Fat Jack Sports - Sports Betting News

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jun. 17, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY:
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
5-27-2002 6-3-2002 6-10-2002

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Some of you may have missed last week's post because I didn't do it on Wednesday. Ended up posting it Thursday instead, so it's there in the archives below if you missed it. I know this 2002 series of Rewinds doesn't really have the momentum or appeal that it had back when I was posting them 3 times a week for years on end. Sorry about that, like I said before, I just decided to post these on a whim when the virus started and didn't really prepare for it so it's all kinda haphazard. But just didn't want anyone to miss the one from last week if it flew under the radar.

  • Steve Austin walked out of WWE this week and threw everything into upheaval. As a result, Raw featured Vince McMahon challenging Ric Flair to a match for ownership of the entire company. It was the ultimate final blow-off to a huge long-term angle, and they did it with only 2 hours of build-up. With Vince now in charge of both shows, questions are swirling about whether this spells the end of the brand split, only a few months in. The reason this all happened is because, only 6 hours before Raw went on the air, Steve Austin showed up to the arena and found out he was scheduled to wrestle (and Dave thinks put over, though he hasn't confirmed that yet) Brock Lesner. Dave immediately points out the obvious, that an Austin vs. Lesnar match is something you should build up ahead of time, not throw it on free TV with no build up at all. Plus, he's still so new, he's incredibly green, and he's spent the last few months selling way too much for people like the Hardyz and Bubba Ray Dudley. Hell, before he debuted in WWE, he wasn't even the most over guy in OVW. He's nowhere near the level you'd expect for him to be winning matches with Steve Austin un-hyped on free TV. In fact, Lesnar should probably go through just about everyone else on the roster before putting him against Austin. That's a potential Wrestlemania-level match and Dave seems befuddled that they would just book it for Raw like this.
  • Apparently Austin felt the same way because he and his wife Debra left the building and flew home before Vince McMahon even arrived to the arena, the second time since Wrestlemania that he has walked out on the company. A source who was there when McMahon learned of the news said that, for the first time anyone could remember, Vince seemed to drop his "game face" and there seemed to be genuine panic about what to do. Rock has one foot out the door to Hollywood. Undertaker and Triple H are banged up and won't be around forever (bet). Business is already collapsing. And now the biggest star the company's ever had just walked out the door. Last time Austin walked out after Wrestlemania, he was only away for 2 weeks. This time, there's a feeling it could be much longer. Those close to Austin say he's been unhappy for months and this decision wasn't anything specifically to do with the Lesnar match. That just happened to be the final straw. Austin made news last week when he went on the WWE's Byte This show and voiced his frustrations with the company's creative direction. Plans had been put into motion over the last couple weeks for Austin to feud with Eddie Guerrero and then Chris Benoit, which he was happy about (he was enjoying his recent house show matches with Eddie and Benoit is one of Austin's favorite opponents) but that's out the window now. Austin and Vince McMahon reportedly haven't been on good terms for several months now and word is the night before Raw, the two of them had a very heated conversation over the phone that left Austin pissed off and frustrated even before this went down.
  • And that's the deal on Austin. He has more money than he'll ever be able to spend and doesn't have any financial need to wrestle. He only does so because he enjoys it. And if he doesn't enjoy it anymore, then by all means, it's his right to leave and he doesn't owe the business anything if he wants to hang up the boots. But Dave does feel like Austin owes WWE at least a few weeks to write him out of storylines since he's such an important piece of the company. Walking out from a live TV taping is unprofessional and it leaves guys like Guerrero and Benoit left hanging, thus screwing up their future plans and money-making potential too (yeah, that's something that doesn't get talked about much. Austin walking out fucked Guerrero over pretty hard here. It would take him another 2 years to get back into that main event scene that he would have been involved in here). That being said, pretty much everyone in the locker room sympathizes with Austin and agrees with his complaints about the creative direction of the company, but not many of them were defending the way he walked out. And given that this is the second time he's done it, the feeling is he shouldn't be allowed back without facing some actual punishment this time.
  • So anyway, the day of Raw, they went into panic mode and had to re-write the entire show. And with the feeling Austin won't be coming back anytime soon, Vince felt they needed to do something big. So they went with blowing off the dual-owners angle in a match that was designed to turn Flair babyface again and establish Vince as the heel owner of everything. There was also discussion of turning Undertaker babyface again, since he's been getting more cheers than RVD when they work together at house shows lately but they decided against that for now (they end up doing it in a couple weeks). So now Flair has been abruptly turned back, after only turning heel a few weeks prior. The brand split may or may not be dead. And there we stand.
  • In what would have been a major story during any other week, DDP has officially retired from wrestling at age 46. Unfortunately, Austin's walk-out overshadowed everything. The decision on DDP's retirement was actually made by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, who pretty much made the choice for him after they got his medical reports. DDP has been advised by multiple doctors that his spine is shot and he needs to retire. For the company's own liability, WWE decided to listen to the doctors and DDP agreed. There has been talk of finding ways for DDP to work the remainder of his contract for the company in a non-wrestling capacity. (He obviously ends up wrestling a handful of matches in the years since, but for the most part, this really was the end of DDP's in-ring career as a full-time wrestler).
  • There were a couple of moments on Raw this week where Shawn Michaels was cutting a promo and made a comment about Austin "losing his top spot" and another comment later about Rock "stealing Triple H's spot." A lot of people in the company backstage were upset, feeling like this was the same ol' Shawn, going into business for himself and trashing on Austin and Rock and yada yada. Not the case. Those comments were actually scripted for Shawn to say because they want to get over the idea that Shawn on the mic is a loose cannon and you never know when he might start "shooting" and say something he's not supposed to. It's all very dumb, you see. Almost like Vince Russo is coming back any day now or something.
  • Dave gives a big preview and rundown of the Jarrett family's new NWA-TNA promotion, which has its debut show next week on PPV. Not all cable systems are carrying it, however. Cablevision and Dish Network both declined to carry it, but DirecTV is. This cuts down on the number of available homes for the show and probably cuts 20-30% off their potential revenue. The main PPV provider in Canada, Viewer's Choice, has also declined to carry it. Steep mountain to climb here. Dave expects them to do decent numbers for their first show but predicts an XFL-like collapse after that. By week 3, Dave is scared for their chances. From here, Dave gives the whole history of other promotions who've tried to make it on PPV in the U.S., with varying degrees of success and failure. UWFI, UFC, ECW, WCW, PRIDE, etc, WWF has even toyed with similar ideas. In 1991, they did the one-off Tuesday In Texas PPV as a test to see if they could run PPVs back-to-back (Survivor Series was only the week prior) and it was a flop. The original concept for Shotgun Saturday Night was for it to be a weekly Saturday night PPV with a similar >$10 price point, but that idea got scrapped before it got off the ground and it became just another TV show. Dave doesn't think TNA is going to make it without a TV deal. This PPV exclusive plan just has too much working against it. The Jarretts have talked about the millions of disenfranchised fans that stopped watching after WCW died, and it's true. Those people are out there. But those millions of fans all checked out between 1999-2001, and TNA isn't going to win them back by using the same people and the same concepts that ran those viewers away from WCW. All your wacky booking ideas, your Vince Russos, your Jeff Jarretts as champion, bringing in guys that even WWE won't touch (Scott Hall), etc. Those are all the same things that ran away those WCW viewers. Dave just doesn't see how this experiment can work in its current form.
  • Vince McMahon himself was the latest guest on WWE's Byte This show and needless to say, it was interesting. Vince denied the idea that the wrestling business is "cyclical" and said it's more like a series of peaks and valleys that have slowly been trending upwards over the years. Vince also admitted WWE doesn't always make the best decisions but says their batting average is good overall. Vince also said he's proud to have the word "wrestling" in their company name, which is a pretty big about-face from all the years he's tried to publicly claim they were "sports entertainment, not wrestling." He admitted things are rough right now but said there are huge changes coming soon that will change the entire industry but wouldn't elaborate on what he had planned (I think time has proven that the answer to this was nothing whatsoever. They had no idea what they were doing during this time and were just making shit up as they went along). Vince acknowledged that Austin has been frustrated lately and said Austin is the most demanding of all the wrestlers in WWE. Vince also said he pays no attention to the internet because everyone thinks they're a booker. He also complained that it's hard to live up to people's expectations because fans all think they know everything now. Acknowledged ratings being down and played it off like, yes, WWE is sick. But it's only a cold, not pneumonia or anything, so don't panic.
  • More notes from Vince on Byte This because huge unbroken paragraphs suck: he hinted at producing movies starring WWE talent. Dave thinks that's a bad idea. "No Holds Barred," anyone? Criticized backyard wrestling, which Dave actually agrees with him 100% on. Was asked about bringing Vince Russo back and said he hasn't given it any thought but he has an open door policy (see you next week, Russo! Jeez, it almost makes you wonder if Vince got the idea from this interview or something). When asked about the recent Jim Cornette/Ed Ferrara incident, Vince basically seemed disinterested but said he admires Cornette's passion for wrestling but felt spitting in Ferrara's face was unprofessional. When asked about NWA-TNA, Vince said he didn't understand how they could do it without television. Trying to get people to pay $9.95 a week for a 2 hour show (a minor league product at that, because anything other than WWE is basically minor leagues at this point), when they already get Raw and Smackdown on free television. Otherwise, he said he has no opinions on it because he hasn't seen it, but Vince seems to share Dave's opinion. He doesn't see this PPV model as sustainable and doesn't seem particularly threatened by it.
  • NJPW's latest Best of the Super Juniors tournament is in the books and was a disappointment, just like everything else in NJPW lately. Koji Kanemoto won a pretty boring tournament. There was only one new name involved, which was Michinoku Pro wrestler Curry Man (Christopher Daniels under a mask). He's talented and charismatic but he's not even that big a star in Michinoku Pro, much less to the NJPW audience. Otherwise, it was more of the same, with no real notable matches.
  • Zero-1 in Japan is hoping to put together a working relationship with NWA-TNA. Specifically, they're hoping they can do a Shinya Hashimoto vs. Ken Shamrock feud, perhaps over the NWA title.
  • While training for his comeback, Kenta Kobashi messed up his shoulder doing bench presses, because of course he did. Doctors have told him not to return too soon but he still plans to be back in the ring by next month. Because of course he does.
  • NJPW's latest show at Budokan Hall was a disaster. From photos Dave saw, he figures there couldn't have been more than 3,500 fans in the building. Even at its weakest after the NOAH exodus, AJPW never fell below 7,000 at Budokan and this show looked to be half that. It's likely the smallest crowd NJPW has ever drawn to that arena. The whole show was said to be terrible because of the depressing atmosphere of a building that was 2/3 empty.
  • This week's World Cup game between Japan and Russia did a 66.1 TV rating, making it the #2 highest rated sports broadcast in the history of Japan. This is notable because by doing so, it surpassed the Rikidozan vs. Destroyer match from 1963, which did a 64.0 rating, knocking it down to #3 (for what it's worth, it's believed that a Rikidozan vs. Lou Thesz match in 1957 was actually watched by even more people, but official ratings weren't kept as detailed back then, so it can't be counted for sure).
  • Dave has read some excerpts from the new Shaun Assael book on Vince McMahon called "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks." From what he's read, Dave says it's a very good and accurate portrayal of how the WWE has grown to what it is today. Vince's former close friend and VP of Titan Sports during the expansion era Jim Troy and Jim Barnett were both interviewed for it, among others. If you're a hardcore fan who's been following the Observer for years, there's nothing new here that you probably don't already know from a major story standpoint, but there's some interesting details at least that were new to Dave. But to the average fan, this should be pretty eye-opening. Dave expects to have a full review soon.
  • CZW held its second annual Best of the Best tournament at the old ECW Arena and the show got rave reviews. Particularly British wrestlers Jodie Fleisch and Jonny Storm, who tore the house down in their match. Trent Acid defeated Fleisch to win the tournament.
  • The Coen brothers, producers of the movie "Fargo", have had talks with Bobby Heenan about doing a movie based on his life (this pretty obviously went nowhere).
  • New Jack is no longer working with XPW and has jumped ship to work with a rival local promoter in Southern California. Perhaps not coincidentally, the last check New Jack received from XPW promoter Rob Black for $800 ended up bouncing. Dave says New Jack probably isn't the guy you want to write bad checks to.
  • NWA-TNA has changed its taping plans and no longer plans to tour, and they will now be live every week. The first two shows will be taped this week in Huntsville and after that, all future shows will be live from Nashville at the 9,000-seat Municipal Auditorium. Apparently the rent for that building is really cheap because a newer, more modern arena was just built nearby, so TNA can afford it. That being said, with as much trouble as they're having selling tickets for the debut show in Huntsville, Dave thinks it's pretty optimistic to start trying to run live tapings in the same 9,000-seat building every week. He thinks they would be much better off running a small 800-seat building every week, with a smaller, more intimate atmosphere that would come across a lot better on TV than a big cavernous arena that, inevitably, is going to be mostly empty (to this day, 18 years later, TNA/Impact has never once drawn a crowd of 9,000 fans. Never even really close actually).
  • Various other TNA notes: Dave runs down the list of confirmed names for TNA's first taping. Rick Steiner, K-Krush (formerly K-Kwik in WWF), Konnan, Steve Corino, The Harris Brothers, Psicosis, and a bunch of others. Don Frye has talked to Jeff Jarrett about coming in to work a match with Ken Shamrock. Jackie Fargo is going to be there doing something. They made an offer to Shane Douglas but he only agreed to come in if they didn't hire Francine (some kind of falling out between them). TNA decided they'd rather have Francine. They're expected to be doing some kind of old school vs. new school angle so....yay. More latter-years WCW shit. Mike & Todd Shane are coming in as a tag team called Dick & Rod Johnson and will have costumes that apparently look like penises, just in case you were still on the fence about whether Vince Russo is involved. The top stars are basically making around $3,500 per week which is a pretty decent salary for one day's work every week. The guys without name value, on the other hand, are getting $300 per show and are covering their own transportation. Just in case you were still on the fence about whether Jerry Jarrett is involved.
  • Ken Shamrock did an interview and acknowledged that he hasn't done pro-wrestling in a few years and knows he's going to be rusty. He also said he's worried because with only 1 show per week, he won't really be able to get enough matches under his belt to get good again. He also said he's signed a 3 fight deal with UFC and will be fighting Tito Ortiz in September, which turns out to be a pretty huge damn deal.
  • Dave saw the K-1 match with former WCW developmental wrestler Bob Sapp vs. some dude. Doesn't matter. What matters is Bob Sapp is enormous ("makes Brock Lesnar look like Jerry Lynn"). And he mauled this poor guy. In fact, it looked like Sapp was trying to get DQ'd, as he started kicking and kneeing the guy while he was down and just treating it like a street fight, violating lots of rules in the process. He was DQ'd but then K-1 booked Sapp and this other dude for a rematch in July. That leads Dave to think this was planned as an effort to get Sapp over as a lunatic, but if it was a work, somebody should have told the other guy because Sapp fucked him right on up. "This was like everyone feared Mike Tyson would behave, but 1,000 times worse and from a man far more scary." Furthermore, Sapp came out in a full Ric Flair robe and to Ric Flair' ring music, and the arena went insane. Sapp has massive superstar appeal in Japan right now and promoting him as a violent psychopath who has no regards for the rules in a shoot fight appears to be getting over huge.
WATCH: Bob Sapp vs. some dude. Doesn't matter. K-1
  • Edge will not need surgery for his torn labrum injury, so he'll only miss a few weeks of action instead of a few months. Edge is in the midst of the biggest push of his career and this is his chance to finally break through to the next level so needless to say, good news.
  • Notes from Raw: show opened with Vince walking out, which was unexpected since this is Flair's show. He said Austin wasn't there and made a point of saying Austin was too much of a coward to be there. Pretty well buried Austin and buried Raw as a bad show (blaming Flair in kayfabe for all the show's real life problems. Sorta like last year when they actually turned the bad ratings into a storyline by trying to blame it on Corbin. Some things never change). They're doing a storyline with Trish making fun of Molly Holly for allegedly having a fat ass because, again, some things never change. Former Tough Enough contestant Chris Nowinski debuted doing the Harvard grad gimmick like the heel jock in every teen movie. "The heel jock." Never change Dave. Shawn Michaels made his big return, cut his promo joining the NWO and turning heel on the fans before superkicking Booker T out of the group. So theoretically, this should mean Booker T should have to work his way through the entire NWO one by one before getting to Shawn at the end, in what should be Shawn's first match back. "I'm not holding my breath," Dave says. And of course, Vince beat Flair to take control of both shows. Horrible match but considering it was a last minute panic move, understandable under the circumstances. Lesnar ran in and helped Vince win the match.
WATCH: Vince McMahon opening promo with Ric Flair on Raw
WATCH: Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon for sole ownership of WWE
  • Notes from Smackdown: during a big pull-apart brawl, several agents ran in to break it up. Among them were Dean Malenko and Fit Finlay, appearing on TV for the first time in their new backstage roles, and John Lauranitis who was also shown on TV last week. More gay jokes with Billy and Chuck and Rico, which Dave calls Russo-esque. Not quite yet. Jamie Noble was introduced with Nidia from Tough Enough season 1 as his valet, in a feud with Hurricane. There was a big effort to make Bob Holly a star this week, starting a feud with he and Kurt Angle and they really pushed Holly hard as a star and Angle busted his ass to try and get him over. And they did a show-long angle with Maven in the hospital (he's legit injured) and Torrie Wilson shows up, it's implied that she gives him a blowjob, and then Dr. Tajiri shows up, mists Torrie and beats up Maven. Dave is at least happy that they're trying to make an angle out of Maven's injury so he has a storyline to come back to, which is more effort than they put into most stuff these days.
  • Various WWE notes: referee Tim White suffered a torn rotator cuff in the Backlash Hell in a Cell match and will need surgery that will keep him out of the ring for months. Rey Mysterio is scheduled to debut on WWE house shows this week and, as of now, is expected to be wearing his mask again. Terry Taylor has been reaching out to get hired, but the company won't return his calls (they eventually re-hire him in September).
  • There's been a lot of praise for the new Spiderman comic "Tangled Web" which was written by Raven (I had to research this, but yeah. "Tangled Web" was a Spiderman anthology series that lasted about 2 years and had 22 issues. Each issue was written by different authors. Issue 14 was called "The Last Shoot" and sure enough, it was co-written by Raven alongside Brian Azzarello, who is the mind behind one of my favorite comic series of all time, 100 Bullets. And I had no idea. Wild).
  • The long-discussed plan of having Arn Anderson as Chris Benoit's manager seems to be off the table now. The thought is Anderson has been devalued so much in recent months (they pretty much wheel him out every time they need someone to take a beating for heat in a Flair feud) that he wouldn't be effective as a manager for a strong, serious heel.
  • Tough Enough II winner Linda Miles made her in-ring debut on Velocity, against Ivory. She was accompanied by fellow winner Jackie Gayda, who turned heel on her and cost Linda the match. Dave thinks it's waaaaaay too early to put these 2 women in a feud against each other considering how green they both still are.
WATCH: Linda Miles vs. Ivory - WWE Velocity 2002
  • The Rock, Vince McMahon, Undertaker, Jerry Lawler, Jm Ross, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon were all in Memphis at the Mike Tyson/Lennox Lewis fight last week. Rock could be seen on camera a few rows deep throughout the fight, while Vince was shown on camera as a celebrity in attendance before the fight. The others were never shown on-camera, but they were all there. The PPV is estimated to have done 1.8 million buys and grossed a record $103 million, which are numbers that WWE can only dream of. Prior to the PPV, Rock co-hosted a pre-show party with guests such as Halle Berry and Britney Spears.
NEXT WEDNESDAY: Steve Austin accused of abusing Debra, much more on that situation and Austin's walkout, Jesse Ventura not running for re-election, Rock wrestles in Hawaii, and more...
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Opening Day 2020: Crowd Noise Not Included - Happy Opening Day! I made a playlist using only songs from MLB's Walk-Up Music Database.

Opening Day 2020: Crowd Noise Not Included - Happy Opening Day! I made a playlist using only songs from MLB's Walk-Up Music Database.
Opening Day 2020: Crowd Noise Not Included
Last week I was watching an intrasquad game between the Tigers and the Tigers when I heard a song I didn't recognize begin to play when Christin Stewart came to the plate. I still don't know what song it was, but I did stumble across the MLB Walk-Up Music Database.
Opening Day is an incredible day in Detroit, even during a rebuild. Unfortunately, 2020 won't let us have nice things, but I still wanted to put together a playlist to mark the occasion. This year, I decided to use only songs from the MLB Walk-Up Music Database. I didn't expect to find any deep cuts, though there were actually a few (Gangstarr ft. Inspectah Deck - Above the Clouds), but that was alright because Opening Day parties tend to attract a fairly diverse crowd and any playlists for today should prioritize crowd pleasers over indieheads favorites.
Before we get to the tracks, I just want to point out that the database has not been updated to reflect current rosters, so you'll still see Josh Donaldson on the Braves and players that have opted out appear as well.
It's worth noting that I went through the database in alphabetical order by team, so when Archie Bradley and Lewis Brinson both have Jay-Z's Public Service Announcement listed I attributed it to Bradley. This does slightly skew the total number of songs by each team in favor of teams closer to the beginning of the alphabet, but with the exception of a few songs that appeared often there were not as many duplicates as I expected.
This is not every song listed in the database. Nor did I listen to every song in the database. I've got a pretty eclectic taste in music, but a lot of that goes out the window when limiting yourself to a certain catalog of songs. That being said, Latin music is one genre I'll freely admit I'm not altogether too familiar with. When I saw a Latin artist appear over and over, or something like an album cover or track title caught my attention I gave them a listen. You'll definitely find more Latin tracks here (9) than country (0). While I love outlaw and classic country music, you'll find next to none of that in the database and the country I did come across isn't my taste.
My main goal was to make a playlist full of songs that appealed to the widest range of fans. That being said, I did try to keep my opening day crew in mind, and I still had to at least somewhat enjoy the song. Two artists, Post Malone and Travis Scott, appeared quite a bit in the database, but because they don't move the needle for me personally, you won't find them on the playlist. That's not to say that I excluded all trap. I've personally watched Trap Queen get a party started so Erick Fedde's walk-up song makes the cut.

I think a great walk-up song is something that gets the crowd excited, is still somewhat unique, and of course appeals to my personal taste. While not necessarily my favorite songs on the playlist, below are my three favorite choices for walk-up songs:
  1. Kyle Schwarber: Thuggish Ruggish Bone - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
  2. Steven Brault: Come Down - Anderson .Paak
  3. Shohei Ohtani: Gettin' It - Too $hort

A few observations and highlights:

Two teams don't have any players' walk-up songs making the cut. With the Red Sox, I could have worked in X Gon' Give It To Ya, or Petty's I Won't Back Down, but early on (Boston being one of the first teams I went through) I didn't feel either really fit the playlist I was going for. In retrospect, both probably work. However, this did open it up for me to include the first of a few cheat songs. Opening Day is too fun to leave a team out, so to make up for the lack of Red Sox tunes, and knowing everybody loves MVP Baseball 2005, I decided to include Tessie by Dropkick Murphys.
Other cheat songs: or *'s
  1. Run On by Moby - My original goal was to limit the playlist to a single song for each artist. I didn't make it past Cleveland before I decided to break this rule. So when I got to the White Sox, I already had a J Cole song and a Kanye Song. Luckily, MLB game winner, Ryan Burr, had a great Johnny Cash song, God's Gonna Cut You Down, listed as his walk-up song. Knowing Moby's Run On relies heavily on a sample of this song, I decided to get creative. This was the closest country came to making the playlist.
  2. Back Into Time by Nightmares on Wax - This pick is inspired by Steven Matz. Of course he has Steve Miller's original version of Fly Like an Eagle listed. While the original is a great song, I'm choosing to be a bit selfish here and put on my favorite version. Personally I find this one a bit more fun, and I don't care for the outro at the end of Miller's version.
  3. Da Rockwilder by Method Man and Redman - Here I got the loosest with my rules. Miguel Sano actually has a Redman deep cut Let Da Monkey Out listed in the database. I would have loved to throw this on, but unfortunately it's unavailable on Spotify. There is a live version, it just doesn't sound great in my opinion. Da Rockwilder is Jim Thome coming off the bench to pinch hit.
  4. Bennie and the Jets by Elton John - Ben Zobrist may be the only player to walk up to a song performed by their spouse. No, one of the most versatile players in the league isn't married to Elton John, but rather Julianna Zobrist. Mrs. Zobrist, with Sir Elton's blessing, covers this classic from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I didn't include the cover version for a couple of reasons, the nicest being that her version isn't available on Spotify.
  5. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix - To be fair, James Pazos has the equally great "Voodoo Chile" listed in the database, but no song brought down Comerica Park quite like this spacier, faster version when Joel Zumaya came charging in from the bullpen, and that's the version you'll find here.
  6. Welcome to the Show by J Dilla - Sign me to the Astros because I've cheated again. Pete Alonso has a Cody Johnson track listed by the same name, but it doesn't make sense for this playlist and again country music does not get a call up to the show. I love baseball, but I'm a Tigers fan first. We're coming off a 114-loss season; I saw a chance to work in a Detroit connection and you're just going to have to let me have this one.
  7. Valley of the Dolls by Santigold - Unfortunately, Yan Gomes' actual pick Brooklyn Go Hard by Jay-Z and Santigold isn't available on Spotify. I've tried to keep the cheating to a minimum, but this playlist is seriously lacking in female voices and if I get a chance to work Santigold into a mix then I'm going to take it.

Other notable tracks:
  1. Vivimo Caro by Jose Reyes - Yep, that Jose Reyes. At first I thought Ketel Marte had to be the only All-Star in baseball walking up to a song recorded by a former batting champ. Nope, Acuña also walks up to a Reyes track. Though he has yet to release a complete album, that didn't stop a slew of players from trying to channel the 4x all-star through their walk-up song.
  2. Jalapeño by El Alfa - Gregory Soto and Robinson Cano share the wildest song on this playlist. In fact, it inspired me to install a new Opening Day tradition. Everytime this song comes up at your opening day tailgate do a shot of habanero-infused tequila. Seriously, it's incredibly easy to make and you still have time to get it ready for your socially distanced get together. Take six habaneros and halve them lengthwise. Combine the peppers and a fifth of blanco tequila (Anything is fine, just make sure it's 100% agave - I like Lunazul) in a glass jar and let sit for one hour. Using a funnel, strain the teuila through a fine-mesh sieve back into the bottle.
  3. Rest in Peace (Undertaker Theme) by Jim Johnston - Hansel Robles gets my pick for most creative pick. I love the idea of him coming to the plate to the same track the Undertaker uses to enter the ring.
  4. Going the Distance (From Rocky) by Bill Conti - Does it slow down the playlist? Absolutely. Does a cut from the Rocky score deserve a spot on this playlist? Again, absolutely. I thought about putting Puff Daddy's Victory here, because it samples the Conti piece, but I've had a lot of fun putting together this playlist and this song only adds to that fun.
  5. Above the Clouds by Gang Starr- Pitching in the A.L. last year, Adam Plutko only came to the plate twice, but he wanted everybody in the stands to know he was a hip-hop head. I used to live between two bars in Detroit; one, I now tailgate behind on Opening Day and I used to shoot pool in the other while Gang Starr played on the Jukebox. Easy pick here.
  6. Touch the Sky by Kanye West - With five tracks and a feature, Kanye appears the most on this playlist. Once I decided to break the rules, I fully expected Kanye to end up with a little black ink. I'm choosing to highlight Ian Desmond's walk-up song because he had one of the most important responses to all things 2020. I'm only too happy to find a way to work him into the season.
  7. Chambea by Bad Bunny - By the time I got to the Cubs, I had already seen the name Bad Bunny pop up a handful of times. It would have been a huge disservice to my former fantasy MVP Javier Baez if I chose to continue skipping over the name Bad Bunny. Additionally, Bad Bunny shows up again because my favorite player, and happiest player in baseball Miguel Cabrera, is also a fan and his song goes in by default. My in-laws are Mexican, and after taking the Triple Crown in flip cup (Wins, flip percentage, "whooos") prima Tina will inevitably start requesting Mexican music. This year, I got you Tina. The best part about having Mexican family is Fiesta Tigres or as I like to call it, Opening Day 2: Boogaloo Eléctrico.
  8. Work to Do by The Isley Brothers - Color me surprised, I did not take the Canadian born future hall of famer to be a fan of The Isley Brothers. It's a jam and I've always been a big fan of Votto so this easily makes the mix.
  9. Oh No (What You Got) by Justin Timberlake - I wasn't familiar with this song, but that is an unmistakable Timbaland beat and this Justin Turner pick fits well on an Opening Day playlist.
  10. Word Up by Cameo - Word Up can be fun, but it's mostly included here because I'll use any excuse to bring up how amazing of a person Curtis Granderson is. He will always be a Tigers favorite, and by all accounts he's well loved by both New York fanbases, surely a rare feat.
  11. Ignition Remix by R. Kelly - The argument of separating the man from the music is always interesting. As far as I know, though I haven't followed it that closely, R. Kelly has not been convicted of the sexual crimes which he has been accused. If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me. What he's been accused of is fucking disgusting, but for now, this Kyle McGrath pick makes the list. In light of his recent anti-semitic social media posts, this is probably a good time to point out that Ice Cube's Friday also appears on the playlist courtesy of Taijuan Walker.
  12. Got to Give it Up (Pt. 1) by Marvin Gaye - If you're having a party and this song isn't on your playlist are you really having a party? Delino DeShields and his teammate Joey Gallo really help this playlist take shape with this track and three others (Pony, No Diggity, Hip Hop Hooray). All four are the exact type of song you want for a crowd pleasing Opening Day playlist.
  13. Go Head by Gucci Mane - In my first Detroit loft, my upstairs neighbor would come home, crank up the Gucci Mane and throw coins all over her floomy ceiling. In the mornings she would rip farts so loud they still echo in my ears. This one's for you. Sadly, this was Gordon Beckham's biggest hit in 2019.
  14. K.R.I.T. Here by Big K.R.I.T. - I did not expect to see my favorite song of 2019 show up in the database, so this Brian Goodwin selection definitely qualifies as notable for me.
  15. Rubber Band Man by T.I. - This was the hardest choice to make; do I choose between the radio edit or the album version with the over one-minute long outro. Where Joe Kelly's pick, Snoop's Lay Low, gets a pass thanks to the rule that states you can never have enough Nate Dogg hooks on a playlist, this outro skit is too long and therefore the radio edit finds its way onto the playlist.
  16. Tops Drop by Fat Pat - I don't even have to look it up; if Robbie Grossman didn't grow up in Texas I'll eat my cleat.
  17. Down for My Niggaz by C-Murder - When Dalton Pompey steps to the plate at Rogers Centre, I'm going to assume they play the instrumental. No way there is a section of this song that is crowd friendly. Works like magic for me in the Nemo's parking lot.
  18. Stone Love by Pepper - Jordan Luplow has two songs listed in the database, this one, and a Wiz Khalifa track. Luplow can come smoke at my tailgate anytime. Likewise, including 311 and Rebelution might blow the cover for some in my crew, but getting blowed is another great American pastime.
  19. Icky Thump by White Stripes - In Detroit, Alex Avila walked up to The Black Keys' I Got Mine, so he clearly has an affinity for late 2000s blues rock. Despite his best efforts, it seems Jack White cannot escape being forever tied to his rock rivals from Ohio. Forever a fan favorite, maybe Avila just misses Detroit, so I'm a big fan of the White Stripes pick here.
  20. Bridge Burning by Foo Fighters - I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my cousin James who puts together our entire opening day party. He's a huge Foo Fighters fan, so this one is for you cuzzo. Many thanks to Dan Otero.
  21. Enter Sandman by Metallica - Thanks to Mariano Rivera, Enter Sandman is forever an iconic baseball song and thus a great song for this playlist. Here it shows up courtesy of Danny Salazar.
  22. Brother Louie by Stories - Luis Guillorme gets a ton of credit for picking a song that works in his name. Either that or he's a huge Louis C.K. fan. I bet this one is a lot of fun at Citi Field.
  23. We Will Rock You by Queen, Breathe by The Prodigy, Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine - Liam Hendriks walks up to a mashup of these three with some Skrillex added just for fun. Nobody bats a 1.000, but 3/4 ain't bad.

Back of the card stats

In total there are 158 songs ready to soundtrack more than 10 hours of your Opening Day.
I kept the genres simple:
Genre Number of Songs
Electronic 6
Latin 9
Other 2
R&B 14
Rap 80
Reggae 6
Rock 41

I know you’re curious, I counted Ohtani as a pitcher.
I've read that some hitters get so in the zone that they really don't pay attention to their walk-up music. Perhaps this explains the greater number of pitchers that appeared in the database. They come to the plate far less, sometimes just a handful of times, and therefore give a lot of thought to their walk-up music.
Least unique songs: These songs that made the playlist roster appeared in the database for multiple players. Players not listed first were excluded from the by position data.
Song Players
Thunderstruck by AC/DC Mark Melancon, AJ Minter, Tim Melville, Caleb Smith
Return of the Mack by Mark Morrison Merrill Kelly, Mark Morrison, Aaron Hicks, Adam Eaton
Going Bad by Meek Mill Christin Stewart, Brandon Crawford, Patrick Corbin
Chambea by Bad Bunny Javier Baez, Joe Jiménez, Pablo Sandoval
Fireman by Lil Wayne Josh James, Kenyan Middleton, Matt Bush
God's Plan by Drake Amir Garrett, Miguel Rojas, Boog Powell
Jalapeño by El Alfa Gregory Soto, Robinson Cano, Victor Robles
Cochise by Audioslave Anthony Swarzak, Zack Weiss, Zack Wheeler: It's a Zack thing.
No Diggity by Blackstreet Joey Gallo, Adam Eaton
Alive (Nightmare) by Kid Cudi and Ratatat Peter Lambert, Adam Ottavino
Can't Stop by Red Hot Chili Peppers TJ McFarland, Alex Wood
Vivimo Caro by Jose Reyes Ketel Marte, Amed Rosario
E.I. by Nelly Max Muncy, Devin Williams
Attention Span by Rebelution Rhys Hoskins, Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Middle Child by J. Cole Max Fried, Jace Fry: If only old Pete Fries were still around.
What's My Name by Snoop Dogg Scott Alexander, Jay Guerra
Grindin' by Clipse Jake Cave, Jesse Chavez
'Till I Collapse by Eminem Sam Howard, Justin Verlander
Public Service Announcement by Jay-Z Archie Bradley, Lewis Brinson
Shut Up by Trick Daddy Yonder Alonso, Manny Machado
Yo Le Llego by J Balvin Yonathan Daza, Orlando Arcia
Humble by Kendrick Lamar Tyler Olson, Robert Gsellman
Money in the Grave by Drake Jake Bauers, Robinson Cano
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica Ryan Tepera, Sean Doolittle
Seven Nation Army by White Stripes Seunghwan Oh, Stephen Strasburg
Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin Noah Syndergaard, Will Myers
Opening Day Roster: With only two games on the docket I wanted to add one more. Below are the rosters for the Jukebox Heroes and the Bad Hop Boppers. The Jukebox heroes are made up of players that had my favorite song at each position while the BHP roster has the best remaining player at each position. Naturally, (First base) I had to make the Jukebox Heroes first to at least keep the rosters competitive. This is why you'll find Scherzer on the favorite song roster despite being the best pitcher in the database. Lucky for the home team, I'm an Outkast fan. I also excluded players that weren't regulars, had a negative war, or were now playing in Korea. This is why you won't find Josh Rojas, and Adam Jones patrolling the outfield next to Brian Goodwin. And this is why you won't see Khris Davis penciled in at the DH. In the end, this really helped balance the rosters; especially considering the noticeable drop off in arm talent once Scherzer is removed from the pool. Sneaking Schwarber in behind the dish didn't hurt either. He played one game there in 2019, and I'll use him here to play the first game of 2020.

Position Jukebox Heroes VS Bad Hop Boppers
P Max Scherzer Max Fried
C Kyle Schwarber Mitch Garver
1B Brandon Belt Pete Alonso
2B Ryan McMahon Max Muncy
3B Josh Donaldson Miguel Sano
SS Dansby Swanson Francisco Lindor
LF Tommy Pham Joey Gallo
CF Delino DeShields Ketel Marte
RF Brian Goodwin Bryce Harper
DH Justin Turner Trevor Story
Who you got?
Have a fantastic Opening Day! I can't believe baseball is actually here.
submitted by portopinto to baseball [link] [comments]

For those curiuous about RT and especially Achievement Hunter after today's news, here's a sort-of-quick rundown.

Hope this is OK to post here, if not mods let me know and I'll take it down.
edit: Just realized someone should post something like this to the RT subreddit, bet it'd do well too! I think there's a lot of crossover appeal. Just a thought.
Someone on the RT subreddit recommended the Yogscast to me in one of the AH TTT video threads. I had vaguely heard of them but had never seen any of their stuff. Thanks to lockdown I've caught up on a lot of stuff and the 'lore' and inside jokes to a degree and really like the Yogscast but wish someone had made a sort of 'beginner's guide' since they had been around so long. Some people here may not know Achievement Hunter or RT that well so I thought why not? I'll make an AH guide for incoming fans of the Yogscast! If you don't know Rooster Teeth - probably an easier way to introduce them to a new audience is to focus on Achievement Hunter as they're the arm of RT that most closely resembles the Yogscast.
Geoff Laser Ramsey: Co-founder of RT and later co-founder of AH. No longer an active part of AH as he's taken a bigger role as part of RT's core group but will still show up here and there. Yes, Laser is his actual middle name. Has a lot of tattoos, used to be a heavy drinker but is now sober, he's like if your dad was Punk Rock.
Jack Patillo: Other co-founder of AH, he's got a beard and he's fat. He's the funniest un-funny guy in the room. Part of "Team Same Voice" with Ryan, and if you listen to them argue you will see why. Massive backseat gamer which you'll hear reference to if you hear someone say "Uh-oh, 'Let's watch' Jack is here". Kind of a hipster, but from what I've heard that describes most of Austin, Texas which is where they're located. He collects vinyl records.
Ryan Haywood: The other half of "Team Same Voice" (seriously you'll have some trouble when you first start watching) - he's a big fan of "Learn by doing". Probably the most technically sound member of AH, from an IT standpoint. He's also the Mad King and will kill video game animals for the hell of it. In Minecraft for years he had a cow named Edgar trapped in a glass-topped basement. Despite this he's a loving father and cares about real life animals, his wife is a vet. Some say he's still in the air.
Ray Narvaez Jr.: RIP. (actually left to do Twitch solo, but the joke is he's dead)
Michael Jones: He's not called Mike. New Jersey-style rage. Will eat anything. Lactose Intolerant. This all seems random and unnecessary information but yet somehow it'll make sense if you watch. Can't stand things being messy which make me wonder how he keeps sane in the AH office. Loves McDonalds and fast food in general. Him and Gavin are each other's boi.
Gavin Free: Ever hear of the Slo-Mo Guys on youtube? Then you know Gavin, except he sounds far stupider on AH. He's the token British guy, and thus some British slang has actually made it's way to the mostly US based crew like 'gubbins' and 'all over the gaff'. Known for asking some of the dumbest pseudo-philisophical questions ever. Was the subject of a musical number where AH's editing crew dressed up in church gospel robes and sang a gospel song where they simply repeated the words "Gavin is a prick... whoaaaaoaoaoaoh". Gets farted on by people non-consentually.
Jeremy Dooley: He's a Southie (South Boston, MA) transplanted to Texas. He's short. He's a musician and surprisingly good at rapping. Says 'hap', 'tap', and 'pap' at times in sequence when frustrated or tooling around (this started as an impersonation of behind-the-scenes RT co-founder Joel Heyman but then kinda became it's own thing). Former RT superfan, now he works there. He's good friends with and absolutely not the superhero named Rimmy Tim. Obsessed with the color combination purple and orange. Can consume far too much alcohol. Very muscular and used to be a gymnast. He took Ray's spot. If you need someone to do a dare and Michael's not around, you get Jeremy. He's kind of my favorite as we grew up in the same area so he's relatable in that way.
Lindsay Jones - Formerly Lindsay Tuggy and Michael's wife. Used to actually be the Boss of AH after Geoff stepped down, but then stepped down herself so she could focus on her and Michael's kids. She's the Wild Card and is proud of it. She will fuck up the entire let's play for a laugh. Did someone get RDM'd in a TTT game? Probably Lindsay. Is someone going backward on a GTAV race in order to smash into people? Definitely Lindsay.
Trevor Collins: Current boss of AH, on screen personality. Very even keeled and kind of ends up playing the straight man to other AH members' goofiness. Has a degree in rocket science, but somehow he's here. Generally very humble, chill dude.
Alfredo Diaz: a.k.a. The Sauce. He's Trevor's twin despite them being of different ethnicities. He's the most pro-gamer of the group and has legit won e-sports tournaments. While funny, he tends to be around when the team needs someone so they can 'git gud'. If someone's sniping and it isn't Fiona, it's probably Fredo.
Matt Bragg: Former editor now on-screen personality. Eats like absolute garbage but doesn't gain weight or have diabetes. Is the main target for Moonball attacks (this isn't a video game thing, I mean literal hard, bouncy balls being thrown at him). If he's playing a game with Jack, he will try to kill Jack. He's a Shark Mage. Pretty sure he exists on a diet of entirely doughnuts.
Fiona Nova: Newest member of the team, kind of controversial in the fandom which is sad. She grew up in France and New York, is biracial and openly queer sooooo the internet has a few people that really don't like her. She has quick wit and at the start it took a bit for her to hit her stride but now is very good especially in TTT where her and Gavin have this weird trust issue/total trust thing going on. They'll either KOS each other or have each other's backs without fail. If someone is sniping successfully and it isn't Fredo, it's Fiona.
For some reason, AH got obsessed with there being 'teams' within the group. I mentioned one in "Team Same Voice" which is a good example but you'll hear these mentioned a lot without a lot of background on how or why. Thankfully XaniDubia on DeviantArt made a handy graphic for this:
The chart
These get referenced a fair bit, so it helps to know who is talking about who when a team gets said.
Good lord, there's a lot of these. AH has been around since 2008 so naturally they've piled up. However some are far more dormant than others so here's references you'll likely here in modern content:
MOONBAH~!: Moonballs are these hard rubber balls with large divots. It is fair play, as long as you call "MOONBAH~!" to chuck one off a wall as hard as you want and cause physical chaos with it. There is a spot marked on one wall specifically to note the best angle to throw one to hit Matt Bragg especially.
Buhhhket: When the word bucket is said it will often be changed to this pronunciation. The whole reason is when Superfan Jeremy Dooley joined AH, he would say this as a reference to an ooooold minecraft episode where Gavin asked to get a bucket and had a bit of a brain fart and said it like this. Jeremy and his friends thought it was hilarious, no one in AH remembered it. However, now it's a running joke on screen.
"You and your friends are dead": The two old men (Michael and Jeremy in creepy old men masks) don't share their buffalo chicken with people that beat them at card games. This came from an episode of Let's Roll where they played Batman Love Letter and turned into a running gag if Michael or Jeremy are about to take someone out in a game.
Gavin gets mugged: Is it a GTA video that's not a race and Gavin's in it? He's getting mugged. Bet on it.
"Hap tap pap": Jeremy's mindless and/or frustrated rambling noises. It's shockingly flexible in use and hard to describe, but you'll hear this.
"Million Dollars, but...": This became it's own web series and card game, but basically Gavin gets bored in Minecraft and will come up with ridiculous hypothetical scenarios and ask if the others if they'd do it for a Million bucks. Example: "Ryan, Million Dollars, but in order to blink your eyes you have to touch your bellend?"
Garbo... man/lady/tot/lad/-sassin/... aaaand WEBBY!: So, one year as a joke on Cyber Monday sales, someone who totally wasn't Michael in a trashbag with giant googly-eyes on it announced "Garbo Tuesday". A 1% off sale. Later in an episode where gang played Worms the Garbo family was introduced making Garboman a recurring joke character. Ryan named his worms team after the 'Garbo Family' but only made 5 Garbo names instead of 6. The sixth worm was named Webby who is now canonically the Garbo family's pet (dead) spider.
Out in the Grapes: The rare 'forced meme that worked' - during a GTA video Trevor got lost and kept frantically saying he was "Out in the Grapes" meaning in the vineyards. The group basically made it a mission to make that phrase mean "I'm lost and have no idea where I am"
There's so many more but this should be enough to keep you kind of clued in as you absorb more of their madness.
So, you read all this drivel and are curious about these guys that are starting to collab with the Yogscast. Where to start? Well know that AH kind of has two channels on Youtube - Achievement Hunter and Let's Play. You may have noticed that the collab with Gavin/Fiona called out AH, and the one with Ryan/Jack called out LP. Let's Play was supposed to be a more varied 'a bunch of the partners on this channel' sort of thing but no one really joined in. So they have two channels.
There are three 'main' series that are weekly - Minecraft, GTA Online and more recently due to it's popularity: GMOD TTT. Like ThatMadCat, there are multiple people that do AH compilation videos and if that's your style that's one way to go. AH do their own yearly comps as well which are good, but if you want to just jump in with an episode (beyond the collabs already done)...
AH Animated A great way to get some of the best of their work in cute animated snippet form. The oldest one "Gavin explains the 'Star War'" is a must, and I imagine would give Zoey fits if she watched it.
Achievement Hunter Throwdown It's a rap battle and a quick way to get to know the personality of the core 6 members fast (Geoff, Jack, Ryan, Michael, Gavin, Jeremy)
Uno: The Movie The title isn't lying. This is a 2 hour, 44 minute marathon of a single game of Uno. AH gets stubborn, and someone was getting to 500 points. The exact filming date is also immortalized as it took place during election day 2016. For a long time, this was the highest rated comedy movie on IMDB and I'm not even joking about that. This is the only AH video I can think of that people have made their own "Best of:" videos about, from a single upload. A lot of AH fans including myself have watched this start-to-finish a lot of times. More times than we'd care to admit.
YDYD Season 1 part 1 Ya Dead, Ya Dead. Minecraft hardcore mode featuring AH members. Season 1... doesn't last long.
Sky Factory 3 ep. 1 They also did SF4 later on but this is probably the more iconic series.
GTA V Criminal Masterminds This is where Bum Cheese comes from. That's not a crude joke, there's Bum Cheese merch.
GTA V: Slug Life Ain't Easy GTA Races and special game modes are very popular videos of theirs as well, this is a good example of an Overtime Rumble game. Matt Bragg is surprisingly good at these.
Achievement Hunter: The Musical As an Extra Life charity stream stretch goal, AH: The Musical was promised back in 2017 (I Think?). In 2019 a video went up called "GTA V: Jack Bag 8", Jack Bag being where Jack makes up GTA game playlists for the gang to play. Instead it was steathily the musical. "Lindsay Wins" slaps, don't @ me.
submitted by ABPositive03 to Yogscast [link] [comments]

2020 NFL Draft Review FINAL - AFC West + links to all divisions - Analysis and Career Predictions for Each Team's Draft Class

The AFC West is the final division in the 2020 NFL Draft review series. Catch up on the other installments of this 2020 NFL Draft review series with the NFC West, AFC South, NFC South, AFC East, NFC East, AFC North, and NFC North.
Every year after the draft, I write a way-too-long review of each team’s draft. The purpose of this draft review is to give predictions for the careers of each team’s drafted players. I’ve watched film of each player I’m commenting on. Draft grades are overly optimistic and unrealistic. Unlike the majority of post-draft coverage out there, I will pick busts. Keep in mind that 23.4% of all first-round picks bust.
Let me preface this by saying: predicting the career of an NFL draft pick is a ridiculous exercise. There is so much unknown that goes into whether a player succeeds or fails at the next level. I can make educated guesses based on team situation, supporting cast, and research about the prospect’s character and work ethic, but there’s a reason teams make so many mistakes every year. You simply don’t know for sure how a player will react to being a pro. Injuries are also a huge factor in the fate of a player and impossible to predict accurately. Nevertheless, this is a fun exercise and gives us a chance to review how each team approached the draft.

Overview

Before we start, here are some of my general thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft.
Quickly on the broadcast - they did a great job given the circumstances. The production quality was great and they did more actual analysis than usual. My main gripe with draft coverage every year is that they don’t show incredible highlights (they somehow didn’t show the Aaron Dobson catch in 2013). This year, they showed more footage of actual football and I appreciated that. The only two negatives for me were the constant tragic stories and Booger McFarland.
Oh, and if any poor soul bet on Justin Jefferson Under 21.5 draft position, ESPN should apologize to you. They showed him on the phone celebrating right before cutting to Goodell announcing the 21st pick - Jalen Reagor to the Eagles. Jefferson was of course on the phone with the Vikings, who took him at 22. Brutal beat.
As for the draft, remember this tweet about mock drafts being “wronger” than ever? Funny, this was probably the chalkiest first-round ever in the internet age. Nothing was truly shocking to me, including the Packers trading up for Jordan Love (more on that here). I had Damon Arnette in the first round in my first mock draft this draft season. I wrote an article lauding Jordyn Brooks as an undervalued commodity. Noah Ibinoghene going in the first was surprising, I suppose. But there was no Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 or Tyson Alualu at No. 10. It speaks to how the media and internet scouts might be catching up to, or God forbid actually influencing the teams.
So here is the next installment of my annual draft review. Each player will receive their career prediction in parentheses following their name. For example: Joe Burrow (5). Here's how the picks break down:
5 – All-Pro: Starter who has performed at an elite level at his position. 4 – Above-Average: Starter who has been among the best at his position. 3 – Solid: Starter or valuable back-up with significant positive production. 2 – Replacement Level: Below-average starter or back-up who made minor contributions. 1 – Bust: Player who didn’t amount to anything positive.
Next up, the AFC West.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders came into the draft with needs at wide receiver and cornerback. They wasted no time addressing those positions and ended up taking two corners and two-and-a-half wide receivers total. I think they aced this draft, but not for the reasons you might think.
Las Vegas opted for speed over production by selecting Henry Ruggs III (3) as the first receiver off the board. Ruggs played a supporting role alongside lead dog Jerry Jeudy at Alabama, but ran a 4.28 at the combine and aced the draft process. His speed popped on film, as he routinely cribbed slants and ran by people in the SEC. Ruggs was lauded for his competitiveness and edge, particularly as a blocker, which directly conflicts with my notes of his film. I noted missed blocks, him getting tossed, and labeled him as “weak.” Perhaps I watched the wrong games or my standards are too high.
As far as receiving the football, Ruggs was fantastic, making highlight diving catches and using his hops to climb the later and show off his above-average hands. There are two major unknowns with Ruggs - how he will deal with being the No. 1 option, and how he will develop as a route-runner. Unfortunately, I do not believe he will live up to his physical attributes. Derek Carr ranked 25th in Air Yards Per Completion last year, and while accurate, has never excelled at utilizing a deep threat. I also have a hard time endorsing a player who was not the number one receiver on his own team to be the number one receiver in a loaded draft class.
At No. 19, the Raiders took Damon Arnette (3), which was a surprise to some. I had Arnette going in the first round in my first mock draft of the year and liked his film more than most. His skillset is that of a quality starting corner, despite unorthodox technique and tendencies. Arnette’s play was up-and-down at Ohio State, in part due to being thrown at so much. He showed weird stances and punches from all different angles and body alignments in press coverage, but generally got the job done.
At the NFL level, if unique individual technique is effective, coaches don’t care. Arnette is more comfortable in press than off and will give up the inside. Most importantly, he can get his head around defending vertical routes in man. He was competitive and alert on film, flying down in run support and showing the necessary swagger and short memory needed from a pro corner. He’s going to get beat, but I like his transition to the league as someone who’s been picked on a bit but kept getting better.
At No. 80, the Raiders took one of my favorite players in the draft in Lynn Bowden Jr (4). Lynn Bowden Jr. played quarterback and receiver at Kentucky and is most known for throwing a punch in a pre-game scuffle before the Belk Bowl. Bowden’s film is that of a grown man with an edge. His receiver film shows nothing in terms of advanced route-running, but his speed absolutely plays and his hands are good enough. His quarterback and returner film shows joystick moves in the open field and elusiveness that rivals Lamb and Shenault. I don’t know if he’s a pro wide receiver (neither do the Raiders), but I’ve seen too many converted quarterbacks have success to bet against his natural football traits. I expect Jon Gruden to use him all over the field and for him to be one of the most explosive swiss army-knife weapons of this generation.
📷
With the very next pick, the Raiders again took one of my favorite players in Bryan Edwards (4) of South Carolina. Edwards was the No. 15 overall player on my board so I obviously loved this pick. Aside from injury concerns and a few miscommunication issues working the boundary with his quarterback, Edwards’ film was outstanding. He’s technically sound with strong hands, tremendous contact balance, evidence of beating press, and great concentration skills. As a physical run-after-catch threat, he’s dynamic and strong. He is the prototype big-bodied NFL receiver in terms of traits, plucking the ball and transitioning as a runner smoothly. I predict he’ll be better than Ruggs. He just needs to get and stay healthy.
I think Tanner Muse (2) can be a special-teamer (tripping up J.K. Dobbins was a gigantic play in the National Semifinal), and John Simpson (3) was a steal. I love mauler guards who fall due to a lack of quickness. Simpson is physical and sometimes dominant in the run game. His stance gives away pass or run, but he can be coached and work on his body to develop into a starting guard.
The Raiders took yet another one of “my guys” in Amik Robertson (4) at pick No. 139. I had Robertson ranked 75th overall and featured him in this article. Robertson is tiny and his film isn’t without flaws, but I am always a proponent of taking players whose main knock is lack of size. I think Robertson will struggle with the brute size and strength of NFL football, and I actually don’t think he’s that fast (didn’t run a 40). But as far as being a pure football player and having coverage instincts and ball skills, Robertson is unbelievable.
Robertson plays big, talks a lot, and backs it up. He jacked up the 6-6 Collin Johnson at the line of scrimmage and almost mossed No. 16 on Texas. He’s able to match everything, has a smooth pedal, and gives up almost no separation in man. Slight jersey tug but disciplined hands play in the league. His production at the college level was unreal - 14 interceptions, 2 blocked kicks, 3 defensive touchdowns, and an onside kick return for a touchdown. I worry about his tackling, but I project him to be one of the best slot cover men in the league.
The Raiders chose to stick with Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, despite having enough draft ammo to move around and take one of the quarterbacks. I loved what they did with most of their picks. Carr now has more weapons and zero excuses. This is a huge year for him.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers came into the draft with primary needs at quarterback and inside linebacker. They addressed those needs in the first round, selecting the No. 3 and No. 8 players on my board.
The madmen did it. They took Justin Herbert (4) at 6. After being inundated with negative Justin Herbert analysis, I went back for a second look at the former Oregon Duck. In terms of college performance, Herbert’s film is reminiscent of recent busts, including Mitchell Trubisky. He lacks ideal anticipation, inexplicably misses some throws, and wasn’t always trusted by his coaching staff. It is also fair to wonder about his transition, coming from a screen-heavy, spread system at Oregon.
However, evaluating NFL prospects is not just about college performance - it’s about projecting traits. Scouting quarterbacks is difficult, and there’s a reason so many teams miss. A lot of times teams fall in love with physical traits such as arm talent and are burned because the player struggles with the complexities, speed, and decision-making difficulty of the NFL game. I believe a critical look at Herbert’s film through the lens of traits-based scouting gets him to potential franchise quarterback level worthy of a high pick. Like with all prospects, his ultimate NFL fate will come down to a lot of surrounding and unknown factors such as situation, coaching, and intangibles. I will pick my No. 3 overall prospect to succeed. His traits are that of a franchise quarterback and his intelligence and athleticism will help his transition.
Arm talent, throwing on the run, short-level accuracy, ball handling, and mobility make Justin Herbert the complete package in terms of traits. He poorly placed just one throw under five yards in the games I watched. He has good footwork, touch, and excels with play-action. The translatable trait that makes me confident is his ability to look like the best player on the field in the face of pressure. Herbert can move around and deliver strikes on the run or simply use his legs as a weapon. He also showed the ability to go through full-field "rainbow" reads. Players with his running ability can afford to not be the most accurate passers in the world. He showed off his rushing skills in the Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin.
I understand the negatives, but with good coaching, I think Herbert can develop into a franchise quarterback as a mix between Josh Allen and Cam Newton.
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After selecting their quarterback at 6, the Chargers traded up for the best inside linebacker in the draft in Kenneth Murray (5). Murray had a productive and storied career at Oklahoma, displaying all the traits of a great pro off-ball linebacker for the Sooners. His speed and instincts make him a sideline to sideline threat, and he has the strength on contact of a thumper. His tackling technique is terrific, pointing to his ability to be coachable. He’s a little out of control at times, but he’s better than Devin White. The move up was worth it.
The Chargers want to bring Justin Herbert along slowly, and will look to make the playoffs with Tyrod Taylor as the starter. The surrounding talent is enough to take them there. With young stud defenders at all three levels, the Bolts just need to build an offensive line and add weaponry for Herbert to compete with the Chiefs in a few years.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos came into the draft with a clear plan - get Drew Lock some weapons. To say they achieved their goal would be an understatement. Their haul included my No. 7 overall player and my No. 1 tight end.
Jerry Jeudy (5) suffered from some prospect fatigue as analysts scrambled to poke holes in his game. While most of his success did come from the slot at Alabama, it’s not like his traits don’t translate to the outside. In Denver, Jeudy can man the slot primarily, whereas if he went to the Jets he may have had to learn an entirely new position. The only question about Jeudy is whether or not Drew Lock is good enough to allow him to reach his extremely high ceiling.
Jeudy has amazing quickness, length, and top-notch speed, but is known most for being an outstanding route-runner. He is the best route-runner I have ever scouted in college. He understands the nuances of changing speeds, is quick with a plan, and shows an uncommon ability to separate that surely translates to the pro game. He’ll be a star if Drew Lock proves to be competent.
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With their second pick, the Broncos doubled down on wide receiver with K.J. Hamler (2) of Penn State. Hamler is the prototypical deep threat and an excellent complement to Jeudy and Courtland Sutton in theory. He might be too small for the NFL, but his college film shows route-running ability on slot fades and out routes that rival most pros. His main weaknesses are due to his lack of size, as he struggles in contested catch situations and is dominated by strength in terms of ball security.
Hamler made a couple of tremendous sliding catches but does not display much in terms of hands an almost exclusively body-catcher. It’s a common misconception that receivers are never taught to catch with their body as coaches will teach it in certain situations. Hamler can succeed in the NFL, but there are too many mouths to feed in Denver for him to be more than a situational deep threat.
Michael Ojemudia (2) has the athletic profile and size to be a starter, but his film doesn’t show the natural football traits of a pro. He isn’t physical enough and doesn’t show great awareness in zone, letting receivers get behind him.
Lloyd Cushenberry (2) was one of the most overrated prospects in the draft. He’s a classic case of a decorated collegiate who gets overdrafted due to great character. He was beaten badly by the Texas nose tackle and generally lacks balance.
McTelvin Agim (1) was overdrafted as a former five-star recruit who didn’t dominate in the SEC. He has the size and tools to be a rotational defensive lineman, but plays too high and bends at the waist, losing leverage and balance too easily.
Denver's best pick after Jeudy was Albert Okwuegbunam (3). His size/hands mix is rare and his physical ability is special. After last season I thought he’d be a high pick, but he never seemed to put it together. He’s an instant red-zone threat as a project with huge upside.
The draft community is giving high praise to this Broncos class. I think they nailed their first pick but wasn’t overly impressed with the rest of the haul. Denver’s defense is loaded with talented veterans and a returning Bradley Chubb, so Drew Lock’s progress will be an intriguing storyline in the AFC Wild Card race.

Kansas City Chiefs

Congratulations to the Chiefs and their fans on winning the Super Bowl. The World Champs came into the draft without any pressing needs and selected three extremely talented young prospects with their first three picks.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (4) is a perfect fit in Andy Reid’s offense. My No. 2 running back, CEH reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew. His lack of height is a non-issue, if not a positive, as he gives defenders a small target on his way to eluding tacklers and making guys miss. He's short but sturdy. His film against Alabama was inspiring, breaking tackles and moving piles against defenders twice his size. His best trait is his ability as a receiver, showing advanced route-running skills and soft hands. He’s competitive, fiery, and tough.
While he didn’t quite excel against the Georgia pros, he’s going to have so much space with Patrick Mahomes it’s scary. His 4.6 40 shows a lack of ideal long speed, but his ten-yard split was among the best for running backs at the combine. Amazing fit, PPR fantasy points everywhere.
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Willie Gay Jr. (3) has very inconsistent film and character red flags. Andy Reid took a chance on Marcus Peters years ago, who has had a very good pro career. The Chiefs culture should keep Gay on the right track. His film in 2018 was better than 2019, as he had more splash plays and tackled better. In 2019, some of his film showed poor angles and undisciplined missed fits. His speed plays and if he puts in any work at all his floor is a talented special teamer. I think Reid gets the most out of him and he starts at linebacker as a rookie. The burst and pop when he hits people is impressive.
Lucas Niang (3) has a very ugly body, but I liked his film a lot. He has a small lower half and is fat up top, which teams usually don’t like. He can be effective and quick, and has functional strength and movement skills despite his odd shape. I had him at No. 39 on my big board and project him to be a starting right tackle whenever the Chiefs need one. Solid pick.
The Chiefs have the best player in the NFL and a good enough defense. They should be favored to win it all again. The main takeaway from this class is that Andy Reid running backs are fantasy gold and he just got one that fits his scheme perfectly.
That wraps up the 2020 draft review series. Thank you so much for reading. On to 2021!
AFC West article with gifs: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-west/737495
NFC West: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-west/737289
AFC South: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-south/736898
NFC South: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-south/736460
AFC East: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-east/736202
NFC East: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-east/735919
AFC North: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-afc-north/735564?src=cat_feat_9954
NFC North: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-north/734932
submitted by gpngc to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]

Opening Day 2020: Crowd Noise Not Included - Happy Opening Day! I made a playlist using only songs from MLB's Walk-Up Music Database.

Opening Day 2020: Crowd Noise Not Included
Last week I was watching an intrasquad game between the Tigers and the Tigers when I heard a song I didn't recognize begin to play when Christin Stewart came to the plate. I still don't know what song it was, but I did stumble across the MLB Walk-Up Music Database.
Opening Day is an incredible day in Detroit, even during a rebuild. Unfortunately, 2020 won't let us have nice things, but I still wanted to put together a playlist to mark the occasion. This year, I decided to use only songs from the MLB Walk-Up Music Database. I didn't expect to find any deep cuts, though there were actually a few (Gangstarr ft. Inspectah Deck - Above the Clouds), but that was alright because Opening Day parties tend to attract a fairly diverse crowd and any playlists for today should prioritize crowd pleasers over indieheads favorites.
Before we get to the tracks, I just want to point out that the database has not been updated to reflect current rosters, so you'll still see Josh Donaldson on the Braves and players that have opted out appear as well.
It's worth noting that I went through the database in alphabetical order by team, so when Archie Bradley and Lewis Brinson both have Jay-Z's Public Service Announcement listed I attributed it to Bradley. This does slightly skew the total number of songs by each team in favor of teams closer to the beginning of the alphabet, but with the exception of a few songs that appeared often there were not as many duplicates as I expected.
This is not every song listed in the database. Nor did I listen to every song in the database. I've got a pretty eclectic taste in music, but a lot of that goes out the window when limiting yourself to a certain catalog of songs. That being said, Latin music is one genre I'll freely admit I'm not altogether too familiar with. When I saw a Latin artist appear over and over, or something like an album cover or track title caught my attention I gave them a listen. You'll definitely find more Latin tracks here (9) than country (0). While I love outlaw and classic country music, you'll find next to none of that in the database and the country I did come across isn't my taste.
My main goal was to make a playlist full of songs that appealed to the widest range of fans. That being said, I did try to keep my opening day crew in mind, and I still had to at least somewhat enjoy the song. Two artists, Post Malone and Travis Scott, appeared quite a bit in the database, but because they don't move the needle for me personally, you won't find them on the playlist. That's not to say that I excluded all trap. I've personally watched Trap Queen get a party started so Erick Fedde's walk-up song makes the cut.

I think a great walk-up song is something that gets the crowd excited, is still somewhat unique, and of course appeals to my personal taste. While not necessarily my favorite songs on the playlist, below are my three favorite choices for walk-up songs:
  1. Kyle Schwarber: Thuggish Ruggish Bone - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
  2. Steven Brault: Come Down - Anderson .Paak
  3. Shohei Ohtani: Gettin' It - Too $hort

A few observations and highlights:

Two teams don't have any players' walk-up songs making the cut. With the Red Sox, I could have worked in X Gon' Give It To Ya, or Petty's I Won't Back Down, but early on (Boston being one of the first teams I went through) I didn't feel either really fit the playlist I was going for. In retrospect, both probably work. However, this did open it up for me to include the first of a few cheat songs. Opening Day is too fun to leave a team out, so to make up for the lack of Red Sox tunes, and knowing everybody loves MVP Baseball 2005, I decided to include Tessie by Dropkick Murphys.
Other cheat songs: or *'s
  1. Run On by Moby - My original goal was to limit the playlist to a single song for each artist. I didn't make it past Cleveland before I decided to break this rule. So when I got to the White Sox, I already had a J Cole song and a Kanye Song. Luckily, MLB game winner, Ryan Burr, had a great Johnny Cash song, God's Gonna Cut You Down, listed as his walk-up song. Knowing Moby's Run On relies heavily on a sample of this song, I decided to get creative. This was the closest country came to making the playlist.
  2. Back Into Time by Nightmares on Wax - This pick is inspired by Steven Matz. Of course he has Steve Miller's original version of Fly Like an Eagle listed. While the original is a great song, I'm choosing to be a bit selfish here and put on my favorite version. Personally I find this one a bit more fun, and I don't care for the outro at the end of Miller's version.
  3. Da Rockwilder by Method Man and Redman - Here I got the loosest with my rules. Miguel Sano actually has a Redman deep cut Let Da Monkey Out listed in the database. I would have loved to throw this on, but unfortunately it's unavailable on Spotify. There is a live version, it just doesn't sound great in my opinion. Da Rockwilder is Jim Thome coming off the bench to pinch hit.
  4. Bennie and the Jets by Elton John - Ben Zobrist may be the only player to walk up to a song performed by their spouse. No, one of the most versatile players in the league isn't married to Elton John, but rather Julianna Zobrist. Mrs. Zobrist, with Sir Elton's blessing, covers this classic from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I didn't include the cover version for a couple of reasons, the nicest being that her version isn't available on Spotify.
  5. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix - To be fair, James Pazos has the equally great "Voodoo Chile" listed in the database, but no song brought down Comerica Park quite like this spacier, faster version when Joel Zumaya came charging in from the bullpen, and that's the version you'll find here.
  6. Welcome to the Show by J Dilla - Sign me to the Astros because I've cheated again. Pete Alonso has a Cody Johnson track listed by the same name, but it doesn't make sense for this playlist and again country music does not get a call up to the show. I love baseball, but I'm a Tigers fan first. We're coming off a 114-loss season; I saw a chance to work in a Detroit connection and you're just going to have to let me have this one.
  7. Valley of the Dolls by Santigold - Unfortunately, Yan Gomes' actual pick Brooklyn Go Hard by Jay-Z and Santigold isn't available on Spotify. I've tried to keep the cheating to a minimum, but this playlist is seriously lacking in female voices and if I get a chance to work Santigold into a mix then I'm going to take it.

Other notable tracks:
  1. Vivimo Caro by Jose Reyes - Yep, that Jose Reyes. At first I thought Ketel Marte had to be the only All-Star in baseball walking up to a song recorded by a former batting champ. Nope, Acuña also walks up to a Reyes track. Though he has yet to release a complete album, that didn't stop a slew of players from trying to channel the 4x all-star through their walk-up song.
  2. Jalapeño by El Alfa - Gregory Soto and Robinson Cano share the wildest song on this playlist. In fact, it inspired me to install a new Opening Day tradition. Everytime this song comes up at your opening day tailgate do a shot of habanero-infused tequila. Seriously, it's incredibly easy to make and you still have time to get it ready for your socially distanced get together. Take six habaneros and halve them lengthwise. Combine the peppers and a fifth of blanco tequila (Anything is fine, just make sure it's 100% agave - I like Lunazul) in a glass jar and let sit for one hour. Using a funnel, strain the teuila through a fine-mesh sieve back into the bottle.
  3. Rest in Peace (Undertaker Theme) by Jim Johnston - Hansel Robles gets my pick for most creative pick. I love the idea of him coming to the plate to the same track the Undertaker uses to enter the ring.
  4. Going the Distance (From Rocky) by Bill Conti - Does it slow down the playlist? Absolutely. Does a cut from the Rocky score deserve a spot on this playlist? Again, absolutely. I thought about putting Puff Daddy's Victory here, because it samples the Conti piece, but I've had a lot of fun putting together this playlist and this song only adds to that fun.
  5. Above the Clouds by Gang Starr- Pitching in the A.L. last year, Adam Plutko only came to the plate twice, but he wanted everybody in the stands to know he was a hip-hop head. I used to live between two bars in Detroit; one, I now tailgate behind on Opening Day and I used to shoot pool in the other while Gang Starr played on the Jukebox. Easy pick here.
  6. Touch the Sky by Kanye West - With five tracks and a feature, Kanye appears the most on this playlist. Once I decided to break the rules, I fully expected Kanye to end up with a little black ink. I'm choosing to highlight Ian Desmond's walk-up song because he had one of the most important responses to all things 2020. I'm only too happy to find a way to work him into the season.
  7. Chambea by Bad Bunny - By the time I got to the Cubs, I had already seen the name Bad Bunny pop up a handful of times. It would have been a huge disservice to my former fantasy MVP Javier Baez if I chose to continue skipping over the name Bad Bunny. Additionally, Bad Bunny shows up again because my favorite player, and happiest player in baseball Miguel Cabrera, is also a fan and his song goes in by default. My in-laws are Mexican, and after taking the Triple Crown in flip cup (Wins, flip percentage, "whooos") prima Tina will inevitably start requesting Mexican music. This year, I got you Tina. The best part about having Mexican family is Fiesta Tigres or as I like to call it, Opening Day 2: Boogaloo Eléctrico.
  8. Work to Do by The Isley Brothers - Color me surprised, I did not take the Canadian born future hall of famer to be a fan of The Isley Brothers. It's a jam and I've always been a big fan of Votto so this easily makes the mix.
  9. Oh No (What You Got) by Justin Timberlake - I wasn't familiar with this song, but that is an unmistakable Timbaland beat and this Justin Turner pick fits well on an Opening Day playlist.
  10. Word Up by Cameo - Word Up can be fun, but it's mostly included here because I'll use any excuse to bring up how amazing of a person Curtis Granderson is. He will always be a Tigers favorite, and by all accounts he's well loved by both New York fanbases, surely a rare feat.
  11. Ignition Remix by R. Kelly - The argument of separating the man from the music is always interesting. As far as I know, though I haven't followed it that closely, R. Kelly has not been convicted of the sexual crimes which he has been accused. If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me. What he's been accused of is fucking disgusting, but for now, this Kyle McGrath pick makes the list. In light of his recent anti-semitic social media posts, this is probably a good time to point out that Ice Cube's Friday also appears on the playlist courtesy of Taijuan Walker.
  12. Got to Give it Up (Pt. 1) by Marvin Gaye - If you're having a party and this song isn't on your playlist are you really having a party? Delino DeShields and his teammate Joey Gallo really help this playlist take shape with this track and three others (Pony, No Diggity, Hip Hop Hooray). All four are the exact type of song you want for a crowd pleasing Opening Day playlist.
  13. Go Head by Gucci Mane - In my first Detroit loft, my upstairs neighbor would come home, crank up the Gucci Mane and throw coins all over her floomy ceiling. In the mornings she would rip farts so loud they still echo in my ears. This one's for you. Sadly, this was Gordon Beckham's biggest hit in 2019.
  14. K.R.I.T. Here by Big K.R.I.T. - I did not expect to see my favorite song of 2019 show up in the database, so this Brian Goodwin selection definitely qualifies as notable for me.
  15. Rubber Band Man by T.I. - This was the hardest choice to make; do I choose between the radio edit or the album version with the over one-minute long outro. Where Joe Kelly's pick, Snoop's Lay Low, gets a pass thanks to the rule that states you can never have enough Nate Dogg hooks on a playlist, this outro skit is too long and therefore the radio edit finds its way onto the playlist.
  16. Tops Drop by Fat Pat - I don't even have to look it up; if Robbie Grossman didn't grow up in Texas I'll eat my cleat.
  17. Down for My Niggaz by C-Murder - When Dalton Pompey steps to the plate at Rogers Centre, I'm going to assume they play the instrumental. No way there is a section of this song that is crowd friendly. Works like magic for me in the Nemo's parking lot.
  18. Stone Love by Pepper - Jordan Luplow has two songs listed in the database, this one, and a Wiz Khalifa track. Luplow can come smoke at my tailgate anytime. Likewise, including 311 and Rebelution might blow the cover for some in my crew, but getting blowed is another great American pastime.
  19. Icky Thump by White Stripes - In Detroit, Alex Avila walked up to The Black Keys' I Got Mine, so he clearly has an affinity for late 2000s blues rock. Despite his best efforts, it seems Jack White cannot escape being forever tied to his rock rivals from Ohio. Forever a fan favorite, maybe Avila just misses Detroit, so I'm a big fan of the White Stripes pick here.
  20. Bridge Burning by Foo Fighters - I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my cousin James who puts together our entire opening day party. He's a huge Foo Fighters fan, so this one is for you cuzzo. Many thanks to Dan Otero.
  21. Enter Sandman by Metallica - Thanks to Mariano Rivera, Enter Sandman is forever an iconic baseball song and thus a great song for this playlist. Here it shows up courtesy of Danny Salazar.
  22. Brother Louie by Stories - Luis Guillorme gets a ton of credit for picking a song that works in his name. Either that or he's a huge Louis C.K. fan. I bet this one is a lot of fun at Citi Field.
  23. We Will Rock You by Queen, Breathe by The Prodigy, Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine - Liam Hendriks walks up to a mashup of these three with some Skrillex added just for fun. Nobody bats a 1.000, but 3/4 ain't bad.

Back of the card stats

In total there are 158 songs ready to soundtrack more than 10 hours of your Opening Day.
I kept the genres simple:
Genre Number of Songs
Electronic 6
Latin 9
Other 2
R&B 14
Rap 80
Reggae 6
Rock 41

I've read that some hitters get so in the zone that they really don't pay attention to their walk-up music. Perhaps this explains the greater number of pitchers that appeared in the database. They come to the plate far less, sometimes just a handful of times, and therefore give a lot of thought to their walk-up music.
Least unique songs: These songs that made the playlist roster appeared in the database for multiple players. Players not listed first were excluded from the by position data.
Song Players
Thunderstruck by AC/DC Mark Melancon, AJ Minter, Tim Melville, Caleb Smith
Return of the Mack by Mark Morrison Merrill Kelly, Mark Morrison, Aaron Hicks, Adam Eaton
Going Bad by Meek Mill Christin Stewart, Brandon Crawford, Patrick Corbin
Chambea by Bad Bunny Javier Baez, Joe Jiménez, Pablo Sandoval
Fireman by Lil Wayne Josh James, Kenyan Middleton, Matt Bush
God's Plan by Drake Amir Garrett, Miguel Rojas, Boog Powell
Jalapeño by El Alfa Gregory Soto, Robinson Cano, Victor Robles
Cochise by Audioslave Anthony Swarzak, Zack Weiss, Zack Wheeler: It's a Zack thing.
No Diggity by Blackstreet Joey Gallo, Adam Eaton
Alive (Nightmare) by Kid Cudi and Ratatat Peter Lambert, Adam Ottavino
Can't Stop by Red Hot Chili Peppers TJ McFarland, Alex Wood
Vivimo Caro by Jose Reyes Ketel Marte, Amed Rosario
E.I. by Nelly Max Muncy, Devin Williams
Attention Span by Rebelution Rhys Hoskins, Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Middle Child by J. Cole Max Fried, Jace Fry: If only old Pete Fries were still around.
What's My Name by Snoop Dogg Scott Alexander, Jay Guerra
Grindin' by Clipse Jake Cave, Jesse Chavez
'Till I Collapse by Eminem Sam Howard, Justin Verlander
Public Service Announcement by Jay-Z Archie Bradley, Lewis Brinson
Shut Up by Trick Daddy Yonder Alonso, Manny Machado
Yo Le Llego by J Balvin Yonathan Daza, Orlando Arcia
Humble by Kendrick Lamar Tyler Olson, Robert Gsellman
Money in the Grave by Drake Jake Bauers, Robinson Cano
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica Ryan Tepera, Sean Doolittle
Seven Nation Army by White Stripes Seunghwan Oh, Stephen Strasburg
Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin Noah Syndergaard, Will Myers
Opening Day Roster: With only two games on the docket I wanted to add one more. Below are the rosters for the Jukebox Heroes and the Bad Hop Boppers. The Jukebox heroes are made up of players that had my favorite song at each position while the BHP roster has the best remaining player at each position. Naturally, (First base) I had to make the Jukebox Heroes first to at least keep the rosters competitive. This is why you'll find Scherzer on the favorite song roster despite being the best pitcher in the database. Lucky for the home team, I'm an Outkast fan. I also excluded players that weren't regulars, had a negative war, or were now playing in Korea. This is why you won't find Josh Rojas, and Adam Jones patrolling the outfield next to Brian Goodwin. And this is why you won't see Khris Davis penciled in at the DH. In the end, this really helped balance the rosters; especially considering the noticeable drop off in arm talent once Scherzer is removed from the pool. Sneaking Schwarber in behind the dish didn't hurt either. He played one game there in 2019, and I'll use him here to play the first game of 2020.

Position Jukebox Heroes VS Bad Hop Boppers
P Max Scherzer Max Fried
C Kyle Schwarber Mitch Garver
1B Brandon Belt Pete Alonso
2B Ryan McMahon Max Muncy
3B Josh Donaldson Miguel Sano
SS Dansby Swanson Francisco Lindor
LF Tommy Pham Joey Gallo
CF Delino DeShields Ketel Marte
RF Brian Goodwin Bryce Harper
DH Justin Turner Trevor Story
Who you got?
Have a fantastic Opening Day! I can't believe baseball is actually here.
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Inheritors of Eschaton, Part 19 - A Fragment of Light

First | Previous
What to say of the Aesvain? I could say they’ve suffered, as if it weren’t obvious to anyone with eyes. I could say that they’re stubborn to a fault, as anyone with ears could learn simply by walking close. I do not wish to bore, however, so I will say that when the last king of Tinem Aesvai learned that Mosatel had been overrun he grabbed his sword and stood to defend the evacuating ships. When the final ship embarked they looked back to see the mortally wounded king set the docks aflame and die laughing as his enemies burned with him. What else is there left to say of the Aesvain, after that?
Tasjadre Ra Novo, Jesa Sagoja: Zhetam Asade
The grasses of the Vidim Vai whispered against the side of the truck as they pressed forward, rising high enough that Mark had climbed into the turret to watch for hazards that might be lurking ahead. Aside from the marks of their passage, the land’s only features were gently-sloping hills with an occasional stand of stunted trees sheltering on their leeward side.
“Seems like it gets real windy here,” Mark shouted down. “See how those trees all bend the same way?”
“Did you think they called it the ‘Land of Wind’ for some other reason?” Jackie asked archly.
“Look, there’s a difference between ‘go fly a kite’ and ‘trees grow sideways’ wind!” he retorted. “Seems like they get the second sort around here.”
Arjun turned from the window to take in their bickering. “At least today is relatively calm,” he said diplomatically. “The terrain around here has very few landmarks to speak of, I imagine it could get somewhat difficult to navigate during a storm.”
“Why is there even a city out here?” Jackie asked, turning to Tasja. “We’re far past the wall.”
Tasja settled back in his seat, looking contemplative. “The city was empty for a long time, or nearly empty,” he replied. “Sjatel is one of the broken cities, abandoned long ago, but as it is relatively close to Tinem Sjocel there have always been those who went to Sjatel to find remnants of the old world. Rare saon draim, gems, precious metals, that sort of thing.”
“Treasure hunters?” Mark said, dropping down from the turret with a grin. “Sounds exciting.”
“Exciting and dangerous,” Tasja said. “The saon draim they find are often incredibly valuable, but others may be like the ones in the vault at the archives. I have heard stories of darkened rooms that burst into fire when exposed to light, trinkets that kill with a touch or seem to do nothing until days later when they kindle a rapid, fatal sickness. The smart hunters only take the gamble once, get their wealth and never return.”
The others exchanged a look. “So it’s a deathtrap,” Mark said. “Back to the original question, why does anyone live there?”
“When Goresje made his expedition through the Vidim Vai he set up a forward base at Sjatel,” Tasja explained. “The presence of the army made the hunters more confident, so they came up in droves. It didn’t take long before others followed to sell food and equipment, and by the time Goresje left there were enough people there for it to take hold. These days the settled area of the city is mostly safe unless you go looking for danger - or, at least, that’s what I’ve read.”
Was mostly safe,” Arjun said grimly. “If it was settled as you described I doubt anyone took the time to make it defensible. That’s likely why they left so easily, they knew it couldn’t be held if the Emperor attacked.”
“Fucking Vumo,” Mark muttered. “For someone who was so proud of his sources he sure left a lot out of our briefing. I swear to God, if he knew about this refugee shit I’m going to toss him off the top of his own damn tower.” He looked at Tasja, annoyed. “Has the old bastard responded yet?”
Tasja shook his head. “Nothing,” he replied, glancing at the portable twinplate Vumo had given him. He had used it to report back on Sjatel’s status directly after they left the gate at Idran Saal, but as of yet there had been no response from the scriptsmiths.
Mark made an irritated noise and moved to climb back into the turret. “What’s the point of sending it with us if they don’t pick up?” he muttered, disappearing through the hatch.
Jackie got up and sat next to Gusje, who did not divert her gaze from the hypnotic blur of grass rushing past the truck. “You okay?” she asked.
“Fine,” Gusje said curtly.
“That doesn’t sound fine,” Jackie retorted, nudging her. “Come on, we have a long drive. You going to look out the window the whole time?”
Gusje turned to stare at her expressionlessly, her face a weary mask. “What do you want me to say?” she asked softly. “What right do I have to complain about anything?”
Jackie frowned. “Is this still about the asolan?” she asked. “You don’t have to-”
“No,” Gusje interjected. “Yes.” She shook her head tiredly. “It’s all the same thing. The cerein, my family, the asolan. Ademen Tacen was all I ever knew, and as much as I loved it there I dreamed about seeing the rest of the world someday, like my father did. Now that I’ve had the chance…”
Jackie nodded sympathetically. “Not like you thought?” she said.
Gusje gave her an anguished look, tears welling in her eyes. “Jackie, I had a perfect life and I never knew,” she whispered. “Even where it isn’t being torn apart Tinem Sjocel is wretched. Filth and hunger, people crowded together in little wooden shacks living their flicker of life and never knowing any better. What were my problems, in comparison?” She shook her head furiously, rubbing at her eyes.
“And now that I finally know what I had it’s gone,” she spat. “I can’t go back to the cerein, and even if I could my family has put themselves at the mercy of the Sjocelym.” Her voice took on a bitter tone. “All that I have left of that life is the asolan, so that I can live and live while the world dies around me.”
The compartment had fallen silent during her tirade, with Tasja and Arjun looking at Gusje with stricken expressions. Jackie raised an eyebrow. “Oh,” she said. “So that’s it.”
Gusje looked up at her dully just in time for Jackie’s fingers to flick her in the center of her forehead. She recoiled to glare at Jackie angrily. “What was that for?” she shouted.
“You’re being stupid,” Jackie said simply, crossing her arms over her chest. “Feeling bad for yourself, not everyone else. The cerein will stay where it is, even if you cannot visit, and your family is safer than you are right now.” Gusje opened her mouth to retort, but Jackie held up a finger before she could speak. The look on Jackie’s face was enough to still the other woman into a discomfited silence.
“I am not finished,” she said firmly. “You just learned that life is not fair, but that you are one of the few that get more than everyone else. What are you going to do with that knowledge? You could feel happy about it, feel sad about it, you could think about how to use your gifts to fix problems - that’s your choice. What you cannot do,” she said, locking eyes with Gusje, “is pity yourself. Pretend that in all of this it’s you who is hurting the most. If you only care about others’ problems for what they make you feel, then you’re making the same mistake as the Sjocelym.”
Gusje stared at her for a few seconds with a profoundly hurt expression before stomping into the rear compartment and slamming the hatch shut. Jackie grimaced but remained where she was, turning to look at nothing in particular out the window.
“That was a bit harsh,” Arjun said chidingly. “For all of her age she’s still fairly sheltered. Ademen Tacen was a poor guide for what she’s facing now, she’s right about that much.”
Jackie looked at him and shook her head. “If she’s focused on her own problems that’s all she’s going to solve,” she said. “Given her position as Tesvaji’s daughter she may not have the luxury of running away or indulging in self-pity. Before this is over she may be in a position where those less fortunate than her will depend on her help - and they’ll need her to fight for them until their problems are fixed, not just hers.”
Arjun frowned. “You’re not giving her much credit,” he said. “She’s a good person.”
“Good, yeah, but mindful?” Jackie sighed. “I’ve just seen too many people taking photos with kids that are all ribs and bloated bellies before proceeding to fuck off back to the States so they can brag about making a difference. Buy a whole plane ticket out to deliver a tenth of its cost in supplies, but sure - they feel better. The pictures from those little trips last a hell of a lot longer than the kids.”
“It’s hardly the same thing,” Arjun protested. “Jackie, I’ve seen my share of misery and hypocrisy too. She’s far from the worst of them.”
“It’s absolutely not the same thing,” she retorted. “If anything it’s more important for her to get it right. You and me, we’re nobody special. But if we manage to make it through this she could be alive for centuries after we kick the bucket, probably as a leader of her people. The sort of person folks count on to do something that matters when the shit hits the fan. If she waits until later to learn that what makes you feel better isn’t always effective, it’ll cost lives.”
“If Tesvaji was here,” she sighed, “he’d probably laugh and flex and have some folksy desert story about a root and a lizard that conveyed the same message without making her hide in the back of the truck.” She shrugged, glancing towards the closed hatch. “But she’s just got us right now, and I love the elderly little shit too much to watch her make that mistake without saying something.”
Arjun gave her an appraising look. “She might hate you for a little while,” he pointed out.
“She might,” Jackie conceded. “But I’ll live.”
Navigating through the rolling, featureless grassland was a fool’s errand, so they hedged their bets by tracking significantly north of the direct route. Near midday on their second day out from Idran Saal they crested a ridge to find that the next hill was a dune spotted by tufts of beach grass, and beyond that the slate-grey waves of the ocean.
The roar of the surf was enough to lift even Gusje out of her funk, and before long they had sighted the outermost limits of Sjatel from around the curve of the bay. Seen from across the water Sjatel was a squat hummock of land that poked out into the bay and spilled in disorganized tendrils away from the shore.
For all that it was a sprawling city, however, the buildings were mere empty shells and half-standing walls. Entire blocks were subsumed by grass-topped dunes and drifts while others still stood tall, empty and silent. Here and there a spire jutted up, although nothing close to the grandeur of the Pillars in Ce Raedhil. Jagged stone shards poked up like discarded nails littering the debris of the city, and almost all sported markers of collapse and decay.
To the south, across Sjatel’s fat peninsular outcrop, they spotted the telltale signs of inhabitation spreading out from the fringe of the city. A squarish fortification had been constructed in a clear spot south of the city using blocks quarried from the crumbled walls behind it. Encircling it was a half-moon arc of newer construction that blended local stone, timber and even some grassy wattle-and-daub huts.
This was the new center of Sjatel, and it teemed with activity. People coursed in masses between the fort and its outbuildings, patching windows over with boards and barricading the gaps between buildings with piles of loose material. Behind the fort itself there was a painstakingly exact cluster of dusky gold tents under a green-on-gold banner that snapped furiously in the wind.
On tacit agreement Jesse navigated them toward the Aesvain soldiers, and it was not long before their arrival spurred panicked motion within the camp. Before they had closed half the distance there was a cadre of troops awaiting them in a cautious phalanx, halberds held ready and helms lowered. Their armor was similar to a Sjocelym lamellar, although the warm sheen of it combined with the enveloping golden cloaks the soldiers wore lent them the impression of arrayed bronze statuary. As the brakes whined and the truck ground to a halt before the troops, one of their number stepped forward to plant the butt of his halberd firmly into the rocky soil.
“Hail, chariot,” he called out. “State your business - and quickly. Your arrival will have stirred the abominations wandering the plain.”
The doors opened and the travelers filed out, spurring hastily indrawn breaths and nervous shuffling among the soldiers when they saw their height. The man who had addressed them merely watched, unmoving. Behind their group soldiers were mobilizing, readying their weapons and moving to form a loose battle line at the periphery of the clearing.
“Uh, hi,” Mark replied. “We were sent here to support the army holding Sjatel.”
A ripple of derisive laughter went through the assembled troops, although it died immediately at a glance from their commander. “You’ve missed them,” he said. “They’ve determined that their presence here’d be redundant and have gone back to Idran Saal.”
“I guess that makes you guys the army holding Sjatel,” Mark replied. “All the same to us, either way.”
Another round of laughter went up from the troops, and this time the commander did not stop it. “You may’ve not noticed,” he said, “but we’re not Sjocelym.”
“Yeah, we figured,” Mark replied wryly. “You may not have noticed, but neither are we.”
“He is,” the commander said, pointing a mailed hand at where Tasja stood half-hidden behind Arjun toying nervously with his twinplate’s carry strap. “Sjocelym and a blood-soaked scriptsmith to boot.”
The soldiers did not laugh. Mark and Jesse exchanged a glance before Mark cleared his throat. “Yeah,” he said. “We picked him up in Sjan Saal. Nice kid. Good with a twinplate, decent tour guide.”
“The Sjocelym left us here and barred their doors to us,” the commander said. “They consigned my people to die in the ashes of their city. We’ll take any help you want to give, if you hand him over to my men.” There was another ripple of laughter, grim and unamused. “Otherwise, you should leave.”
Mark frowned. “That’s a little unfair of you,” he pointed out, looking back at the shivering clerk. “Tasja is just a kid, he never hurt anyone.”
“Scriptsmiths’ red!” the commander roared.
“Is Aesvain blood!” came the cry from his troops.
The commander shrugged, turning to Mark. “We’ve said how it is,” he rumbled. “If you’d see him live, I’d suggest you leave soon. My men-”
Etajhin utii!” a man’s voice cried from the fort. “Utiiva! Jha gor-et!
The men behind the commander immediately broke ranks and charged around the truck to join the line facing the grassland to the south, and as they watched more men streamed from the fort to complete the picket. The commander strode past their group and gave Mark a glare from under his bronzed visor. “E gajh’ad. Don’t disrupt the line,” he said curtly. “You can leave when we’ve dealt with what you awoke.”
He left to join the others before Mark could retort, and soon the clatter of armor faded to silence as the soldiers stood waiting, arrayed in a loosely spaced battle line between the fort and the grass.
“Why are they outside the fort?” Jackie asked, feeling a strange compulsion to whisper. “Isn’t this when a fort comes in handy?”
“The refugees,” Arjun replied, pointing to the encircling line of houses. “They can’t all fit inside, look.” Where he pointed, groups of panicked Aesvain were frantically boarding up windows and doors, sending their children running to the fort while they hunkered down in the patchwork of restored buildings.
“Well - they’re kinda fucked, aren’t they?” Mark observed. “Guys, you might want to hop back in. I can’t see how their little line is going to keep out a zombie swarm, so we may have to bust our way out of this.”
“And just leave them to die?” Jackie asked indignantly.
Mark looked at her with a resigned expression. “What else are we going to do, Jack?” he asked. “Leaving when shit went south was always the plan.”
She looked back at the frantic refugees with a pained expression, then went pale as she turned back towards the grass. Withered brown figures were staggering out of the grassline in twos and threes, advancing with a halting, jerking gait. Every second that passed saw another handful of the silent ones move forward into the clearing until a loose mob of them was shambling towards the waiting soldiers.
“Why are they just walking like that?” Mark wondered aloud. The advance of the decrepit army was steady, but slow - even at a walking pace any of their group could outdistance them easily.
“They’ve gone full Romero,” Jackie muttered. “It’s like they’re not even the same ones that attacked us. Why aren’t they running, coming up out of the ground?”
Gusje stepped forward and pointed towards the edge of the built-up area. “There,” she said, indicating a tall stone pillar that rose from beside one of the buildings. “Vumo said the draam je qaraivat in Tinem Aesvai were still intact before the fall. Until they shattered, the lines held.” She looked at them all gravely. “The stones protect,” she quoted.
“Oh, hell,” Mark breathed. “That’s why he said mopping them up was so easy. That’s why they haven’t viewed them as much of a threat before.”
Jesse nodded. “Their doctrine assumes they’re fighting near intact stones. If they shattered right now and that group started behaving like the ones we fought, that line would be overwhelmed in seconds.” He watched as the front edge of the swarm met the Aesvain line and the halberds flashed bright in the sun, lopping off heads and limbs to leave a twitching pile of dried corpses in the dust.
The mass of incoming attackers continued to pour from the grassline, but they were dying the instant they got within reach of an Aesvain halberdier. One of the soldiers near the middle started belting out a song in a clear tenor, laying down a cadence for their strikes. The soldiers fell into a steady rhythm as the blades flickered out and back, out and back. It was nearly hypnotic, and Jesse found himself staring transfixed at the bodies that flowed like water towards their inevitable demise.
Except one.
A point of stillness in the flow emerged as a single withered man stopped and raised his head to look directly at Jesse. He met the silent one’s gaze for a long second, blinking his eyes against a sudden gust of wind that seemed to buzz within his head like static. The man cocked his head to the side, bared his teeth and started running directly toward them.
The Aesvain line called out an alarm as they spotted the runner, and the nearest halberdier flipped his blade sideways to stroke through its chest as it attempted to dart past. It flopped to the ground nervelessly, spine severed, and the line continued their defense.
“What the fuck was that?” Mark asked, looking at the others with consternation. “I thought the stones were doing… whatever it is they do. Was it looking at us?”
“It was looking at me,” Jesse replied shakily. He tore his eyes from the body and saw another face in the crowd looking directly at him, then a second. “Oh, shit,” he swore, watching the two snarl and begin to push their way through the mass. “Mark, I think this is an asaarim thing. There might be other factors in play.”
“You’re kidding,” Mark groaned, raising his rifle then dropping it when he realized that there was a whole line of maybe-friendlies standing downrange. The cordon fully enclosed the opening left by the makeshift wall of buildings around the fort, and any possible exit was hopelessly choked with bodies. “All right, new plan,” he said. “Everyone in the truck now. Time to kick the tires on those new toys of ours, hero.”
Jesse nodded and grabbed his sword, turning to face the lines just as the two new runners were cut down. The singer stopped, and surprised shouts were beginning to go up from the gold cloaks as more of the swarm turned to dash towards Jesse. Dodging around the fallen bodies of its comrades and the sweeping blow from a halberdier, one of the silent ones ducked past the whirling blades and sprinted full-speed across the clearing.
It closed with them in seconds, seeming to appear before them as a surprised Mark was still readying his hammer. Jesse swept his falchion out in a clumsy sideways strike that nevertheless hewed through one arm and part of its chest. It gave a rattling gasp and clawed for him before he planted one boot against it, withdrew his sword and struck the runner’s head.
He looked up just in time to see Mark intercept a second attacker with a downward blow that reduced it to little more than a heap of rags and splintered bone. Then another was upon him, and another before he was able to dispatch the first. He risked a look at the Aesvain line and saw that they were leaking like a sieve, individual halberdiers holding their positions well but too hard-pressed to stop the runners from darting through in their numbers. The only thing preventing their deaths was the enemy’s singular focus on Jesse.
Mark crushed two aside with a single swing, then swept the hammer up and around to drive a third down into the grass. Jesse repositioned in time to intercept another attacker with a hasty slash. The rest of the world dropped away and he was fighting for his life in a whirlwind of dust, his heartbeat and the rasp of dried flesh against iron in his ears. He lost track of Mark’s position in the fracas as the runners continued their assault. Their press forced him back a step, then two - and his heel snagged on a corpse. He stumbled, and in an instant they were on him. He grabbed one snarling attacker with his free hand and pushed it away, but another darted in to seize his right arm-
The sea wind gusted slightly through the open window, bringing with it the warm scent of flowers and sunlight. Golden beams of noonday sun lanced through the opening to play across the floor, and as Jesse’s eyes adjusted he could see the metropolis of Ce Raedhil spread before him. Neat rows of buildings clustered around the harbor, and several tidy blocks from there a forest of gleaming spires rose to incredible heights under a clear blue sky. The sounds of conversation and laughter rose up from the street, briefly drowned out by the hum of a passing aircraft.
Jesse stared, dumbfounded, his head still spinning with adrenaline from the fight. His breaths came in gasps and his heart pounded despite his efforts to slow it.
“This shouldn’t be happening,” a voice mumbled. Jesse turned to look behind him, wild-eyed, and saw the bright-eyed woman sulking in the shadowed corner of the room, her white dress wrinkled and dirty. A pang of unwelcome guilt stabbed through him as he saw her miserable state. “I didn’t do this, I was being good. I was leaving you alone,” she whispered, looking up at him with a pleading expression. “I was being good.”
“What’s happening?” Jesse demanded. “Why am I here?”
She shook her head, balling up her fists. “I don’t know!” she said frustratedly. “I didn’t do anything. I didn’t call you here, didn’t change this place. What I made was the dark and quiet, the sea and stars, the lesson from the blade. This sunlight isn’t… right, isn’t what is meant to be. I can see a new fragment and it’s not mine.” She blinked and shifted her gaze, seeming to stare at something he couldn’t see. “It’s... Light,” she muttered, her voice resonating oddly. “The Light that Blinds, the Light that Ends. What was wrought for us and upon us.”
Jesse stepped towards her and laid a hand on her shoulder. She shuddered but did not pull away, slowly lifting her head to look him in the eyes. “What does it mean?” Jesse asked. “Why are we here right now?”
“I don’t know,” she repeated helplessly. “It’s not one of my fragments, and it’s so, so much-” She shuddered and averted her gaze, wincing. “Not one of mine,” she said. “One of-”
Her head snapped up in sudden panic as she stared past Jesse towards the window. He spun to follow her gaze and saw a figure silhouetted there, emaciated and leathery with long stringy hair that tangled into a dusty mat behind her. Dirty robes hung in shreds from her frame, exposing flesh that was withered and cracked with the desert heat.
The bright-eyed woman gripped his arm with surprising strength. “...one of hers,” she said. “Jesse, we’re in danger.”
He turned to face her, meeting pale eyes that showed both terror and grim resolve. His mouth felt dry. “Thanks,” he said ruefully, trying to keep the quaver from his voice. “I had kinda guessed.” He saw a flicker of surprise on her face, then her lips quirked into a small, hesitant smile.
The monstrosity at the window jerked its head up to regard them with a quick, twisting motion. Suddenly the light from beyond where it stood became blindingly painful to look at, the urban landscape drawn in stark and sharp-edged shadows on clouds of steam billowing from the harbor. There was a profound and interminable hush before a roar of wind cascaded around the tower. The ragged figure before them roared with it and flung herself at the bright-eyed woman. On instinct Jesse stepped between them, his arms held up to block her but there was only the wind and rushing fire, the fire, the-
-fire cascaded just above him and roiled off to his right, leaving a smoking stump of a wrist on the runner’s hand still clamped tightly to his arm. He sat up in a panic and tore it from him, flinging it away as Gusje leapt ahead with her own arm extended. The gauntlet she wore glowed white and another torrent of flame lashed out to envelop a mob of silent ones that were charging their position. The few that escaped were quickly cut down by a trio of Aesvain halberdiers that swept in from the side.
Jesse scrambled to his feet and looked around, seeing only chaos. The battlefield line had been pressed back by the charge and the halberdiers now fought shoulder-to-shoulder in a ragged perimeter around the truck. To his left Jesse saw Mark fighting beside the Aesvain commander, the head of the Fragment glowing red-hot between the grasping bronze roots of its handle.
“Hey,” Gusje said, her voice seeming to double in his ears. “Are you okay?”
He heard it like an echo from the back of his head, reverberating through him.
are you okay?
“Yeah,” he grunted with a confidence he didn’t feel. “Out for a second, but I’m fine now.”
“Good,” Gusje replied, using the reprieve to swap out dead crystals for fresh in her gauntlet. “Jump in when you’re ready, we could use the help!” she called out, darting through the battle line to immolate another cluster of attackers that threatened its edge.
Jesse reached down to curl his fingers around the grip of Goresje’s sword, and as he straightened up Gusje’s words seemed to reverberate from the back of his mind once more, questioning.
...use the help?
Jesse’s mouth went dry again as he looked at the melee his presence had upended. The Aesvain were fighting hard but the halberdiers were tiring under the onslaught. Mark had charged forward into the front of the battle with great sweeping arcs of his hammer that raised sparks where they struck, acrid smoke curling up from each blow even as more runners pressed close around him.
The situation was not precisely dire, but men had fallen and more joined them every minute the fighting dragged on. Her offer hung before him like an outstretched hand, tentative and ethereal. Nervous anticipation gnawed at him as the moments stretched out and his indecision condensed to a single, diamond-clear choice of paths - to embrace this insidious, wounded thing that had been born in him, or find a way to kill her.
Jesse closed his eyes and saw her looking back.
“Yes,” he whispered.
He felt a lightness that vibrated through the bones of his arm, then subsided as one final tentative echo asked its question from the shadows. The voice, he noted, was no longer Gusje’s.
...good?
Jesse hesitated, then nodded his head firmly. He felt the lightness flare in his arm once more, stronger, radiating joy and a profound sense of relief. “Beats the alternative,” he muttered, and charged towards the battle.
---
Jackie - Page 34
Next
I can’t take these guys anywhere. At the very least all the Aesvain seem a bit too distracted to murder Tasja, so there’s that.
Please feel free to join the Discord if you’d like to discuss or check Patreon for the next chapter!
submitted by TMarkos to HFY [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jul. 16, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE:
1991199219931994199519961997199819992000
1-1-2001 1-8-2001 1-15-2001 1-22-2001
1-29-2001 2-5-2001 2-12-2001 2-19-2001
2-26-2001 3-5-2001 3-12-2001 3-19-2001
3-26-2001 4-2-2001 4-9-2001 4-16-2001
4-23-2001 4-30-2001 5-7-2001 5-14-2001
5-21-2001 5-28-2001 6-4-2001 6-11-2001
6-18-2001 6-25-2001 7-2-2001 7-9-2001
  • WWF has pretty much abandoned all its plans for reviving WCW and instead revived ECW and had them join the invasion angle. Adding ECW to the fold was a last minute decision made partly in response to the disastrous WCW match on Raw last week. Prior to this, the original plan had been for WCW to have some exposure on WWF TV, do some inter-promotional matches at the upcoming Invasion PPV, and then an angle would be done the next night on Raw with Vince and Linda McMahon having a "divorce hearing" and splitting everything down the middle. Vince would lose Raw to Linda, who would in turn give it to Shane, and Raw would then become the WCW show. The week after would have been a draft, so that WCW could take some of the WWF's big names to help carry the brand. From there, WCW and WWF would be kept apart. WCW would began touring regularly in October and have its first PPV in October as well. Meanwhile, WWF would continue on Smackdown with their own PPVs and eventually, once WCW had fully established itself as a strong brand, they would come back together for more inter-promotional matches.
WATCH: ECW joins the Invasion angle (filmed on a potato, sorry)
  • That was the original plan. So what happened? Well the whole angle has been botched from the start anyway. But the horrible crowd reaction on Raw last week, plus similar reactions to WCW stars at house shows this past week, pretty much torpedoed everything. WWF officials were stunned by the amount of negative reaction to the WCW brand from WWF fans. Dave says WWF fans have been trained to hate WCW for years and it all came to a head on Raw. It was even worse on Smackdown but you wouldn't know from watching it because they edited the crowd audio before it aired, which they couldn't do with the live Raw. Also, as of press time, the Invasion PPV is 2 weeks away and isn't sold out yet. It should be sold out or close to it by the time the show gets here, but for the first big inter-promotional show of WWF vs. WCW, the tickets didn't move nearly as fast as they'd hoped (they turn Austin babyface again a week beforehand and the PPV ends up doing huge numbers but we'll get there). Dave says it's hard to fathom how such a surefire moneymaking angle has been bungled so badly, although part of it is clearly the lack of big WCW stars and WWF's refusal to spend big money to get them.
  • So they started spit-balling ideas to save the angle. Dave says things got so crazy and so many wild ideas were tossed around that there was actually serious discussion about bringing in Eric Bischoff. (Can you imagine?!) One source claimed there was even plans in place for Bischoff to come in for just a short-term angle, work a match with Vince, kick off the WCW thing, and then be gone, but that Bischoff shot down the idea. Bischoff himself denies that he was ever even approached about it and that he would have turned it down even if they had offered (I believe he has since admitted that yes, he was approached). Either way, the idea was at least kicked around. Ultimately, they settled on reviving ECW (with Stephanie McMahon in charge) and combining it with WCW. The best news coming out of the whole thing is that it let Paul Heyman cut some great promos on Raw and Smackdown and Dave says his kind of realism and promos are exactly what this angle needs if it's going to succeed because out of everyone on the roster, Paul Heyman is the guy who can probably get it over. But the depth of WCW star power is killing it.
  • Scrapping the idea of reviving WCW as its own brand creates a whole new set of problems. Most of the 24 wrestlers that WWF acquired from WCW haven't even appeared on TV yet and if WCW isn't going to be its own brand, most of those guys may be out of luck. They were all lower card guys anyway and if WWF doesn't need to fill a second roster, that puts them in a shitty spot. The number of well-paying, full-time wrestling jobs in the United States is currently at its lowest point since World War II so there's a lot of young, talented cruiserweight-type guys that WWF picked up who may be out of a job soon if WWF doesn't have any use for them. So what next? No one seems to know. Booking decisions are basically being made day-to-day right now instead of long term because all the long-term plans have basically been scrapped. Separate brands, separate TV shows, separate PPVs and touring schedules....it's all up in the air right now and may happen or may not. The Vince/Linda angle where they split the assets on Raw after the Invasion PPV has definitely been scrapped, so at the very least, things are going to be delayed and now it's looking entirely possible that there won't be a relaunched WCW at all.
  • Meta news time! Dave wants to thank everyone who made the Wrestling Observer Live online radio show so much fun for the last 2 years. But as of last week, online radio host website Eyada has folded and with it goes the Observer show. Dave talks about how the stories of dot-com businesses shutting down is a daily news story these days (yup, this is right as the dot-com bubble was bursting). He compares the Eyada situation to being similar to ECW's dying days. Everyone involved knew the ship was going down and there were occasionally hopes to try and save it at the last minute, but it all fell through and it was forced to close. Dave talks about how the internet is an incredible technological advancement and how Eyada was an idea ahead of its time. The belief was that internet radio was the future and how there was belief that people would be able to listen to it in their cars eventually or buy a device that works with their Walkmans (omg) and things like that. But 2 years later, none of that has happened and internet radio just hasn't taken off like people expected. Plus all the problems that come with it, like sound quality, lagging, getting disconnected, etc. just made it inconvenient for most people. But regardless of all that, the Observer show built a pretty large audience and was often the highest rated internet talk show in the country which admittedly doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things but hey, Dave's still proud of it. Dave thanks a lot of the people involved by name, particularly Bryan Alvarez for his amazing insight and wit. Dave's bummed that it's going away, but who knows, maybe something will pan out in the future...
  • The latest in regards to Jerry Lawler being rehired by WWF is that the deal is pretty much dead for now. Lawler went on his website and wrote a long post detailing why the deal to bring him back last week fell apart. Lawler was called by Kevin Dunn to work Raw and be the WCW announcer for the Booker T/Buff Bagwell match and had agreed to bring Stacy Carter back with him. Before she was fired, Stacy did not have the typical WWF contract, she was being paid-per-appearance. So WWF agreed to bring Lawler and her back, with Lawler signing a contract and Stacy getting her old per-night deal back. At this point, Lawler pushed his luck and inquired about maybe getting Stacy an actual contract with a downside guarantee like everyone else in the company has. Lawler even volunteered to take a $52,000-per-year paycut so that Stacy could have a $52,000-per-year contract and it wouldn't cost the WWF any additional money. All this negotiation was going on through Kevin Dunn, who in turn talked to Vince and cleared everything. Dunn told Vince about Lawler's request and Vince responded that they wouldn't sign Stacy to a contract because they had no future plans for her beyond her returning alongside Lawler this one time. Begrudgingly, Lawler went ahead and agreed, figuring at least Stacy would have a foot back in the door and if Lawler is there, maybe he can pull some strings and get her back later.
  • Then Kevin Dunn called Lawler back the next day and told him Vince had changed his mind. They didn't want to bring Stacy in even for the one-time appearance. Only Lawler. At that point, Lawler backed out of the deal. Lawler claims that Bruce Prichard is the one who changed Vince's mind, after the original deal was already agreed upon, and convinced Vince to not bring Stacy back at all. Dave says there was a lot of pressure on Vince because it would look like he had caved to Lawler's demands, which isn't a good look for the boss. And plus, as mentioned, Stacy was deeply unpopular in the locker room and apparently nobody liked her. But whatever the reason, Vince changed his mind, said absolutely no Stacy, and so we're back to square one with Lawler refusing to come back without her (Stacy's about a week away from abruptly leaving Lawler for another guy anyway, which he goes into excruciating detail about in his book if you've never read it, so this all wraps up soon).
  • NOAH is looking to bring in Dalip Singh, the 7-foot dude who has been working for APW in California. NJPW is also interested in him (that's Great Khali and he ends up in NJPW).
  • Atsushi Onita officially announced he will be running for Japan's House of Councilors as a member of the Jiminto party, which is the biggest political party in Japan. Onita's platform is big on children's education because he's famous for dropping out of high school and then going back to earn his diploma at the age of 40. As part of a publicity stunt for the announcement, Onita went to Rikidozan's grave site and said he was going to send videos of his famous death matches to Japan's prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. Then he said after he wins the election, he wants to challenge Antonio Inoki to a retirement match "And you think politics in our country is silly," Dave quips. Anyway, spoiler: Onita actually wins.
  • Kevin Nash did an interview with a Japanese wrestling magazine and had some interesting comments. Nash freely admitted that he was specifically told not to mention Scoff Hall's name on TV in WCW, so in response, he went out on TV and did it every week anyway. He says at one point he was told that if he did it again, they would consider it a breach of contract and fire him, so Nash responded with a big speech about the Constitution and the first amendment and all that stuff. Dave just shakes his head at this dumb shit. But he also says WCW gave him repeated chances and never fired him, so at that point, it was WCW's fault, not Nash's. You can't repeatedly threaten to punish a child when it misbehaves and then not back up your words when they do. Anyway, in the same interview, Nash also said he had considered retiring after WCW closed but he misses the pop of going through the curtain and is now just waiting for his WCW deal to expire so he can jump back in. As for went wrong with WCW, Nash said the bookers (Russo) never understood that you have to lay a foundation for the storylines and have them make sense and that the title should mean something. He said WWF never lost sight of the fact that the world title should be valuable and winning the belt is the ultimate quest, while Russo devalued the belt completely. Also, way too many run-ins in every match.
  • That Matrats promotion in Canada is running a big show this month and it's a test-run for a planned PPV in October. If you recall, Eric Bischoff is working with this company and his partner Jason Hervey will be the on-air commissioner. As far as wrestlers, the best workers in the promotion are said to be Jack Evans, Teddy Hart, TJ Wilson, and Rene Dupree. Speaking of Dupree, he's only 18 years old and looks incredible and those who have seen him say he could be the next mega star in this business (yeah, everyone thought he would be for awhile. He ends up in WWE, does the La Resistance gimmick, but never really gets beyond that). Joey Styles may end up doing the announcing for this company. Speaking of announcing, Dave says they used to have the most underrated announcer in the business, a guy named Mauro Ranallo, but he isn't working with them anymore.
  • XPW had a fire spot go wrong at a show this week. Supreme was going against Kaos and Supreme was supposed to get put through a flaming table covered in fluorescent light tubes. Veronica Caine, one of the porn stavalets XPW uses, put way too much lighter fluid on the table and Supreme took the bump face-first somehow and....caught on fire. Then the idiot with the fire extinguisher panicked and started spraying the table in the ring because it was still on fire. Meanwhile, Supreme was over on the other side of the ring, still cooking. Eventually, they sprayed him too. He suffered serious burns on his chest and arms and was on the ground for about 10 minutes before being taken out by paramedics. The fans, respectful as always, yelled things like, "I hope you die!" and "I smell bacon!" It's said that for the rest of the show, the arena smelled of lighter fluid and burnt flesh. Anyway, Supreme is expected to be hospitalized for at least a week.
WATCH: Supreme turns into a crispy critter - XPW 2001
  • While all this was going on during the same XPW show, promoter Rob Black was backstage arguing with Sabu and trying to talk him into doing a job for the three-way main event. The match was supposed to be XPW champion Messiah vs. Vampiro vs. Sabu. Also, the Insane Clown Posse were supposed to be with Vampiro and involved in the match, but they walked out after Violent J was pissed because Pogo The Clown stiffed him during an angle earlier in the show, to the point where J reportedly may have broken ribs. Anyway, Sabu eventually agreed to do the job. Sandman was also on the show and he and New Jack both received huge "ECW" chants from the XPW crowd.
WATCH: ICP attacked in XPW
  • UFC is said to be against the idea of bringing Tank Abbott back, who is currently sitting out and collecting on the remainder of his WCW contract. UFC has worked really hard to be seen as a real sport and have fought with the state athletic commissions about how these are highly trained world class athletes. Meanwhile, Tank Abbott is basically just a big ol' beefy street fighter with little formal training who wasn't even in shape for his most recent fights. Basically, he goes against everything UFC is trying to present itself as (he eventually comes back in 2003).
  • It's pretty much official that Goldberg will not be coming to WWF anytime soon. In order to sign him, it would mean he would have by far the biggest contract in the entire company. As Dave has pointed out before, from an economic standpoint, they should bring him in. A couple of Goldberg/Austin and Goldberg/Rock dream matches on PPV alone would be enough to recoup the cost of his contract. But it would also upset the salary structure of the company and piss off the whole locker room and they just aren't willing to do that. So expect Goldberg to sit out the next 2 years or so (yup).
  • Buff Bagwell has already been fired by WWF, for "an amazing ability to accumulate heat in almost record time," Dave says. There was the issue with him and Shane Helms that was mentioned last week that left Bagwell needing stitches. Those who know Helms say he's a quiet, hardworking guy and he was only defending himself so there's no heat on him. Bagwell also arrived late for the practice sessions in Stamford almost every day and was said to be the only one not taking the practices seriously. He also arrived late for his first house show. After the Smackdown taping in Tacoma, they did an angle after the cameras were off where the WWF guys came to the ring and ran off all the WCW guys, leaving only Bagwell alone with guys like the APA. It was pretty much another one of those typical "Welcome to the WWF" beat downs from the APA where they beat the shit out of him and gave him a hard power bomb. Also, Bagwell's mother Judy Bagwell repeatedly called the office complaining about Buff's travel accommodations, leading to Bradshaw ruthlessly ribbing him for it. Many of the WWF wrestlers even started a pool, taking bets on how long Bagwell would last. Turned out it was sooner than almost everyone predicted, although Dave says one unnamed wrestler was only off by 5 days. Anyway, he's gone. Dave's been saying it for years, all that immature shit people used to get away with in WCW ain't gonna fly in WWF, and Bagwell has become the first to learn that the hard way.
  • Notes from Raw: Steve Austin and Kurt Angle continued their hilarious backstage interactions, complete with Angle getting all of them little sheriff badges. Booker T, holding both the WCW world and U.S. titles, beat Kurt Angle, with Booker getting booed out of the building. And of course, the big ECW angle at the end with WCW and ECW joining together and Stephanie McMahon being revealed as the new owner of ECW.
WATCH: Stephanie McMahon revealed as the new owner of ECW
  • Kaz Hayashi, Yun Yang, Shannon Moore, and Evan Karagis all made their WWF debuts in a dark match that got over big, which is the first time a WCW match has done so since this angle began. Rob Van Dam also worked a dark match, beating former WCW wrestler Johnny the Bull. RVD got over strong as well.
WATCH: the final moments of RVD vs. Johnny The Bull 2001 dark match
  • Ad Age magazine ran a story talking about how Vince McMahon wanted to blow up a Honda car during halftime of one of the final XFL games. The reason is because Honda was one of the original XFL sponsors but they pulled out early in the season and bashed the XFL for not delivering the product they were promised. McMahon was pissed about it and wanted to blow up a Honda in response but was talked out of it by NBC execs who were already pretty fed up with this crazy old man and his carny ideas.
  • Spike Dudley suffered a hairline fracture to his fibula in a match on Smackdown and will be out for about a month. He's using a crutch and a soft cast for now and is still making his appearances. He even offered to tape up his leg and wrestle if needed for weekend house shows.
  • Steve Austin is still dealing with serious back issues that make even putting on his shoes difficult. He's expected to be back by the Invasion PPV but it's touch and go. Even the little bit of physical activity he has done the last few weeks has caused him to have back spasms.
  • Mick Foley was on TSN's Off The Record in Canada and once again, host Michael Landsberg delivered a segment that blows away every other wrestler interview, because Landsberg understands the business, treats it and the wrestlers with respect, but he also asks tough questions. Foley was asked about the future of wrestling because of how violent it's getting and all the risks people take. Foley agreed it was too much and hoped it would scale back, and talked about the success of guys like Benoit and Angle as an example of getting over and becoming a star without throwing yourself off cages. Both Foley and Landsberg agreed that WWF is in a bit of a rut right now. Foley blamed it on McMahon focusing too much on the XFL for the last year. They discussed the infamous McMahon/Bob Costas interview and Foley said he actually asked Vince about it and asked if it was a work or a shoot and Vince told him it was for real, he wasn't playing a character during that interview. Foley said he currently has no interest in returning to the ring but admitted it would probably happen eventually. Landsberg argued that if wrestling had a union, Foley wouldn't be allowed to wrestle for his own good. They talked about NHL player Eric Lindros' concussion issues and Foley said during the last year or so of his career, he told wrestlers to take it easy with him because his wife didn't like him taking chair shots to the head.
WATCH: Mick Foley on TSN Off The Record in 2001
  • Dave recaps a recent WWF press release that talks about the history of WWF and WCW. Basically, the gist of it is WCW never accomplished anything on their own and were only good when they stole a bunch of WWF stars. Dave says they own WCW now. The company itself is dead. It serves no purpose to keep burying them. They should be trying to rebuild it rather than talk about how shitty it was and how it only succeeded because they stole WWF stars.
  • TNN put out a press release bragging about the network's overall ratings increases compared to last year and touting that they're the fastest growing network in prime time. That's true, but it's also ENTIRELY because of Raw. In fact, if you took Raw out of the equation, TNN's numbers would actually be down from last year.
  • Jim Cornette had hernia surgery last week and will be out for a few weeks, so Kevin Kelly will be handling announcing duties in OVW for awhile.
  • Speaking of OVW, it was mentioned a few weeks ago that Leviathan has grown his hair out and shaved his face and basically changed his overall look. In case you're wondering why, it's because he worked a dark match at a WWF show and got a huge "Goldberg!" chant, so they told him to change his look.
  • In regards to Smackdown going live later this year, WWF is publicly blaming the ratings decrease on internet spoilers for taped shows. Dave points out several reasons why this simply isn't true. For starters, Raw's ratings (which is already a live show) have been falling at a faster rate than Smackdown. The ratings decline also started abruptly, just in the last few months since WCW folded. Basically, the product sucks now and wrestling just isn't hot anymore. It has nothing to do with taped show spoilers on the internet. In fact, how can someone even read spoilers on the internet during this time? As soon as the website loads, someone in the other room picks up the goddamn phone and the internet disconnects. Dammit Dad, I've been downloading a picture for the last 45 minutes, it was almost done! Ugh! I HATE YOU! I SHOULD HAVE GONE TO LIVE WITH MOM!
  • Brock Lesnar was interviewed in an amateur wrestling magazine about his decision to become a pro wrestler, which a lot of amateurs look down on. Lesnar talked about the difficulty of it, saying, "It is a lot harder than I expected it to be. It is more demanding on my body than all my 19 years of amateur wrestling put together. If you don't know how to land right or do a move in the correct way, you are putting yourself and your opponent's life in danger." In regards to amateur wrestlers nay-saying him for it, Lesnar responded, "I fell victim to the amateur people saying, 'Don't watch professional wrestling because it's fake and not real.' I've been trying to get amateur wrestlers like Shelton Benjamin and myself to make a difference somehow in both and professional and amateur world."
  • There was a segment about wrestling on the Fox News show The O'Reilly Factor regarding the usual is-wrestling-appropriate-for-children debate. Bob Backlund was on to defend wrestling while some doctor who did a study about the effects of wrestling on kids was there to argue the other side. Basically, both Backlund and the doctor debated back and forth, both of them were full of shit, O'Reilly was clueless about wrestling, and they played clips of WCW while talking about violence in the WWF. "As with most things on that network, little was accomplished," Dave says. My man.
  • Apparently there was an altercation between Hugh Morrus and Mark Jindrak during one of those training sessions. Jindrak reportedly messed up some spots, Morrus tried to help him out and correct him and Jindrak responded by calling him a fat slob who's never done anything in the business and then they were separated before it could escalate. WWF officials were said to be less than impressed with Jindrak's attitude and Jim Ross had a meeting with all the WCW wrestlers to basically remind everyone to check their attitudes at the door because this ain't WCW anymore. (See: Bagwell, Buff.)
  • Speaking of, there's still a lot of backstage heat between WWF and WCW wrestlers, who are still divided in the locker room. A lot of WWF wrestlers already see this angle as a flop based on the crowd response. Meanwhile, the WCW wrestlers feel like the angle has been bungled from the beginning and even said the real WCW would have been more organized and had a better plan in place for this angle than WWF has so far. But otherwise, the general feeling is that the WWF is so much more professionally run in every aspect of the business and it's been a culture shock to a lot of the WCW guys.
  • There was some heat on Stacy Keibler for missing some house shows this weekend. Apparently, she had already been told she wasn't going to be working the shows but then they changed their mind and wanted her on the road to practice the bra and panties match that is scheduled for the PPV. Keibler had already made vacation plans since she was originally scheduled to be off and refused to break her plans. WWF allowed her to miss the shows, but it didn't endear her to some in the locker room. God, there is so much petty, clique-ish nonsense happening in WWF right now.
  • Speaking of, a lot of the WCW wrestlers who haven't been used on TV yet were at Raw in Atlanta this week since so many of them live in the city. And once again, it was the same issues backstage, with WCW wrestlers being accused of not knowing the protocol. They were nervous and shy, didn't talk to many people, didn't shake everybody's hand, etc. So now they've all got bad reps with the WWF guys, because this is fucking high school apparently.
  • Random notes: Toronto Skydome is looking to be the front-runner for WrestleMania 18 next year (yup). The Invasion PPV isn't sold out and there's still 2,000 tickets left as of press time. Scott Hudson is already done as WCW announcer, but he was only supposed to be short-term anyway.
  • Chyna did her first interview since being benched by WWF. The only interesting thing she said is that they wouldn't let her win the WWF title and she "has too much experience" to wrestle the women so there was nothing left to do with her character. She did say one true thing. She mentioned that wrestlers who's contracts are coming due soon are going to realize that one man having a monopoly on the business isn't a good thing for the wrestlers.
  • Al Snow and Dean Malenko were practicing commentary backstage during Raw. WWF is looking for new commentators for the WCW side of things and hey, why not? Dave says Malenko in particular is someone who is said to be hilarious backstage, quick-witted and fun to talk to, but it never translates to TV. Stevie Ray was like that in WCW, which is why they made him an announcer too, but it never clicked.
  • WWF has a deal with some company to send CD-ROMS to WWF Magazine subscribers which will feature bonus content not included in each issue of the magazine. That is a very 2001 sentence.
  • Letters section time! An indie wrestler, who chooses to remain unnamed, writes in and is pretty disgusted by the fact that Tough Enough exists. He talks about how just before Tough Enough debuted, WWF pulled out of their developmental deals with several indie companies and cut developmental contracts of dozens of talented wrestlers who were working in those promotions (like Memphis Championship Wrestling, UPW in California, etc.). This guy thinks it's kinda fucked up that so many hard working, legitimately talented developmental guys are suddenly out on their asses while a bunch of nobody reality show contestants are vying for a WWF contract on TV.
  • Other people write in about the WCW angle. One guy predicts exactly what's going to happen, that WWF is going to bury WCW, nobody will get over, the whole thing will be a flop, and Booker T will likely be the only WCW signee who may have a chance to make it as a WWF star. Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer writes in saying the recovery for the business is going to be tough in the wake of WCW's death and will take a long time.
  • A former WCW wrestler named Bob Cook writes in and says he was the first wrestler to work with Buff Bagwell for his WCW tryout match back in 1991, which led to Bagwell getting his job with WCW. After watching the Bagwell/Booker T match, Cook writes, "I wish I wasn't such a great worker. Never thought I was, but I must have been to make Bagwell look good enough to get a job in the first place. I would like to say I'm sorry to the fans for helping him get his job."
FRIDAY: Bankruptcy court upset with WWF for using ECW intellectual property they down own, Terry Gordy passes away, tons more WCW updates, plans changing daily, and more...
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