ALL TIME NEW YORK METS TEAM: KEITH HERNANDEZ

Boys tend to follow the same teams and athletes that their fathers followed. My father was a diehard boxing and New York Mets fan. I would inherit these passions of my father. Today, a month shy of my 50th birthday, boxing and the Mets continue to be my biggest passions in life. This is the 42nd year of my Met fandom. I will celebrate this fandom by doing a bio on the Mets all time team by position. I will start with the greatest first baseman in Mets history: Keith Hernandez.

On June 15, 1983, the New York Mets acquired Hernandez from the St. Louis Cardinals in what would amount to highway robbery. The Mets gave up their erratic closer Neil Allen and an unknown minor league prospect Rick Ownbey for a gold glove first baseman and former National League Most Valuable Player. When the trade occurred, my father surmised that something was up. There was no way in the world that the Mets could get a star of Hernandez’s magnitude without something fishy going on. My father was right, as two years later, it was revealed that Hernandez was not only having issues with Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, he was also dealing with an addiction to cocaine.

Hernandez overcame his cocaine addiction and became the leader of a Mets team that had been a terrible losing team for seven years. Beginning in 1984, the Mets would go on to seven consecutive seasons of playing winning baseball. In that period, twice they finished first in the National League East and second five times. In 1984, Hernandez batted .311 with 15 home runs and 94 RBI’s, resulting in Hernandez finishing second in the NL MVP voting. He also won the seventh of a still record eleven gold gloves for a first baseman.

Hernandez continued his great fielding and hitting in 1985. He batted .309 with 10 home runs and 91 RBI’s. He also was given additional help on offense with the acquisition of superstar catcher Gary Carter and the maturation of outfield slugger Darryl Strawberry. Mets pitching ace Doc Gooden had one of the most incredible years ever for a pitcher. All of this resulted in the Mets wining 98 games but falling short to the division winning Cardinals. Going into 1986, my father and I knew it would be the year of the Mets. It would be the greatest season in the history of our beloved franchise.

A great player is nothing but consistent. In 1986, Hernandez batted .310 with 13 home runs and 83 RBI’s while again playing stellar defense at first base. Hernandez was complemented offensively by great seasons from Carter and Strawberry. The Mets also had an incredible pitching staff with four pitchers winning 15 or more games. The Mets would go on to win 108 games and the National League East by an astronomical 21 1/2 games. The Mets would win an epic NLCS over the Houston Astros and a legendary World Series over the Boston Red Sox to win their second championship. My father and I thought this would be the beginning of a Mets dynasty. It’s still the last time the Mets won it all.

The Mets fell short the following season because of several injuries and the 60 day suspension Gooden received for cocaine use. Hernandez had another solid season, batting .290 with 18 home runs and 89 RBI’s. Despite Hernandez only playing in 95 games because of nagging injuries, the Mets, on the strength of their incredible pitching staff and a breakout year by Strawberry, won 100 games and the National League East. Unfortunately, the Mets would be defeated in seven games by the Los Angeles Dodgers. This series loss was even more painful as during the regular season, the Mets had beaten the Dodgers in 10 out of the 11 games they played him. Injuries forced Hernandez to miss even more games in 1989. He batted a paltry .233 and for the first time since 1977 did not win a gold glove. The Mets didn’t offer Hernandez a new contract as he was a free agent after the conclusion of the 1989 season. After another injury plague 1990 season with the Cleveland Indians, Hernandez announced his retirement.

Hernandez brought a professionalism and stardom that the Mets were in desperate need of during their dark days of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Along with Gary Carter, Hernandez led and mentored young Mets such as Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Lenny Dykstra and Howard Johnson during the greatest era in Mets history. Today, Hernandez is part of the best broadcasting team in sports today. Alongside Gary Cohen and former teammate Ron Darling, this trio gives you the most unbiased and informative analysis in baseball today. Just like he did in his days as captain of the Mets, Hernandez serves as a calm voice of reason in the broadcast booth. A leader both on and off the field.

Logan’s Movie Reviews: The Black Panther, 2018


“Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.

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Logan’s Movie Reviews on Twitter: @logansmovie

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING – FIGHT RECAP SHOW, 3-4-18: WILDER-ORTIZ; KOVALEV-MIKHLAKIN

World Championship boxing is back. And in this episode we talk about four fights that happened March 3rd, 2018 on HBO and Showtime.

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World Championship Boxing on Twitter: @boxingpodcast

GREATEST ICONIC FIGURES IN SITCOM HISTORY


Throughout the history of television, there have been many legendary comedic legends that starred on groundbreaking sitcoms. Such legends included Lucille Ball on “I Love Lucy”: Andy Griffith on “The Andy Griffith Show”: Dick Van Dyke on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”: Freddie Prinze on “Chico and The Man”: Bill Cosby on “The Cosby Show”: Jerry Seinfeld on “Seinfeld.” As great as these actors were in portraying their characters on their shows, there were three actors who’s portrayal of their characters trumps the aforementioned ones. I will explain why Jackie Gleason, Carroll O’Connor and Redd Foxx and the characters they played stand alone as the three greatest iconic comedic figures in television history.

One of the early superstars doing the infancy of television was Jackie Gleason. In the early 1950’s, Gleason hosted a highly rated variety show named after himself on CBS. “The Jackie Gleason Show” centered on Gleason and his cast of actors in multiple comedy skits. The most popular of these skits were centered around a Brooklyn bus driver, played by Gleason, and his interactions with his wife and best friend. In the fall of 1955, that popular skit became a stand alone, weekly sitcom. “The Honeymooners” premiered on October 1, 1955. It set the standard for a comedic leading man.

Gleason played Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden. Kramden was a bombastic, overbearing man who always got involved with his best friend and neighbor Ed Norton in one hair brained scheme after another. On several occasions, Kramden and Norton would attempt get rich money schemes. Each time, they would fail. Kramden would explode in anger towards Norton and then have to explain to his wife how he blew the little money they had on one bad investment after another. Art Carney as Ed Norton and Audrey Meadows as Ralph’s wife Alice perfectly complimented Gleason’s Kramden in their interplay with him. Carney as the bumbling Norton was a naïve man with good intentions. Meadows as Alice was a woman who time and time again would be disappointed by Ralph, yet their love was so strong that she always forgave him. Almost every episode ended with Ralph apologizing to Alice for letting her down and her lovingly forgiving him. Although the show only lasted 39 episodes because of Gleason’s extremely busy schedule, the show set a standard with the comedic timing between Carney and Gleason. Gleason’s Kramden was the overbearing comedic lead that became a staple of sitcoms to this day. Ralph Kramden was such an iconic figure that in 2000, a statue of Kramden was unveiled outside New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square.

When speaking of overbearing comedic leads, Carroll O’Connor’s iconic Archie Bunker was the most overbearing of them all. “All in the Family” was the very first sitcom to tackle sensitive social issues with O’Connor portraying a racist, sexist and insensitive Queens cabdriver. A sitcom based around a racist, ignorant middle aged man sounded like a recipe for disaster. The reason it became a legendary show was the way O’Connor portrayed Bunker. O’Connor brought to life just how ignorant Bunker was in the way he delivered his racist views. Whether it was calling Blacks “colored” or his liberal Polish-American son-in-law a “Polack,” the viewers saw just how incredibly stupid Archie Bunker really was. Also, his character being the way he was would shed a light politically on such issues as racism, the Vietnam War, segregation and immigration. No television show had ever broached such subject matter. The biggest irony of O’Connor’s portrayal of Archie Bunker was the fact that in real life, O’Connor was a liberal Democrat, the exact opposite of Bunker’s conservative Republican. O’Connor knew that by playing Bunker the way he did, issues that he needed addressed would be addressed in front of millions of people each week.

“All in the Family” premiered on CBS January 12, 1971. It ran for nine seasons before being renamed “Archie Bunker’s Place” and ran another four seasons. In the 13 seasons that the character Archie Bunker was on television, viewers saw his character evolve from a racist, ignorant bigot to a man who began to see the errors of his way. He stopped ordering his doting wife, played by the incredible Jean Stapleton, Edith around like she was his slave. He began to respect his son-in-law Mike, played with intense passion by future legendary director Rob Reiner, and his political views. He adopted his Jewish niece, became business partners with a Jewish man, and defended his Black maid against a group of racists. Throughout the 1970’s, the only other character in a network sitcom that was on that level was the single, greatest African-American character of all time: Redd Foxx’s Fred Sanford.

Redd Foxx was a legendary comedian who many felt would be too raw for television. He was one of the innovators of raunchy, sexually explicit comedy. Norman Lear, the creator of “All in the Family,” wanted a Black version of Archie Bunker and felt Foxx was the perfect actor to bring such a character to the screen. Redd Foxx real name was John Sanford and as a tribute to his deceased brother had his character on “Sanford and Son” Fred Sanford named after him. Fred Sanford, like Ralph Kramden and Archie Bunker, was an overbearing man who constantly yelled and insulted his friends and family. Like Bunker, he harbored prejudicial views about other ethnicities. Fred Sanford was also similar to Ralph Kramden when it came to getting involved in get rich quick schemes. These schemes would be in concert with his bumbling friends Grady and/or Bubba. Sanford owned a junkyard outside his house in South Central Los Angeles that he ran with his son Lamont. Lamont, played by Demond Wilson, was a kind man who more often than not had to bail his father out of trouble. Like Ralph Kramden’s wife Alice or Archie Bunker’s wife Edith, Lamont was the one person who was able to calm his volatile father down with love and reasoning. Foxx was the first actor in a sitcom to ad-lib many of his lines. The reason he did this so often was because most of the writing staff were Jewish writers who had no concept of Black life in South Central Los Angeles. Eventually, he was able to bring in legendary comedians Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney to write for the show. “Sanford and Son“ debuted on January 14, 1972, and was NBC’s biggest hit until Foxx left the show in 1977.

Like Bunker with his son-in-law Mike, Sanford had a comedic foil who he was always at odds with in his sister-in-law played by Lawanda Paige, Aunt Esther. Sanford called her several derrogatory names such as “Barricuda” and “Ugly Gorilla.” One of the single, funniest moments on the show occurred with an ad-lib out of nowhere. In the very last scene of the episode entitled “There Will Be Some Change Made,” Foxx swiped Paige’s wig off her head and ran off the set. Paige was visibly upset as she took chase after the mischievous Foxx. As soon as the wig came off, Wilson began laughing uncontrollably. Years later, Paige was asked if she felt insulted and violated by Foxx’s spontaneity in that scene. She started crying. Not because she was offended, she was crying because of the deep love she had for Foxx.

There were many similarities shared by Gleason, O’Connor, and Foxx. All three were in their late 40’s when they began their iconic runs. All three played overbearing, cantankerous characters who became beloved by television audiences because of the vulnerability shown by each actor in their characters. All three, despite their angry demeanors, loved their wives unconditionally(Sanford’s wife died when their son Lamont was a young boy. Whenever Sanford needed to get out of a lie he told Lamont, he’d feint a heart attack and say his most famous line “Elizabeth, I’m coming to join you!”). In the over 70 years of network television, no other sitcom characters come close to the impact that these actors portrayed.

Ramblings – The Super Mario Super Medley

Hey everyone, Brandon Myers here with a special, very short edition of Ramblings.  Basically I wanted to use this space to promote a really awesome video I found on YouTube.  It’s a 70-person musical collaboration featuring music from the entire Super Mario series.  It’s titled The Super Mario Super Medley, and it is simply awesome.  I cannot praise this work enough.  It is just the most amazing video game medley I’ve ever heard.  Unfortunately, as I write this, there doesn’t seem to be a way to buy and/or download the medley, which is disappointing.

But enough of my talk, let’s see the video.

Ramblings – Nintendo Switch games and even more Overwatch

Howdy all!  Brandon Myers here, back with another Ramblings.  Now, back in my 2017 Year In Review, I said I’d do a review of Splatoon 2.  Well, instead of giving it a solo review, I’ll be talking about it alongside a few other Nintendo Switch games I own or have rented.  And in the end, I’m going to be discussing Overwatch, yet again.  Hey, as long as Blizzard keeps updating the game, I’ll keep playing, and I’ll keep writing about it.

Before we get to the meat of the column, please consider supporting me on Ko-Fi.  Thanks. More

Mat Tales: True Stories from the Bizarre, Brutal World of Pro Boxing by Dan Sisneros (World Championship Boxing Book Review)

World Championship Boxing is back! And in this episode we discuss the GREAT NEW BOOK book by Dan Sisneros: Mat Tales: True Stories from the Bizarre, Brutal World of Pro Boxing
AMAZON LINK TO BOOK HERE
Dan Sisneros on Twitter: @GuruOfBoxing

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World Championship Boxing on Twitter: @boxingpodcast

Logan’s Movie Reviews: Breaking Bad – Season 4 Episode 13: Face Off, 2011

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) – Breaking Bad_Season 4 – Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC

Breaking Bad – Season 4 Episode 13: Face Off, 2011

Jesse is brought to the FBI for questioning on his knowledge of ricin. In a last effort to kill Gus, Walt must ask for help from an old enemy.

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Logan’s Movie Reviews on Twitter: @logansmovie

GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION PART 4: “THE ANTIHERO”

With the advent of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu and the tens of cable networks in the 21st century, never before has the American television viewer have had so many viable options to watch. Because of this increased competition for the American viewer, it has forced each avenue that produces television series to up their game. The result has been a new Golden Age of Television. Once again I will focus on three more series that have aired within the last 10 years that are indicative to this golden era we live in. These three shows all have in common lead characters who are antiheroes.

According to Webster Dictionary, the definition of an antihero is: a main character in a book, play, movie, etc., who does not have the usual good qualities that are expected in a hero. Antiheroes have long been a staple of daytime soap operas. The most popular, iconic figures on daytime television have been antiheroes. Characters such as Todd Manning, John Black, Sonny Corinthos and Luke Spencer being four of the most famous of the soap opera genre. The first iconic antihero to be portrayed on primetime television was James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano when “The Sopranos” debuted on HBO in 1999. In my opinion, the single greatest antihero in television history was Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of high school chemistry teacher turned drug lord Walter White on AMC’s landmark series “Breaking Bad.” The show premiered almost exactly 10 years ago and had an incredible five year run. I didn’t watch a single episode of “Breaking Bad” until last year. When I began watching, I couldn’t stop. Cranston’s portrayal of White in his rise from a nerdy high school teacher to a murderous and manipulative drug lord was breathtaking. You find yourself rooting for White because even though he’s dealing in mass quantities of crystal meth, the crack cocaine of the 21st century, you understand his reason for his involvement with this illegal venture. White has stage four throat cancer, and he’s trying to make as much money as possible before he dies in order for his family to be financially set for life after he dies. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out another iconic antihero from the show: White’s former student Jesse Pinkman, portrayed by Aaron Paul. Jesse’s drug addiction and abandonment issues has you rooting for this young man to overcome his problems, despite the fact that both he and White are both making and distributing the most dangerous and addictive illegal substance since crack cocaine. When you also factor in the unscrupulous characters they have to deal with in distributing crystal meth and the father-son bond the two develop through their partnership, you find yourself heavily invested in their quest to obtain their goals.

Before the introduction of crystal method, the most lethal illegal substance that was the most destructive was crack cocaine. How crack cocaine was introduced into American society is the main plot line of John Singleton’s “Snowfall” that premiered last July on FX. Singleton grew up in South Central Los Angeles where he saw through his own eyes the devastation that occurred from the drug being flooded into the area. “Snowfall” has an ensemble cast that looks at the advent of crack from three angles: the CIA, the drug cartels and a young 19 year old African American male portrayed by British actor Damson Idris. Idris plays Franklin Saint, a college dropout who accidentally comes across cocaine through hanging out with his rich White friend who introduces him to a South American drug lord. Then, on a journey to Oakland, Franklin is taught how to turn cocaine into crack, and Franklin, with the help of his aunt and uncle, begins to see not only how potent the new drug is, but how quickly it sells on the street. Franklin is motivated in dealing drugs because he wants to get his mother out of South Central. You find yourself rooting for Franklin, another antihero, because he’s a very intelligent young man who adores his mother, despite the fact that you know in hindsight the incredible destruction that crack cocaine caused the inner cities throughout the United States. Like White and Pinkman, Franklin has to outwit and outmaneuver several unscrupulous and immoral individuals who are trying to kill him.

The single, most fascinating antihero in cinematic recently had a classic series based on his exploits as a Baltimore forensic psychiatrist. “Hannibal” the series ran on NBC for three seasons between 2013 and 2015. The show centered around Dr. Hannibal Lecter and his relationship with the FBI Behavioral Sciences, headed by Jack Crawford. Crawford’s star profiler is Will Graham, an instructor of FBI agents and a man who can recreate a crime scene by looking at the scene and visualize exactly how the murder was committed. Graham is portrayed with an amazing vulnerability by Hugh Dancy. Graham is mentally scarred by his unique gift to get inside a killer’s mind. It takes an incredible psychological toll on him, and because he’s psychologically affected by this, his boss Crawford, powerfully portrayed by the legendary Laurence Fishburne, orders him to see Dr. Lecter for a psychiatric evaluation. Lecter, whose iconic character is portrayed by the marvelous and charismatic Mads Mikkelsen, uses this as an opportunity to gain the trust of both Crawford and Graham. Lecter helps Crawford and Graham solve several crimes involving serial killers because, unbeknownst to them, Lecter is one as well. Lecter, through his sessions with Graham, begins to psychologically torment and torture him. Lecter is a psychopath, but like Anthony Hopkins before him, Mikkelsen plays him with such charisma and smoothness that the audience can’t help but hope that Lecter will see the error of his way. Lecter is the ultimate psychopath, so there is no hope for him. I highly recommend that readers of this column who’ve never seen this series go find it as it’s the perfect prequel for the Hannibal Lecter series of movies starring Hopkins.

In my opinion, the most fascinating characters on television and in movies have always been the antihero. Characters who are heavily flawed who through mostly shady and illegal methods gain money, wealth, revenge and\or justice. All three shows have as their protagonist classic and legendary antiheroes. Never before in the history of network television has their been so many antiheroes portrayed on television. As I continue to cover this Golden Age of Television, many more will be focused on.