Behind the Seams with Blake: Unexpected MLB Team Records So Far in 2021

These teams have surprised viewers thus far in the 2021 baseball season, posting win/loss records that aren’t in line with preseason predictions.

What’s going on readers! No really…what’s going on here? Who had the Reds being one of the hottest teams and the Orioles sweeping their opening series against the Red Sox on their 2021 MLB Bingo card? Who thought the Braves would begin the season by losing their first 4 games and the As would start out 1-7? Nobody. In this post, I will chronicle how the Reds, Braves, and Athletics got to their current records and explain whether I think their performance trends will continue in the same fashion for the entirety of the season.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds have begun the season on fire offensively, averaging 9.5 runs per game, en route to a NL Central leading 5-1 record through their first 6 games of the season. Key players on offense have been top prospect 2B Jonathan India, RF Nick Castellanos (pictured above), and LF Tyler Naquin. Interestingly, Naquin was initially in the lineup just to fill in for regular LF Jesse Winker, but if Naquin continues hitting like he is (.316, 4 HRs in 19 ABs) I’d imagine the Reds will have a tough time deciding who to start in left once they are both fully healthy. The Reds have also gotten solid performances from 4 of their 5 starting pitchers through their first go-around in the rotation, with only their ace Luis Castillo (no, not the Marlins infielder from the Steve Bartman game) struggling so far this year. Now for the real question, is this sustainable? No, a team cannot average 9.5 runs per game through an entire season, as it’s the nature of the game for players to get into hitting slumps throughout the course of the season. The Reds can hope that their best hitters alternate times to go into slumps to avoid completely shutting off on offense for prolonged stretches of the season. Additionally, the team lacks proven starters in their rotation beyond ace Luis Castillo, as the rest of the rotation consists of 34-year-old Wade Miley, back of rotation starter Tyler Mahle, and 2 of the best starting pitching prospects of 2016 who’ve struggled to this point in the big leagues, Jeff Hoffman and Jose De Leon. It’s been entertaining to see the Reds showing a lot of fight to start the season (pun intended), but I still ultimately see the Cardinals winning the NL Central this season.

Atlanta Braves: Starting out the season 0-4, the Braves picked up their first 2 wins of the season on Wednesday, winning both games of a doubleheader against the Nats. The team has been shaky all around to start the season, as Ronald Acuna is the only player on offense who is not struggling to a certain extent. Top 2020 starting pitcher Max Fried has struggled in his first 2 starts of the season, and the back end of the bullpen hasn’t been a sure thing to this point either. Regardless of their struggles early on, I believe the Braves will turn their season around quickly and find themselves in the hunt for the NL East title once again, as they have so much young talent on their roster to go with several veteran players who have been on playoff-caliber teams already in their careers.

Oakland Athletics: It’s been pretty painful to watch As games thus far, as they have been quite pitiful though their first 8 games of the season, falling to a 1-7 record and landing at the bottom of the AL West division standings to start the season. Their franchise cornerstone Matts with the Bats; Matt Chapman and Olson have scuffled offensively to start the season. Additionally, the starting rotation has been awful, with nobody having an ERA lower than 5. The As have also experienced misfortune on the injury front, with offseason signee and expected closer Trevor Rosenthal having to undergo Thoracic Outlet Surgery, one of the hardest procedures to come back from (for example, Matt Harvey). The As will now have to figure out who is going to close games for them this season while also correcting their issues with starting pitching and hitting. Perhaps replacing shortstop Marcus Semien with the aging Elvis Andrus in the offseason will have a more negative impact than the organization anticipated. I predict it will be more difficult for the Athletics to right the ship than the Braves, as the Oakland squad has many more question marks at the moment. I’d expect to see them third in the AL West standings behind the Astros and Angels when it’s all said and done. 

Written by: Blake Koziel 

Photo Source: Red Reporter


Chris Meloni Returns as Elliot Stabler for Law and Order Spin-Off and Reunion Preview

Elliot Stabler is back and this time with his own show. NBC released the first promo for the upcoming Law and Order: SVU spin-off.

Christopher Meloni who played Elliot Stabler on the hit show Law and Order: SVU is making his return to the Law and Order Universe and we could not be more excited.


Photo Credit: @Chris_Meloni on Instagram

Meloni who played Elliot Stabler on SVU left the series in 2011 due to not reaching an agreement during contract negotiations between production and the actor. After Meloni left the show fans of the beloved series were devastated as they enjoyed every minute of the beloved chemistry between Stabler (Meloni Character) and his partner Oliva Benson (played by Mariska Hagitay).

The two were partners on the show from Season 1 which debuted in 1999 through season 12 which aired in 2011. Now in 2021, it has been 10 years since the two characters appeared on our screen.


Photo Credit: NBC

In the promo, we see Benson (Mariska Hargitay character) at a crime scene and she hears “Liv!” shouted from in the distance. It is stabler (Meloni character) calling out her name with Benson replying “Elliot”.
Both Meloni and Hargitay have provided fans a sneak peak of the upcoming reunion by posting photos from set on social media over the last couple of months. Hargitay and showrunner Warren Leight teased an upcoming reunion between the two characters by posting a photo from a table read via zoom with Stabler and Benson on the same call with the rest of the cast. Leight ended his tweet with “Oh, and @Mariska and @Chris_Meloni” confirming both of them were on the call.


Photo Credit: Screenshot of Tweet from Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) on Twitter

The on-screen reunion between these two characters will play out during a special crossover of Law and Order SVU to introduce Meloni’s new show. The crossover event begins Thursday April 1, 2021 at 9 pm on NBC with Law and Order SVU and then the official premiere of Law and Order: Organized Crime immediately following at 10 PM.

Written By: Mike Stark | @MikeStarkCA


Artist on the Rise: Baby Queen

With the release of two new very open and authentic singles, “Raw Thoughts” and “These Drugs,” Baby Queen is making a name for herself. 

Are you ready to discover your next favorite artist? Well look no further, because it is going to be Baby Queen. Baby Queen is a stage name for Bella Latham, 23 year old South African-born, London based multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. She grew up in South Africa, started making music at the age of 10, but did not become serious about it till she was 16. At the age of 18, she decided to pack up her things and move to London to make a name for herself, and that is when she adopted the moniker Baby Queen. She immersed herself into the life of influencers and parties in London, and that is what inspires all of Baby Queen’s music, along with issues like internet addiction and mental health. She released her debut EP, Medicine, in November of 2020, that was filled with upbeat melodies and dazzling pop-hooks, with lyrics about her struggles with depression, body dysmorphia, and so much more. She describes her music as, “intelligent pop”, which I think fits perfectly for her sound. 

Even though it has only been a few months since the release of her debut EP, Baby Queen is back with two new very honest singles.

Raw Thoughts

Baby Queen started off the year strong, with her first release on January 13th, “Raw Thoughts”. Bella said that this is the only song that she wanted to start 2021 with, and I am so happy that she did. “Raw Thoughts” was inspired by the most horrendous, soul-destroying breakup that Bella went through in 2017. She felt like her world had ended, and was even more crushed when he started dating a beautiful model shortly after. Bella and her friends decided to have a night out in London, which turned out to be the wildest night of their lives. She woke up the next morning, feeling a mix of freedom and despair, and the pain of holding onto something that made her feel safe for so long, and wrote this song. The writing of “Raw Thoughts” made the weight on her shoulders disappear and she felt like she could breathe again. The lyrics are open and honest, while the sound is the polar opposite of that. The song goes through ups and downs sonically, with her intelligent pop influences still being heard throughout. The chorus is my favorite part of the song because of the progression mixed with the lyrics. The beat kicks in right at the angriest part of the song, bringing the emotions to new heights.


Photo Credit: Baby Queen Raw Thoughts Cover Art from In2une

The music video for “Raw Thoughts” is almost that of a coming of age movie that you watched as a kid, wishing one day that would be you. It has clips of Baby Queen and her friends having fun, both on a low quality camera so it feels like you are the one filming, mixed in with moments on a higher quality camera that feel more music video-esque. The whole video just feels like you are one of Bella’s friends along for the day having the time of your life. It really reminds me of my own friends and the stupid adventures we used to go on in the middle of the night because we were bored.

If I had to give a rating for the song and video, it would be a 10/10. I love songs that make you want to get up and dance, but lyrically are a lot darker. “Raw Thoughts” is the perfect name for this song, because that is exactly what the lyrics, raw thoughts. If you don’t get up and dance during the chorus of this song, then you need to re-evaluate your music taste and maybe get your ears checked.

These Drugs

I got to be on a Zoom call with Bella over a month ago, and we all got to hear “These Drugs” a few days before it was released. From the second I heard this song, I was blown away, and I absolutely fell in love with her music. She later on performed the song acoustically, which of course was even more beautiful. “These Drugs” takes a heavy topic like depression and drug abuse marrying it to a catchy song that will get stuck in your head. The verses are very calming and slower than the rest of the song, with the guitar and synths mixed in the back. The simplicity and slowness of the song allows the lyrics to be the center focus. While the chorus is very simple, it is so powerful, especially with the lyric, “Every time I take these drugs to pick me up. All I ever do is cry.” The bridge is my favorite part of the song, as she lets down her guard and completely opens up with her emotions.

This song was written when she was in a really bad place and believed she wasn’t a good person or she didn’t deserve good things. Bella said, “I think for so long, there were so many parts of myself that I was refusing to acknowledge or pay attention to, and when you ignore your own pain or refuse to face up to your mistakes, you can get yourself into a self-destructive cycle, which is ultimately what ended up happening. I think escapism is necessary, and we all find our escape in different places, but some are just healthier than others.” She felt uncomfortable with being so open and honest with her lyrics in this song, and knew she was taking a risk with releasing it, but she wanted to share this story with everyone. With this song, she wants people to know that if you can accept all parts of yourself, even the darkest ones, then you can learn to like or love yourself and you won’t feel that need to run away anymore.


Photo Credit: These Drugs Cover Art from Baby Queen

In addition to the single, she released an accompanying music video, which the idea came from the first line of the song : “I don’t wanna do drugs anymore. If you saw me through the eyes of a bathroom stall, your skin would crawl.” This is one of her favorite lyrics that she has ever written and was inspired by her obsession of only ever seeing somebody through the eyes of different bathroom stalls. She felt like she had the most euphoric moments of her life in those bathroom stalls, and wanted to recreate that. The video has four different bathroom stalls with four different energies and narratives. I don’t want to spoil too much, but one bathroom set has neon pink lighting, Barbie dolls hanging from the ceiling, and glitter and balloons covering the bathroom. You will have to watch the video to find out the rest of the beautiful sets.

I love this song so much, and even played it on my radio show, Everything But Country, in celebration of International Women’s Month. “These Drugs” is so raw, so honest, and a song I feel like I can relate to, and so can many other 20-somethings. It is about this battle you have with yourself in your head, and trying to escape that feeling by partying and taking drugs. Even though you have those euphoric moments in the bathroom stall, you still wake up the next morning with those same dark thoughts. That escape can only last so long. If I had to rate this song and video, they would both get 10/10. 

Written By: McCaeley O’Rourke

Feature Photo Source:  In2une Music


Album Review: Duke Deuce- Duke Nukem

The Memphis rapper delivers some fight club energy with this project.

Duke Deuce has been one of the frontrunners of Memphis’s emerging rap scene along with other artists like Blocboy JB and Young Dolph. As heard through songs like Crunk Ain’t Dead Remix and Crunk Ain’t Dead MOB, Deuce aims to evoke the rowdy vibe of 90s and 2000s Southern rap greats like Three 6 Mafia. Duke Nukem is no exception with Deuce delivering bangers on top of bangers that makes you want to throw someone through a wall.

The opening track Intro: Coming Out Hard is a strong reminder of Duke’s Memphis roots, with the title and funky sound reminiscent of the duo 8Ball & MJG and their 1992 album Comin’ Out Hard. Soldiers Steppin is arguably the album’s biggest highlight with its echoing drums and military-esque call and response rapping. Fell Up In The Club with A$AP Ferg continues the homage to Memphis with a sample of Paper Chaser by EP & Dow Jones. Gangsta Party brings energy into trap’s oversaturated trend of minimalistic piano-laden beats with a feature by Offset and Deuce’s almost sing-song delivery. Back 2 Back brings a vicious vibe with an icy beat and an even more aggressive presence by Deuce. One of the biggest strengths of the album is Duke’s presence as a rapper. Overall, the lyrics on this project are your typical gun-toting, sexual bravado, and gangbanging fare, but he elevates it through his energized delivery and ad-libs.

If there’s any weaknesses to this album, it’s simply because Duke doesn’t seek to provide anything groundbreaking to hip hop. However, this doesn’t necessarily indicate an overall weakness in his artistry. Army and Outro:Go 2 Hell are Duke’s foray into harmonized raps, but feels like tedious and odd fits compared to the album’s headbanging atmosphere. The simplistic  hook on Toot Toot with Young Dolph drags the song down despite some solid verses. Kirk with Mulatto is a solid track, but could feel repetitive with its piano-heavy production if compared with Gangsta Party.

Overall, Duke Nukem is an enjoyable project that serves a healthy heap of hardcore club bangers. If you need any music to rage out to, then this album is made for you.

Score: 7.5/10

Written by Kristian Gonzales

Picture Source: Medium