Movie Review: American Hustle (2013)
David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” is a movie that earns the “American” in its title. It’s big, brassy, energetic, corrupt, and has great cleavage. It’s fascinating and fun. It’s a movie that never sits still. It’s about all the little scams everyone plays every day along with the big scams they get caught up in. It’s about how no one’s clean but some people are smart. At one point, maybe two-thirds of the way through, I thought, “After all these years of making movies for us, how nice that someone finally made a movie for Martin Scorsese.”
“American Hustle” is also a movie that earns the “Hustle” in its title, since it’s about people hustling/striving to get ahead and people just hustling/conning everyone else. Usually the two go together.
If you can't tell, I loved the hell out of this movie.
1979 is getting its closeup
It’s the 1970s. Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), fat, from the Bronx, and with the worst combover in the world, is involved in his little scams in and around Long Island and New Jersey—shady loans, counterfeit art, plus a few legitimate dry cleaning stores—when he meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) at a party. Boom. She’s from New Mexico, works at Cosmopolitan magazine, but jumps into his scams with both feet. Puts on a British accent and displays leg and that great braless cleavage of the era as they schnooker anyone they can find. Then they schnooker the wrong guy, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), a low-level field agent for the FBI. Since only Sydney puts her hands on the money, only she goes to jail. Freaks her out. Richie uses this, not to mention Irving’s love for her, as leverage to get both of them to help with an operation involving Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), the popular, populist mayor of Camden, N.J.
Polito, the father in New Jersey’s version of “The Brady Bunch,” including a black kid he adopted, has helped make gambling legal in the state, and he wants to help reopen Atlantic City, too. So the FBI creates an Arab buyer who will bankroll refurbishing the run-down seaside town for a little something under-the-table. I supposed I should’ve known going in that this was about Abscam. The Iran hostage crisis last year and Abscam this year. 1979 is finally gets its closeup.
What was the deal with Abscam again? Wasn’t it viewed as entrapment? It wanted to be Watergate. It wanted to prove big-time corruption but proved—just barely—small-time corruptibility. Which is like proving nothing at all.
The operation is mostly internecine battles: between Richie, who wants to make it as big as possible, and Irving, who wants to keep the operation small and controlled; between Richie and his immediate superior, Stoddard Thorsen (a hilarious Louis C.K.), a careful stump of a bureaucrat, who refuses to OK any of Richie’s extravagant operational needs (an airplane, a hotel suite, $2 million in wire transfers) without a push from his boss, Anthony Amado (Alessandro Nivola, channeling in looks a young Harvey Keitel, and in voice a young Christopher Walken), who has Richie’s lust for fame. It’s also a battle for Sydney, between Richie and Irving, but who she’s scamming, if she is scamming anyone, we don’t know. She might not know.
The greater battle is probably internal. Irving is being forced to help someone he doesn’t like (Richie) to ruin the life of someone he does (Carmine). He’s doing it for Sydney but in the process he’s losing Sydney. Plus his crazy wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), threatens to ruin the whole operation. Plus the thing he wants small and controlled keeps getting bigger and crazier.
The movie reached a crescendo for me—a testament to the outsized craziness of American life and storytelling—in Atlantic City, when the mob shows up, smiling and hanging at the bar up front, and being whisked in for high-powered meetings in the back room. The face at the bar belongs to Pete Musane (Jack Huston, “Boardwalk Empire”), polite, mustachioed, making eyes at Rosalyn. The face in the back room, and it’s a shock, a wonderful shock, belongs to Victor Tellegio, an uncredited Robert De Niro, doing some of his best acting in years. He suggests speeding up citizenship papers for Sheik Abdullah (Michael Pena), and Carmine, somewhat uncomfortable, agrees to set up meetings with U.S. representatives and senators he knows. The helpless look in Irving’s eyes at all of these moving piece is beautifully contrasted with the greedy gleam in Richie’s. Richie sees greatness coming out of this; Irving merely sees his own death. You can scam the mayor of Camden, N.J., but you can’t scam the mob. The FBI maybe but not him. With every step, it seems, he has more to lose: first Sydney, then Rosalyn, then his life.
How he gets out of it, and the comeuppance of Richie, is a joy to watch. Early on, Irving says this: “As far as I see, people are always conning each other to get what they want.” Irving began the movie conning others, then Richie conned him, and together they began conning Carmine. But the con got too big. So Irving scales it back by conning Richie again.
God, it’s fun.
The first and final con
I flashed on a few other movies watching this one: “Goodfellas” for its energy and narration and camera movement and made guys; “Atlantic City” for the attempt to resurrect the boardwalk; “Argo,” for the era, and for this thought: Can the Academy award its best picture to back-to-back 1979 movies? Probably not. Shame. This one deserves it more.
You’ll hear a lot about the acting, but it’s not in the weight Bale gained nor in his elaborate combover nor in Bradley Cooper’s perm—all of which are fun. It’s in the eyes. The con, and then the concern, in Irving’s, the need in Richie’s, and the fear, the dizzying fear, in Sydney’s. It’s the death stare of Victor Tellegio, delivered as only De Niro can deliver it. It’s in the officious blankness in Stoddard Thorsen’s eyes. A small favorite moment: After all that Richie puts him through, there’s no vindictiveness in Stoddard’s eyes in the end. His eyes remain blank and officious. Like he’s simply wondering when he can go home.
Are there mistakes? Sure. Is Carmine too decent? We don’t really get why Richie targets him in the first place. We barely understand his crime. To him, the graft seems a necessary byproduct of what he really wants to do, which is creating working class jobs for the people of New Jersey. And in the backroom staredown between Victor, who, oops, knows Arabic, and the fake Sheik, who doesn’t, well, isn’t the jig up right there? Yet it isn’t. Plus how does Pena’s FBI agent suddenly know entire sentences in Arabic? Has he been studying?
No matter. Go. Most movies of this type begin with the disclaimer “Based on a true story,” but “American Hustle”’s disclaimer is a little looser, a little more American. It says: “Some of this actually happened.” Meaning most of it didn’t. The movie’s our first and final con. A joyful one.
Quote of the Day
“Oh, what can I say about that one? I could not believe it. A lady like that playing little old me.”
-- Philomena Lee on being played by Dame Judi Dench in the movie “Philomena,” as reported in a Q&A in The Los Angeles Times.
Movie Review: Philomena (2013)
The power of Stephen Frear’s “Philomena” lies in the performance and in the message.
A simple woman searches for her long-lost son with the help of an erudite former BBC reporter. Early on, you think the movie is merely an odd-couple road-trip—him, with all his Oxford smarts, learning her simple wisdom—and that’s certainly part of it. You also think the movie is about the journey (them together) more than the destination (what happened to her son), but halfway through we wind up at that destination, and it dead-ends, and we wonder where the story can possibly go. Is there a path? There is. Through there. Then another dead-end and another path. And we keep squeezing through onto these smaller paths, wondering if we’re going to make it out, until suddenly everything opens up into a field, and we stand there for a second, happy, even as we recognize we’ve been there before. It’s Roscrea, the convent in Ireland where we started. At this point the former BBC reporter, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), recites the following stanza to the woman, Philomena Lee (Judi Dench):
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
She’s effusive, and asks if he came up with it just then.
Martin (slightly embarrassed): It’s T.S. Eliot.
Philomena (unembarrassed): Oh. Well, it’s still very nice.
It’s the “still” that gets me. It’s the way Dench says it. It’s the way Dench says everything. She reminds me of my mother and Sixsmith reminds me of me. I don’t see me in many movies, and I see my mother less often, so it’s nice to see us up there for a change.
The greater sin
In 1951 Philomena Lee (Sophie Kennedy Clark) met a young boy at a carnival, and after a candied apple knew sin. Her family, ashamed of the out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sends her to Roscrea, where the nuns grill her. “Did you take your knickers down?” they ask. “Did you enjoy your sin?” She signs a document giving the convent the right to put her child up for adoption; then she and other unwed mothers work off what they owe in the laundry room. They’re allowed an hour a day with their child. Philomena’s is named Anthony. At age 3 he’s taken away. She hasn’t seen him since.
Why does Philomena tell her daughter, Jane (Anna Maxwell Martin), about the half-brother she never knew on the 50th anniversary of his birth? She still considers herself a good Catholic and for years thought that what she’d done was a sin, a great sin, so she’d kept it hidden. But wasn’t keeping it hidden a sin as well? Which was the greater sin? She didn’t know. So her gut decided.
Later, Jane is serving wine at a party when she overhears Sixsmith talking to friends, rather uncomfortably, about his plans for the future. He’d worked for the Blair government but left under a cloud. The cloud actually surrounded the Blair administration but most people just remember the cloud. Sixsmith is thinking about writing a book on Russian history—everyone’s lack of interest is a running gag in the film—so Jane tells him about her mother. He’s dismissive at first. Human interest stories, he says, are for “weak-minded, vulnerable and ignorant people.” Then he realizes the insult.
There’s a lot of this: Sixsmith acting slightly rude and/or academic in that Steve Coogan manner, then slightly abashed in that Steve Coogan manner. Philomena is his opposite. She’s sweet but slightly daft. Mostly it works. As here:
Jane [to her mother]: What they did to you was evil.
Philomena: No no no. I don’t like that word.
Martin [taking notes]: No, it’s good: Evil. [Looks up.] Storywise.
Philomena: Do you believe in God, Martin?
Martin: [Exhales] Where do you start? I always thought that was a very difficult question to give a simple answer to. ... Do you?
Or the scene on the back of the airport cart when she goes on and on about the trashy book she’s just finished despite his complete lack of interest. But he’s polite. He says it sounds interesting and she pushes the book on him. He scans the back cover. “I feel like I’ve already read it,” he says dryly. Beat. “Oh, there’s a series.”
The even greater sin
In scenes reminiscent of Coogan’s mockumentary, “The Trip,” Sixsmith and Philomena drive to Roscrea to find of what they can. The nuns there are distant and unhelpful. The records of what happened to Anthony are gone, too, destroyed in the fire in the 1970s. He later learns the fire wasn’t a fire-fire but a burning of records.
Back in the 1950s, most Irish children were adopted by wealthy Americans, some of the few people in the postwar world who could afford the £100 pricetag; and while the British government isn’t helpful with its records, Sixsmith, who once reported from Washington, D.C., thinks they’ll have better luck with the Yanks. That’s the rationale for flying to the states. It feels unnecessary, but it furthers the road trip and the comedy of manners. In a D.C. hotel buffet, for example, Philomena is overfriendly with the Mexican staff (“I’ve never been to Mexico but I hear it’s lovely.” Beat. “Apart from the kidnappings.”), while Sixsmith isn’t friendly enough. But it’s there he finds the answer to her question. A friend emails an old newspaper photo from 1955 showing a Dr. and Mrs. Hess returning from Ireland with two adopted children, Michael and Mary. A quick internet search turns up Michael Hess, senior counsel in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, who died of AIDS in 1995. Philomena has found her son only to lose him again.
That’s the dead-end. So where do you go?
To these questions: Did he miss me? Did he think about me? Did he try to find me as I tried to find him? That’s when the trip to the U.S. makes sense. They meet the sister, Mary (Mare Winningham, in a great, thankless performance), who seems to know little about the inner life of her brother, along with a few of Michael’s friends; but in Michael’s lover, Pete Olsson (Peter Hermann), they run into another dead-end. He refuses to talk to them, even after Sixsmith “doorsteps” him. It’s Philomena and her moral authority that wins the day.
She learns that not only did Michael try to find her, he visited Ireland and the convent. He met with the nuns, including Sister Hildegarde (Kate Fleetwood/Barbara Jefford), severe in manner and cat’s-eye glasses. He’s buried there. But they told her they didn’t know where he was, just as they’d told him they didn’t know where she was. They kept mother and child apart. Most movies are about absolutes, good guys and bad guys, so I took all of this with a grain of salt. “I’m sure it’s exaggerated for the movie,” I thought.
Nope. From Sixsmith’s 2009 Guardian article:
Separated by fate, mother and child spent decades looking for each other, repeatedly thwarted by the refusal of the nuns to reveal information, each of them unaware that the other was also yearning and searching.
On the return to Roscrea, Sixsmith is full of righteous anger and condemnation. That’s what the movies are often about, too: revenge. Philomena takes another path, and it’s her path that gives the entire movie meaning.
“Philomena” isn’t perfect. Coogan, who wrote the screenplay with Jeff Pope, pushes the differences between the two characters to an unnecessary comic degree. He turns Sixsmith into too much of a Steve Coogan character and makes Philomena more daft than she probably is.
But Dench is perfect. We get several scenes from the 1950s to demonstrate what Philomena lost, but these, to me, are almost unnecessary. We know what Philomena lost. You just need to watch Judi Dench act.
Quote of the Day
“I’m no great person but I do care about the right things. I work hard to do the right thing. And what’s happened here is wrong. What’s happened to the players and coaches here is wrong. What’s happened to this organization is wrong. It’s so wrong. I can’t put it any better than that. At some point in time, somebody’s got to stand up to them.”
-- Eric Wedge, former Mariners manager, on the Mariners' front office, including especially general manager Jack Zduriencik, president Chuck Armstrong, and CEO Howard Lincoln, as reported in Geoff Baker's article, “Dysfunction at the Top: Eric Wedge, others point to trouble in Mariners’ front office,” in yesterday's Seattle Times.
Lincoln and Armstrong don't come off well here but Zduriencik comes off worse. A question I haven't seen raised yet about this article: Was the overpayment of Robinson Cano (10 years/$240 million) an attempt to head off these criticisms before they saw print? Imagine if this story had been published and we hadn't signed Cano. Would jobs be on the line? Are they now? Should they be?
Other insiders leveling charges at the front office:
- Former Mariners special assistant Tony Blengino
- Former professional scouting director Carmen Fusco
- Patrick Guerrero, the M's former top Latin American scout
- Various unnamed scouts still with the team
LA Films Critics Includes Three Ties Among Its Year-End Awards
Where's Joe Biden when you need him?
The L.A. Film Critics Association (LAFCA) obviously needs another member since it included three ties among its year-end awards, including best picture. And that's without runners up. They were announced yesterday.
Here are the winners:
Picture: “Gravity” and “Her” (TIE)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Actor: Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Actress: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine,” and Adele Exarchopoulos, “Blue Is the Warmest Color” (TIE)
Supporting actor: James Franco, “Spring Breakers,” and Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club” (TIE)
Supporting actress: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
Foreign-language film: “Blue Is the Warmest Color”
Documentary/nonfiction film: “Stories We Tell”
Animation: “Ernest & Celestine”
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “Gravity”
Film editing: Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger, “Gravity”
Production design: K.K. Barrett, “Her”
Music score: T Bone Burnett, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
- Despite the split vote, “Gravity” is the obvious winner, since it won three other awards, too. Thoughts:
- “Stories We Tell” again? It's a fine doc but not so fine that it wins every time. This is getting boring already.
- Linklater, Delpy and Hawke for best screenplay? I'm sorry but that's one overrated movie.
- They're making me watch “Spring Breakers.” Damn them.
- I like Dern in “Nebraska” fine but I'd still go McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
- The actress category is the toughest in years. Those two plus Judi Dench in “Philomena.”
- “Her” hasn't come out yet here but “Gravity”? A great spectacle, a fine action fllick, but otherwise ...
The count so far from three critics groups: “Her” (1.5), “American Hustle” (1), “Gravity (.5). And we're just getting started.
”Gravity" holds: Four awards, including half a best pic.
Joe Henry at the Triple Door
I’ve been on iTunes for about 10 years now, and if you sort by number of plays, Joe Henry’s “Ohio Air Show Plane Crash,” from his album “Trampoline,” ranks fifth with 198.
These are the other top Joe Henry songs on my iTunes hit parade:
- Ohio Air Show Plane Crash, Trampoline, 198
- Our Song, Civilians, 147,
- You Can’t Fail Me Now, Civilians, 100
- Dirty Magazine, Tiny Voices, 88
- Fat, Fuse, 72
It skews recent, of course. I began listening to him about 10 years before iTunes, in 1992, when “Short Man’s Room” was released and he went on tour with the Jayhawks, whose tour manager was my good friend Dave Paulson. Joe gave Dave a book, “Willie’s Time,” by Charles Einstein, about Willie Mays and the 1950s, and Dave gave it to me, and I almost completed the circle at the Tractor Tavern in ’93 when Joe opened for Jimmie Dale Gilmore. I had the book in my backpack, and Joe was sitting by himself in the corner, but I didn’t work up the courage to go over. Bad form. If you’re there for the opening act, let the opening act know.
I think I’ve seen Joe five to 10 times since then—at the Showbox, at the Pier, at Bumpershoot one year—and last night Patricia and I caught him at the Triple Door in downtown Seattle. A far cry from the Tractor for both of us. Before he came on, I talked up a few of his songs to poor Patricia, stuck there with me, this Joe Henry bore. We both love “Our Song.” I mentioned the great lines from “You Can’t Fail Me Now” that I wrote about last year:
We're taught to love the worst in us
And mercy more than life, but trust me:
Mercy's just a warning shot across the bow
I talked up the epigrams of “Fat”:
If this is our finish let’s begin
Gambled I would lose, guess I .... win
For some reason I quietly sang the opening lines to the title song from Joe’s 1995 album, “Kindness of the World,” which I’d always loved:
I’d like to see your badge
Who are you to be so brave
With one arm free to catch yourself
And you’re using it to wave
Recently, in some online forum, someone had stated the obvious and I replied with these lines from Joe’s song “Dirty Magazine,” which I (missing the irony) also repeated to Patricia:
Just tell me everything I’ve heard before
Like it was news
Like it was news
So of course Joe opened with “Dirty Magazine,” played both “You Can’t Fail Me Now” and “Our Song,” and closed with “Kindness of the World.”
“That just doesn’t happen,” Patricia said afterwards.
“He missed ‘Fat,’” I said.
It was a quick tour, just four acoustic shows in northern towns (Minneapolis, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Seattle) during the first week of December. When the weather gets warm he heads south, to Durham, N.C., to record a new album. He played about five of those songs last night. His voice sounded stronger than ever. The stories accompanying the songs, including playing ”Kindness of the World“ in Hiroshima, Japan, were better than ever.
I kept flashing back on semi-forgotten things. He played ”Short Man's Room“ from 1992 and I remembered a poster from that album (”You're only as good as your knees“) hanging in my room for who knows how many years. I listened to ”Our Song“ while cleaning the kitchen in the new place Patricia and I bought in the fall of 2007, the exact wrong time to buy a new place. I also flashed on that first show at the Tractor in Ballard in 1993. I biked there from Green Lake on a drizzly evening with ”Willie's Time“ in my backpack. I carried both the book (because of lack of courage) and my slicks (because the weather had cleared) on the ride home, and both helped cushion whatever was thrown at me from a car of teenage boys out looking for mischief at 1 a.m. They peeled out and I circled back and found an egg, cracked, in the middle of the street. They'd hit their target but missed. I was unsplattered. There was just this sad egg in the middle of the street.
That was a long time ago. Last night I drove to the Triple Door, had to wave off valet parking, bought a bottle of red wine before the show. It was freezing outside but warm inside. The place was packed. All the men there looked like variations of me.
Here's ”Fat," the song he missed.
The Best Tweet on the Robinson Cano Signing
As a Yankee fan, the Cano mega-deal offends me. Grow your own talent Seattle! Don’t buy aging free-agent superstars! Sheesh.— Daniel Foster (@DanFosterType) December 6, 2013
The Upside of the Cano Deal for Yankee Haters Such as Myself
Here are the 2013 Yankees batting leaders:
If you can't tell, they're all Robinson Cano.
Admittedly the Yankees had bad luck with its hitters in 2013. Well, “bad luck.” They had a lot of old guys and they got injured. Doesn't take Benedict Cumberbatch to figure that one out.
Quick trivia: How many 2013 Yankees had an offensive WAR greater than 1.0? Here's a hint: the woeful Seattle Mariners had nine such guys, including the oft-injured Franklin Gutierrez at 1.0.
The Yankees? Just four: Cano at 6.8, Brett Gardner at 3.5, Alfonso Soriano at 1.4 and Eduardo Nunez at 1.3. That's it.
Measured by WAR, Cano was more than half the Yankees' 2013 offense. And now he's gone.
They're working to replace him, of course, and were before he signed with the Mariners: Brian McCann, whose best hitting days may be behind him, the oft-injured Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, who starts the season at age 37.
Even so, the Yankees' horrible 2013 offense just got a whole lot worse. So in that regard there's cause for celebrating. Start spreading the news.
Start Spreading the News: My Reaction to the Reaction to the Cano Signing
Let's start with David Schoenfield at ESPN.com:
You can argue the Mariners would have been wiser to spend that money on three players rather than one. But there was also no guarantee the Mariners would be able to convince Shin-Soo Choo or Ubaldo Jimenez or whomever to come to Seattle, anyway. At some point, you have to strike, and the Mariners did it in the biggest way possible.
Sure, at some point you have to strike. But why is this that point? The Mariners did it in the biggest possible way. Was it the smartest way? No. Did it smack of desperation? Yes. And speaking of desperation ...
Here's a good nyah-nyah from Tyler Kepner, New York Times:
The most desperate teams usually make the costliest decisions in free agency. The surprise here is that another team was more desperate than the Yankees.
Yep. And, beyond the last abyssmal 10 years, you wonder why. Were people's jobs suddenly on the line?
Art Thiel, formerly of the PI, has thoughts:
Of course it is ridiculous to commit to paying 10 years from now a 41-year-old second baseman $24 million. But this isn’t about 2024, this is about 2014. Which means that Lincoln cannot stop with Cano. If the Mariners fail to continue to invest in payroll to support Cano in the lineup and on the mound, they truly will be squandering $240 million.
Does this move smack of desperation? Panic? Insanity? Yes. But what else could they have done? The great fear among Mariners fans was that Lincoln was so disconnected from reality, he wouldn’t recognize that recklessness was the absolute minimum requirement.
As Otter said to his frat-house faithful in “Animal House”: “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”
Bluto: “We’re just the guys to do it!”
They used to play bits of this for those pathetic ninth-inning-rally videos, didn't they? “Let's do itttttttt!” etc. To jumpstart enthusiasm when it didn't already exist, and when there was probably no reason for it to exist. I guess the Cano signing is the same thing. Except worse.
From a 2011 piece by Mike Edelman, Bleacher Report:
That's the issue with Cano. He does all the flashy things that grab attention. He plays for the New York Yankees, he puts up gaudy offensive numbers and he makes strong throws. But he doesn't do the basic things that are truly valuable, like hitting well when it matters or having good range defensively.
Or leading the league in anything, as I mentioned yesterday. Cano has never done that. He puts up good numbers but never better than anyone else. Let me repeat that: never better than anyone else. Yet there he is with Albert Pujols money. By the time Pujols signed with the Angels he'd led the league in runs scored five times, hits once, doubles once, homers twice, RBIs once, batting once, on-base once, slugging three times, OPS three times, and total bases four times. He was a three-time MVP. Four other times he finished second in the MVP voting. He had one of the highest liftetime OPSes in baseball history and was generally acknowledged as one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game. And he got 10 years, $240 million at age 32. Cano is 31. He's done none of those things, won none of those things, and is generally regarded as a good player. Even the Yankees with their deep pockets weren't treating him like Albert Pujols. But the M's? Apparently, they were desperate ...
So what does the best baseball writer out there, Joe Posnanski, have to say? This was Joey Poz before the signing, referencing the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury:
My gut instinct is that it will work out for the Yankees. But I say this in part because things always seem to work out for the Yankees.
I can say this with more confidence: If the Mariners sign Robinson Cano … that won’t work out.
And here he is after the signing. He wondered if the twilights years (31-40) of the greatest second baseman of all time, Joe Morgan, would be worth $240 million. He calculated it this way: 1 WAR = $5 million. And the answer was: nearly. Morgan came about $6 million short. He also had two of the greatest seasons ever for a second baseman at ages 31 and 32, when he won the 1975 and '76 NL MVP awards. Posnanski concludes:
If Cano has a Joe Morgan like second half — two of the greatest seasons in baseball history, two or three other very good seasons and offers some value even in his off years by doing something extra — I think it will be a good deal. Does Cano have that in him? That’s an entirely different question.
Here's the thing. I don't even know if I like Robinson Cano. And this move? Dragging your entourage, including effin' Jay-Z, across the country because your original team won't give you Pujols money, which you totally don't deserve? What kind of person does this? I hate the Yankees with a poker-hot hatred but Cano was in the Mecca of baseball. Did he find it a drag? All that history weighing down on him? Did he dislike playing into October all the time? Did he dislike the clean-shaven look? How about this question: What do the Mariners, and Seattle, have to offer besides money? Anything? I know my thought is a kind of Mariners fan's take on Woody Allen's take on Groucho Marx's joke: Who joins a club that has us for members? What's worthwhile at Safeco that you would want to come here? Besides the money, I can think of one thing. The chance to make history. One more title in the Bronx? Ho hum. But a title in Seattle? You will never be forgotten. You will be the David Ortiz of Seattle. (Even as Seattle originally signed David Ortiz.) Except I don't get that vibe from Cano. I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think this is personal, I think it's business; and I think it's lousy business for Seattle.
And finally, back to David Schoenfield, the former Seattlite, and Pollyanna of ESPN.com:
For the first time since the club made the big Cliff Lee trade, it feels good to be a Mariners fan.
No. No, it doesn't.
Just Say No to Cano: An Imaginary Conversation with a Seattle Mariners Fan
Apologies in advance for this exercise in dialogue.
- Hey, I read the Mariners are interested in this Cano Robinson character.
- Robinson Cano.
- Right. He must be great. What with the money they’re offering him?
- I heard $225 million over nine seasons.
- A quarter of a billion dollars! Wow. He must be great.
- He is.
- He must be the most valuable player in baseball. He probably wins those awards all the time, right? The MVPs?
- Actually he’s never won one. He’s come close the last couple years. Third in the voting in 2010, sixth in 2011, fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2013. But no, nothing on the mantle.
- But he’s always good, right? Perennial All-Star.
- Five All-Stars in nine years. So half-perennial.
- But a league leader.
- He’s never led the league in anything.
- Games played once. In 2009. But that’s, you know, the attendance award. Although attendance does matter. But he’s often in the top five in many categories, both offensive and defensive.
- So is he young then? With the chance to improve?
- He turned 31 in October.
- Is that young?
- That’s when players begin to decline, generally.
- And we’re offering how many years?
- Until he’s 40?
- Why are we doing that?
- I don't know.
- Do we think we have a chance to win in the next few years? When he’ll still be in his prime?
- Doubtful. The Mariners won 71 games last year. There’s a stat, WAR, or wins above replacement, that measures how many wins a particular player is worth over an average replacement. Cano had one of the highest in the league last year: 7.6. But the Mariners primary second baseman, rookie Nick Franklin, had a 2.3 WAR, so the swap wouldn’t even be worth seven victories. It wouldn’t even make the M’s a .500 team.
- Are long-term deals like this common in baseball?
- Do they work out?
- So ... why?
- [Shrugs] To be honest, I was hoping the Yankees, Cano's team, would offer him this kind of deal.
- I thought you didn't like the Yankees.
- I don't.
- So you thought such a deal would ...
- ... hurt them in the long run.
- And now your team is offering such a deal.
- The irony.
Opinions may vary.
Cano watching his 2011 season end early. If he comes to Seattle, he should get used to this feeling.
What's a Nice Jewish Girl Like You Doing with a Magic Lasso? Gal Gadot Cast as Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot, Miss Israel 2004, and an actress best-known in the states for playing Gisele in the three most recent “Fast & Furious” movies, has been cast as Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder's upcoming “Batman vs. Superman” movie—the belated attempt by Warner Bros. and DC Comics to replicate the huge box-office success of “The Avengers” movie.
Better get those bullet-proof bracelets up, bubelah. It didn't take long before fanboys were taking potshots. These are simply comments on IMDb.com. Can't imagine what it's like over at YouTube:
- a skinny chick with not the hint of muscle tone... good choice
- i prefer megan fox to be the wonder woman
- was still hoping Gina Carano might get cast
- an Amazon Princess shouldn't look like she's starving to death...
- Crap choice ... and isn't that girl to [sic] skinny?
I believe “skinny” is code for something.
But this may be the best response:
- The problem is that Zack Snyder is still going to direct it
Gal pal, Amazonian princess.
Thoughts on 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' Trailer
- Good open. When he's falling silently? I like that.
- “The more people I try to save, the more enemies I will make.” Is that true? Maybe if an organized group was after him, but ...
- Is there any chemistry between Garfield and Stone? I don't sense it. It's like they're on a first date.
- Dane DeHaan looks AMAZING at 0:58. Who does he sound like here? Brad Pitt?
- So more on Richard Parker. I guess we'll get this stuff bit by bit, in movie after movie, like Don Draper probing his past. The movies really are episodic now.
- “I made a choice, this is my path...” Ick. And that's for the trailer?
- Electro: “Soon everyone in the city will know how it feels to live in a world without power, without mercy ...” Sounds like the GOP platform.
- Hey, has Spider-Man caught the Burglar yet? Is he gonna?
Great action scenes anyway but overall ho-hum. But it's gotta be better than the first one, right? Right?
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard