2021 Tickets – Southside Edition

The White Sox will open to full capacity next weekend and thus have released tickets for the remainder of the season to their season ticket holders.  Once again, the White Sox have decided against physical tickets for non-premium season ticket holders, so this year’s ticket package is nothing more than digital bits on a website or the MLB Ballpark app.  While this does make the actual game day use of the tickets more convenient, it does lose some of the excitement of ticket arrival day.

Book 24 (of 52) – Molly’s Game

Molly’s Game – Molly Bloom

In 2004, Molly Bloom moved from Colorado to Los Angeles with dreams but no plan.  Within a year, she was hosting a weekly poker game for her boss at the Viper Room that attracted high rollers and Hollywood stars, including Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ben Affleck.  Eventually, she took over total control of the game, moving out of the basement and to high class hotel suites and private homes.  She then moved to New York, starting games there with Wall Street tycoons, enticing them with her celebrity contacts.  Unfortunately for her, she also attracted the Russian mob.  In 2013, she was arrested and charged, along with 33 others, as part of a $100 million money laundering and illegal sports gambling operation tied to the Russians.  After losing everything, she turned to writing, producing her memoir Molly’s Game.

I saw the movie adaptation back in 2018 and, earlier this year, picked up the copy on the cheap from the Kindle store.  If you trust her as a reliable narrator, she had all the money in the world but, having dedicated her entire life to poker, no friends or family.  It was an interesting tale of power, who has it, and how they wield it.

Post Mortem – Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The seventh and final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. aired last summer, wrapping up in August on ABC.  The first series set in, but not completely part of, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it took a while to find its footing before eventually setting into a nice groove.  The connection to the movie franchise was stronger in the first season, with a couple cameos and events in the movies impacting the plot of the show, but that waned as the seasons went on, to the point that the blip caused by Thanos wasn’t even addressed.

With Marvel (and Disney) looking to more tightly integrate their television shows with the movies, they’ve shifted their internal reporting structure and cancelled all of their existing shows.  AOS, the first and longest running of those shows, was the final piece of that puzzle prior to the new offerings from Disney+, which will be much more tightly connected to the MCU.  That said, seven seasons is a good run (and much more than the Netflix shows received) and hopefully we’ll see some of these characters again.

Post Mortem – Utopia

Developed by Gillian Flynn and David Fincher and based off a UK series of the same name, Utopia debuted on Amazon’s Prime Video service in September.  It was cancelled in November when Amazon declined to order a second season.

The show was seemingly right up my alley, about a group of online comic fans who come together at a comic con and find themselves under fire for having seen a new graphic novel, that contains clues to a global pandemic.

I can see why the subject matter may not have been the best thing to attract viewers in the middle of an actual pandemic, but I think Amazon may have missed the boat here by giving up on the show so soon.

Fitbit VII – Week 20

A disappointing week, in more ways than one.  Things got off to a decent enough start on Sunday, as my only baseball game of the week left me with 5000 steps.  Monday saw a decline, coming in 6 steps shy of 3400.  Tuesday was even worse, with only 2700 steps.  Wednesday was the low point of the week, with only 1400 steps.  Thursday started a climb back up to respectability, with 2900.  Friday improved again, coming 15 steps shy 3900.  Saturday saw another improvement, going up to 4700 steps.

Total steps: 24,112

Daily average: 3444.6

iTunes Top 200 Artists: #10

It’s been 4 years since we last counted down the Top 200 artists in my iTunes library.  Since my iTunes stats are still intact, across multiple PCs, iPods, iPads, and iPhones, I figured it was time to take another look at the artists that have entertained me the most based on number of plays from late 2007 through January 1, 2021.

Today, we break into the top 10 and slow down the pace a bit, taking one act at a time.  Formed in 1973 by Scottish-born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, this band released their first album in 1975 and have been rocking the world ever since, selling more than 200 million records worldwide.  At #10, we have the powerhouse group known as AC/DC.#10: AC/DC
iTunes stats: 558 plays
Previous ranking: #10

The Australian hard rockers stay even with their previous ranking to kick off the top ten.  20 songs, from 7 different albums, make up their play total, which increased 63%.  The most popular song, Thunderstruck, has a tremendous amount of plays due to the White Sox use of it when running out on to the field and its inclusion on my various victory playlists.  Another entry, Back In Black, has also made an appearance or two over the years, most recently thanks to former catcher James McCann’s use as his walkup song.

In 2015, I saw the band in concert in Toronto, at Downsview Park.  I’d be lying if I said that seeing AC/DC was at the top of my to-do list musically speaking.  In fact, they were playing Wrigley Field the following week and I had passed on the chance to get tickets.  But, as a wise man once said, you only live once, and, seeing as this is likely their last go-around, I guess you can say that I’m glad to have seen them.  After missing the opening act thanks to traffic, we got in to the show just as AC/DC were starting.  The show itself was both good and bad.  The songs are what you expect, but there was no real flow to the show, probably due to the band’s conditioning, or lack thereof.  After each song, the lights went down and there was a brief break before the next song would begin.  The net result of this was a disjointed experience, where each song stood on its own without there being any coherence in the set.  This ended up being their last tour with Brian Johnson before the unfortunate Axl Rose experiment, so I guess I’m glad I saw them when I did.

By The Numbers – 51

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #51.  44 different players have donned #51 while playing in Chicago, 20 for the White Sox and 24 for the Cubs.

Juan Cruz, wearing #51, made his big league debut for the Cubs on August 21, 2001, against the Brewers.  He went 3–1 with a 3.22 ERA in his first 8 starts, and recorded his first two major league hits on October 2.  Cruz went 3–11 with a 3.98 ERA in 45 games in 2002, picking up his first career save.  He got off to a good start in 2003, striking out 6 consecutive Mets on Opening Day, becoming only the second Cubs reliever to achieve the feat.  Things went a bit downhill from there, finishing the year 2–7 with a 6.05 ERA while making 6 starts, despite being sent back down to Iowa in June.  He threw one scoreless inning during the NLDS against the Braves.  That would end up being his final Cub appearance, as he was traded to those same Braves the following March.

Dane Dunning was acquired by the White Sox as part of the return for Adam Eaton in 2016.  He made his major league debut in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, going 2-0 in 7 starts with a 3.97 ERA.  He started Game 3 of the Wild Card series against the A’s, getting pulled after 2/3rds of an inning as the White Sox were eliminated.  That was his final White Sox appearance, as he was traded to the Rangers in exchange for Lance Lynn this past December.

Post Mortem – Stumptown

A victim of the corona virus pandemic, Stumptown was originally picked up for a second season by ABC in May of 2020, but was subsequently cancelled in September when pandemic-related production delays meant a new season wouldn’t be available until April of 2021.   Based on the comic book series of the same name created by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth, Stumptown starred Cobie Smulders as a military vet turned private eye who handles problems that the police can’t.

I would have liked to see more of Stumptown to see where they would go with the story.  It’s perplexing that other shows were able to find a way to come back earlier but, according to the reports, this one could not.  Funny that those cancellations from last summer and fall seemed to hit shows whose leads were women.  Oh well, I will look forward to whatever brings Cobie Smulders back to my television screen, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Connecting The City Part 2

Last weekend, the White Sox debuted their City Connect uniforms, which, according to Nike, reimagines a teams look and “celebrates the bond between each team and its city.”  The next team up was just up the road, as the Cubs released their version, to be worn for the first time Saturday against the Cardinals, and which they claim “ties together all of Chicago’s neighborhoods.”

The jerseys and pants are mostly a dark navy blue, with Wrigleyville across the front in the shape of the marquee on the front of the stadium.  The hat, navy with a light blue brim, has a six-pointed star, from the city’s flag, in the middle of the traditional C.  The sleeve patch features the municipal device of Chicago, representing the north, south and main branches of the Chicago River.

Much like the White Sox edition, these uniforms could have been much worse.  The initial leaks of the jersey looked like trash, but combining them with pants of the same color makes it work much better.  Including the star from the flag is a little obvious, but it is underplayed and using the municipal device, which, to be honest, I wasn’t aware of before this, was a nice change of pace.  Again, as a one-off, these won’t be so bad, but I’d hate to see them become part of the regular rotation.

Book 23 (of 52) – The First Virtue

The First Virtue – Michael Jan Friedman and Christie Golden

In the final chapter of the Double Helix series, Michael Jan Friedman and Christie Golden take a trip back in time, to when Captain Picard commanded the Stargazer and the initial events that triggered the revenge plot of the previous five books.  A series of terrorist attacks have heightened tensions between two races, bringing an entire sector to the brink of war.  While Picard and Governor Gerrid Thul of the Thallonian emperor struggle to keep the peace, Lieutenant Commander Jack Crusher must team up with a Vulcan officer named Tuvok to uncover the hidden architect of the attacks.

I was a little hesitant to read this book, as my interest in the Stargazer is somewhat minimal.  Thankfully, outside of Picard and Crusher, there wasn’t much focus on any of her crew.  A prologue is an interesting way to wrap up a six book series, but I guess it would have killed some of the suspense to know who was behind the goings on and why.  All in all, it was a good trip back to the Star Trek universe and, barring any upcoming Kindle sales, my last for the immediate future.