Halloween candy, ranked

Halloween candy, ranked

In sadly predictable fashion, my usual area of expertise -- the Philadelphia Union -- spent the last two weeks of the season totally imploding when they had their playoff destiny all to themselves. The MLS playoffs kicked off Wednesday night without the Union (you're going to cringe when I say this, but I'm predicting the New York Red Bulls will beat the Galaxy for their first-ever title). This means the 2012 Sixers are still the city's most recent playoff team (although this year's Sixers are going 82-0 now, so we have that to look forward to).

We'll get to the Union's offseason needs (many), plans (who the heck knows with this team) and dreams in the weeks to come.

But with today being Halloween, and in deference to Enrico's Pulitzer Prize-nominated post from earlier this month -- Tastykakes, ranked -- I offer the Top 5 Halloween Candies for your perusal, ridicule and praise. If the NSA is reading this (and I know you are), just turn this into a law and demand that everyone MUST hand out one or more of the Top 5 items to qualify for Obamacare.

A few rules:

  • We're sticking to so-called "fun sized" candy. Of course, all rules below go out the window when Mrs. Freeman up the street gives out full-size Snickers.
  • We're ignoring people who try to give out "alternative" options like apples, toothbrushes and Goldfish (the cracker, not the animal). Because, really, those people don't deserve to be mentioned on a fine website like this.
  • Please show some effort if you want candy. You can trick-or-treat past the age of 12. But holding your phone in front of your face and calling yourself an "obnoxious teenager" doesn't qualify as a costume. I'm a dad now who made a homemade costume this year. And I've never been a Halloween person. So the least you can do is show some initiative.

Now, onto the important stuff. We'll go from the bottom up.

154. Candy Corn

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? That ish is gross.

98. Starburst

I love Starburst. I do. I pick up a pack quite often on an impulse run through the Wawa. But the little Halloween packs are horrendous. First, there's only two pieces in each pack. Second, there's always the chance you'll get two yellows or two oranges and then you'll want to stab someone with your plastic trident. Third, if you don't eat them on the walk to the next house, you'll open them later to find them stale enough to rip your teeth out.

87. Smarties

Another candy I like at times. But come on, lady at the top of the hill, you have 54 steps to reach the front door. Show some damn effort.

32. M&Ms*

Again, a quality candy. But totally disappointing in the fun size packs. This is also what my wife bought for us to hand out, so you might want to skip our house (*NOTE: If they make the Pretzel M&Ms in a fun size and you find them, put up the bat signal and I'll be over right away. Those things are the No. 1 jawn).

... Now, for the good stuff ...

6. Nerds

Totally underrated, and just missing out on the Top 5. Lots of candy in a little box. Plus you get to tip it back and dump it in your mouth LIKE A BOSS. Don't sleep on the Nerds.

5. Skittles

The only non-chocolate item in the top 5. Who doesn't love Skittles? They're sweet, they're delicious and they provide a nice changeup from the chocolate-heavy pillowcase/bag/basket/oversized hoodie you're toting around the neighborhood. All the flavors are equally excellent, which is not something I can say about my beloved Sweettarts which have been ruined ever since the green ones went from lime to sour apple because it poisons the whole pack and makes every single one taste like freaking sour apple which is horrendous WHY DID YOU DO THIS!?!?

4. Milky Way

Often forgotten in the world of Snickers and Reese Cups, I prefer the caramel/nougat combo over bars with peanuts or peanut butter. Why? No, I'm not allergic to peanuts. I love peanut butter. I love chocolate. But I'm THAT GUY who absolutely, positively despises peanut butter and chocolate together (I assume Obama and the NSA are coming to get me now).

3. 3 Musketeers

My second-favorite childhood candy of all time (see Sweettart rant above) is a Halloween staple. It's underrated in the candy world, getting pushed aside by Snickers (eww) and Milky Way. A solid two bites in every fun size bar, and even better if you freeze it and then throw it against the concrete before enjoying. Plus, how do they make that awesome fluffy filling? Really, I want to learn.

2. Twix

They're chocolaty, crunchy, caramel-y. They're delicious. Maybe it's just the crunch -- which forces a more active eating experience -- but you feel like you get a lot more for your doorbell-ringing effort. Enough chews to savor it before digging back in the bag for more. The only way this could be better is if they brought back the old Cookies N' Cream variety from back in the day (seriously, there's a real petition -- just digi-sign it). Oh, nostalgia.

1. Kit-Kat

The best chocolate candy money can buy. The right amount of crunch mixed with a perfect amount of sweet. Just melty enough to get on your fingers but not melty enough to be gross. Plus, the fact that you can break it into two pieces before eating makes you feel like you're doubling your haul. There really should be a live Google map of houses giving away Kit-Kats.

Enrico's note: the views in this post are those of the author alone. Do not hold any ill will against other members of this site because he didn't include Snickers. You're gonna rank Smarties higher than Starburst? Did someone lace your candy?

Best of MLB: Mets win in 10th on Yoenis Cespedes' walk-off HR

Best of MLB: Mets win in 10th on Yoenis Cespedes' walk-off HR

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes homered with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the New York Mets a 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins in the first game of a pivotal series between National League playoff contenders Monday night.

Jose Reyes dashed home to score the tying run in the eighth on a dangerous collision at the plate, and the Mets pulled even with Miami for second place in the NL East. With its seventh victory in nine games, New York remained 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the league's second wild card.

It was an exhilarating win for the Mets, who appeared to be at a major disadvantage on the mound in the opener of a four-game set. New York was shut out for six innings by Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, but Mets starter Rafael Montero also put up zeros in his first major league start since April 2015 (see full recap).

Martinez's 13 K's, throwing error give Cards win
MILWAUKEE -- Stephen Piscotty scored on a throwing error in the ninth inning after Carlos Martinez struck out a career-high 13, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 on Monday night.

With two on and nobody out in the ninth, Yadier Molina dropped down a bunt. Reliever Tyler Thornburg (5-5) threw to third base for a force out, but Jonathan Villar's throw to first was wild, allowing Piscotty to score.

After Martinez held Milwaukee to one run over six innings, the Brewers scored four runs in the seventh to take a 5-3 lead. St. Louis tied it in the eighth on a two-run homer by Randal Grichuk off Corey Knebel.

Seung Hwan Oh pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save. Miguel Socolovich (1-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up his first win.

Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong each hit solo home runs for the Cardinals (see full recap).

Royals keep rolling, take down Yankees
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dillon Gee kept the Royals' momentum going with six sharp innings, Alcides Escobar hit a three-run homer and Kansas City beat the New York Yankees 8-5 on Monday night to open their three-game set.

Gee (6-7) allowed only four hits and a run in the latest impressive start by the Royals' staff, helping the reigning World Series champions win for the 18th time in 22 games.

Lorenzo Cain, Kendrys Morales and Alex Gordon drove in runs off Michael Pineda (6-11) during a five-hit salvo in the first inning. Pineda then retired 15 straight before getting into a two-on, no-outs jam in the seventh that led to Escobar's homer off reliever Blake Parker.

Starlin Castro drove in two runs for the Yankees, the second in a four-run eighth inning that forced Kansas City manager Ned Yost to summon fill-in closer Kelvin Herrera (see full recap).

Jake Thompson tweaks delivery, offers ray of light on a dark night for Phillies

Jake Thompson tweaks delivery, offers ray of light on a dark night for Phillies

BOX SCORE

On the surface, this was not a very positive night at the ballpark for the Phillies. They had just four hits and lost, 4-0, to the Washington Nationals in front of the smallest crowd of the season – 16,056, announced – at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
 
But lest we forget, this is a rebuilding season and in a rebuilding season the final score isn’t always paramount. So on an otherwise dark Monday night there was a ray of light for the Phillies.
 
Jake Thompson had the kind of start those who traded for him a year ago and those who watched him pitch this season in Triple A said he was capable of having.
 
“It was great to see,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “That’s just what he needed. He needed a real positive outing. I think this will do wonders for him down the road.”
 
Thompson held the NL East-leading Nationals to two runs over seven innings, his longest of five outings in the majors.
 
“He looked like the pitcher that was advertised,” Mackanin said.
 
Thompson’s first four outings in the majors were poor. He was tagged for 22 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He walked 13 and struck out 13. Those results were starkly different than his last 11 starts in Triple A. He went 8-0 in those 11 starts and recorded a 1.21 ERA while allowing just 10 earned runs in 74 1/3 innings. He gave up just 52 hits and 18 walks over that span while striking out 42.
 
After watching Thompson for four starts, pitching coach Bob McClure decided to suggest some delivery changes to the 22-year-old right-hander.
 
Players are often receptive to making adjustments when they are struggling. Thompson incorporated the changes McClure suggested and found success Monday night.
 
“We just tried to simplify his delivery so he could make better quality pitches,” McClure said.
 
In his old delivery, Thompson started off facing home plate. He pulled his arms over his head, turned and lifted his front leg before delivering the ball. McClure eliminated many of the moving parts. No more lifting the arms above the head. No more body turn. Thompson started his delivery with his body already turned, like a modified stretch. He simply lifted his leg, let his body go down the slope and fired. The new delivery slowed everything down for him. He looked poised, especially after the first couple of innings, and started attacking hitters with first-pitch strikes like a confident pitcher does.
 
Considering he only worked on the new delivery in two short bullpen sessions Saturday and Sunday in New York, Thompson was a pretty quick study.
 
“It was huge,” he said of the new delivery. “Just on the physical side of things, I’m in a better position to make pitches. I took away some moving parts to make it easier on myself.”
 
Thompson allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out three. All three strikeouts came in his final inning of work. He struck out leadoff man Trea Turner with two men on base with a slider to end the inning.
 
That’s another adjustment McClure made. He had Thompson stop throwing his curveball and focus on his fastball, slider, cutter and changeup.
 
Both of the runs that Thompson allowed came in the first inning on a solo homer by Jayson Werth and an RBI single by Anthony Rendon. After that, Thompson recorded six straight shutout innings. His teammates didn’t support him offensively. Washington right-hander Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings. He is 3-0 and has allowed just two runs in 28 innings in four starts against the Phils this season.
 
Thompson needed a start like this for a couple of reasons. First, if he had been pounded again, Phillies officials might have had to consider taking him out of the rotation just so his confidence didn’t get ruined.
 
And second, with Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin out with injuries, the team needed to know something was going right for one of the young pitchers being groomed for the future. Vince Velasquez, another young arm, had three poor outings before pitching well in New York on Sunday.
 
“This will help his confidence a lot,” McClure said.
 
McClure then offered a little glimpse into Thompson’s competitive character.
 
“He seemed pissed that he wasn't pitching well,” McClure said. “But he wasn't deflated. We felt like we should keep starting him because he didn't seem beaten. He seems like a tough kid mentally. We felt like once he started making better quality pitches, he'd get better results.”
 
It happened Monday, a ray of light on an otherwise dark night.

Instant Replay: Nationals 4, Phillies 0

Instant Replay: Nationals 4, Phillies 0

BOX SCORE

The Phillies were beaten, 4-0, by the Washington Nationals on Monday night, but wins and losses don’t matter as much as development in a rebuilding season, so there was a bright spot: Rookie right-hander Jake Thompson finally broke through with a good start in holding the Nats to two runs over seven innings.
 
The Phillies’ offense was not good. It produced just four hits on the night.
 
Washington got all the offense it needed when Jayson Werth, the second batter of the game, homered off Thompson in the first inning.

The Nats lead the NL East at 76-55. The Phils are 60-71.
 
The crowd of 16,056 was the smallest of the season at Citizens Bank Park.
 
Starting pitching report
Thompson had struggled in four starts — 9.78 ERA — since arriving from Triple A and there were questions whether he’d even make this start. But he put together a nice outing. After giving up two runs in the first inning, he pitched six straight scoreless innings, finishing his outing with three strikeouts, the last of which came on his 111th pitch when he froze Trea Turner with a breaking ball with two men on base. Thompson allowed seven hits — four in the first three innings — and walked one.
 
Washington right-hander Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings to improve to 14-7. He held the Phils to four hits and a walk and struck out five.

Roark is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA (two earned runs in 28 innings) in four starts against the Phillies this season. The Nats are 15-4 in his last 19 starts.

Bullpen report
Frank Herrmann gave up two runs in the ninth.
 
At the plate
Odubel Herrera had two of the Phillies’ four hits.
 
Werth’s homer in the top of the first was his 19th. Anthony Rendon drove in a run with a two-out single in that inning. Clint Robinson and Turner had RBI singles in the ninth to push the Nats’ lead to 4-0.
 
ICYMI
Herrera is staying in center field for the remainder of the season, Pete Mackanin said (see story).
 
Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Jerad Eickhoff (9-12, 3.87) pitches against Washington right-hander Max Scherzer (14-7, 2.92).