Apr 6, 2020

Schmoagies For The Kids

Mike Schmidt's Philadelphia Hoagies
The greatest third baseman of all time endorsed a chain of hoagie shops in the Delaware Valley in the early 90's.  Before the decade ended, nine of the restaurants had closed.  According to the September 1999 issue of Maxim, the last remaining restaurant in the chain changed their name to Schmitty's, and the staff refused to talk about Mike Schmidt.  Maybe the new owner was a Mets fan.

Apr 5, 2020

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention (Matt Hardy is the father)

WWE Wrestlemania 36
Orlando, FL (2020)
I don't think any wrestling fans knew what to expect from Wrestlemania this year.  The matches were pre-recorded and took place at the WWE Performance Center with no fans in attendance.  The show is being broadcast over two nights.  On top of everything else, the biggest match advertised for Saturday night was a "Boneyard Match" between The Undertaker and AJ Styles which left fans asking: "What in the hell is a Boneyard Match?".  By the end of Wrestlemania 36: Night One, I am completely blown away with how incredible it was, and I'm convinced that this is the future of professional wrestling.

I suspect that many hardcore fans will point to Matt Hardy and The Final Deletion as the inspiration behind the Boneyard Match that we all saw last night.  I completely agree that Hardy is a creative genius and he deserves the lion share of the credit for what I believe will be a new era of sports entertainment that blurs the line between professional wrestling and Hollywood-style film production.  However, there is a bigger story to tell.

Throughout the 80's, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Andre The Giant, Jesse Ventura and many others have acted in major motion pictures.  In recent years, performers like John Cena and Dave Bautista have found a great deal of cross-over success in films, and The Rock made the transition from "the most electrifying man in sports entertainment" to one of the biggest box office draws this century.  Out of all of the films in which a professional wrestler has appeared or starred, there is a single six minute scene from one film in particular that last night's match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles reminded me of.  If The Final Deletion is the father of the Boneyard Match, the back alley fight from They Live is its grandfather.

They Live is a science fiction masterpiece from 1988 directed by John Carpenter.  It stars my favorite professional wrestler of all-time, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, as a homeless drifter who discovers that the wealthy and powerful people of the world are either aliens or humans who have been bought off by the aliens to keep the human race docile and compliant while they strip mine the planet of its resources.

The back alley fight I mentioned is between Piper and co-star Keith David.  It's highly regarded in the world of cinema as one of the best fight scenes of all time, but I'm not sure if the non-wrestling fans can fully appreciate why they enjoy it so much.  According to the director, the scene was originally intended to be about 20 seconds long, but the two actors rehearsed for weeks and delivered a realistic fight that lasted almost six minutes.  In post production, Carpenter was so impressed with their work that he included the entire fight in the final film.  It's not pro wrestling, but it feels like it is because they're not just randomly punching, kicking and grunting.  Like a good wrestling match, Piper and David are telling a story using a choreographed fight as the language, and they're doing this with an atmosphere provided by a major motion picture studio.  It was the merging of two worlds, and they blended perfectly.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing opened the door for WWE to experiment with theatrical sets, a musical score and post production editing to deliver something that was truly special.  It was a wrestling feud that was built in a ring in front of a live audience, and then the story was paid off in a controlled environment that eliminates the risk of mistakes, injury and audience reaction, which has as much of ability to elevate a mediocre match (Hogan vs Warrior) as it does to tarnish a great match (205 Live).

One of the most exciting aspects of this shift in the industry is that it's not limited to the mainstream.  You don't need the money and muscle of the WWE production team to turn a short film into a wrestling match.  The filmmaking technology that we take for granted in 2020 is something that John Carpenter could only have dreamed of when he was filming They Live.  It's both available and affordable, and when it's used creatively, it can be a force in the industry.  Look no further than Being The Elite for an example of this.  Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks built a business on a foundation of iPhones, YouTube and a combination of creative and physical talent.

I don't want theatrical wresting to replace the traditional product that wrestling fans throughout the world have enjoyed for over a century, but I do hope and expect that it will be used more frequently.  If it's done with the same care and attention as The Final Deletion and The Boneyard Match, it has the potential to expand storylines in directions we've never seen.  It can extend careers and the health and wellness of performers.  It could attract a new and larger audience to the art of professional wrestling.  I believe that we may be witnessing the biggest evolution in pro wrestling since the advent of cable and pay-per-view, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

Apr 4, 2020

Streaming The Classics

Ed O'Neill Phillies Spot
WPHL-17 (1993)
It's times like these when I'm trapped in quarantine and living through the plague with no baseball season to distract me from the apocalypse that I'm thankful for modern technology.  For example, there's a channel on YouTube called Classic Phillies TV that has dozens of complete games and highlights from the past 40 years available to stream for free.  Many of these games have the original commercials in the recording, including this Al Bundy bump for WPHL-17 (not to be confused with Covid-19).  Thankfully, Major League Baseball either hasn't noticed or doesn't care, so I can get my Phillies fix until this all blows over.

Apr 3, 2020

A Note From The Team

I just received this nice email from the Phillies yesterday.  In December, I ordered tickets to four games this season: May 29th against the Nationals, July 1st against the Padres, July 18th against the Angels and August 9th against the Giants.  With how March has gone, that seems like ten years ago.

Major League Baseball hasn't made any final decisions on how the 2020 season will play out.  There have been plenty of rumors, but there's just no way to know what's going to happen.  It wouldn't surprise me to see the entire 2020 season cancelled.  It's almost certain that no games will be played in the month of April.  It will be the first April without a MLB game since 1883 - the year when the Phillies were founded.

In the meantime, our star right fielder is proving to be just as awesome off the field as he is on it.  He and his wife Kayla are donating half a million dollars to Covid-19 relief in Las Vegas and Philadelphia (his hometown and his new home).  Way to go, Bryce!

Apr 2, 2020

Shelter In Place

Throughout all of the craziness that we've all been going through, I have tried my best to stay in a positive frame of mind and make light jokes about it.  I don't think that I'm a very funny person, but it's not from a lack of trying.  I can totally see what draws people to stand-up comedy.  It can be addictive when you get on a roll and really make people laugh.  It's also the way that I deal with stress.  Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't, but it's nearly always the security blanket I reach for when things get tense.

Personally, I don't mind sheltering in place.  I'm an introvert.  Quite frankly, with the exception of walking the dog and going to ballgames, concerts, restaurants and the Bloomsburg Fair, I could live until a very old age and be perfectly content to stay in my house.  I'm not agoraphobic or anything, but I genuinely enjoy spending time at home.  It's how I've always been, and I've come to accept that about myself.  When the news spread about the pandemic and social distancing, my first thought was that I am custom-made for this.  I've been practicing social distance for most of my life.

The worst parts about this for me have been the anxiety.  I fell asleep on the sofa last night and woke up to use the bathroom, and I have a slight pressure feeling at around the top of my stomach.  Logically, I know that I'm probably just sore from carrying a desk in from my garage and moving furniture around and running Ethernet wires across the house so that my wife and I can both work from home.  It also could have something to do with my recent eating habits.  Food is right alongside comedy when it comes to the coping mechanisms I have for dealing with stress, and so my diet has gone all to hell over the past few weeks.  I had an especially big lunch and I snacked quite a bit, and it's not unusual for my stomach to feel bloated the morning after I've eaten too much.  It could also be that I slept at a weird angle.  I kind of just collapsed in the sofa while watching Phillies videos on YouTube, so I could just be sore from that.  Or maybe I'm just sore from when the dog was laying on top of me.

If not for Covid-19, I wouldn't have given this a second thought.  I would have taken some Tums and went back to sleep.  However, since I've spent a month having the symptoms and warning signs drilled into my head for a solid month, it has me worried that I've contracted the virus.  Maybe I got it from work before they finally sent me home with my computer.  Maybe someone at the grocery store passed it to me.  Hell, maybe a grouchy fast food worker came to work sick because they have bills to pay, and they figure if they have to deal with this virus, so does everybody who ordered a hamburger that day.  You could come up with a million scenarios to torture yourself with, from plausible to ridiculous.  When all you see and hear at every turn is Covid-19, it's difficult to stop your mind from wandering down these paths.  So, here I sit at 3:30 am.  I'm focused on this weird pressure that I'm feeling.  Is this the tightness in the chest people have reported?  It feels like it's lower than my chest - more like a stomach discomfort, but I'm not a doctor, so what the hell do I know?  I'm focused on my breathing.  I'm not having trouble catching my breath or anything, but I do feel that discomfort in my stomach when I take a deep breath.  Is that normal, or is this all in my head?  Maybe any difference I'm noticing is the result of sitting here in the middle of the night randomly taking deep breaths and looking for reasons to be alarmed based on a list of symptoms I've heard as often as any song I've listened to this year.

So, what the hell do I do?  Do I go to the hospital - the one place in town where the virus is most likely to be - knowing that they don't have a cure and that I'm not in bad enough shape to need oxygen?  Seems like a bad idea.  If I don't have the virus when I walk in the doors, I very well might have it when I leave after sitting in a waiting room that has no doubt had dozens, if not hundreds of people with the same concerns I have breathing into their outdated magazines.  Do I just lay back and try not to worry?  What if it gets worse, and I miss my opportunity to catch it early?  Do I just sit here for another hour doing bizarre deep breathing exercises and studying how it makes me feel, fully aware that my brain is searching for reasons to worry instead of looking for reasons not to?

There are no easy answers to any of this.  It is what it is.  Chances are that we're all going to catch this at some point over the next year, so if I don't have it now, I very well may get it later.  I suppose I'll do what we're all doing.  I'll continue to shelter in place and try to deal with this as best I can, which in my case is to write nonsense for this blog.  I've got about a dozen entries already written and scheduled to post at a future date in 2020.  If you've been here before, you know the drill.  They're the same old schtick of "on this day x number of years ago, this thing I liked from my childhood happened" or "the Phillies did something at some point between 1883 and now that I have an opinion about" or "hey, look at this thing I found and/or ate".  You know - social media without the socializing.

In a perfect world, I would be visiting Dad later on.  It's his 61st birthday today, but he's a pretty severe diabetic, and taking chances like that is a really bad idea.  So, I'll give him a call and write some nonsense about an old discontinued flavor of Doritos or something else that few people, if anyone, will ever read.

Whoever you are and however you got here, thank you for listening to the rambling anxieties of a weird nerd on the spectrum who's living through Captain Trips with all of you.  Hopefully we can all look back on this someday and tell each other stories about when we all worried about people breathing on us.  Until then, I hope you and those close to you stay safe.

Apr 1, 2020

The Swedish Pizza Table

Säva Pizza Table
Pizza Hut Hong Kong (2020)
I know it's April Fools Day, but this is not a joke.  It's one of the most unusual fast food promotions I've seen in quite some time.  Pizza Hut restaurants in Hong Kong have partnered with Swedish furniture company Ikea to produce a full size table that looks like the little white plastic stand that sits in the middle of your pizza and keeps the cheese from sticking to the top of the box.  The tables are sold in a pizza box with instructions to put it together printed on the lid.  Once your table is assembled, you'll have a place to put your Pizza Hut x Ikea Pizza, which is topped with Swedish meatballs, spicy sausage, cheese and tomato sauce.

Mar 31, 2020

This Aesthetic Rings A Bell

Taco Bell (1990's)
The inside of a Taco Bell just screams 90's.  It's a shame that they remodeled so many of these.

Mar 30, 2020

Making Arcade History Pop

Sega Arcade: Pop-Up History Book
Written by: Keith StuartModels by: Helen Friel and Kam Tang
Read Only Memory (2020)
Six of the most iconic Sega arcade cabinets are captured in word and papercraft in this new book from Read Only Memory.  It includes profiles for Hang On, Space Harrier, After Burner, Thunder Blade, Power Racing, and my favorite racing game, Out Run (source: Kotaku).

Mar 29, 2020

Super Alfred Kart

Alfred Hitchcock
This photo is archived in the Library of Congress.  It was taken on a go-kart track outside of Milan, Italy in 1960.

Mar 28, 2020

Switching It Up

As we enter the second week of quarantine in Pennsylvania, I've decided to spend the weekend playing through my collection of Switch games.  I've gotten most of these over the past few years when they were on sale, but I haven't had much time to play them.  No time like the present.

Mar 27, 2020

Live From His Living Room

Dave Matthews
Verizon Pay It Forward Live
Last night at 8:00 pm, Dave Matthews performed a one man concert from his living room to support small businesses that have had to temporarily shut down due to the pandemic.  It was live streamed on Yahoo and on Verizon's Twitter account.  You can visit either site to watch the show for free anytime.

Mar 26, 2020

Opening Day

Philadelphia Phillies 2020 Schedule
Today was supposed to be Opening Day for the 2020 season, but that's not going to happen.  At this rate, I'd be surprised if they're playing baseball before my birthday.  When things settle down and they figure out when the season will begin, they'll probably need to print up all new schedules.  Hindsight is 2020.

Mar 25, 2020

Chicken Hawk

Silverhawks Kids Meal
Burger King (1987)
I have stolen this screenshot of a Burger King commercial from Shawn Robare.  He recently wrote an awesome article about the Silverhawks cartoon series and its merchandise for Branded In The 80's that you should definitely take time out of your day to read and enjoy.  And now, I feel a little less guilty about my failure to resist the temptation to share this iconic image of my childhood.  Not only does it include a vintage Pepsi cup and the Silverhawks Kids Meal box that I had as a kid, but it's got those amazing 80's Burger King Chicken Tenders in the flip top box with the caddy for the dipping sauce.  I have no explanation for why I nerd out over such things.  I just do.

Mar 24, 2020

Signs Of The Time

Interstate 81 South
Wilkes-Barre, PA
I've been practicing social distance for 39 years.  At last, my time has come!

Mar 23, 2020

That's Not Creepy At All

Stay out?  You don't have to tell me twice!

Mar 22, 2020

A New Pizza Topping

Kasa's Pizza
Paradise Valley Road - Cresco, PA
When you order a pizza in these bizarre and uncertain times, you get a little something to help you out post-digestion.

Mar 21, 2020

The Circle Opens

"We need help, the poet reckoned."
- Ed Dorn
The Stand
Stephen King (1978)
So, you're on lockdown to avoid Covid-19 as it spreads across the world at an exponential rate, and you're looking for a good book to read?  Look no further than my favorite book, which I have read, listened to and watched at least 20 times since I first discovered it as a teenager.

Author Stephen King recently tweeted that Coronavirus is not like The Stand.  The fact that he felt the need to make such a statement speaks volumes.  While he is absolutely correct that Coronavirus isn't as deadly as Project Blue (otherwise known as Captain Trips, Tube Neck and The Superflu), the symptoms of the virus and the way in which it has spread so quickly across the world, and society's response to the epidemic in the early days, are strikingly similar to what we see in the world around us.  Does this mean that the world is going to be wiped out and left with a fraction of a percent of immune survivors?  Of course not.  However, it does mean that there has never been a better time to wash your hands, set up a pile of blankets in a well-lit corner, and dive into this epic horror fantasy novel.

There are a few different versions of the book to choose from.  The original 1978 hardcover publication of The Stand sets the story in the summer of 1980.  When it was released in paperback, it was changed to 1985.  However, the one I strongly recommend is The Complete and Uncut Edition which was released in May, 1990 and sets the story in the same year.  It includes about 400 pages of story that were cut from the initial publication to keep the costs of production down, and please believe me when I say that the extra material is worth reading - particularly Chapter 38 which covers the two week long "second epidemic" which killed 16% of the American survivors.

If you prefer to sit in a dark room and immerse yourself in this apocalyptic tale of the death and rebirth of life as we know it, you can download the audiobook from Audible.  It's the complete and unabridged reading of the 1990 publication, and it will keep you busy for a while.  It's nearly 48 hours in length from the Boogie Fever lyrics at the beginning to the fate of The Dark Man at the end.  I started listening to it again a few weeks ago, and I can tell you that it's a surreal feeling to walk the empty aisles of a grocery store looking for dinner and listening to the story of Nick Andros living up to his responsibilities in Shoyo, Arkansas while the world crumbles around him.

In 1994, ABC aired a mini-series based on The Stand.  It has since been released on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray.  It was once available on streaming platforms, but it seems that the only place to get a digital copy today is Vudu.

I first discovered the mini-series when I was a teenager working at Blowout Video, and I wrote about it a few years ago on the 20th anniversary of its first broadcast.  As you might expect, it's nowhere near as good as the book, but it's definitely not bad.  There are things about it that I love - particularly the score and soundtrack, and the performances of Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe, Adam StorkeJamey Sheridan, Miguel Ferrer, Ruby Dee and Bill Fagerbakke, and a perfect cameo by Mr. Joe Bob Briggs.  Also, I'm happy to say that my favorite character in the book, Glen Bateman, is brilliantly brought to life by Ray Walston.

The overall plot is the same as it is in the book, but a great deal of the scenes and characters have been changed or cut out of the story entirely.  The most noticeable change to a character in my opinion is Harold Lauder, who is presented in a much more sympathetic light at the beginning of the mini-series than he ever was in the book.  The Leo Rockway character has been stripped to the bone.  Not only do you never learn that the kid has a little bit of The Shining, but you never even find out his real name.  There are many other examples of this, but the last I'll mention here is Nadine Cross.  No disrespect intended to Laura San Giacomo, but I had a difficult time buying into her in that role.  The book presents her as a captivating and troubled woman who had a dark shadow over her long before Captain Trips set her destiny in motion.  Her portrayal in the mini-series is "crazy lady" who Larry Underwood, and the reading audience, would have filed right alongside the spatula throwing dental hygienist without a second thought.

A new series for the CBS streaming platform is currently in production, but with the world dealing with a real-life Captain Trips pandemic, I can't begin to guess at the status of the latest fictional version.

The Complete and Unabridged Edition of The Stand was adapted into a series of graphic novels.  They were written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by Mike Perkins and Laura Martin.  These books were published by Marvel Comics from 2018 to 2012.  There are 31 issues which divide The Stand into six story arcs.  I've not read them yet, but they're available to download on Kindle, so maybe I'll spend some of my time in quarantine checking them out.

No matter how you choose to experience it, each of the different adaptations of The Stand can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home without having to leave the house, or even to wait for an order to come in the mail.

The bottom line is that while we can avoid getting sick by washing up frequently and social distancing, we're not going to be able to avoid Coronavirus affecting our lives.  Since that is the case, there are worse ways to spend your leisure time.  Perhaps the time we spend escaping into the fictional world of Stephen King can help us to appreciate how good we have it, even in a time of crisis.

Mar 20, 2020

Essential Businesses

Earlier this week, Governor Wolf issued a recommendation that all non-essential businesses close to allow their workers and customers to quarantine in an effort to slow the spread of the Covid 19 pandemic.  Predictably, this resulted in greedy corporate pigs making excuses to stay open while claiming that they are essential.  Locally, this included The Christmas Tree Shops (because they sell bottled water), the Adidas factory (because they make shoes for the military), but none is more appalling than GameStop, who have instructed their employees to argue with police who try to shut them down.  Apparently in a time of global crisis, Funko toys and easily downloadable video games are "essential" and must be available for sale in their indispensable retail locations.

Seriously?  I hope this virus wipes the floor with CEO George Sherman.
Make no mistake - the primary concern for these businesses is finding a way to take advantage of the Coronavirus outbreak to make money.  If people are under a lockdown for a period of time, they're likely to play more video games, so the greedy corporate pigs at GameStop want to squeeze every last dollar out of the public during the pandemic.  If a few of their employees or customers drop dead after contracting the virus at their store, that's just the cost of doing business.  After all, they DID tell them to wash their hands, and there's no way for anyone to prove that they caught the virus at their store.

I will never spend another dime at GameStop for any reason.  Ever.

Thankfully, our governor took notice of the nonsense from companies like GameStop who had the audacity to issue orders to their employees to remain open - sent by phone calls and emails from the safety and security of their quarantined mansions.  Last night, Governor Wolf issued a statewide executive order that all businesses which are not life-sustaining must close, and that businesses who defy this order will face penalties as of Saturday, including fines and a loss of their business license.  This time, he's not leaving it up to companies to come up with an asinine excuse to label themselves as "essential".  A five page document has been published which clearly outlines which businesses are life-sustaining and permitted to stay open, and which must close or face the consequences.

Enough is enough.  Businesses had the opportunity to do the right thing and protect the safety of their employees and the general public.  They chose to not do this, and to not prepare for the inevitable outcome of this pandemic which is clear to anyone that has been paying attention to Italy and to the doctors and experts who are working to slow the spread of the virus.  Now, the decision has been made for them.  If these businesses failed to roll out a solution that allows employees to work from home or to maintain business operations without a physical location, it's going to cost them, and the decision makers at the top have only themselves to blame.

Mar 19, 2020

Kirby Fest

F.M. Kirby Fest 2020A Night of Pints, Pinot and Performing Arts
Kirby Center - Wilkes-Barre, PA
Blink and you'll miss him, but my dad was in the commercial for Kirby Fest.  The Kirby Center has postponed the rest of the shows scheduled for March due to the Coronavirus.  I highly doubt it's going to happen, but Kirby Fest is still scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 18th.

Mar 18, 2020

Just Don't Wipe Your Butt With It

Mom's Specialty Toilet Paper Cake
Gerrity's Supermarket (2020)
It's nice to see that some folks haven't lost their sense of humor in times of crisis.  If you live in Northeast Pennsylvania and you can't find toilet paper, at least you can have some cake.

Mar 17, 2020

Hand Wash-a-Mania

Wrestlemania 36
WWE Performance Center - Orlando, FL
After much delay and speculation, WWE has finally changed their plans for Wrestlemania 36 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Instead of being held at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, Wrestlemania 36 will be filmed at the WWE Performance Center with no fans in attendance and only essential personnel on set.  The show will broadcast live on the WWE Network and on pay-per-view.

To put this in perspective, Wrestlemania 35 which took place one year ago from Metlife Stadium in New Jersey was held in front of over 80,000 fans.  Compare that to the 26,000 square foot WWE training facility that they will transform into the stage for what is typically the company's biggest show of the year.

From what I understand, the storylines and matches will remain unchanged from the original plan. Thankfully, Vince Russo hasn't been invited back to write any of them, or else the main event would likely have been changed to a Purell On A Pole match.

Mar 16, 2020

Game... Stop

Laurel Mall - Hazleton, PA
For the first time in over 25 years, the Laurel Mall is not going to have a video game store.  The dude behind the counter told me that the store is closing at the end of the month.  This store used to be an Electronics Boutique in the 2000's.  In fact, the EB World logo is still on the carpet at the entrance.

There were a few games still available, but the store was pretty picked clean by the time I got there on Friday.  However, if you're in the market for a set of adult medium Captain America Underoos, they've got you covered.  Act fast - they're only going to be open through the end of the month or until there's a statewide coronavirus quarantine that forces the mall to close, whichever comes first.

UPDATE: Governor Tom Wolf recommended all non-essential businesses to close as of 12:01 AM.  Grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations are allowed to stay open, but other retail locations will close until further notice.  Sadly, when this all blows over and stores re-open, the Game Stop in the Laurel Mall will not be among them.  I hope you got those Underoos.

Mar 15, 2020

Plan Ahead For April

Weis Market
Hazleton, PA (March 2020)
If you had any interest in wiping your rear end over the next month, I hope that you stocked up.  I've been to a bunch of different stores across three cities over the past week and most of the paper products aisles look like this.  In fact, the only place I was able to buy toilet paper was a Staples in Wilkes-Barre, and I think I just lucked out because a lot of people don't realize that they sell that sort of thing.

While I was there, a man from the meat department was stocking the coolers with steak and hamburger.  He said that it was the last that the store had, and customers have told him that Weis is the only store in Hazleton that has red meat available for sale.

The store was out of stock on many different items, but there was still plenty for everyone for now.  I suspect this won't be the case by this time next week.  Governor Wolf has recommended that all non-essential businesses in four counties close in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus.  I believe it's only a matter of days before we begin to see businesses temporarily close their doors on a wide scale throughout large parts of the country - especially as the number of infected people continues to rise.

Even if food processing plants, distribution warehouses, trucking companies and grocery stores do remain open, it is very likely that they will see a massive reduction in their work force as employees who are infected miss work and remain in quarantine.  That combined with the number of consumers stockpiling food and essential goods to ride this out is going to further decrease the availability of many of the things we take for granted.  Additionally, there simply aren't as many stores as there used to be.  Amazon and Wal-Mart, and a massive increase in online shopping has caused the closure of hundreds of stores in recent years throughout the country, such as K-Mart. CVS, Walgreen and Family Dollar.  Bottom line is that in the second quarter of 2020, there will be fewer healthy people to produce and deliver the goods, and fewer retail locations for them to deliver to.

This side effect of the Coronavirus is arguably as dangerous to your health and well being as the virus itself.

Even when the threat has passed, it's going to take time before production facilities are able to get back to their full production and distribution capacity, and when they do, it is likely that stores will be dealing with very large crowds of people buying out the stock of products that will have been unavailable to them for days or weeks.

All of the memes and jokes about people hoarding toilet paper may seem funny to you now, but keep in mind that these products don't simply materialize out of thin air at your local stores.  Think about how many human beings are involved in the production of a product, from the suppliers of the ingredients to the producers of the finished product to the packaging and distribution of that product, and keep in mind that if these people are under quarantine, the supply chain slows and eventually stops.

The world as you knew it has been put temporarily on hold.  Remain civil, but be smart and plan ahead.

Mar 14, 2020

Problematic Schmoblematic

The Hunt
Blumhouse Productions (2020)
If you watch this movie and you are "offended" in any way, you are part of the problem.  This film was a hysterically funny parody of the American political landscape against the backdrop of comically exaggerated violence.  It unapologetically mocks the hypocrisy and silly posturing of the far left and far right in modern America.  It doesn't take sides.  If there is a moral to the story, it's that everyone is a jackass, and that's a statement I can certainly get behind.

If you're looking for deep, pseudo-intellectual Oscar-bait, look somewhere else.  However, if you've ever read the comment section of any news story online and could only shake your head at how ridiculous we have become as a society, this movie is for you.

Mar 13, 2020


It's official - the Spring Training games that were played yesterday are the last baseball that's going to be played until further notice.  Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Major League Baseball has cancelled the rest of Spring Training, and the start of the 2020 season will be delayed by a minimum of two weeks, and both Minor League Baseball and the World Baseball Classic qualifying games has been suspended indefinitely.

In all likelihood, the delay may be extended past two weeks.  As things stand right now, the earliest game the Phillies could play is Thursday, April 9th in Cincinnati.

Obviously, there are much more serious matters going on in the world than a few cancelled baseball games, but this is still a big deal.  To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a cancellation like this in the 151 year history of Major League Baseball.  There have been games cancelled because of strikes and lockouts, but never has the entire league come to a standstill due to a public health crisis, or any other emergency situation for that matter.

So far, no other decisions have been finalized or announced about the 2020 season.  It's possible that MLB reschedule these games extend the season to later in the year, but I think it's unlikely.  The last game of the season was scheduled for September 27th.  When you include the playoffs, the last game of the World Series would probably have been in early November.  Even if the season starts on April 9th (which is far from a guarantee), a full season would mean that the World Series could be pretty close to Thanksgiving.  If that happens, they may have to play the Series at a neutral ballpark in the south where it's still warm.

I think they're going to end up cancelling these games and play a shortened schedule similar to the strike-shortened 1995 season.  That year, the regular season began on April 25th and each team played a 144 game schedule.  It would mean giving refunds on all of the tickets that have already been sold, but it's the more realistic option - especially if the suspension extends beyond two weeks, which it probably will.

So, putting aside the seriousness of this pandemic, what does this mean for the Phillies?

  • Players who have had injury concerns will have extra time to rehab.  This means that Andrew McCutchen and Tommy Hunter may be ready for the start of the 2020 season after all.  This will also allow the doctors and trainers more time to determine if Seranthony Dominguez will need Tommy John surgery, or if his shoulder is well enough to pitch this season.
  • If fewer games are played this season, service time will be impacted.  This means that prospects like Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard may not make their major league debut until June or July.
  • Speaking of Spencer Howard, a shortened season may work to his benefit.  He's never pitched over 100 innings in a season, and ways to limit his workload while working him in to the major league rotation has been a talking point all winter.
  • Last, but not least, if all hell breaks loose and we end up living in a post-apocalyptic Zombieland, the Philadelphia Phillies will be the last champions in the history of Major League Baseball.  With their victory yesterday against the Rays, the Phillies 2020 Spring Training record is 14-5, which is the best record in baseball this Spring.  Nevermind the World Series or games that actually count.  The Phillies are the champions of the Grapefruit League!  Yeah, baby!

Rule #32 - Enjoy The Little Things