Thoughts from the Dugout: 2nd Half Predictions


The All-Star Game grooved right on by, and now the American League will receive home field advantage in this year’s World Series. That’s about as far on the record as I’m willing to go with regards to second-half certainties in Major League Baseball. Everything else remains in flux, from division winners to potential trade candidates, from award winners to statistical oddities. Anybody who says they can see something coming from a mile away is, more often than not, lying – insider information only gets you so far. With that being said, here’s 10 fun predictions for the second half of the 2014 MLB season.

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Check out Square Roots

chill night, right?I know the best place in town to hear music and try literally dozens of beers, and it is not Taste of Chicago. Tonight, I checked out the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square, and it was awesome. The Square Roots Festival runs from Friday, July 11 through Sunday, July 13, and you (yes, you) should check it out. Despite getting there shortly after 8:00 p.m., music was pumping out of the north stage and there were hundreds of people in the street between Montrose and Wilson on Lincoln Ave. Most of the vendors were still open, including an amazing line up of food trucks, tents, and…oh, right, the beer: Fifteen primarily local breweries each with at least two of their lineup for you to try.

Most street festivals and art shows in Chicago put forth the same line up of art vendors, and this festival isn’t much different, save that a number of local vendors from Lincoln Square have tents offering their wares. A score of local restaurants have food stations lining the street, including Lincoln Square favorites Bistro Campagne, Fountainhead, Gather, and Cheesie’s Pub.

Music, however, is the biggest draw for the festival, proceeds from which will help support the Old Town School of Folk (full disclosure: I take guitar lessons at the school). Tonight,  Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate were creating amazing African/hip hop/reggae awesomeness (that’s a thing, right?) to a crowd of well over two hundred. They were followed by Ivan & Alyosha, a Seattle based group with a fantastic name (any other Literature geeks get the reference?), a remarkably upbeat folk band whose album I’ll be purchasing as soon as my bank account will allow. Tomorrow’s headliner is Bobby Bare, Jr’s Young Criminals Starvation League. You can check out “Valentine” on YouTube.

Folk and World Music bands aren’t the only acts getting stage time. Old Town offers a number of awesome music ensembles and classes. Sunday will feature their Brazilian Folk Ensemble with Paulinho Garcia (5:00-5:45 p.m); visitors can try out their African Dance (1:30 – 2:30 p.m) or Flamenco classes (2:45- 3:45 p.m), or just hang out and watch Aloft Circus Arts (8:00 – 8:30 p.m). If you want to catch up with Travis and me, you’ll find us in the 2nd Half Guitar Jam (1:30 – 2:15 p.m).

There’s always something to do on summer weekends in Chicago. There’s a street fest happening almost every weekend, and this weekend there’s Taste of Chicago to compete with as well. If you want over-crowded places with absurd food prices and too many tourists, go to Taste. If you want a chill atmosphere, great beers, and an amazing musical experience, then go to Square Roots.

The Beans Talk About the 2014 Emmy Nominations

Alex and his wife Becky watch a lot of TV. Probably too much. But that means that they sort of know what they’re talking about when the annual Emmy nominations come out. For reference’s sake, Becky has seen 24 of the programs we talk about here. Alex has seen 12. He may be talking out of his ass a lot more.

Comedy Series

Should Win: Uh…we really, really like Louie and Orange is the New Black, but it’s a stretch to call this past season of the former a comedy and the latter is a drama through-and-through. Of the nominees, we vote for Louie, but the consensus choice for us this year was Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Will Win: Modern Family has won four in a row, which is apparently the cap on a series winning consecutive awards at the Emmys. Plus, it’s remained pretty damn mediocre since…season one. Another win would be awful. So we think that Orange is the New Black will prevail. Huge buzz and fandom, groundbreaking gender and sexuality politics, and new blood in a stale category.

WTF?: Why is Silicon Valley here? Alex watched the pilot and Becky watched one other episode, but it seemed like…not much. Maybe we missed out, but this feels like it got nominated solely for being on HBO.

Image via.

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Thoughts from the Dugout: A ‘Game of Thrones’ Edition

Derek Jeter 2
You know nothing, Derek Jeter.

We’re at the midway point. Chaos rules in all parts of the land. Teams jockey for positions, clashing with regularity. The balance of power sways between the mighty, whilst the dispossessed plot their next moves. Rumbles are heard of a mighty battle yet to come, as aging legends rise against the hungry youths of the world. Meanwhile, an aged man sits atop his perch, overseeing all with a hand that smites as often as it rewards.

Welcome to Major League Baseball.

I’ve been open here and elsewhere about recently re-reading the entire Song of Ice and Fire book series as my summer project. Consequently, I’m feeling a little Game of Thrones-centric these days. At the same time, the baseball season has passed its midway point, All-Stars have been selected, and we know… well, relatively little at this point beyond the facts that: the A’s are good, the Cubs are bad, Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet, and Mike Trout might be from another world.

Where are my tigers?
Where are my tigers?

Usually, I disdain power rankings. The chance to do one with a Game of Thrones theme, however, struck me as all too much fun. What follows is simple: I pair each team with a corresponding character from the book/TV series, based on said team’s performance to date, their expectations going into the season, and what their future looks like. Any disagreements can be argued out in the comments section.

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