Friday, December 8, 2017

My Star Wars: The Last Jedi Theories

89Two years ago, I made six predictions for the new Star Wars trilogy produced by Disney and Lucasfilms. With Episode VIII, The Last Jedi coming out this weekend, I thought it was time to revisit those old theories and add a few new ones. I'm planning on posting long-overdue reviews for The Force Awakens and Rogue One in the next few days (additionally, Star Trek Beyond by the end of the year), but first things first.

Let's revisit my old predictions (BEWARE SPOILERS)

1. Han Solo dies. Add a big check to that one. Though you could see it coming (and at the hands of Kylo Ren), it was still heart-wrenching, especially powered by Harrison Ford's performance and the beautifully done last moment where Han touches his son's face before dying.

2. Luke is hiding from Kylo Ren. This is partially right in that Luke is hiding, but whether it's like Yoda and Obi-Wan waiting until the right time is up for debate. Luke's motives for disappearing are still unknown and will likely be revealed in The Last Jedi.

3. Kylo Ren was Luke's apprentice who fell to the Dark Side. Pretty much a no-brainer.

4. Rey is Han and Leia's daughter who was hidden away to protect from Kylo Ren. This is most likely false, at least Rey being Han and Leia's daughter. While The Last Jedi is likely to reveal Rey's parentage, that's not meant to shape her background as much as why she was hidden away.

5. Finn is Lando's son. With Billy Dee-Williams nowhere in sight for the sequels, this is probably false.

6. Kylo Ren is Han and Leia's son. I had predicted this to be "the whopper" that would be revealed in Episode VIII. I was only half right as it was revealed halfway through The Force Awakens and it was better for it; it added emotional depth to the movie as well as gave Han a well-realized character arc.

Overall, my predictions weren't too far off the mark, with only Number 5 being way off kilter. Unless, of course, something is revealed in the next two films which I'm not expecting to see at this point. Without the inclusion of Billy Dee Williams and Han Solo now killed off, Finn being a Calrissian would be nothing more than fan service and would add nothing emotionally to the overall picture.

So now, comes time for my predictions for The Last Jedi. I'm making these based on things that I've read in interviews and bits and pieces of the movie taken from the trailers.

1. Luke is in self-imposed exile and doesn't want to be found. In The Force Awakens, Han tells Rey and Finn that following Kylo Ren's betrayal and the destruction of his New Jedi Order, Luke walked away from everything and went searching for the First Jedi Temple. Leia also says that she feels foolish for thinking she could convince Luke to come back. This suggests that Luke isn't waiting to be found my the next generation of Jedi, but instead has turned his back on everything and everyone.

2. Luke has abandoned the ways of the Jedi. In the first trailer, Luke says that he's learned one thing; "The Jedi must end." This is pretty big. If Luke did find the First Jedi Temple, it seems that he must have learned something there for him to come to this conclusion. That doesn't mean Luke has fallen to the Dark Side, though.

3. Rey is a Skywalker. It's been long-established that the main Star Wars saga is the stoty of the Skywalker family. With Rey being the main heorine of the new trilogy, it's logical to assume that she's a Skywalker. Han's attitude towards Rey shifts when he learns her name in The Force Awakens and Maz says that Anakin's lightsaber is calling to her, supporting the theory that Rey is likely Luke's daughter.

4. The Resistance is defeated. One of the rumored titles for Episode VIII was The Fall of the Resistance. While this may have simply been a red herring, it's entirely possible that the climactic battle glimpsed in the trailers will see the Resistance delievered such a devastating blow that it will collapse. This will definitely put our heroes in quite a quandrary at the start of Episode IX.

5. Rey destroyed the Jedi Temple. One interesting thing to note about the glimpses we've gotten in both TheForce Awakens and trailers for The Last Jedi is that the scenes depicting the fall of the Jedi and the destruction of the temple take place at different times. When Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren stand over the bodies of Luke's New Jedi Order, it's raining. But when Luke looks upon the burning ruins of the Jedi Temple, it's not. This suggests that these two events could be independent of one another.

In The Force Awakens, Rey is revealed to be very strong in the Force, especially for someone who hasn't received any training....that we know of. In The Last Jedi trailer, both Luke and Snoke speak of "raw power". It's possible that they are both speaking of Rey. We still don't know why Rey was hidden, though it could be to hide her from Kylo Ren and Snoke. However, it's possoble that she may have been hidden to protect everyone else. Luke says he wasn't scared of this raw power the last time he saw it, but he is now. Perhaps he hid Rey because he wasn't sure he could teach her how to control it? Perhaps he was worried that this uncontrollable power could turn to darkness?

6. Kylo Ren isn't totally loyal to Snoke. One thing that makes Kylo Ren interesting is that he's struggling with being tempted by the Light Side of the Force. Killing Han Solo was supposed to seal his fall to darkness, but Han's final warning to Kylo that Snoke wants him for his powers could resonate with the younger Solo. His struggle with both Light and Dark will likely continue, with Kylo possibly considering betraying Snoke.

7. Finn is captured by the First Order and sent away for "re-education". All these movies "rhyme" with each other, as George Lucas likes to put it. Anakin blows up the Trade Federation in The Phantom Menace just as Luke blows up the Death Star in Star Wars (aka A New Hope); Anakin loses his arm, Luke is hand. So if anything will rhyme between The Empire Strikes Back and The Last Jedi, it'll be Finn being captured by the First Order in the third act, setting up his rescue in Episode IX. The twist will be that the First Order will try to brainwash him and make him one of theirs again.

8. Luke dies to save Rey. This is a tough one for me. I grew up playing Luke Skywalker, pretending that my glue stick was my lightsaber. I would love to see Luke survive to Episode IX and walk off into the sunset following the new generation's final victory. However, I don't see that being possible. Before her untimely death, Carrie Fisher was to be the focus of Episode IX, just as Han was in Thr Force Awakens and Luke in The Last Jedi. A big reason JJ Abrams didn't have Luke appear in The Force Awakens was because every time they brought Luke into the picture, he took over the film. That would happen again in Episode IX. The only solution is to kill him.

It's obvious from the trailers that Rey finds herself in quite the predicament while confronting Snoke. One of the interesting tidbits I've read about Snoke's possible background is that he feeds off of Force users. While this isn't confirmed, I could see an interesting outcome in The Last Jedi. Rey isn't going to defeat Snoke but she will probably escape. But at what cost? I predict Luke will give sacrifice himseld to Snoke, allowing Rey to escape. In the process however, Snoke drains Luke of his Force using abilities.

The Last Jedi premieres this weekend. I guess we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President,

Since we're now able to politicize yesterday's horrible tragedy in New York City, can we now discuss new gun laws in the aftermath of Las Vegas?

Thank you

Monday, November 7, 2016

The 2016 Election's Big Winner Is...

Some unforeseen disaster (think Florida, circa 2000) some time in the next 36 hours we should know who the next President of the United States is going to be. But whoever surpasses the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected, whether it be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, won't necessarily be the big winner of this election season. In my opinion, the person who has benefited the most from this election and its ensuing aftermath is Vladamir Putin.

You read that right; Russian President Vladamir Putin is the biggest winner in this year's election. Why? Because regardless of who wins, the United States will never be the same again.

If Donald Trump manages to pull out a win (unlikely and absolutely terrifying to consider), Putin will most likely have himself his own little puppet in the Oval Office. Trump not only lauds Putin as a "great leader" because of how strong he is in his country (ignoring the fact that he rules with an iron fist), he frequently seems to take up Russia's positions. He has voiced doubt as to whether or not Russia has gone into Crimea (they have), denied that they are responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee or had any part in the WikiLeaks hacked e-mails, and said that our NATO allies must pay their "fair share" in order to earn our military assistance.

Those positions seem to tout the Kremlin's propaganda, not to mention the numerous ties that have been suspected to exist between Trump, his associates and the Russians that imply a relationship between the two that has been kept secret. Little has been proven, mostly due to the fact that the FBI seems to be filled with pro-Trump supporters, so what their credibility must be questioned at this point.

Regardless of any ties that do or do not exist between Trump and Russia, one thing seems for certain, Trump seems to be in lock-step with Russia and its President at the expense of the United States and its allies. So if Trump wins, Putin could possibly have free reign to do whatever he wishes without worry of the United States.

If Hillary Clinton wins, Putin won't have the sway or freedom he would like with Trump, but he will win in another big way. For over 200 years, the United States has been a shining light of democracy for the world. One of our country's biggest areas of pride is that every four to eight years who have a peaceful transition of power from one President to the next, regardless of political party. It has recently been touted by President Bill Clinton that President George H.W. Bush left him a note when he was inaugurated letting him know that, despite their different political party affiliations, he was routing for his successor because his success would be the country's success. For the elder Bush, the country succeeding was much more important than Clinton being defeated by Republicans. This is an incredible example of how wonderful our democracy is.

Until Donald Trump entered the picture and is threatening to tear everything down. From calling Hillary Clinton a criminal who should be locked up, to calling the system rigged and that the election will be stolen from him, Donald Trump threatens the very fabric of our democracy. Though a concession from one candidate isn't required for our constitutional process to work, it's a sign of respect that the likes of Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain and Mitt Romney have all exercised even though the outcome was not in their favor. Trump not only has not shown any interest in making a graceful concession, but it is also not inconceivable for him to try to legally challenge the outcome of the election if it's close, thus calling the eventual outcome into question.

Even if Trump does gracefully concede, he has instilled so much anger, hatred and doubts in his supporters that many have already said they will not accept the results if Hillary Clinton wins. Some have called for a revolution, others have said they will march on D.C. and prevent her from entering the White House, and others have implied acts of violence. This would completely throw the fabric of our democracy into chaos, damaging and causing widespread doubt into the outcome for election cycles to come.

The United States will be weakened, plunged into internal turmoil not seen since the Civil War and a President with little to no political capital. No longer will the United States be a shining example of how democracy can work and will risk teetering on the edge of becoming no different than third world countries who constantly protest election outcomes that the electorate views as rigged.

The big winner? Vladamir Putin.

So no matter who becomes our next President, the biggest winner this election season is Vladamir Putin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ted Cruz's Latest Calculation

Ted Cruz is one of the most talented politicians I've ever seen.

I don't mean that in a good way. He's calculating and manipulative, every action and every word thought out carefully. If you want a couple examples, look at his handling of immigration reform and the way he used a government shutdown to boost his own profile amongst the Republican electorate, even at the expense of his own party.

His handling of the 2016 Primary Season is superb. He went from a being a long shot candidate to the Republican Party's last hope to keep Donald Trump from the nomination. All this was thanks to a strategy that he stuck to from the beginning of his campaign in April 2015. Had it not been for the Trump juggernaut that steamrolled over the entire field, we likely would be calling Cruz the presumptive nominee.

In fact, we may still.

That may be surprising to say since he suspended his campaign last week. But follow my thinking for a moment.

Ted Cruz is not someone who acts on a whim. He isn't reckless. He's calculating and measured. Every act, every position is thought out and purposeful. Following his surprise victory in Wisconsin, he had hoped to regain moment to overtake Trump and deny him the nomination. But he suffered in the northeastern states, failing to crack second place in five of the six states. In the lead up to Indiana, it was believed that if something didn't change, Cruz was fighting a lost cause.

Thus, came Cruz's one act of desperation; the unusual naming of a vice-presidential nominee. From the get go it was viewed as illogical and desperate. Ultimately, it only sank him in Indiana. So, as he lost in a landslide, he announced he was suspending his campaign.

Since then, little has been heard from Ted Cruz. Until today, when in an interview with Glenn Beck he said he would consider returning to the campaign trail if he won an "unlikely" victory in Nebraska, a state where not only he is not only still on the ballot but was also projected to win before he dropped out.

So why the sudden change of heart?

Perhaps because Donald Trump has failed to unite his party behind him. Perhaps because General Election Trump isn't too different from Primary Trump, who isn't very popular with the general electorate. The nominee the Republicans got hasn't done much to ease their fears or anxieties. In fact, he seems to have increased them with statements that show a lack of understanding about the way the country's debt works, or that he's not too concerned about party unity.

The Republican Party has had a week to see what Nominee Trump looks like and they're not too thrilled.

And thus, perhaps this was Ted Cruz's greatest calculation of all; showing the party what they got and scaring them so that he could reemerge as the party's savior. It was only after Cruz withdrew where he got what he finally wanted; John Kasich stopped his campaign. If Cruz reenters the race, it will just be him and Trump, which he had wanted for months. A victory in Nebraska  (though already expected) will help change the media's narrative that Trump has the nomination and give Cruz reason to get back into the race.

He could point to Trump's statements as reason why he should not be their nominee. This could result in remaining voters flocking to him, keeping Trump from getting the nomination and throw the convention into contention.

Of course, it could backfire and only reinforce Trump's branding of him as Lyin' Ted, that he's untrustworthy and calculating, willing to say or do whatever is necessary to become President. It's a very accurate picture.

But it's also what could give Cruz the nomination out from under Donald Trump's feet.

I guess we'll see over the next few days.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Letter to the GOP

Dear Republican Party,

As some of your presidential candidates have noted, this is a time for choosing. A new era of American politics is upon us. After eight years of hyper-partisanship and divisiveness, our country is now at a crossroads where their people must choose where we go next. But no longer is this a choice between ideological extremes, the liberal left versus the conservative right; it has now become a battle for the soul of the United States of America.

During a great time of political divisiveness, the moderates of both political parties could no longer hold of powerful challenges from the extreme left and right fringes of the political spectrum. As his country struggled to recover from dark economic times, one man touted a message that targeted those most affected by the economic downturn and who were afraid of losing their cultural identity. This man sought to oppress any who disagreed with him, encouraging discrimination and violence against members of a minority religion. As his power and influence grew, he demanded that his supporters pledge an oath of allegiance not to his party or his country, but to him.

The man of whom I speak I'd Adolf Hitler.

However, the similarities to one Donald J. Trump are quite striking. Though they aren't exactly the same, there are enough parallels between the rise of power of these two men to be alarming. We all know what happened with Hitler and how the course of history changed. The question is, have we learned from that history?

I am an Independent. Since I first voted for President in 2004, I have approached every election with an open mind, willing to give every candidate serious consideration regardless of their party. That's what being an Independent is about. There are issues on which I agree with Republicans and issues on which I agree with Democrats. I am a free-thinking man who will make up his own mind and not be told by others what my positions should be. That's what it means to live in America.

I am increasingly alarmed by what I have seen over the course of this 2016 election season. I'm extremely anxious about what the future for my family and myself holds. A lot of that anxiety comes from what I see going on in the Republican Presidential Primaries. A party that prides itself on continuing the legacy of Ronald Reagan has seen it's rhetoric devolve into talk of paranioa, name calling, insults about physical appearance and even jokes about the size of candidates' genitals. The result? Violence erupting st campaign rallies where the front-runner for the Republican nomination encourages those who protest against him be beaten. A front-runner who praises the President of Russia for how he runs his country, despite rumors that he has political opponents killed.

Is this the sort of man who should be in the White House with control of our nuclear arsenal? If Vladimir Putin is the kind of President who Trump admires, does that mean he will rule with a similar approach if elected? These are questions we must seriously ask. If Donald Trump makes up his own rules on the campaign trail, will he do so in the White House? Will this mean the end of our Democracy?

I ask this because it's time for the Republican Party to choose. It's increasingly clear that Trump will be the nominee. So the GOP must ask themselves what's more important; winning or preserving the Republic? Because a Trump presidency could possibly lead to the destruction of not just the Republican Party and everything for which they stand, but for our country as well.

For the last eight years, the Republican Party has done everything they can to obstruct President Obama's agenda, including opposing ideas that originally belonged to Republicans. Their goal in 2009 was to ensure that Barack Obama was a one term President. They have shown that they are more interested in winning than working with Democrats to make things better for our country. But in 2012, they failed to unseat a vulnerable President because they weren't able to present a vision for the future. They argued why Obama should be defeated instead of why they should be elected.

In 2016, our government is consumed by gridlock. Very little is accomplished by Congress and neither side is willing to work with the other. As a result, people are angry and justly so. However, that anger is being exploited. Instead of being encouraged to channel that anger, they're being encouraged to lash out and some times violently. If left unchecked, there's no telling how far this anger and paranoia will go.

And there's no telling if it will even subside if President Trump assumes power. It's a scary thought to have a President who openly tells his supports to beat up protesters who seek to use their First Ammendment right to voice their own feelings. And there's no telling what else President Trump would do. Republicans think that they can keep Trump in control. But I don't think so. If there's one thing Donald Trump has proven, it's that he answers to no one. And in our system of government, that doesn't work. Our President is constrained by the rule of law and is not above it. Will Trump understand this?

The reason the GOP won't distance themselves from Trump or take a stand against him is because they're afraid of losing. They're afraid he'll ditch the party for a third-party run and cost them.the White House. This shows that they are more concerned with winning then what's best for the country. Trump touts a message of hate and divisiveness, prejudice and discrimination, and aggression and violence.

Which is why the Republican Party may have to give up on winning in 2016. That may be a difficult thing for a party who has been out of power for eight years to accept. But if Trump wins, will they really be in power?

The way I see it, the Republican Party has three options.

1. Do what it can to prevent Trump from winning the party's nomination, sending it to a brokered convention that nominates someone else. This will likely lead to alot of ugliness that will throw the party into further disarray and weaken it in the general election. An infuriated Trump is likely to launch a third party bid, with many of his most passionate supporters following him and abandoning the Republican nominee who will be seen as having stolen the nomination.

Though the party will support their candidate, the election is likely a lost cause as the Republican vote will be divided. The best strategy is for as much mone as possible to be thrown into supporting Congressional candidates and defending their majorities in Congress.

In a three-way general election, a best case scenario sees none of the three major candidates attaining 270 electoral votes, sending the outcome to the House of Representatives. If Republicans hold their majority, they will win the White House, though in controversial fashion. The party will be splintered, but will gradually regroup around a Republican President.

Worst case scenario, Hillary Clinton wins and the GOP is fractured, but can rebuild towards 2020 and hope to win the White House then.

2. If Trump becomes the nominee, allow him to continue to self-finance his campaign. Don't officially oppose his candidacy, but throw all support towards defending their Congressional majorities. The hope is that Trump will be defeated in November. The GOP can distance themselves from his policies and positions and hope to rebuild towards winning the White House in 2020. If he wins, the outcome will be similar to Point 3.

3. Throw all support behind Trump with the clear goal of winning. If he wins, however, they will forever be tied to whatever legacy Trump builds as President, whether it be good or bad. If it's good, everyone will be pleasantly surprised. If it's bad however, the Republican Party will collapse and likely be ousted from party for many years to come. In addition, they will have to deal with whatever other consequences come from a Donald J. Trump presidency.

It's a time of choosing for the Republican Party. For almost eight years, they've had the clear goal of simply winning back the White House, no matter what the costs. Now, achieving that goal may come at too high a price. This is the time where Republicans will show that they place winning over the well-being of their country, or place their country over winning.

Only time will tell what choice they will make. Unfortunately, I have serious doubts about whether they will make the right one.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Star Trek and Batman Meet on Their 50th Anniversary

While it's probably widely known that 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I think it's less likely known that it is also the 50th Anniversary of the 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West! While cheesy and often far-fetched and over-the-top, it is nevertheless entertaining and funny.

To celebrate these two shows, I thought I would share a video that I recently found on a Star Trek site. Live Long and Prosper and then make a discrete exit out the window!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Star Trek Beyond

Well, J.J. Abrams's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh episode in George Lucas's popular franchise and the first in a new trilogy of films is just a few days away from hitting theaters. Reviews will start spilling through the Internet Wednesday, so those of you weary of any spoilers be careful of what you read not only in reviews but anywhere on the Internet!

In the meantime, however, the countdown has begun for the return of another popular Sci-Fi franchise: Star Trek. 2016 marks Star Trek's 50th Anniversary and Paramount (despite plenty of behind-the-scenes drama) have managed to pull things together in time. The first trailer is set to be attached to The Force Awakens (most appropriate) but it's already found its way onto the Internet.

My upcoming Force Awakens review likely be my last Star Wars-related post for the foreseeable future as I shift gears from one of my favorite franchises into my other favorite franchise. Yes, those who prefer one over the other, it is possible to love both Star Trek and Star Wars! My family is evidence enough of that!

So here it is, our first glimpse at the newest Star Trek move due out late-July 2016!

While this trailer is likely to divide a very finicky fandom, I must fancy myself impressed. There's something I find irresistible about this trailer. The look and feel strikes me as being very much akin to the original series and it just looks like it'll be wacky and fun! Plus, there just seems something refreshing about the thought of the Enterprise being destroyed and the crew being stranded, forced to improvise and resort to their basic skills for survival. I like that since it forces the crew to be themselves and not rely upon their technology.

I guess we'll see in July.

Let the countdown begin!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My New Star Wars Trilogy Theories

In less than two weeks, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will open to what is sure to be huge box office numbers. Questions will be answered, many more will arise. Amongst them will be whether J.J. Abrams's Episode VII will be more akin to the original 1977-1983 trilogy or the 1999-2005 prequels that many Star Wars fans dismiss as awful and unimportant.

In the meantime, many fans are busy posturing their own theories about the new trilogy which will be released every two years until Episode IX debuts in 2019. So, I thought I'd offer my own theories about what will happen and hopefully I have more success than my 2015 Postseason Baseball predictions!

Now some of these predictions aren't just for The Force Awakens, but for the trilogy as a whole. So while some of these may not transpire in two weeks, I'm putting them out there as long-term possibilities.

  1. The opening movie in both trilogies have each featured a prominent death (Ben Kenobi in Star Wars and Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace), so it's safe to assume something similar will happen in The Force Awakens. While the leading rumor is that it'll be Harrison Ford's Han Solo (he wanted Solo to die in Return of the Jedi), there are some suggestions that it could be Chewbacca. Will I'm not entirely discounting the possibility that Chewie will meet his end, I think it's more likely that for greater dramatic impact Han Solo will die.
  2. It hasn't gone unnoticed that Luke Skywalker hasn't been featured in any promotional materials. This is fueling many questions about that has happened to Young Skywalker in the 35 year timeframe between the events of Jedi and Force Awakens. The most interesting theory is that Skywalker has turned to the Dark Side (some going as far as suggesting he is the masked Kylo Ren) and that it happened during the events of Return of the Jedi. While this would definitely be very interesting to explore, I find it unlikely since whoever it is that follows the path of the Jedi (whether it be Daisy Ridley's Rey or John Boyega's Finn) will need a mentor and unless Leia has become a Jedi, only Luke can fulfill that role. So I believe Luke has been in hiding because he has become a legend for defeating the Emperor and Darth Vader, but because he is also hiding from Kylo Ren. Which leads me into my next theory...
  3. Kylo Ren is Luke's apprentice who fell to the Dark Side. Following the events of Return of the Jedi, Luke sought to rebuild the Jedi Order and thus sought out to train a new generation of Jedi, beginning with Kylo Ren. But Kylo Ren, in learning of the history of the Sith and Darth Vader, found the idea of power too tempting and fell to the Dark Side. So, Luke has gone into hiding until someone else is ready for him to teach them, much he had been hidden by Obi-Wan and Yoda at the end of Revenge of the Sith.
  4. Rey is the daughter of Han and Leia who was hidden away to protect her from Kylo Ren. While the theory that Rey is their daughter is a popular one, the reason she doesn't know who her family is remains a mystery. And I believe she was hidden away for her own protection when it was discovered she was strong in the Force with the hope that one day Luke would return to train her to become a Jedi.
  5. Finn is the son of Lando Calrissian. Now as for whether or not Finn will train to become a Jedi, I think that remains a mystery but I think it's a definite possibility since he's seen wielding a lightsaber in most of the promos. Given Billy Dee Williams's notable absence from The Force Awakens, I find it likely that this won't be revealed until Episode VIII.
  6. And finally, for what I believe to be the whopper...Kylo Ren is the son of Han and Leia, making him the brother of Rey and nephew of Luke. Now, this isn't one I've seen yet but I think this is a strong possibility, likely to be revealed as Episode VIII's big climactic twist (a-la "I am your father"). Kylo Ren was probably born within a year of the events of Return of the Jedi with Luke beginning his training a few years after that. But as said in Point 3, Kylo feel to the Dark Side likely during his teenage years around the time that Rey was a small child. Because she's his sister, he would immediately be aware of her and view her as a threat, leading to the need for Han and Leia to hide her. It would also likely lead to the inevitable attempt at Kylo's redemption on the part of Rey in Episode IX, just as Luke tried to save Anakin in Return of the Jedi.
Those are my big New Star Wars Trilogy theories. I guess we'll see which ones come to pass in a couple weeks and likely have to wait four more years to see if any of the others take place as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The 1985 ALCS / 2015 ALCS Not-So-Parallel Parallels

Much has been made of the fact over the past week that this year's ALCS rematch between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals is a rematch of their 1985 ALCS meeting, one which is considered by many to be a classic series. But the similarities between the two end there. After the Royals went up 2-0 after the first two games, many sports writers and fans began drawing parallels to that 1985 series when the Jays were up 2-0. They would go on to be 3-1, needing only one more win in the final three games to advance to the World Series. The Royals would stage a historic comeback, winning the three remaining games to knock out the Blue Jays to go onto the World Series.

With Game 5 about to start and the Jays facing elimination, many Jays fans are looking to that 1985 series to flip the script. Many parallels have been drawn, with the Jays winning game 3 at home just as the Royals did in '85. Unfortunately, and I say this is a life long Jays fan, don't expect history to be flipped this year.

While the Jays probably have the best lineup in the big leagues this year, in their nine postseason games this year, they've struggled. With the exception of the four games they've won, their offense has been very dormant in the rest, silenced by the pitching staffs of both the Rangers and Royals. In fact, the Jays owe their ALDS victory to the three 7th inning errors by the Rangers offense which led to Jose Bautista's monster game winning home run. Before those errors, the Rangers' starting pitcher had kept the Jays at bay.

So has been the case not just with the Royals starting pitching (with the exception of Game 3's starter Cueto), but their frighteningly effective bullpen as well. Outside of the eleven runs the Jays scored in Game 3, their offense has only produced five runs. And even their victory in Game 3 was closer than it needed to be as the Royals scores four runs in the 9th inning to make it am 11-8 game. The Royals have produced most of their runs in the final three innings of each game in this series, with nine runs produced in the 7th, 8th and 9th last night. The Royals have proven that they are very effective late in the game, while the Jays have done more damage in the beginning.

But the biggest factor, I believe, is that while the Jays might be able to win tonight's game to force a Game 6 in Kansas City, I just don't see them winning both Game 6 and Game 7. One or the other, sure, but considering their current position, they won't have that luxury. As postseason - starved as the Jays and their fans are, the Royals and their fans want this more after last season. The Royals are playoff hardened, having been here before. They've had a taste, gone the distance but just missed it. So they have the hunger more than the Jays who are doing this for the first time since 1993.

In order for the Jays to be serious contenders, they need to get a taste and lose it just as they did in 1991 before winning in 1992 and 1993. From what I've seen, the Royals want it, they've tasted it and are ready to take all of it this year.

Maybe next year, Jays.

Friday, October 16, 2015

And the Winner Is...

The 2015 Postseason is well underway. 26 teams have been knocked from contention. Some rather unceremoniously, others in incredibly dramatic fashion. Now we are left with four teams competing in two separate League Championship Series to see who will go on to the World Series. There are plenty of predictions out there as to who will beat who and go all the way, the craziest coming twenty-six years ago when it was said that the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series (see Back to the Future II), something that's not so far-fetched anymore.

All four teams are trying to overcome postseason droughts that span decades. Of the four teams still in contention, the most recent World Series Champions are the Toronto Blue Jays of 1993! Yikes! The last time the Mets won in 1986, I was just about my son's age. The Royals won in 1985 (the year the first Back to the Future came out, by the way). And the last time the Cubs Won It All, Theodore Roosevelt was President and the Titanic was still three-and-a-half years from its doomed maiden voyage!

So regardless of who goes all the way, somebody's drought is going to end in the coming weeks.

So, I thought it was time to throw in my two cents, even though the first round is already over. Though I didn't put anything in writing a week ago, I have to say my LDS predictions weren't too far off.

Blue Jays v Royals
In a rematch of the 1985 ALCS where the Royals overcame a 3-1 deficit to take the series from Toronto, both teams are pretty evenly matched. Both have a way of coming from behind to win in dramatic fashion in the late innings, and each had very similar records.

However, while the Royals topped the Jays during the regular season for best record (95-67 over 93-69), the Jays had a far stronger second half and nearly overtook the Royals for home field advantage. Not to mention, the Blue Jays feature one of the best offenses in the history of the game as well as some pretty powerful bats. If anything helps balance however, it's the Royals' home field advantage. If the series goes to a final do-or-die Game 7 in Kansas City, I don't see the Blue Jays coming out on top.

Still, Blue Jays in 6.

Cubs v Mets
There's no doubt that there's something special about these two teams. Both the Cubs and Mets have struggled in recent years, each posting multiple losing seasons before coming into this season. So to say that this season has been a turnaround for both teams is an understatement. Both are youthful and charged with energy, but there's something special about the Cubs this season that is undeniable.

Cubs in 5.

Blue Jays v Cubs
Admittedly, this is my dream match up for the World Series. And to be honest, as much as I love the Jays, the Cubs are the one team I wouldn't mind seeing beat them. Both teams have been swinging powerful bats lately with plenty of monster home runs to boot, particularly in their LDS clinching games. Both are fairly evenly matched with the key to success coming down to whose pitching staff better restrains the other's offense. I see this series going all the way, with it easily going either way. However, only one team has displayed a tendency for clutch heroics...

Blue Jays in 7.