Star Trek Discovery - Episodes 8-9 random comments from a Cadet level fan

And so ends the first part of season 1. The show comes back from hiatus in January.

I think they are developing the characters nicely and you can imagine them being a crew for future exploration post-war. However, the plot lines do point to the fact that each may have some serious problems adjusting to life post-war:

Lorca - heroic leadership but also crazed from blowing up his previous crew and being tortured by the Klingons and pushing the rules with the Disco crew. He could be relieved of duty at anytime by the admiralty of Star Fleet.
Ash - heroic soldier but crazed by being tortured by the Klingons and of course the lingering suspicion that he is actually a genetically/surgically altered Klingon.
Stamets - heroic scientist but crazed by having Tardigrade DNA injected into him and having had too many trips into the multiverse with the magical mushroom spores.
Burnham - heroic efforts all around but of course there is still the matter of the life sentence for mutiny.

About the only two characters who are "normal" are Saru and Tilly!

Anyway, love the character development, the production values and pacing of the story telling. We get a little more insight into Saru's character in Episode 8 and he continues to be one of the more interesting characters in the show.

Some comments in no particular order.

An inconsistently alarm about Pavho, the planet of galactic peace .....

Episode 8 introduced us to the planet Pavho and its inhabitants. Presumably, the idea of using their transmitter to detected cloaked ships was a recent idea because the signal was newly detected by Star Fleet. Thus, you would think Pavho is out in the boonies somewhere otherwise they would have known about them much sooner as they have probably been blasting that transmitter for a while as a way to announce to the universe they were there. Given that this is the case, it is pretty interesting the Klingons knew of the planet and could quickly get there. And of course, in Episode 9, the Discovery was only a few hours away from a star base using traditional warp suggesting the planet isn't too far away.

In episode 9, Lorca gets to give his version of the St. Crispen's Day speech (Shakespeare Henry V).

Meanwhile for a warrior race, the Klingons of ST-Disco don't seem too concerned about making sure people are actually dead. L'Rell tells them she will make sure Cornwell is dead.

What do we see?

We see L'Rell dragging Cornwell into the dead people's room. And later, we see Kol denouncing the deceptiveness of L'Rell and seem to threaten her death.

What happens?

We don't see Kol have one of his minions make sure Cornwell was actually dead since they are suspicious of L'Rell? And of course, in episode 9, we see an injured L'Rell in the dead people's room and we find out BOTH Cornwell and L'Rell are NOT dead after all!

As for episode 9, great action and pacing but once again a few plausibility issues.

Of course, you need the away mission to plant the data transmitters. And, of course, one of them just has to be in the bridge of the Klingon ship. However, if you think about it, they are capturing data points and so ANY two distal points within the Klingon ship would probably do. But that would be rather dull for them to plant BOTH data pods in closets in the front and back of the Klingon ship!

Great fight scene between Burnham and Kol!!

Finally, it is about time, Stamets is checked out by medical personnel in Episode 9!

If someone had been genetically altered by the addition of Tardigrade DNA (or DNA from anywhere!), you would think they would be checking him out medically all the time to see what is happening. And of course, he is being plugged into the jump drive machine for each spore jump and comes out looking terrible, you would think they would be checking him out every time. Way back in the 20th century, NASA had all sorts of monitoring equipment on the astronauts when they flew spam in a can rocket rides! Meanwhile, in ST-Disco world, ONLY after they plan to do 133 jumps do they attach Stamets to medical monitoring equipment?

But anyway, it is just a TV show!

Overall, am enjoying the characters and the production values and plot lines even with the various holes in them.

Season 1.5 in January 2018. Where are they? Are they in the Mirror Universe? Is Ash a Klingon spy or not? Will Stamets come back from his Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds trip? All this and more .......

LA Galaxy and LAFC

The LA Galaxy came off their worst season in recent memory. The post-mortem seems to be that it was a combination of injuries and poor construction of the team and toxic locker room culture. The big question mark for LAG's braintrust is who stays and who goes? And is the rebuild going to be to blow up the whole thing or just make a few changes?

Meanwhile, LAFC has a blank slate to work from.

LAFC is slowly adding some talent to their squad.

Carlos Vela was their first big name signing from the Mexico national team and La Liga. He was obtained via the Designated Player (DP) mechanism.

Omar Gaber is coming on loan from Swiss Super League and is arriving using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

LAFC will get some players via the expansion draft and other draft procedures.

In the past, one had very low expectation of how competitive an expansion team can be. However, with the success of Atlanta United last year, it is possible to make the right picks and field a highly competitive team.

MLS is highly regulated. I understand the Designated Player concept to bring in high priced talent and to keep those salaries out of the overall team salary cap. Where it gets complicated is TAM and General Allocation Money (GAM) and the various slots that fill out the Salary Budget.

All these rules are in place to provide guardrails to clubs so they don't ruin themselves financially and to impose a measure of parity in the league.

However, there is the feeling that MLS will need to gain more fans to truly be competitive on the world stage. Additionally, MLS needs to (as does the USMNT at all levels) continue to improve in identifying and developing home grown talent and encouraging some of that talent to go outside the USA to develop those players.



QPR takes it on the chin .....

Having pulled off upsets against Wolverhampton and Sheffield United, QPR has dropped three in a row.

Thrashed by Nottingham Forest 4-0, edged out by Aston Villa 2-1, and defeated 2-0 by Derby County.

It is disappointing after two good wins against the #1 and #3 clubs in the Championship.

On the other hand, the defeats came against the #4, #6 and #7 team. Thus, in the abstract, it isn't a surprise since QPR realistically is a top of the bottom half of the table club. Nonetheless, as a fan, you feel bad for the club and wonder what they need to be more competitive and not always play from behind. Of course, the reality is that the club is a community club with more resources than some but much less than others.

Come on you R's!

the Curse of Sevilla 3-3


UGH.

3-0 at the half and LFC could have had more.

Second half 3-0 and Sevilla grabs a draw.

UGH.

This is what it means to be a Liverpool fan the last few years. An offense that makes you stand up and cheer. A defense that makes you want to hide under the table.


3-0 shutout of Southampton and onto Sevilla


Liverpool fans are singing happy days are here again with another easy win! 

With Salah, Mane, Firmino, and Coutinho running and passing Southampton had no chance and so LFC is on a roll. 

Big test this Tuesday on the road at Sevilla, a team that has been beat Liverpool in the Europa League final in 2016 and snatched a draw in 2017 in the first half of Champions League Group play. 

LFC would benefit psychologically with a solid win to prove to themselves they can beat a team they haven't beaten recently.

Who do you put on the line-up card knowing Chelsea is coming up on the weekend - an even bigger test?

The front three fills in itself: Salah, Mane, Firmino.

The midfield three: Coutinho is the only definite starter.

Who do you pick to take the other two spots?

Milner, Can, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana?

I'd go with Milner and Can to provide some rotation with instructions to be defensive minded jumping into the offensive flow cautiously.

As for the back four: Alexander-Arnold, Klavan, Lovren, Moreno.

Karius in goal.

Subs likely to be used: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wijnaldum, Sturridge.

Am guessing Lallana might used as a 70th or 80th minute substitute if the game is well in hand. Or perhaps he will be held out until the match against Chelsea this weekend.

Go Reds!

Go LFC! The Mane and Salah show!


After the wipe at at Tottenham, LFC fans were in despair. However, since then, LFC beat Huddersfield Town 3-0, Maribor 3-0, and West Ham 4-1. All of this without Coutinho. It is good preparation for the club as eventually he will make that move to Barcelona and they will have to get by without him. However, these three wins were not exactly A-list competition. LFC and FSG ownership will need to think about how they will fill the hole they will have when Coutinho departs.

But for now, the fans are excited about the return of Sadio Mane. The win in the West Ham match showed what the duo of Mane and Salah can do!

###

Following LFC is pretty straightforward since there is so much coverage of the Premier League in ESPNFC and in any sports section of UK newspapers online.

One of my favorite sources for news and comment on the commute is the Liverpool Echo's "Blood Red" podcast. They recently interviewed Raphael Honigstein who has written a book about Jurgen Klopp with the title, "Bring the Noise." Very interesting look at Klopp and his life before Liverpool and how things are going at Anfield behind the scenes. Check it out for an enjoyable listen.

Swedish Soccer Season Has Concluded

In the top league, Allsvenskan, Malmo FF has repeated as champions and have a run of 4 in the last 5 years. They now have won 23 times in their history. Malmo goes to 2018-2019 Champions League qualification rounds.

AIK and Djurgardens finish two and three and gain entry into 2018-2019 Europa League qualification rounds.

At the bottom end, AFC United (Eskiltuna) and Hamstad BK were relegated.

Jonkopings Sodra IF will face Trelleborgs (third place in Superettan) in a two-legged play-off with the winner going to Allsvenskan and loser going to Superettan.

IF Brommapojkarna won Superettan and Dalkurd finished second thus, these two teams are promoted up to Allsvenskan.

As for the teams I follow, Falkenberg finished fourth in Superettan which is pretty good considering their poor start. Elfsborg finished eighth in Allsvenskan. They never seemed to get on track this year.

Star Trek Discovery Episode 7 - Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Well, that was fun!

The "below decks" flavor of the party was a departure from the usual and was a good touch for character development. Eventually, as the story unfolded, it became obvious we were in a time-loop story, a staple of science fiction TV shows. I immediately recalled the ST-TNG episode Cause and Effect.

As with any time-loop story, the challenge is how additional information can somehow be passed along to the next iteration. And in this case, Stamet's being the human interface with the spore network allowed him to retain information from cycle-to-cycle. Eventually, he realizes he can't stop Mudd on his own. Thus, he begins to recruit other crew-members figuring out ways to convince them. In so doing, we get to see some character development. Humor has been relatively light in the show but on this occasion, we do get some and it flows naturally from the characters.

First episode so far where there wasn't a glaring nitpick for me to grab onto. All in all, well executed story telling with character development, enough action to keep things moving and humorous moments.

The previews for episode 8 indicate some Saru character development, a return to the Klingon story line and some Admiral Cornwell.


LA Galaxy - where I get insight from them

Sometimes I am able to watch the matches in part or in full on television and can form some opinions based on my untrained soccer watching eyes.

I read the match reports on the sports web pages whether I see the games on TV. One regular stop is LA Times Kevin Baxter who covers soccer providing both match reports and the inside stories to the team. In addition to writing for the LA Times, he also appears regularly on the Corner of the Galaxy podcast with host Josh Guesman who also has access to insiders with the LA Galaxy organization.

In a recent podcast, they discuss that the Galaxy scouting unit isn't a robust as one would have thought in particular missing players from Latin America while focusing on European players.

Baxter suspects that the LA Galaxy ownership group is losing money on a year-to-year operational basis. In the past, they have accepted this as part of building the brand and the asset value of the club. However, Baxter thinks the owners now believe the team needs to get to a more sustainable financial footing. The reason for the timing is that at some point MLS can't continue to expand thus ending the revenue stream of franchise entry fees.

Check out the podcast .....

QPR 1 Sheffield United 0

Queens Park Rangers defeat another top part of the table club Tuesday night!



Have to feel badly for goalkeeper Jamal Blackman who got injured on the play that resulted in the goal.

Gifted a one goal lead, the Hoops held on for the win. Can't tell too much from the match report on BBC. From that report, it sound like both clubs had some additional near misses. The stats say Sheffield dominated possession but QPR got more shots but it is hard to know from that stat how high the quality of the shot attempt was.

In any case, two wins for the Rangers and they climb to the middle part of the table1


MLB World Series 2017 - Game 7

Been following the Dodgers since I was a kid.

I was alive when they won it all in 1963 (I was born the summer of 63). I was too young to know when they won in 1965.

The Dodgers had some very good teams in the 1970s but they came up on the short end against the A's (1974) and the Yankees (1977 and 1978).

I remember 1978 game 2 when Bob Welch struck out Reggie Jackson to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the series. But the Dodgers would drop the next four.

The baseball script writers would turn the tables in 1981 when the Dodgers were down 2-0 and went on to win the next four against the Yankees to win the series.

1988. Arguably the most memorable home run in baseball history was hit by Kirk Gibson to win Game 1. The Dodgers would finish off the heavily favored A's in five behind Hershiser and a cast of role players on the field and on the mound.

The Kirk Gibson home run video clip has run since then on one hand invoking great memories but on the other hand a reminder of how hard it is to get to the World Series and the decades of frustration for the Dodger organization and its fans.

The Dodger franchise experienced incredible futility for the next 20 years. Making the playoffs only four times and being swept in the NLDS in 1995, 1996, and 2006. They lost in four to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLDS.

Another decade of frustration would follow.

I attended NLCS game 5 in 2008. Under-estimating traffic, I arrived late and the Dodgers were already down and showed no signs of life and were eliminated by the Phillies in five.

I attended NLDS game 2 in 2009. There is nothing like the atmosphere of playoff baseball especially in a close game. We barely sat down for the final half of the game which the Dodgers would win 3-2 and take the series at St. Louis in game 3. However, in the NLCS, the dreaded Phillies would finish off the Dodgers in five once again.

More heartache would follow in 2013 when the Cardinals won the NLCS in six. The Cardinals would defeat the Dodgers again in 2014 in the NLDS in four. The Dodgers would be defeated in five by the Mets in the 2015 NLDS followed by losing in six in the 2016 NLCS to the Cubs.

And now, after 162 regular season games, three NLDS games (Arizona), five NLCS games (Chicago), and six World Series games (Houston) it comes down to one game.

A small number of fans were alive to see the Dodgers win in 1955 when they were in Brooklyn. Some Angelinos were around in 1959, 1963, and 1965 for the Koufax and Drysdale era. Many fans following the Dodgers today weren't even born in 1981 or when Gibson hit the homer played on endless loop since 1988.

But tonight, together, generations of Dodger fans will root and cheer and when it is over there will be disappointment or jubilation.

Win or lose, thank you to #ThisTeam the 2017 edition of the LA Dodgers!

###

Some excerpts from LA Times coverage ....

Baxter:
Dodger Stadium has played host to a Pope and the Kings. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Three Tenors have performed there. So did the Harlem Globetrotters. But baseball’s third-oldest ballpark, which opened in 1962, has never seen Game 7 of a World Series played there. Until today. [......] “Game 7,” Dodger President Stan Kasten said. “It’s the greatest thing in sports. And Game 7 for the first time at Dodger Stadium? It literally does not get any better.”

Hernandez:
The words were simple, but Yu Darvish found the sentiment behind them to be particularly heartwarming. “We’re going to get this one for you.” That’s what Darvish said he was told by the other Dodgers in the team’s pregame huddle the day after he lived a nightmare in his first start in a World Series. [.......] When Turner returned to the clubhouse after the game Tuesday, he made it a point to speak to Darvish. “I came in here after the game, gave him a big hug and told him his time was tomorrow,” Turner said. And if it’s Darvish’s time, it will be the Dodgers’, too.

Plaschke:
A dozen outs from the end of their season, pushed by a raucous Halloween crowd and fueled by their own desperation, the Dodgers dug deep. They trailed by one run. They had one hit. They were leaning on a tattered bullpen. The night was cooling. The sky was spitting. Winter was coming. But then, in the sixth inning of Game 6 of the World Series against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night, it happened, the wondrous realization of a nightly cry that brought back summer. It was time for Dodger baseball........

Shaikin:
There is a time to stand up for your teammates, for justice, for what you believe to be right. This, presumably, was not that time. This was the World Series, and an elimination game at that. So that might have been the greatest testament to what Rich Hill did Tuesday: He put his sense of right and wrong ahead of winning and losing, at least for a few moments. It had been four days since Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros had slanted his eyes and used a racial slur to mock Yu Darvish, the Dodgers’ Japanese-born pitcher. Hill still was bothered that Commissioner Rob Manfred had decided not to suspend Gurriel during the World Series. [.......] And Hill was Gustavo Dudamel, with a ball rather than a baton, silently conducting the crowd, pausing time and again to let a cascade of boos rain down upon Gurriel. Hill stepped off the mound so the crowd could jeer, made a pitch, stepped off the mound for another round of jeers, made another pitch. He turned into a veritable Pedro Baez, lingering between pitches so the crowd could rev up its vocal cords once again. “I think the one thing was just to let the crowd speak their mind,” Hill said. “I didn’t think anything else would be as loud as that. The people spoke. I left it to that, and that was it. “That was the best way to go about it, not hitting him or doing anything like that, but making sure that things like this shouldn’t happen.”

McCullough:
“You got this?” manager Dave Roberts asked. Jansen stared at his manager. He had blown one save and lost one game to these Houston Astros. He understood that the Dodgers resided on the brink of elimination because of it. His gaze was firm. His answer was brief, biting and unequivocal. “Yes,” Jansen replied, and he walked away. Roberts needed to hear no more. Jansen climbed the stairs for the ninth. He refused to relinquish the baseball. And he refused to wilt, slamming the door shut in a 3-1 victory that guaranteed something that has never happened at Dodger Stadium. World Series, Game 7. Could you expect any less? Could you ask for any more? The baseball gods might not answer letters, but they do allow dreams to flourish. The Dodgers kept theirs alive Tuesday, 48 hours after an excruciating Game 5 defeat, by playing like the team that ran away with the National League West and bulldozed the other contenders for the pennant. [......] After the chaos of this series, in which homers soared in record numbers and bullpen decisions endured unceasing scrutiny, a winner will be crowned Wednesday. The Dodgers couldn’t wait. “We never stopped believing in ourselves, that we can win a championship,” Jansen said. “So here we are.”

###

As a sports fan, have to tip my hat to the Houston Astros for winning the 2017 World Series. They led in almost every statistical category in offense during the regular season. In the end, Dodger pitching won games 1, 4, and 6 and Houston hitting won games 2,3,5, and 7. Congratulations to the Astros. Hope springs alive again for all the clubs at next year's spring training!

As a Dodger fan, there is disappointment of course but also great memories of an incredible season. #ThisTeam gave fans who were old enough to see them win in 1955 to those who weren't even born in 1988 a wild ride of a good season filled with the entrance to the stage of new stars and the consistent efforts of veteran ballplayers. Generations of fans linked in the shared disappointments and jubilations of a season culminating in the first World Series appearance in a long time.

Thank you Dodgers!

Heading into the October international break

LA Galaxy have dropped two in a row and in both cases their defense was the culprit. As a result, they go into the MLS playoffs in fifth pla...