TJ got MARRIED, the Cubs won the pennant, The Walking Dead returned, and a whole lot more happened. We talk about TJ’s wedding reception playlist, why Cubs fans hate Joe Buck (and Mike doesn’t), what made TJ quit Walking Dead BEFORE the Season 7 premiere, where Luke Cage ranks among the Marvel Netflix shows, and the totally off-the-rails tangents you come to expect from us.
After a nice long break, the Piffcast is back! It’s been a month, so Mike and TJ had some catching up to do…
– Developing a Kris Bryant’s up-to-bat Alert App – Comic-Con Trailer Roundup – TJ’s movie homework (including some Mark Ruffalo recommendations) – What we’re watching on TV (Stranger Things, The Night Of) – The Pokemon around Mike’s house (don’t go looking) – Coldplay at Soldier Field and K-Pop ‘farms’ – A special thank you to awesome people
If you aren’t caught up on Game of Thrones, go do that and then listen to our show.
TJ and Michael go ALL OUT THRONES for the 20th Piffcast episode, recapping and reviewing the entire epic 6th season. We bounce region to region, House to House, giving our 2 cents on every storyline and where we think they are going. Listen in for our favorite (and least favorite) episodes from Season 6, favorite characters, and ALL THINGS THRONES.
Making her return to The Piffcast is FanDuel sportswriter Jessica Kleinschmidt! With Chicago being the hottest town in baseball at the moment, we ask Jessica to settle a few Cubs/White Sox arguments for their respective fanbases that will likely come up before the Crosstown Cup series. We also cast our own version of the Space Jam sequel, but with Major League Baseball players. Find out if your favorites make the cut! (27:21 mark, if you’d like to jump ahead)
Now that Captain America: Civil War is finally here, TJ and I (WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS) discuss what the movie got right compared to Batman v. Superman. I also reveal where it ranks in my “Favorite Movies of 2016 so far” list.
The 2016 All-Star Game takes place July 12th, at Petco Park in San Diego, CA, with some of the best craft beer selection you could ask for. Voting ends June 30th at 11:59 PM ET. Fans can vote up to 5 times in any 24-hour period.
This is what my first ballot looks like, considering the small sample size of work everyone has done so far.
As of Sunday, April 24th at 1:00 PM CT…
Cubs OF Dexter Fowler leads the league in Wins Above Replacement (1.8 WAR) and is tied for the most doubles hit (9).
White Sox OF Adam Eaton leads the league in Defensive WAR (0.8) and runs saved (7) while batting .309.
Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy leads the league in Batting Average (.411) *with the required number of at-bats*
Nationals OF Bryce Harper and Rockies SS Trevor Story lead the league in Home Runs (8), while Harper leads all in Runs Batted In (22).
Astros 2B Jose Altuve leads the league in Stolen Bases (7).
Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo and Orioles 1B Chris Davis lead those in their respective leagues at their position in Home Runs (6).
Orioles 3B Manny Machado leads the league in Hits (27), Total Bases (53 and, On-Base Plus Slugging (1.225 OPS), while batting .397.
While the weather forecast may have called for overcast skies (a day after disheartening April blizzards in Chicago), there’s still a ray of sunshine breaking through any and all mundane mediocrity clouding your life. For one day, every cliche and sports movie monologue feels as inviting as the guy selling programs when you walk through your favorite stadium’s gate.
Only a handful of teams are playing today, the Cardinals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Rays, Mets and Royals. The whole league will be in action tomorrow and the hometown love will pour over each respective ball club, but it’s amazing how we can all be just as excited today. Is it because everyone is tied for first place at this very moment? Do we forget that there are 161 games to go and anything can happen from now till October? Or is it because we just can’t help but “get romantic about baseball”?
The romance is real. It hits you when you first climb the steps from the concourse toward your seats at Wrigley Field, much like walking up a ramp to your aisle at Fenway Park when the sun starts to set. If you’re lucky enough to share that with someone, don’t take it for granted. As a White Sox fan, I lose myself in their brand new pregame montage every year, with moving music and memories. I forget I’m 28 years old and involuntary noises erupt from my windpipes as the fireworks signal it’s time to begin. There are micro-versions of these instances throughout the long regular season, but nothing compares to the first.
I could go into a long thing about hope for every team, only for someone (maybe myself) to shoot it all down with projections, sabermetrics, and the pessimistic cold hard reality check that not everyone is meant for the playoffs. However, baseball is weird…quite possibly the weirdest of the major sports. While numbers, trends, and track records are real and incredibly valid, you can’t predict injuries, suspensions, personal issues, trades or the litany of fortune-bending occurrences that are bound to happen over the next 6 months.
Also alluring is the mystery of what kind of greatness and individual accomplishments this new season will hold. Who will be the closest to batting .400? How long will someone go in their hitting-streak, and will the challenge Joe DiMaggio? Who will throw the next perfect game? Can anyone emulate the 1998 home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (and not be busted for steroids)? Where will longtime veterans finish on the all-time lists (Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols) and who can we get excited about to possibly surpass them someday (Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant)? Who will come out of nowhere?
Right now, more than any time the rest of regular season, you can comfortably be a fan. You can be excited. You can be optimistic. You can be a full grown…kid. For a few hours at a time, you can escape to a game you love and forget about the drama and stresses of life for a little bit. It’s Opening Day. Just have fun.
Share your experiences and thoughts with me this season on Facebook or Twitter.
This month, college hoops takes center stage. What better way to get you prepared for March Madness than talk to a pro that knows everything going into the tourney? Scott Phillips from NBC Sports and I talk about the elite teams, stars who should shine, the bubble teams, potential Cinderellas and more. (Interview starts at the 30:35 mark if you want to jump ahead)
TJ and I also get into some TV talk, the Ballpark Foodie series, and tease next week’s “Selection Monday” show for our TV Character Madness Tournament. We also introduce the Piffcast Cork Board for those of you who have a project, event or cause you’d like to promote. Listen to find out more about it.
From afar, I’ve admired what the Chicago Cubs are doing. Not just at the plate and from the mound, but also from a promotional standpoint. Rather than trot out any famous person who can afford a ticket with what they find between their couch cushions, the Cubs had players who appreciate where the team is now and put in blood, sweat and tears wearing the blue pinstripes to throw out first pitches in Games 3 and 4.
After Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and 2-time All-Star Kerry Wood kicked off each game, the Cubs utilized their new video boards at Wrigley Field with videos of the late Ernie Banks and Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” That’s classy. That’s also what they should do from now on, but that’s a discussion for another day. (Never let Ryan Dempster do his impression of Will Ferrell’s impression of Harry Caray again)
Amidst the bat-flipping, opposing pitcher name chanting, and hardcore partying, we’ve seen the celebrity faces that we expected (some dreaded) to see at the ballpark. Billy Corgan and his new get-off-my-lawn attitude. Northside/Southside flipping John Cusack. And the worst front-runner on the planet, Jim Belushi (I cringe typing his name like he’s Voldemort). New assistant to Cubs President Theo Epstein (probably) Eddie Vedder has been fun. As an avid Pearl Jam fan, I get a kick out of him partying as hard as the players after each game.
Eddie Vedder is standing on the mound, double-fisting drinks and taking pictures with anyone who comes up and asks.
It’s also hard to imagine that Bill Murray isn’t too far away, despite his media tour next week for the upcoming release of Rock the Kasbah. If anything, he could make it an epic cross promotion for his film and the MLB playoffs.
Vedder and Murray are awesome but it’s time to bring out the big hitters to the seats in Chicago, and not just at Wrigley Field. Last summer, I countered recently-outed heavyweight racist Hulk Hogan’s baiting for angry Blackhawks fans during the Stanley Cup with my own list of better celebrity hockey fans. Those mentioned in that list (CM Punk, Mr. T, Vince Vaughn, etc) get a hat-tip, but the following names will represent star power that we’d rather see regularly, similar to the likes at New York and Los Angeles events.
1. Harrison Ford
We’re talking about Han Solo AND Indiana Jones here. How can you deny the idea of either baseball stadium in Chicago playing the “Imperial Death March” music announcing the Yankees lineup, then following it with a shot of Harrison Ford behind home plate with the Rebel Victory score over it? Maybe it’s a the geek in me, but any opportunity to implement Star Wars, especially with the new film coming out, is super sexy to me.
Note: I also refer to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu as #Baseball Jedi, so there’s that.
Ford has Chicago in his blood, being born here and spending his college summers working on a boat in Burnham Park Harbor or managing the first Crate and Barrel on Wells. In an Michigan Ave Magazine interview, Ford said:
“I’ve been out in Los Angeles for 35 years, and I think there are some things about my upbringing that reflect the values and the attitudes of the Midwest…. a kind of work ethic that I find particular to the Midwest. I can say that those were important, formative years for me, living in Chicago.”
Cool, Indy. I’ll buy you a beer next time you’re in town, if it gets you to a ballgame.
2. Nick Offerman
Currently featured in the new season of Fargo, Nick Offerman isn’t slowing down since the end of Ron Swanson and Parks and Recreation. Offerman isn’t shy about his baseball allegiance either.
There are many grown men and women who would scream like a 90’s tween at a Backstreet Boys concert if they saw the Joliet native, University of Illinois grad, and professional canoe craftsman down the foul line at a ballgame.
If he’s willing, during a the Crosstown Cup series, there’s plenty of bacon-on-a-stick awaiting his consumption at US Cellular Field.
Double-thick maple bacon. You know you want it, Nick…
3. Gillian Anderson
Yep, X-Files fans, Scully is from Chicago. With TheX-Files revival series coming soon to FOX, they’d be making a huge mistake not having Gillian Anderson at Wrigley Field fending off the paranormal and extraterrestrial that I’m sure some Cubs fans still believe will prevent the Cubs from going to the World Series…At least come out to a Men and/or Women’s basketball game at DePaul, where Anderson finished college…something she and I have in common.
When his term is up, I would welcome the president taking in as much Bulls basketball, White Sox baseball, Bears football, and whatever as he wants.
5. John C. Reilly
Would you really argue with me on this? Who doesn’t want south side native John C. Reilly in their corner?
That’s exactly who you want in games against New York when Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Jay-Z and Beyonce are behind the opponent’s bench.
6. Stephen Colbert
For someone who has spent a lot of his career recently in New York City, Stephen Colbert has not been bashful at all about his time in Chicago. Leading up to the new Late Show’s premiere, Colbert dedicated multiple podcasts to his years at Northwestern and doing improv in Chicago. While interviewing Jane The Virgin star Gina Rodriguez this week, the two bonded over their love for the city and living there. Most notably, as tongue-in-cheek as it sounded, Colbert predicted a Cubs World Series win…a proclamation he believes “in no way will come back to haunt” him.
If the NLCS goes to New York, I would be shocked if Colbert wasn’t in attendance. Heck, he should catch a weekend game in Chicago if the opportunity is there.
More Chicago Celebrities You’d Rather See:
John Landis, Director – Animal House, Blues Brothers
Robert Zemeckis, Director – Back to the Future Trilogy
For those who are new to watching playoff baseball, you may notice something that doesn’t match either the Cubbie blue or Cardinal red color scheme behind home plate. Sitting behind the gentleman in the pink hat at Wrigley Field, was a bright orange Marlins jersey and a matching visor. He’s…
Many first noticed Marlins Man among the Kansas City Royals blue a year ago, making his presence known in national HD TV while glowing in bright orange. Social media greeted the sight as you’d expect…with the anger and burning ire of a thousand suns. I didn’t get it at first either, but then Marlins Man grew on me and my level of admiration grew with every snarky Tweet and comment directed his way.
Laurence Leavy, a law firm owner that specializes in labor law, used to own season tickets to multiple South Florida teams, including the Marlins (duh), Dolphins, Heat, and Miami Hurricanes. He told the Sun-Sentinel last week that he would spend $200,000 to $300,000 on season tickets for his clients and that it really helped his practice, especially in the 90’s. Unfortunately the teams around Miami, outside of the Miami Heat, all forgot how to win and Levy couldn’t even give tickets away.
Then Leavy was diagnosed with liver cancer. It turned out to be a large blood mass in his liver and kidney stones, but the health scare made him reexamine his life. Rather than go to the local sporting events for work, he decided he would go to bigger ones across the the country…for fun. Instead of taking clients to these games, Marlins Man wanted to take sports fans who would truly appreciate the experience with him.
Leavy will invite friends and total strangers on Facebook to go to games and events with him for free. It could be the Stanley Cup, a Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park, the Kentucky Derby, or Game 3 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. The only thing Leavy asks of his guests and fellow sports fans that they “pay it forward” by performing an act of kindness for someone else in need. Once they prove they have done so, Marlins Man then sends them a t-shirt with his face on it and in bold print “Pay It Forward”.
“Think of an idea to change the world – and put it into action.”
I used to think Marlins Man was simply doing what every sports fan dreamt of. He was attending the biggest games in the world, witnessing the coolest moments from the best seats, because he could. Shaquille O’Neal interviewed him during the NBA playoffs recently asking “Why do you do it?” Marlins Man answered exactly how I would have, “Why not?”. He also gets noticed, obviously. If his favorite teams weren’t going to be represented in the playoffs, he might as well do it for them.
Learning that Marlins Man is using his celebrity for more than himself makes the whole thing incredibly cooler to me. It makes me want to share that part of his story to those who probably don’t know it. When journalists ask him about the people he helped, Leavy will reference hundreds of emails and voicemails on his phone from people he took to games, telling their stories of good deeds they performed as a result of his.
It’s not an ongoing vacation, as one would assume (*raises hand*). Leavy works billable hours from the hotel rooms he stays in and if you notice he’s on his phone during games, he’s running his law firm of 37 employees from the front row.
A year ago, the Kansas City Royals asked Marlins Man to wear something blue and not his signature orange uniform. Leavy respectfully declined and showed up to ballpark wearing one of the 8 bright jerseys he keeps packed. You go, Marlins Man. I look forward to catching him at the next one…