Connect with us


Colorado has recovered nearly nine in 10 of the jobs lost during early months of pandemic



Colorado has recovered nearly nine in 10 of the jobs lost during early months of pandemic

Colorado employers added enough jobs in December to help push the unemployment rate below 5% for the first time since the pandemic started, according to a monthly update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 5.1% in November to 4.8% in December, but it remains significantly higher than the U.S. adjusted rate of 3.9% and the low 2.8% rate seen in February 2020. Colorado’s rate translates into 154,300 people in the state who meet the official definition of unemployed, per a household survey.

Colorado employers added 9,000 nonfarm jobs between November and December on a seasonally adjusted basis while the number of jobs added between October and November was revised higher to 14,100 versus the 9,800 initially reported.

“Right now, the momentum is strong enough to win out over the headwinds but the combination of omicron, inflation, labor shortages and supply-chain disruptions have prevented the state from growing at a faster rate,” said Broomfield economist Gary Horvath. “Most likely, we can add interest rate hikes and a mid-term election to that list.”

The full brunt of the surge in omicron cases hadn’t appeared yet when the employment statistics were gathered in mid-December. The rapid and record-setting wave of infections likely didn’t put the brakes on the recovery, although it might have slowed hiring in leisure and hospitality, which added only 900 jobs month-over-month in December. For the year, that sector added 85,600 jobs, more than half the overall gain of 152,000 jobs in the state in 2021.

Job gains last month were strongest in professional and business service, which rose by 1,900 positions month-over-month. Financial activities rose by 1,200 positions while government employers added a net 1,100 jobs and manufacturing added 1,000. Educational and health services dropped 200 jobs in the month.

For all of 2021, the only sector that ended the year with fewer workers than it started with was construction, which shed 1,000 payroll jobs despite strong demand for both residential and commercial projects.


Benches clear again between White Sox, Yankees as Josh Donaldson drama continues



Benches clear again between White Sox, Yankees as Josh Donaldson drama continues

It’s becoming a true soap opera between Josh Donaldson and the White Sox. This time it was catcher Yasmani Grandal who took issue with the Yankees designated hitter as he walked to the plate in the fifth inning on Saturday. Grandal stood up and got in Donaldson’s face and was animatedly jawing at him. White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who Donaldson had collided with and had words with last week, ran in to join the heated conversation and the benches and bullpens cleared.

After Anderson and Donaldson were separated, third baseman Josh Harrison was yelling at Donaldson and then White Sox manager Tony La Russa went up to say something and was pulled away.

Two innings before, after the bottom of the third, as Donaldson was walking off the field, he and Anderson had heated words.

This is obviously a continuation of last week’s drama with Donaldson.

It began in the first inning that game when Gerrit Cole had the bases loaded with one out. The White Sox shortstop was diving back to third base on a pickoff attempt when Donaldson’s tag was hard and pushed him off the bag. After he was ruled safe by third base umpire Chris Guccione, Anderson gave Donaldson a shove as he got to his feet.

“We had an opportunity to get a pick right there and I thought we were gonna get him,” Donaldson said. “It’s a baseball play, going to make the tag, I leaned on him a little bit, not intentionally, but just going to make the tag. And obviously, he didn’t like that.

“Competitive guys, two guys competing, trying to make a play happen right there,” Donaldson continued.

Guccione quickly got between them, but the benches cleared, bullpens emptied and there were minutes of standing around and staring angrily at each other.

“Guccione said you pushed him off the base and I said I think you’re right. I did. I think Tim might have said something. I don’t know,” Donaldson said. “But I thought Chris made the right call, if he did come off the base. I don’t know if he did or not. I didn’t know we were trying to make a play.”

The White Sox were unhappy with Donaldson last season and that may have played a factor.

“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them about that. At the end of the day, I’m out there trying to make a baseball play, trying to get it out for our team,” Donaldson said. “That’s all I can do.”

Last year Donaldson allegedly said “Hands not sticky anymore?” to Lucas Giolito after homering off him. That was in regards to MLB’s crackdown on the illegal sticky substances that pitchers were using. Donaldson also called out Cole.

“He’s a f—ing pest. That’s kind of a classless move. If you’re gonna talk sh—, talk sh— to my face,” Giolito said at the time


Continue Reading


Bob Odenkirk winds down his journey as Saul Goodman



Bob Odenkirk winds down his journey as Saul Goodman

Bob Odenkirk doesn’t remember anything about his heart attack last summer — not the CPR, not the three defibrillator zaps that brought him back to life and nothing from the eight days he spent recuperating at Albuquerque Presbyterian Hospital. Even the week after he went home is sketchy. He vaguely recalls his wife, Naomi, and adult kids, Nate and Erin, being with him and time spent with his “Better Call Saul” co-stars (and Albuquerque roommates) Rhea Seehorn and Patrick Fabian.

But that’s it. No white light moment? I ask him. No encounters with St. Peter or a dearly departed pet?

“No,” Odenkirk answers. It’s a hot day, the Santa Ana winds are blowing and we’re sitting indoors at a poolside restaurant at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, sipping mojitos, far removed from the day Odenkirk collapsed on the set of “Better Call Saul.” I express a little disappointment that Odenkirk cannot offer me reassurance about an afterlife.

“You’re disappointed? I’m disappointed,” Odenkirk says. “I wanted to have that tale to tell. I wanted to tell you which of my relatives was first in line to greet me. I wanted to see Abraham Lincoln playing chess with Elvis Presley and get in on that game. I think Lincoln’s probably going to win. But only after Presley throws the board across the room and knocks Lincoln’s hat off.”

Odenkirk, 59, chuckles. But just a little. He thinks about his near-death experience often and, yes, on one level, he feels a bit cheated. If his heart is going to stop and he’s going to turn bluish-gray because he isn’t breathing and if they have to put the paddles on him to jump-start his pulse, he would have liked just one grand, existential moment of awareness and maybe a couple answers about what’s next. Instead, he just got a big blank space.

Of course, that’s not all he got. Odenkirk also received a monumental outpouring of love from complete strangers on social media — platforms he calls “this horrible thing that has degraded us” — and that he remembers. Odenkirk still can’t wrap his head around the kindness directed his way. He’s not a warm-and-fuzzy guy. His comedy career — Chicago club stages, writing for “Saturday Night Live,” creating and performing “Mr. Show” with David Cross, all chronicled in his excellent memoir “Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama” — has been predicated on the idea that the best humor comes from a place of anger. And that people are stupid. And that life is dumb.

And sure, audiences do treasure Saul Goodman, the fast-talking attorney who provided “Breaking Bad” with moments of comic relief and turned into a cautionary tale and tragic antihero on “Better Call Saul,” now in its final run of episodes.

“But Saul’s not a good guy,” Odenkirk says. “He’s very selfish. So I don’t think it’s that.”

This ignites a good-natured debate — it won’t be our last — about how “Better Call Saul” made us feel something deeper about Odenkirk’s character, introduced as Jimmy McGill, a man of many talents, one of which is scamming. He’s a scamp looking for approval, foolishly, it turns out, from his older brother, memorably played by Michael McKean. And when that relationship turns sour (to put it mildly), it fuels frustrations and resentments that Jimmy can’t leave behind.

Anyway, we feel something for the guy — and for the actor who has played him for a decade.

“I’ll allow that,” Odenkirk says. “But I don’t think it explains that outpouring of warmth. I think that came from COVID, which freaked everyone out and led to this feeling of ‘Can we just not have more bad things happen to us for a little while?’ And then, you know, I’m not a movie star. I’m just a guy who acts and works hard. I think people see me and think, ‘If I was an actor and had a great bit of luck, I’d be like him. He’s not a flashy guy. He’s not even particularly gifted. He just shows up and goes to work.’ People can relate to that. And maybe that provoked a certain amount of empathy.”

Odenkirk isn’t pushing false humility. He likes to analyze things — his memoir could be used as a textbook for understanding sketch comedy — and this is his genuine take on why the world joined hands last summer and wished him well. I think he’s wrong, but his reasoning is completely in character.

“Bob, being who he is, is always grappling with the subtext going through his head,” says his co-star and friend Seehorn. “Like, when he was writing the book, he had to wrap his mind around, ‘Well, who am I to be writing a bio?’ And I would tell him time and time again that he has this breadth of work and expertise in comedy and a million funny stories and he’s a great writer and has taken risks and tried things and they haven’t always worked out, but he keeps trying. That’s interesting. Who wouldn’t want to read about that?” She pauses. “It took some convincing.”

The book, which Odenkirk wrote over the course of a few years (“Oh, my gosh, the cursing you would hear from upstairs,” roommate Seehorn says, laughing. “I just thought he was going to light so many reams of paper on fire on a weekly basis”), ended up containing a fair amount of advice, along the lines of “if I can do it, so can you.” Odenkirk doesn’t consider himself some wise old sage (“old, maybe,” he says), but he does think people can learn things over the course of time and even change. That belief has been at the heart of the many arguments he’s had over the years with “Saul” creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan.

“My pitch to them is always: Sometimes people learn the right lessons from challenges and trauma,” Odenkirk says.

The first five seasons of the series have opened with a flash-forward of Saul, now going by the alias of Gene Takavic, living in Omaha, Nebraska, managing a shopping center Cinnabon and living a bleak, empty, low-key life. The last time we see Gene, he believes he’s been made and needs to change his identity and disappear again. And then he seems to see something and changes his mind.

“He’s looking back on his whole life and asking himself, ‘Do I react the way that my instinct tells me, the same instinct that has landed me in a f— mall in Omaha, making cinnamon rolls? Do I keep following that gut?’ He’s still Jimmy McGill. He’s still Saul Goodman. I promise you that. But in his growth, he’s asking himself, ‘Really? Is this all worth it?’ And you see in that moment that he can’t hold that s— in any longer. He needs to be himself.”

We’ve spent the good part of an hour dancing around what’s to come in the show’s remaining episodes. Odenkirk can’t tell me, and I don’t want to know. But without getting into specifics, it would seem that Odenkirk may have finally won his long-standing argument with the series’ writers, allowing Saul to step past his resentments.

“You know, I’ve had my bitterness and frustrations, but whenever I see that at play, especially in a choice I’m going to make, I say, ‘That’s bull—. That is not a way to move forward,’” Odenkirk says. “And with Saul, I’ve always told Peter and Vince that sometimes people learn the right lessons and not the most selfish, resentful lesson from a bad thing that’s happened to them. They become bigger and more gracious and not smaller and ground-down.

“This is not a spoiler, what I’m saying here,” Odenkirk adds. “It’s weird, because it sounds like maybe I’m pitching that Saul becomes this goodhearted, generous, caring person. I can’t tell you where he ends up, but it’s not like he has some revelation of humanity. I think he gets to …” Odenkirk pauses. “I think I’ve said all I can say. But I like where his journey ends. And I think you’ll like it too.”

Continue Reading


What are the Orioles getting in Adley Rutschsman? Recent top MLB prospects offer a clue.



What are the Orioles getting in Adley Rutschsman? Recent top MLB prospects offer a clue.

A little less than three years after being selected No. 1 overall by the Orioles in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft, catcher Adley Rutschman is heading to the big leagues.

Rutschman will make his highly anticipated major league debut Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards, giving the Orioles the young star they’ve been waiting for ever since executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias promised an “elite talent pipeline” at the beginning of 2019.

While nothing is guaranteed, Rutschman’s status as the top prospect in baseball means the Orioles are getting a potential franchise-changing player. Here’s a look back at some other recent top prospects, their journeys to the big leagues and how they’ve fared:

Kansas City Royals third baseman-shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.

Draft/international status: No. 2 overall pick in 2019 MLB draft

MLB debut: April 7, 2022, age 21

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, Baseball Prospectus

Taken one spot after Rutschman in the 2019 draft, Witt beat the Orioles catcher to the majors by more than a month.

A highly touted prospect out of Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas, the son of the former 16-year major league veteran rose quickly through the minors, recording 35 home runs and 29 steals across three levels in his first full professional season in 2021. In 61 games at Triple-A, he batted .295/.369/.570 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs before earning a spot on the Royals’ opening day roster for the 2022 season.

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco

Draft/international status: Signed as amateur free agent in 2017 out of Dominican Republic

MLB debut: June 22, 2021, age 20

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America

After dominating at Low-A and High-A in 2019, Franco and the rest of baseball’s top prospects lost a valuable season of development in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. He made the jump to Triple-A in 2021 anyway and thrived, batting .313/.372/.583 in 40 games before receiving a late-season call-up to the playoff-bound Rays.

After recording a .288/.347/.463 slash line with seven homers and 39 RBIs in 70 games with Tampa Bay, he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting behind teammate Randy Arozarena and Houston Astros right-hander Luis Garcia.

In November, Franco signed a $182 million, 11-year contract that includes a club option for the 2033 season.

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman-designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Draft/international status: Signed as amateur free agent in 2015 out of Montreal, Canada

MLB debut: April 26, 2019, age 20

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America

Thanks to a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Blue Jays secured enough bonus pool money to sign the teenage son of the Hall of Famer to a deal that included a $3.9 million signing bonus.

Buoyed by his father’s success and his own prestigious power, Guerrero was one of the most anticipated prospects in years, and he more than lived up to the billing in the pros. After batting .331/.414/.531 in 239 minor league games, he became an immediate star in the majors, slashing .272/.339/.433 with 15 homers and 39 RBIs in his rookie season.

In 2021, he led the majors with 48 home runs to finish second in AL Most Valuable Player voting behind Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani.

Los Angeles Angels pitcher-designated hitter Shohei Ohtani

Draft/international status: Signed with the Angels in 2017 out of Japan

MLB debut: March 19, 2018, age 23

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs

Ohtani’s time as a prospect was brief, but his talent was undeniable.

Choosing to begin his pro career in his native Japan, he became a five-time All-Star in Nippon Professional Baseball, excelling as both a right-handed pitcher and a left-handed slugger. After being posted by the Nippon-Ham Fighters at the end of the 2017 season, he was courted by the best teams in MLB before signing with the Angels.

Although he could have earned a megadeal had he waited two years for unrestricted free agency, he was subject to international signing rules, which capped his potential signing bonus at $3.557 million.

It didn’t take long for Ohtani to become one of the biggest stars in baseball, as he batted .285/.361/.564 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs while posting a 3.31 ERA with 11 strikeouts per nine innings in 2018 to earn AL Rookie of the Year honors. Three years later, he put together one of the best seasons in baseball history, slashing .257/.372/.592 with 46 home runs and 100 RBIs while going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA to be named AL MVP.

Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr.

Draft/international status: Signed as amateur free agent in 2014 out of Venezuela

MLB debut: April 25, 2018, age 20

Ranked No. 1 by: Baseball America

Signed as a teenager out of Venezuela, Acuña quickly established himself as a top prospect, climbing to Triple-A in his third minor league season. In 83 games at that level, he hit .309/.375/.464 with 10 home runs, 37 RBIs and 19 steals. Even though Acuña hit .432 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 16 spring training games in 2018, the Braves waited until after April 14 to call up their top prospect to retain a full season of service time.

It wasn’t long before Acuña became one of the best players in all of baseball, winning NL Rookie of the Year in 2018 and making the All-Star Game two of the next three seasons. He missed the Braves’ run to a World Series title last season after tearing his ACL in July, but he still earned an All-Star nod with a torrid first half that included a .283/.394/.596 slash line with 24 homers and 52 RBIs.

In April 2019, he signed an eight-year, $100 million deal with the Braves.

Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi

Draft/international status: No. 7 overall pick in 2015 MLB draft

Debut date: Aug. 2, 2016, age 22

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, Baseball America

After making a strong first impression at the end of the 2016 season, in which he hit .295/.359/.476 in 34 games with the Red Sox, Benintendi rose to the top of prospect rankings. He didn’t disappoint in his first full major league season, batting .271/.352/.424 with 20 home runs and 90 RBIs to finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Yankees star Aaron Judge. The next season, he played a key role in helping Boston win its second World Series title in five years.

But after struggling in 2019 and playing just 14 games in the shortened 2020 season because of injury, the Red Sox traded Benintendi to the Royals in a three-team deal with the Mets that landed Boston five players. He rebounded after the trade, posting a 2.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and winning Gold Glove honors in left field in 2021.

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager

Draft/international status: No. 18 overall pick in 2012 MLB draft

Debut date: Sept. 3, 2015, age 21

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, Baseball America

Drafted out of Northwest Cabarrus High School in Concord, North Carolina, Seager became an immediate star in the minors before earning his major league promotion at the end of the 2015 season. He left no doubt he was ready in his first 27 games with the Dodgers, batting .337/.425/.561 with four home runs and 17 RBIs.

In his first full major league campaign, Seager delivered, slashing .308/.365/.512 with 26 home runs and 72 RBIs to earn NL Rookie of the Year honors and finish third in NL MVP voting. He then became the star of the 2020 Dodgers’ run to their first championship since 1988, winning MVP honors in both the NLCS and World Series.

When he reached free agency at the end of the 2021 season as a two-time All-Star, he secured a franchise-record 10-year, $325 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

Chicago Cubs third baseman-left fielder Kris Bryant

Draft/international status: No. 2 overall pick in 2013 MLB draft

MLB debut: April 17, 2015, age 23

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, Baseball America

Like many top prospects before and after him, Bryant was kept in the minors for the first two weeks of the 2015 season so the Cubs could gain another year of club control with the budding star. When he finally did debut, he proved he was more than ready, batting .275/.369/.488 with 26 home runs and 99 RBIs to be named an All-Star and NL Rookie of the Year.

He followed that up with a truly dominant season, posting a slash line of .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs to win NL MVP honors and help the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908, breaking one of the longest championship droughts in sports history. He even recorded the final out on a grounder to third, flashing a smile during the play.

He remained one of the league’s best hitters over the next four seasons, but he and the Cubs couldn’t come to an agreement on a long-term extension. With his contract set to expire at the end of 2021, Chicago sent Bryant to the San Francisco Giants at the midseason trade deadline in exchange for two minor leaguers. After the Giants lost in the NLDS to the Dodgers, Bryant signed a seven-year, $182 million deal with the Colorado Rockies to be their starting left fielder.

Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton

Draft/international status: No. 2 overall pick in 2012 MLB draft

MLB debut: June 14, 2015, age 21

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, Baseball America

It took awhile for Buxton to deliver on his immense promise, but it wasn’t for a lack of talent. His status as a five-tool player coming out of Appling County High School in Georgia captivated scouts, and he remained near the top of most prospect lists before making his debut in 2015.

After a modest start to his big league career, he broke out in 2017, batting .253/.314/.413 with 16 home runs, 51 RBIs and 29 stolen bases while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.

Injuries kept him off the field for most of the next three years, but Buxton showed enough when he was healthy to earn a seven-year, $100 million extension with the Twins ahead of the 2021 season. He opened 2022 on fire to put himself in the early MVP discussion, but has since cooled off.

Texas Rangers infielder-outfielder Jurickson Profar

Draft/international status: Signed as amateur free agent in 2009 out of Curacao

MLB debut: Sept. 2, 2012, age 19

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, Baseball America

Profar is the most disappointing of these recent top prospects, perhaps serving as a cautionary tale of promoting a player too early. Profar was just 19 when he played his first major league game in 2012, and he struggled the following season to live up to the hype. He then spent two years in the minors, only to return to the big leagues and struggle again.

It wasn’t until he received regular playing time at second base in 2018 that his talent started to show, as he hit .254/.335/.458 with 20 home runs and 77 RBIs while posting a 1.7 WAR. The Rangers then traded him to the Athletics as part of a three-team deal with the Rays, and he spent just one season in Oakland before being dealt once again to the Padres.

He put together a strong 2020 season to earn a three-year, $21 million contract from the Padres and has since established himself as an everyday outfielder.

Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper

Draft/international status: No. 1 overall pick in 2010 MLB draft

MLB debut: April 28, 2012, age 19

Ranked No. 1 by: Baseball America

Perhaps no prospect over the past decade has received more hype than Harper, an electric talent from Las Vegas who graduated early from high school to attend Southern Nevada. There, he hit .443 with 31 home runs and 98 RBIs in just 66 games to earn the 2010 Golden Spikes Award, given to the best amateur baseball player in the country.

Harper quickly rose through the minors, reaching Double-A by the end of his first professional season. After 21 games at Triple-A, he was called up to the majors and became an instant star, batting .270/.340/.477 with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs to earn NL Rookie of the Year honors and his first All-Star Game appearance.

An All-Star in six of his seven seasons in Washington and the 2015 NL MVP, Harper became a free agent in 2018 and signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, the largest in MLB history at the time. While the Nationals went on to win the World Series in 2019, postseason success has eluded Harper, who has yet to reach the playoffs in Philadelphia.

He remains one of the biggest stars in the sport, winning MVP honors for the second time in 2021.

Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward

Draft/international status: No. 14 overall pick in 2007 MLB draft

MLB debut: April 5, 2010, age 20

Ranked No. 1 by: MLB Pipeline, Baseball America

It doesn’t get more memorable than Heyward’s debut. In his first major league at-bat, he turned on a 3-0 fastball from Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano and sent it 433 feet into the right field seats at a sold-out Turner Field. He finished that season slashing .277/.393/.456 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs, earning his first and only All-Star nod while finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Giants catcher Buster Posey.

Heyward was an above-average hitter and one of the league’s best defenders during his time in Atlanta, but he never became the superstar many expected him to be after that memorable first at-bat. He was traded to the Cardinals after the 2014 season and put up big numbers in St. Louis before reaching free agency and signing an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Cubs, playing Gold Glove-caliber defense to help the team end its 108-year title drought.

But after posting a 6.9 WAR season in his lone year in St. Louis, he’s never produced above a 2.4 WAR in Chicago, slipping to sub-replacement level in 2022.


Continue Reading