Author Archives: jmerts

Here are some MLB Home Run charts by year, and how they ignite the “juiced ball” conversation

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The data represented in these charts are the total amount of home runs hit throughout Major League Baseball between 2013 and 2017. There isn’t a ton of fluctuation in the data – especially considering the short time frame – but if I was to label any one year as an outlier I’d point to the 2017 season. Consider the total number of home runs hit in 2013 and compare the difference; you’ll end up with over 1,400 more round trippers!

Here’s exactly why I chose this specific topic: the entire league has recently experienced a dramatic change in how hitters develop, and how the actual baseballs used in-game are studied. SBNation provided a comprehensive look into the MLB investigating “juiced” baseballs, leading to league-wide regulations that now require all baseballs to be stored in a standardized manner. Baseball analysts are afraid that most – if not, all – ballparks will have to eventually install humidors in order to control the number of home runs hit year by year, which would help maintain a certain balance of performance between pitchers and hitters.

I’m personally not a fan of this move, and I feel that it means the purity of the sport will eventually be turned into something more artificial. Some analysts who’ve studied the recent, historic increase in home runs have already drawn suspicions that it is a direct result of more hitters trying to hit more homers, and I personally believe that – for the sake of baseball experiencing a natural evolution – the shift in perspective from hitters should both be acknowledged and embraced.

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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in Uncategorized


1975 Houston Astros and the 1976 Chicago White Sox: A uniform comparison


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Above is the infamous, single-season alternative uniform of the 1976 Chicago White Sox. It’s a distinct, daring approach, with collars at the neck, a sort of slim-fitted long sleeve under the more exposed, more simple t-shirt covering the turso, and short pants that deviate substantially from the more traditional tapered-fit pants seen below. The general consensus was that it offered a surprising level of comfort, especially during the summer games during which they were worn.

Below is the 1975 multi-striped uniforms for the Houston Astros. In keeping with the times, the team ventured into a more flamboyant approach with their team gear, which included a bright orange cap with the “H” in the middle of a stretched out blue star, yellow, red and orange stripes that ran across the forearms and turso halves of the shirt, and the player’s jersey number planted on the top right half of the pants – pants that included stirrups and more multi-colored stripes on the sides.

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Posted by on February 24, 2018 in Uncategorized


New York City’s Biggest Problems, According to New Yorkers


Occupation: Barista

“The congestion in the subways is really concerning, and it keeps getting worse. I hate the amount of people there are in the subways. It feels like a riot could happen at any time with thousands of people stuffed underground.”



Occupation: Photographer

“Honestly, the level of poverty in NYC is messed up. I’m not really big on how much we spend on holidays and stuff like that, ‘cause I think if those of us are so fortunate and have funds then why can’t we put them to other things? There are some rich people living good and a bunch of poor people struggling, and I don’t like how that’s not something we focus on more.”



Occupation: Website designer

“I swear, there’s always traffic in New York! I get so anxious trying to get to work sometimes and just expecting a whole line of cars holding me up. Like, I just wanna get to work, man! And it’s not like I could say ‘alright, nevermind’ and then take the bus instead. I’m backed into a corner.”



Occupation: Student

“New York kinda has this sort of Psuedo-diversity going on. There are all these distinctions to all these different areas, but some of them still face socioeconomic problems.”



Occupation: Student

“We have a homeless problem, and frankly, I don’t think the city is doing enough about it. That, and the subway service keeps getting worse. The MTA has all this money, but they blame us for trains running slow and for all the homeless people they’re neglecting.”



Occupation: Data Analyst

“One thing which will always morally strike me is the noticeable way our people are desensitized towards the homeless and poor. Although the homeless rates are higher in metropolises, New York City especially, it’s almost inhumane to feel as numb or angry as people do here to those who are suffering.”



Occupation: Teacher’s aide

“People in New York are very cold and mean. There’s no sense of residents constantly lifting each other up, or going out to improve their neighborhood. I feel like in other states they’re more hospitable and kind. Whereas in New York, it’s all about ‘me and mine’.”



Occupation: Government Innovation Intern

“If there’s one thing I can’t stand about NY, it is the MTA and all the red tape that clogs up sorely needed improvements to our transportation system.”

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Posted by on February 24, 2018 in Uncategorized


The New York Mets, the New York Yankees, and a city not big enough for the two of them

The New York Mets, the New York Yankees, and a city not big enough for the two of them

For a pair of franchises that have both appeared in the potential pennant-clinching Championship playoff series within the last four years, the New York Mets and New York Yankees have very stark differences in perspective. The case for the New York Mets in recent years has generally revolved around their salary. General manager Sandy Alderson admittedly does not have the financial stability present in the salary of his team’s crosstown rival, and has spent the last couple of offseasons seeking affordable players that will make the Mets better. In addition, mid-season fire sales when the team is underperforming or falling out of playoff contention have become more apparent.

The Yankees have the benefit of the Major League’s largest payroll, as demonstrated by their head-turning offseason signing of Giancarlo Stanton. Despite building their farm system back up, spending large sums of money remains the central factor to delivering a competitive team on the field. Also, unlike the business model presented by the Mets, Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner sternly enforces a harboring need to win championships every season; a mindset his father introduced when he used to run the franchise.

With the 2018 season fast approaching, these varied approaches point toward another championship run for the Yankees, and a cloud of uncertainty regarding the Mets’ level of success. Nevertheless, only one team could return home with a World Series trophy in October.

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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in Uncategorized


Let’s see how much fun we’ll have going over those Super Bowl commercials

Let’s see how much fun we’ll have going over those Super Bowl commercials

I personally think it’s safe to say that the 2018 NFL Super Bowl was unlike any other that came before it, and in some ways that could also be said about the million-dollar advertisements that ran alongside them.

A.V. Club contributor Erik Adams dives deep into the trenches of the best and the worst Super Bowl ads from last night, in an article that practically leaves no stone unturned. This, for me at least, is easily one of the most readable pieces on a typical, post-Super Bowl Monday – particularly because those with critical minds probably need an avenue to express their criticisms over things like these commercials. It’s also a fun read, with a great headliner and various embedded videos spread across Adam’s lengthy piece that go a long way towards refreshing one’s memory.

In addition, Adams’ work here is quite informative, as he provides context to the commercials that otherwise may have been missed upon their initial viewings. Personally, I loved this piece – mainly because it retains that passionate, spirited hurling of A.V. Club-style criticism and raves that make the website stand out. I came for the Super Bowl ads, and stayed for the writing. This is a perfect marriage of enticing multimedia journalism and actual hot stove internet discussion.

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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Uncategorized


IGN and the Power of Concentrated Multimedia Journalism

IGN and the Power of Concentrated Multimedia Journalism

In one of IGN’s famed TV pieces from 2017, they went in-depth to discuss the future of one of Netflix’s biggest shows, Stranger Things.

Usually, this website attaches various forms of multimedia and drags them up and down various articles; this one is no different. As a fan of Stranger Things and an internet article junkie, this piece popped out to me for those exact reasons. The headliner pulled me in by insinuating a level of intrigue I felt was necessary to satisfy, and luckily the content was – to me – good enough to make the click worthwhile.

What stands out above all else, however, is the presentation. About a third of the way down the IGN article is a photo gallery that looks back at the show’s latest season, providing an adequate level of eye-candy that’s relevant to the topic. Spoiler-filled information that is pertinent to the topic is split up cleanly into brisk, easily-readable paragraphs that make jumping back into the article later an easy thing to do. In addition, David Griffin, the author of this particular article, also goes on to provide a fun little gallery of “all the best 80s references” that offers something extra for readers to talk about after reading.

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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Uncategorized


TV THROWBACKS – Spectacular Spider-Man: “Survival of the Fittest” Review

TV THROWBACKS – Spectacular Spider-Man: “Survival of the Fittest” Review

Hello, all! Welcome to my latest blog segment, which I would love to dedicate my childhood and my fondest television memories to. This one’s all about past TV shows – specifically those with serialized elements – and how they fared as a series overall. Like most shows I covered, I will be doing single episode reviews with a bit of in-depth analysis wherever I feel is most necessary (sometimes I’ll even do it strictly out of pure passion!), along with some extra thoughts at the end of them from time to time. I hope to branch this out into separate categories of old TV shows, and maybe into more segments related to these classic series. At least for now, however, it’s a nostalgia trip that should be a fun and educational experience for myself, you all as readers, and those who maybe didn’t get a chance to watch the particular show that I’m covering. Anyways: Enjoy!

I still remember the scrutiny and the uncertainty that once swirled around Spectacular Spider-Man at the time of conception. Despite the tantalizing focus on Peter Parker’s high school life juxtaposed with his superhero persona, many feared that the simplified animation and low budget would hurt the series’ chances of winning over loyal fans and uninitiated children alike. In addition, it was taking on a Kids WB viewership that was in steep decline, with the original kids network mantra being renamed into The CW4KIDS amidst an internal transitional phase and the emergence of Saturday morning cable television programming. Even from what you can now (unfortunately) consider pure retrospect, the show was all but doomed regardless of whether or not it subverted expectations.

The great thing about retrospect, however, is that sometimes it’s a wonderful thing to look back on what was instead of lamenting over what could have been. That’s most definitely the case here with Spectacular Spider-Man, as it immediately established itself as a worthy standout title in a sea of depreciating cartoon series. Also, personally, the greatest thing about “Survival of the Fittest” is the retrospect factor it provides through a second viewing. For a first episode in a prematurely axed pot of gold, it almost never gets any better than the deliciously comic book-faithful display we got by director/writer Victor Cook and co-writer Greg Weissman.

Josh Keaton’s turn as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is the heart of gold that beats incessantly throughout the show’s 2-season run, and right off the bat he absolutely owns the role. Like Tom Holland’s live-action spin on the character in last summer’s Homecoming, Keaton sells the wisecracking, overly-ambitious ego of the superhero with the vulnerability and humanity of the high school super-nerd. Peter’s use of spidey-sense, web-slingling and wall-crawling are all vital tools that helped build up his superhero reputation all summer long – the very first scene in this series is a beautifully-animated romp that exhibits the skills he’s discovered within that time – but he also acknowledges the responsibility that comes with those very same attributes. What Keaton does here that’s so special is make it all incredibly arresting stuff. Peter sneaking in on Aunt May’s disclosed conversation with a neighborhood friend about finances while he fakes his steps downstairs for breakfast, for example, goes a long way toward testing  Keaton’s versatility, and in that instance he immerses the viewer into the protagonist’s plight. He just sounds like Peter Parker here as he thinks to himself how he’ll manage to help provide alongside his guardian, and even for those who have read hundreds of different Spider-Man comics beforehand, it’s simply one of those really cool moments where the show decides to invest in character progression and voice over transparency as much as its overwhelming world-building.

Much of the episode’s title is in reference to Adrian Toomes and his first sinister run on the show as the Vulture. Even here, in merely less than a minute of screentime, do we get an absolutely fantastic bit of both backstory and exposition as Norman Osbourne finesses Toomes out of the picture of his latest flight technology just in time to sweep up all the credits for it. It not only fuels the Toomes revenge story that follows, but also introduces us to the slimy, patronizing figure Osbourne generally represents in the comics. To make things even more exciting, the episode pairs this internal struggle for Peter (since, after all, Harry is both his best friend and Norman’s son) with an underground task force (the Destroyers, if I’m not mistaken) that happens to ambush Spider-Man via helicopter. Vulture’s plot remains in the center of the action, but it also blends nicely with the duality of Peter’s current position: after spending all summer fighting crime, he gets his first true test of responsibility (saving Norman from mere peril) at the same time a hidden villain emerges to “squash the bug”.



The swift transition to Peter’s high school life introduces a complete flurry of characters I came to love almost on sight. Harry Osbourne and Gwen Stacy are exceptionally well-grounded teenagers who share an amazing chemistry with Peter, and both James Arnold Taylor and Lacey Chabert bring these historical comic book figures to life. The brief moment of introduction for Eddie Brock gives us a world of history between him and Peter with brevity, while the already-deteriorating presence of Dr. Curt Connors is pleasantly teased. We even get to see the surrogate father/son dynamic between Peter and Norman manifest before Norman dumbs down his own son in disgust. Jonah Jameson’s hilarious encounter with Peter also shines as a reminder over the “Park financial struggles” subplot.

Lastly, the animation here, while simplified, looked great at the time and still holds up today. Spectacular Spider-Man easily has some of the best fighting scenes in the history of American comic book cartoons, and we got an early taste of the series’ brilliance with a sprawling finale atop the hefty Manhattan skies. Character models are most certainly exaggerated in comparison to the grittier aesthetic of the comic books, but everyone here still looks true to form, while both Spider-Man and his rogue’s gallery (Vulture for this episode) are given a contemporary touch infused with spirited elements derived from their comic book origins. All in all, this is a very pretty show to watch.


The Verdict:

“Survival of the Fittest” is a great debut for any show, but at the time it couldn’t have been more necessary for the legacy of Spectacular Spider-Man. It’s a brisk 23 minutes of entertainment that throws a whole world of comic book lore and origins at you, while somehow maintaining a fast pace and establishing an original story all at once. I was hooked when I first began the series, and I simply can’t wait to watch it all over again.


RATING: 9/10 





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