29 November 2004

Thanksgiving Vacation Leftovers. I Don't Mean Food.

First and foremost from this past week (I was home, eating turkey and watching lots of Laguna Beach for some horrible, masochistic reason- Kristin's hotter) was the 2004 Boston Red Sox winning Sports Illustrated's "Sportsmen of the Year." In fact, the award was addressed, per the "SOY" special on FOX, to "the team and their loyal fans." So really, I've won the first of what I hope to be many, many such awards.

Honestly, this is yet another in the fun little things you get when your team wins a title. Who knew? Not me, obviously. Now, if those fucking Wheaties boxes would just get to NYC to bump Pedro off the shelf (I already have that one!).


In the next Hall of Fame ballot, released today, perennial no-picks Ryne Sandberg, Jim Rice, Goose Gossage and Bert Blyleven join newcomers Wade Boggs, Darryl Strawberry and Chili Davis (among others). Here is the complete list:

The complete ballot (x-first time eligible):
x-Jim Abbott
Bert Blyleven
x-Wade Boggs
x-Tom Candiotti
Dave Concepcion
x-Chili Davis
Andre Dawson
Steve Garvey
Rich Gossage
Tommy John
x-Mark Langston
Don Mattingly
x-Jack McDowell
x-Willie McGee
x-Jeff Montgomery
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
x-Otis Nixon
Dave Parker
x-Tony Phillips
Jim Rice
Ryne Sandberg
Lee Smith
x-Terry Steinbach
x-Darryl Strawberry
Bruce Sutter
Alan Trammell
my picks in bold

My picks- Boggs goes in easily, no question there- Ryne Sandberg has been deserving since Day One, and hopefully he can make up the votes he needs to get to 75%. I think Gossage and Bruce Sutter, two of the great relief aces ever, could go in on the spirit of Eckersley's inclusion last year- but if I had to pick one, it'd be Goose "Manny Ramirez looks like a goddamn criminal" Gossage. Class act. Hey, it's not a popularity contest (if it were, Mattingly might actually have a chance).

Bert Blyleven, with the possible exception of Ron Santo, is the single most egregious HoF error to date. If it were up to me, he'd be in no question. To wit-

287 W, 3701 K, career ERA+ (over 22 seasons) of 118. Compares very favorably with many pitchers already in the Hall.

Speaking of Santo, I think he'll make it in with the Veteran's Committee. He fucking deserves it, all the way. As for the likes of Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Andre Dawson... no go. I'm on the fence over Trammell too- he may be perfect for next year, when there's next to no one worthy on the ballot (new, at least- I don't expect, for example, Blyleven to make it).

And if Wade goes in as a Devil Ray, like he wants to, it'll make the Baby Jesus cry. Boggs (and Clemens when it's his turn) goes in as a Sox. I'd be shocked if he didn't.

Of course, Mattingly has no shot. Oh well.


With the Lights Out, of course, finally finally finally came out a week ago. After years of waiting, disappointment, bad news, lawsuits- it was at last able to be purchased. As soon as I got approval to spend my own money from the people that read this blog (semi?) regularly, I ran out and grabbed it.

Here's a list of the songs that I was looking forward to hearing for the first time-
  • "White Lace and Strange"

  • "Mrs. Butterworth"

  • "They Hung Him on a Cross"

  • "Grey Goose"

  • "Ain't It a Shame"

  • "Old Age"

  • "Other Improv"

  • "Do Re Mi"

  • Of course, all but nine of these songs were previously released, but if you've ever picked up a Nirvana bootleg, you've heard, for instance, the Greg Sage cover of "Return of the Rat," the KAOS radio version of "Opinion," In Utero outtake "Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip," etc. Other songs were album tracks as demos or live takes.

    The list above, though, were songs that I'd NEVER heard before, even on a bootleg, or, as in the case of "Old Age," had heard a tantalizing 45 seconds worth (that's the extent that had been made public even in bootleg form).

    "Old Age" and "Do Re Mi" are the best of the bunch. "Old Age" is a disarmingly catchy song from the Nevermind sessions, and ditto "Do Re Mi" from the In Utero sessions. They're both nearly worth the price of the box (for those of you that worry about that, and I know some of you very much do, for some reason, it was about 50 bucks) alone. "Goose," "Ain't," and "Cross" are all Leadbelly covers done with Mark Lanegan for a future side project (entitled the Jury), and they are REALLY cool. It's strange to hear Kurt Cobain sing electric guitar versions of old folk/ blues songs. They sound terrific.

    "The Other Improv" is just that- a really interesting, really heavy extemporaneous jam. "White Lace" and "Mrs. Butterworth" are cool Bleach-era oddities.

    There are some stinkers in the tracklist as well- "Clean Up Before She Comes" was very likely never released for a damn good reason. Sloppy, poor sound, meandering, boring... but hell, it's a box set. I don't also plan on spending too many spins on "Blandest," either, an outtake from the Bleach sessions- but they gotta include it.

    The DVD, meanwhile, is insane. The first few songs are all from a videotape made in 1988 at Krist Novoselic's mom's house. A few neighborhood hicks lay around listening, Kurt inexplicably chooses to sing straight at a wall, his forehead not six inches away, a random partygoer tries to rock a strobe and gets nothing but consternation. It is a pretty remarkable look at the band back at their start, warts and all- plus we get to see Chad Channing's infamous North drumkit.

    The rest of the live pieces range from historic- the live debut of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Dave Grohl's first show- to the transcendent- "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam" at the show used for footage in the "Lithium" video.

    "Seasons in the Sun," the last song on the DVD, is awesome. Kurt singing on the drums in the studio, Dave on bass, Krist on guitar, a pretty/ sad song to close things out.

    It's also worth pointing out the myriad home videos used for the menu screens that are absolutely worth sitting around and watching in their entirety. I particularly liked the random collage tapings. Weeeeiiiirrrrdddddd.....


    I've watched the MLB World Series DVD about 5 times now, and while I can appreciate the criticism that it's not totally the comprehensive work one would hope it would be... it really is absolutely terrific. How could it not be? The Broseph and I watched it a lot in the week I was home, and every time there was something new to laugh at (Damon talking, Ellis Burks requesting two bottles of champagne, the team dancing to "Lose Yourself," Pedro yelling "Hey Theo! Look at this! American League CHAM-pions, how about that?!"), a new thing to just shake your head at (Roberts' stolen base, Ortiz's chronicled brilliance, Tony Clark's 2B getting into the crowd, glorious shots of despondent Sheffield and Rodriguez), and new things to just enjoy watching (Pesky, Pesky, Pesky).

    Its just really really good. Small bit on the formation of the team/ expectations, small bit on the regular season, small-ish bit on Anaheim, decent amount on ALCS (they avoided embarassing Golden Boy by not talking about The Slap), and in-depth look at each World Series game. My favorite moment- the editing of the Bellhorn game-winner in Game One. Awesome.

    All the clubhouse footage and behind-the-scenes stuff I just eat up too. I can't wait for the NESN DVD next week. I still say the Sox put out a huge bells and whistles edition just around Spring Training.


    In another mark of Beane-brilliance, the A's acquired All Star catcher Jason Kendall for an aging left-handed setup man (Arthur Rhodes) and a mid-rotation starter they simply did not need any more (Mark Redman). There is a serious dearth of viable options at catcher this offseason (just ask Boston fans), and to get one of Kendall's calibre while shaving so much of his contract was a great move. Kendall is a very, very great player- durable, plus defensively, a hitter with a great eye- not much power at all- but rare speed in a catcher (even batted leadoff for the Pirates in years past). Rhodes and Redman are what they are- the types of players the Pirates seem to get back in these sorts of trades. When all is said and done, I don't think there's a more pathetic franchise in baseball than the Pirates- edging out perennial winner, Tampa Bay.

    The Pirates did this deal for one simple and clear-cut reason: Kendall's moronic contract (their own doing, of course). Pittsburgh gets out from under that huge mistake, and Oakland gets an All Star catcher- something they needed after the trade of Ramon Hernandez after 2003, and...

    ...because Oakland's 2004 starter, Damian Miller, signed today with Milwaukee.

    Miller's contract is for three years at a guaranteed 8.75 mil- in other words, three-and-change the next two years, and the same in the option year if the Brewers pick it up. If not, Miller gets 2.25 million. It's a pretty decent signing- not much money and not too long for a guy that'll be 36 for the '05 season. Miller lead the AL in caught basestealers percentage last year and was second in defensive Win Shares for AL catchers, behind only Henry Blanco. Miller hit .272/ .339/ .403 last year.


    Speaking of catchers, the by-far-and-away best backup catcher in baseball is back with the Champs, the first of our 16 FAs to sign. Dougie Mirabelli inked a 2-year 3 mil dollar deal- a nice raise for a guy that hit 9 HR in 160 ABs (more than Miller or Kendall did in starting roles), .281/ .368/ .525 and brutalized LHP: .311/ .415/ .600/ 1.015.

    I really think that Mirabelli benefits astronomically from being the rare backup backstop with a regular routine. There is often some handwringing about Varitek not "knowing how to catch the knuckler when he may have to," but that's not a concern when you have a guy that can hit as well as Doug, and field as well as Doug on such a consistent basis every fifth game.

    Now- sign Tek, sign Pedro.

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