Getting to know the 2015 Miami Marlins

In the last 20 years, there have been four Major League baseball franchises that have won multiple World Series championships: New York Yankess (5), San Franciscio Giants (3), Boston Red Sox (2), and…. the Florida (now Miami) Marlins (2).

When you think about this franchise, your first thought is them dumping players and salaries, and being perhaps a bit of a “shady” organization. In 2013, Miami made a blockbuster deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that looked like a steal for the Jays. But in hindsight, maybe Miami was onto something. Here is that trade summary:

Toronto Traded:

shortstop Yunel Escobar,
infielder Adeiny Hechavarria,
right-handed pitcher Henderson Alvarez,
veteran backup catcher Jeff Mathis,
outfielder Jake Marisnick,
left-handed pitcher Justin Nicolino
and right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani.

for (Miami traded):

shortstop Jose Reyes,
right-hander Josh Johnson,
left-hander Mark Buehrle,
catcher John Buck,
infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio
and cash considerations.

What Miami did was dump over $200 million in guaranteed salary for Adeiny Hechavvaria (their current starting SS), Henderson Alvarez (now a key component in their rotation), some other castoffs and some cash. In turn, they took that money and used it on signing their key young prospects, especially Giancarlo Stanton, who they just signed for 13 years and $325 million.

The Miami fans were pissed, but it’s now turning out to be a Miami steal, and not the other way around. The way Miami had it figured in 2013/14 was they weren’t going to make the playoffs anyway with these players and their payrolls, so they might as well move them for some prospects and use that money to sign Stanton.

The Marlins build prospects, win a championship, and them dump their players for money. And then they start rebuilding again. They perhaps are not as dumb an organization as I originally judged and thought.

And what did Toronto get for that trade?: Josh Johnson was the key and he bombed as he got hurt from his opening start and didn’t do a thing (perhaps Miami knew that). John Buck was moved to pick up R.A. Dickie’s knuckleball catcher. Bonifacio lasted half a season as he couldn’t play on Toronto’s artificial surface. Buerhle is Buerhle and fine, but any team would rather have Alvarez instead. And Jose Reyes? He’s okay, but for all the money he’s making, Toronto could have 3 similair in production players on their payroll for the price of one Reyes.

So Miami is now ripe for the picking in getting that Wildcard spot. And what happens when the Marlins get a Wildcard spot? They win the World Series. 2 for 2 in playoff appearances.

This team should scare the rest of the National League. Young players and a terrific starting rotation.

Getting to know the 2015 New York Mets

I have a soft spot for the Mets. In 1986, when I was 10 years old, my dad woke me up from my deep sleep on the couch to witness the Boston Red Sox finally winning the World Series. The game was basically in the bag as the Sox were up by 2 runs with 2 out and no one on base in the final inning. But the Mets had other plans and won a miraculous game that made me a baseball fan for life. Then after I read the book “The Bad Guys Won” about the 1986 Mets and their “unique” players, I realized how good it was to be a child and see things in such black and white terms. I wished I never read that book, eventhough it was a very good read.

Then in 1998, as I finished up my last year in schooling in New York City, I attended more than a few Mets games in their September pennant drive. I might have been bad luck because they blew their division lead and lost every game I watched them play in person. To make matters worse, the old Shea Stadium was a dump. Sorry Mets fans, but it was. But Shea is now gone and replaced by an underrated new stadium.

Presently, the Mets haven’t had a winning season in 5 years, and that’s shocking considering that they garner so much revenue being in the most populated market in North America, plus having reaped on all that new stadium money every team gets for the first few years. It’s that new stadium smell that drives new fans to the ballpark! You can only chock up their losing ways to mismanagement.

That will change in 2015 as the Mets have a solid pitching rotation to go with their average lineup. They just need some more power in their lineup to push them ahead, which they’ll get in a mid-season trade for one of their many pitching prospects.

They won’t win the division, but they will be battling in that Wild Card game. And that’s good for baseball. As the Yankees swing downward, the Mets go up. Baseball is always better when they have a winning New York team.

Review of Al Michaels Book: You Can’t Make This Up

While on my vacation, I quickly ready through Al Michaels book on his nostalgic viewpoints on the landscape of Sports. He’s had a front row seat to tons of events, including some of the greatest Super Bowls every played (including the one on Sunday where he called an almost perfect broadcasting game), and of course his iconic call of “Do you believe in miracles” when the USA hockey team beat the Soviets in the greatest sports upset of all-time in 1980.

What I personally remember about Michaels as a kid was him calling baseball, mainly the post-season games he covered. The 1986 ALCS is something I’ll always remember as a 10 year old kid who was beginning to fall in love with the sport. Game #5 of that series was as shocking as they come. It was Thanksgiving in Canada and the male grownups in my family didn’t want to start dinner until the game was over in the 9th when the Angels were up against the Red Sox 5-2. Well craziness happened that inning as the Red Sox tied it up and they went to extra innings. My uncled moved the television to the dining room and we actually watched the rest of the game while eating our holiday dinner, much to the anger of my mother and grandmother. For me, I loved it, and it was the birth of me loving the game and the broadcasters calling it like Michaels did that day.

He talks about that game in detail and many other games and moments in his life, including his friendship with OJ Simpson that turned sour after a double murder occurred. It was a fun read and for Michaels, he got his story down so his legacy stays intact whenever he passes away.

I really wished Michaels digged deeper with this book and talked about more about his personal life and the parallels of it in relation to his job. I really wanted to know who he was and what made him tic. But he wasn’t going there and I really don’t blame him. There’s really no reason for him to. His broadcasting persona and his real life persona could be the same person and that’s what he’s trying to say. I didn’t buy it but I still enjoyed reading his perspective on all the great games he called.

    * * * * *

Matthew Toffolo

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes, Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Go to and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.

Top 10 Football Movies of the 2000s (2000 to Present)

Football Movies. You wonder why Hollywood doesn’t make more of them considering the sport to so popular in comparison to the other sports. The only concern is that these movies don’t play well overseas because they only play football in North America and the rest of the world doesn’t know what the heck is going on when they watch it.

In fact, the best interpretation of football in the arts and entertainment industry has been on television. The TV version of Friday Night Lights (based on the movie, which was based on the award winning novel) is easily the best football themed portrayal of this century. But, this is the list of the top 10 football movies, and here we go.

See the full list here, including reviews of each film, plus a football movie list year by year:

#10 – The Game Plan, 2007

Basically a kids movie starring The Rock. It kind of works in moments. And I truly believe Dwayne Johnson as a quarterback.

#9 – Two For the Money, 2005

Total disappointment in relation to the potential this movie had. We still need a solid movie about football gambling. Pretend you can’t gamble on football games as the fine would be assassination if you’re caught. Football would cease to exist in 5 years. Gambling is what holds the game together. People can argue that point all they want but it’s true.

#8 – Radio, 2003

“Cuba Gooding Jr. went full retard” (quote from Tropic Thunder) and the movie still works because Ed Harris playing the coach is so good. This is a realistic sports movie. You can argue a little wonky at times, but we need movies like this more than most that come out of Hollywood.

#7 – The Replacements, 2000

A fun movie to watch in the cinema if you’re on a date or hanging with friends when it came out. A little silly but Gene Hackman as the coach is terrific and we all love rooting for the underdog, who is Keanu Reeves in this film!

#6 – Gridiron Gang, 2006

The Rock stars in two football films that make this list. Youth Prison guard teaches teenagers how to play football and they become better men. The NFL probably LOVES this film. Okay message delivered on the “based on a true story” film but a lot of this film seems made up.

#5 – Friday Night Lights, 2004

You need this film first to get the TV show, so that’s why it’s so high on the list. I personally felt that director Peter Berg moved the camera way too much, but what do I know? People liked it.

#4 – Remember The Titans, 2000

Two solid, if not spectacular performances by Denzel Washington and Will Patton as two coaches trying to find the middle ground in a trying Civil Rights era. This film really works.

#3 – Big Fan, 2009

Perhaps one of the most underrated sports movies of all-time. Independent film about a guy who loves the New York Giants so much, he can’t see the forest through the trees even after the star player on the team beats him up for no apparent reason. It’s message is a metaphor for politics: Why do we vote for certain politicians even after they keep beating us up? Watch this great film if you haven’t already.

#2 – The Blind Side, 2009

I cried like a little puppy during and after this film. It got to me how this mother would do anything for this man-child. I wished she was my mom!

#1 – We Are Marshall, 2006

How do you get over mass death? That’s what this film is really about. You need to keep going no matter how much you just want to roll up into a ball and let the world pass you by. And this film tries to tell us how to get back up even after all is lost.

That’s my list. Enjoy

Matthew Toffolo

WILDsound’s Top 100 Comedy Movies of All-Time

“I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” — Ron Burgundy

Late last year the WILDsound organizers came out with the list of the 100 Greatest Comedy Movies of All-Time. And to make things even funner, there is a link review to each page on the site as well:

    Of course, any list like this is going to stir up a little debate. But the equation for coming up with the list is simple:

    1) Movie stands the test of time. Is funny when it came out. It’s funny now. And it’s going to be funny in 50 years.

    2) Has the best story within the guidelines of it being funny.

    3) Trendsetting. Movie that shook up the genre and set it on a different course. Future films have “borrowed” the plot points and situation-al comedy.

    4) Pop-Culture influence. When you keep hearing quotes from the film years after it came out, you know you can call is a masterpiece.

    5) Emotional moments. The film is funny of course, but there are also moments that make you feel deeply as well.

Put it all together and ANCHORMAN is the greatest comedy movie of all-time. And DR. STRANGELOVE is a very close second.

But take a look at the list and see if you agree or disagree. I’m sure many of your favorites are on the list, but many are not. There are 1000s of great comedies made, but we only could list 100.




Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned? – General “Buck” Turgidson

A Black Comedy? The BIRDMAN Text Message Review

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Beautiful to watch and listen to with an amazing cast. It was the movie equivalent of the perfect outfit. Good looking, tailored to perfection and composed of the best quality fabric. 
– My friend AK on her reactions to seeing Birdman

Matthew Toffolo to WB: Did you like the Bird?

WB: I had a complicated response to it. I know it was a comedy but I found it sad and unsettling.

MT: That’s not a bad thing. I guess it’s categorized as a comedy, but I don’t think when people talk about the movie the first thing they are going to say it how funny it was! There are 10 others things they’ll say first before they say that it was funny.

WB: But it’s a satire and it was a bit broad for my taste. For example, I thought the critic was over the top.

MT: Perhaps because you are a successful actor yourself that it was too close to home.

WB: No. It did get under my skin though. The actors were great.

MT: There are definitely a lot of moving parts to this film. The drum only soundtrack. The constant stylized moving camera. The fantasy elements. The intense drama. The themes of who are you more: The person you pretend to be, OR, the person who really are inside of yourself. And of course the theme of attempting to connect with others so you can see yourself. Really yourself! As that’s perhaps the only way you can. And being shined on stages with 100s watching you, you’re trying to connect with many all at the same time.

Friend AM: The film made you feel many things all at the same time. It’s great.

MT: I guess there’s something different in it for everyone.

AM: It’s hard for me to imagine someone not liking this film. The director is great.

MT to AM and WB: Remember we saw his (Alejandro González Iñárritu) first film Amores Perros (aka – the Dog trilogy movie). I think Birdman is his film linear film.

AM: It is. Loved Amores Perros. Also loved 21 Grams. Think this is his best film. What a great director!

WB: He’s definitely that.

MT: Give any director in the world this script and it won’t come close to this movie. He’s got an unique point of view. Birdman is a great movie.

But, have you checked out the DP of this film Emmanuel Lubezki? The guy is brilliant. He’s the personal DP for Alfonso Cuarón (he won Oscar for Gravity last year), Terence Malick, and Inarritu. WOW! He’s also DP’d for the Coen Brothers, Mike Nichols, and Tim Burton. PLUS, Gen-X blast from the past – he was the Cinematographer on Reality Bites! What are career! Love to have a chat with him.

AM: He’s going to win back to back Cinematography Oscars because Birdman will win hands down.

Bill Simmons’ Book of Basketball 5 Years Later

So I finally read the epic, gigantic, 750 page book on basketball by Bill Simmons, almost to the date when it debuted before the 2009 NBA season. I realized half-way through reading it that I was having Simmons podcast withdrawal and kind of missed the guy when he was suspended for no apparent reason by ESPN for 3 weeks. So to get my Simmons fix, I finally read his book – which took me the exact amount of time his suspension was. It was my elliptical exercise bike book to read and I burned a lot of calories sifting through this monster!

I guess there was a reason he was suspended from ESPN, and that was because he called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar on a podcast and claimed he tried to cover up the Ray Rice elevator video. His podcasts don’t really fall under the journalistic umbrella as he was just spit-balling with Cousin Sal from Jimmy Kimmel’s show. And the amazing part about that podcast was that ESPN was promoting it on their PODCASTS page the entire 3 weeks he was gone. So they were making money for the exact thing they suspended him for because it didn’t fall under their “moral” code. That’s like a museum announcing it was removing a painting from their showcase because it was to profane, but still showing the painting at the museum because they knew that exact painting was causing more people to see it! It made no sense unless you’re a smart businessman, which ESPN is.

So, back to the book. You can argue that it’s a little long and Simmons has never met an editor he listened to because all of his podcasts and columns are a little on the long side. That’s what makes him, him. Ask Martin Scorsese to make a film under 2 hours – he can’t do it. And Simmons HAD to write a book on his favorite sport that was as long as War and Peace.

The opening chapter is a delight as it talks about his love for the game and his love for his father and how the two kept merging and overlapping through his development years. It makes total sense how he became the iconic person he became – a little Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers” feel to it (which of course is fitting because Gladwell wrote the intro of this book).  And his footnotes are both insightful, pure genius for adding in, and very funny.

It was interesting to read his thoughts on LeBron James in 2009 as a lot has happened to him in the last 5 years. He’s come full circle in that time with two rings and hatred from the nation (and back to love). I think Simmons now has to write a sequel to this book as soon as LeBron retires because he’ll move up in his rankings to either #1 or #2 of the greatest basketball players.

In summary, I love reading about things that people are obviously passionate about. And Simmons LOVES basketball. His passion is contagious and it has already had me watching more basketball that I normally would.

Now he’s back from his suspension and I’ll enjoy his articles.