The Fans Win

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It’s ‘every’ boy’s dream to be at bat in the bottom of the 9th with the chance to win the game and the World Series.

Alas, for Royals’ fans, the result last night disappointed.

But what a season it was for the Royals.

And it was a wonderful playoff season for all of MLB, from the wild card games, which resulted in both wild card winners making it to the World Series, thorough the Division Series and including the Championship Series.

As for the World Series, it’s always better when it goes seven games. This time either team could have won. The Giants, thanks primarily to Madison Bumgarner’s outstanding pitching, prevailed, 3-2 (for the third time in five years). But it could have easily been the Royals.

The biggest winner?

The fans.

As for the final two MillersTime Baseball Contests, here’s where we stand:

Contest #1:  Make a prediction about the 2014 MLB season:

Below you will find all of the predictions the MillersTime contestants made prior to Opening Day that came true (or, in a couple of cases, almost true).

As in the past, I leave it to readers to choose the one that wins the prize (Choice of one of these 20 Best Baseball Books Ever). Readers can apply whatever value they wish to why they choose a particular prediction. You can certainly vote for your own submission and get other participants to do so too.

Answers are listed in the order in which they were submitted.

1. Red Sox in last place at the All Star break and trade four of their Opening Day starters at the deadline. (True.)

2. Seattle not make the payoffs. (True.)

3. A team will play in the World Series that has either never played in the WS or not played there in 25 years or more. (True. KC.)

4. Sox will not make the playoffs. (Sadly True.)

5. Yanks miss the playoffs. (Gladly True.)

6. Nats have four 15 games winners. (They had three and the fourth won 14 games.)

7. Braves struggle all year and miss the playoffs. (True.)

8. Mike Trout AL MVP. (Not decided yet but mostly likely True.)

9. Giancarlo Stanton wins the NL Home Run title. (True.)

10. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton will live up to what is expected of them, bounce back from their slumps, and put Angels in shape to win AL West with 95 wins. (Mostly True. Pujols had a particularly good year. They won 98.)

11. Astros lose less than 100 games. (True. They were 70-92.)

12. Five no hitters will be thrown in 2014. (True.)

Please vote by email or by leaving your choice in the Comment section of this post. Deadline for voting, Tuesday, Nov. 4 (Election Day!).

Contest #6: Who will be in the World Series? Who will win it all? Who will be the WS MVP?

Most votes for this contest had the Cards or the Dodgers and the Tigers in the WS. No one had the Royals in it, and only two contestants had the Giants in it (both predicting the Giants would lose).

So, there is no winner this year.

However, Elliott Trommald predicted, “No one in the Millerstime Contest would accurately predict the winner this year.”

So, by the power invested in me by me, Elliott is awarded his choice of one of the 20 Best Baseball Books Ever.

Remember: Vote for your choice of the Best 2014 Prediction by Nov. 4.

3 Days – 11 Movies

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I can’t wait to do this again.

With the encouragement from friends in Philadelphia who have been doing this for years, my wife and I spent three days last weekend at the 23rd Philadelphia Film Festival.

From Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon, we saw 11 films. The opening evening we saw two, the next day four, then three, and finally two before we had to head home.

We saw big films, small ones, foreign films, US films, well known actors, first time ones, small stories and big ones, and a few with similar themes. The two or three times a director, producer, or actor spoke and answered questions following a film, we enjoyed that and learned something about what we had just seen. The length of the films varied from 82-134 minutes, plus we saw one short (21 minutes); so I guess that actually makes 12 films in all.

We bought a weekend pass which gave us first entry into any film we wanted to see. Generally, there were five time slots a day, with three different films in each time slot. The printed program pretty accurately described each film, and as a result, and in concert with our friends, we chose the 11 listed below, which I have rated and mini-reviewed.

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MillersTime Book Lovers – An Early Reminder

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The New Yorker cover for it’s Oct. 20 Fall Library issue reminds me (gives me an excuse) to remind MillersTime readers that in December I look forward to your sending the titles of the books you’ve most enjoyed reading in 2014.

As in the past, here are a few guidelines that may help in drawing your list and in making my compilation easy:

* When I ask for your Favorite Reads of 2014, I’m seeking fiction and/or nonfiction books that stood out for you above all you’ve read in the past year. What have been the most enjoyable, the most important, the most thought provoking, the best written, the ones you may go back and read again, the ones you reread this year, and/or the ones you have suggested others read?

* You are welcome to send just one title or up to a half dozen or so.

* List the title, the author, and indicate whether it is fiction (F) or nonfiction (NF).

* If you are willing, please write a sentence or two about why each particular book made it to your list for this year. If you prefer not to add this, no problem, but I’ve found readers enjoy the comments and use them in choosing books to read for the coming year.

* Don’t be concerned about whether others will have the same book(s) on their lists. If we get a number of similar titles, that’s just an indication of the power of a particular book/author.

* Your books do not have to be ones that were written and/or published in 2014, just ones that you read over the past year.

* Send me your list in an email (Samesty84@gmail.com) by Dec. 20 so I will be able to post the entire list at the end of the year.

To see last year’s list, click on this link: The Books Most Enjoyed by MillersTime Readers in 2013.

“The Good Lie”

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The Good Lie *** (out of *****)

I’ve long followed the harrowing journey of “The Lost Boys of Sudan” and their lives subsequent to their 1,000 mile walk to safety. Maybe one of the most powerful books I’ve read, and certainly one of my favorite reads a few years ago, was What Is the What, by Dave Eggers. It’s a novel that reads like a true story. Actually, it’s based on the real life story of a Sudanese refugee, a young boy separated from his family during the Sudanese Civil War. (If you’ve never read it, add it to your ‘to read’ list.)

When I heard about the film The Good Lie, I knew I would see it. Then I learned that it was not a documentary but a Hollywood film starring Reese Witherspoon. Still, early reviews said it was true to what occurred in Sudan and what happens when some of these refugees are brought to the US.

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Another Baseball Contest Winner

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2014 MillersTime Baseball Contest #3: What will the Washington Nationals’ record be this year? Tie Breakers: Will they make the playoffs, and how far will they go?

Six contestants were close — Ed Scholl, Peter Shimm, Tiffany Lopez, Nick Nyhart, Steve Begleiter, and Nelson Romerez – missing the Nats’ regular season record by one game.  Not bad.

However, four contestants got the season record, 96-66, exactly: Dan Fischer, Elizabeth Tilis, Nick Fels, and Bill Trost.

Dan said they’d lose in the NLCS. Elizabeth said they’d lose in the 1st round. Nick said they’d lose in the World Series. Bill said the Nats would lose to the Dodgers.

So, Elizabeth Tilis (that’s a ‘familiar’ name, someone, no doubt, who benefited from good parenting) wins and gets two tickets to a 2015 Nats’ game of her choice.

For the other two contests, we will have to await the conclusion of the World Series.

**                  **                  **                  **                  **                  **

Meanwhile, two more terrific articles to draw to your attention, particularly for those of you whose teams are no longer in the WS chase. MillersTime readers tipped me off to these articles:

The Dead Ball Century: Why Is Baseball Always Dying? – by Brian Curtis, Grantland/The Triangle, Oct. 7, 2014 (Thanx MWK)

Managers Are Playing Less Small Ball Than Ever – by Ross Benes, Deadspin/Regressing, Oct. 6, 2015 (Thanx BT)

 

Why the Nats’ Season Is Over

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Why did they lose three out of four games to the Giants after having the most wins in the National League in 2014?

It wasn’t their pitching. (Nat’s ERA – 1.23, Giants – 1.60)

It wasn’t their fielding. (Each team made one costly miscue -Nats’ Fielding Pct. – .993, Giants – .994)

It wasn’t the managing (Despite what you read or think about Game 2 & 4).

Here’s why:

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Back to the Movies

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Baseball has been consuming much of my time recently, but I haven’t totally ignored my interest in the movies. We’ve seen two films this fall in our Cinema Club, one worth putting on your list, the other one, not so much.

Force.MV5BMjQ4NzY0ODg0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjY3OTc2MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Force Majeure ***

A story about a family on a ski vacation in the French Alps. When a ‘controlled” avalanche occurs, there is a serious disruption in the family, which plays out over the balance of this two-hour film.

I’m not sure I can put my finger on what it was about Force Majerue that I found lacking, but this story about a marriage and a family never quite seemed real to me, tho parts of it were both funny and insightful.

Our movie club audience gave it a 70% rating (good or excellent) and 78% would recommend it for others to see. I’m not in that 78%.

Too many better films are either in the theaters or soon will be.

Rudderless.MV5BMjQwNTI2MTA0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODc1NzkzMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Rudderless ****

Here is one that is worthy of your attention.

It’s the story of a father whose life has been suddenly shattered by the death of his son.

Unable to come to terms with what has happened, Sam (wonderfully played by Billy Crudup) checks out of his life as an advertising executive and lives a largely isolated existence until he discovers songs that had been written by his son.

Good acting and good music combine to make Rudderless an engaging film about a subject that most of us, fortunately, don’t have to face.

Rudderless opens nationwide next week.

DC Short Film Festival

I made it to two 90 minute showings of short films, ranging from six minutes to about 20 minutes each. At least a third of the 18 ones I saw were good or excellent (to use the categories from our Cinema Club).

However, I have lost the program booklet where I made a few notes, and as I even have trouble remembering longer films, I cannot remember those titles.

But I will mark my calendar for this DC Film Festival for next year and plan to attend the two final showings of the best of the shorts. I will try not to lose my notes.

Philadelphia Film Festival

With encouragement from a childhood friend who lives in Philadelphia and loves films, Ellen and I will attend the first weekend of the 23rd Philadelphia Film Festival (Oct. 16-26).

Although I did attend the Miami Film Festival last year, I only saw four films there in 26 hours (A Fantasy Partially Fulfilled). Now, my intention is to see three or four a day for three days. Judging from the catalog, there are many good choices.

Any suggestions from those of you who have attended film festivals about the best way to approach a film festival?

“Nobody Knows Anything” – Tyler Kepner

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Is it me or has this October baseball already given us some of the most wonderful baseball in a long time?

KC vs Oakland – Wild Card game: Royals score in the bottom of the 9th to tie and down by one in the 12th, score two to win. Fans can hardly believe it.

KC vs LAA – First two ALDS games: Royals score one in the 11th and hold on to win the first game away. Then, in the third extra inning game in a row, the Royals score three in the top of the 11th to beat the Angels again, this time 4-1. KC fans believe it it. Angels’ fans stunned. K-C up 2-0.

O’s vs Tigers – Other first two ALDs games: Baltimore scores eight in the 8th, and the power hitting Tigers lose the first one 12-3. Camden goes wild. Then, in the second game, the O’s are down 6-3 in the 8th and score four in that inning to win 7-6. Fans go nuts, again. O’s up 2-0.

Giants vs Pirates – Wild Card game: Giants get a grand slam in the fourth (first ever by a shortstop) and four-hit the Pirates to win surprisingly easily, 8-0.

Dodgers vs Cards – First two NLDS game: Probable 2014 Cy Young & MVP winner Clayton Kershaw gives up eight runs in 6 2/3 innings, and the Cards win it 10-9 in the bottom of the 9th. Second game, Dodgers eke out a 3-2 victory, after some terrific pitching, thanks to a home run by Kemp. Series tied 1-1.

And then Giants vs Nats – Other first two NLDS games. Aging Peavy out pitches the young Strasberg, and the Giants beat the Nats 3-2 in Washington. Then, with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, after getting 20 out in a row, Nats’ pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (his previous game a no-hitter) walks a batter and is pulled. The Giants then get two hits off closer Drew Storen (remember him from two years ago not being able to hold a two-run lead in the playoffs?) to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th. Eventually (after nine more innings), the Giants win it with a home run in the 18th inning (longest game, time wise, in playoff history). Giants up 2-0.

Ten games. Seven decided by one run. Four in extra innings. One in the 18th inning. One in the bottom of the 9th. And even the three that were not close we’re surprising victories.

And we’re only part way into the Division Series playoffs.

Maybe it’s just that my beloved Red Sox are not in it, and so I can watch and listen differently.

And another observation: So many good articles about these games, some written within the hour that a game finished.

Check out this morning’s NYTimes‘ Tyler Kepner’s In October: Exceptions Rule, Most of the Time (“Nobody knows anything…”).

Or Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell’s, Washington Nationals Discover How Tough the SF Giants Can Be in October, which begins with “Losing to the San Francisco Giants in October is like being beaten to death with wet noodles.” And it just gets better.

Or how about Boswell’s post this morning, Could Jordan Zimmerman Have Made History in Game 2? We’ll Never Know ?

You’ve probably seen other good ones (pass them on to all of us in the Comment section), but the best ones seem to take what happens and push our thinking further.

Why You Need to Read the MillersTime/GoSox Blog

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Why?

Beyond the obvious — you think you can win one of the MillersTime Baseball Contests, you’re going to see me in a few days and don’t want to be embarrassed when I refer to something I wrote, you’re looking for free tickets to a Nats’ game, you’re a member of my family and want to humor me — there is the possibility that once or twice a year I might have something useful to say about baseball.

I was reminded of this last reason this morning (Wed.) when I saw on the front page of the NYTimes the headline, “Many Strikeouts, Fewer Runs/As Pitchers Gain Upper Hand.” Having written a post on this very topic, Sluggers’ Slump: What’s Going on Here? I was curious to see if the author of the Times’ piece, John Branch, had anything new to say (or anything I didn’t say).

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Announcing Three 2014 MillersTime Baseball Contests Winners

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With the end of the regular 2014 MLB season and the beginning of the playoffs (wasn’t that a terrific game at KC last night?), I can announce three winners of this year’s MillersTime Baseball Contests. The remaining three contest winners, #1, 3, & 6, will not be chosen until the end of the playoffs.

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Final At Bats……and Much More: Ted Williams & Derek Jeter

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On September 28, 1960, for his final at bat in Fenway Park, Ted Williams hit a home run in the 8th inning of a game the Sox eventually won. Fifty-four years later, for his final at bat at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter hit a single, driving in the winning run for the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th.

Neither of those at bats could change disappointing seasons for the Sox or the Yankees.

Yet both of those at bats will long be remembered.

John Updike, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, described what happened in Fenway in his superb Hub Fans Bids Kid Adieu. If you’ve never read this piece, you’re in for a treat. If you have read it and chose to reread it, you’re also in for a treat.

And although there has been massive coverage of Derek Jeter’s final Yankee Stadium at bat and retirement in general, I offer an equally wonderful and worthy essay about Jeter, The Final Walk Off, written by another Pulitzer Prize winning author, J.R. Moehringer, that was published just a few days ago by ESPN.

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Our Increased Life Expectancy: Two Views

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The October 2014 issue of The Atlantic has two articles that focus on the issues raised by our increased life expectancy. Though they seem to come to different conclusions, each author and article gives the reader much to consider:

Gregg Easterbrook: What Happens When We All Live to 100:  If life-expectancy trends continue, that future may be near, transforming society in surprising and far-reaching ways.

Esekiel J. Emanuel: Why I Hope to Die at 75: An argument that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.

This Is Discouraging…Unless You’re an O’s Fan

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Last night I was looking through the submissions for the 2014 MillersTime Baseball Contests (I really need to get a life) and came across these predictions, sent in on Feb. 25, 2014 by someone named Chris Eacho:

#1 – Red Sox in last at the AS break and trade 4 of their opening day starters at the deadline.

#2 – Orioles 103-59, World Series Champs

#3 – Nationals 92-70, lose to Os in WS

#4 – Yankees 66-95, Red Sox 65-96, series split 8-8. 19th game is rained out and not made up

#5 – Chris Davis .287, 119 RBI, 43 HR

#6 – Orioles over Nats in 6 games; Chris Tillman MVP with 2 complete game shutouts

Actually, I think I know the individual who submitted these outrageous and amazingly prescient (lucky?) predictions. He’s an Orioles’ fan (obviously), a Sox and Yankee hater, and belongs to the millennial generation (I think). I hope he’s wrong about the WS, but he seems to know something the rest of us don’t.

Harumph.

Sluggers’ Slump: What’s Going on Here?

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(Jacob deGrom Ties MLB Record, Strikes Out 8 Straight. Pix-USA Today)

Have you noticed how it seems hitting has been trumped by pitching in baseball, not only this year but for a number of years now?

With Red Sox in last place, 26 games behind the AL East winner Orioles, I have had a good deal of time to think about more than just my beloved team and their miseries. While I have enjoyed the Nats’ good season, it’s not the same as rooting for Boston.

Looking at some box scores a few weeks ago, I was struck by what seemed to me to be low batting averages, even of the best players for the best teams in baseball. In fact, when I looked at the six leading teams in all the MLB Divisions, only two clubs had anyone hitting over .300 (one of those two teams just had one player hitting .301, and he is now below .300).

I began looking at other statistics, going back as far as 2000. Here are just some of the things I found when I looked at every year from 2000-2014 (being retired and having a losing baseball team allows for spending time on such matters):

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