Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2015 MLB Trade Deadline Review: Pirates/Rangers/Red Sox

I could do a thorough trade deadline review, but that would take forever. So instead, here's a review/analysis of the trades made by the 3 teams I follow, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox.


Pirates: 3B Aramis Ramirez
Brewers: RP prospect Yhonathan Barrios

(Aramis Ramirez)
2015: 88G, 332PA, 25R, 73H, 20 2B, 11HR, 44RBI, 16BB, 44K, .236/.280/.408 (.688 OPS)

(Yhonathan Barrios)
2015: 1-3, 2.55era, 35G, 13SV, 42.1IP, 39H, 15R (12ER), 18BB/22K, 1.346WHIP

With both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer out until late August at the earliest, the Pirates needed some corner infield help. So it just so happens that they reunite with Aramis Ramirez. He had a slow start to the year, but has been heating up since June. In return, the Pirates gave up position player turned pitcher Yhonathan Barrios. He's reached AAA this year, but has had control problems.


Red Sox: IF Josh Rutledge
Angels: OF Shane Victorino

(Josh Rutledge)
2015: (w/AAA) 81G, 351PA, 51R, 92H, 21 2B, 4 3B, 6HR, 34RBI, 21BB/67K, .286/.336/.432 (.768 OPS)

(Shane Victorino)
2015: 36G, 117PA, 11R, 24H, 2 2B, 1HR, 4RBI, 10BB/18K, .231/.310/..279 (.589 OPS)

This move was more of a pure salary dump for Boston. Also, it opens up an OF spot for international signee Rusney Castillo so Boston can see what they really got with him. If Rutledge turns out to be a productive utility player, it'll just be a plus. The Angels meanwhile stockpiled corner OF'ers during the deadline, also getting David Murphy and David DeJesus, so they certainly now have options. Victorino should also be a nice veteran presence for that team down the stretch. 

(The Red Sox wouldn't win the 2013 WS w/o Victorino's play that season)


Pirates: P Joe Blanton
Royals: Cash Considerations

(Joe Blanton)
2015: 2-2, 3.92era, 16G (4 GS), 2SV, 43.2IP, 45H, 20R(19ER), 7BB/42K, 1.191WHIP

Blanton had been designated by the Royals, so his acquisition didn't cost much for the Pirates. Blanton has had pretty good results in his comeback this year, so he should be able to provide the Pirates with some solid long relief and/or spot starts.


Rangers: SP Cole Hamels/RP Jake Diekman
Phillies: SP Matt Harrison/C prospect Jorge Alfaro/OF prospect Nick Williams/P prospect Jake Thompson/P prospect Alec Asher/P prospect Jerad Eickhoff

(Cole Hamels)
2015: 6-7, 3.76era, 21G/GS, 1CG, 1SO, 136.1IP, 121H, 58R/57ER, 40BB/143K, 1.181WHIP

(Jake Diekman)
2015: 2-1, 4.89era, 44G, 38.2IP, 40H, 23R/21ER, 25BB/50K, 1.681WHIP

(Matt Harrison)
2015: 1-2, 6.75era, 3G/GS, 16IP, 19H, 12R/ER, 6BB/5K, 1.563WHIP

(Jorge Alfaro)
2015: 49G, 207PA, 22R, 48H, 15 2B, 2 3B, 5HR, 21RBI, 9BB/61K, .253/.314/.432 (.746 OPS)

(Nick Williams)
2015: 97G, 415PA, 56R, 113H, 21 2B, 4 3B, 13HR, 45RBI, 32BB/77K, .299/.357/.479 (.836 OPS)

(Jake Thompson)
2015: 6-6, 4.72era, 17G/GS, 1CG, 87.2IP, 94H, 51R/46ER, 30BB/78K, 1.414WHIP

(Alec Asher)
2015: 4-10, 4.43era, 20G/GS, 107.2IP, 110H, 56R/53ER, 37BB/97K, 1.365WHIP

(Jerad Eickhoff)
2015: 10-4, 4.11era, 20G/19GS, 111.2IP, 102H, 52R/51ER, 36BB/107K, 1.236WHIP

We now get to a blockbuster, as the Rangers came out on top in the Hamels sweepstakes. Altogether, this is a win-win deal for the Rangers and the Phillies. Cole Hamels provides Texas with a much needed top of the rotation arm with Yu Darvish still recovering from TJ surgery. Hamels will also allow the Rangers to ease Darvish back in 2016. With some salary relief also exchanging hands, the Phillies were able to get some highly regarded prospects back in Alfaro/Williams/Thompson. 


Pirates: RP Joakim Soria
Tigers: SS/OF prospect Jacoby Jones

(Joakim Soria)
2015: 3-1, 2.74era, 45G, 24SV, 42.2IP, 33H, 13R/ER, 13BB/37K, 1.078WHIP

(Jacoby Jones)
2015: 99G, 448PA, 55R, 105H, 18 2B, 3 3B, 13HR, 66RBI, 33BB/115K, .262/.320/.419 (.739 OPS)

A very solid acquisition by the Pirates. As we saw with the Royals during their 2014 run, its crucial to have a powerful BP bridge to shut down a game. Soria provides the Pirates with just that with Hughes/Watson/Soria/Melancon. The Tigers get a power-hitting prospect back, but one who is somewhat without a natural position.


Red Sox: RP Ryan Cook
Athletics: Cash Considerations

(Ryan Cook)
2015: 0-2, 10.38era, 4G, 4.1IP, 7H, 5R/ER, 3BB/3K, 2.308WHIP

Obviously Cook's numbers don't look so hot in a brief sample this year, but he's dealt with injuries on and off. He's had a fairly solid track record from 2012-14, posting 9.0+ K/9, with era's ranging from 2.09 to 3.42. He was a 2012 All-Star with Oakland as well. Maybe Cook won't get his groove back, or maybe this will pan out like the Craig Breslow trade of 2012.

Rangers: RP Sam Dyson
Marlins: C prospect Tomas Telis/LHP prospect Cody Ege

(Sam Dyson)
2015: 3-4, 3.72era, 46G, 1SV, 46IP, 45H, 22R/19ER, 17BB/41K, 1.348WHIP

(Tomas Telis)
2015: 71G, 303PA, 43R, 83H, 15 2B, 1 3B, 5HR 26RBI, 14BB/31K, .292/.327/.405 (.732 OPS) (had a brief cup of coffee with the Rangers this season, these are his minors numbers)

(Cody Ege)
2015: 6-2, 0.97era, 36G, 2SV, 46.1IP, 34H, 13R/5ER, 23BB/65K, 1.230WHIP

Sam Dyson comes with a lot of control (at least until 2020). He should provide a stable presence in the Rangers BP. You could make the argument that the Marlins got a better package in return here than in the Mat Latos deal.

Pirates: 1B/OF Michael Morse/Cash considerations
Dodgers: OF Jose Tabata

(Michael Morse)
2015: 53G, 174PA, 8R, 34H, 4 2B, 4HR, 12RBI, 12BB/55K, .213/.276/.313 (.588 OPS)

(Jose Tabata)
2015: 27G, 38PA, 2R, 11H, 4RBI, 2BB/7K, .289/.341/.289 (.631 OPS)

Tabata's career hasn't taken off since his early contract extension with the Pirates. This year he's seen split time between the minors and majors (his major numbers are shown here). The Pirates did well to free themselves of Tabata, and in return get a player who was a fairly big piece of the Giants 2014 WS run. While Morse hasn't been nearly as productive this year, he should at least provide a solid bat off the bench.

Pirates: P J.A Happ
Mariners: P prospect Adrian Sampson

(J.A Happ)
2015: 4-6, 4.64era, 21G/20GS, 108.2IP, 121H, 58R/56ER, 32BB/82K, 1.408WHIP

(Adrian Sampson)
2015: 9-8, 3.94era, 22G/GS, 132.1IP, 142H, 62R/58ER, 29BB/100K, 1.292WHIP

With the news that A.J Burnett could be out for 4 weeks with a flexor strain, this move provides the Pirates with some SP depth. While Happ isn't spectacular by any means, he should be able to take on innings in the rotation down the stretch.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ludicrous Uproar (The Arthur Ashe Courage Award)

How does one define "courage". Well, its technical definition is "the ability to do something that frightens one" and/or "strength in the face of pain or grief". Okay, so that seems simple enough. Now, how do you measure courage? Ever since it was announced that Caitlyn Jenner would be receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage award at the 2015 ESPY's ceremony, a lot of people have been searching for a ways to weigh courage. 

Previous honorees of this award have included Michael Sam, Robin Roberts, and of course Jim Valvano (who was the first honoree of this award). There might have been a small amount of commotion when Sam won it, but for the most part it hasn't been a big deal who won this specific award. But suddenly a whole lot of people care and are trying to pivot to other potential worthy people....and that's a problem.

In there search to undermine Jenner, people have tried to deflect,  pointing out how others like Pete Frates, Lauren Hill or Noah Galloway are just as if not more deserving. Did that collective group demonstrate courage in their endeavors? Absolutely....however it still begs the question, why the need to undermine Jenner? This deflecting isn't just degrading to Caitlyn, but also to those 3, or any other name that's been pointed out as worthy of this award. Does not getting this award somehow take away the struggles that Frates, Hill or Galloway went through? Is your courage deemed null and void because it wasn't given a specific award? That seems to be the kind of logic people are using here. Putting this in another light, is a good movie's quality somehow lessened because it doesn't win an Oscar? Same could be said for music at the Grammy's. You don't necessarily need an award to deem something worthy. But why do so many suddenly care about this award?

Lets go back now to that definition of 'courage' ; "strength in the face of pain or grief". Just look at all the pushback, even from the likes of respected media members like Bob Costas. The criticism and harassment that ESPN and Caitlyn Jenner are facing shows why she's just as deserving of this honor. Transgender issues may be getting more of a media spotlight, but some still feign ignorance. (Here's my previous post on transgender issues ). 

Going back to my last post, a lot of people are unaware of the issues that the transgender community may face. So here are just a few stats to help paint a broader picture (from the Washington Post). From a conducted survey, 41% of Transgender Americans attempted suicide, compared to just 1.6% of the general population. Also according to the survey, they're 4x as likely to live in poverty, and are unemployed at twice the rate of the general population. The transgender community also has to deal with discrimination of multiple forms, from housing and healthcare to workplace. They can also be at greater risk of sexual assault. 

Taking those daunting facts into consideration, one can reason that it certainly takes courage to come out as transgendered, especially in the public eye as Caitlyn Jenner has. Granted, she has the money and resources, and isn't a reflection of every story from the transgender community, but its taken courage for her to merely come out publicly and live her life. Jenner has gone from one of the greatest athletes of a generation to now becoming a new icon and educating the public. She's worthy of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Acceptance: (A Line Between Confusion & Bigotry)

The one thing the LGBT community has always pursued is acceptance, and for the most part they've seen that, particularly over the past decade. However, one segment is just now getting visibility, and that's the transgender community.

With the Vanity Fair cover of Catilyn Jenner, along with some other select examples (Amazon's 'Transparent' and Laverne Cox on 'Orange Is The New Black'), many are just now getting familiar to transgender issues. Now, it's reasonable to expect, with this rise in the public eye, that some will be confused. And you know what? That's okay. Its completely alright to ask questions, and to seek out information. But there's a difference between confusion and bigotry. 

When introduced to something new, people are inclined to react 1 of 2 ways; question and learn to understand, or fall to previously held predispositions and stereotypes. A few historical examples of the latter includes the Church's reaction to Galileo's theories , Mental illness or epilepsy and the salem witch trials , or new science (such as climate change or vaccines).  Granted, these are all thoroughly different situations, but they have that similar thread of something new being introduced with a resistance. 

Over time, society has come to broadly accept the 1st segments of the LGBT community, with support for gay marriage dramatically increasing as more and more states recognize it (thanks in part to the Judiciary, but recognizing it nonetheless).  Soon we could come to the point where coming out is no longer a milestone. However, the transgender community still has a ways to go, even with this recent attention and visibility.

With this quick rise of exposure, its natural that some would be confused. But there's a fine line to asking legitimate questions, and going down a path of bigotry. For example, a consistent misuse of proper pronouns. Now, if its a one-time mistake, that's respectable, but if a misuse occurs on a continuous basis, then a line has been crossed. 

In addition, delving into overly personal territory (surgeries, appearances, etc) is another example. One can understand why someone would be curious, but its not their job to force the issue if a trans-woman or man doesn't want to reveal that information. You wouldn't walk up to a complete stranger and ask them a similar line of questioning. So if it's not okay then, then it certainly isn't in this instance. 

One more example of crossing a line is a refusal to call someone by the name that they prefer. One prevalent example of this is when former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell tweeted that he'd still call Caitlyn Jenner "Bruce". This really displays a sense of arrogance, that you get to name and define everyone else.

These are just a few examples of what not to do or say. Now, transgenderism can be a complex or confusing issue as its becoming more visible. One issue that gets thrown around is "biology", with some questioning how can someone think of themselves as a different gender than what their assigned sex is at birth. Now, I'm certainly not an expert and can't go into complete detail on sex vs. gender, but here's a good brief primer . But simply put, your "biology" or "chromosomes" don't necessarily define your gender; and that issue can be a hang-up for some people. 

 I think its fairly simple though on how to act .....just be respectful. That's all, just treat others how you'd like to be treated. And for those who are genuinely curious, or confused and want to learn more, here's the media guide from GLAAD on transgender issues.

Times are certainly changing. And with that, I think we can make this a generation of acceptance. We don't know what other people are going through (a good spot for that 'walk a mile' adage). If you don't be who you truly are, how can you experience true happiness? Now, I know that might sound sappy, but its the honest truth. Shouldn't everyone get to live and experience true happiness? And if it doesn't harm you or anyone else, then why should it matter how anyone decides to live their own life? 

Those dealing with gender identity or transgender issues (those who are closeted or just now coming out) are already dealing with a lot. So lets make this a generation of acceptance, for all.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ranking The Idols (2015)

Another year has gone by, and so has another American Idol cycle (which will be coming to an end after its 15th season in 2016, but we won't delve into that). This is my 3rd ranking of AI winners. This time around, the basis from the rankings will be based on what the winners have done from 2014 to present. 

14) Taylor Hicks (down 1 - 13th) S5

Nothing really new to report on Taylor Hicks. He still has his Las Vegas residency at Paris Las Vegas.

13) Lee Dewyze (down 3 - 10th) S9

Singles: "Blackbird Song" (Walking Dead Soundtrack) - 2014
               - 2nd most viral spotify song of the week. Charted: #29 Pop Digital Songs

Besides that song for The Walking Dead soundtrack last year, Lee hasn't done a whole lot recently.

12) Caleb Johnson (down 1 - 11th) S13

Discography: "Testify" (2014)
                        Charted: #24 BB200, #9 Rock. Sales: 11K

Singles: "As Long As You Love Me" ('14)
               Charted: #41 Hot Rock. Sales: 10K

              "Only One" ('14)
              "Fighting Gravity" (2015)

Caleb has done the best he can to promote on his own, as he pretty much didn't get any help from his label. That included using money out of his own pocket for music videos. 

11) Ruben Studdard (up 1 - 12th)

Discography: "Unconditional Love" (2014)
                       Charted: #46 BB200, #11 R&B. Sales: 6K

Singles: "Meant To Be" ('14)

It was revealed that Ruben lost 119lbs on The Biggest Loser (Feb 2014). He prepared a '14 tour with Lalah Hathaway, and is working on his 5th album with R.Kelly. 

10) Candice Glover (down 3 - 7th) S12

Discography: "Music Speaks" (2014)
                       Charted: #14 BB200, #3 R&B

Promotional Single: "Passenger" ('14)

She was also featured on Chadd Black's single "Love No Fear" (Feb. 2015). Things have been going pretty slowly for Glover.

9) David Cook (even - 9th) S7

Singles: "Wait For Me"

In 2014, Cook co-penned David Nail's "Kiss You Tonight". He signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music. He's working on his 4th album, and is releasing it through pledgemusic.

8) Kris Allen (even - 8th) S8

Discography: "Horizons" (2014)
                       Charted: #80 BB200, #10 Independent Albums. Sales: 4K (1st week?)

Compilation Albums: "Songs For Shelter Me" ('14)
                                    "Nashville Indie 'Xmas Spotlight" ('14)
                                     "Nashville Indie Spotlight 2015" (2015)
Singles: "Prove It To You" ft/ Lenachka (2014)
               "Baby It Ain't 'Xmas Without You"
Soundtrack: "Valley Inn"

Kris also provided songs for the soundtracks of Arrow & Vampire Diaries, with "Lost". While Kris hasn't had anything really big come out recently, he's certainly been hard at work.

7) Jordin Sparks (down 1 - 6th) S6

Discography: "Bye Felicia" (mixtape) (2014)
                       "Right Here, Right Now" (To be released - 2015)
Singles: "Double Tap" ft/ 2Chainz ('15)
Awards: 2014 BMI Pop Awards: won - Songwriter (The Way - Ariana Grande)
TV: E! News (Guest Host - '14)/ Fashion Police (Guest Host)/ Evolution Of...Jordin Sparks/The View (Guest Host)/ AMAs (red carpet co-host)/ Wild N' Out (Guest Host - '15)/ Ru'Paul's Drag Race (Guest Judge)
Movie: "Left Behind" ('14)/ "The Grace Of Jack"

Jordin left RCA for a subsidiary of Sony Records. While I won't delve into her personal life, she has been through a lot over the last year. Hopefully she can put it behind her with her upcoming album release.

6) Nick Fradiani (new) S14

Singles: (Before American Idol) "Coming Your Way" (2014). Sales: 6K
              "Feel The Beat" ('14)
Solo Single: "Beautiful Life" (2015)

Nick previously appeared with his band Beach Avenue on America's Got Talent over the summer of 2014. His coronation single "Beautiful Life" will be the 2015 Women's World Cup anthem for FOX. After a fairly lackluster pair of AI cycle winners, hopes are high with Nick (as shown with this ranking), especially considering he'll be advised by Big Machine's Scott Borchetta.

5) Fantasia Barrino (even - 5th) S3

Movie: "Tobacco Valley" (2016)
Awards: 2014 Grammy's: Nom - Best Urban Contemp. Album ("Side Effects Of You")
                                                   - Best R&B Song ("Without Me" ft/ Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliot)
                                                   - Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Get It Right")
               2014 Black Reel Awards: Nom - Outstanding Original or Adapted Song ("In The Middle Of The Night" from Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' )

Fantasia closed the "After Midnight" show ('14). In 2014 she was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. She appeared on Dave Koz's 'Xmas album. She also teamed with Michelle Williams on "If We Had Your Eyes". Things have been going well for the Season 3 winner as she's been tackling musical theatre as well as her own music.

4) Scotty McCreery (even - 4th) S10

Tour: Riot Tour (w/ Rascal Flatts & RaeLynn) (2015)
Headline: See You Tonight Tour (w/ Danielle Bradbury) (2014)
Awards: 2014 Inspirational Country Music Awards: Nom - Mainstream Country Male Artist
Singles: "Feelin' It" ('14)
               Charted: #16 Country/ #10 Country Airplay/ #84 BB Hot 100. Sales: 293K

3) Phillip Phillips (even - 3rd) S11

Discography: "Behind The Light" (2014)
                       Charted: #7 BB200. Sales: 123K

Singles: "Raging Fire" 
            Charted: #58 BB200/ #7 Adult Top 40/ #13 Adult Contemp. Sales: 293K

               "Unpack Your Heart" 
             Charted: #33 Adult Top 40

The Season 11 winner toured with O.A.R for the summer of 2014. Phillips recently filed a lawsuit against 19 Recordings, so it will be interesting to see how that situation plays out. 


2) Kelly Clarkson (even - 2nd) S1

Discography: "Piece By Piece" (2015)
                      Charted: #1 BB200. Sales: 153K as of April '15

Singles: "Heartbreak Song" ('15)
             Charted: #21 BB Hot 100/ #2 Adult Contemp/ #6 Adult Top 40/ #1 Hot Dance Club/ #19 Mainstream Top 40

               "Invincible" ('15)
               Charted: #50 Pop Digital

Tour: 2015 Piece By Piece (w/ Pentatonix)
TV: "Nashville" (2014)
Awards: 2014 Grammy's: Nom - Best Country duo/group ("Don't Rush" w/Vince Gill)

Kelly mentored during the 14th season of American Idol. She performed during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards and the season finale of the 8th season of The Voice. She also debuted a line of greeting cards with "American Greetings". Her latest album was released back in March, so we'll see how it plays out over the next year. 

1) Carrie Underwood (even -1st) S4

TV: "Nashville" (2014)
Discography: "Greatest Hits: Decade #1" ('14)
                       Charted: #1 Country/ #4 BB200. Sales: 332.5K (certified Gold)

Singles: "Something In The Water" 
             Charted: #1 Country/ #3 Country Airplay/ #24 BB Hot 100/ #1 Hot Christian Songs. (certified platinum)

              "Little Toy Guns" ('15)
               Charted: #10 Country/ #7 Country Airplay/ #64 BB Hot 100

Guest Single: "Somethin' Bad" w/ Miranda Lambert
                       Charted: #1 Country/ #7 Country Airplay/ #19 BB Hot 100 (certified platinum) 

Promotional Single: "Keep Us Safe" ('14)
                                 Charted: #36 Country

Awards: 2014 ACMs: Nom - Female Vocalist of the year
                                              - Video of the year ("Two Black Cadillacs")
              2014 AMAs: Nom - Favorite Female Country Artist
              2014 BBMAs: Nom - Milestone Award
              2014 CMTs: Won - Video of the year ("See You Again")
                                    Nom - Female video of the year
              2014 People's Choice: Nom - Favorite country artist
              2014 Teen Choice: Nom - Choice female country artist
              2015 ACMs: Nom - Video of the year ("Somethin' Bad")
                                             - Vocal event of the year ("Somethin' Bad")
                                             - female vocalist of the year
              2015 BBMAs: Won - Top christian song ("Something In the Water")
               2015 CMTs (pending as of this writing)
                                   Nom - Video of the year ("Something In The Water"/"Somethin' Bad")
                                            - Female video of the year ("Something In The Water/ "Little Toy Guns")
                                            - Collaborative video of the year ("Somethin' Bad")
              2015 Grammy's: Won - Best Country solo performance ("Something In The Water")
                                           Nom - Best country duo/group performance ("Somethin' Bad")
              2015 People's Choice: Won - Favorite female country artist

Carrie also was awarded by the ACMs with the Gene Weed Achievement Award ('14). She made a deal with Nicole by OPI for a line of nail lacquers. In 2015 she launched a fitness clothing line. Carrie's also been featured recently on albums by Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Michael W. Smith and the Swon Brothers. Carrie and her husband Mike Fisher also welcomed a son in the new year (Congratulations). 

So there you have it. There wasn't any real movement among the top 5 from the last rankings. We'll see if Kelly will be able to get back to the #1 slot after her latest album release. Being that next year will be the last AI cycle (for now at least), we'll have only 1 more debut winner, so we'll see you then.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

SNL Season 40: Ep. 21

SNL's grand 40th season came to a close this week with Louis C.K. and Rihanna. Did SNL end with a "bang"? Lets get to the review.

The cold open started off as kind of a farewell, welcome to Summer kind of thing...and then Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) showed up. While this may have been just one final rep for the season for Kate to get her Clinton impression into gear, this was a great ensemble sketch, and with a catchy song to top it all off. 

I imagine writers breathe a sigh of relief when its a stand up comedian hosting the show when it comes to the monologue. They can just let them do their thing, and that's exactly what Louis C.K. did here. He was edgy, but he walked a fine line and always made sure to bring the audience back in. It almost isn't fair to judge this against some of the other monologues this season, but just a brilliant stand up session.

I'm not really sure what the writers were trying to get at with the post monologue sketch. It featured Louis CK as a shoemaker, with his unproductive elves in Vanessa Bayer and Kenan Thompson. The 2 elves wanted to get punished.......and it just kind of spiraled down from there. Essentially, these were a pair of elves with some wild fetishes. Now don't get me wrong, this sketch was never "offensive", but it felt too forced. Luckily though, this wouldn't set the tone for the rest of the show.

Next was a sketch about a sprint store, where Louis CK finds himself mimicking his boss (Leslie Jones), so he tries to persuade her that its how he really talks. This sketch was more than just Louis CK impersonating Louis CK though, it was how they made him fully commit to it. We see years pass by, and Louis is still talking the way he is. There's a nice twist in the end (which I won't spoil), but this was just solid writing, with terrific execution from Louis C.K and Leslie Jones (after a minor flub during the beginning).

SNL ran a pair of short commercials about the "lumberjack". It was just so random and dumb, yet humorous for what it was. Its a shame there were only a pair of 18 second segments, or else this really could have made an impact for the overall show.

Weekend Update as seen its ups and downs this season, but it felt like Colin Jost and Michael Che really connected for the finale. The jokes were fluid, and the two actually reacted to each others' lines. It looked like they actually had chemistry together. Hopefully this carries over to next season (since it seems likely we'll see these 2 return to the Update desk).

The first guest saw Taran Killam as Tom Brady to talk about his suspension from "deflate gate". Colin Jost's fawning over Brady was pretty great here.

The second guest was Pete Davidson, talking about recently turning 21. He went on about his mother, how Harry Potter never got laid, and how he even got this job. For a rookie, Davidson surely has made a name for himself on Update (just like Leslie Jones). It'll be interesting to see how he grows next season.

The final guest saw the return of Riblet (Bobby Moynihan), to interrupt on of Che's previously cut jokes. Riblet is quickly becoming a phenomenon of a recurring Update character. Here's hoping for more during Season 41.

Another week, another surprising recurring sketch, this time bringing back the Vanessa Bayer/Kenan Thompson couple to be interrupted by Cecily Strong and Louis CK. Much like the first time around with "The Rock", this seemed like a good enough concept, but it didn't quite work out. There were some good lines however.

Next was a sketch about a police lineup full of actors (featuring Killam/Kyle Mooney/Beck Bennett/Louis CK), as Davidson looked to identify a mugger. This was one of those sketches that just worked because everyone committed to the concept. Mooney and Bennett in particular were fantastic in this. Mooney had a breakout year, but I think we'll see Bennett with a similar one next season.

The final sketch saw a return of Reese De'What (kenan) for another installment of forgotten tv gems, this time "Whoops, I Married A Lesbian", starring Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant. This was a really good concept with a great role by Bobby Moynihan as the doofus of a friend...however this was missing that extra punch that would have really made this great. But as the final sketch of the night, it was still really good.

This was a somewhat bizarre, but still solid SNL finale. It seemed that the writers decided to let their inner weird thoughts fly, and for the most part it worked. Most importantly though, Colin Jost and Michael Che seemed to finally gel at Weekend Update. I doubt we'll see much overall cast turnover going into next season, but there's always the chance that we'll see 1 or 2 surprise additions or exits.

 Avg. Score: 7.55 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Martin Freeman - 7.56
Louis C.K. - 7.55
Kevin Hart - 7.51
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Michael Keaton - 7.45
Chris Hemsworth - 7.44
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Reese Witherspoon - 7.20
Amy Adams - 7.19
JK Simmons - 7.18
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson - 7.16
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
Taraji P Henson - 7.09
James Franco - 7.07
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Dakota Johnson - 6.83
Cameron Diaz - 6.81
Scarlett Johansson - 6.72
Blake Shelton - 6.60
Chris Rock - 6.52