75 Percent Less Fat: Skipping Ahead

OK, so I’m never going to finish this list before the site goes dark (I’m not re-upping after this year. I’ve kind of shifted focus to my other blogging effort, over here. Yes, it’s a little different).

Given that, I’m just going to list entries 11-35, making a comment if I’ve got something to say.

35. Depeche Mode – Violator

34. Dramarama – Cinema Verite – I understand the limited appeal of many of the bands I like. This is not one of them. The inability of classic rock radio of the 1980-90s to find a place for songs like Anything, Anything or Last Cigarette is both mystifying and a thorough indictment of radio programming for as long as I’ve been listening to music.

33. Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary

32. Crooked Fingers – Dignity and Shame – Eric Bachmann will make another appearance later.

31. The Smithereens – Especially For You – I saw them at Jones Beach, opening up for No. 22. Then it rained, canceling the headlining act.

30. Palomar – All Things Forest

29. Rival Schools – United by Fate

28. Bad Religion – The Gray Race – My favorite punk band, fronted by one of the smartest dudes in popular music history.

27. Meat Puppets – Too High to Die – Kurt Cobain was onto something.

26. The Replacements – Tim – I’ve said it before. If I could pick one time and place to have grown up other than where I did, I’d choose the Twin Cities in the early 1980s. The Mats, Husker Du, Prince, Soul Asylum, etc.

25. Bound Stems – The Family Afloat

24. Fischerspooner – Odyssey – As with country, dancy kind of stuff isn’t usually my bag. There’s always one exception.

23. Violent Femmes – s/t

22. Voxtrot – Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives – the first EP on the list. A second cracks the Top 10.

21. Rainer Maria – Catastrophe Keeps Us Together – Now that the band is a going concern again, I’m hopeful I can catch a show with my oldest son Ian, who accompanied me to see them when he was just 10.

20. And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Source Tags and Codes

19. The Waterboys – This is the Sea

18. Squeeze – Argybargy – Like many folks my age, I discovered them through the Singles album. As good as that is, I still think this collection of songs is better, highlighted by should-have-been the band’s song in my Top 100, Vicky Verky.

17. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

16. XTC – Skylarking – The re-released version, of course. Hard to believe they didn’t think Dear God worked upon its initial recording.

15. INXS – Shabooh Shoobah – If my wife was ever inclined to do a Top 50 (she most definitely isn’t), this might be the only disc on both of ours (on retrospect, Catastrophe would have an outside chance of making hers).

14. Expoxies – Stop the Future – The very best 1980s new wave album was released in 2005.

13. Silversun Pickups – Carnavas

12. Sinead O’Connor – The Lion & The Cobra – About four years ago, my daughter was interviewed by the local paper for one of their meet an athlete type things. They asked her what music of her parents did she truly hate. She chose Sinead.

11. The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic – I could listen to Harriet Wheeler sing the tax code.

The Top 10 will follow in the original format.

I think.

 

 

TBtB: Oakland A’s

We started this exercise in the Bay Area, and we’re going to come full circle and end here with the American League’s franchise in Northern California.

If Billy Beane and co. have their way, we’ll be coming up with a name for a new park instead of the coliseum, perhaps the daytime-baseball-only park the club introduced a few weeks back. The A’s have been engaged in this dance for a long time, though this one seems like it might have a bit more chance of becoming reality than previous schemes.

Getting back to the park at hand, the coliseum is the last of the dual-occupancy stadia in the big leagues, earning that non-distinction when the Argonauts fled Rogers Centre for actual greener pastures. But their A’s won’t have to share for much longer. Their perpetually ungrateful co-tenants will soon pack up their stinky things and hightail it to Vegas, though their presence will remain with the hideous Mount Davis beyond the outfield fences.

The coliseum is now the fifth-oldest park in the country, directly trailing fellow California entries Chavez Ravine and Autry Field. That’s not an accident. For all of its reputation for profligate government spending, the Golden State and its municipalities have been better at holding the line on corporate giveaways for sports owners than most other places in these here United States.

As with many of these places, I have no idea what a good selection for a new name would be, though you couldn’t go wrong if it served as an ode to near-native son Rickey*, who flew round the paths as the greatest of A’s.

But as this is our last shot, let’s get a good one for the boys in green.

*In an announcement that previously evaded my notice, the club has already named the playing surface Rickey Henderson Field. I presume that covers all but the mound, which surely is named for the Prince of the 209.

Ballpark History

Built:  1966

Capacity:  47,170

Name:  Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 1968-1998, 2016-present. Also known as Network Associates Coliseum (1998-2004); McAfee Coliseum (2004-2008); Overstock Coliseum (2011), and the dreadful O.co Coliseum (2011-2016).

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: None, though the club previously spent time in Philadelphia and K.C.

Distinctive Features:  From a pitcher’s point of view, all that beautiful foul territory; the aforementioned Mount Davis, the view-destroying seats added to lure the Raiders back from Los Angeles; the tarps; any presence of the elephant balancing on a baseball, the sport’s best logo.

Ballpark Highlights:

In 1968, Catfish Hunter, a first-ballot choice in the Nickname Hall of Fame but a questionable selection in the Cooperstown version, threw the American League’s first perfect game in 46 years in a 4-0 win over the Twins. He also went 3-4 with 3 ribbies, including the game-winner, for the recently relocated Athletics.

In 1973, Darold Knowles closed out a 5-2 win over the New York Mets in Game 7 of the World Series, the second of three straight titles for the Charley O A’s. Knowles pitched in all seven games of the Fall Classic, the first step in the slog toward full bullpenathon playoff contests.

In Game 1 of the 1989 World Series, the A’s scored three times in the bottom of the second inning, ending all the on-field drama for the remainder of the thoroughly one-sided Bay Series (the series-halting earthquake provided more than enough intrigue, however).

In 1991, Rickey Henderson stole his 939th career base, officially sanctioning his status as the Greatest of All-Time.

After taking the first two games in New York, the A’s dropped the final three contests of the ALDS, a feat they’d repeat two years later in the damn crapshoot. The 2001 loss was punctuated by the Game 3 setback in the first potential closeout contest when a strangely positioned Derek Jeter managed a backhand flip to nab the non-sliding Jeremy Giambi at the plate in a 1-0 defeat here.

In 2002, pinch-hitter (and newly first-base fluent) Scott Hatteberg hit a pinch-homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the home team an AL-record 20th-straight victory.

TBtB: Atlanta Braves

We’re down to just two parks remaining. We’re tucking this one at the very back because I don’t have a lot to say about it. I was going to invite Primate Sam into provide some insight, but I don’t know how long the banhammer fell on him.

SunTrust (I think that’s right) is the youngest ballpark in the game, and a park that I hope doesn’t begin an exodus from the central city to the suburbs. Of all the trends that accompanied the ballpark boom of the last 20 years, the movement back to highly dense areas in the city from paved nowheres in the suburbs, exurbs or beyurbs* is one of the best. And yes, tailgate-loving Wisconsinites, your objections are noted for the record.

This one might be a bit of a challenge. We may be limited on the geographic and historic fronts, given its home in the distinction-challenged Cobb County.

And we’d better do this quick. The Braves spent 30 years in Fulton County, then 20 seasons in Turner Field. At present rates, they ought to be angling for a new field fairly soon.

*How many of you wondered for a second if beyurbs really was another stupid new name for a city’s outer reaches that you hadn’t heard yet, and not just a name I created for this exercise?

Ballpark History

Built: 2017

Capacity:  41,084

Name:  Sun Trust, 2017-present

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, 1966-2016, Turner Field, 1997-2016.

Distinctive Features: Fast-growing evergreens in centerfield batter’s eye; Monument Garden behind home plate; presumably incriminating photos of Cobb County Commissioners stashed somewhere in the facility.

Ballpark Highlights:

On April 8, 2017, Georgia defeated Missouri 6-1 in the first game in the new park, witnessed by 33,000 fans. Almost certainly some of them were not under the impression it was a spring football game.

On April 14, the Braves beat San Diego 5-2 in the home opener. Ender Inciarte became the first player to register an out, a hit, a run and a homer in the new park. He also became the first, and possibly last, Ender.

In 2017, fans marveled at the Freeze, a crazy-fast, turquoise-suited freak who chased down competitors on the warning track in the rare between-innings entertainment that was totally worth watching.

In Game 3 of the 2018 NLCS, rookie sensation Ronald Acuna hit a grand slam to propel the hosts to a 6-5 victory over the visiting Dodgers, making the Braves the first team to win division series games in three different home ballparks (a feat we can only hope stands for a while).

 

TBtB: Chicago White Sox

The latest ballpark to undergo a name change, dumping the harmless U.S. Cellular (which did provide a pretty good nickname, the Cell) to the ridiculous Guaranteed Rate Field, complete with its downward trending arrow. G-Rate Field, as absolutely nobody calls it, is the closest thing to a home park in MLB I have now, though I’d actually tab the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary as my true local diamond.

Whatever you call this field, it’s one of the odd ducks of major league stadia. It’s of similar vintage as many of today’s ballparks, but it was constructed just before Camden Yards ushered in the retro park craze. Thus, it sits somewhat alone in the ballpark design era, not as old as the true relics Fenway/Wrigley, nor even the middle-aged holdovers such as Kauffman Stadium and Autry Field, and with a different feel than the retros. Having attended more games there than any other extant facility, I think it’s a better park than its reputation.

The Sox have long played second fiddle in Chicago, and nowhere is that more evident than in the names of the two parks. As Wrigley predictably held serve in our exercise, this is an opportunity for the Sox to close the gap on their favored brothers to the north.

Whatever name we choose, I’m absolutely certain that my White Sox-loving father-in-law will continue to call it nothing but Sox Park.

 Ballpark History

 

Built: 1991

Capacity:  40,615

Name: Comiskey Park (1991-2003), U.S. Cellular Field (2003-2017), Guaranteed Rate Field (2017-present)

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: South Side Park 1900-1910), Comiskey Park 1 (1910-1990).

Distinctive Features:  Pinwheel-topped scoreboard in center, a holdover from the previous park; chain link fences in some portions of outfield; numerous sculptures of White Sox greats near-greats and not very close to great; vertigo-inducing cant to the upper deck,  .

 

Ballpark Highlights:

In 2002, proving once again that nothing brings father and son together like baseball, William Ligue and son Bill Jr. rushed the field to attack Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa in a noble attempt to protect us from guys who collect batting gloves and warn base runners, “Hey, this guy’s got a good move.”

In Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS, A.J. Pierzynski used his black magic on inept home plate umpire Doug Eddings to steal first after striking out with two down in the bottom of the ninth. A.J.’s pinch runner would go on to score the winning run, and the Sox wouldn’t lose again that season en route to the club’s first World Series title since 1917.

On Sept. 30, 2008, Jim Thome’s massive home run to center was the only run in a 1-0 victory over the Twins. The victory in the season-ending Blackout Game earned the Sox the AL Central title.

In 2009, DeWayne Wise made one of the season’s best catches, a fence-climbing, ball juggling grab in center to rob Gabe Kapler of a home run and preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game against the visiting Rays.

On Sept. 24, 2018, Hawk Harrelson be gone.

 

 

 

 

75 Percent Less Fat: No. 37

Country, even in its alt-variety, is hardly my favorite genre. For instance, I find Wilco, the most prominent name in the field, extraordinarily boring. It’s not a widespread opinion, but what can you do.

 

But there is one exception to my lack of enthusiasm for Americana: the Old 97’s. The Rhett Miller-led quartet from Dallas has been turning out quality alt-country tunes for a half-century, highlighted by 1999’s Fight Songs.

 

The album bounces between bouncy jangle rock like tunes vaguely reminiscent of early REM and hard-driving guitar-driven songs, all carried by Miller’s delightfully clever wordplay

 

Highlights include: the crunchy opener Jagged You Tube; Crash on the Barrelhead, a song that may or may not have been about rival not the performer who isn’t Brian Adams You Tube; Murder (Or a Heart Attack), a song about a cat, You Tube; Let the Idiot Speak You Tube; a song about the songwriter.

 

Important Information:

Name: Fight Songs

Released: 1999

Record Company: Eletrka

Running Time: 45:19.

Track Listing:

  1. Jagged
  2. Lonely Holiday
  3. Oppenheimer
  4. Indefinitely
  5. What We Talk About
  6. Crash on the Barrelhead
  7. Murder (Or a Heart Attack)
  8. Alone So Far
  9. Busted Afternoon
  10. Nineteen
  11. Let the Idiot Speak
  12. Valentine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TBtB: Los Angeles Dodgers

Another older gem. Even before I made my maiden visit two weeks ago, it was a ballpark I could identify immediately the moment the game was turned on, even absent any Dodger blue or the guy in the Ecuadorian* straw hat who used to stand behind home plate with the JUGS Gun.

The layout, once more commonplace, now looks singular given the construction similarities inherent in the new wave of parks. And the mountains beyond have not been blocked out by a monstrous concession to football, such as what happened a few hundred miles to the north. But the teevee doesn’t truly do the stadium’s unique in-the-hills locale justice. There really is nothing else like it, as least that I’ve seen.

As for the name? Ah screw it. The optimal choice is already familiar. The only way Chavez Ravine could be a better name for Dodgers Stadium is if Vin Scully’s middle name was Chavez. Or Ravine.

But, we’ve got to go through the motions…

*Sorry, Mariano, Rod and Maverick, it’s origins are not Panamanian.

Ballpark History

Built:  1962

Capacity:  56,000

Name:  Dodger Stadium 1962-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Memorial Coliseum (1957-61).

Distinctive Features:  Until two years ago, the home to the best voice in baseball history; low walls in right and left fields; hills and mountains on all sides of the ballpark; dining options centered around various ways to prepare the Dodger Dog.

Ballpark Highlights:

For the second time in the series, Sandy Koufax outpointed fellow southpaw Whitey Ford to cement a four-game World Series sweep of the Yanks, the only time the Dodgers clinched a Fall Classic in any of their home parks.

In September 1965, Koufax made his fourth no-hitter his best one, retiring all 27 Cubs hitters to record the sport’s retroactively assigned sixth perfect game.

In 1976, Cubs outfielder Rick Monday rescued an American flag from a couple of hippie protesters trying to light it on fire in the Dodger outfield. You can read about it from time to time today on social media.

1985, Lane Myer completed his tumultuous courtship of the lovely French foreign exchange student Monique Junet with a home-plate embrace.

In 1988, Kirk Gibson hobbled up to the plate and hit baseball’s premier Hollywood-certified home run, taking the game’s premier closer, Dennis Eckersley, deep in Game 1 of the World Series. The homer propelled the Dodgers to a 4-1 Fall Classic waltz over the heavily favored A’s.

In 2009, Ichiro’s two-run single with two outs in the top of the 10th propelled Japan to its second straight World Baseball Classic title with a 5-3 victory over Korea.

In 2014, the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks played a January hockey game as part of the NHL Stadium Series. It wasn’t the first time Dodger Stadium dabbled in winter sports, as the 1963 photo below demonstrates.

 

dodgerstadiumskijump

TBtB: Toronto Blue Jays

We leave the states to visit our friends to the north. Canada’s team began play in the futuristic SkyDome in 1989, though it got its current Rogers Centre name, complete with Canadian spelling, in 2005.

For the record, it was just SkyDome. I’m not sure why that bugs people. We don’t say the Wrigley Field or the Willets Point. But call a park a dome, and everybody, including Matt Johnson, has to add the The.

While a precursor to the throwback stadium craze launched by Camden, it did kick off some of the trends in new ballpark construction, such as amenities beyond concessions, restrooms and luxury boxes. The most notable new concept was the hotel with windows overlooking the stadium, a feature I’m sure the late Dick Williams must have appreciated.

Rogers Centre is one of the two remaining ballparks covered with turf, along with Suncoast Dome. The Jays have made overtures of replacing it with grass, though earlier this decade they did the next closest thing by installing a slower turf that allowed Kevin Pillar to kick up black pellets every time he made a diving catch, which is quite often.

Ballpark History

Built: 1989

Capacity: 49,282

Name:  Rogers Centre (2005-present). Before that, SkyDome (1989-2005).

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Exhibition Stadium, 1977-1989.

Distinctive Features:  The sport’s first fully working retractable roof; 70 rooms of Renaissance Toronto Hotel overlooking field; millions in artwork above entrances; view of the CN Tower when the roof is lifted.

Ballpark Highlights:
In the ballpark’s maiden season, Jose Canseco hit a homer into the previously unreached top deck during Game 4 of the ALCS, helping the A’s roll to their second straight AL pennant.

In 1993, Joe Carter lived out the dream of every child who ever picked up a bat, turning a ninth-inning deficit into a World Series victory with a three-run homer off Mitch Williams. The blast capped one of the wackiest Fall Classics ever, made the Blue Jays the first team to repeat as champs since the Bronx Zoo Yanks of ‘77-78 and gave us our last taste of autumn baseball until 1995.

On July 1, 1997, Pedro Martinez outdueled Pat Hentgen in a 2-1 Montreal Expos victory, the first game in Major League history featuring two Canadian clubs.

On Opening Day 2003, Blue Jays catcher’s Ken Huckaby’s awkward catch and tag at third resulted in a broken Jeter, to the consternation of starlets and sportswriters everywhere. Four years later at that same base, Jeter’s teammate Alex Rodriguez got some measure of revenge on the hosts, distracting and infuriating the Jays’ Howie Clark on a pop-up by yelling, “I got it.”

In the deciding game of the 2015 ALDS, the Rangers and Blue Jays played one of the strangest postseason contests of the Wild Card era. The Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh when Rougned Odor alertly scampered home on a toss from catcher Russel Martin that hit Shin-Soo Choo’s bat and rolled in between the mound and third, unleashing havoc in Toronto. The Jays responded with four runs in the bottom of the frame, spurred by three consecutive Ranger errors and capped by Jose Bautista’s mammoth homer to left-center, which was followed by a memorable bat chuck to punctuate the blow.