Yesterday featured, not one, not two, not three, but four MLB baseball games to watch. Normally there is nothing unusual about four baseball games in a day. During the regular season, when all 30 MLB teams play (which happens most days), there are 15 games on the day. The big difference yesterday was that these were post-season playoff games, and all four were televised in national markets at times that almost didn’t overlap.
And how about them Royals?! First they give the Tigers fits during the season after fighting their way above the pack — even taking first place in the Division for 30 days late in the season. Then they make it to the playoffs as a wildcard and have played amazing baseball in the three games so far. Quite a story; I hope they go all the way!
Plus, I’ve realized what really annoys me about NCIS: Los Angeles.
The Kansas City Royals have been slowly fighting their way into contention for a long time. They get to the World Series in 1980, but lose to the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1985 they go all the way, beating the St. Louis Cardinals. (Good for them!) They haven’t been to the post-season since — a 29-year drought!
They even lose 100+ games in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. But since 2009, when they go 65-97 (.401), they began to climb out of their hole. In 2010, they go 67-95 (.414) — a two-game improvement. In 2011, they improve again, going 71-91 (.438) — bettering their record by four games. They jump yet another rung in 2012 with a 72-90 (.444) season.
And in 2013, with a record of 86-76 (.531) they have their first winning season since 2003. (That year they were 83-79 (.512), but it wasn’t enough to beat either the Chicago White Sox (86-76) or my Minnesota Twins (90-72) — who end up losing quickly to the New York Yankees in the ALDS.) Winning 86 games in 2013 was a 14-game improvement over the previous year. The Royals seemed to be on their way!
This year they finish with a 89-73 (.549) record, losing Division first place to the Detroit Tigers by only one game (which made for a very exciting end of the season in these parts). And as I mentioned above, they do take first place for 30 days late in the season. (In a 19-game stretch from August 11 – August 29 and in a 11-game stretch from September 1 – September 11.)
[Coincidentally, that last date, 9/11, is also the day the Twins are eliminated from the playoffs mathematically.]
Their success story continues into the playoffs. In one of the most exciting post-season games ever, they go 12 innings with the Oakland Athletics, winning with a walk-off single by catcher, Salvador Pérez (with his paltry .167 batting average). If you’re wondering why they keep a player with a batting average below the Mendoza Line, it’s because he’s an awesome catcher. Some folks say he’s the Yadier Molina of the American League.
But that’s not all, not by a long shot.
This past Thursday and Friday they beat the Anaheim Angels (excuse me, the Los Angeles Angels) in their own ballpark. Twice. And both times in extra innings games.
Thursday they play 11 innings in a game that is tied all the way. The Royals get a run in the third and fifth, but both runs were answered by matching runs from the Angels. Finally, a home run by third baseman, Mike “The Moose” Moustakas, gives them the win.
Yesterday, in the last game of a four-game playoffs day, they get on the board early with a run in the second. The Angels don’t answer with their own run until the sixth. Somehow, at this point, it almost doesn’t seem surprising when the game goes to extra innings. Then a two-run homer by first baseman Eric Hosmer looks like a game-winner.
And it is, but guess who adds one more run just to seal the deal? If you guessed, “a single by catcher Pérez,” you either saw the game or have a real instinct for coincidence.
The Royals, after winning the first two games (in the Angels’ own ballpark) head home for two games in Kansas City. Or one game if they win. As it was for the A’s last Tuesday, this coming Sunday is do or die for the Angels. They lose and the team that ended their season as the best in all of the MLB… goes home in crushing defeat to a Wildcard team.
This is the Royals’ series to win. Any loss by the Angels, and it’s “Good-bye, Felicia!”
Of such stuff dreams are made. (Shakespeare was obviously a baseball fan.)
Speaking of Shakespeare, or rather of writing that’s not anywhere near as good, a complete change of topic. I mentioned in the opening that I’d been reminded of what really annoys me (a great deal) about NCIS: Los Angeles. (The extent there is any connection in today’s two topics, the sub-title might be: “Losers from Los Angeles”)
I do watch the show, so obviously I’m a fan to some extent. But it’s a little borderline with me — definitely ranking near the bottom of my regular shows. I’ve mentioned before how it seems to be an adopted step-sister in the family comprised by JAG, NCIS and its spin-offs (of which there are now two).
There is, firstly, that NCIS: LA seems to be the least military of the family. JAG and NCIS have strong, clear connections to the military, and both show the military in generally positive light, something I approve of and have enjoyed very much. It’s kind of a subtle thing, but NCIS: LA seems — at least at times — almost more a police procedural than a military show.
While that point is subtle — even debatable — what isn’t subtle at all is the weekly gun play. Seems that every week involves shooting people, and that is something you do not find in the other shows. My three or four regular readers know I have issues with violence in media, and this aspect of the show downgrades it for me.
[Full disclosure: I’ve always liked James Spader, and I’m a fan of The Blacklist (which is extremely violent), so I do have my guilty pleasures. Would I like that show better if it were less violent? Definitely! Would I really prefer Boston Legal was still on? Oh, my stars and garters, yes, indeed!!]
So it’s not really the violence that irritates me about NCIS: LA. I’d like it more without the gun play, but that’s more just a bullet point on my show assessment list.
It’s the way they behave as if they were in high school. It’s the “they love each other” sub-theme. It’s the sheer, god-awful childishness of those two that drives me to distraction. Can we please, please, oh please, do to Kensi what they did to Special Agent Caitlin Todd?
Here’s the thing about Kensi Blye: Compare her to any other female character on any other show in that family. Compare her to Caitlin Todd or Ziva David or Abby Sciuto or Jenny Shepard or Eleanor Bishop. Compare her to Sarah MacKenzie from JAG.
Compare her to the women on the new NCIS: New Orleans: Dr. Loretta Wade (CCH Pounder!) or Meredith Brody. For that matter, compare her to the women in her own show: Hetty Lange and Nell Jones. In my eyes, she comes off poorly — very poorly — every time.
The woman is a joke. Eye-candy and apparently nothing more. (Do you believe for a second that she’s a trained sniper? Gibbs is a trained sniper, and it’s believable. Kensi Blye is a joke with a Batman back story and personal problems.)
It’s the exact same issue I had with Troi on Star Trek: TNG. She stood out as largely non-professional eye-candy among other very substantial female characters. (And, beating a Star Trek horse a little further, I felt the same way about Jadzia Dax on DS9.)
Watching the first show of the new season the other night, I was reminded of just how much I can’t stand Kensi Blye. That little cat-fight with the female DEA agent over Marty “he’s mine” Deeks really pissed me off. And, ramping up the clichés, once they fight, then they’re friends and they unite against Marty.
So my motto for the new TV season: Let’s Kill Off Kensi Blye!