John Oliver Nails it on Net Neutraility

Thank you John Oliver! I’ve been following net neutrality for some time now and I’ve always been surprised as to how little coverage it gets. This is a vitally important topic that can drastically change our greatest information source forever. The beauty of the Internet is that you have a breadth and depth of information available to you at any time. I can have cnn.com open in one tab and this blog opened in another and I can visit them both at the same speed. Having the Internet providers control what gets the “fast track” and what doesn’t would be devastating for our free market of information.

John Oliver is hilarious and he does a fantastic job here explaining how ridiculous it would be if net neutrality goes by the wayside. Someone needed to expose the hypocrisy of our Internet providers and to do so in such a funny and memorable way is the icing on the cake.

Rangers One win away from Stanley Cup Finals

20 years ago to the day, the Rangers won Game 7 in double OT against the Devils to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. How fitting is it that on May 27, 2014, they can win the Eastern Conference with a victory over the Canadians. There’s a great write up in the Post today about that wild Game 7 and how we should be celebrating more than just the Matteau goal. I was only five years old so it’s hard to remember the specifics of the whole game, but the game had a little of everything.

1994 was a very special year at the Garden and 2014 could be shaping up to be just as memorable. There haven’t been any guarantees but there have been dramatic finishes, compelling off-ice storylines and most importantly signature Garden moments the likes of which Ranger fans have been craving since ’94. Closing the series out tonight gives New York some much needed rest heading into a match up with likely the Kings (but maybe the Blackhawks if they can rally). Either will be a tough opponent but when the Rangers win cups, they do it in tense, nail-biting fashion. I don’t expect 2014 to be any different.

As an aside, what a call by Howie Rose on Matteau’s goal. Like other great calls in sports history, it was not scripted. Just a spur of the moment description of events and the only thing that needed to be said after he scored an unlikely goal from behind the net is “Matteau.” Just like Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in miracles” and Vin Scully’s “29,000 people and a million butterflies,” it is a perfect call for the moment. It would take days to write out and plan such a distinct call and Howie nailed it on the spot. The moment was huge in it’s own right but the goal is even more memorable because of the call and that’s the ultimate compliment for a sportscaster.

Can’t wait for Game 5 tonight. The Rangers are in the driver’s seat to play for the Cup and if I know anything about New York, those Stanley Cup games at The Garden are going to be electric.

Behind the Scenes: Final Jeopardy – Battle of the Decades

Like Alex said, this was the best tournament in the history of the show. Three of the all-time best players competing in a 2-day final after just beating other great champions from the past three decades. The $1 million game also featured the show’s winningest contestant in terms of overall prize money in Brad, record holder for most consecutive games won in Ken, and the record holder for most money won in a single game in Roger.

The categories were almost impossible, which is fitting for three of the best to ever play. This behind the scenes video of contestant and family reactions during Final Jeopardy is fascinating. From Colby and the others confirming their correct answers to the shock of Brad’s $0 wager, to the utter shock of Ken’s incorrect response. Finally the dichotomy of the two families as Brad earned another million and Ken falls short on a question that I’m sure will haunt him for years.

I really enjoyed this tournament and the finals delivered with the winner being decided on the Day 2 Final Jeopardy. The only way it could have been even better is if Roger answered just one of his $10,000 daily doubles correctly. He could have won it all given that he answered the final clue correctly – something that I’m sure he won’t forget for sometime either.

I usually tune into Jeopardy to play along and see how many clues I can answer, but during this tournament I was much more interested in just watching great players. Hopefully the producers can think up another tournament that allows for all of those players to return. If nothing else, we should at least be treated to another match up between Brad, Ken and Roger.

Melissa Etheridge at Billy Joel Town Hall

The Billy Joel Town Hall from 2 weeks ago combined two of my favorite people – Howard Stern and Billy Joel. So I knew I was going to thoroughly enjoy the entire 2+ hours of Howard and Billy talking about and playing songs. Everything was great, especially when Billy covered “Whiter Shade of Pale,” but the highlight of the entire show for me was Melissa Etheridge’s cover of “Only the Good Die Young.”

She did such an amazing arrangement that kept the soul of the song but made it her own. According to Howard, Billy watched on in amazement as Melissa interpreted one of his most famous songs. I didn’t know much about Melissa Etheridge or her music before this town hall performance but she blew me away and I’ve listened to her rendition hundreds of times since. Thank you Howard and Billy for putting together such a memorable show and thanks to Melissa for delivering the performance of the day.

Mets are 1 Game out of 1st Place

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We’re more than month into the season and the Mets are over .500. The entire NL East is separated by just 1.5 games with the Braves in 1st and Miami and Philly tied for last. New York starts a 3-game series in Miami tonight with Niese taking the mound.

16-14 is much better than I expected through the first 30 games of 2014. Last year, we were never within 5 games of the division lead after April, so playing above average baseball for a month to start a season is a welcome sight.

It’s interesting to see where the production for this team has come so far. Juan Lagares is hitting .338 and he’s currently riding a 13-game hit streak. In fact, he’s hit safely in 16 of his 17 games played this season. 9 of his 24 hits have also gone for extra bases – unexpected and welcome production.

Daniel Murphy continues to produce, hitting .314 with 9 extra-base hits and 10 RBI. Murph has been a consistent hitter for a couple of seasons now and he has developed into a steady left-handed bat in the lineup. He’s hot coming into the Marlins series too, racking up 7 hits in his last 15 AB in Colorado.

After trading away Ike Davis, Duda has taken nicely to his role of everyday first baseman – hitting safely in 10 of his last 11 starts. Wright is heating up with 6 hits in his last 14 at bats including 2 doubles. Chris Young has hit safely in 6 straight games too – going 9-for-22 during that span. Granderson has started slow but as long as he provides some power throughout the course of the season, he’s still a necessary asset in the lineup.

As a team, the Mets rank at the bottom of most offensive categories. We are hitting just .230 as a team (28th in MLB), and slugging a pretty terrible .336 (29th in MLB). Our team on-base percentage of .309 ranks 21st, but our 128 runs on the season is the league average (ranking 15th). Despite all of these numbers, which I hope will improve as the season progresses, we are two games above .500.

Terry Collins has his starting pitchers to thank for that. The rotation has racked up 19 quality starts on the season, good for 6th most in the majors. Our team pitching numbers are not fantastic but our bullpen hasn’t done us any favors in that regard. Saturday’s loss to Colorado was especially frustrating as Kyle Farnsworth allowed a 2-run, walk-off homer in a back and forth game. Starter Jenrry Meijia did allow 8 earned runs in less than 5 innings, so it’s just the best example, but the offense got the lead back for Farnsworth to earn the save, which he couldn’t do.

If the starters can stay solid like they were in April, I’m optimistic that the bullpen can improve and help lockdown close wins. We are still trying to figure out how to deal with the loss of Parnell for the season and once everyone’s roles are clearly defined, I expect to see a more consistent overall performance from the pen.

It’s very early in the season – there are still 5 full months of baseball to play before the postseason. But that fact doesn’t hamper my enthusiasm for what we have accomplished and what this season can become. Like every other Mets fan, I’m clamoring for the days of 2006, when we were a threat to win it all. 7 straight seasons of disappointment and mediocrity has taken its toll. I’m ready to get behind a team that has the potential to win in October. Before the first pitch this year, I thought we were still a year away but maybe I was wrong. Maybe, this team is capable of going on a run.

2 games over .500 is not spectacular and maybe it’s a little pathetic that I’m this excited over a 16-14 record, but I can’t help myself. We’re one game out of the division and the Braves have lost 6 straight. We’ve got to take at least 2 out of 3 from the Marlins and continue on this upward trajectory. If nothing else, just give me meaningful baseball to watch after the All-Star break.

New NIKE Soccer Ad is Awesome

The World Cup is going to be fantastic. You forget how many superstars there are in soccer, at least sometimes I forget. There’s no better stage for Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Donovan and everyone else to fight it out than the World Cup.

The last one feels like a very, very long time ago so I’m ready for some international soccer competition. If you’re not ready, then watch this Nike soccer ad and I guarantee it will get you excited.

What I’m Listening To

Two new songs off Ed Sheeran’s new album have been in my music rotation recently after his performed both of them on SNL. I have never really been into Ed Sheeran in the past. His songs have always been popular and I have been kind of ambivalent towards them in the past. They’re good and I understand why they are popular but nothing that got me too excited.

He started growing on me more after seeing him cover my favorite Beatles song “In My Life” on the Grammy Tribute Show to the Fab Four. He performed a fantastic acoustic arrangement that I’ve listened to many times since. Last week on SNL, I heard these two songs for the first time and instantly wanted to more.

“Sing” is produced by Pharrell who seems to have a hand in every hit song these days, while “Don’t” is supposedly about a fling with Ellie Goulding that ended badly. They’re both funkier and have a different vibe than anything he has put out before. Based on these two tracks, I’m excited to check out the album and I hope Sheeran continues with this acoustic, bass-y, funk vibe.

Outkast Performs at Coachella

I’ve been waiting for this reunion for a while now and it was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there in person but I watched the whole video and enjoyed all 90 minutes. It was exactly the set I was hoping for – lots of great album cuts along with the classics.

Andre 3000 singing Behold A Lady, which is one of my favorite songs off of the Love Below, was unexpected and fantastic. Elevators, Shutterbug, GhettoMusick and opening with B.O.B… I loved it all. Like I said back in January, the breadth of their catalog is impressive and they put on a great show.

There were only two problems with this weekend’s performance. First, despite it being the first time Andre and Big Boi have performed together in years, the crowd was dead. Second, they cut their mics so we didn’t get to hear The Whole World.

It’s a festival crowd which means that not everyone was there to see Outkast. So the album cuts were played to a pretty dead crowd, which seemed to bother Andre. 3000 repeatedly tried to hype the crowd and at one point even said that he feels like he’s alone out there. Then, during his biggest hit Hey Ya, he basically performed with his back to the audience. It’s unfortunate that the crowd wasn’t as into the performance as I (or Outkast) thought they would be, but their set was still awesome.

Crowd reaction during Behold A Lady may have been nonexistent, but I was really enjoying it and I know there are millions of other Outkast fans who couldn’t be there that appreciated the setlist. I really love Outkast and I’m thrilled that they are touring again. Wait until they play in Atlanta too… I expect the crowd to be drastically different. I don’t think Andre will have to do any crowd hyping in the A. That crowd will be plenty hyped.

Ike Davis Hits Walk-Off Grand Slam

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What a win for the Mets yesterday! Recently relegated to the bench, Ike Davis came up huge to hit just the 2nd pinch-hit walk-off grand slam in franchise history. All we needed was a fly ball, but the fact that Ike hit it out is perfect.

Recent reports suggest that the team is actively seeking a trade partner for Ike and it’s unlikely that one swing will change his fate. But it’s great to see him have a moment and maybe it helps take the pressure off a little bit. Nobody wants to succeed more than Ike and it’s awesome to see him deliver when called upon.

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s the 2nd win in a row for a team that set an internal goal of 90 wins. Of course, it’s so early in the season but this was a huge, character building win for a team still finding it’s identity. 2-3 just feels so much better than 1-4.

Also, Dillon Gee pitched another good game. If he can become somewhat of an ace and the bullpen shores itself up, maybe 90 wins isn’t so farfetched. I’m getting ahead of myself again, we should just start with a win on Sunday to get to .500 and complete the sweep of the Reds.

Mets Blow Opening Day Lead

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Historically, the Mets have been very good on Opening Day but today we were not – at least when it mattered most. Despite being 1 strike away from victory, the bullpen blew a late lead and we lost in extras. A tough loss for sure but there were some positives like homers from Wright and Legares to go along with a solid outing from Gee.

The outcome is definitely not going to spoil the greatness of Opening Day for me. A win would have been nice but we will be back at it again on Wednesday. Most importantly, everyday for the next 5 months will have baseball and that’s something to be very excited about.