REVIEW: ‘Holy Ghost’ – Modern Baseball

1mobo

With a more mature style of writing and catchy instrumentation, Modern Baseball’s third album Holy Ghost is one of the best of the year.

The maturation of an early twenty something is no easy task.  Everything from heartbreak to crises of identity plague those exiting the comforts of adolescence.  On Modern Baseball’s latest LP Holy Ghost, the Philly-based rockers do a remarkable job at tackling both subjects.

While both of their previous full-lengths, Sports and the acclaimed You’re Gonna Miss it All, focused more on blatant sarcasm and the frustrations of navigating of millennial dating culture, Holy Ghost takes a turn in the other direction.

Gone are lyrics like, “The girl who’s next to me, she’s friendly and thoughtful and quite awfully pretty.  But all she has to say is a meat-head themed monologue on why Brad ran away,” or “What do you call someone who calls you out on DIY ethics you don’t embody as he drains his dad and mommy’s monthly data plan?  An asshole with an iPhone.”

And in are lyrics like,”I’m not just another face.  I’m not just another name,” from “Just Another Face” and “It’s not like me to forgive and move on, oh it’s looking back on my mistakes saying others,” from “Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind”.

The album is essentially split into two, with the first six songs coming from singer/guitarist Jake Ewald, while the second half of the album was written by singer/guitarist Brendan Lukens.  Whereas in past albums the two interweave their songs, this approach works to represent where they both are in life.

(more…)

Ranking the Top First Basemen in MLB Approaching Opening Day

While the first base position in Major League Baseball has traditionally been one of power hitters, many of the modern first basemen have added several different tools to their arsenals. Speed and plate discipline play a much larger part in team’s offenses, and the position as a whole has needed to adapt.

Players like Paul Goldschmidt and Eric Hosmer have the ability to run effectively, and the next crop of young stars are likely to follow suit.  First base boasts some of the deepest talent across the league, and many are impact players on a daily basis.  Here are our rankings of the top first basemen in MLB approaching Opening Day.

For the full article on CalltothePen.com, click here.

Ranking the top catchers in MLB approaching Opening Day

The catcher position in Major League Baseball has been long dominated by high-profile stars, but with several budding talents advancing to the majors, there’s much more competition among the position.  While Buster Posey and Salvador Perez have been household names, players like Travis d’Arnaud and Blake Swihart are quickly establishing themselves as quality contributors.

While hitting isn’t a sought-after trait with catchers, it’s an added bonus when a player can manage to get on base at a decent rate.  The catching position isn’t loaded with top-heavy talent, but has plenty of solid talents.

Check out the full article on CalltothePen.com here.

MLB Spring Training Previews

Last month, I began writing for CalltothePen.com, part of the FanSided network, to cover Major League Baseball.  As a result, my usual baseball content on this blog has shifted over there.  In order to keep up with the work I’m doing, I’ll be posting periodic updates with links to stories I write, all on this blog.  There may be the occasional NBA article posted here, as well.

I worked on a series of Spring Training Previews for a variety of teams, which are all linked below.  Enjoy!

Boston Red Sox

San Francisco Giants

Toronto Blue Jays

Tampa Bay Rays

Philadelphia Phillies

Colorado Rockies

Follow me on Twitter (@FustorThePeople) so we can talk baseball as Spring Training begins!

 

 

Predicting the Final AL Central Standings in 2016

Whereas last season saw the fall of the perennial division champion Detroit Tigers, 2016 figures to be one of the more competitive divisions in all of Major League Baseball.  The Kansas City Royals are coming off their first World Series victory since 1985, the Tigers signed Jordan Zimmerman and Justin Upton and the Cleveland Indians feature two of the league’s best starters.

Like last season, every team in the division could realistically make a run at the Royals top spot.  The Minnesota Twins young offense proved more than capable while the Chicago White Sox retooled their lineup with the addition of Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie – and already feature Chris Sale atop their rotation.

While the Royals are expected to make a run at another World Series title in 2016, their path throughout the regular season may not be as easy as expected with several emerging teams within their own division.

As it stands now, any team in the division can make a run – so it really all comes down to health and minor league depth.

Check out the full article here.

 

Predicting the Final NL East Standings in 2016

Unlike many other divisions in 2015, the National League East featured two clear playoff-worthy teams, while the rest of the division was mired in mediocrity.  The New York Mets enjoyed a spectacular run to the postseason on the back of Yoenis Cespedes and an elite starting rotation, while the Washington Nationals failed to live up to expectations – and seemingly wasted a breakout season from Bryce Harper.  The Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins all suffered through misery-filled seasons, with hopes of discovering a star player within their farm systems.

This season doesn’t figure to be much different.  The Mets retained a solid core by re-signing Cespedes to a three-year deal worth $75 million, and adding veteran second baseman Neil Walker to replace the departed postseason hero Daniel Murphy.  The Nationals struck out with several top free agents, including Cespedes, but still boast a dangerous lineup and solid pitching rotation.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have gone into full rebuilding mode, but saw the emergence of power bat Maikel Franco and potential ace Aaron Nola toward the end of 2015.  Healthy seasons from Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich can propel the Marlins offense, but they have a lot of question marks throughout the roster.  As for the Braves, the team boasts a strange mix of veteran talent and young potential impact players – but traded ace Shelby Miller for last year’s number one pick, Dansby Swanson, which will negatively impact their immediate future.

The NL East will likely see a heated race between the Mets and Nationals down to the end of the season, but there’s a chance the Marlins can make some noise under the direction of new manager Don Mattingly.

Check out the full predictions here.

Predicting the Final AL East Standings in 2016

In a year of parity across Major League Baseball, the American League East was perhaps the most complicated of all – as seemingly any team could have made a run at the division crown.  While only the Red Sox (78-84) and Tampa Bay Rays (80-82) finished under .500, each team remained competitive for at least a portion of the season.

This season figures to be more of the same in the AL East.  With the retooled Red Sox ready to compete with the likes of an intimidating New York  Yankees bullpen and a potent Toronto Blue Jays lineup, there’s no clear front-runner to win the division.  The Baltimore Orioles are expected to take a step backward after losing rotation staple Wei-Yin Chen and failing to sign a viable third outfielder, while the Rays look to be mediocre on offense once again.

While moves can still be made this offseason, here’s our predictions for how things will shake out in the AL East in 2016.

For the full article on CalltothePen.com – part of the FanSided network – click here.

 

Young NBA Players Poised to Break Out in 2016

As the midpoint of the NBA season draws closer, it’s common to see players settle into a groove on the court.  For young players – rookies or anyone with only a few years in the league – it’s possible that their true potential will be reached with more experience on the court.

This season in MLB, a youth movement like no other took hold of the league as stars like Carlos Correa and Mookie Betts took the league by storm. Basketball shouldn’t be any different.  With no shortage of young talent, fan bases across the league have something to look forward to in 2016.

Here’s four young players ready to make the leap into stardom in the coming months.

Devin Booker

gettyimages-503745710-0

Devin Booker has been one of the few bright spots for a reeling Phoenix Suns squad this season. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Following an unfortunate season-ending knee injury to Eric Bledsoe during his best season to date (20.4 PPG and 6.1 APG), the Suns shifted rookie Devin Booker into the starting lineup in hopes of providing a spark on offense.  On a franchise devoid of any momentum, the hope was that Booker would energize the entire roster.

The results have been, well, mixed.  Phoenix has stumbled to a dismal 13-27 record with only one win in their last 10 games.  Booker, on the other hand, has been solid as he’s transitioned into the starting lineup.  The Kentucky product is averaging a solid 14.7 PPG on 52 percent shooting from the field since Bledsoe went down. Despite being known for his shooting (46 percent from deep this season), he’s surprisingly only made 10 three-pointers in that span.

It looks as if he has Dwyane Wade’s respect now, too.

As Booker becomes more acclimated to playing big minutes and working alongside Brandon Knight, the rookie should see a big uptick in scoring while maintaining a relatively decent shooting percentage.  A 12.5 PER leaves something to be desired, but per 100 possessions, he’s putting up Klay Thompson-esque numbers of 21 PPG and 3 APG.

With a lack of dominant big men, the Suns reliance on their backcourt will only help Booker in his development.  If Booker plays well from here on out, it’s hard to imagine the Suns keeping three backcourt players on a struggling roster devoid of capable big men.

(more…)

Top Indie Albums Releasing in 2016

After what could go down as one of the best years ever for indie/alternative music in 2015, the coming months in 2016 don’t have the same sheer quantity – but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of quality releases this year.

Several bands expected to release new music in 2016 have yet to officially announce projects, but there’s a lot of hints indicating they will.  With that in mind, many projects already announced are glimmering with excitement.  Here are several albums, some yet to be officially announced, that should provide plenty of head bobbing in 2016.

Holy Ghost – Modern Baseball

1mobo

With unique writing and catchy instrumentation, Modern Baseball’s third album Holy Ghost should garner a lot of attention.

Coming off the success of 2014’s You’re Gonna Miss It All, Philadelphia rockers Modern Baseball are setting their sights even higher on their forthcoming album Holy Ghost.  Known for their quirky lyrics about understanding love and adulthood as a clueless college student, the band, often known as MoBo, is aiming to add a more mature feel to their music, as said by singer/guitarist Brendan Lukens in an interview with SPIN.

Back in October, MoBo dropped a surprise EP entitled, MOBO Presents: The Perfect Case EP Featuring Modern Baseball, which featured tracks with a sound just different enough to entice fans before the release of Holy Ghost. Tracks like “The Thrash Particle” – which depicts a hopeless narrator questioning the foundation of a relationship – do an excellent job at giving a glimpse into the band’s lyrical and instrumental progression as they enter their third full release.

spotify:track:7dYzMGwxSuRRTvJX93AJcm

The band may be changing things up and leaving behind the Facebook references that made them adored, but the change should be a welcome one.  Holy Ghost is set to release May 13th via Run for Cover Records.

The band released two tracks from Holy Ghost, entitled “Everyday” and “Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind.”

Check out the teaser video below.

(more…)