How to Handle the Astros’ Scandal

Let’s take a break from the fantasy and talk about a topic that’s blowing up the sports world…The Houston Astros Cheating Scandal. I believe I have a way Major League Baseball can and should handle it.

Before I get into that though, here’s a little backstory, just incase you’re not aware of what’s going on. The Houston Astros have been caught illegally video taping opposing catchers and telling their batters what types of pitches were coming, and when. Yes, it’s confusing, there’s a legal way to do it and an illegal way to do it. I think the line lies somewhere between looking around for signs during the game, and video-taping signs as they take place and telling the batter before the pitch is thrown.

If you’re not familiar with baseball, it’s a clear advantage for the batter to know how fast or slow the ball is coming towards them. While there’s no guarantees they’d hit the ball, these guys are pros, knowing what’s coming is like bowling with the guards up. You might not bowl a strike but you’re definitely going to knock some pins down. In a game like baseball, when you can win games 1-0, any advantage is huge. After the investigation found Astros personnel guilty, a list of punishments were given out. You can bet that everyone from fans to players and coaches have opinions about it, so naturally, we’d like to give ours.

The punishment was as follows.

The General Manager and Head Coach of the Astros were suspended for the 2020 season, and then subsequently fired. The organization has also been fined $5 million and lost 4 draft picks. It’s one of the heaviest punishments a team has received from the MLB. Coaches that moved on from the Astros to manage other teams have also been fired for their role in the scandal. Sorry, not fired, “mutually agreed to part ways.” Every team is doing what they can to distance themselves from this blemish on baseball history. Oddly enough, none of the punishments have reached the players who were a huge part of this scandal. It was the players that would bang their bats to let the batter know what type of pitch was coming. Sounds like a simple cheating process, but it involved more details than I’m willing to get into.

When the Chicago White Sox allegedly lost the 1919 World Series in exchange for money from a betting organization, all the players involved were banned from playing baseball and the Hall of Fame. Some of those players would’ve earned a spot in the Hall if not for the scandal. That punishment has not been lifted.

A similar punishment was doled out to Pete Rose when, as a coach, he allegedly made illegal sports bets. Even though there was no evidence that his betting altered any of his coaching decisions, he still is not allowed to be apart of baseball or the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose has the most hits of any baseball player, in the history of the MLB. That is, of course, if you don’t count Ichiro Suzuki’s Japan League hits. It’s an incredible achievement that is definitely Hall of Fame worthy, but because of his bets, he’s not allowed in.

Both of these punishments are deservedly harsh to the individuals involved, perhaps that’s because legal entities became involved. I’m not 100% sure, what I do know is, none of the Astros players who helped orchestrate and participated in the cheating have received any punishment, nor has there been any word that there will be a punishment. Even though there’s an uproar in the league, in my opinion, it’s too late to go after the players now. The Commissioner of the League has made his punishment, and to go back on it or change it would set a bad example. He made a mistake not involving the players in the first place and now he has to deal with the repercussions of that.

There will be repercussions, players are not happy about this and baseball has many unspoken rules. Break those rules and you’re going to get hit the next time you come up to bat. The Astros players broke a written rule that degrades the game and gave them an unfair advantage. If players get hit over bat flips, the Astros are definitely going to get hit for this. Make no mistake, right or wrong, these players have a target on their backs.

I can’t forsee a solution that protects the Astros, other players have been boiling under the surface since this news was released. Not much can be done at this point.

But, here’s what I’m proposing. I thought this was the way to go when the punishments were first handed out, but it didn’t happen. Here’s what should be done:

  • Maintain the Astros World Series win in the history books, albeit, with an asterisk. Some people want to see their title stripped away, but history is an important part of this game. They keep track of the most minute details and milestones. They should not get rid of this scandal, but learn from it and use it as a lesson to other coaches and players.
  • Take back the World Series rings from players and coaches on the 2017 team. Logistically there might be some headaches here, but I think it can get done. If they don’t send them back, fine them for it. They didn’t earn those, so they should not be allowed to keep them.
  • Take away the World Series banner that hangs in the Astros stadium, and take away any other mention of their World Series win in the building. The team should not be allowed to tout that title when it wasn’t earned.

These moves would cast a deserved shadow on the organization, the players, and coaches.

I believe that’s all the league can do at this point, at least until some players get to be chosen for the Hall of Fame. Carlos Beltran, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa will all be names to watch when their time comes. Well, they might be, baseball can be a fickle sport. Beltran and Altuve, however, have maintained and will maintain a career that could end up being Hall worthy. So, we’ll see if those players and coaches receive a ban similar to past rule breakers.

Let me know what you think, have you heard about this before? If not, what do you think about it? Should the players receive a ban from baseball like others before them, or would my punishment suffice?

Thank you for your time and remember, not all those who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

February 23rd

The boats are attacked at night near Sarn Gebir.


While sailing the Anduin, Aragorn led The Fellowship to the best of his ability. What he didn’t account for was how fast that river flowed, that mistake put them in an unforeseen bind.

As the river flows to Sarn Gebir it turns to rapids, and as fast as The Fellowship were moving they unknowingly approached the beginning of these rapids. Quickly, they fought the river to the shores. During their retreat, arrows from the opposite bank began whizzing past them. Orcs had tracked them down and began attacking.

As soon as they reach the bank Legolas unleashed his bow and notched an arrow, the cover of trees and darkness of night did not allow him to make a shot. As he was surveilling the opposite bank a shadow spread across the sky, Frodo felt a sudden cold and Legolas loosed his arrow at the figure. With a harsh croaking scream the shadow disappeared from the sky and the arrows from the opposite bank ceased.

The Fellowship would continue their journey, looking over their shoulder and keeping an eye out for any signs of the enemy.

Thank you for your time and remember, a light from the shadows shall spring.

– The Wandering One

Character of the Week

Ahsoka Tano

For many casual Star Wars fans you’ve probably never heard of Ahsoka until everyone started freaking out about some random voice in Episode 9. However, Clone Wars fans will remember and know this name well.

Ahsoka was brought into the Star Wars cannon through The Clone Wars animated movie, which helped set up The Clone Wars TV show.

I, for one, was skeptical of this new direction Star Wars was going and didn’t hop on the amazing ride until later in the series. Pretty much a season or two before Darth Maul’s return, man was I missing out.

For many fans of the series, Ahsoka is a stalwart of the Star Wars franchise, she started out as a rash decision-making, quick to anger, too smart for her own good character. Now-a-days she’s taken her training and turned into a wise and formidable Force user. Ahsoka used to be the Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, based off the description above one would be correct in assuming they were a perfect fit. Ahsoka had the opportunity to learn from one of the most raw talented Jedi of her age. She took that opportunity and made the most of it, learning from Anakin’s strengths and weaknesses. Anakin, of course, pushed her to reach the greatness he saw in her. So, when Ahsoka made a mistake it usually had severe consequences, but Anakin always had her back and was able to guide her through it. The show also allowed Ahsoka to interact with other Jedi like Obi-Wan, Plo Koon, Yoda, Mace Windu, and Luminara Unduli. They all were able to instill small amounts of knowledge for the young Padawan. You were really able to see the scope of investment the Jedi council had in Anakin and Ahsoka.

Now that The Clone Wars show is back, we couldn’t think of a better way to honor Ahsoka than to bestow upon her the, Of Blades and Kings Character of the Week title.

As always, thank you for your time and remember, not all those who wander are lost, the crownless again shall be king.

– The Wandering One

A Tribute to Christopher Tolkien

On January 16th, news hit the world that Christopher Tolkien had passed away at the age of 95.

The last defender of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works has left us and joined his father and mother in the great beyond. We wish you a safe journey, may the grey rain-curtain turn all to silver glass and roll back to behold white shores, and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

It’s easy to take for granted everything Christopher Tolkien did for the Tolkien Estate. I know in my early days of reading Tolkien, I certainly did not hold him as high up as I did his father. After all, they were his father’s stories, but that’s the thing about Christopher Tolkien. People forget or don’t know that he was a chief editor for Tolkien’s books. As a kid he was one of the first people to read through The Hobbit and help his father craft the story. He played that same role in his teens when his father was working on The Lord of the Rings. He also helped his father draw and coordinate maps for Middle-earth. As I said, it’s easy to forget how influential he was in creating the greatest story I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Tolkien invited his son to join The Inklings at the age of 21 (becoming the youngest member to do so), he even referred to Christopher as his “chief critic and collaborator,” and named him his literary executor in his will. When one reads Christopher’s work you’re reading the embodiment of Tolkien himself. We were blessed with more of Tolkien’s stories due to this son’s love and devotion for his father’s work. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are successful enough but the additions of The Silmarillian, The Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth Series, The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, and The Fall of Gondolin flesh out the details and history of Middle-earth. Please take a chance and read some of these tales. They’re Published under his father’s name but Christopher Tolkien put them together for us.

Christopher Tolkien could’ve easily published any of those works under his name but he didn’t. He dedicated his life to finishing his father’s work and providing readers with more content than could be digested.

As a Tolkien fan, I’m sad that I took this man for granted. As I got older I learned of his greatness, his love for his father, and began to fully appreciate all he did for the Tolkien Estate.

Professor Tolkien, the works of your father will never be more closely guarded with you not watching over them. As we step into this new age of the Tolkien Estate, I doubt we’ll have a leader who revered your father’s works as much as you do.

For that reason alone we should all say thank you for your time, your effort, and your heart. My world would be completely different having never read your works.

Thank you, Christopher Tolkien.

On This Day in Middle-earth

February 17th

Gwaihir bears Gandalf to Lórien.


One day! One day! The Fellowship missed Gandalf by one day! If you’ve been following along with us, on February 16th, the Fellowship departed Lórien and continued their journey.

Can you imagine how different things would have turned out if they waited one more day?

Gandalf would’ve been around during Frodo’s decision to leave the company, he would’ve been around when Boromir tried to take the Ring from Frodo, he would’ve been around when the Fellowship was frantically searching for Frodo, he would’ve been around when The Breaking of the Fellowship began. Who knows what his presence could’ve prevented.

But, does that mean they would’ve been better?

If you think about how this story plays out, many terrible things happen, but in the end everything seems to have a way of working out. Throwing Gandalf back into the mix this early might not have given Sauron the distraction of his presence, Gandalf might not have been around to prepare Gondor for battle, he certainly wouldn’t have been present during the Battle of Helm’s Deep and neither would Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli. At Of Blades and Kings, we lamented the fact that the company missed out on an opportunity for hope, but I think the story would’ve turned out for worse had the Fellowship waited one more day.

There would be no Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, or Pippin to with stand against Isengard and lead the Ents to attack. Without these characters’ influence, Rohan would’ve surely been wiped out and Gondor would’ve been left alone to fight Mordor and Isengard. I know if we look back on a lot of moments in our lives we can see how hindsight would’ve “helped,” but if we really think about it, everything tends to happen for a reason. Sometimes it happens so you can grow stronger as a person, sometimes things happen to reshape your perspective, and sometimes things happen to show us that we really can’t control anything. The hardest part is figuring out what that reason is. It helps me to remember the words of the Grey Pilgrim himself.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Let us know your thoughts about today’s event!

Thank you for your time, and remember, a light from the shadows shall spring.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

February 16th

Farewell to Lórien.

Gollum in hiding on the west bank observes the departure.


Two very unhappy events for The Fellowship, Lothlorien was a place of respite for the group. It was the one place they truly felt safe after leaving Rivendell, and when you take into consideration that they just left the dark Mines of Moria, this Elven Kingdom would be incredibly hard to leave.

Regardless, The Fellowship took an oath, and so they set out on February 16th to continue their journey.

Another unhappy event that they were not fully aware of, Gollum was continuing to follow them. Something he’s been doing since the Mines of Moria.

Let me know your thoughts about today’s events!

Thank you and remember, not all who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

February 15th

Frodo and Sam look into the Mirror of Galadriel.

Gandalf returns to life, and lies in a trance.


Two really important events when you think about what happens. Frodo and Sam both see terrible things in the Mirror of Galadriel, and yet, both of them decide to continue their journey instead of turning back. It’s a great feat of strength to see what lies ahead and behind and still maintain your course because you know it’s the right thing to do. Don’t be fooled by the movie, both Sam and Frodo faced a test here.

Sometimes the decision between doing the right thing, and what we want, is too difficult and we falter. It’s so easy to do what we want, but we can take away a lesson from Sam and Frodo here. To quote Gandalf, “Even the very wise cannot see all ends,” we don’t really know what lies ahead of us but if we maintain course and do the right thing, good things will follow. Sam and Frodo both went on to rid the world of darkness and bring peace to their homeland.

The second important event is that Gandalf is brought back to life. He’s back! And how interesting is it, that it happens on the same day when Sam and Frodo see a glimpse of the past, present, and future? To Sam and Frodo, everything seemed hopeless, they had no idea Gandalf was returning to give the world more hope. It’s a beautiful and comforting thing knowing Illuvatar was not done with him yet.

Let me know your thoughts about today’s events!

Thank you and remember, from the ashes a fire shall be woken.

– The Wandering One

Character of the Week

Aragorn

With a name like Of Blades and Kings we have to do our part and bring forth one of the greatest Kings in the fantasy genre.

Enter Aragorn, son of Arathorn and Gilrean, adopted son of Elrond, and rightful King of Men. He was a Chieftain in the Ranger’s of the North and spent his life preparing to reclaim the throne of Gondor. When we meet Aragorn in The Fellowship of the Ring he is ready to begin his rule, but being the good friend he is, on behalf of Gandalf, he decides to help a hobbit named Frodo Baggins and provide him safe passage to Rivendell.

During the Council of Elrond, it’s discovered that Frodo is carrying The One Ring of Sauron. An evil weapon used by Sauron to cover the world in darkness. When Frodo bravely states that he will take the Ring to Mordor to destroy it, Aragorn, without hesitation joins Frodo on his quest (followed by 7 others). At least, until they must part ways. Aragorn will be needed to unite and rally the race of Men against the evil to come.

Throughout the story Aragorn is the protector, turned leader, turned King. When all else goes wrong, he keeps a cool head and trudges through the mud. He leads by example, displays a proper balance of understanding and force, and shows compassion with a gentle heart.

Aragorn may not be the leader the world of Middle-earth looked for, but he’s the one they needed.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this and remember,

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

– The Wandering One

Why Hasn’t Anyone Made This Into A Movie Yet?

This happens everytime I read new books or have nostalgic memories from my childhood. I always find myself thinking, “Why has no one created movies or tv shows based off this yet?” And I usually follow up with, “Well if no one else will do it I’m going to.” Alas, the mind of a dreamer.

This is the inspiration for today’s writing. Books that should be turned into a movie or tv series.

The Dwarves

This book series may not be as well known to the world as it should be. Maybe I’m just a sucker for entertainment, but I could not put this book down. To be fair, I’ve only read the first book but it exceeded my expectations. The flow worked nicely and just when I was getting hooked on one story line I was abruptly cut off and forced into another. It was maddening at times, but I always found myself getting sucked into the next storyline, and the next, and the next until the book reached its ending. It sounds exhausting, but it was very enjoyable for me.

The Dwarves book series is written by German author Markus Heitz. It follows the tale of a young dwarf named Tungdil as he’s forced into an epic story he certainly didn’t ask for. I picked up this book because I wanted a fantasy story that focused on a race that usually plays the 2nd, or the 3rd fiddle. In Heist’s Dwarves, this lovely war craving race of beings are the heroes of their own story as they work to stop evil from spreading.

It has plenty of action, lore building, suspense, forming of teams, redemption stories, heart break, and always the occasional romance. You could easily break out the first book into 3 movies if you wanted and still have trouble fitting everything in.

It’s a great quick read and I couldn’t stop imagining this as a movie while I was working my way through it. I’d definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants an entertaining fantasy adventure that brings the Dwarven race into the forefront, finally!

The Magic Tree House

There’s a good chance if you were a kid in the 90’s The Magic Tree House books were, well, in your house. I remember these books were huge in our home and every time we found out there was a new one we had to have it and read it.

The series follows two siblings, Jack, the older brother, and Annie, the younger sister, who stumble across a mysterious tree house in the middle of the woods. Annie, the curious one, decides to go investigate, much to her brother’s chagrin. When inside the kids find books on various topics from dinosaurs, to pirates, to jungles, to animals, or historical figures. Once opened the kids get transported to the location, or time, where those books are taking place. Usually the pair has to work with characters in the books to help them solve a problem and get back home.

It’s certainly a delightful story and one that highlights the fun and imagination kids can obtain through reading. I see this working amazingly well as a TV series, I hope they look into it.

The Ranger’s Apprentice

To be fair, I’ve only read the first 5 books of this series so I don’t have complete knowledge of everything that plays out, but I sure did love reading them.

Will and Halt, what can I say about this dynamic mentor-apprentice relationship. Set in a fantasy medieval world, The Ranger’s Apprentice focuses on Will, a young boy in a kingdom that places teens into apprenticeships around the time they “come of age.”

The kids must line up and declare what profession they would like to apprentice, and eventually work in. Then, the mentor of that profession decides whether or not they accept them into their care. Will had no strengths that he could think of besides climbing and sneaking around, he was often bullied and felt like he never belonged. Unfortunately, for Will, he doesn’t get accepted into any apprenticeships. It isn’t until Halt discovers him that he finds his place.

Reading through these books at a young age I wished they would’ve made a movie and cast Vigo Mortensen as Halt, he would’ve been perfect for it. These stories are about redemption, finding strength within yourself, and a growing father-son relationship. They’re great stories and worthy of a TV series, at least the first 3 books are.

Redwall Series

Long time Brian Jaques fan here, I started reading these books in the 3rd or 4th grade and immediately fell in love with them. To me they were like The Lord of the Rings stories but with animals like mice, foxes, hares, rats, otters, and others. The reason why otters are my favorite animals today are because of the characters in these books. Taggerung! Taggerung is, of course, one of my favorite books but my all time favorite is Marlfox. Amazing story, great characters, and action with high stakes. I get hyped everytime I talk about it.

These are great stories that normally feature an unlikely hero being thrust into action and changing the course of history. Most have to go on epic quests or defend their homeland against an attack. It might sound repetitive, but it’s not, every story involves new characters and experiences that become a real treat as you enter this world again and again. Everyone loves an underdog story but combine that with the comedy, action, and good natured heart of the heroes there’s a recipe for success that’s waiting to be made.

A 23 book series may deter some studios from picking up this lofty investment but we really only need a few. Redwall is a must, Martin the Warrior, Mossflower, and Salamandastron. Those are great stories within the series that can set the groundwork for the remaining 19 books. After the groundwork has been laid let’s throw out my favorites Marlfox, Taggerung, The Legend of Luke, and Outcasts of Redwall.

If you’re sitting on the rights for these stories please reach out, because if you won’t make a move, I will.

Honorable Mentions

The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman

Another great book series by Brian Jaques following a mute boy and a four legged companion he befriends. It’s a tragic and beautiful story as these companions overcome their life’s hardships to travel the world and help those in need. 3 books, 3 movies, easy.

Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher

This story follows a young boy in the modern world who obtains a dragon egg and proceeds to try an hatch it. This is more of a kids movie, but, I loved this book as a kid and I believe it would be fun and entertaining to watch.

Young Merlin

I must confess, I never read these books, but my older brother did and absolutely loved them. He wasn’t much for reading, so if he enjoyed them I’m sure they’re very entertaining. The story follows its title’s name, a young Merlin goes on adventures before he became the greatest wizard of all time.

It’s a very entertaining premise, one that could be turned into movies. I recently bought the first 2 books in the series, perhaps we’ll do a read through together.

The Bailey School Kids

I grew up reading these books in school, they feature elementary school kids “discovering” sometimes horror, sometimes fantasy characters in their town. Each book features a new character who the kids think is a vampire, or werewolf, Frankenstein, an elf, even Hercules. The kids of Bailey School then spend the book trying to prove to that they’re right. They’re very entertaining books and a great way for kids to grow their imagination. This one definitely works as a TV show for me.

Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew

These both are book series I’ve never read, I did read a couple of Hardy Boys books but it wasn’t something I read religiously. And I’m aware they tried to make a Nancy Drew movie in the past. I just believe the premise behind both these books deserve their own TV series, much like the Series of Unfortunate Events received.

More Honorable Mentions

Matt Christopher’s Books

TV series involving kids battling through sports all while learning a strong life lesson? Sounds like a winner to me.

Secrets of Droon

An interesting kids book series that follows 3 friends as they’re transported to a new world of adventure.

The Littles

Follow along with this little family, literally, as they tackle the big world. I never got into The Borrowers but I did enjoy these books.


That went a little longer than initially planned and there’s certainly more books that deserve their own screen adaptation, or a second chance. Sadly, like all good things this post must come to an end. But not before my final points, so thank you for your time and patience as we continue.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, won’t creating movies and tv shows based off this content discourage viewers from reading the actual source material? Why spend the time reading when they can just watch it? As an avid supporter of reading, I know this is never the full way to digest a story. Books and movies are rarely ever the same, and movies seem to have a hard time depicting the character’s inner motivations accurately. After all, in books, you have the time to explain and expound on the reasons why your characters make their decisions. But all the same, I understand the concern, and I respectfully disagree. Many book to screen adaptations have sparked new generations of readers, most famously Harry Potter. There’s also the Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl is about to get its own movie, even Star Wars promotes reading their books to learn additional content. In my opinion, these book series are deserving of the screen spotlight, not to discourage reading but to spark new generations of readers and to honor the author’s work.

Thank you for your time, let us know of a book or book series that you think deserves its own movie/show.

Remember, not all those who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One

Welcome!

This is my first attempt to run and grow a blog series. Now be warned, I’m sure Of Blades and Kings will be filled with cliches and information everyone’s already talking about, but I’m hoping we can offer a different perspective, fun ideas, and ultimately create a community where you can discuss your opinions freely. We want everyone to feel like they’re apart of this blog as much as we are. That’s a challenge, but it’s one we want to accept.

As we go through this journey together, Of Blades and Kings will strive to touch on all things fantasy and science fiction. Like you can see across our home page we’re the new frontier for content and we want to keep it that way.

To give you a little background on me, I’m a huge The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars fans, I’ve read the books and watched the movies too many times to count and I’m struggling to know what to do with this knowledge. It’s not like they hand out degrees on this stuff (if you know of one please reach out). As I continue to read more content it’s become increasingly difficult for me to find someone who’s as passionate about these topics as I am. I may find a fan here or there but by the time I’ve finished ranting about books vs movies, old vs new, characters that should get their own spotlight I’m usually met with an “oh yeah that’s cool,” or “maybe,” but more commonly, “I don’t know.” And so begins my desperate attempt to find some like-minded, or like-passionate, people out there to talk to.

What Of Blades and Kings allows us to do is create a space where we can talk freely about things that we enjoy, and if you’re seeking that same place then, I hope you provide your own input as you see fit. If you’re worried about our content only reaching the 3 Kings (LOTR, HP, SW), as I like to call them, don’t fret because we’ll be talking about other movies, books, tv shows, video games, podcasts, art, anything, and everything.

Eventually, we’d like to work on some read throughs, create a podcast or video series, and provide some unique art work for you. This may be down the road for Of Blades and Kings, but we’re going to keep dreaming big and we hope you’ll follow along.

Thank you for your time and remember, not all those who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One