Royals Rumblings – News for June 7, 2024

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Guardians
Sweet! Max didn’t use this picture for the recap | Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Royals Will Be Back (home for a series with Seattle)

We’ve talked about it before and you know the drill – day game makes for an odd set of links in Rumblings.

Anne Rogers profiled old friend Scott Barlow:

On a mantle at home, Barlow has two bats signed by Perez and Witt. He has baseballs from milestone games, like his first and 50th career saves. He also has a signed baseball from Montgomery, one of many kept from the game in which Montgomery recorded his 300th save.

Montgomery has given baseballs from that game to two Royals: Soria and Barlow.

“Scotty did a lot of good things here,” said Montgomery, now an analyst for Bally Sports Kansas City. “And going back to [manager] Mike Matheny, there were times when [Barlow] would pitch in the seventh inning in a non-save situation, but it was the leverage part of the game. And he accepted that and felt that was his responsibility. He was so good at being himself every day.”

So did Shreyas Laddha, who is filling in for Jaylon Thompson at The Star:

“It’s really cool,” he said. “Being able to see some of the guys before the game and say hi, catch up a little bit — as much as you can with the time (you have).”

Barlow said he tries to keep in contact with his former teammates but noted it’s hard because some are no longer with the Royals.

He also wrote about MJ Melendez’s “slide”:

“(He) was able to kind of get his hand back around. So (I was thinking) let me try to avoid that if I can — and try to go over top and see if I can stick my hand in there. “

Royals manager Matt Quatraro gave his own view of the highlight slide.

“I don’t know if he had much of a choice,” Quatraro said. “What helped us there was Naylor hesitated a lot. … MJ, that’s incredible athleticism to be able to do that and still touch the plate. All those things go through my mind: Did he touch? Did they tag him? … Clearly it turned out to be a huge spot in the game.”

And… that’s it for local “official” news. Got a couple of other things, though

Michael Baumann of Fangraphs lets us know that “Reports of Salvador Perez’s Demise Have Been Exaggerated”:

For a few years now, I’ve been waiting for Salvador Perez to break down.

There are three reasons for this. First, he’s at the intersection of two kinds of hitter who are at risk of precipitous decline: Big dudes who hit for a lot of power but don’t walk much and free swingers who need to make a lot of contact. Perez is one of seven players who have batted at least 4,500 times since the year 2000, with a career walk rate of 7% or less and a career ISO of .175 or more. The other six are Eduardo Escobar, José Abreu, Javier Báez, Nick Castellanos, Adam Jones, and J.T. Realmuto. That’s five guys who watched it go in a hurry and, well, stay strong, J.T., we’re all rooting for you.

If you want some Royals gear, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals are having an auction for tornado relief and the link here has a list of the items up for bid:

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals announced on June 4 the start of an online auction to aid relief and rebuilding efforts in Northwest Arkansas that were hit by tornadoes over Memorial Day weekend.

According to a press release, the online auction will run until June 10 at 8 p.m. The auction can be found here or here. Winners will be notified by email and arrangements will be made to receive the items.

An interview with the two managers from the previous series:

On the blog side of things, Craig was musing about the schedule

I’m of the mind that when it comes to the schedule, timing plays a huge role. No team stays hot for an entire year. Unless it’s the Dodgers. Although the argument could be made that you want to catch the Dodgers in October. Likewise, no team stays cold. The White Sox are currently testing that axiom. With the rainout and the idleness that tends to cause the mind to wander toward weird thoughts, I found myself thinking that Wednesday’s game getting washed away and pushed to the next time the Royals visit Cleveland in August, might not be a bad thing.

Sure, you want to get back on the field as quickly as possible after a loss like the one they experienced on Tuesday. Any chance to erase the unpleasantness of the day before is welcome in baseball. But maybe, just maybe, the Royals caught a break with the rainout.

Blog roundup:

How about a couple of MLB stories since we were lacking Royals news?

Want a time lapse video of the stadium getting ready for the MLB London Series this weekend?

I knew things weren’t going well for the White Sox. But I didn’t know it was 13-game losing streak to get to 15-47 bad. I’m used to the Royals being the team that’s 25.5 GB in June.

Cricket is kindof like baseball, right? I really don’t know. That’s on me – I should probably know that. In what some outlets (that I don’t really trust) are calling “the biggest upset in the sport’s history”, the USA beat Pakistan in a cricket match yesterday. This was a paragraph in ESPN’s recap:

Even with Monank and Gous out with 35 balls to go, Pakistan still had to bowl well, with USA only needing 49. Naseem Shah, Shaheen and Amir shone through the death overs to leave USA needing 15 off the last over. Haris Rauf, landing his yorkers there or thereabouts, brought the equation down to 12 off 3. But then, Jones smashed a six off a low full-toss on the stumps, then with five required off the last ball, Nitish Kumar crashed a four over mid-off to tie the game.

I really don’t know what I’m reading.

I know that last week, I said we were going to keep talking about AI. However, since the piece I was working on isn’t quite where I want it yet, we’re going to talk about it more indirectly than directly this week. I did leave this little nugget there so you had been warned:

Side note: if you want homework for a future Friday Rumblings in June, watch the Terminator franchise. All of it. Or don’t. Just watch the first two, since they’re the good ones. For the good of RR, I’m re-watching the other 4(!) so you don’t have to.

* * * * *

The Terminator (1984)

Unlike the sequel, I’ve only seen this one a couple of times. A friend of mine called T2 a perfect “boy and his dog” movie (if you don’t like the scifi “boy and his dad” interpretation) whereas I think The Terminator plays more as a good modern monster movie, more akin to a Frankenstein or zombie film. Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese even lays out the monster movie premise in one of the most quotable lines in the movie: “That Terminator is out there! It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop… ever, until you are dead!” He does a fine job as does Linda Hamilton, though she’s much better in T2. But the real star, of course, is Arnold Schwarzenegger in his second major role (after Conan). It’s a perfect early role for him as it’s very physical and doesn’t require much speech. His T-800 is the perfect horror movie monster.

James Cameron’s first major movie (unless you count Piranha II: The Spawning) launched his career and it’s not hard to see why. The future scenes do a good job with limiting what the effects have to do so it doesn’t rely too much on cheesy stop action or the awful CGI of the 80s, though some of the Arnold effects towards the end of the movie are rough. Even the usually-gratuitous 80s action movie sex scene serves a plot purpose. The sound and music are so well done. As an aside: LISTEN, CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, we never once had to change the volume despite the many gunshots, loud disco music, and quiet talking.

No, it’s not as good as T2, which is held up as the gold standard for sequels, as it doesn’t have as much to say and Cameron, Schwarzenegger, and Hamilton got better as they got further into their career. But if there had never been a sequel or franchise, it still would be kindly remembered today.

* * * * *

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

This is one of my favorite movies and one of the best action movies of all time. Everything is so deliberately done and so well done with only a couple of exceptions. Let’s get those out of the way so I can gush about the rest. First off, Edward Furlong’s John Connor is just there – he’s not great, he’s not awful. There are stretches of the movie where he’s written and acted like a stereotypical Hollywood teen rather than a unique character and the surrogate father plot sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Secondly, I have the Special Edition on DVD and the added scenes were cut from the theatrical release for a reason. Though extra scenes tie up some loose ends and explain “the future is not set” quote, why she is particularly brutal to a couple of the guards, give more characterization to Miles Dyson, and more, they really mess with the pacing. In the original, every scene has a purpose and the script is so tight: exposition balanced with action balanced with suspense. It’s not a fast movie to begin with and, in particular, it drags an already slow Act 2. Stick with the theatrical release and watch the extra scenes before or after to give you more background. Also, the movie should have ended before the voiceover.

Now that’s out of the way, where does the praise begin? Do we talk about the casting? I don’t know if we’ll ever see another movie phenomenon like Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was larger than life for a decade plus and this was at the height of his powers. Linda Hamilton is the third billed damsel-in-distress and plot device in the original up until the last few minutes of the movie. Here, her hardened Sarah drives the plot and makes you wonder why we haven’t seen more female protagonists like her and Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. Lauded as he is for the role, Robert Patrick still doesn’t get enough credit for his T-1000. He perfectly threaded the needle of being very different from Arnold’s T-800 while also still being very recognizable as a “Terminator”.

He’s aided by top notch special effects that are blended perfectly. The practical effects that make the 2029 “future” scenes look old but not dated give the movie a timeless feel. Whereas the computer graphics for the T-1000 were revolutionary and are one of the reasons why this is considered one of the most important special effects movies of all time.

Then there’s James Cameron, masterfully directing it all. There are so many iconic scenes and they all served multiple narrative purposes. Right from the start, the movie’s opening scene sets the stakes with the credit fading into the four playground horses of the apocalypse to the Terminator music. “Have you seen this boy” sets up John’s situation while also showing T-1000’s relentless, methodical nature. This is ramped up in the chase scene, which also shows off the movie’s action chops which also establishes the city of LA as a character. Xander Berkeley is perfectly cast as John’s jerk foster dad but you have mixed feeling when the screen pans out to see T-1000 having impaled him through a carton of milk, a scene that also shows the viewer just how dangerous of a foe it is with the voice changing and shape shifting abilities to go with its resourcefulness. “Human causalities 0.0” is a continuation of the humanization of T-800 and the (awkward) scenes between Furlong and Schwarzenegger while also giving Joe Morton some of his best scenes and advancing the “destroy the future” plot. The liquid nitrogen death seems like a cheap deus ex machina – it was a real coincidence that was the truck he stole and not one of the dozens others that would be carrying gasoline. But it doesn’t work so viewers aren’t cheated. Then they are rewarded with the beautiful mercury drops scene that was set up by the great looking checkerboard floor scene back at the mental hospital. However, it weakens T-1000 just enough that it feels fair when T-800 defeats him.

As you can imagine, I could go on and on and I’m running out of superlatives. Suffice to say, it’s one of the best action movies of all time, deserving of all plaudits, both contemporary and retrospective.

* * * * *

From here, the series quality falls dramatically as each movie has significant flaws. I think it goes without saying that James Cameron is really good. That said, I’m going to do a brief interlude to highlight an entry that I think could be the third best in the franchise.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009)

It’s been more than a decade since I watched this so maybe my memories are rose-colored and it doesn’t hold up as well. I chuckle a little at the Joss Whedon fanboys who carry an outsized torch for the overrated Firefly. But I’m guilty of the same for this science fiction show cancelled before its time by Fox. Yes, the production quality isn’t what it needed to be. And, yes, it could slip from contemplative and high minded into slow and plodding. It was also hugely disrupted by the 2007-2008 WAG strike with inconsistent production from one season to the next and, of course, Fox moved it around on the schedule.

While the should could have easily slid into a lazy Terminator-of-the-week, it opted for a more serialized temporal war plot with scenes in the 2000s, 2010s, 2020s, and even back in time. Summer Glau’s Terminator was great, Lena Headey’s Sarah was good, and Thomas Dekker’s John was fine. A trio in the supporting cast gave great performances: Shirley Manson’s Terminator of questionable allegiance is brilliant, Garret Dillahunt plays multiple roles including an immature potential Terminator AI, and Richard T. Jones could have been stock FBI casting but he did great work with the spiritual exploration of fate and time travel. If it had come out now, it would be a streaming service’s prestige show. Instead, its imperfect run also ended incomplete with an unresolved cliffhanger.

* * * * *

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

As previously mentioned, every movie after this in the series suffers from one or more fatal flaws that keeps them from being much more than average movies, at best. I remember being cautiously optimistic about it when it came out: Cameron was gone and more than 10 years had passed since T2, but there was a 7 year gap between T1 and T2 and that worked out great. Usually, I’m also more forgiving about older movies, grading them on a curve, of sorts, for the movie conventions of the time. Coming into this viewing, I thought “it couldn’t possibly be as bad as I remembered it”, which should have given it a boost on the expectations gap theory. Man, was I wrong.

Where do we start? Is it the acting? Arnold’s star had fallen since the 90s, his last couple of movies being underrated-but-still-not-very-good The 6th Day (2000) and the forgettable Collateral Damage (2002). A couple of months after this movie came out, he would be elected the Governator of California. Nick Stahl is a slight upgrade from Edward Furlong but the female lead went from Linda Hamilton as John’s mother to Claire Danes as John’s love interest, Kate Brewster. Oh, and Kristanna Loken (T-X) can’t hold a candle to Robert Patrick.

The directing? Jonathan Mostow isn’t bad, but the movie is far less precise and deliberate. It’s like he was trying to do his best James Cameron impersonation but no one can do that competently. For instance, the big car chase scene isn’t bad, but it’s absurd and gratuitous. This makes it worse than the bike scene from its predecessor more than a decade before and it pales in comparison to the amazing chase scene from 2003 contemporary, Matrix: Reloaded. However, if we want to talk about absurd, it’s not all the director’s fault – the script is just so bad.

The script is the exact opposite of T2: it assumes the audience is dumb. The entire plot is set up by the stupid Act 1 scene at the vet hospital. John Connor breaks in to get drugs to heal himself in the middle of the night – so far, so good. Kate Brewster just happens to find him there because there’s a cat emergency in the middle of the night. Iffy, but movie forgivable. Oh, and she used to know John. Oh, and her dad just happens to be the general in charge of Skynet. T-X can’t find Connor because he’s gone off grid (ok), so she goes to the vet office in the middle of the night rather than trying to get Kate at her house. Somehow, T-800 (Arnold) does the same exact thing. And, fortunately, the bad Terminator tries to monologue and ask dumb questions of our female protagonist, giving the good Terminator just enough time to smash his car into the vet office to end this collision of stupid coincidences.

It doesn’t get any less ridiculous from there. There’s the dumb graveyard scene, the dumb hearse chase, and T-X’s dumb decision to use a flamethrower to try and kill things after one of her other guns gets damaged. She’s way too overpowered, except when she gets close enough to kill our heroes. But that doesn’t matter because they have some of the strongest plot armor ever put to film: they survive a missile exploding in a room right next to them and a nuclear explosion that shakes a whole mountain, never mind they’re inside that mountain. By the end of the movie, I was just shaking my head. It was as dumb as I remembered it, even as much as I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. But the ending is actually good and redeems it ever so slightly.

* * * * *

Terminator: Salvation (2009)

McG directs this one differently than all of the other movies. It’s set during the war against the robots in the future. It feels like it has all the trappings of a Terminator movie but doesn’t feel like a Terminator movie at its heart. It’s more action movie and war movie than science fiction movie. Because of all of these things, it’s oddly un-relatable, compared to the other movies in the franchise and comes off as generic.

That said, the movie does have a good cast and something to say. Christian Bale (John Connor) and Sam Worthington (Marcus Wright) can “action movie act” and carry the movie. Wright’s robot-with-humanity conflict is a fine core to the movie, even if the goofy heart donor ending is a bit contrived. The rest of the cast does good work between Anton Yelchin (Kyle Reese), Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Helena Bonham Carter, and Michael Ironside. Linda Hamilton lends her voice to recordings and Arnold Schwarzenegger lends his CGI face to a physical body double.

In the end, it occupies this odd space as a slow-moving pseudo-prequel where we see how Connor and Reese meet, how the T-800s come about, etc. But it doesn’t really advance the plot of the series, as a whole. It has an argument for the best of the Terminators 3 through 6 as it’s something different.

* * * * *

Terminator Genisys (2015)

This is my favorite of the post-T2 movies. In one way, I’m not alone as it grossed more worldwide than any movie in the series except T2. Conversely, it’s the lowest rated of the series on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. The movie generally stays in its lane, being a safe sequel but with some interesting wrinkles. The writing is just smarter than T3 and T4 (we’re just going to call them by numbers now). It also tries a novel approach of being a sequel to T1 rather than being a sequel to T2.

The writing does have some problems. It feels like there are two disjointed plots smashed together: there’s the new Skynet (now called Genisys) plot and there’s the John Connor/Kyle Reese plot. They’re more loosely connected than they should be and, really, the Connor/Reese plot is superfluous. There are some minor writing missteps like the nexus point is unbelievable, using a time machine to try and stop Genisys only one day ahead of time, and Sarah’s backstory – they’re mixed levels of not great.

I think all of those would be forgivable, but the acting to pull off Act 3 just isn’t there. Arnold is back and can still carry the screen even in his advanced age. You can tell he loves delivering the line “old (but) not obsolete”. Emilia Clarke is a fine Sarah Connor. J.K. Simmons is fun. Matt Smith is believable as an evil AI. But the problems center around Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese and Jason Clarke’s John Connor – Courtney almost works because his role doesn’t require that much but, Jason Clarke – he’s a good actor but this was just a bad role for him. The big twist is that Connor got turned into a Terminator and the last part of the movie rests on that reveal. It’s frustrating, as it was an unforced error – the Connor Terminator plot could have been left out (though we’d have been robbed of the really good T-3000 special effects) and we would have watched our intrepid heroes fighting Matt Smith’s Genisys AI and it would have been fine.

All this is to say, I still think it does the most right of all the post-T2 movies, but it still has glaring flaws.

* * * * *

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Each sequel run the risk of a franchise losing freshness, but this movie really makes the series feel long in the tooth. It’s gritty and modern with old Arnold Schwarzenegger and old Linda Hamilton. Both are still fun to watch, though Arnold feels noticeably older than T5 (Genisys), despite only 4 years passing. Mackenzie Davis’s Grace is a fine addition as is the twist of Natalia Reyes’s Dani becoming this timeline’s John Connor.

But that’s about where the good stops. The twist of killing John Connor in the first few minutes was a curious (read: bad) decision the reverberates through the plot. The rest of the first half is just a generic T2 wannabe with modern trappings like long side quest padding and too many noisy subplots so that it’s hard to concentrate on any one thing. Gabriel Luna’s Terminator Rev-9 is way too strong with too many powers and too human so he can only be beaten by cheap plot holes. The climactic fight is ridiculous and dumb and too dark to see what is going on for part of it.

I know this is cliche, but it really does feel like “what happens if you told ChatGPT to make a Terminator movie”. This entry echoes the poor T3/T4/T5 sequel echoes of T1/T2 in even more unsatisfying ways: the mediocre action sequences of T3, the dumb writing of T3, the needless modern overcomplexity of all of them, the overpowered Terminator of T5, and the dull emotion of T4 (Salvation). I’d say this is where the franchise should finally be put out of its misery. It lost a ton of money and I can’t imagine Arnold is going to be doing many more movies. But there’s always time travel and reboots in a Hollywood starved for bankable franchises so it will probably be back at some point.

* * * * *

Curiously, Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes rank them T3 > T6 (Dark Fate) > T4 (Salvation) > T5 (Genesys). IMDB has T4 (Salvation) > T5 (Genisys) and T3 (tie) > T6 (Dark Fate). Personally, I would rank them much closer to IMDB than MC/RT with T5 (Genesys) > T4 (Salvation) > T3 > T6 (Dark Fate). If we were talking about the entire series, it would be T2 >> T1 >> T5 > T4 >> T3 > T6.

For SotD, we’ll go with the opening sequence of Terminator 2, which includes the unmistakable Terminator theme:

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Title: Royals Rumblings – News for June 7, 2024
Author: sterlingice

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