Rafael Devers might have ruined Aroldis Chapman’s life

Aroldis Chapman was starting to look like the $86 million closer the Yankees had hoped for. That is until 20-year-old Rafael Devers stepped in last Sunday night and became the first left-hander to take Chapman yard since 2011.

Before that game-tying home run, Chapman had started to turn his 2017 season around. He had given up only one run in his previous 10 outings and his fastball was full of life again. He struck out Hanley Ramirez on three pitches all clocked at 102 MPH or better and had Rafael Devers down two strikes early. The Red Sox would go on to win 3-2 in extra innings and Chapman seemingly lost his invincibility along with the game.

In his 3 innings pitched since that at bat he has given up 4 hits, 4 runs, 2 BB, hit a batter, and another home run to a rookie in Met’s Amed Rosario.

The 102.8 MPH fastball to Devers was the fastest pitch recorded ever given up for a home run in the velocity era. The audacity of Devers to take Chapman’s best stuff oppo-taco in his first career at-bat against the man might have just been enough to strip what was left of his confidence.

‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘The Notebook’ are the same movie and you can fight me if you disagree

The juxtaposition of Northern status and Southern charm isn’t necessarily a groundbreaking thematic element, however, it does create a strikingly similar storyline in two of the greatest love stories ever told.

In both cases, the female leads (Reese Witherspoon and Rachel McAdams) find themselves on the verge of a marriage made by status. In Sweet Home Alabama’s case, it comes in the form of a New York political dynasty. Similarly, in The Notebook, a Louisville cotton empire threatens the initial love story of McAdams and Ryan Gosling. The presumed marriages seem logical, safe, and most importantly approved by meddling in-laws. These parents are a key element in both: McAdams’ family is intent that their daughter continues down the path of luxury, where as it’s discovered Witherspoon’s family pushed her towards getting out the country by entering her in beauty pageants as a teen.

The Notebook’s storytelling allows us context into McAdams past- a luxury not provided in the Alabama fairy tale which starts with the New York city engagement and traces back to Witherspoon’s Greenville past. Despite the different paths taken, the routes of the story both lead us South where two very similar men await patiently for the return of their first loves. In both cases (Gosling and Josh Lucas), the men are self-made successes. Instead of using wealth to lure their lovers, they use earth’s natural landscape to tug on the heart strings of their former flames. Gosling’s renovated house and Lucas’ hand blown glass business are inspired by their first memories of love. These pillars of promise to the women are ultimately used as a symbol of growth and provide a destination for the stories to come full circle.

In both cases (Gosling and Josh Lucas) the forgotten male counterparts are self-made successes. Instead of using wealth to lure their lovers back, they use earth’s natural landscape to tug on the heart strings of their former flames. Gosling’s renovated house and Lucas’ hand blown glass business are both inspired by their first memories of love. These pillars of promise to the women are ultimately used as a symbol of growth and provide a destination for the stories to come full circle.

Another strikingly similar moment comes at the climax of passion in each movie. Each reuniting kiss comes during a torrential downpour, giving me flashbacks of Chad Michael Murray and Hilary Duff in Another Cinderella Story. The anticipation mixed with the elements come together to create two of the most famous lines in film history: “It still isn’t over”, and “So I can kiss you anytime I want.”

As always with the forgotten love story, the women end up falling back in love with their roots. In the end, the power of first loves always trumps the enticing future of what money can bring. A powerful theme that has remained prevalent all the way from Shakespeare to High School Musical.

The timelines of production are confusing, making it difficult to determine which story inspired the other. What we do know is that The Notebook (2004) was an adaptation of the 1996 novel by Nicholas Sparks. Since Sweet Home Alabama was released in 2002, we can assume one of two things: Either Sweet Home Alabama was a spin-off of the novel or the success of SWA pushed producers to adapt the novel into a screenplay.

In any situation, if you ever come across someone who likes one or the other of these two southern love stories, please remind them the two are not mutually exclusive. Just like McAdams’ and Witherspoon’s decision on who to marry, you can’t have both.

Observations from ‘Hard Knocks’ Episode 2

Episode two of Hard Knocks with the Buccaneers offered some insight into how the culture in Tampa Bay is transforming under second-year head coach Dirk Koetter. Here are my biggest takeaways from Tuesday’s episode:

Jameis Winston is either a leader or misleading

I am always hesitant to label or buy into a player’s character based on a documentary series for several reasons. For one, they know the camera is there. And two, the editing process most always is intended to paint the league’s stars in a favorable light. With that said, Jameis Winston has been known for his locker room presence dating back to the “You Scrong?” pregame speeches at Florida State. I also know this: Winston wants to be liked and knows how to be likable. I do buy that he loves his teammates. I do buy that what he lacks in accuracy and ball placement, he makes up for in the energy he gives his football team. However, I’m not buying into the fact he is the only guy in the weight room listening to motivational speakers before the sun comes up. Not without a camera around anyways.

Quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian offered some of the most useless advice of all time

In preaching to his Quarterbacks the value of momentum, coach Mike Bajakian offered some electric advice on how to grab some:

“Getting completions and making sure our body language is infectious.”

So the next time your team is down 45, just remember what coach Mike said. Now stop slumping those shoulders and go out there and be somebody!

The good cop bad cop routine to cut a Kicker was extra

From what little access NFL teams have given us to the cutting process over the years, it seems relatively drama free: Player walks in, coach thanks him for service, “We’re releasing you,” handshake, now go clean out your locker. I understand General Manager Jason Licht wanted to be there to cut Robert Aguayo since he traded up to get the kicker in the second round, but the meeting went 10 minutes too long. Shoutout to coach Koetter for recognizing the situation was getting sloppy and stepping in to basically tell the kid, “You just don’t make enough kicks.”

Miko Grimes definitely proposed to her husband

Cornerback Brent Grimes’ face, when his wife Miko was describing how she likes to stay in the same hotels as him on the road, was the best thing on television all year. I love the idea of a 34-year-old veteran defensive back getting absolutely ran by his own wife. The same wife who is the reason Brent had to leave Miami after she wouldn’t stop tweeting about how much Ryan Tannehill sucked. Hell of a corner though.

Why does Ryan Fitzpatrick still play football?

I honestly did not know Ryan Fitzpatrick was playing in Tampa until this episode. The man has a degree from Harvard, the highest Wonderlic score in NFL history, and as far as we know doesn’t have CTE yet. So why is he back playing his 13th season? Go contribute to society and preserve your brain.

I want a Gerald McCoy

I’m not even talking about him in a football sense. Like, it would be cool to have him on my team but I just want one of him as a friend.

Eduardo Nunez is the new Mike Lowell

Mike Lowell had been all but left for dead in Miami. At 31 years old in 2005, Lowell’s average dipped down to .236 and he failed to reach double digit home runs for the first time in his career. He was finished. And then he found the Green Monster.

Eduardo Nunez was far from finished when the Red Sox traded for him earlier this month, but he was quickly becoming a forgotten entity. He was coming off his first All Star game appearance in 2016, hit just south of .300 with the Minnesota Twins through 91 games before being shipped off to a disaster of a San Francisco Giants team. Fresh into his 30’s like Lowell, he was stranded on a sinking ship and was going down with them

Nunez hit only eight home runs in 484 at bats with the Giants. He hit four in his first 42 at bats in Boston. In his career, he had hit a home run every 56.7 plate appearances, now that clips sits at once every 20 PA.

nunez spray chart Continue reading “Eduardo Nunez is the new Mike Lowell”

The Red Sox are searching for an eighth inning guy they already have

Dennis Eckersley’s proclamation on last night’s broadcast that Brandon Workman deserves the setup role for the Boston Red Sox has my head in a pretzel today.

This is the same Brandon Workman who had an ERA over 6 with the Lowell Spinners last year, yet after only 16 games this year we are supposed to believe he’s the guy for the eighth inning job. This is after trading for two elite setup men last year (Carson Smith, Tyler Thornburg) only for them to spend all of 2017 on the DL. This is also after trader Dave Dombrowski gave it one more shot earlier this month and acquired Addison Reed from the Mets. Now, after 4 1/3 innings from Reed and a couple balls on the Mass Pike, John Farrell has grown alligator arms late in ball games.

All of this brings me to the question: Has everyone forgot about Joe Kelly?

Kelly, who until he was placed on the DL following a July 9th appearance, had not given up a run since April 30th and hadn’t given up a home run since September 16 of 2016. Kelly’s ERA had dipped down to 1.04 before a rib injury sidelined him for a month and has now given up four earned runs in his last three outings.

Despite the recent skid, Kelly was knocking on a very elite door prior to the injury. At one point he even held the lowest ERA in the majors since the 2016 All Star break (minimum 40 games). His 1.17 ERA from then till June 15th had him well ahead of next closest reliever Andrew Miller (1.57).

Barnes, Kelly, Hembree, Scott(?), Abad (oh no), Kelly, Barnes, Reed, do it yourself Kimbrel, now Workman. Stop tinkering and go with what works. Come playoff time, only one thing among relievers is a proven commodity: Velocity. Let Joe Kelly empty the tank and deal with the consequences.