Top 20 Television Shows 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018

First quarter

Here are the 20 best television shows of 2017.

1. Basketball: A Love Story (ESPN)
2. Better Call Saul (AMC)
3. Succession (HBO)
4. The Americans (FX)
5. Atlanta (FX)
6. Barry (HBO)
7. Cobra Kai (YouTube Red)
8. New Japan Pro Wrestling (AXS)
9. Killing Eve (BBCA)
10. Mr. In-Between (FX)

11. High Maintenance (HBO)
12. The Good Place (NBC)
13. Superstore (NBC)
14. The Deuce (HBO)
15. Ozark (Netflix)
16. All in With Chris Hayes (MSNBC)
17. Crashing (HBO)
18. I'm Dying Up Here (Showtime)
19. Arrested Development (Netflix)
20. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

-I mean, a 20 hour documentary about basketball is going to be hard to beat.  Saul has been good from minute one, better than it needed to be as a sequel to an inner circle Hall of Fame drama.  Succession's the best wholly new creation - and Americans is here primarily for the final episode of the series.  Atlanta and Barry are pretty clearly the two best 30 minutes of the year; my favorite show to watch this year was the thoroughly unexpected Karate Kid sequel.  Wrestling occupies a disproportionate amount of my life; and there's never been as good a weekly show in the US as the hour AXS does each week from New Japan.  Two fast paced international dramas round out the top ten.  

Best Television Shows 2018 (Oct-December)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

July-September is here.

1. Basketball: A Love Story (ESPN)
2. Mr. In-Between (FX)
3. The Deuce (HBO)
4. Ozark (Netflix)
5. Castaway (ABC)
6. Romanoffs (Amazon)
7. Forever (Amazon)
8. Homecoming (Amazon)
9. American Vandal (Netflix)
10. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)

Basketball is pretty remarkable, a 20 hour documentary looking to cover the entire existence of the sport - only two shows later on this list avoid the label of being a little disappointing.  One of those is Mr. In-Between, a crackling Australian drama about a bonebreaker with a heart of gold.  The other was Castaway, a network reality show with people dropped off on an island that actually aired over the summer but I didn't get to until October.  Everything else was good...but....The Deuce was the best TV series in 2017, so that it's only third for this quarter represents a bit of a drop off - but only a bit, there's a depth of world building here that surpasses the rest of television. Ozark is almost entirely plot and played the same notes in season two, but played them well.  I'm of the mind that Mad Men is the greatest television show ever created, so the bar for Romanoffs was impossibly high; I think "inessential" would be the best way to describe it. The two star studded Amazon debuts are next; I like Fred and Maya; everyone likes Julia - and those were easy shows to watch and disappeared as soon as the set clicked off.  I loved - loved - season 1 of American Vandal, I was at the high end of critical evaluation of season 1, but without the performance of the main suspect, season 2 lacked the same depth.  About half a dozen shows could have filled this last spot - that Emma Stone/Jonah Hill show, whose name I can't remember, the Patricia Arquette prison escape show - I really like the new late night talk shows on E and had Ladygang in that spot right up until press time.  In the end, it's Maisel, which has a really strong comic performance by the lead and is grating when she's off the screen.  Not here is Kidding; Eternal Sunshine is very high on my all time movie list, and I found Jim Carrey impossible to watch here.  Watch that documentary he did this year instead.

The Greatest MLB Tournament Ever Created (AL, Round One, Group 7)

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Previous group

7. 1954 Indians (lost WS)
122. 1994 White Sox (1st in AL Central)

2 Indians teams have already moved on; given that '94 was a shortened season, this is likely to be the third. The Indians have 30 year olds Al Rosen and Larry Doby and then the arms - 34 year old Early Wynn, 30 year old Mike Garcia, 33 year old Bob Lemon.  For the Sox - both Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura are 26.

C Push
1B White Sox-Thomas
2B Indians-Avila
SS White Sox-Strickland
3B Indians-Rosen
LF Indians-Smith
CF Indians-Doby
RF White Sox-Jackson
DH White Sox-Franco
SP1 Push
SP2 Indians-Garcia
SP3 Push
Cl Indians-Narleski
Double: Bat WAR Indians
Double: Pit WAR Indians

Indians 10 White Sox 4 - as expected, it's the Tribe who advances.

58. 1920 Yankees (3rd in AL)
71. 1975 A's (lost ALCS)

-16 Yankees teams are in the Field of '64, 5 A's teams join them. There's a 25 year old Babe Ruth on the Yankees, there's a 29 year old Reggie Jackson with Oakland. 

C A's-Tenace
1B A's-Rudi
2B Yankees-Pratt
SS Push
3B A's-Bando
LF A's-Washington
CF A's-North
RF Yankees-Ruth
DH Yankees-Meusel
SP1 Push
SP2 Yankees-Shawkey
SP3 Yankees-Quinn
Cl A's-Fingers
Double: Bat WAR A's
Double: Pit WAR Push

A's 8 Yankees 5 - New York will have to wait for that 17th entrant; Oakland's solid up and down the lineup and moves on.

26. 1971 Orioles (lost WS)
103. 2018 Yankees (lost ALDS)

-The Yankees have lost several series' in a row, they're holding firm at 16 moving forward, 4 Orioles teams are joining them.  Brooks Robinson is 34, Frank's 35.  Jim Palmer is a decade younger. For the Bombers, Aaron Judge is 26, Giancarlo Stanton is 28. 

C Orioles-Hendricks
1B Orioles-Powell
2B Orioles-Johnson
SS Orioles-Belanger
3B Orioles-Robinson
LF Orioles-Buford
CF Yankees-Hicks
RF Yankees-Judge
DH Orioles-Rettenmund
SP1 Yankees-Severino
SP2 Orioles-Dobson
SP3 Orioles-Palmer
Cl Yankees-Chapman
Double: Bat WAR Orioles
Double: Pit WAR Yankees

Orioles 11 Yankees 6 - the Oriole bats (I don't think we've seen a matchup start like this, Baltimore winning each battle through LF) overcome the Yankee arms. 

39. 1905 White Sox (2nd in AL)
90. 2018 Indians (lost ALDS)

-we just saw the Indians beat the White Sox to move their 3rd team forward; Chicago also looking to advance their third club.  Ed Walsh is 24, George Davis 34 for Chicago - Cleveland's got a 24 year old Francisco Lindor, a 25 year old Jose Ramirez, a 32 year old Corey Kluber. 

C Indians-Gomes
1B White Sox-Donahue
2B Indians-Kipnis
SS Indians-Lindor
3B Indians-Ramirez
LF Indians-Brantley
CF White Sox-Jones
RF White Sox-Green
DH White Sox-Isbell
SP1 Indians-Kluber
SP2 Indians-Clevinger
SP3 Indians-Carrasco
Cl White Sox-Patterson
Double: Bat WAR Indians
Double: Pit WAR Indians

Indians 12 White Sox 5 - the Indians really thump the Sox, getting almost all of the pitching points and nearly running the table with the IF matchups.  

10. 1909 A's (2nd in AL)
119. 1966 Orioles (won WS)

-5 Baltimore teams have advanced to the Round of 64, the A's have six - Eddie Collins is 22, Home Run Baker's 23, Chief Bender's 25 and Eddie Plank is 33.  For the Orioles - Frank's 30, Brooks is 29, Palmer's 20 and McNally's 23. 

C A's-Thomas
1B Orioles-Powell
2B A's-Collins
SS Orioles-Aparicio
3B A's-Baker
LF Orioles-Blefary
CF Orioles-Blair
RF Orioles-Robinson
SP1 A's-Plank
SP2 A's-Bender
SP3 A's-Morgan
Cl Orioles-Miller
Double: Bat WAR A's
Double: Pit WAR A's

A's 10 Orioles 6 - dead even through the matchups, the A's won the overall bats very, very narrowly, but then took the arms and won the day.  

55. 1920 Indians (won WS)
74. 2017 Yankees (lost ALCS)

-3 Cleveland teams have moved on; NYY is holding firm at 16. This Indians club is led by a 32 year old Tris Speaker and 30 year old Stan Coveleski; the Yankees have a 25 year old Aaron Judge and 24 year old Gary Sanchez.

C Indians-O'Neill
1B Indians-Johnston
2B Yankees-Castro
SS Indians-Chapman
3B Indians-Gardner
LF Yankees-Gardner
CF Indians-Speaker
RF Yankees-Judge
DH Indians-Evans
SP1 Indians-Bagby
SP2 Indians-Coveleski
SP3 Yankees-Montgomery
Cl Yankees-Chapman
Double: Bat WAR Indians
Double: Pit WAR Yankees

Indians 10 Yankees 7 - close, Yankees had a slight mound edge, Indians had a slightly larger edge with the bats - and that carries the day. 

23. 1915 White Sox (3rd in AL)
106. 1985 Yankees (2nd in AL east)

-The Yankees, perhaps you've heard, are holding firm at 16 teams advancing; the Sox have just two so far.  Eddie Collins is 28, Red Faber 26; New York has a 26 year old Rickey Henderson, a 24 year old Don Mattingly and a 33 year old Dave Winfield. 

C White Sox-Schalk
1B Yankees-Mattingly
2B White Sox-Collins
SS White Sox-Weaver
3B Yankees-Pagliarulo
LF Yankees-Griffey
CF Yankees-Henderson
RF Yankees-Winfield
DH Yankees-Baylor
SP1 Yankees-Guidry
SP2 White Sox-Scott
SP3 White Sox-Benz
Cl Yankees-Righetti
Double: Bat WAR Yankees
Double: Pit WAR White Sox

Yankees 10 White Sox 7 - there's number 17; New York's bats move their way into the Round of 64.

42. 1948 Yankees (3rd in AL)
87. 1961 Tigers (2nd in AL)

-we finish AL Group 7, 5 Detroit teams and 17 NYY are headed to the Round of '64; there is one Yankees/Yankees matchup set for the next round and if the '48 club can win this one, there will be another.  This Yankees club has a 33 year old DiMaggio and a 23 year old Berra.  Detroit's led by 26 year olds Al Kaline and Norm Cash.

C Tigers-Brown
1B Tigers-Cash
2B Yankees-Stirnweiss
SS Yankees-Rizutto
3B Yankees-Johnson
LF Tigers-Colavito
CF Yankees-DiMaggio
RF Tigers-Kaline
SP1 Tigers-Lary
SP2 Tigers-Bunning
SP3 Tigers-Mossi
Cl Tigers-Fox
Double: Bat WAR Tigers
Double: Pit WAR Tigers

Tigers 12 Yankees 4 - Detroit sweeps the pitching and that moves them forward.  

When we see this group again:

7. 1954 Indians
71. 1975 A's

26. 1971 Orioles
90. 2018 Indians

10. 1909 A's
55. 1920 Indians

106. 1985 Yankees
87. 1961 Tigers

Next time we're back - it's with the 1909 Pirates, heading up Group 7 in the NL

The Greatest MLB Tournament Ever Created (NL, Round One, Group 6)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Last group is here.

6. 1904 Giants (1st in NL)
123. 1881 Cubs (1st in NL) (White Stockings)

-4 Giants teams have moved on; no one from the 19th century has advanced.  The Giants have a half dozen HOFamers, Mathewson is 23, Bresnahan is 25 - 53 year old Jim O'Rourke and 46 year old Dan Brouthers both play games. Anson's 29 and King Kelly is 23 for the Cubs

C Cubs-Flint
1B Cubs-Anson
2B Giants-Gilbert
SS Giants-Dahlen
3B Giants-Devlin
LF Giants-Mertes
CF Giants-Bresnahan
RF Cubs-Kelly
SP1 Giants-McGinnity
SP2 Giants-Mathewson
SP3 Giants-Taylor
Cl Push
Double: Bat WAR Giants
Double: Pit WAR Giants

Giants 12 Cubs 3 - we aren't going to see a 19th century team advance.

59. 2004 Cardinals (Lost WS)
70. 1948 Braves (Boston) (Lost WS)

-3 Cardinals teams and a half dozen Braves squads are into the next round.  St Louis has a 24 year old Albert Pujols, a 29 year old Scott Rolen and a 34 year old Jim Edmonds.  The Braves are Spahn (27), Sain (30) and pray for rain. 

C Braves-Masi
1B Cards-Pujols
2B Braves-Stanky
SS Braves-Dark
3B Cards-Rolen
LF Braves-Heath
CF Cards-Edmonds
RF Braves-Holmes
SP1 Braves-Sain
SP2 Braves-Spahn
SP3 Push
Cl Cards-Isringhausen
Double: Bat WAR Braves
Double: Pit WAR Braves

Braves 11 Cards 4 - Not nearly as close as expected, the Braves win the matchups and the totals and move on.  

27. 1945 Cubs (lost WS) 
102. 1967 Cardinals (won WS)

-Losers bracket, both of these organizations just lost.  35 year old Stan Hack leads the Cubs, the Cards have a 29 year old Orlando Cepeda, a 22 year old Steve Carlton, and a 31 year old Bob Gibson.  

C Cards-McCarver
1B Cards-Cepeda
2B Cubs-Johnson
SS Cards-Maxvill
3B Cubs-Hack
LF Cards-Brock
CF Cards-Flood
RF Cards-Maris
SP1 Cubs-Wyse
SP2 Cubs-Passeau
SP3 Cubs-Derringer
Cl Cubs-Erickson
Double: Bat WAR Cards
Double: Pit WAR Cubs

Cards 9 Cubs 8 - this is nearly a dead white tie, the Cards swept that OF, the Cubs swept the mound - the Cards win the tiebreak by the most narrow margin we've seen thusfar in the tournament.  You want two teams that are evenly matched - it's these two.  

38. 1940 Reds (won WS)
91. 1975 Pirates (lost NLCS)

The Reds have 4 teams moving on, the Bucs 5. Cincinnati's got a 32 year old Ernie Lombardi and a 31 year old Bucky Walters - the Pirates are a 24 year old Dave Parker and 35 year old Willie Stargell.

C Pirates-Sanguillen
1B Reds-McCormick
2B Reds-Frey
SS Reds-Myers
3B Reds-Werber
LF Pirates-Zisk
CF Pirates-Oliver
RF Pirates-Parker
SP1 Push
SP2 Reds-Derringer
SP3 Reds-Thompson
Cl Reds-Beggs
Double: Bat WAR Pirates
Double: Pit WAR Reds

Reds 9 Pirates 6 - The Reds swept the arms and ran over Pittsburgh in the IF and they march to the next round.

11. 2016 Cubs (won WS)
118. 1887 Browns (Cardinals) (lost WS)

-Cubs try again to add to their total, the 19th century remains shut out. Chicago's got a 24 year old Kris Bryant and a 26 year old Anthony Rizzo.  The future Cardinals have a 27 year old Charlie Comiskey and a 23 year old Bob Caruthers. 

C Cubs-Montero
1B Cubs-Rizzo
2B Cubs-Zobrist
SS Cubs-Russell
3B Cubs-Bryant
LF Browns-O'Neill
CF Cubs-Fowler
RF Browns-Caruthers
SP1 Cubs-Lester
SP2 Browns-Caruthers
SP3 Cubs-Hendricks
Cl Cubs-Rondon
Double: Bat WAR Cubs
Double: Pit WAR Cubs

Cubs 13 Browns 3 - real domination and the Cubs move on

54. 1971 Pirates (won WS)
75. 2002 Giants (lost WS)

-Last chance for any of my San Francisco teams to make the Round of 64.  The Pirates have a 31 year old Willie Stargell and a 36 year old Roberto Clemente. The Giants have a 37 year old Barry Bonds and 34 year old Jeff Kent.  

C Pirates-Sanguillen
1B Pirates-Robertson
2B Giants-Kent
SS Giants-Aurilia
3B Giants-Bell
LF Giants-Bonds
CF Pirates-Oliver
RF Pirates-Clemente
SP1 Pirates-Blass
SP2 Giants-Ortiz
SP3 Giants-Rueter
Cl Giants-Nen
Double: Bat WAR Pirates
Double: Pit WAR Giants

Giants 9 Pirates 7 - whew; I would not have loved losing all my teams in round 1 - the Giants advance on the backs of superior pitching.  

22. 1935 Cubs (lost WS)
107. 1882 Reds (first in AA)

-another Cubs team facing a 19th century unit.  Cubs have 4 HOFamers, Billy Herman's 25 and Gabby Hartnett's 34. The Reds have a 22 year old Bid McPhee.

C Cubs-Hartnett
1B Cubs-Cavaretta
2B Cubs-Herman
SS Push
3B Cubs-Hack
LF Cubs-Galan
CF Cubs-Cuyler
RF Cubs-Klein
SP1 Reds-White
SP2 Cubs-Lee
SP3 Cubs-French
Cl Cubs-Root
Double: Bat WAR Cubs
Double: Pit WAR Cubs

Cubs 14 Reds 1 - ah, those 19th century teams.

43. 2017 Dodgers (lost WS) 
86. 1930 Cardinals (lost WS)

only Dodgers team in this group, they already have 10 teams into the next round.  Justin Turner's 32, Corey Seager's 23, Clayton Kershaw's 29 - the Cards are still looking for their 4th representative, Frankie Frisch is 32, Burleigh Grimes is 36.  

C Dodgers-Grandal
1B Dodgers-Bellinger
2B Cards-Frisch
SS Dodgers-Seager
3B Dodgers-Turner
LF Dodgers-Taylor
CF Cards-Douthit
RF Dodgers-Puig
SP1 Dodgers-Kershaw
SP2 Dodgers-Wood
SP3 Dodgers-Hill
Cl Dodgers-Jansen
Double: Bat WAR Dodgers
Double: Pit WAR Dodgers

Dodgers 14 Cardinals 2 - that was an unexpected wipeout; some of these really modern teams are going to be tough, tough outs.  

That finished Group 6.  3/4 of the way done with Round 1.

Next time we see this group:

6. 1904 Giants
70. 1948 Braves

102. 1967 Cards
38. 1940 Reds

11. 2016 Cubs
75. 2002 Giants

22. 1935 Cubs
43. 2017 Dodgers

We've hit group 7 for the AL next - they're led by the '54 Indians

The 50 Best Wrestling Matches of 2018

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Here are the 50 best professional wrestling matches from 2018.

1. Ibushi v. Naito (NJPW, Aug) 5
2. Omega v. Okada (NJPW, June) 5
3. Omega v. Ishii (NJPW, Aug) 5
4. Golden Lovers v. Young Bucks (NJPW, Feb) 5
5. Ospreay v. Hiromu (NJPW, Feb) 5
6. Almas v. Gargano (WWE, Jan) 5

7. Sugiura v. Marufuji (NOAH, May) 4 3/4
8. Omega v. Ibushi (NJPW, Aug) 4 3/4
9. Hiromu v. Ishimori (NJPW, May) 4 3/4
10. Omega v. Fenix (Northeast, Nov) 4 3/4

11. Golden Lovers v. Ishii/Okada (NJPW, Sep) 4 3/4
12. Ospreay v. Scurll (NJPW, Apr) 4 3/4
13. Ciampa v. Gargano (WWE, Aug) 4 3/4
14. Ricochet v. Cole (WWE, Aug) 4 3/4
15. Cole v. Ricochet/Dream/Sullivan/Dain/EC3/Dream (WWE, Apr) 4 3/4

16. Omega v. Ishii (NJPW, Sep) 4 1/2
17. Ibushi v. Ishii (NJPW, Jul) 4 1/2
18. Ospreay v. Kushida (NJPW, May) 4 1/2
19. Hiromu v. Dragon Lee (NJPW, July) 4 1/2
20. Sabre v. A-Kid (White Wolf, Apr) 4 1/2

21. Walter v. Ospreay (OTT, Oct) 4 1/2
22. Ishii v. Elgin (NJPW, Mar) 4 1/2
23. Sabre v. Ibushi (NJPW, Mar) 4 1/2
24. Hiromu v. Ospreay (NJPW, June) 4 1/2
25. Ospreay v. Riddle (OTT, May) 4 1/2
26. Okada v. Naito (NJPW, Jan) 4 1/2
27. Sho v. Dragon Lee (NJPW, May) 4 1/2
28. Okada v. Tanahashi (NJPW, Sep) 4 1/2
29. Walter v. Klinger v. Dragunov (WXW, Mar) 4 1/2
30. Gargano v. Ciampa (WWE, Apr) 4 1/2

31. Riddle v. Strickland (MLW, Apr) 4 1/2
32. Naito v. Jericho (NJPW, June) 4 1/2
33. Omega v. Jericho (NJPW, Jan) 4 1/2
34. Sugiura v. Nakajima (NOAH, Oct) 4 1/2
35. Gargano v. Ciampa (WWE, June) 4 1/2
36. Moustache Mountain v. Undisputed Era (WWE, July) 4 1/ 2
37. Briscoes d. Bucks (ROH, June) 4 1/2
38. Omega v. Naito (NJPW, July) 4 1/2
39. Omega v. Goto (NJPW, Aug) 4 1/2
40. Moustache Mountain v Undisputed Era (WWE, Aug( 4 1/2)

41. Ciampa v. Dream (WWE, Nov) 4 1/2
42. Mochizuki v. Saito (DG, Dec 2017) 4 1/2
43. Ospreay v. Brooks (PWG, Mar) 4 1/2
44. Ospreay v. Scurll (NJPW, Sep) 4 1/2
45. Suwama/Ishikawa v. Hashimoto/Kamitani (AJPW, Dec 2017) 4 1/2
46. Omega/Bucks v. Romero/Baretta/Taylor (ROH, Dec 2017) 4 1/2
47. Suzuki/Sabre d. Ishii/Okada (RPW, June) 4 1/2
48. Okada v. Suzuki (NJPW, July) 4 1/2
49. Ishii v. Sanada (NJPW, Aug) 4 1/2
50. Sanada v. Omega (NJPW, July) 4 1/2

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