Minaya Out. Grace Park/Avengers In

He did this a lot during his days as Mets GM.

*I received an e-mail from Mets Ownership yesterday alerting me to the firings of both General Manager Omar Minaya (left, hitting his standard pose when approached with any question) and Manager Jerry Manuel. The e-mail said all the right things, “Thank you for your support during another extremely disappointing season,” and “The failure is unacceptable and we share your anguish,” and “We feel a fresh perspective in the leadership of our baseball department will elevate the performance of our club.”

Omar had to go. His farm system and drafts did not produce a single star (Wright and Reyes were fruits of Steve Phillips’ regime), and the big club only managed to make the play-offs once under Minaya, in 2006 (which seems a lot farther away than just 4 seasons). So they’ll get somebody else with new ideas. I’m all for it.

All of that is fine, except that by most accounts, the Mets are one of (if not the most) the more dysfunctional organizations in all of baseball. According to beat reports who follow the team like ESPN’s Adam Rubin, the problem lies with ownership (pun absolutely intended). Fred Wilpon installed his son, Jeff, as COO of the ball club, and despite ownership’s previous promise to Minaya that he’d have full autonomy in terms of baseball decisions, Mets insiders claim that over the past two seasons, Jeff Wilpon has had more and more power in that arena, and several sources (of the unnamed variety) claim that during this season, Minaya had to run everything by Jeff first. Jeff, as rumor has it, is the man in the Mets front office who notoriously stood during an internal meeting and demanded, “Somebody tell me why we can’t trade this guy!” The “guy” was Scott Kazmir who was traded to Tampa Bay for Victor “Master of the 0-2, two-out Walk” Zambrano. The trade is one of the worst in club history, even though Kazmir has broken down since then, he would have helped in 2006 when Pedro and El Duque came apart like cheap toys at the drug store.

The situation is so untenable, that ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that it (the chaos in the front office) might scare off any potential blue-chip General Manager prospects who would never work in an environment like that, where every decision he/she (you know, because Kim Ng’s name will be thrown in there again) must be passed through Jeff Wilpon. That pisses me off. If the Mets treat the General Manager position like a mere figure head, they may as well just promote Jeffey Baby to GM and let him decide the success or failure of the team out in the open. This kind of Wizard of Oz, man behind the curtain bullshit is what perpetuates the climate of unaccountability in the first place. Perhaps my feelings could best be summed up by Dave Mustaine, lead singer of Megadeth: “If there’s a new way I’ll be the first in line- but it better work this time.” Followed of course, by the Chris Poland solo.

Yeah, I’m jealous of a microphone. Why, you? Nah, shoots then.

*It’s Tuesday, and that means I’m morally obligated to include a picture of Grace Park in this blog. I am not by any means a man possessed of a strong will, but I do want to stress that every week when I am about to write about Hawaii 5-0, and therefore post a picture of Grace Park, I display the utmost will power. If you ever do a Google search for pictures of my girlfriend Grace, what you will find are many shots of her in moderate to extremely provocative dress (or lack there of) in many a seductive pose. It takes all the will I can muster to find images in good taste to post here.

Anyway… Hawaii 5-0 is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows and it has almost nothing to do with the characters or the storytelling. Every Monday night, I am filled with anticipation over whom I might see pop up in the show. Last week they gave us Martin Starr and Peter Stormore. This week, the casting brought it a little closer to home. Racer Moody (no, yeah, that’s his real name) was featured as one of the triad gunmen who opened fire in the middle of the Kukui High School football game until he was ultimately gunned down by our brave heroes McGarrett and Danno. Racer went to LMU and was there for a year or two while I was still there. That’s awesome. Also, I can’t be sure because the he dropped out of the scene so quickly and the camera panned away, but I want to say that Damien’s own Mel Andres (and again, I have no way of knowing for sure) showed up in the locker room to give the wounded quarterback the revolver that was quickly taken away by our brave heroes.

Sooner or later- should the show continue to air- I am positive that someone I am actually close to will be cast on the show. How is it that Ryan “Tamas the Entertainer” hasn’t made it onto the cast as “drunk local #2” along with Travis “T-Diddy “, “drunk local #1?” If there is any justice in this world, someone who works on the show will find Tamas’ Backstreet Boys video on youtube and shout “We gotta get that guy!” Just give Tamas a cold pack and roll cameras.

If this movie is half Saving Private Ryan and half Batman Begins, I’m all in.

*From comingsoon.net: a photo of Chris Evans in the full Captain America outfit. It’s been widely publicized that the Captain America movie is just one of the many pieces that will lead to one of the most ambitious moves ever attempted in the film industry. The general idea is to tie in all of the individual movies- Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, etc.- into the ensemble Avengers franchise.

In terms of storytelling, Marvel Comics does this every year with a major crossover that threads a story line into each of its major titles. As onerous a task as that is, I would imagine that doing the same thing with movies is about 1,298,311 times or so more difficult. But I like the idea, and here’s why:

In most ensemble films (like the X-Men or Ocean’s 11 series), it is impossible to do justice to all the characters and all of the subplots. In the span of a couple of hours- or even 6 if we’re talking about a trilogy, the little things have to be glossed over (at best) in order to get to the major conflict. This leaves little time for character introduction, the establishment of their back stories, etc. Ideally, that’s what the individual stand-alone movies will do. Instead of trying to cram all the information regarding each character into the space of 2 hours, the Captain America movie, for example, will establish who he is, what he’s about, and his everything else in its own two hours. Same for Thor and Iron Man, and whoever else.

By doing this, the Avengers film will only have to introduce minor characters (Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye), then go straight into kicking ass. The best example might be Thor. Thor’s background in mythology with his evil step-brother Matty- I mean Loki and his father Odin, and a rainbow bridge that leads to Valhalla would be tough subject matter to fit into an film with an ensemble cast theoretically grounded in the real world that Iron Man inhabits. But the Thor movie will do all of that prior to the character’s re-introduction in the Avengers. If handled correctly, all of the individual movies should serve as mini-prequels to the big movie in some way.

That said, it’s one thing to visualize such an all-encompassing story in theory, but a completely different matter in practice. I hope that the Avengers pace themselves. Maybe start off with a lesser villain such as Hydra or A.I.M., a faceless organization that would allow the first film to focus on the development of the characters and the construction of the team, in the same way that Batman Begins allowed Bruce Wayne’s story to be told first. If you think about it, Batman Begins is more exposition than anything else, the true action and conflict is only addressed in last 20 or so minutes of the film. It’s build-up, build-up, build-up, then resolution- like every episode of House you’ve ever seen. But Nolan was wise to pace the story this way, because the Ra’s al Ghoul character and storyline weren’t nearly as important as developing Bruce Wayne/Batman, because that character would have to carry the entire franchise, and they’d only get one shot to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right, child.

Similarly, the most important thing Marvel’s individual movies have to do is establish the essence of each character. Of course they’ll have to fight bad guys and such as all action movies require, but the action should be secondary to building whichever characters will go on to have prominent roles in the Avengers film. Then (fingers crossed) those movies would have served as the bulk of the exposition, and the first ensemble film would be little exposition followed by the revelation of the main conflict (why they have to get together in the first place) followed by the squashing of the first and immediate threat (again, hopefully some terrorist organization with little character) which will reveal a far more sinister and far-reaching conspiracy than they ever imagined (an alliance of super-villain heavy-hitters like Dr. Doom, Loki, the Red Skull, etc. or Bendis’ Skrull invasion or defeating Jeff Wilpon and evicting him from the Mets organization) that will take the final two movies (assuming it’s a trilogy) to completely resolve.

I just wet myself. Gotta go.

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