Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Kid Stays in the Picture

Last Sunday, I went to the Mariners/White Sox game. Ken Griffey did not start, but in the 9th inning, the Mariners were trailing 3-2, with 2 out and 2 men on base. Griffey came in to pinch-hit with the game on the line, and for the next 64 seconds, excitement was in the air!

Through 16 games, Griffey is batting .226. A double on opening day has been his only extra-base hit thus far. Predictably, Griffey's lack of production is becoming a driving force among those covering the Mariners. While some writers offer theories in regards to fundamentals, others simply wonder how much a 40-year-old with several surgeries behind him could have left in his tank.  But of course, any time an aging superstar starts to show his age, you can be assured that some misguided rube will champion the self-righteous position of the fan who considers "few things sadder" that witnessing such a legend "embarass" himself.  These were the same whiners who projected their own self-hatred onto a fat, jump-shooting Michael Jordan in a when he dared to put on a Wizards uniform past his prime.  Really, you consider it painful that a guy who used to get 3 hits per 10 at bats now only gets 2 hits per 10 at bats?  Go fuck yourself.  

The truth of the matter is that 40-year-old baseball players are SUPPOSED to have terrible numbers.  If there is one major fallout of the steroid era, it is the fact the two most famous cheaters became the most famous specifically because they cheated when they were old.  Bonds and Clemens ruined the curve for older players, because instead of their bodies breaking down like they were supposed to, each pumped themselves full of every possible hormone, and were rewarded with multiple MVPs and Cy Youngs.  

In the final season of his career, 43-year-old Willie Mays batted .211.
In the final season of his career, 42-year-old Hank Aaron batted .229.
In the final season of his career, 40-year-old Frank Robinson batted .224.
In the final season of his career, 42-year-old Stan Musial batted .255 (his career avg. was still .331.)
In the final season of his career, 40-year-old BABE FUCKING RUTH batted .181.

Griffey is one of the very few players in baseball whose legacy has been helped by the steroids scandal.  After all, the standard-issue excuse has been that players used them to recover quickly from injuries, and as every Reds fan will testify, Griffey was never one to be accused of coming back too quickly from pain.

If anything, baseball should be celebrating Ken Griffey and his .220-esque average.  In a sport that gets wrapped up in it's on sanctimonious nostalgia far too easily, what better way to market its return to Americana values than to shout out to all who will listen, "Hey, it's the new era of MLB, when old players look like old players again!"

And remember this, angry Mariners fans.  Griffey may be struggling at the plate, but he continues to lead the team, and all of baseball, in the all-important category of "Ichiro tickling."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Red Hot

In the last couple weeks, I've spent a significant amount of time watching Cincinnati Reds games online.  A few games ago, Thom Brennaman made an offhanded comment about it being the 20th anniversary of the 1990 World Series campaign, and three thoughts quickly entered my mind.

1.  Holy shit, I'm old.
2.  Why isn't Fox Sports Midwest making a bigger deal about this? It would be great to have a flashback each game with highlights of the corresponding game from the 1990 season.  Which would you rather see - highlights of Paul O'Neill winning a game with a walk-off single, or more replays of Joey Votto striking out twice a game?

In an attempt to feed my nostalgic hunger, I discovered something amazing.  I don't know how it came to be that I had never seen this video before, but now that I have, I can't imagine I ever lived in a world that did not include the glorious rhymes of B-Lark and The Homeboys.

Good heavens, where do I start?  Paul O'Neill gets things off to a rousing start, and honestly looks like he's reading a statement in a POW video.  Seriously, this is the face of a man who is blinking in morse code for help.

While hearing B-Lark take the mic, I find myself puzzled.  Obviously the video does not match the audio on the track, but the audio has some sense of vocal inflection, and you would think that when recording the video portion, he might appear slightly life-like, but no such luck.

But let's move to Eric Davis and his RIDICULOUS READING GLASSES!  What is happening there?  They're so distracting that I barely notice his entire acid-washed wardrobe.  He must have won those frames in a dance off with that spaz that shows up at the end of the "Beat It" video.

If there's one aspect of the 1990 Reds that truly separates them from any other team in history, it has to be the Nasty Boys.  Aside from closers, there's no such thing as a stud pitcher in a major league bullpen, and yet this team had three of them who were not only great, but became oddly famous as well.  And as great as they were on the mound, they were equally as AWFUL when trying to speak in rhythm!  But I do appreciate the guy attempting to "conduct" on the left of the screen.

Remaining highlights include Billy Hatcher rapping with the ferocity of Jim Caldwell, Mariano Duncan wearing pants up to his nipples while paraphrasing MC Hammer, and of course, the obvious appeal of Chris Sabo lisping all over the studio in a manner that makes you wonder if this whole thing was a cruel prank on Spuds.**
I'm just sayin'...

Kids, please listen to the 1990 Cincinnati Reds - say no to drugs, AND say no to crack.  We can all win the World Series of life.  Take it from Jose Rijo's sunglasses.

**Further evidence of the team ganging up on Spuds happens in the post-music video portion of the clip, where the 1990 team appears at a reunion from last year.  All players are wearing their jerseys EXCEPT for Sabo.  I believe it's because he got bad advice from everyone else in regards to wardrobe.  In actuality, he probably forgot it at home.  Ob La Di, Ob La Da

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bad Idea Show Review: Atoms For Peace at Aragon Ballroom

Thom Yorke put out a solo album in 2006.  It served as a decent, above-average space holder during a four year gap between Radiohead albums.  While The Eraser was an interesting experiment by a man and his laptop, it seemed odd to A) wait four years to tour in promotion of such an album, and B) recruit Joey Waronker and Flea to be in the "backing band"
(along with Nigel Godrich) for songs that contain little live percussion and bass.

And yet, by the end of last night, an unexpected thought had entered my mind.  This performance was as a good as a Radiohead show, or at least a flash-sideways version of a Radiohead show.  The songs on The Eraser sound like demo versions compared to the full band arrangements on display at the Aragon.  Yorke's minimalistic blips were transformed into angry guitar riffs.  He danced and screamed in contrast to the reserved nature of early Radiohead performances.  Waronker utilized a souped-up drum and electronic percussion kit. Flea was Flea, blue-haired and gyrating with Yorke, while remaining fully clothed!  Case in point: "Harrowdown Hill."   

It's got a nice beat and you can to it!  Atoms For Peace are essentially The Eraser on steroids.  The good kind of steroids.  In addition, Yorke and Flea faced off at one point in a heated wood block vs melodica battle.
This song needs more blow-organ!

After running through the album front-to-back, Yorke returned solo to play a new, as yet untitled song.  He makes reference at the beginning of this clip to his "other band" working on an arrangement, at which point all the nerdy Radiohead fans nerd out in their nerd-coated delight.

Then another Radiohead song!  During which the one person between myself and the front rail** decided to have his own personal "clap over your head" party.  Down in front, poindexter!  Some of snuck in flip cams in our pants, and you're fucking with our visual art!

** Ah yes, did I mention I was in the second row?  Whatever, no big deal.  It doesn't mean I think I'm better than anybody.  It just meant that I could serve as a source of disappointment for my show-going partner for my refusal to leave the spot to get beer after the opening act.  "Are you out of your mind?  I'm not leaving this spot!  I've gone all day without even drinking water so that I'd have no reason to move!"  

SET 1:
The Eraser
The Clock
Black Swan
Skip Divided
Atoms For Peace
And It Rained All Night
Harrowdown Hill
Cymbal Rush

SET 2:
Untitled New Song [Thom solo]
I Froze Up (Kid A outtake) [Thom solo]
Everything In Its Right Place [Thom solo]

Paperbag Writer (Hail to the Thief b-side)
Judge, Jury & Executioner
The Hollow Earth
Pulled Apart By Horses

More of my photos are here.  MUCH BETTER PHOTOS ARE HERE.