Mechanic.  However, I really enjoyed Killer Elite.  Not to say too much to say about it, but it was a great action movie set in the early 1980’s.  It’s also based on a true story, which I find very interesting.  That’s about it.

Abduction:

I really wasn’t expecting much.  Taylor Lautner in what is essentially an action movie/teen romance?  Having said that, it was pretty darn good.

Of course, they did find a way to get his shirt off five minutes into the movie, so it did feel a little like watching Twilight.

Lautner is not, in my opinion, a great actor.  He was much better in Eclipse than the turkey that was New Moon, but that’s not really setting the bar very high.  After seeing this though, I wonder if he might have a decent future as an action star.  He was surrounded by a great supporting cast including Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina, and Sigourney Weaver, so they picked up the slack with the actual acting.  The fight scenes were really well done and the plot was very interesting.

I must admit, as a Harry Potter fan, I enjoyed Jason Isaacs beating up Taylor Lautner a little more than I should have.

Very much worth seeing if you’re an action movie fan otherwise I wouldn’t bother.

Part 7, DairyCon 2012

One last thing.  DairyCon is a Transformers fan convention held in Wisconsin every year.  I’m hoping to attend next year for the first time, but that’s not why I’m mentioning it.  I wrote the convention story!  My friend Fred of FredsWorkshop.com and I were talking and I inadvertently came up with a toy idea for this year’s show.  Then he needed a story to go with it, and we were talking and I asked him if I could take a shot at it and, well, he liked it.  So, if you’re interested, here’s a link to chapter one of “DariyCon 2040: Erect and Proud.”  Only the first two chapters are posted at this time.  Enjoy.

Thanks for reading!

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About lmb3

I’m 36 years old, and I work in network tech support for a public school system. I am a huge fan of Star Trek, Transformers, Harry Potter, and Marvel Comics as well as numerous other fandoms. I’m a big sports fan, especially the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I collect toys (mostly Transformers but other stuff too), comic books, and Red Sox baseball cards. I watch an obscene amount of television and love going to the movies. I am hopelessly addicted to Wizard Rock and I write Harry Potter Fanfiction, though these days I am working on a couple of different original YA novels.
This entry was posted in Boston Red Sox, Movie Reviews, Movies, Sports, Toy Reviews, Transformers, Transformers Artifact of the Week and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Blog #25: Movie Reviews: Contagion, Moneyball, Killer Elite, Abduction – More…

  1. Pingback: Blog #1126: Toy Review: Botcon 2016 Club Subscription Service 4.0 Deluxe Impactor | lmb3.net

  2. Ryan says:

    Thank you for your help Lewis. I keep finding that the item I do have is indeed very rare and was possibly gonna sale the item but now that I think about I think I will be keeping it. Thanks again Lewis.

  3. lmb3 says:

    @Ryan

    It’s really hard to say how much these items are worth. I’ve only seen a couple of these. I see TF items like this go anwywhere from $25-$100 usually, but it’s really hard to know, and I have seen some go for more. With as rare as this particular items seems to be, I’d think it’s towards the higher end of the spectrum.

    Thanks,

    Lewis

  4. Ryan says:

    I’ve been looking for somebody over the internet that might have some idea how much the Transformer wrist radio would be worth for a while now. Your blog is the ONLY thing I have found and was hoping you might be able to help me out with this. I have the exact same one you have posted in this blog “Transformers ArtifactS of the Week”.

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