The 200: Halftime

Mid-list interlude.

A number of songs/artists didn’t make the list, but it’s fair to bring them up.

Elvis Costello, who I saw this summer with Kiera, could have been on there for a number of songs, though I’m most fond of Beyond Belief. An inexcusable oversight.

The Talking Heads are an obvious no-show. In their case, while I like a lot of the Heads’ songs, I don’t know that I truly love any of them.

The Dears, a Canadian band whose frontman is routinely compared to The Smiths’ Morrissey for reasons that elude me, should have placed Thrones somewhere in here.

Had I compiled the list six months later, I’m certain that it would have included Powder (You Tube), a spectacular slowcore tune from a band that I had previously never heard of, though now I own all three of their discs.

The recently departed Tom Petty crafted a hell of a catalogue of songs in his 40 years of performing, but American Girl is his masterpiece.

In the intro, I mentioned the only artists that could justifiably have 10 songs in the Top 200 would be the Beatles, Elvis or the Stones, though in my case none of them produced anything I would include (for the record, my favorites from each are Norwegian Wood, Suspicious Mind and Sympathy for the Devil). Inexcusably missing from that list, and this countdown, is Michael Jackson. My favorite MJ song, Man in the Mirror, should have been included here.

I’m going to reserve the right to edit this entry as needed when other oversights occur.

 

 

 

Wrong rant, buster.

Major League Baseball is four years into the Buster Posey Rule. As Saturday Night’s Opener of the National League Championship Series demonstrated, the implementation of the rule is still capable of creating controversy.

During the seventh inning of the Cubs’ 5-2 loss for arguing the application of the rule, turning an out at the plate into the Dodgers’ final run. Cubs manager Joe Maddon* was ejected arguing the use of the rule on the field, then continued to rant about the rule’s very existence in his post-game press conference, comparing it to a revoked soda tax in a strained analogy.

The rule was correctly applied. Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras stuck his left leg out to block the plate before he caught the ball, and in a way that wasn’t necessary to complete the catch. He did it to block Charlie Culberson’s lane to the plate, and he did it quite well, giving the sliding Culberson no access to the dish.

Maddon’s chief complaint, at least in the postgame press conference, was with the rule itself. He said he’s disagreed with it from the beginning. To be fair, Maddon is a former catcher, so you can understand why he might be opposed to the rule – he’s taken way too many blows to the head.

Because there’s one thing that hasn’t happened in baseball since the Buster Posey Rule went into effect. Baseball hasn’t created any more Buster Poseys. Runners approaching home plate no longer have to make the choice between sliding and attempted manslaughter. They just slide. And taking this choice away from the Scott Cousins** of the world, the marginal ballplayer who is always going to choose the felony when the alternative is to be considered soft (which usually comes complete with a one-way ticket to Triple A), has resulted in a much safer game around the plate.

Allowing baserunners to attempt to dislodge the baseball from the grasp of the catcher through any means necessary never made sense, particularly given it was pretty much limited to just one base (though in Hal McRae’s day, it also extended to middle infielders engaged in the nefarous act of trying to turn two).

Moreover, it’s not the way the game is played at any level below the major leagues, save a few rogue associations run by sociopaths. Games played at Little League up through the NCAA do not permit catcher assault. Professional baseball was alone in that regard, until MLB finally wised up.

The Buster Posey Rule is a good thing. Joe needs to shut the hell up.

*This is the second time Maddon has railed over the correct implementation of an MLB rule that went against his team, following his 2016 diatribe when the Chase Utley Rule went against his club. Dressing up your team in cute outfits doesn’t give you a free pass to go all Tony LaRussa on us.

**The Buster Mangler.

No Rest for the Weary

One trend in the 2017 postseason, which is a continuation of what we saw in 2016, is the eagerness for managers to go to starting pitchers coming out of the bullpen. In the deciding Game 4 of their ALDS, the Red Sox and Astros each went to their Game 1 starters for large swaths of the middle innings. The Cubs leaned on Jon Lester in Game 4, while Dusty Baker gave Max Scherzer the mid-game call in Game 5.

The results haven’t been bad. Only Scherzer really crapped the bed, and his rough outing was aided by a whole lot of weirdness and a few less than well-struck balls. Expect to see more of this as the postseason goes on. Also, expect it to be a mistake.

Yes, we all remember Madison Bumgarner’s remarkable 5 shutout innings to close out the 2014 World Series, three days after winning Game 5. And Randy Johnson had a similarly memorable outing in the 2001 Fall Classic, when he got the final four outs against the Yankees one day after going seven shutout innings. Those outings are a little more understandable (though Bob Brenly’s use of Johnson for seven innings in Game 6 when his team held a 15-0 lead after four frames remains utterly indefensible). As far as those seasons were concerned, there literally was no tomorrow.

This is different. This was the division series. And pushing your best pitchers to throw on less rest when they are at their most tired is a recipe for failure. In all likelihood, it will come back to bite these guys in the ass.

Consider 2016, when Terry Francona won plaudits for his aggressive* bullpen use in the playoffs, as well as his decision to push his injury-hammered starting rotation to go on four days of rest rather than the typical five.

Starting pitchers on full or extended rest in the 2016 postseason threw 287.1 innings of 3.37 ERA baseball. Starting pitchers on short rest threw 40 innings at 6.08, which is even more significant since it’s typically only the best starting pitchers who are asked to go on short rest.

Now, the starters out of the bullpen have pitched better than the guys starting on short rest. Even so, there’s likely to be a cumulative negative effect on these guys.

Jon Lester threw 55 pitches the other night, a move defended based on it being his “throw day.” Now, I don’t know how many pitches a guy tosses on his throw day, but the 55 from Wednesday night didn’t include the balls tossed in the bullpen warming up or the ones before each inning. More important, not a single throw-day pitch is ever tossed under the same tense, high-stakes atmosphere that you find in a Game 4 of the NLDS. It’s simply not the same, which is why managers don’t use their throw-day starters in the middle innings of a July game in Milwaukee.

But this is the postseason, and managers have to do something. And doing what the other guy is already doing is one of their favorite things to do. Thus, I don’t expect managers to stop this trend any time soon. In fact, it’s just as likely to grow in popularity.

However, I do expect the teams that eschew this practice will have a meaningful advantage as the postseason moves on.

*Sports people love aggressiveness. But in my experience with youth ball, aggressive is another way of saying stupidly run into outs on the bases, dive into walls, or take some other ill-advised course of action. You can have aggressive. I’ll take smart.

The 200: 116-101

We’ve reached the halfway point of The 200, which is two-thirds the movie about that Greek battle and bowling perfection, but only 1/22nd as good as that USA Network show about alien abductees and the challenges they faced in their transition back to terrestrial life.

 

116         Huddle Formation   The Go! Team

115         Was There Anything I Could Do?    The Go-Betweens

114         Vacation     The Go-Go’s 

113         Stay Useless       Cloud Nothings

112         Rise Up In The Dirt    Voxtrot  (You Tube)

111         (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay   Otis Redding

110         Backwater   Meat Puppets

109         Amor Fati   Washed Out  

108         Better Things   The Kinks

107         Avant Gardener   Courtney Barnett

106         Pick and Choose   Stepdad (You Tube)

105         Young Turks          Rod Stewart

104         Mexican Radio     Wall of Voodoo

103         Turning Japanese    The Vapors

102         China    Red Rockers (You Tube)

101         Queen of Denmark   Sinead O’Connor

 

116 – The cheerleader song, as it’s known in my car. Perhaps the only song on the countdown that was a favorite of all three of the Markham children.

 

111 – Either the second-oldest or oldest song on the countdown, and the reason behind that uncertainty will be revealed later.

 

107 – Had too much Pseudoephedrine and I
Couldn’t sleep at night
Halfway down high street, Andy looks ambivalent
He’s probably wondering what I’m doing getting in an ambulance
The paramedic thinks I’m clever ‘cos i play guitar
I think she’s clever ‘cos she stops people from dying

I love that.

 

107 – Like the previous entry, this is a song from the past 10 years.  Clearly, the ’80s is the most represented decade in the countdown, as that represented my late-teen, early 20s. However, unlike a lot of people, my musical tastes weren’t frozen the year I turned 26. I’ve never stopped listening to new music, and I hope I never do.

 

103 – Not sure if this song reaches the airwaves today. Hell, the previous one might not either.

 

101 – When she was a junior soccer player at Andrean, Kiera was interviewed by one of the local papers for a little Inside Look kind of feature. One of the questions asked, what music do your parents play that you absolutely hate. Her answer was “Sinead O’Connor,” which surprised me only because I wasn’t aware she knew who Sinead O’Connor was. And while I love my daughter, she’s absolutely wrong. While she’s a sad story today (Sinead, not Munder), her debut, The Lion and the Cobra, remains an incredible disc, and this song from her post-SNL* retreat from popularity is just one of many in her catalogue of powerful gems.

*When she had the original Kaepernick moment, even if the two sported decidedly different ‘dos.

 

They said what?

mike-pencePart IV in the ongoing series, subtitled, Dan finally learns how to perform basic web skills others perfected long ago.

For those new to the blog, this is not the first time the vice president, my former governor, has made an appearance here. I wrote a little about his one term running the Hoosier State here. Too lazy to link version: He was a spectacularly shitty governor.

 

Where’s the Bam?

 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees for the Class of 2018 were revealed today, and congrats to first-time choices Kate Bush, Radiohead and the boys who like to Rage Against the Machine, provided the Machine doesn’t promise VIP treatment at a black-tie event in Cleveland as a prize. Such a pronouncement is typically greeted by one of two types of responses from folks like me.

 

Approach A is to question how a fundamentally counter-cultural experience such as rock and roll and a conventional, corporate-like entity such as the Hall of Fame can co-exist. I’m not taking that approach, even if it is pretty inarguable.

 

The other is to lament the candidate or candidates that have been unforgivably snubbed by the Hall in favor of some other groups or performers the author didn’t like as much. That’s the tack I’m taking today.

 
For the 10th straight year, WOXY was robbed.

 

Didn’t see that coming, did you?

 

OK, I’m only partially serious here. I really don’t think a radio station, even a life-alteringly great one such as WOXY, should be considered on the same plane as the artists who make the music. Though let’s face it, the Hall of Fame has inducted way too many performers who don’t really deserve the plaudits either. (Hey kids, is that Donovan?)

 

On the other hand, radio was long the only conduit for music for all of us. Hell, it remains an avenue for such discovery, even if it has lost much of what made it great through distant corporate ownership, algorhythmically designed playlists and morning zoos. Still, its place in the history of rock and roll is pretty damn significant.

 

Yet the Hall largely ignores it, even though it set the museum in Cleveland, home of legendary DJ Alan Freed and WJW. (Well, that and the cash. Don’t forget the buckets of cash.) It wasn’t because the city that introduced the concept of flammable water also gave the world Pere Ubu.*

 
Sure, the Hall has the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-musical contributors (though, given that no one’s ever heard of the Ahmet Ertegun Award, that could just be Wikipedia fucking with me again). But that’s not enough. Why shouldn’t the Hall recognize the great existing or, more likely, defunct radio stations that have made a difference in presenting music to the masses? And, I don’t think you’d have to scroll too far down the list of groundbreaking call letters before you got to the late, great radio station from Oxford, Ohio, either in its terrestrial or online incarnations.

 

Each year, the Hall should honor a radio station with a fancy ceremony. Bring the gang back together, collect some old broadcasts and memorabilia and put it on display until the next year’s event. The truth is, I’m probably never going to shell out whatever fee is required to get inside the Hall just for an up-close look at bedazzled jumpsuits from KC and 2/3rds of the Sunshine Band, discarded syringes from backstage at Woodstock and the official paper printouts from one of Bret Michaels’ chlamydia tests. I would, however, consider dropping in to gawk at remaining paraphernalia from the old 97X days, listen to broadcasts and pore over retrieved results from Sledge’s cholesterol tests (a tip: exercise and cut out the trans fats, Matt). I don’t think I’m alone. And since the Hall is a for-profit venture, not an academic exercise, they ought to be jumping to offer such opportunities that will ring the turnstiles.

 

So, how about it Jann** and Co.? Why not find a way to put WOXY and the other great radio stations into your Glass Pyramid on Erie? I promise I’ll think about visiting if you do.

 

Oh, and put Sonic Youth in too. That should be a no-brainer.
 

*To be fair, that would have been an extraordinarily good reason to locate the joint in Cleveland.

 

**Frankly, you owe me. I paid money to see Perfect in the theater. God that thing sucked.