Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NFL Mock Draft 2014

The NFL Draft is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. Making a mock draft is sometimes pointless because the draft is so unpredictable (except when it is in the form of that stupid Kevin Costner movie). There are trades and horrible picks that throw a wrench into even an NFL Draft Insider’s mock drafts. One thing we do know…there will be a QB, DE, or OT drafted first overall. Last time that didn’t happen? 18 years ago, Keyshawn Johnson. This year will continue that trend rule. Check out my soon-to-be irrelevant mock draft below and see what I project your favorite team to take in the first round, as well as a draft wish list for my world champion Seattle Seahawks (never gets old calling them that).

1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – He has been the consensus #1 pick since he did this. The Texans desperately need a quarterback, but they can get a totally solid NFL starter in the second round of this draft.
2. St. Louis Rams Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – The Falcons are no stranger to trading up in the draft. This will likely be pretty expensive, but the team needs a linebacker. Mack is a future star in the league.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida – This would not be a really sexy pick at #3 for a team with a lot of holes, but UCF is only about 150 miles from Jacksonville, so I am sure there are a bunch of Bortles fans in the area. He could be the guy to take them to the top of that division, which is definitely winnable this year.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – The Browns are constantly looking for something to make them relevant, so their fans will be clamoring for Manziel when they realize he is available here. This will be their third QB taken in the first round since 2007.
5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – He is one of the scariest deep threats to come into the draft in several years. The Raiders love taking the combine freaks, but this guy also happens to be the best fit for their team. They can get their QB of the future later in the draft.
6. Atlanta Falcons St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – It would be scary for the Rams to pick up a few more picks for trading down and still getting the surefire left tackle they have been searching for the past decade.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – Lewan is one of the top linemen in the draft, and the Buccs, while filling some holes in free agency, still are thin on the O-Line.
8. Minnesota Vikings Miami Dolphins – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – The Vikings have had a bunch of first rounders in the past few years, so a trade down here will be welcomed, mainly because they won’t want another Ponder-ish reach for a QB here. The Dolphins were close last year to making a playoff run, and while they addressed their O-line needs with Brandon Albert, they will jump at the chance to groom his heir at RT.
9. Buffalo Bills – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Evans is that huge wide-out that is impossible to guard. They are going to need him if they want to score against that beefed up Patriots secondary.
10. Detroit Lions – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – The Lions are always in need of secondary help. Clinton-Dix is maybe the most talented one in this draft. Having a playmaker at that position can be a game changer for the annually tortured Lions D.
11. Tennessee Titans – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State – With Alterraun Verner heading off to the Buccs, the Titans need to fill that gap. Gilbert is clearly the best corner in the draft, and picking him here makes so much sense that they probably won’t do it.
12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh – The Giants have several holes, but none more obvious that the defensive line. With the running games in that division, they need to beef up the interior. Donald was the best defensive player in the country as a senior.
13. St. Louis Rams Green Bay Packers – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – The Rams trade down again. With Jermichael Finley departing, the Packers are suddenly without their tight end of the future. Their receiving core has taken hits in the past couple years. Ebron will be a great addition to that offense.
14. Chicago Bears – CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama – Mosley was one of the consensus top defensive players in the nation each of the past two years. The Bears need help on defense, and their long-term answer at their most storied position ought to be chief among them.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State – The Steelers have some secondary holes, and if they want a shutdown corner, Dennard is as good as it gets in this draft. He won’t be the playmaker that Gilbert will be, but he will be able to be on an island against most offenses.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – Doesn’t he already sound like a Cowboy D-Lineman? The guy is an absolute beast, and like the Giants, they need some run stuffers in that division.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia – With the departure of Blind Right Side Michael Oher, the Ravens need to shore up the right side of the line, as well as the center position. Take the right tackle early, take the center later.
18. New York Jets – Odell Beckham, WR, LSU – The Jets just signed Eric Decker, but if they want Geno Smith to really mature, they need to surround him with at least as much talent as he had at West Virginia. Beckham is dynamic, and would be a great player for them.
19. Miami Dolphins Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State – A lot of people are projecting Carr to go in the top 10, but once you get past Bortles and Manziel, the signal callers will start to drop. This is a much better spot for their QB of the future to get selected.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville – Put Pryor in a secondary with the likes of Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, and the Cardinals might suddenly have the second best secondary in the division (and entire NFL).
21. Green Bay Packers St. Louis Rams – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State – The envied tall athletic receiver finds his spot on a team that has loaded up on that position in the past few drafts. With Benjamin, Bailey, Givens, Quick, and Austin at the slot, we are suddenly looking at a dynamic passing offense, barring Sam Bradford injuries, of course.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – Chip Kelly seems to love taking players he couldn’t get the best of in college, and this one would be no different. He is one of the most talented playmakers in the draft, and he is quite versatile. He is a perfect fit for that scheme.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Xavier Su’a-Gilo, G, UCLA – He has been called the best guard prospect in several years, and the Chiefs are going to need to make up for losing some of their interior line to free agency. Seems like a rock solid fit.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame – Their offensive line is far from great, and the versatile Martin would be a perfect fit and mini-steal at this stage in the draft.
25. San Diego Chargers – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State – After an underwhelming season, Roby falls way further than he expected to a year ago. The Chargers need corner help, especially being the same division as the Broncos.
26. Cleveland Browns – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State – The Browns are going to need some weapons for Manziel, and they might as well start with the stat machine and most dependable receiver in the draft. Cooks would be their top guy from day one.
27. New Orleans Saints Oakland Raiders – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – The Saints trade out of the pick since all of the first-round quality offensive linemen are gone. The Raiders take the nine-spot leap to get their new quarterback in training behind veteran Matt Schaub.
28. Carolina Panthers – Marqise Lee, WR, USC – With Steve Smith leaving town, they are going to need a new security blanket for Newton. Lee will be a stud from the moment he steps on the practice field…if he is motivated.
29. New England Patriots – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame – An upgrade up front on defense will be a solid move for the Patriots. Their secondary seems to be in good hands now through free agency, they love drafting pass rushers, and now they can get one more run stuffer to secure that side of the ball.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn – Defensive line depth never hurt anyone, especially with your prized possession DE getting arrested for acting like a terrorist at the airport. Ford would be a beast in that scheme.
31. Denver Broncos – Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU – He was one of the most dynamic linebackers in the nation two years ago, so he certainly has the talent to get taken in the first round. They spent a bunch of money on all defensive positions other than LB, so this seems like a great choice for the Super Bowl runner-up.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State – He is a furious pass rusher, and with Chris Clemons departing with the rest of Seattle’s free agents to Jacksonville, this seems like the biggest position of need for the team. It would be a mild reach, but they are not opposed to shaking it up in the first round.

Seattle Seahawks: Draft Suggestions/Wish List
Round 1, Pick 32 – Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State – The Hawks need a big bodied wide receiver who can make plays downfield and catch the ball in traffic. Robinson was the only weapon on Penn State, and he still dominated most games. Resigning Sidney Rice does not bode well for drafting a WR in round 1, but I can dream.
https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/430928813950636032/jIAq8ZG_.pngRound 2, Pick 64 – David Yankey, G, Stanford – Ever since we lost Steve Hutchinson, we have been searching for the long term answer at left guard. Yankey had a brilliant career in Palo Alto, and would be a slight reach, but we won’t have a chance to get him when we pick again in 68 picks. Best case scenario: we trade down into the beginning of the third to pick up a late round pick vacated by the Terrell Pryor deal, and select Yankey there.
Round 4, Pick 132 – Matt Patchan, OT, Boston College – With Breno Giacomini heading off to the Jets, there is a void at right tackle. We have a couple guys who can step up into that spot, but competition there will be great. Getting the left tackle who opened up holes for 2000 yard rusher Andre Williams seems like a dynamite choice in the 4th round.
Round 5, Pick 146 – Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon – He may be a pain off the field, but he is incredibly versatile and would be an asset on our offense. He is an amazing athlete at the tight end position, and taking him could finally mean the end of Anthony McCoy in Seattle.
Round 5, Pick 172 – Trai Turner, G, LSU – He is a developmental guard, perfect for Tom Cable. He played in a pro-style offense in college, and coming out as a redshirt sophomore means that he has the confidence in himself to step up. He will not be asked to play this year, but having that O-line depth is always good.
Round 6, Pick 208 – Ciante Evans, CB, Nebraska – Losing Walter Thurmond leaves an opportunity to groom the next great slot corner. Having seen every game that Evans played in college, I can honestly say that he is one of the great shutdown nickel backs I have seen at the college level. He would be a steal at pick 208.

QB: Casey Pachall, TCU – He had his off the field issues, but he is a gamer. If he had remained clean throughout his college days, then he would be a draftable player. Bring him into camp and let him prove that he belongs in the league.
http://www2.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/John+Schneider+Pete+Carroll+Super+Bowl+XLVIII+FCmjPnXI9XVl.jpgRB: Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State – Remember this? It was the strangest story of the combine, and even though he has since said he is done playing football, I am sure we can invite the nutcase to camp. It would be a very Carroll-ish thing to do.
WR: Alex Neutz, Buffalo – He had a very productive career for Buffalo, and he has great NFL size. He was really reliable in big games, and he was the only real receiving threat on the squad.
TE: Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin – He would be a nice fit for the Hawks. He is a lot like Zach Miller and Luke Willson, so adding a practice squad guy to wait in the wings would be beneficial.
DE: Jake Metz, Shippensburg – He has the right size, he was his small conference’s defensive player of the year, and recorded 11 sacks as a senior. We have hit on a few small school guys, so he would be worth the invite.
OLB: Kyler Elsworth, Michigan State – He had that amazing play at the end of the Rose Bowl, diving over the line on fourth down to win the game for the Spartans, he was on people’s radars. He wasn’t a combine invite, so he is going to have a chip on his shoulder, as he did throughout college. He is going to be motivated and has a good chance to make a roster somewhere.
S: Mycal Swaim, Eastern Michigan – 6’4’’ 212 pounds. He would fit right in on this team. Recently, we have basically been redshirting rookies, so placing him on the practice squad and learning play the position from Kam Chancellor would be ideal.

Thoughts? Comments? What do you want your team to go after in the draft?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oculus (2014) Review

Directed by 
Mike Flanagan

            Demonic possessions take many forms in the movies.  From Chucky dolls (Child’s Play) to videotapes (The Ring) to cars (Christine), cinematic demons show little discrimination for what material form they choose to manifest themselves through. 
            In Mike Flanagan’s Oculus, the object providing a medium for demons to haunt innocent victims is an antique mirror, and this leads to the first major problem with the movie: The fact that a mirror serves as the object of possession proves ultimately rather incidental.  It may as well have been a chandelier or window or toenail clippers or a toilet seat cover.  Demons possessed Chucky in order to communicate with the other characters in the movie, while in The Ring, characters who watched the video died shortly afterwards.   In other words, those demons were purposeful in selecting their channels for interacting with the real world.  In Oculus, it is not as though the characters enter the mirror and are transformed into an altered and distorted state.  That would demand a higher degree of originality and creativity that this movie simply doesn’t have.  No, sorry to say, the mirror is just your typical run-of-the-mill possessed object – you know, the ones that kill people and turn off the lights and cause everyone else around the main characters to call them crazy. 
As for the mirror itself, it looks innocent enough – not unlike one found in a backroom of a secondhand pawn shop.  But somehow unbeknownst to nearly every character in Oculus, it actually carries a long and ominous history of owners who have gone crazy and killed themselves and others (it’s pretty remarkable how comprehensive and detailed this history is, but I’ll try to suspend my disbelief).  As the film opens, we are introduced to a pair of grown siblings who have been separated for a considerable amount of time as a result of being traumatized by the mirror as kids: Kaylie (Karen Gillan), who has devoted much of her young adult life to tracking down the mirror through auction houses, and Tim (Brenton Thwaites), who is just being released from a prolonged stay at a mental institution.  Their deceased parents fell victim to the mirror when Kaylie and Tim were pre-adolescents, and now that they have found the mirror once again, they have vowed to show the world its supernatural sinister power.
 At least that’s what Kaylie wants to do.  Tim’s many years of psychotherapy have convinced him that the tragic events of the past were simply the result of all-too-human malice, and as a result, he spends much of the first half of Oculus functioning as the conscientious skeptic pitted against Kaylie’s firmly committed truth-seeker.  In a strange way, the movie bears resemblance to The Butterfly Effect (which also featured a lead character named Kaylie): The horrible things which transpired in the past are framed through the present-day perspectives of the grown characters.  This leads to an interesting but ultimately pointless strategy by writer-director Flanagan: Instead of structuring the narrative in discrete flashback and present-day units, events of the past and present are shown as fluid, meaning that on occasion pre-teen Tim and grownup Tim share the same space within the frame (it would have been nice to see the two versions of Tim have a conversation with one another like the witty diner scene in Looper, but the movie is too concerned with boo! moments than Kafkaesque self-inquiry). 
I call this strategy pointless because it doesn’t really reveal anything important or identifiable in the ways in which the mirror haunts Kaylie and Tim.  After seeing Oculus, I can definitively state that the most effed-up thing the mirror does to its victims is make them think they are using a particular object for a specific purpose, but in fact it turns out to be a completely different object.  For example, a character thinks that he or she is biting into an apple when – Whoops! – it turns out to be a lightbulb.  But this only happens two or three times.  Nearby plants die, the power goes out and the phone lines go down.  Yada yada yada.  And yes, demons are unleashed through the mirror, but they do little except for scream and run around clumsily.  They’re not too unlike the zombies in Zombieland.
Anyway, the real thrust of Kaylie’s experiment is to prove definitively to Tim and the rest of the world that her father (Rory Cochrane) wasn’t a sadistic psycho who randomly killed his wife (Katee Sackhoff) shortly after moving her and young Kaylie and Tim into a new house.  She wants to show that the mirror was the thing that convinced him to do it.  That’s fine and dandy, except (A) How Kaylie is able to get ahold of the mirror without anyone else knowing the backstory of her relationship to it is completely implausible, (B) She doesn’t seem to realize that messing around with the mirror won’t bring her parents back to life or meaningfully exonerate her father, and (C) The damage has already been done – her parents are dead and her brother’s spent his teenage years institutionalized.  And then there’s the fundamental (and unanswered) question of why as kids Kaylie and Tim were impervious to the powers of the mirror in the first place.  Of course, you’re not supposed to ask these questions of logic during a horror movie like Oculus.  But that doesn’t absolve the movie of a responsibility to uphold the intelligence of its audience, which it fails to do particularly during its final half.  Malevolent things happen for no reason which is of course bad for the characters, but it’s bad for the movie when the audience stops seeking to locate a reasonable explanation and simply chalks it up to “demons are really bad and all-powerful.”
 Oculus has two initial strengths working for it.  One is the mirror itself – a fertile and creatively rich object which could be used in a variety of primordial ways to freak the characters (and audiences) out.  The other is the Moulder-and-Skully-like dynamic between Kaylie and Tim.  But somehow, neither of these strengths ever really materialize.  Worse yet, the movie isn’t even all that scary.  Because we know the supernatural power of the mirror from the onset, witnessing its sensational effects is never really that shocking.  And because the movie emphasizes that the mirror distorts reality, we soon sense the manipulative ways in which the screenplay selectively chooses to merge and divide the real-world from illusion when most convenient.  
Once upon a time, there was a movie called Candyman which also featured a demon using a mirror to channel its evil prowess.  In that movie, Virginia Madsen played a graduate student (getting her degree in folk studies, not horticulture) who is told to look into the mirror and say Candyman’s name five times.  Then, a Lionel Richie-looking demon would become unleashed and put the poor souls at Cabrini-Green out of their misery.  That was a movie which worked not only because it used mirrors better but because it more closely adhered to a proscribed set of rules.  Oculus doesn’t use rules, which makes for bloody chaos.  Instead, a movie should have been made about someone giving the antique mirror as a gag gift to Billy Bob Thornton.  At least then there would have been some legitimate terror. 

Rating: 2 stars

Saturday, April 12, 2014

SNL 39.17 Review - Anna Kendrick, Pharrell Williams

Original Airdate - 4/5/14

There have been a lot of hosting debuts this year with mixed results.  There have been some good ones (Edward Norton, Lena Dunham, Lady Gaga), some not so good ones (Josh Hutcherson and ... yeah mainly just Josh Hutcherson), and a bunch in between.  Which category would Anna Kendrick fall into?  She has proven to be a successful actress in many different genres, but could she handle the live comedy show?  SNL has been on quite a run recently with some great hosts turning in some outstanding shows.  The streak has to end sometime.  These were my expectations going into the episode.  Immediately I realized that not only was Anna Kendrick a good first-timer, but she may have had the best debut of the season.

Cold Opening

As someone who doesn't keep very close tabs on the daily news, this episode's cold open seemed a little obscure.  It focuses on a Congressional hearing being held investigating a GM recall.  Kate McKinnon plays their newly appointed CEO who needs to do further research to remember anything.  The question dodging gets funnier the more you realize what is going on.  Then, just when you think you've reached that magic end to the opening sketch, the show pulls a rarity: a fake-out.  It's one of those moments where SNL realizes it not only needs to make fun of our society, but itself as well.


What would Anna Kendrick, known more for a being the straight character if she's in a comedy at all, do for a monologue?  Well, one of SNL's favorite things to do is get their first-time hosts to sing.  Well this became the obvious course of action when you realize just how good she is.  They take the song "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast and adapt it for Anna.  It is at this point that your jaw drops as you realize, "Holy crap!  They need to make a live-action movie version of this musical because Anna Kendrick IS BELLE!"  It was a perfect monologue to show off her skill set.  I'll admit when they started Jim Parsons's SNL debut with a song and dance, it seemed more like hazing than comedy.  This really set the tone for the great show that was to come.

Weekend Update

As if to make up for the short Weekend Update with only one guest last episode, Colin and Cecily went all out this episode.  Their jokes were sharp, they had some funny co-anchor banter for the first time, and they had three guests participate in the set.  First came Kate McKinnon's Angela Merkel who has popped up several times.  I'll be honest, I don't find this character to do one of her better ones, but it is still fun in its own way.  Next came Bobby Moynihan channeling George R. R. Martin, the author and creator of Game of Thrones talking about the difficulties of writing books to keep up with the show.  I couldn't really tell you much else about the bit because I was too distracted by the fact that Bobby's beard started to fall off the second he got on camera.  Batting third on Weekend Update was Brooks Wheelan giving a public service announcement of sorts.  He has done this one other time this season as he discussed the dangers of spur-of-the-moment tattoos.  This one he talked about the dangers of drinking.  Both times he's done this, it's been pretty funny.  It is one of the few times Brooks has had a chance to be featured in any way throughout this season.  Hopefully, we get to hear a little more of Brooks being Brooks in the future, or else I can see Brooks being booted instead.  They can't keep all 8 featured players going into next season, can they?

Best Sketch
At this point of the show, I decided that Anna Kendrick just needs to star as every Disney princess.  This time around, she shows why she is the perfect Ariel, and Aidy Bryant is the perfect Ursula.  In this twist of The Little Mermaid, Ariel shows just how much she has been paying attention to what happens on the surface.  When Ursula asks her to sing for her, she instead sings Kesha and Britney Spears among others claiming, "This is how everyone is singing nowadays."  It was a beautiful sketch with Jay Pharaoh showing he really can do anything as he becomes Sabastian the Crab (who apparently can sing like Pitbull).  The only bad part about this sketch is since it has so much music in it, licensing prevented SNL from putting the sketch online.  (Here's a link to the video.)  You will just have to take my word for it.  It was awesome.  To make up for it, here is a close second.  Enjoy the latest installment of "Fox & Friends."

Worst Sketch

No sketch was bad in this episode, however there was one that shone a little less bright than the others.  These two apartment neighbors obviously like each other, but neither can really find a way to tell the other.  It's kind of sweet and cute and all.  The payoff is pretty funny at the end, but the sketch just drags on a little too long getting to that payoff.  Like I said, it's not bad, but it was the worst this episode had to offer.

Dark Horse Sketch

I'm highlighting two sketches as my dark horses this episode because both are repeat sketches that are the definition of dark horse, post-midnight, quirky bits.  First, we have the French cafe.  I have no idea what is going on.  I don't really care what is going on.  All I know is they pretend to speak French, they dance, and give way to some of the weirdest, most random cameos you can think of.  The best turn of this sketch featured Jean Dujardin right around the time he won his Oscar.  This sketch is worthy of the rest though.

Our second sketch is a personal favorite of mine.  Maybe it's because I'm a teacher, but seeing a group of high school teachers try to be cool as they run the latest lame event at their school just gives me joy.  Pharaoh's Principal Frye is always funny warning the students to stop whatever their latest prank was.  Anna Kendrick fills the role of out-of-touch teacher with an announcement.  The sketch is not a sketch though until Kenan Thompson gets on stage and tells everyone to "SHUT THE HELL UP!"

Like I said, SNL has been on a little roll recently with having a string of really good episodes.  This was definitely the best of the run so far.  Anna Kendrick is one of those that is mesmerizing when she is on screen, and she is really funny too.  It seems the writers are finally starting to figure out what to do with the cast they have now.  There's no more Seth Meyers, no more Bill Hader, no more Fred Armisen.  Those are some big holes in what had been done on the show over the last 10 years.  It was going to take awhile the writing to adjust to the new group of talent.  It seems now they are finally finding what works with this group.  Also, having an overall talent like Anna Kendrick as your host makes your job that much easier.  Oh, it doesn't hurt to have Pharrell as your musical guest singing one of the biggest songs out there either.


View the full episode here:

SNL 39.16 Review - Louis CK, Sam Smith

Original Airdate - 3/29/14

One of the highlights of the last season of Saturday Night Live was Louis CK's turn as host amid the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  He was an obvious choice to bring back as soon as possible.  The decision definitely paid off too.  Having a guy like Louis in the writing room helping develop sketches definitely gives the episode an overall boost.  The show may not have always been funny, but it was definitely interesting from start to finish.  Let's take a look.

Cold Opening

This was one of the weirder cold openings of the year.  For the second straight show, we open with President Obama, this time he is fretting about how many people are signing up for the healthcare.gov services.  The solution is to involve the government's new social media expert who wants the president to go viral.  We then see a parade of e-cigarettes, Pharrell's hat, Kim Kardashian, Harry Stiles, the Pope, and Justin Bieber.  This was probably the most questionable sketch of the night, as well as one of the more disappointing cold opens of the year.  It just wasn't that good.


Whatever happened in the cold open was immediately forgotten as soon as Louis CK took the stage for his monologue.  Having a guy like Louis host makes for great monologues because they can simply get up there and give some of their stand-up routine.  This is what Louis did.  It was magical.  Enjoy.

Weekend Update

This was probably the shortest Weekend Update of the season.  Colin Jost is slowly getting more and more comfortable in his new role with the show, and it makes this the type of highlight in the show it should be.  I think with Louis in town they wanted as much sketch time as possible.  The one guest of the show was Stephen A. Smith, who Jay Pharaoh absolutely nails but the bit he does with that character is starting to get a little old.

Best Sketch

It was hard to pick a favorite sketch from this show.  The surprising part is which sketch I picked as my favorite.  This first time the "Office Boss Baby" came around, I hated it.  It was just stupid.  For some reason, everything about the sketch that didn't work the first time around worked this time.  Beck Bennett is a little too good at being a baby, and adding Louis to the sketch can only help.  This went from the worst sketch the first time around to the best in its second installment.

Worst Sketch

For this episode, the worst sketch should really be renamed the weirdest sketch.  Some of them worked great, and some were just weird.  This one was just weird.  Two cops just completed a stressful case and agreed to go on a romantic rendezvous ... in their pajamas.  Then they started talking about cutting holes in them because they didn't want to take them off and ... just watch it.  I can't really explain.

Dark Horse Sketch

Like I said, the beauty of this episode was its quirks.  There were so many laughs packed in so many random places, I could just decide on one dark horse sketch.  They were all kind of dark horse sketches.  The first one features Louis playing himself at the doctor's office getting a check-up.  On his way out the door, he stops to ask one last question that really confuses the doctor.  Apparently, he wasn't the only one with that question as two others (who somehow know each other) ask the doctor to check the same thing ... just in case (as if they wouldn't already know).  I can't give the punchline away.  You just have to watch it.

The second dark horse sketch involves Kyle Mooney's latest installment of "Let's end the show with whatever I feel like doing."  This was one of his funnier pre-recorded shorts as he plays a stoner high school student running for student body president.  This is his campaign video as he makes some pretty random campaign promises as you watch high-speed car accidents.  That's about it.  It's sounds stupid, but all of us knew that kid in high school and can see their face superimposed on Kyle's face during the sketch.  One you do that, it is pure bliss.

This may have only been Louis's second time hosting, but I predict he will be in the 5-Timers Club within the next five years.  Louis is a writer that brings fresh ideas to the sketches, and he is perfect as the straight man to the goofiness that the SNL cast is so good at.  He kicks the show up to a new level of funny.  It's different than when a guy like Justin Timberlake hosts, but he definitely has added his name to the select group of guest hosts that you want to make sure you catch when it's their turn to be on the show.


View the full episode here:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

2014 MLB Predictions: AL East

It's that magical time of year again.  I firmly believe that baseball Opening Day should be a national holiday so everyone can spend the day enjoying our National Pastime.  With the long grind of 162 games ahead of them, every team is optimistic that this year could be the year.  This off-season, big names were on the move while young top prospects won jobs on the big league rosters.  How will the final standings look when October comes around?  I know I'm a little late getting these predictions out, but they were all made before the season started.

Let's start our look at the 2014 MLB season by previewing the most unpredictable division in all of baseball: the AL East.  For the last few years, this division has had the ability from year to year to legitimately be in any standings order at season's end.  This is shown by how wrong my predictions were last year.  However, one thing I had right was that every team in the division would be good, predicting that the cellar team would still be within 5-10 games of .500 (Blue Jays finished 14 games under .500).  This year is no different.  Every team has seemed to re-load for yet another run with one of the greatest players of our generation making his final tour around the league.  Let's see what could happen.

1.  New York Yankees
The pinstripes always have to be in the mix.  Last year, they did finish in fourth, but were still 8 games over .500 with a seriously depleted roster due to injuries.  They went out in free-angency and made some big splashes.  Even though the biggest splash of the off-season was Robinson Cano leaving the pinstripes, the Yankees added one of the top lead-off hitters in baseball in Jacoby Ellsbury from the rival Red Sox, possibly the most productive offensive catcher of the last decade in Brian McCann, a player so clutch it only makes sense he's a Yankee in Carlos Beltran, and the biggest name on the pitching market in Masahiro Tanaka who is starting the season as their 4th starter.  They spent more money this off-season than the Rays will spend over the next 5 years.  Add that to the fact that they now have a healthy Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, and this team has to be the favorite in the division.  Now last year I predicted the Blue Jays would win the division because of the huge blockbuster deals they made over the off-season.  That didn't quite work out, but the Yankees are not the Blue Jays.  They have an experienced coach in Joe Girardi, and all the pieces they added are proven veterans that know what it means to win.  I expect them to rise to the top and send Derek Jeter out in style.

2.  Boston Red Sox
There is a constant debate in baseball right now between the old school and new school thinkers.  Can baseball be managed and predicted strictly on statistics, or are things like chemistry and attitude still valuable?  No argument for the old school way of thinking would be more convincing than the 2013 Boston Red Sox.  In 2012, they were in the cellar and sold off most of their top players.  Last year, they got a new manager, added a couple "clubhouse" guys (a term sabermatricians cringe at), and went from worst in the division to winning it all.  A sabermatrician would say this doesn't make sense.  However, it happened.  This year, it's a very similar roster.  They lost Ellsbury and are replacing him with a rookie (Jackie Bradley, Jr.) and a veteran making attempting a comeback (Grady Sizemore).  However, as long as they have guys like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia leading the way (without a manger that gets in their way), they will be at the top of the league.  Them being in second has less to with what they lost and more to do with what the Yankees gained.  The Yankees ad Red Sox back on top ... all is right in the world.

3.  Baltimore Orioles
I bet the Orioles wish they could switch divisions.  Baltimore has been one of the strongest teams to not go anywhere over the last couple years.  Sharing a division with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays makes this an impossible division to break through in.  They have a great young core led by Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and Manny Machado.  They made some big moves in free angency, adding Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez.  They have a great chance of making a splash.  They would be poised for a deep playoff run if they didn't have to play in this division.  They will instead be fighting for a wild card spot and fall just a little short.

4.  Tampa Bay Rays
In another case of "How the heck do they do what they do," we the Fighting Joe Madden's.  This team has looked very similar to teams that usually are found in the cellars of divisions.  They have solid pitching, but the offense is average at best, embarrassing at worst.  No team has been no hit more recently than the Rays.  With the shopping spree of the Yankees and the emergence of the Orioles, this Wild Card team from last year will drop back a couple notches in the best division in baseball.

5.  Toronto Blue Jays
When thinking about the biggest additions and subtractions of each team entering this season, the biggest subtraction I could think of for the Blue Jays is expectations.  Last year, they went all in, buying and trading for All Stars and Cy Young candidates to build a superpower to rival their divisional foes.  Well, that did not pan out as some players were injured while others simply underwhelmed.  The biggest highlight of the season was discovering that they have the biggest character in all of baseball.  Yes, he is Japanese.  They didn't really lose any of the major players, but this year the expectations are just much lower.  With the strength of everyone else in the division, this is the consensus cellar dweller of the AL East.  However, would it greatly surprise anyone if they made a run at a wild card spot.  Not at all.

There is the AL East.  Stay tuned for more.