Saturday, July 30, 2022

Baseball Review //
M&T People's, 0
South Windsor Phillies, 1
July 29th, 2022
Johnny Taylor Field
Hartford, CT
GHTBL


Official Box Score :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/phillies-peoples-2/


Additional Photos :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7865300983511407


Sometimes what happens in a baseball game in that one single moment seems to define the entire game.  All of the offense which was able to score a single run was in the top of the first inning.   Spencer Azzara hit a leadoff double, stole third base and then was brought home by a ground out to first base by Mike Cookson.  There was only one out at the time, so naturally you think as a player that the fundamentals say to throw to first- get the easy out, eat the run and know it's only one run so you can get it back later.

But for People's, there was no later.  They let that one run go by and that determined the entire outcome of the game.  Had they instead thrown to home instead of gettng the out at first, it is possible the runner could've held up and it wouldn't have been a guarenteed out.  Then you have first anf third with only one out.  Another play after that might drive that run in anyway, so it's a chance to take, but again, fundamentals always say to throw to first, get the force out, eat the run. 

Jason Ray threw five scorless innings for the Phillies while Trevor Moulton came in and closed out the last two, neither allowing a single run.  And, thus, the beauty of the 1-0 game is within the pitching.   The Phillies shut down the offense of People's completely, but People's held the Phillies to only that one run.  Eric Malinowski had only allowed two hits, struck out eight and pitched all seven innings in what is nothing short of a stellar accomplishment.  

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Sean Casey hit a deep shot to left field for a double for People's.   A walk would make it first and second, as Sean Casey would steal third and then make it first and third.   But a ground out would get the Phillies out of it without giving up any runs.  This game was less than two hours long, extremely intense and felt like two of the top teams playing that final game to win it all.

During the fourth inning, People's Willy Yahn hit a single and then stole second base.  He was clearly safe by quite a distance but either the Phillies or their fans were complaining: "You made up your mind he was safe before you even saw the play!".  Look, I understand arguing calls of whether someone is safe or not but trying to catch Willy Yahn is not going to happen it's not the type of thing which anyone needs to be yelling about.  Willy Yahn is fast.  End of story.

For reasons still unknown to most, in the bottom of the sixth inning People's Rami Jadallah was thrown out of the game.   Usually, when a player is thrown out it comes with this good story.  They get into a fight with the other team or the ump- even if it's only verbal, you can tell they're yelling and it's clear why.   After this specific play to first when Rami Jadallah was thrown out of the game, none of that made sense.

The only time throughout the entire game I really heard someone yelling loudly where the umpires looked upset about it was when they yelled after Willy Yahn was called safe stealing.  No one else ever really raised their voice or did anything that seemed out of line.  And I've seen players (and coaches) get in the face of the umpires screaming without being ejected so I really was just left stumped here.   And I'm not alone in that because all I heard after was the umpire telling the People's coach he didn't want to hear it when offering up no reason.

This game was moving quickly, it was very quiet- I think because of the tension- and it wasn't like Rami Jadallah had struck out and then said something about the way the umpire called the pitch.  Whatever happened though, if it was something Rami Jadallah said, and with all that tension in the air, if I couldn't hear it on the third base side, it probably would've served the umpire best just to let it go.  It was just such a weird spot in an otherwise great game.  

Tomorrow night (Sunday) the Phillies welcome to Colts to South Windsor as the finish a game which was suspended at 5-5 and then play a complete game right afterwards.   The Phillies then go to Ceppa Field in Meriden on Monday night to take on the Record-Journal Expos.   People's will return to action on Monday night at McKenna Field against the Jets and then People's will also face the Expos at Ceppa Field on Tuesday night.

On Monday there will still be five games during the week across three nights before the big series at Dunkin' Donuts Park on Thursday night and then we're into the playoffs.  The Phillies and Colts are sitting next to each other, so if the Colts should happen to sweep both games on Sunday and the Phillies lose to the Expos, the Colts could move up to sixth place, which would likely give them the Orioles in the first round playoffs.

The Phillies moving down to seventh place means they might end up facing the Jets and no matter what else happens the Graphics and People's seem destined to meet, as do the first place team and whoever wins the wild card between the Greeners and Cardinals.   It's all really starting to take shape this week as teams end their regular seasons.  


Friday, July 29, 2022

Baseball Review //
Record-Journal Expos, 8
Hartford Colts, 6
July 28th, 2022
Johnny Taylor Field, Hartford, CT
GHTBL



Official Box Score :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/expos-colts-2/


Additional Photos :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7860064597368379


Going into this game, what is most interesting to me was the number of wins that the Hartford Colts had and the number of losses that the Record-Journal Expos had.  While the East Hartford Jets were knocked down to second place the night before, they took their fifth loss of the season and behind them sits the Vernon Orioles with six losses.  So, right now, as backwards as it may feel, it's not about who has the most wins but rather who has the fewest losses.

Likewise but in reverse, the Colts are sitting in seventh place with six wins.  Behind them are both the Bristol Greeners and Wallingford Cardinals, who only have five wins each.  The number of losses seems less relevant now, as it feels like a matter of who can have the most wins on the bottom of the standings.  The Colts, for example, are only one win away from catching the South Windsor Phillies.   Should the Colts pick up two wins they could move to sixth place and push the Phillies down to seventh (Coincidentally, the Colts and Phillies play in South Windsor on Sunday!)

This doesn't feel quite as important in the beginning of the season as it does now and really, thinking about not losing is the same thing as thinking about winning, but the Record-Journal Expos sit in first place at 16-4 where as the Jets have 17 wins but their 5 losses put them in second place.   So, at the same time, while the Colts only have 15 losses, if the Greeners or Cardinals were able to win two more games and get 7 wins they could sit ahead of them even though they have more losses overall.

It's such an odd way to think, but then in some ways it's self-defeating because you can't un-lose games.  If you have five losses, a win does mean you can somehow only get back to four losses.   So at that point all you can do is hope that the other team loses so they join you with five losses and maybe even get more losses than your team, but you can't really control other teams and what they do.  

This was the third and final meeting between these two teams this regular season and though the Expos had a pretty heavy win the first time they met, the second meeting was a close game which came down to a walkoff for the Expos.    The majority of what happened in this game happened within the first inning for the Expos and the second and third inning for the Colts.  It was very much a matter of what felt like both teams getting off to a rough start and then settling in during the second half of the game.

Alden Halfinger started pitching this game for the Hartford Colts and through a series of walks, a HBP, a wild pitch and some solid hits by the Expos, the Colts took a really big first inning deficit which it didn't seem like they would be able to make up.   But the Colts scored their first run in the bottom of the second inning on a wild pitch, then a nice hit brought in two more runs.   The bottom of the third inning would be similar, as the Colts would put up three more runs and battle back, despite the Expos pitching change from Justin Marks to Jeff Massicotte.

The rest of the game would go virtually but not completely scoreless and Alden Halfinger stayed in and stuck it out.   It's just one of those things when you get down by five runs or more it can feel like you can't get back up, but the Colts really dug themselves out of that hole and nearly came back to win this game.  

While the Expos held onto first place, they go to Bristol Central one last time for this regular season and meet the 8th place Greeners on Saturday night.   The Hartford Colts finish an earlier game which was suspended and then play a full game after that Sunday night in South Windsor against the Phillies.   The Phillies are also scheduled to play M&T People's tonight at Johnny Taylor Field, which means by Monday the Colts could be in sixth place.


Music Review //
Alec Chambers
"Ed Sheeran's A Dick"


https://open.spotify.com/album/3CZ9rf1F5HujR8dYZ0Uh0L


The song title "Ed Sheeran's A Dick" is either going to offend you or have you laughing.  If you're like me and it makes you laugh, then you're likely going to want to hear this song to find out why Alec Chambers thinks this about Ed Sheeran.  While society has become over-sensitive in many ways, listening to this song is a good way to find out why this song kind of pokes fun at Ed Sheeran but not really.

The idea behind this song lyrically is that Ed Sheeran writes these love songs and it makes Alec Chambers' girlfriend wonder why he can't be that sweet and romantic so she leaves.  It's one of those situations where Ed Sheeran is only really a dick for making Alec Chambers look bad in comparison, and so in some backwards way this does feel like a bit of a compliment.  Alec Chambers also says that he likes the music of Ed Sheeran- that it is catchy- and at the end he even drops the "jk".

What is somewhat funny about this song is the sense that Alec Chambers is writing it while saying that the music of Ed Sheeran does still get stuck in his head but this song itself can get stuck in your head.  I feel like whenever I see the name Ed Sheeran from here on out I'll have the chorus of this song stuck in my head.  And that might lead me to sing it somewhere public and cause someone to give me a weird look.

But as much as this song is a fun pop hit, there really doesn't seem to be any ill-will towards Ed Sheeran.  That's kind of the funniest part about it all.  Because people (like me) will be singing "Ed Sheeran's A Dick", but at the same time, I don't have an opinion about Ed Sheeran either way and this song is more of a roundabout compliment to him more than anything else.  It just makes both Ed Sheeran and Alec Chambers look good.

Music Review //
Tony Tyrrell
"Mocking Bird"

 


Right away I'm into this music video because it's like a little movie but that should not distract you from the fact that Tony Tyrrell also offers up his unique voice to the sound of this song as well.  There really isn't a lot to compare Tony Tyrrell with musically as the rock seems to be melodic and vocal-driven, which with those unique vocals being at the front it doesn't sound like anyone else.

One of the first things I notice and enjoy about this video is that the main character is not Tony Tyrrell.  The video cuts to scenes of Tyrrell singing and playing guitar, but at no point does Tyrrell surface as a character in this story, which is set between two other people.   The two characters start off drinking and laughing as friends but then end up in confrontation and eventually it gets physical.

This whole video starts off though with a panic and a scene of what happens at the end of the story.  It's really well done in that sense, just in terms of being a short film, but it also very much goes with the song as well, as "Mocking Bird" tells a story which is acted out during the video.   It's really, more than anything, a story of regret, as the lyrics sing "We're at the border of a place called no return".

When listening to this song it not only has this energy, this drive about it but throughout the lyrics and video presentation I hope it also brings the listener a lesson.  Yes, this is the type of music that you don't hear every day, as it can't be compared with other artists easily and as such it deserves more attention based upon that.  But this song also has this underlying theme about it of not acting on impulse or on too harsh of emotions because it might come back to haunt you in the end, as we found out during this song and video.  A life lesson which will hopefully stick with many who hear it forever.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Baseball Review //
East Hartford Jets, 3
M&T People's, 4
July 27th, 2022
Trinity College, Hartford, CT
GHTBL


Official Box Score :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/jets-peoples-2/


Additional Photos :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7854664384575067


Going into this game I knew two things and they were the only two things that mattered to me.  First off, going into this game the East Hartford Jets were sitting in first place in the GHTBL with a 17-4 record, just a full game above the 15-4 Record-Journal Expos.  I knew that while the Jets were in first place, M&T People's were on the rise up as they seemed to be winning more than not lately.   With an 11-8 record, it felt like they were on that verge of cracking the Top 3 so this was going to be an exciting game.

I also knew that this game was at Trinity College, which is one of the nicest places to go see baseball.   Sure, there were church bells ringing behind me throughout most of the game, firetrucks going down a side street out in right field and the sprinklers from the soccer field managed to cool me off even though we broke out of the heatwave, but I will rarely pass up a chance to go to Trinity College to see a baseball game.

Right away the game got off to a hot start.  Corey Plasky hit a leadoff double for the Jets,  wild pitch sent him to third base and then a ground out to first by Jeff Criscuolo brought him home for the first run of the game.   People's would respond in kind though, as Willy Yahn would be their leadoff batter with a single, stole second, a ground out advanced him to third base and a sac fly to center scored him to tie it 1-1 after the first inning.

Though these were the first and fourth place teams, they were making every play as if to counter each other, truly both at their best like the playoffs were on the line.  (Though the playoffs were not on the line, every game does still matter leading up to next week)  Two strikeouts by Camden Murphy would shut down the Jets in the top of the second inning while two strikeouts by Jim Schult would do likewise for the Jets that same inning.

The third inning was the crucial one.  In the top half, with one out (a strikeout) and a runner on first there was a deep shot to right field.  This ball was caught and the Jets runner didn't think it would be, took a gamble or misread it and was caught trying to run back to first for the third out of the inning.

Willy Yahn would be at bat again in the third inning and as a ball was dropped in shallow center he got onto second base (Technically not a double on the error, but that's why you always run those plays out)  After stealing third and a fly out to right field, Willy Yahn once again crossed home plate making it a 2-1 ball game.

Before the third inning would end, Jordan Jeroszko would hit a somewhat routine ground out to first but the throw went past the Jets' first baseman.   This would give Jeroszko a double on error but also allow another People's run to score, putting them up 3-1 after three innings.  The fourth inning would be quiet, even though it was when those firetrucks all went down the nearby street.

In the top of the fifth inning there was a throw past third base in an attempted steal by Cole Lalli which allowed him to come all the way home.   This cut the lead to 3-2 and it felt like the Jets were about to make their comeback.  With first and third a walk loaded the bases up, but People's got out of it.  This game was constant suspense- every inning, every play, you just never felt secure in that win for either team until the final out.

The bottom of the fifth inning saw Willy Yahn at bat once again.  Though Yahn only had three at bats, if he had more he might have hit for the cycle.  This at bat was a shot to left field that cleared the fence for a homerun.  This would put People's up 4-2 and every time Willy Yahn was at bat in this game his feet crossed home plate.  Amazing.

The sixth inning would see Julian Gonzalez double and then eventually come home to make the score 4-3, which is where it would stay until the end.   During the bottom of the sixth the Jets' center fielder made an incredible catch for a three up / three down inning, but the Jets were just shut down offensively in the top of the seventh.

In a different game, Jim Schult could have pitched six innings and won with the three earned runs he allowed (four in total though)  But the pitching of Camden Murphy was just exactly where People's needed it to be.  It's one thing for a pitcher to just get up there and throw strikes, but the true test of a pitcher is how they react and what they do when they get into trouble.  Camden Murphy found himself in those situations and as a team they got out of them.

As the season comes to a close, this is an interesting turn of events for both teams.  Could M&T People's do this again in the playoffs against the Jets?  In many ways, it has to put other teams on notice.  The Jets also have players on the leader boards for stats but it just felt like everyone on this team was having those big moments during this game.

The Jets don't play again until Monday on their home turf against M&T People's for the third and final time in the regular season.   It is the rubber match as the Jets won the first meeting back in mid-June.   But before that People's will also meet the Phillies on Friday at Johnny Taylor Field in what should be a good match up as well.   With a week left in the regular season, every game still matters and this game was a great example as to why.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Baseball Review //
Rainbow Graphics, 1
Record-Journal Expos, 5
July 26th, 2022
Ceppa Field, Meriden, CT
GHTBL


Official Box Score :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/graphics-expos-2/


Additional Photos :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7850332955008210


This game was the third meeting of the regular season between the Rainbow Graphics and Record-Journal Expos.   Throughout the season, the Expos had managed to stay within the Top 3 alongside the Orioles and Jets.  The Graphics started off hot, cooled off a little but seem to be getting their groove back.   This made for an interesting game because in their first two meetings each team lost at home.  The Graphics went into this game 10-10 and so it really felt like they could push it either way.

The top of the first inning saw Tim Hanlon hit a double for the Rainbow Graphics and then Bryan Rodriguez singled him in.  It would be the first and only run Charlie Hesseltine would allow across the seven innings he pitched.    The Graphics had Ryan Callanan on the mound and he pitched a solid game for the four innings he was in.  

This game saw a lot of three up / three down innings and it went by fast.  The Expos didn't score until the fourth inning, so up until then it was a 1-0 game and it looked like Ryan Callanan was going for a complete game shut out.   Ultimately, the Expos would take the lead through a series of hits, walks and wild pitches.

Javon Malone started things off for the Expos with a single which had a bad throw to first allowing Malone to take second.  If you think of this as being when the Graphics started to fall apart and lose it, in some ways you cannot blame the pitching.  AJ Hendrickson then got on, making it first and third, and with a wild pitch it would become second and third.   

Shaun Remillard was walked on to load the bases, but on a wild pitch during the next at bat Javon Malone would score the first Expos run of the game, tying it up.   This at bat also saw Justin Marks walk on and, yes, that once again loaded the bases.  Andrew McCarty would draw the next walk, to bring AJ Hendrickson in as the go ahead run.   The Graphics would get out of it, but not without giving up the lead, making it a 2-1 ball game after four innings.

The fifth inning saw Chris Zampino come in to pitch for the Rainbow Graphics but it was already too late.   Javon Malone was on base yet again and AJ Hendrickson doubled him in.  That seemed to be the story of tonight but that's also what makes this Expos team so dangerous: anyone can get on base and anyone can get that RBI.   All Expos players seem to deliver when needed.

The top of the sixth saw a really nice double play by the Expos, who were now up 3-1 but they weren't done.   Nhasean Murphy doubled in Justin Marks for the first run of the inning and then Sebby Grignano singled in Justin Marks for the second run.  This put the Expos up 5-1 and it was where they would stay.

What the Expos did in this game is really what every team should do in every game.  Score enough runs to not leave it to chance, but also the defense and pitching of Charlie Hesseltine were just completely on point and so it felt like they couldn't be stopped.  On the flip side, the Graphics felt like they might be in line for a win under the pitching of Ryan Callanan but the offense just wasn't there.

Against another team, the Rainbow Graphics could have been on their way to a win but scoring that first run and then not at all again was really what shut them down in this game.  The Expos and Graphics go on a similar journey for the rest of this week, both playing the Greeners later on.

Tonight the Rainbow Graphics return to action against the Wallingford Cardinals at Northwest Park.   The Cardinals would be looking for an upset here, to capitalize on that Graphics loss from last night.  (Side Note: Jets and People's also play at Trinity College, which is a lovely field)  The Graphics then meet the Greeners on Friday night at Northwest Park again.  

The Expos meet the Colts at Johnny Taylor Field on Thursday night, looking to finish off their three games of the regular season.  And then the Expos get some Saturday night baseball in against the Greeners at Bristol Central.   So the Graphics go up against the 8th and 9th place teams while the Expos meet the 7th and 8th place teams.  

It will definitely be an interesting few days until the season officially closes out next week, as the games on Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday seem to be sparse.   The standings are still close enough that every win still matters and it will likely come down to the very last games of the season to determine the playoff brackets.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Music Review //
Vinyl Floor
"Funhouse Mirror"


Please Note: Vinyl Floor can be found on Spotify at this link, though "Funhouse Mirror" will not be released publicly until September 16th, 2022:
https://open.spotify.com/artist/2g85sKE1X3oTtU6OyJAKAC


While the music of Vinyl Floor has a psychedelic and melodic rock sound, I must also admit that I do enjoy the name Vinyl Floor.  All too often now we see this fake wood and mostly tile, but I remember growing up and always sliding around on vinyl.  The way that it crosses over with music- as I imagine a floor made entirely of records- just lends even more imagination to this sound which has a lot of qualities outside of the standard genres.

Perhaps the biggest take away from this album is how Vinyl Floor has crafted their own sound while having influences of others on the surface.  There are horns here and there, which can make the songs sound big and triumphant, and even "Clock With No Hands" has that "Killer Queen" way about it.   There are hints of twee and it almost drops off into a realm of classic rock throughout as well.   "Dear Apollon" is dreamy and has that "That Thing You Do!" way about it which just puts it in a whole other genre.

On the titular track there are big pianos, which make me think of The Beatles, while "Ever, the Optimist" feels a bit like They Might Be Giants.   "Stare, Scare" does seem to have a haunted sound to it while "Death of a Poet" explores someone who committed "suicide at the height of fame", as the song states.   This could be taken to mean any number of people, which really the amount of artists it could be just feels sad.

"Days" has a bit more acoustics in it but overall there are just trippy melodies throughout this album.   A big instrumental patch also takes us up to the end.   While Vinyl Floor has a sound which can be traced back to different eras of rock, they all have similarities and that is what ties all of these songs together to create a sound that doesn't sound exactly like any of its influences but a sound just for Vinyl Floor.  

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Baseball Review //
Record-Journal Expos, 8
Wallingford Cardinals, 0
July 22nd, 2022
Pat Wall Field, Wallingford, CT
GHTBL


Official Box Score :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/expos-cardinals/


Additional Photos :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7833502796691226


We're in the midst of a heatwave but baseball continues.   This game started at 7:00pm and when we got there we felt a cool breeze.  It was a little bit cloudy and we even felt a few rain drops, so overall it wasn't as hot outside as I thought it was going to feel like.  It may also help that we're on the tail end of this heatwave.

The Cardinals and Expos have met twice before during the regular season and the Expos were going into this game 2-0.   The Cardinals have also been involved in a battle for seventh place with the Greeners and Colts while the Expos have been battling the Jets and Orioles for first place.   So this was a matter of a top team taking on a bottom team.

Right away, the Expos came out swinging and put two runs up in the first inning.   Kyle Hartenstein singled, Jason Sullivan doubled to make it first and third and then Jack Rich flew out to right field but both of the runners on base scored.  

In the top of the third inning, Kyle Hartenstein was once again on base and stole all the way to third.  Jason Sullivan hit a beautiful shot near second base that Sam DeMaio jumped to catch in what was just one of those plays not every player is making.  

Jack Rich would do the sacrifice again, grounding out to first but allowing Kyle Hartenstein to score.   Jonny Walter would then single to make it first and third, which would help Shaun Remillard to come home on a wild pitch.   After three innings, the Expos were up 4-0.

During this game, Jeff Massicotte was pitching for the Expos and he was just doing a tremendous job.   When balls were hit, they rarely left the infield and there was a lot of grounding out to first base.  But the Cardinals just weren't clicking with the bats tonight and their offense really felt like it was shut down.

To their credit, Noah Kleczkowski did pitch well for the Cardinals.  There weren't a lot of errors or other reasons why the Expos scored so much-- the Expos just had the offense and were able to hit the ball through the gap and at places where it made it difficult to field in time to make a play.   Yes, there were a few throws that went by the intended fielder (a missed throw to first, for example) but that just happens from time to time.

At one point during the game, there was a hit to shallow left and Justin Marks thought it would for sure be caught but it ended up dropping.   Someone near me yelled loudly something like "C'mon, get it together!" and when it's a matter of adjusting from the lights and all that, I mean, yelling from the stands isn't really helping, is it?

The fourth inning saw three more runs for the Expos.  Nhasean Murphy singled onto first but managed to steal all the way to third and then come home on  wild pitch!  Sebby Grignano got HBP then stole his way to third.  If there is a stat out there for most HBPs this season, Sebby Grignano might have it.

Jason Sullivan walked, making it first and third, and Jack Rich would single in Sebby Grignano, giving Jack Rich a lot of the RBIs in this game.  Shaun Remillard singled in Jason Sullivan for the third and final run of the inning, putting the Expos up 7-0.   In the top of the sixth inning, Kyle Hartenstein singled in Sebby Grignano for the final run of the game.

What the Expos showed in this game was how hitting can lead to moving the runners.  They often got a runner on first with a hit, then that runner would steal to second or third and on another hit they'd be home.   This is the type of offense that can be dangerous because it's not about power hitting and everyone felt like they were contributing so it isn't something where you can just walk that one good batter.

This loss set the Cardinals two games behind the Greeners and with there being only three games left in the season it feels like they'll be battling for that wild card spot.  The Cardinals travel to Nevers Park on Sunday to take on the Phillies, they meet the Graphics at Northwest Park on Wednesday and finish out their season August 3rd against the other birds, the Orioles.  

The Expos have six games left in the regular season and the action begins on Tuesday at Ceppa Field against the Phillies.  The Expos also meet the Graphics, Colts and Greeners next week.  They then play People's twice before the season ends.  The Expos do not face any of their direct foes (the Orioles and Jets) again in regular season.

Next week there are still some matches out there where a team like the Colts could upset the Orioles or People's could upset the Jets.   It's all winding down into the playoffs though and next week is the final full week for regular season.  

Music Review //
Gavin Fox
"Awakened"


https://open.spotify.com/album/0owAVbCOiZ9uADU4QmuibW


The sound of Gavin Fox can very much be summed up as acoustic melodies, but throughout these twelve songs on "Awakened" there is also a rock sound.  Between even the first song- "Lay Down Low"- and the third song- "Tell Me So"- there is that difference to be heard where the first sounds like a full band and the third has this feeling of a solo voice with an acoustic guitar.

As we get into "Judgement" though, the sound becomes deeper and it feels a little bit like Elvis.   "Tale Of A Broken Man" takes on that driving rock sound like Steppenwolf and it just feels like going out on the open road.  There are a lot of acoustics within these songs and at times it can remind me of Bob Dylan while other times it reminds me of James Blunt.

Lyrically these songs focus on love but in a different sense as a lot of them seem to be introspective versus being about a relationship between two people.  "Nancy's Table" discusses the topic of therapy and as far as healthcare in the United States goes, everyone should be allowed some free therapy.  

Throughout this album, though the acoustic plucks and otherwise energetic rock n roll can leave you thinking of other artists, I think the biggest take away is just that Gavin Fox is truly finding his own voice, not just in his singing but in the music which goes along with it.  There will now come a point in time when other artists look to Gavin Fox for inspiration and other music is compared with this.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Music Review //
The Polyphonic Spree
"Got Down To The Soul"


One of the things which I've always loved about The Polyphonic Spree is that they always had this way about making every song feel like a big deal.   Every song felt like it was this big stage production with all these extra players and such.  You know how some bands have that one song where they bring in extra strings or horns or a choir to sing along with- that's how every Polyphonic Spree song feels to me.  

This is reflected well on the latest single, "Got Down To The Soul", which has a bit of that trippy pop that you would find in that particular era of The Beatles, but overall through the distortion, the strings like an orchestra and even a chorus of singers by the end, this song just has that Polyphonic Spree sound to it that we've all come to know and love.  This song just feels like the way some artists go out of their way to make that one song extra, this is happening throughout here.

Perhaps the most interesting lines repeated in this song are:  "Some of us will die / And some of us will sing".  Though it may not be part of the influence, the fact is that we are slowly coming out of a global pandemic circa 2020 and as such you have to think about this lyric in relation with that.  People did die during the pandemic and so this kind of feels like that new beginning idea where those of us who have survived it are going to sing because we're still here and life is to be taken as more precious now.

And without getting political themselves, this song does make me think about the way people during the pandemic chose sides to either help protect themselves and others around them or just decided to ignore all common sense and instructions, which in a lot of ways feels like the title- "Got Down To The Soul".  We got down to the soul of a lot of these people, to see where they stood.  But, this also just serves as a good "take at surface value" type of song and the title could be in reference to just enjoying the music.


Music Review //
Susie Suh
"Blood Moon"


From the second this song starts until it ends the vibe is just one which surrounds you and takes you into its own little world.   With vocals and piano at the front of it all, this song comes out soft spoken but at the same time with the content of it there is a sense of seriousness and just this all around importance which can be felt as well.  It's dramatic in the best possible way.

There are two types of people in this world: those who don't understand astrology and those who do.  If you don't think that the phases of the moon have something to do with the way people act then I think that's being pretty na├»ve.  These ideas have a history behind them, they're not just based on wanting to sell t-shirts or whatever.  It's all very real.

In that sense, this song is about the Blood Moon and it has the line "Blood Moon light up the night".   I enjoy the Blood Moon because it's quite red and makes the sky look like it's bleeding.  It feels like the apocalypse and maybe I shouldn't enjoy that but I'm an Aquarius.  And as the song states with the lyrics:  "I don't know what I can do / I don't know what I can say / but I'm feeling the winds of change", the Blood Moon also brings chaos and change.

Visually, this music video is striking because it exists within a volcanic crater in Hawaii.  The way that all you see is Susie Suh singing and the crater just makes you feel like this is part of nature.  That idea, that spirituality that comes with this, it just works so well with the visuals because it all just comes back to nature.  And you can believe what you want, but this song and video both just represent the Earth and I believe in that.  


Music Review //
Cass Clayton
"We're All Going Down"


https://open.spotify.com/album/5xFtygXvy4ezZvL6x8eLa5?si=Ohk0sKTCQoyLnDnXfT6bRg&nd=1


As soon as this song starts you know it's going to be something special.   The blues guitar sounds as great as the organs which come in with it.   There isn't a particular sound to compare Cass Clayton with, but the way that guitar slaps reminds me of Tracy Chapman.   Inside of that is a blues sound somewhere between B.B. King, The White Stripes and Sharon Van Etten.

One of the great parts of this song as well is that there are probably some people out there who are huge fans of the guitar and will compare this with some obscure musician from the 1970's or earlier.  And in some ways, this song itself could become one of those points of comparisons for future blues based guitar rock.

Lyrically, this song has lines about the preacherman in it and at one point the lyrics which point to him say: "No soul savin' here today".  That, coupled with the idea that we are all going down just makes me feel like one interpretation of this song could be that it's about religion or spirituality in the sense that we're all sinners.

Thinking about it that way, it just has that idea of us all going down so why is one person shaming or trying to act better than someone else?  It's funny especially with social media how quickly people will jump to "This person did something wrong!" and make a mockery of it when they have likely done their own wrong in their lives as well.  None of us is perfect, so let this music take away your judgment and set your soul free.  

Music Review //
Aleksandra Takala
"In My Own Time"


AT_IMOT

https://open.spotify.com/album/20MX3kJa4rqu8nqmf8vJDH?si=uSF28YtbSqK9fPzKXjEgSg&nd=1


When this album first start it has a rattle, a flute and a guitar part which makes me think about "Desperado".   There is a chill vibe to it, as it plays through, but it also makes me feel like I'm out in the desert.   Some chimes come through like magic and it just takes me away to another place.   This takes us into the second song, which builds up more like we're at a Ren Fair and it just feels like we've gone from being in the desert to being in a castle.   There is a lot of what I believe is called "guitar noodling" in here, but then it kicks in dramatically and we're on a great quest.

The pianos become a lot more apparent now and have some tension in them as well within the fourth song.   But now it's also beginning to feel like we're inside of an "X-Files" loop as it goes haunted.   Then by the sixth song we get into this bass line which makes it feel like we're hard at work.  

The further we go into the album, as we approach "Silva's Ride", the music can turn from this medieval sound to more of a direct sound of being at sea, much like a pirate and I can relate that with either being inside of a video game or the popular Disney movie series.  There are still acoustics, there are still strings and other orchestra instruments, but it just takes on a different tone, a different attitude.

In some ways this all just feels like the soundtrack to a film or video game.  It reminds me of "Lord of the Rings" in a film sense, but it can also remind me of a video game that I don't know because it feels like we're going on this quest throughout different locations (land, sea and air!) and it feels like the video game would be made eventually revolving around this most epic soundtrack.  

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Music Review //
Devin James Fry
"PURPLE GLUE, NO HOPE"
(ft. Otem Rellik, Nat Tate)
(Old Faithful Records)


https://open.spotify.com/album/66vIA1hzkZCmfpHOhp3ehE?si=P4CHoqrYTeOv8ykDnX1Ebw&nd=1


Within just these two songs, Devin James Fry has crafted such a wonderful world of music with a sound that can borrow from other places but also come back to be identified only with the song itself.  While there is an underlying theme to both songs, an industrial / electronic / darkwave sort of vibe about them both, each song is distinguishable in their own rights just the same.

"Purple Glue" has this trippy sound which just has a nice groove.  It feels a bit like if Tom Waits was pioneering early (and I'm talking early 1990's) Marilyn Manson or just something that has that distorted goth rock feel to it.   The song can feel electronic like video games just as easily as it can take a turn to the distorted.   Lines like: "One person but I feel like two / Sometimes like three or four" show you what it's about and most people should be able to relate with this.

At the same time, "No Hope" comes on next and has this similar way about it with the beats, but there is spoken word which makes it feel more like a distorted hip hop melody.  Somewhere between the sounds of Blue October, AWOLNATION, Kottonmouth Kings and other bands who combine these sounds is where this song is.  The line: "Now that I have no hope / Ask me if I'm hopeless / Oh, no" becomes a mantra and that shows how great this song would be as a radio single.

While both of these songs can fit into a similar genre, the fact remains that they are also intriguing because listening to them as two and wondering what an album of ten or twelve would sound like raises a lot of questions.    The way that the sound could expand and become even more genre-defying just makes me want to hear more music by Devin James Fry.  For now though, I will listen to these two songs whenever I can to prepare for such an occasion.  


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Baseball Review //
Hartford Colts, 5
Record-Journal Expos, 6
July 19th, 2022
Ceppa Field, Meriden, CT
GHTBL



Official Box Score :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/colts-expos-2/


Additional Photos :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7820022508039255


Last time the Hartford Colts and Record-Journal Expos met it was not a close game, but in their second meeting it stayed close throughout and came right down to the very last play.   When it comes to that tension and suspense, just knowing that any run could be the last one- this game had all of that and that made it a really good game.

First things first, AJ Hendrickson was on the mound for the Expos while Jonathan Martin was up for the Colts.  In many ways, this game was about the pitching because that kept the offense of both teams to a certain level where, yes, they had their innings where they scored but it didn't feel like as much as is represented on paper.

The bottom of the first inning saw a great catch by AJ Desarro in center field for the Colts, who kind of ran into the fence out there and the umpire called time to make sure he was okay.   AJ Hendrickson and Javon Malone would pull a double steal, taking second and third, to help Jeff Massicotte single and drive them both in to give the Expos a 2-0 lead after the first inning.

The second inning was scoreless for both teams but it was highlighted by a catch made near left center field by Nhasean Murphy that was not easy to pull off.  This is the second game in a row now Nhasean Murphy has had that play that you just don't see every player making and it really speaks about what kind of player he is for the Expos.

In the top of the third inning, AJ Desarro would go from first to second on a steal.  John Ahern singles Desarro over to third and then Nick Landell hits a sac fly out to center to bring Desarro in for the first Colts run of the game.   The inning ended on a strike out, but it put the Colts on the board and it was 2-1.

In the bottom of the third inning, Javon Malone was walked and then stole second.  Jason Sullivan would ground out to first, but move Malone over to third, and then AJ Hendrickson does the same only it brings Malone home.   So with two outs, the Expos have put up another run.  And then the Colts were throwing the ball around in a weird way which had Shaun Remillard go to second and Jeff Massicotte scored.   The inning would end with the Expos back up 4-1, and also this was very little to do with the pitching.

The top of the fourth inning was a big one for the Colts and it was where they had their most offense.  Derek Allen hit a single to get on base but then also stole second.   Brett McInerney hits a single and Derek Allen comes home for the first Colts run of the inning.   Wes Ulbrich made it first and third and then a strikeout set the scene as such with two outs.  

With a single by Kyle Darby, the Expos do that thing where they throw the ball around in a weird way (the Colts did it previously this game) and it manages to clear the bases.  There are several factors as to why this might have happened: the heat, the way they cut the field (I saw a ball go to left, drop and bounce up high) or just gravity.  I'm not trying to make excuses I just think it's odd that both teams did it within the same inning of each other.

The game is tied 4-4 after four innings.  When the Colts get into trouble, they bring Nic Civale in to pitch and he gets them out of it.   Both the fifth and sixth innings go by scoreless and all I can think is that the game could go on all night, in the heat even though the sun is going down and there's a nice breeze.

Of course, the seventh inning sees all of the play and it really does come right down to the end.  Greyson Pizzonia comes into the game and hits a grounder to third.  The throw is there and it's really close but the umpire calls him safe at first.  That was definitely a play that should've been reviewed but I don't know who would review it.  On a side note: All season I've been thinking how a tie goes to the runner and everyone usually gets called out when it looks like a tie but this was just such a nice throw by Jason Sullivan- it was a good play no matter the call.

So, with first and second, the Colts hit into a double play but manage to move Greyson Pizzonia to third.  A pitch goes by the catcher and Pizzonia scores, making it a 5-4 ball game.  This felt like a particularly close call for the Colts here because the Expos had been shut down offensively since the third inning.   This felt like it could have been a Colts win based on that inning alone.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Jason Sullivan hits a sweet double.  AJ Hedrickson hits a double as well, which brings Jason Sullivan home and the game is now tied 5-5, just like that.   Jeff Massicotte gets a single and moves Hendrickson over to third.  The Colts intentionally walk Andrew McCarty to load the bases.   And then Will Kszywanos is up.  I'm not sure there is anyone on the Expos you really want to walk because you'd rather face someone else, but I understand that the Colts likely did this for the force outs and to hope for a double play.

Will Kszywanos, being that folklore type of hero that he is, hits a shot to right field that at first I thought was going over the fence and we were having a grandslam.   But it drops just at the wall and brings in the winning run to have the game end 6-5.  In any other situation, that certainly would have cleared the bases so kind of sad Kszywanos gets one RBI instead of three, but the Expos also won.  

This win put the Expos back above the Orioles and the Expos are only in second place by one game because the Jets have played two more games than them.  The Jets at the top at 15-4 while the Expos are 13-4, so both only have four losses compared to the 14-5 record of the Orioles.   So this remains a really tight spot for all three of these teams and between the rest of this week and next week it's going to get tense.

The Expos next play the Cardinals at Pat Wall Field on Friday night.   This will be their third and final regular season meeting.   The Expos won the first two games- 7-5 back in May at Ceppa Field and more recently at the end of June 8-3 at Pat Wall Field.  So this will be one of those questions as to whether or not the Expos can sweep the Cardinals as they have been improving over the course of the season and battle to get out of that wild card spot and make the Greeners and Colts fight for it.

The Colts are done for this week but pick up at Johnny Taylor Field on Sunday against the Vernon Orioles and then they meet the Orioles again on Tuesday at Johnny Taylor Field.  Next Thursday, July 28th, as the season comes to its end the Expos make their way to Johnny Taylor Field for the third and final meeting between these two teams.  

The Cardinals and Greeners also play each other for the third and final time of the regular season tomorrow night at Pat Wall Field, which will be interesting as the Greeners and Cardinals both have four wins, the Colts have 6 wins and it's still really a tight race to see who will be the bottom two teams to have a wild card game and make the playoffs.

And if that is not enough baseball for you, the Rainbow Graphics (fifth place, 9-9) take on the South Windsor Phillies (sixth place, 6-10) tonight in South Windsor.  With the Colts and Phillies meeting next week as well, who knows, maybe the Phillies will get knocked down to the wild card spot.  It's all still so close and still so important.  


Music Review //
Andrew Ruoti
"Odyssey"


https://open.spotify.com/album/3XZccBcD25BWr5Ujx9IKGQ?si=TDKwUi8VSkOhwGNiyALIMQ&nd=1


The sound of Andrew Ruoti has two distinct sides to it, the first being instrumental and more ambient and the second being more pop-like and with vocals.  These two sounds take turns on the "Odyssey" EP as the first song- "State of the World"- begins with these dramatic strings and they grow into almost a sound of horror.  It is building, yet it is also ambient.  This should be noted in the third and fifth songs as well, as the second song takes on a different style.

"Special Day" is a song that is about just that- and the lyrics reflect as such as well- and it just becomes more upbeat like pop / acoustic rock.  There is also a little bit of rapping inside of this song and it makes me think of P.O.D.   "Trials and Tribulations" has this swirly bliss with vocals in the background, but again it's more like the first song than the second and when you listen to this EP you'll notice that change up.

"Deconstruct" begins with dark acoustics but then it kicks in a little bit heavier than "Special Day".   It has a nice rhythm and reminds me of those No Motiv type melodies.  Somehow, this song also just feels a bit spiritual and on that level so does the entire EP.  The fourth song flows right into the fifth and the lyrics "come into my world" from "Deconstruct" also carry over into "Odivisha", which feels like more of a mantra.

Perhaps my favorite part of this EP is that the style changes from song to song and even though it has that pattern of being instrumental and then not, the two songs on here which do have lyrics aren't exactly the same and three which do not aren't either.   So you have this same sort of idea throughout the EP but executed in different ways and it just shows this overall vast and unique sound of Andrew Ruoti and that just makes it that much easier to listen to as well.


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Baseball Review //
Record-Journal Expos, 4
Vernon Orioles, 6
July 17th, 2022
Frank J. McCoy Field, Vernon, CT
GHTBL



Official Box Score :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/expos-orioles-2/


Additional photos can be found here :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7815127828528723

This was my first time at Frank J. McCoy Field this season and let me just say that a lot has changed.  They played the National Anthem before the game (most twilight league games do not) and then there was this person announcing the players and such which was nice at first because I knew who the batters were without having to look them up, but as this person tried to take us through their version of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" it made me grateful for all of the other fields we go to that simply do not.

Distractions such as those aside, this was also only my second time seeing the Vernon Orioles this season, as the first time I saw them was at Ceppa Field vs the Expos and this would be their third meeting.  It was a high profile type of game because the Jets, Expos and Orioles are all battling it out at the top for first place.  I kind of like that the GHTBL is nine teams because they seem to have broken off into three clusters- top, mid and bottom.  

Two things to note coming out of this game: The Expos were moved up to second place as the Orioles have previously beaten the Jets and knocked them down to second place.  However, since the Jets also won on Sunday night, the Expos dropped to third place and the Orioles moved up only to second as the Jets maintain a half game lead over them.   To put it bluntly: these top three teams are really close and seem to change with every game.  We're winding down the season and every game truly does matter.

One of the best ways to describe this game was that Bill Riggieri of the Vernon Orioles was just out there pitching a masterpiece for the Vernon Orioles while Charlie Hesseltine was doing the same.   To his credit, Charlie Hesseltine gave up four runs in the first inning but then settled down after that.  Had it not been for that first inning explosion of offense this might have been a different game.   And the Expos, though they lost, battled back every inning, never feeling out of it no matter how the Orioles responded.

An interesting stat coming out of this game is that Jimmy Titus (who either leads the league in everything batting or sits behind AJ Hendrickson in such) had one at bat, doubled and then was able to come home on a single.   However, when Jimmy Titus came home he sort of did a barrell roll for some reason and his teammates and such were asking him afterwards if he was okay.  It took me a minute to realize it, but they took him out of the game so I hope everything is ok with him.  (He also could've possibly played last night in the Connecticut Twilight League but that, like all games in CT, was rained out)

When you're watching two of the top teams in the league play, you expect it to be exciting and either full of offense or just one of those close games with only a few runs and this was one of those games full of offense.  It felt like at any time it could've exploded even further had it not been for the pitching, so those are the true heroes of this game.

My play of the game though goes undoubtedly to Nhasean Murphy who threw a rocket from center field to home plate to save a run as the Orioles runner was going, thinking he could make it and was just the victim of a tremendous throw.  Winning or losing, these are the types of things you just love to see in the game.

This week the Orioles take on People's in Wethersfield tonight and then at home in Vernon on Thursday.  M&T People's is one of those wild card teams where they might seem like a sure victory but that isn't always the case and the Orioles could take a loss in one of those games.  The Expos are playing the Colts at home tonight and then the Cardinals on Friday at Pat Wall Field, so they're staying fairly local and that's nice.

Perhaps the team of the week to watch is the Rainbow Graphics as they have the only GHTBL game on Wednesday against the Phillies and then they play a rare Saturday night game against the Greeners.  If you're following the GHTBL for baseball and not one specific team, those should be good match ups as it's tough to predict a winner for either of them.  (I know the stats say the Greeners should lose but my gut says they might pull it out)

We also happen to be in the second to last week of the regular season, with games coming to an end in August and then it's the playoffs.   So it just feels like now more than ever it's time to dive in head first and not come up for air until the season is over.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Music Review //
Josh Kelley
Full Performance and Interview (Live at the Print Shop)


Often times I feel spoiled when it comes to music because I grew up in a time when MTV was at its best and even VH1 was trying to compete with it.   All of this modern technology is great, but a lot of it doesn't seem to make a difference when it comes to how music is presented.  It's the same idea of how we don't have a place to steadily view music videos any more.   Seeing this performance and interview from The Print Shop makes me think of the days of MTV's Unplugged and VH1's Storytellers.

The tough thing with creating something like this is that not only do you have to be someone who interviews musicians (which I am) but you have to also have that space for them to perform songs (I don't), all the equipment to record the music and then to piece it all together as The Print Shop has done here is quite the feat.  Going from a stage to a couch with performing and interviewing is not something everyone can do but The Print Shop just excels at it here, reminding me of my younger years.

Josh Kelley sings his songs, most of the time with the help of his acoustic guitar although at one point he does go to the piano.   During the interview portion- which is spliced in between the performance- they discuss how Josh Kelley has been around but is also kind of a new artist and he uses the term "rediscovered".   You may or may not have heard of Josh Kelley before, but if you're looking for a way to dive into his soulful melodies, this video presents the perfect opportunity for you to do that in a way that both a studio album and live performance would accomplish.

There is also the interview aspect to this, which is like if you were on a website or reading a magazine article about Josh Kelley.   All of these things combined in such a way just truly feels like a bit of magic.   Josh Kelley mentions his famous wife but doesn't name drop Katherine Heigl so I had to go to Wikipedia to find that out.   The Wikipedia entry also taught me that Josh Kelley was born the day before me.   With discovering the music (and how he goes into the Fresh Prince theme song at one point) from learning these types of facts which I will always remember now, The Print Shop just does such a great way of shining a spotlight on Josh Kelley and I'm eager for more from both.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Baseball Review //
Wallingford Cardinals, 5
Bristol Greeners, 6
July 15th, 2022
Bristol Central High School, Bristol, CT
GHTBL


Official box score :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/cardinals-greeners


Additional photos :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7801193359922170


Two days ago the Bristol Greeners only had two wins: one over the Hartford Colts and one over the Wallingford Cardinals.   On Thursday night the Colts had a chance at redemption and this game became the Cardinals chance to not lose again to the Greeners in their second meeting of the season.  Every team is playing each other three times this season in the GHTBL and it seems like it is difficult for a team to take all three of those games.

This game started out innocently enough but it didn't end the way that it should.   The Cardinals and Greeners had this back and forth game which ended on a terrible call and just kind of felt like watching a movie that you were really into with a surprise ending that made no sense.  I imagine this being like a mystery/thriller and then at the end it's revealed that who did it was someone that felt more like a plothole than actual closure.

After two innings, the Cardinals took an early 1-0 lead.  The Greeners had managed to put Alex Koletar on base with a HBP and then Koletar stole second, stole third and ultimately stole home on a wild pitch.    This whole series of events would play itself out again in Koletar's next at bat, as he was once again HBP and stole second.  

In the bottom of the third, the Greeners put some hits together, with a double scoring the first run of the game for them and then a sac fly moved a runner to third and that runner would score on a single giving the Greeners the 2-1 lead after three innings.

The fourth inning was where all the offense would come from.  The Cardinals would put up four runs that inning.  With one out and bases loaded a huge double would bring in two runs and leave runners on second and third.  A wild pitch would bring in the third run of the inning, which would move the runner over to third and then that runner would also score on another wild pitch, giving the Cardinals a 5-2 lead.  

The Greeners would have their own burst of offense in the bottom of the fourth as two runs score on a double and then another double would score the third and tying run for the game.  The Greeners and Cardinals would both sit at 5-5 for the fifth and sixth inning.  It became this stalemate where it was just a matter of waiting for either team to score, knowing it could be the run that wins it all.

As we approached the seventh inning it got darker.  The weather was cooling down and we were nearing 8:30 with a game that started at 6:00.  I was questioning in my head and aloud to my dad as well whether or not we thought there would be an eighth inning if the teams remained tied or if they would suspend the game and pick it up at a later date.   We both agreed that there would likely be no eighth inning and the game would resume elsewhere at a different date.

Going into the bottom of the seventh there was that feeling amongst the Greeners and their fans of "Let's win this one and go home".   They had two outs with runners on second and third and it felt like the game was about to be put into limbo as the batter at the plate reached his third and final strike.

However, the Cardinals catcher dropped the ball and if you have two outs you're allowed to run to first on a strikeout so this play unfolded.  The Cardinals catcher- to his credit- threw right to first and the first baseman stepped right on the base for the out.  The Greeners batter hesitated, not sure at first that he was allowed to run before he heard his teammates yelling at him to do so.  When the ball was at first, this runner was less than halfway to the base.   

The Cardinals first baseman even tagged the runner out for good measure before he reached the base and yet somehow the umpires called him safe.   And since he was safe, the ball was live (Which I somewhat question) and the runner on third went home to score and give the Greeners the walk off victory.

Look, I love a good walk off story.  A homerun is the best way to do it.  Drop a single in front of an outfielder and score someone from second or even a grounder up the middle.  And there are some less than stellar ways to walk off a game, which are not as exciting but are still effective, such as a bases loaded BB which brings in the winning run or I even remember recently seeing an MLB end with a walkoff on a balk.

The way that this runner for the Greeners struck out, was tagged out at the base and his body, but then was somehow called safe which somehow managed to have the runner on third score is just some of the worst calling I've seen by an umpire (but that's fine, umpires are human and they do make mistakes) but it was just also such an unsatisfying way for the game to end.  

Don't think about whether you are a fan of either team or if you play for either team.  Imagine you read about this happening to two teams you'd never heard of before.  And they have this great game going for six and a half innings where they just feel so equally matched.  One team says "I can do this" and the other team says "I can do it too!" and it has this tie to where it feels like you're going into extra innings but you don't.

Then with two outs, you see the hitter strike out and ultimately get out three different ways before he is called safe at first and then that is how the game ends on a walkoff.  I feel like if the Greeners hit a single up the middle or even had that sixth run walked in it'd be a different feeling but this just doesn't feel right.   It doesn't feel like the way any game should end, it certainly doesn't feel like the way any team should win but sometimes baseball can also be odd and anti-climactic I suppose.  

The Cardinals have a bit of a busy week ahead of them now.  On Sunday they welcome the Jets to Pat Wall Field.   On Tuesday, the Graphics come to Pat Wall and then on Thursday the Cardinals and Greeners have their third and final meeting of the season at Pat Wall Field as well.  The Cardinals also play the Expos on Friday next week at Pat Wall, so it's just going to be a busy week there all around and the Cardinals will once again meet some of the top teams in the league.

The Greeners, however, do not return to action until their game next Thursday at Pat Wall Field where they will see the Cardinals again.  On Friday, the Jets are at the Greeners and in a rare Saturday GHTBL game the Graphics are at the Greeners, both at Bristol Central.  These two teams- the Greeners and the Cardinals- are having a similar week as they both meet the Jets, Graphics and each other.


Friday, July 15, 2022

Music Review //
Ava Della Pietra
"long way home"

 


The music of Ava Della Pietra really shines on this song.  It has this distinct sound of being upbeat- like the way Casio keys combine with a drum machine- but yet it can also feel a bit more down like Lana Del Rey.  As the lyrics suggest, the sound of "long way home" just really has that vibe of having fun because of what you're doing right now but then knowing that it's going to come to an end and so that adds a level of sadness and longing.

Though this is a lyric video, there are also still images shown throughout in front of backgrounds and they move kind of like paper dolls.  It's a neat collage aspect to see in the video and sometimes artists will have a "lyric video" and it's just a basic font over a solid color background, so the way that this music video does feel a bit artsy should not be overlooked or taken for granted.

Lyrically this song is about a roadtrip and just being young.   There are the lines: "My friends and I / driving on a summer day / singing our hearts out / the entire way" and it just hits home.  I've been part of many roadtrips in my day, in my youth, where we would sometimes go see a band play two states over or we'd simply just drive to nowhere.  

In many ways, this song is about taking that drive on the way back and knowing that the trip is coming to an end.   But it also has that feeling of being care-free from when you're just out there living life.  But as the trip ends, so does summer and so does your youth and things just change all around.   But this song is just such a nice reminder to hold onto the moments that you have while you can because they all end up in the past eventually.  

Music Review //
LOVE CRUSHED VELVET
"SADDENED EYES"


 

For as much time as I've spent thinking about making playlists for parties using Spotify, I've also really thought about using YouTube as a playlist for a party because then not only do the guests get the audio of the song they get the visual to go with it.  The abstract shapes and waves which form throughout this video by LOVE CRUSHED VELVET, often times in shades of red and blue, are the perfect way to accompany the song.

I also like to think back to when record stores were more prominent and with the technology we have today there would be no reason why record stores couldn't put in flatscreen televisions to play music videos rather than just having speakers with audio.   This video would also look great doing that, as the images sort of present one of those 3D images we used to stare at in the 1990's until a specific image would appear.   

LOVE CRUSHED VELVET has this sound which is a bit like Depeche Mode but also in a modern sense as well.   An artist such as Blue October can be heard but there are these synths at the end of this song as well which just somehow take it to the 21st Century.   It has this almost dance beat to it as well, where it does make you want to get up and move, but yet the song is kind of more serious in a lyrical sense because the chorus is about liking your saddened eyes.

In some ways, the lyrics have that idea of telling someone that they're pretty when they cry.   We shouldn't be promoting people crying because that feels like we're encouraging them to be upset, but at the same time crying is therapeutic so it's this sort of grey area I'm going to leave alone now.   However you should choose to take these lyrics, this song has that sort of dreamy sort of dance but also darkwave way about it and it just needs to be on playlists everywhere.  

Music Review //
Danceland
"Not Without A Fight"


Right away, I love this music video and song because it addresses a lot of issues all at once.  If you've been living in the United States or at least keeping up with what's been happening here since the global pandemic of 2020 it's been a mess (which is an under statement) as it just feels like the country is faced with one disaster after another.  And the problem is, in a large sense, with social media it becomes a matter of "Which one are we dealing with today?"

So while something might be prominent this week, next week the masses could've moved onto something else.   Which is bad because there are that many problems we must face but also some of our issues I think get left behind.  Danceland has done a great job in this video through song and visuals to show just what has been going on and what we can't continue to accept.  It's about blocking out that hate and moving forward.

In a lot of ways, I feel like we need another Woodstock- another festival about peace and love where people can get together and just accept each other and if anyone has a problem with that they're not invited.   But also, corporate sponsors and that type of thing would need to be left out because they need to be protested against too.   "Not Without A Fight" has that protest song feel to it and if it makes you uncomfortable then perhaps you're part of the problem.

Back in 2015, I remember reading about Sandra Bland all over social media.  It filled me with a great amount of fear.   And then one day, the news shifted and it was like it never happened and I never really felt like there was a sense of closure.   But things like this are happening all the time.  We're outraged on social media but do nothing otherwise and then just move onto something else.   With these melodies and thought-provoking lyrics I really hope Danceland can help people see the bigger picture of what is wrong with this country and how we can change it.

Music Review //
Jacob Didas
"Rise & Fall"


https://open.spotify.com/album/4tamfcDI2RWZTLIxeg8Luv?si=3t_xKPzkQ4OOz5SCCra6_g&nd=1


As soon as this song hits the first note you can tell it's going to be something different.  The vocals in here are sort of singing but they're also sort of rapping so I'm not sure which one they are but it's a nice line in between.   Overall the sound can remind me of Twenty One Pilots or Fort Minor and really I don't think Fort Minor gets enough credit or comparisons so I'm very happy to hear them in here.

The pacing of the song and the beats suggest hip hop, but there are just these guitars and electronic sounds which bring it to a whole other level.  It's a good song to get hyped up too though because it has a lot of energy.   There are a lot of lyrics so picking out lines can be easily done, right up until the very end of the song.  In a lot of ways there is a lot to digest here, you're being hit with a lot all at once, but the more you listen to it the more it makes sense.

Growing up as a teen in the 1990's was great for music but I listened to hip hop and would be used to something hard like Dr. Dre, Ice Cube or 2Pac and then I'd get hit with A Tribe Called Quest and it'd completely blow my mind.   But then I also got later into different electronic music, which was like KMFDM and the such, so just to think of it in that techno/industrial way as well adds a whole other layer to it.

To be able to still hear new music that doesn't really sound exactly like anything else- or even a specific genre- but can also still bring me back to those days of when I was first discovering music myself is something really special.  Jacob Didas has just created such a wonderful sound here everyone should listen to this song at least once even if just to step out of your comfort zone.  You might just come to like it.  

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Music Review //
The Last Optimist
"This Moment is Gone"


https://open.spotify.com/album/4ysWPkIsNjj4byTd3T0Wmr?si=YbdcEFEcTCK819LkYEDkeg&nd=1


The music of The Last Optimist relies heavily on an acoustic guitar and voice, but the lyrics often times tell a story and just feel like they carry this entire EP.   With the acoustic harmonies opening up this EP, the bass eventually does drop in to create a different vibe for the song.  Right away it reminds me of TMBG or Death Cab For Cutie.  There is a moment as well on the first song where it gets quieter- the acoustics are alone- and then kicks back in.

While "beneath a towering tree" seems to just be those acoustic plucks and singing, like a folk song, "boy in a well" takes on a more serious, darker tone within the acoustics as the lyrics deal with a boy being stuck in a well and the mission to get him free.   The fourth track has a different vibe, almost like Zorro, but it still fits into the acoustics.   The fifth song, "she got carried away", has bass and drums which make it feel groovy.

By the last song you will have gotten the idea of how this EP is going to sound, but you'll also likely go back and listen a few more times to digest all of the lyrics.   There are stories within here and even on the last song lines such as "Slept under the stars in our underwear / one morning she wasn't there" can paint a broad picture in the imagination.

In the world today, it's tough to be an optimist.  Just look at Twitter and you'll see what I mean.   But not only is The Last Optimist offering up some hope here, there is a sense of being able to listen to this EP as a distraction, to forget about that outside world for a bit.   While it won't make your problems go away, it can help to ease your mind and perhaps see them a little bit differently.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Wrestling Review //
Pro Wrestling GRIND
"Doctor, Doctor!"
July 1st, 2022
Pulaski Club, Easthampton, MA



Going into this show I knew that there were several songs titled "Doctor, Doctor" and there's even a song that doesn't have it in the title but still sings it a lot by Robert Palmer.  When I think of "Doctor, Doctor" though my musical mind goes right to The Academy Is... and their song "The Phrase That Pays", which has the line "Oh Doctor, Doctor, I must have gotten this sick somehow".    So on the way to this show we listened to The Academy Is... a bunch.

This GRIND show- like all GRIND shows- seemed to have big implications with the upcoming title tournament and we found out that while GRIND is going to the RPM Fest in early September they return to the Pulaski Club on September 30th, meaning that there is no August show but also the September show will likely start the title tournament and so that will likely all be finalized in the coming weeks.

Every GRIND show is really their best show because there's always matches that you want to see- none of them are ones you can skip.  So when someone asks me it's not like I can say "Oh yeah, you have to see this match so watch this show" because I feel that way about every match on every show.   And "Doctor, Doctor!" didn't disappoint but rather just added more wrestling for those to watch who might be finding out about GRIND like a year from now.



The show opened up with Rip Byson vs Perry Von Vicious and this was a good way to start things.   Two friends and tag team partners going at it while they both know what's at stake not only in the title tournament but as the show goes on.  In a lot of ways, on GRIND shows it's beneficial to the wrestlers to go on first because then you set that bar of "Ok, top that" and leave it up to everyone else to do so.  


Joseph Alexander and Mike Skyros were up second and they had this hard fought match with strikes and suplexes that I don't think we've seen for the last time.  This might've been the second match on this show, but in a few years this is going to be a main event somewhere and you just can feel it coming because of the intensity.    These two just felt like they were made to wrestle each other, their styles just complemented each other so well, so I'd like to definitely see them do it again and again.


MSP took on the Brick City Boyz in the third match and first tag team match.  This was an interesting match because GRIND is a place where the crowd won't boo you unless you give them a reason to boo you.  GRIND is all about respect.   The Brick City Boyz came out and did some disrespectful things, but at the end still somehow got that round of applause from the fans for their effort.   BCB are big and they hit hard, but they also have speed.  When the timing is right, I'd love to see them versus the Saito Brothers.

The fourth match took us into intermission and since it was the first match announced for this show I thought it would go on last but it was a nice middle of the show main event while we took time to reset for the second half as Anthony Henry wrestled Travis Huckabee.  The thing about this match is that no one is really doing just that old school style of wrestling any more but overall as a performer Travis Huckabee has to be up there amongst the best.   And then, of course, Anthony Henry is quite possibly the best wrestler in the world today (I would argue that he is)


What I enjoyed about this match was that you could see the technical aspect of it.  There was reversal upon reversal upon reversal and both of them just seemed to have found their equal.  But then, at some point as Huckabee sat in the ring, you'd just see Anthony Henry nail Huckabee in the back with this huge kick and you think "Well, that's it".   This was as much about technical skill as it was about toughness.  This is my favorite Anthony Henry match.  This is my favorite Travis Huckabee match (and that match with Carlos Romo comes really close as well) and this is also just my favorite match of 2022.

During intermission I had to get up to walk around and so I went to the merch tables.  Channing Thomas wasn't out but he had his shirts and I was trying to get a small for Quentin but J Cruz told me all he had was XL so I got one for me.  I moved down the table to Anthony Henry and bought an 8x10 and trading card sort of thing he had and then that put my towards Mike Skyros.  As I'm doing all of this, Quentin was with ABBS but then when I got closer towards their merch, I see Quentin just hanging out with MSP and Aggro looks like he's about to hit him with the F5.   It was so great.




Coming out of intermission we went into Channing Thomas vs Max ZERO, a match which was just entirely too pretty for me.   Before the match Channing Thomas addressed that he was 0-2 and said he was basically bringing in Sidney Bakabella to help him now.  This was the GRIND debut for Max ZERO but boy can he get it done inside that ring, throwing Channing Thomas around like a small child.  I still have a desire to see Max ZERO vs Perry Von Vicious and I'm still one of the only ones clapping for Channing Thomas but he's just really good.


The Mane Event was up next against Miracle Generation and even though the Saito Brothers are in Japan (shout out Tajiri) it's so cool to see that the tag team division in GRIND isn't slacking.  And even though this was the debut GRIND show for Miracle Generation, there are still other tag teams out there now like The Haven, The Outfielders, The Faceless Ones and Petty In Pink who I think would just fit in so well also.   This was all the high flying fast paced action I hoped it would be and more.   Definitely one of the best tag team matches this year.

Gary Jay took on Jay Freddie in the main event and this is the only match I'm going to kind of spoil in terms of who won, so if you don't want to know about that then stop reading now, ok?  Ok, bye.   So this match started as any match between two of the toughest wrestlers in the world would start.   Then, Jay Freddie was knocked to the outside near the entrance way and the referee and a number of wrestlers came to check on him as he apparently went unconscious.   Gary Jay is being held back but he still wants to go.


After he's taken to the back, Jay Freddie is up and comes back out and is ready to fight again.   Really, there's no stopping or controlling these two, so they go for it.  At this point in the show, I also must say that though Quentin had been doing good at watching this show and enjoying the matches he asked me what happened on the outside (we couldn't really see it from where we were, so I had to explain it to him) and he became very heavily invested in this match and in the idea of Jay Freddie winning.


At one point during the match, Jay Freddie hit a piledriver on Gary Jay on the apron right in front of us and Quentin said "That's what he gets for attacking him before when he was down!"  Jay Freddie would battle back and ultimately win this match and Quentin was also very excited about this.  I asked him on the ride home what his favorite match was and he said it was this one because he was glad that Jay Freddie came back and won.   Sometimes your matches can be brutally violent but tell stories at the same time and this did exactly that.


I'm kind of sad GRIND won't be back at Pulaski until the end of September because that's the rest of July and August perhaps without wrestling.  I really do kind of plan all my wrestling adventures around GRIND these days, though I have to see how it works out if we can go to the RPM Fest show since you can buy tickets just for the wrestling part.  On the plus side I can also spend that time thinking (and writing) about the upcoming title tournament.   I'm also definitely going to watch this show back when it airs on IWTV.