Sep 26, 2017

Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’ Makes Its Move to No. 1

It is not just any woman who can knock Taylor Swift from No. 1.

But Cardi B, whose “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” ascends to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week, is no ordinary woman. A former stripper who grew up in the Bronx, she became an Instagram celebrity and star on “Love & Hip Hop: New York” with bawdy talk and lots of wigs.

“Bodak Yellow” (in which she raps, “I don’t dance now, I make money moves”) has been shooting fast up the chart this summer, and on the latest edition it goes to No. 1, bumping Ms. Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” to third place after three weeks at the top. (Post Malone’s “Rockstar” is No. 2.)

“Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” marks the first chart-topper by a solo female rapper in nearly two decades, since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998. Cardi B’s label, Atlantic Records, celebrated the milestone on Monday afternoon in Manhattan with a Champagne toast and a cake modeled after a box of Christian Louboutin high heels (referred to in the song as “red bottoms,” or “bloody shoes”).

In brief remarks to the crowd, Cardi B noted the grass-roots, viral nature of the song’s rise, thanking her friends and family for promoting it on social media. “I never asked them, they just did it voluntarily, every day harassing their followers like, ‘Make sure you download and stream “Bodak Yellow”’ — and look what you made me do,” she said, breaking into a good-natured rendition of Ms. Swift’s hit.

Also this week, Foo Fighters clinched the No. 1 album spot for a second time with “Concrete and Gold” (RCA), the band’s ninth studio release, which opened at No. 1 with 120,000 sales and 9.3 million streams, according to Nielsen. The rapper Lil Uzi Vert rose two spots to No. 2 with “Luv Is Rage 2,” and the country singer Thomas Rhett’s “Life Changes,” last week’s top seller, fell to No. 3. Kendrick Lamar is in fourth place, XXXTentacion is No. 5 and Khalid is No 6.

But perhaps the biggest news in the Top 10 is from BTS, a seven-piece boy band from South Korea, whose EP “Love Yourself: ‘Her’” opened at No. 7, the highest chart position ever for a K-pop group. The album had 18,000 sales and 14.5 million streams.

Terrifying Clips For Jeepers Creepers 3 Summon A Dormant Evil

On the eve of release, American Zoetrope and Myriad Pictures have conjured up a trio of terrifying clips for Jeepers Creepers 3, the long-in-development horror flick that’s coming by way of Victor Salva. And therein lies the source of controversy.

Truth be told, the sequel known as Ravenous will soon face another uphill battle if it’s to really attract a mass audience. Jeepers Creepers has always been celebrated as a cult franchise with its own quirks and spooky delights, but the threequel has been a big point of contention amongst horror fans, mostly due to Salva’s heinous crime, for which he served 15 months in state prison. For the record, his victim, Nathan Forrest Winters, has since issued a statement to say that it’s really up to the audience whether they want to catch The Creeper’s resurrection on the silver screen.

Perhaps more than any other horror film in recent memory, the fate of Jeepers Creepers 3 rests in the hands of its potential viewers, and early signs point to a fairly major backlash occurring over the next ten days. Take the one-night-only screening at LA’s TCL theater as an example. Despite a big push from backers, organizers were forced to scrap it when a vocal minority threatened to protest the film’s limited release.

Those plans have since been folded into an entirely new domestic release on September 26th, with a second and presumably final rollout penciled in for October 4th. But will Jeepers Creepers 3 provoke further protests? Or can Salva’s contentious threequel carve out an audience to call its own? All will be revealed very soon.

Beyond flesh-eating monsters and tales of controversy, the full human ensemble for Jeepers Creepers 3 includes Gabrielle Haugh (Addison Brandon), Stan Shaw (Sheriff Dan Tashtego), Joyce Giraud (Deputy Dana Lang), Jordan Salloum (Kenny Brandon), Tamsin Sparks (Terra Bowers), Ryan Moore (Kirk Mathers), Brandon Smith (Sergeant Davis Tubbs), Gina Philips (Trish Jenner) and Christine Ko as Kiya Wong.

Third time’s the charm? Jeepers Creepers 3 will take flight across select theaters on September 26th and October 4th, meaning Salva’s contentious threequel ought to draw in those adrenaline junkies in search of a spooky Halloween delight.

'Young Sheldon' spinoff looks like a bright idea

Iain Armitage and Zoe Perry in 'Young Sheldon.' Photo: Robert Voets/CBS

CBS mixes a familiar TV strategy with a bolder one in "Young Sheldon," a spinoff of its long-running hit "The Big Bang Theory" that departs from the network's traditional multi-camera sitcom format. The experiment at least initially looks like a bright idea -- yielding a breezy, likable series, closer in tone to "The Wonder Years" or ABC's family comedies.

The same description also applies to CBS' other new sitcom premiering the same night, "Me, Myself & I," which stars "Saturday Night Live" alum Bobby Moynihan and John Larroquette, as the network grasps for a hit to fill the gaping hole that "Big Bang" will leave behind when it finishes its run.

Sensing that urgency, "Young Sheldon" is the network's most direct attempt to capitalize on the "Big Bang" connection, which includes having star Jim Parsons narrate this affectionate look back at his character's younger self.

As has been well documented within the flagship series, Sheldon Cooper (played by Iain Armitage, a genuine find) was a mathematical genius as a child, leapfrogging him into high school at the age of nine. None of that meshed particularly well with his hardscrabble, Bible-thumping Texas upbringing, and left his parents (Zoe Perry, Lance Barber) pretty constantly confused, as if an alien baby had been dropped into their midst.

"Admit it, he's adopted," Sheldon's older brother asks.

Created by "Big Bang" patriarch Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro, "Young Sheldon" taps into the inherent comedy in this dynamic, but with an underlying sweetness that permeates its core. Much of that comes from Perry -- as the daughter of Laurie Metcalf, who has guest starred as Sheldon's mom in "Big Bang," an inspired choice all around.

As confused as they are raising a kid they can't hope to understand, Sheldon's parents are fiercely protective, even if they don't entirely understand what they're protecting. Whether that formula can be sustained over the long haul is a clouded by several X factors, but with its sire sitcom as a lead-in -- and the clock ticking for CBS, given the expected end of that show's run in 2019 -- let's just say there's plenty of incentive to ensure that "Young Sheldon" stays in school for a while.

"Me, Myself & I," meanwhile, takes a rather tired conceit and makes it reasonably fresh, with Moynihan playing the 40-year-old version of Alex, an ordinary guy who is also presented at ages 14 ("It's" Jack Dylan Grazer) and 65 (Larroquette). Cutting among these stages in Alex's life, the show zeroes in on key moments, from a failed first kiss to a marriage falling apart.

Making allowances for a few head-scratching elements (the heights, for one thing, don't exactly match up), the series possesses a bittersweet quality -- such as when teenage Alex gets a pep talk about the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan from his stepdad -- with a dollop of "This is Us" (a show that's going to generate plenty of flattering imitation) in the time-hopping format.

Perhaps best, both shows mix comedy and sentimentality without falling into the trap of feeling cloying. If they can replicate that equation, there's a chance both of these kids might be able to grow up on TV.

"Young Sheldon" and "Me, Myself & I" premiere Sept. 25 at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., respectively, on CBS.

National Security North Korea threatens to shoot down U.S. warplanes

North Korea threatened on Monday to shoot down U.S. military planes, even if they are not in the country’s airspace, arguing that President Trump’s bellicose tweets amount to a declaration of war.

The remark by Ri Yong Ho, Pyongyang’s foreign minister, represented another escalation in tensions stoked by a series of insults and threats hurled between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his regime. Even though Pyongyang’s military capability is considered far outmatched by U.S. technology and pilot training, Ri’s rhetoric raised anxieties that a simple miscalculation could spark a military confrontation and spiral out of control.

“Fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary General António Guterres.

Last week, at the U.N. General Assembly, Ri revealed that his country is considering testing a hydrogen bomb somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. On Monday, he made a more direct threat against the United States, which Pyongyang considers its archenemy, bent on destroying the regime.

“The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” said Ri, speaking to reporters in New York in reference to Trump’s comments at the General Assembly last week and again Saturday on Twitter.

“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”

“The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then,” Ri added, responding to Trump’s weekend tweet warning that if Ri “echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump has repeatedly used the belittling epithet for Kim Jong Un.

North Korea’s willingness to shoot down U.S. aircraft is not in question. It has done so before, most notably in 1969, during the Nixon administration, when a Navy plane on a reconnaissance mission was downed by North Korean MiGs over the Sea of Japan, or East Sea. All 31 Americans on board were killed. There was no retaliation, and the United States resumed reconnaissance flights off the coast of North Korea a week later.

The United States and North Korea, which have technically remained in a suspended state of war since the 1953 armistice, have had other saber-rattling standoffs.

In 1976, for example, North Korean soldiers axed to death two U.S. service members who ventured into the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, leading President Gerald R. Ford to put all U.S. troops in South Korea on the highest level of military readiness.

In 1981, a North Korean ­surface-to-air missile was fired at a U.S. reconnaissance plane flying near the DMZ, but it missed.

It is unknown whether North Korea has the ability to challenge the U.S. Air Force today. Most of its surface-to-air missiles and fighter planes are decades old, many dating to the 1950s and 1960s, when they were acquired from the Soviet Union.

“If there is a war, South Korean and U.S. military pilots will soon become aces as they shoot down North Korean aircraft,” said ­David Maxwell, a retired Army Special Forces colonel who served in Korea and now is associate director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. “The North Korean air force is no match for them.”

Even as a threat lacking the might to back it up, however, Ri’s comments underscore the urgency behind the growing crisis over North Korea. After many of its 2016 missile launches failed, Pyongyang has in recent months accelerated its testing of ­medium-range and long-range missiles, and has detonated what it claims was a hydrogen bomb. The speed of the North Korean advances surprised even many military analysts.

North Korea is not believed to possess more-advanced surface-to-air missile systems such as the Russian S300s and S400s, unless they were acquired clandestinely.

“It’s hard to be sure what they have,” said Dean Cheng, an Asia expert with the Heritage Foundation. “They’re not necessarily going to parade them through Pyongyang.”

Army Col. Robert Manning III, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday that North Korea’s threat to shoot down American warplanes will not change U.S. military operations. U.S. bomber flights conducted this weekend off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast occurred in international airspace, where the Pentagon has a right to fly, he said.

The White House rejected Ri’s characterization that the two countries are in a state of open war.

“We’ve not declared war on North Korea,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “And frankly, the suggestion of that is absurd.”

Sanders said it is “never appropriate” to shoot down another country’s aircraft when flying in international airspace.

“Our goal is still the same,” she added. “We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That’s our focus, doing that through both the most maximum economic and diplomatic pressures as possible at this point.”

Many experts are concerned that tensions are being inflamed by the warlike rhetoric between North Korea’s leadership and Trump, starting with his combative address to the General Assembly last week, in which he said the United States was ready, willing and able to “totally ­destroy” North Korea.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said.

Since then, the hostile comments have flown back and forth almost daily, with Kim calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and Trump gleefully repeating the “Little Rocket Man” put-down.

On Saturday, Ri said that Trump’s mockery of Kim made it “inevitable” that rockets would “visit” the U.S. mainland, while North Korea released doctored videos showing North Korean missiles shooting down U.S. planes and scoring a direct hit on an aircraft carrier.

Many experts dismiss the North Korean threats, at least for now.

Anthony Weiner Gets 21 Months in Prison for Sexting With Teenager

He lost his seat in Congress, his audacious bid to resurrect his career as mayor of New York City, and his high-profile marriage. And he undermined Hillary Clinton’s shot at the presidency in the closing days of the tumultuous 2016 campaign.

On Monday, Anthony D. Weiner, sobbing as the judge spoke, learned the final, personal cost of his seemingly uncontrollable habit of exchanging lewd texts and pictures with women and girls: 21 months in prison.

Mr. Weiner, a Democrat, was the essence of the brash politician fueled by relentless work and unbridled swagger. Until now, he was the beneficiary of multiple second chances, amid earnest vows that he had learned his lesson.

But this time, there would be no second chance for Mr. Weiner, who pleaded guilty in May to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor, and had faced up to 10 years in prison.

His texting habit fueled his long and tortuous downfall. But it was his most recent exchanges with a 15-year-old girl that were the most personally ruinous: his wife filed for divorce, he pleaded guilty and now faces imprisonment.

Before the sentence was pronounced, Mr. Weiner, 53, did not so much ask for leniency as try to make a case that he had accepted full responsibility for his crime, and that he was a changed man.

“I acted not only unlawfully but immorally, and if I had done the right thing, I would not be standing before you today,” he said, crying as he addressed the judge.

“The prosecutors are skeptical that I have truly changed and I don’t blame them,” he said. “I repeatedly acted in an obviously destructive way when I was caught.”

Reports of the federal investigation that led to Mr. Weiner’s being charged in the case first became public after the 15-year-old victim’s story was told in a exposé in September 2016.

It was during that investigation that the F.B.I. discovered on Mr. Weiner’s laptop a trove of emails belonging to his wife, Huma Abedin, a senior aide to Hillary Clinton. That led to an announcement in late October by James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, that the bureau had opened a new inquiry into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of official email. The inquiry ended two days before the election. Mrs. Clinton has blamed Mr. Comey in part for her defeat.

The judge, Denise L. Cote of Federal District Court in Manhattan, told Mr. Weiner that his offense was “a serious crime that deserves serious punishment.”

She said that there was a uniform opinion among those who had examined him that he had “a disease that involves sexual compulsivity; some call it a sex addiction.”

The judge said Mr. Weiner was finally receiving “effective treatment for this disease,” including attending group therapy and Sex Addicts Anonymous. “I find he is making an enormous contribution to others who are suffering from that same disease,” she added.

“But the difficulty here,” the judge said, “is that this is a very strong compulsion, so strong,” she continued, that “despite two very public disclosures and the destruction of his career on two occasions, he continued with the activity.”

She cited Mr. Weiner’s illegal exchanges with the girl on Skype, Snapchat and a site called Confide in early 2016. Prosecutors had said in their sentencing memo that during some of these communications, Mr. Weiner “used graphic and obscene language to ask the minor victim to display her naked body and touch herself, which she did.”

“The defendant knew this young woman was in high school and getting her learner’s permit,” Judge Cote said.

After the judge left the bench, Mr. Weiner remained seated at the defense table between his lawyers, Arlo Devlin-Brown and Erin Monju. He was bent deeply forward in his chair, sobbing, his face in his hands.

The judge also fined Mr. Weiner, who must surrender by Nov. 6, $10,000. She said he would also have to register as a sex offender.

During the hearing, Mr. Weiner looked tense and serious, sometimes clenching his jaw. At times, he blinked rapidly, his lips pursed and his nostrils flared. He sipped from a water bottle on the table before him.

When Judge Cote asked if he wanted to speak, he rose and began reading from a statement he had carried with him. His first words were strong and clear; by his third sentence, however, his voice began to break, and he paused often to clear his throat.

“I was a very sick man for a very long time,” he said, his voice growing higher-pitched and weaker.

“I have a disease but I have no excuse,” he continued. “I accept complete and total responsibility for my crime. I was the adult.”

Later, when the judge announced the sentence, Mr. Weiner, who let out a small cry, immediately slumped forward, his hands braced on the table for support. He then lifted his left hand to his face, cradling it, his eyes fixed on the table.

In a letter to the judge, Mr. Weiner had said he felt “profound” regret for his crime, adding that his “continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage.”

Ms. Abedin filed her own one-page letter to the judge, asking for leniency on behalf of their son. She did not attend the sentencing.

His lawyers had sought probation for their client, citing what they described as Mr. Weiner’s “remarkable progress” over the past year. In court, Mr. Devlin-Brown asked the judge to hold out prison as a possibility if necessary, “but not apply it now, and give an opportunity for something positive to emerge from the wreckage of all of this.”

The prosecutors, Amanda Kramer and Stephanie Lake, in their sentencing papers, had said probation was “simply inadequate.” The government had recommended a sentence within the range of 21 to 27 months.

“There is a history here that simply cannot be ignored,” Ms. Kramer said in court. “What is required here to stop the defendant from re-offending, to fully pierce his denial and end this tragic cycle is a meaningful term of imprisonment.”

The judge also addressed one issue that Mr. Weiner’s lawyers had raised in their papers: questions about the teenager’s motives and credibility. They noted she had received $30,000 for the story and was “shopping” a book proposal.

The judge said the girl’s motives and the fact she had initiated the contact with Mr. Weiner were irrelevant: “She was a minor. She was a victim. She is entitled to the law’s full protection.”

Judge Cote also said that because of Mr. Weiner’s notoriety, there was “intense interest in this prosecution, in his plea, and his sentence.”

“So there is the opportunity to make a statement that could protect other minors,” she added.

Mr. Devlin-Brown, in a statement, cited the judge’s comment. “We certainly hope this public service message is received,” he said, “but it has resulted in a punishment more severe than it had to be, given the unusual facts and circumstances of the case.”

Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney in Manhattan, said Mr. Weiner’s sentence was “just” and “appropriate.”

Mr. Weiner left the courtroom without comment, and outside the courthouse, cameras flashing in his face, he stepped into the back seat of a dark green Ford Escape and was driven away.

Jim Parsons on the end of 'The Big Bang Theory' and potentially playing Old Sheldon

It’s an exciting time to be a fan of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” as the show is returning for Season 11 as well as getting its very own spinoff prequel, “Young Sheldon.” However, with things on the rise, lead actor Jim Parsons is ready to talk about the end of his time as Sheldon Cooper.

The 44-year-old actor spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the season premiere, including the massive cliffhanger that Season 10 left fans on. Sheldon Cooper proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Amy, but the episode ended before she had an answer for him. It’s been previously reported that the show will pick up where it left off. With the least likely character growing up enough to potentially get married, Parsons began speculating on how much longer he can play Sheldon.

“I don’t think you’re gonna see a geriatric Sheldon,” he told the outlet. “If you do, they’re gonna have to cast it quickly, and with somebody else.”

Fans know that Parsons will play Sheldon at least through Seasons 11 and 12. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not the show will continue. In the event he’s only got two more seasons left, Parsons says he’ll be fine with it.

“Who knows what the future holds, but let’s say it ends in two more years. Let’s say that’s it,” he said. “There’s no way, as an actor, I’m going to feel anything other than: ‘We left that all on the table.’ It’s been a wonderful ride. I’m fulfilled in so many ways.”

While Parsons seems to be mentally preparing for the end, it’s unclear what will happen after Season 12 as the minds behind the show seem to have differing opinions. While announcing “Young Sheldon” earlier this year, creator Chuck Lorre told The Hollywood Reporter he could easily see Season 12 being the last. However, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves admitted that he’d like to keep the hit show for as long as possible, according to Deadline.

“I hope it goes beyond that,” he said. “In my book, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ left three years too early. You want to leave on top, but you also don’t want to leave money on the table.”

Darren Sproles' season over after dual injuries on same play

Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles tore an ACL and broke an arm on the same play Sunday, coach Doug Pederson confirmed Monday, calling it a "double whammy."

Sproles is having surgery on his arm Monday and will require surgery on his knee, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. His season is over.

Pederson said the Eagles will look to add a running back in the coming days.

"It's a devastating loss, obviously, with the punt return and special-teams aspect of it," Pederson said.

Sproles was injured in the first half against the New York Giants following an awkward plant and hit from safety Darian Thompson. Trainers were originally looking at Sproles' knee, but he was able to walk off under his own power, holding his right arm in obvious pain as he headed indoors. Replays showed that Thompson's foot inadvertently hit Sproles on the arm.

The 34-year-old running back held a key role in the Eagles rotation. LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood received the bulk of the carries in his absence Sunday.

Smallwood and rookie Corey Clement are expected to take on larger roles on offense, including on third down, while wide receiver Torrey Smith will take over as punt returner for now.

Sproles, a three-time Pro Bowler, rushed for 61 yards this season on 15 carries. He also had seven receptions for 73 yards.

"It can be a blow [from a morale perspective]," Pederson said. "He's a great man, he's a great leader, well-liked obviously on this team and in this locker room and in this community. He's a lot of energy, and that's hard to replace."

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and starting linebacker Jordan Hicks (ankle) also were injured against the Giants. Pederson said both players are day to day.

Aaron Judge Breaks Mark McGwire's Rookie Home Run Record In Historic First Season

In a year that has featured a record number of home runs, no player has symbolized the surge quite like Aaron Judge. Built like a super-sized version of Giancarlo Stanton, the 6' 7", 282-pound behemoth owns the longest (495 feet) and hardest-hit (121.1 mph) home runs of 2017 according to Statcast. As of Monday afternoon, he now owns the rookie record for home runs in a season as well as the AL lead. In an afternoon makeup game against the Royals at Yankee Stadium, the 25-year-old rightfielder mashed a pair of homers, giving him 50 for the season, one more than the A’s Mark McGwire in 1987.

As with Judge and this year’s MLB-record number of home runs, the 1987 season that served as a backdrop to McGwire was a longball-saturated one. The total of 4,458 smashed the record of 3,813 set the year before and the per-team, per game average of 1.06 was the only time before 1994 that teams broke the 1.0 mark. Big Mac obliterated the previous rookie record of 38 shared by the Reds' Frank Robinson (1956) and the Braves' Wally Berger (1938).

Judge, who homered in his first major league plate appearance last August 13 but hit just .179/.263/.345 in a 27-game cup of coffee, didn't hit his first homer of the 2017 season until April 9, the Yankees sixth game, but a 13-homer flurry over a 20-game span landed him on the cover of the May 15 issue of Sports Illustrated. He hit 30 homers prior to the All-Star break, putting him on pace for 57, and produced an AL-best 5.3 Wins Above Replacement, catapulting him into the conversation for MVP. What's more, he also won the Home Run Derby in Miami.

A second-half slump took the wind out of Judge's sails; he hit just .185/.353/.326 with three homers and 41 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances in August. Whether it was a flaw in his mechanics, a failure to adjust to the adjustments made by pitchers or a bothersome left shoulder, he was a shadow of his first-half self for several weeks, and the Yankees’ offense suffered because of it.

Since the calendar turned to September, it's been another story. Judge's home run on September 3 against the Red Sox, his 38th of the year, ended a season-high 15-game drought. He's hit 12 since then, including seven in his last six games, capped by back-to-back two-homer games against the Blue Jays on Sunday and the Royals on Monday. In Monday’s third inning, he tied McGwire's record with a 389-footer to right centerfield off Jakob Junis, and then in the seventh, he broke it via a 408-footer to left center off Trevor Cahill. For the month, he’s now hitting .307/.444/.893 with 13 homers and 26 RBIs.

The rookie home run leaderboard also features a new NL record-holder in the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger, who despite not debuting until April 25 has 39 homers; he surpassed Robinson and Berger on Friday night. Here's the new top 12:

Aaron Judge
2017 Yankees
Mark McGwire
1987 A's
Cody Bellinger
2017 Dodgers
Frank Robinson*
1956 Reds

Wally Berger
1930 Braves
Albert Pujols*
2001 Cardinals

Al Rosen
1950 Indians
Jose Abreu*
2014 White Sox
Mike Piazza*
1993 Dodgers

Ron Kittle*
1983 White Sox

Rudy York
1937 Tigers

Hal Trotsky
1934 Indians

The players with asterisks all won their league Rookie of the Year awards, which weren’t given out prior to 1947, hence no hardware for Berger, Trotsky or York. Both Judge and Bellinger are likely to join the ranks with Rookie of the Year awards of their own.

It’s no longer out of the question that Judge could win the MVP award, either. For the season, he's at .283/.418/.620, leading the league not only in homers but also runs (124), walks (120) and strikeouts (202). Entering Monday, he ranked second to Jose Altuve in both OPS+ (164 to 168) and WAR (7.3 to 8.2). At the very least, he's closed the gap on Altuve, though others such as Mike Trout and Corey Kluber could be in the picture as well.

Regardless of whether Judge wins MVP honors, he’s got the new record to top what’s already been a fantastic season. He’s a big reason the Yankees will be playing in the AL Wild Card game next week.

NBC’s Megyn Kelly experiment unveils, a morning-show Bride of Frankenstein

“Megyn Kelly Today” is meant to be the final, dazzling piece of Kelly’s multimillion-dollar transmogrification from steely Fox News host to a mushy, hugs-for-everybody, midmorning TV host. It premiered Monday on NBC in the 9 a.m. hour of the “Today” show, proving only that the experiment is far from successful.

The debut was like watching a network try to assemble its own Bride of Frankenstein, using parts of Ellen DeGeneres, Kelly Ripa and whatever else it can find. The resultant lovely creature, dressed in a mauve, pussy-bow blouse and skintight pants, moved stiffly and waved her arms around in broad gestures in a bizarre attempt to generate excitement from an audience that was already standing and cheering as duly instructed. She interviewed people nervously and so awkwardly that they were cowed into giving monosyllabic answers. She also never missed an opportunity to talk about herself.

Most of the episode devolved into an intentionally meta hall of mirrors, inviting the audience to admire Kelly as much as Kelly admires Kelly — a morning TV show about the birth of a morning TV show. There was lots of talk about what “Megyn Kelly Today” will be, mostly by way of what it won’t be. (That’s always a bad sign.)

“We’ll be dissecting the latest tweet from President Trump,” she said, sarcastically, before insisting that politics will never be welcome in this safe space of an hour. Instead, her show will encourage viewers to escape from the awful world, “to laugh with us” (not one genuinely funny thing happened in this first episode), to which Kelly added her wish that viewers will enjoy “a smile, sometimes a tear, and maybe some hope to start your day.”

She talked vaguely about her incredible journey from one network (which she assiduously avoided naming) to NBC and how the spirit of her father, who died when she was a teenager, was somehow involved in this miraculous intervention of contracts. (Isn’t that fascinating? Don’t you feel so much closer to Kelly already? No?)

Then she took questions from the audience — the first from a gushing fan: “What’s been your greatest joy?” while moving from hosting a nighttime show to hosting a morning show, he wanted to know. The second was from Kelly’s husband, who didn’t have a question — he just wanted to bring her roses. They hugged each other woodenly, as if they’d just met.

After that, Kelly welcomed the stars of NBC’s “Will & Grace,” which returns to the network Thursday night. Here you have four seasoned comedy actors (Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally), who, if nothing else, probably know how to be funny and chatty and casual. But they also heard Kelly declare her show as politics-free, so, after she told them how much fun she had watching the old show back in the day (her day), they really didn’t have much to talk about, since the revived “Will & Grace’s” first episode happens to wind up in Trump’s Oval Office, where Grace has been hired to redecorate.

Kelly also summoned from her audience a “superfan” of the original “Will & Grace,” who said he considered the McCormack’s Will Truman character a role model. Kelly asked the man if he “became a lawyer [and] became gay” from watching the show.

Very smooth. The TV stars mostly stared and smiled at Kelly and tried to answer her dopey questions (“Were you worried at all that the magic wouldn’t be there?”). It’s the one problem that has hounded Kelly even during Fox days — she’s just not good at talking to people or with people, instead of at people.

The hour crawled by. A middle segment featured the “Today” regulars welcoming Kelly to 30 Rockefeller Center, a predawn festivity of studied smarm, with the added delight of seeing Kathie Lee Gifford sit in her makeup chair and play nice-nice with Kelly the way an old house cat would welcome a naive and extra-squeaky mouse to the kitchen. Then everyone came to Kelly’s stage to drink mimosas and bask in the NBC-ness of it all.

Kelly ended the hour with a short, prerecorded puff-piece about a Chicago nun, Sister Donna Liette, who ministers to young men and their mothers in the city’s roughest neighborhoods. After that, Kelly welcomed Liette to the stage, whereupon the Coldwell Banker real estate company and Ace Hardware presented her with a giant cardboard check and a giant gift card. Hallelujah and God bless — the hour was finally over.

Then Kelly reminded us she’ll be back Tuesday morning (and for as many mornings as it takes to either work this thing out or cancel it), this time with the cast of “This Is Us” and a fair warning: “My mom has something she wants to share with you.” Rest assured that “something” has to do with the wonderful, hopeful, shallow world of being Megyn Kelly.

Patriotism Is for White Peoples?

The American flag, drenched in the blood of American Indians and enslaved Africans, has been romanticized as a symbol of guardianship for all citizens of this nation. One of the main centerpieces of patriotism encapsulated in the flag’s meaning is military service. Be it the Revolutionary or Civil War, World War I or II, or any other battle in which America has fought, the argument is that the men and women who fought for this country took on a sacred sacrifice to protect American liberty and freedom from foreign enemies that would dare to endanger it. That the American flag can flap freely around the nation is an indication that its people, too, are free.

Though, as Colin Kaepernick first explained to us by kneeling during the national anthem last year, and what other NFL athletes are revealing by following suit this season, as black people, we are not free. And we never really have been.

America’s inception was never designed to accommodate the liberty and freedoms of its nonwhite people. When soldiers fought against Britain during the Revolutionary War, it was a victory for white people. The American flag was raised in victory in 1783 as its black citizens, who were still not legally full human beings at the time, continued to suffer in slavery some 80 years after the fact.

We can look at the failure of Reconstruction after the Civil War and realize that black people’s liberty evoked white people’s violence. As the flag was flown proudly during Jim Crow, white politicians worked tirelessly to suppress our votes and sanctioned our murders if we dared to cast a ballot.

In 2017, as white people stand for the national anthem, most of them sit in careless silence as police kill black and brown people and hide behind the baseless excuse of “I feared for my life.”

The problem with narratives of American patriotism is that they ignore the fact that America was and is a colonial state. Colonial powers are violent and racist by their very nature. America’s military is not a protector of peace. It is an enforcer of colonialism. Indeed, black Americans have died in America’s wars but do not fully experience the freedom that comes with that sacrifice as white people do.

Patriotism has never been a racially equitable experience because it was never designed to be.

This weekend, people voiced what they envision in the American flag. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr asked rhetorically, “You know what else is offensive to our flag? Racism.” I applaud the spirit of his wording, but it is not historically accurate. America is racist. Its history, its culture and, if this recent election is any indicator, many of its citizens are tied to racism and the benefits it provides them.

President Donald Trump is a white supremacist and is keenly aware of the symbolism the flag represents. That is why he tweeted this morning to #StandForOurAnthem. Both the anthem and the flag are symbols of white hegemony. Freedom? Sure. For white people.

There has never been a point in U.S. history when nonwhite bodies were not under the threat of state violence. That is why black people are kneeling before the flag. It was never intended to reflect the protection of our humanity. If it were, police officers would not get away with shooting and killing black people with reckless abandon, all while wearing an American-flag patch on their uniforms.

Trump would not have won the White House if millions of patriots were not emotionally attuned to his rhetoric of “Make America great again,” which is nothing more than a death cry for people who feel their whiteness is being devalued as the country becomes more diverse.

We are seeing patriotism in action, folks. Trump is in office banning as many Muslims from entering the nation as possible, conservative state lawmakers are creating voter-suppression laws designed to keep black and Latino people from voting, and law enforcement is as murderous against nonwhite people as ever. Black blood is being spilled across the country, and white people are more than happy to support the cops doing the killing.

This is American patriotism in 2017. There is no redemption in any of it. We have to start anew. But white people are unwilling to unpack patriotism’s racist past and present because that requires them to drop their privilege and unpack themselves, and they simply choose not to do so. That is the power of white supremacy: to be able to ignore the suffering of others and not face any of the consequences.

Nothing exemplifies this better than when a white woman by the name of Sharon called C-SPAN recently to say that she can no longer watch NFL football because the players’ kneeling is “too painful” for her.

“It’s just shameful and it hurts me to see people taking a knee when we are supposed to be joyful about living in this country,” she said. “After I saw what happened [with players kneeling during the anthem], I tried to watch it and I just couldn’t because I just kept crying.”

Sharon, who said she is a veteran, is clearly living in her own white world. But her words precisely articulate the mourning many white people are experiencing over black resistance. She didn’t address any of the issues the players are highlighting (police brutality, Trump’s racism, etc). In her own world, they are supposed to be “joyful.” Her patriotism exists in a vacuum that centers her whiteness at the expense of ignoring the violence it inflicts against our black and brown bodies. Black people and Sharon do have something in common, however: We’re all in pain right now.

The difference is that black people are suffering as we resist the flag-waving, national-anthem-singing patriotism that has always protected anti-black violence, while Sharon is crying because we can’t shut up and stand for a flag and an anthem that protect her in ways that will never protect us. Sharon will continue to cry for her patriotism. Black people will cry in mourning over the violence that her patriotism protects.

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