Tag Archives: Daniel Murphy

New season of “Fargo” as good as the first. Missouri nearly illegallys executes a mentally disabled man. And a writer who saw many, many bad Royals teams writes about their win

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**Three stories for your Wednesday written on Election Day 2015, exactly one year from Election Day 2016, when Hillary Rodham Clinton will become the first female President of the United States… As certain as I could be about something like that a year out, that’s how certain I am about that. I’m still hoping and praying America will #FeeltheBern, but my hopes are dimming (this Matt Taibbi piece in Rolling Stone is fantastic, though, explaining how the media marginalizes Bernie.)

When a TV series has an incredible debut season like “Fargo” had last year, you really have nowhere to go but down, or at the very least, stay at the same level.

Based on the fantastic, epic movie of the same name, last year’s eight-episode mini-series “Fargo” was truly sensational television. Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks, and the rest of the cast blew me away.

This year, there’s a whole new cast, a mostly new story (one holdover character, Lou Solverson, is shown as a younger man, decades before Season 1 took place) and the quality is just about as good.

Seriously, it’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of acting talent in this show: Ted Danson (who ever thought Sam Malone would still be doing great work so long after “Cheers?”), Patrick Wilson, Kirsten Dunst, and the superb Jesse Plemons, who I loved as Landry on “Friday Night Lights” and as psychopath exterminator Todd on “Breaking Bad.”

We’re four episodes in to a story about a Midwest turf war set in 1979 between the Gerhart family and the Kansas City mafia, which involves a hit and run accident, a triple murder, and a whole lot of awesome ’70s clothes and mannerisms.

I won’t be giving away any spoilers because I haven’t seen Monday night’s episode, but Dunst has been particularly fabulous, and the scene last week with Wilson’s police officer character squaring off with the Gerharts on their ranch for the first time was so tense I felt myself completely unclench when it was finally over.

“Fargo” is on Mondays at 10 on FX, and you can catch up on Demand. If you’re already watching, my friend Rachel Cericola has been doing fabulous and funny recaps on channelguideblog.com

**Next up today, one more disgusting abuse of the immoral death penalty was set to occur on Tuesday, and this one is as loathsome as it gets.

Ernest Johnson is a mentally disabled man who’s been on Missouri’s death row since 1995. He has an IQ of 67. He was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering three employees of a convenience store in 1994. But by every single measure you can think of, he is mentally disabled, and the Supreme Court has ruled that you cannot execute an intellectually disabled person.

And yet the state of Missouri, which along with Texas is responsible for 75 percent of the executions in America in 2015 (what a proud record to have, y’all should print that out on state stationery and hand it out to tourists at The Arch!), was set to break the laws of this nation and execute Johnson Tuesday night at 6 p.m. local time (The state has argued that the science is muddy regarding Johnson’s mental competency).

Thank God the Supreme Court issued an emergency stay just hours before Johnson was to be killed.
I cannot believe we still murder people with the state’s blessing in America. Generations from now, people will look back on this practice and wonder what in the hell were we thinking.

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**Finally today, a couple leftover World Series thoughts I wanted to share (that’s the amazing front page of the Kansas City Star for Wednesday, from the Royals’ victory parade. Look at all those people!).

First, Joe Posnanski, who readers of this blog know is my sportswriting hero, probably watched more bad Kansas City Royals baseball than any media member alive, since he was a columnist for the Kansas City Star during the 1990s and part of the 2000s, when the Royals were by far the worst team in baseball.

Joe has written dozens of columns about how hapless the Royals were, both while they were happening (the team once refused to have its annual Negro Leagues tribute night at the ballpark because it didn’t want to spring for special jerseys for the players) and then in retrospect. (This little clip below kinda sums up how bad they were)

So he’s as shocked as anyone at what the last two years have wrought. With K.C. the new champs, he wrote this fabulous column about how far they’ve come.

Couple other quick comments on the Royals’ surprisingly short five-game triumph over the Mets:

— Hearing a lot of Mets fans here in N.Y. trashing Terry Collins over leaving Harvey in in the 9th inning, and trashing Terry in general. Are you people kidding me? Guy did a phenomenal job this year, and the last few years, keeping a team with limited talent competitive. This year they had zero offense for three months and he still had them sniffing first place. He deserves a whole lot of kudos, not criticisms.

— Baseball has a ton of problems, but one area it has made major improvements in? Anyone can win the World Series. The last 15 years or so, you’ve seen franchises like the Royals, the Marlins, the Angels and the Giants, teams with no tradition to speak of, win it all, and the Rays and Rockies make the championship round. It never used to be that way, so in one sense, baseball’s competitive balance has improved a lot. And that’s a good thing.

— Who do you think is more bummed by the World Series: Mets fans, or Daniel Murphy’s agent. Oof.

 

Another glorious NYC Marathon Sunday, viewed up close. The Jets are nosediving, and a 52-49 NFL game? Sure. And all hail the Kansas City Royals, world champs.

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Lots of wonderful things I’ve discovered about living in NYC for the past four years.

One of my top three favorites, though, is the first Sunday in November. As I’ve written about here the past three years, Marathon Sunday is the best. Fifty thousand runners, of all shapes, stripes, creed, color and age, pushing their bodies 26.2 miles through all five boroughs.

In 2013 we moved to an apartment right under the 59th Street bridge, along 1st Avenue, which is a perfect spot to get up close and watch the runners fly by. With the weather perfect and my excitement heightened by showing this fabulous spectacle to my little boy for the first time (he was momentarily excited and wide-eyed, but after 10 minutes he got a little cranky), I happily stood along the barricades at 61st and 1st for a few hours.

Some thoughts from a wonderful day of watching athletic accomplishment:

— One thing that always surprises me about this throng of runners all barreling down the street: You never see a collision, or any bumping at all. I think in 2.5 hours of watching Sunday I maybe saw one time where a runner almost ran into another one.

— Highlight for me Sunday was seeing my awesome friend Christine, running her first marathon, spot me before I spotted her. I had my wife and all the strangers around me looking out for her (she had told me what she’d be wearing, I told her where we’d be, and I was tracking her race on the fabulous NYC Marathon app), and then all of a sudden she started streaming toward me. We hugged, I told her how great she was doing, she screamed “This is so hard!” and then kept running.

It was great.

— Love the high-fiving of strangers. Love screaming out the name of people with their name on their shirt, then them looking around like “who knows me here?”

— The costumes were, as usual, stellar. I saw quite a few Batmans, several Wonder Womans, lots of people wearing their country’s flags, and even a guy dressed in full FDNY firefighter gear, carrying a fire extinguisher to boot. That dude had to be committed to that costume to wear it for 26 miles.
My favorite, though, had to be the dude wearing an Eiffel Tower replica, with two people trailing him, one who was barefoot. I was speechless at that one.

— Always great signs from fans along the course. Two favorites from Sunday: 1., attached to a picture of a male underwear model, the words “Hey girl, I’m waiting for you at the finish line,” and “If Britney Spears could survive 2007, you can survive 26.2 miles.”

— Finally, every year I say the same thing, after watching the joy and agony of the runners: I’m gonna do this one day. I haven’t run so much since the little guy was born, but before his arrival I did a 10k and could run 6 miles at a time. I’ll get there one day.
But watching is almost as much fun.

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**Next up, never a good sign as a Jets fan when Geno Smith comes into the game in the first quarter. What a miserable performance by my team, really getting blown out from the start by the suddenly decent Oakland Raiders. Looks like Ryan Fitzpatrick may be out awhile, which means we get more of Geno, which means the Jets’ once-promising season may get real shitty, real fast.

— The Giants scored 49 points Sunday. Eli Manning threw SIX touchdown passes. And they lost.
That was one of the most bizarre NFL games I’ve seen. Literally neither defense could make a stop, until the Giants got a defensive touchdown to go up 49-42.
What a pathetic display of defense. How do you feel good if you’re the Saints after that?

— Are the Vikings the best team no one is talking about? They’re 5-2, they’ve got a terrific young quarterback, and a good defense. And yet nobody’s considering them as a contender.

— This is not NFL-related, but again college football had me screaming at the referees Saturday night. Check out this nutso game-winning touchdown by Miami over Duke, using eight laterals, that absolutely should not have counted. Clear runner down at :26, and brutal block in the back at :39. Yes I’m a biased Duke fan, but this thing went to instant replay and they still got it all wrong! So, so awful.

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**Finally, this World Series, man … it’s been fabulous.  Sunday night, Matt Harvey pitches the game of his life, just a few months after Mets fans were questioning his heart and desire. Guy throws eight shutout innings in a game his team must have, and still can’t get the win.
The Royals’ aggressive baserunning, a bad throw by Lucas Duda, and extra innings again. What an incredible, battle-back, scrappy team Kansas City is. I mean, they are never, ever, ever, out of a game. Such great defense, such smart baseball they play.

They are worthy World Series champs. Once the game got tied Sunday, I had no doubt K.C. would win. What an amazing turnaround story that franchise is.

As for the Mets, they had a hell of a season. Much better than anyone expected. You hope they’ll be back.

Terrific series. The best team won. (And poor Daniel Murphy can now go find a hole and hide for a few months).