"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Have You Seen Junior’s Grades?

AL manager Joe Maddon checks his lineup card (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

How did the individual All-Stars do in last night’s 4-3 American League victory? SI.com asked me to grade the players. I gave Derek Jeter a B-, Mark Teixeira a C-, and Mariano Rivera part of the AL bullpen’s collective A+. See the rest here.

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1 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 3:11 am

I LOVE the Van Halen reference. Love it!!!

2 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 3:16 am

speaking of grades, NoMaas hands out midseason ones for our four outfielders...

3 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jul 15, 2009 3:40 am

thelarmis..i know you are reluctant to criticize a fellow musician but..my buddy and I have a list of luckiest band members of all time, those guys who were at the right place at the right time and became absurdly rich without much musical skill..

bassist from Van Halen
Nick Mason from Pink Floyd
Bill Wyman, Stones
some of the P-Funk xtras

4 Mattpat11   ~  Jul 15, 2009 3:58 am

I think Jeter's grade may be a little high.

5 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 15, 2009 6:28 am

[4] As is Halliday's.

6 rbj   ~  Jul 15, 2009 7:55 am

Well obviously in last night's pre-game prediction I overstated the AL offense by a run. Did nail the NL offense (so does this lower Halliday's price?) and Mo for the save, but the last is a no-brainer.

7 The Mick536   ~  Jul 15, 2009 8:37 am

I don't like this grading thing, because it is only one game, a situation that you don't get accurate or relevant evaluations unless the game really means something. That being said, I think that you are giving Teixiera a pass, both here and in prior evaluations. He usually bangs the ball into the ground or strikes out when he shouldn't. I could strike him out if I could throw major league heat. Most who can do. And what did Jeter do to deserve his grade? He ran from first to home. Again, anyone with average speed would have scored, yes!

8 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 15, 2009 8:57 am

[0] I know Nathan is awesome, and does well against lefties, but I fretted when Maddon didn't go to Fuentes to face Howard in the 8th. As Joe Sheehan points out, over and over, Howard just can't hit lefties - .187/.265/.309 in 155 PA this year - but boy does he kill righties - .307/.395/.688. Fortunately Nathan got him.

[3] Michael Anthony scoffs at your statement of him having no talent. Have you never seen him play his Jack Daniels bass?

I got it bad, so bad . . .

9 Toxic   ~  Jul 15, 2009 9:10 am

[8] Michael Anthony is lucky in the fact that EVH tried to replace him with Billy Sheehan every couple of years but the Chickenfoot disc shows Ed already had someone who could manage more than low E straight eighths.

Well, they say it's kinda frightnin'
How this younger generation swings
You know it's more than just some new sensation

10 The Hawk   ~  Jul 15, 2009 9:28 am

[7] "I don’t like this grading thing, because it is only one game, a situation that you don’t get accurate or relevant evaluations unless the game really means something."

Aw, lighten up will ya?! ; )

[9] Yeah, Michael Anthony is good player. His bass solo on Live Without a Net is truly incredible. Also his backing vocals are worth their weight in gold - a big part of VH's sound!

11 The Hawk   ~  Jul 15, 2009 9:34 am

[10] Re: That bass solo - witness it in all its glory here.

13 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 15, 2009 9:40 am

No grade for the President's pitch?

I'd say at worst it rates an "Incompete" as it didn't quite go the distance.

At best, a B as he didn't hurt anybody, didn't embarass himself, attempted a windup, and wore his team colors (lefthandedness is always a plus, too).

Fox gets an F for not actually showing the pitch. Seriously lame coverage there.

I'd also give an F to the fans who booed Obama. Check your poliics at the stadium door, and show some respect to our president.

14 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 15, 2009 9:59 am

[13] a coworker just pointed out that Obama threw from the rubber, as opposed to the grass which is customary for ceremonial pitches.

I'm going with B+.

15 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 15, 2009 10:04 am

Trivia question of the day:

3 currently active players have made an all-star game, and their fathers also played in an all-star game during *their* careers. Name the pairs.


16 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 15, 2009 10:05 am

I liked Obama's answer as to why he wore the White Sox jacket ...
"I'm a fan of them . . . and my wife thinks I look cute in it."

17 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jul 15, 2009 10:15 am

[15] The Ken Griffeys are the easy one.

18 rbj   ~  Jul 15, 2009 10:20 am

[15] Griffeys for one.

19 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 15, 2009 10:20 am


That's one.

20 Bill 23   ~  Jul 15, 2009 10:44 am

The Griffey's, Prince and Cecil Fielder and Gary Matthews and Gary Matthews Jr. My co-worker may or may not have helped me with the Matthews answer.

21 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 15, 2009 10:49 am


good job!

22 Bama Yankee   ~  Jul 15, 2009 11:49 am

[13] & [14] I agree with your grade for Obama's pitch. I was glad to see that he threw from the mound and I respect the fact that he is not afraid to wear his team colors. While I don't agree with him politically, I thought he did a great job last night. IMO, there is no reason to boo the President in that situation...unless he does a
Cincinnati Mayor Pitch

I always liked the story of Jeter telling President Bush: "you better not bounce it or they'll boo ya."

23 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 1:08 pm

Cliff, David Wright's poor throw pulling Pujols off the bag after Molina nabbed Ichiro at 3B cost the NL a double play and I believe it cost them on the scoreboard as a result. I was surprised you didn't mention that and was surprised Wright's grade was as high as it was.

24 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 1:11 pm

[3] and others....

Michael Anthony is NOT a good bass player and that JD "solo" is terrible. i actually watched the Live Without A Net dvd around the turn of the year. i like Van Hagar and EVH was unreal! anyway, Michael Anthony's backup vocals are essential to that group and he also plays (well, played) a perfect role on the personal level, leaving the spotlight to the 2 front guys and 2 brothers. the backup vox should keep him off this list!

Alec John Such - bass player from Bon Jovi: LUCKY!
Bobby Dall - bass player from Poison: LUCKY
Ian Hill - bass player from Judas Priest: LUCKY
Mick Mars - guitarist from Motley Crue: LUCKY

25 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 1:22 pm

[3] I used to have Adam Clayton from U2 on a list like that. Then I got a little further in my own musical life and realized that I was just jealous, and in a very unbecoming way. Anyone that is a central member of a group for an extended period can hold their own, minimum.

[10] Great point about M. Anthony's singing. The ensemble vocals are one of the things that sets VH apart.

Those "luckiest band members" lists are usually filled with bass players. Our culture goes gaga for shredding solos, but those shredders are like elaborate kitchens in houses with no foundation when they don't have a solid bass player underneath.

26 The Hawk   ~  Jul 15, 2009 1:23 pm

[24] You ought to listen more to Michael Anthony's playing. I can't say he's a virtuoso but he is good.

But that's beside the point.

Bobby Dall, lucky? He was in Poison, one of the worst and sadly typical bands of the late 80s. The whole band was lucky they weren't drawn and quartered for unleashing such misery upon the world!

And Mick Mars is credited as co-writer on lots of the Crue's hottest trax, so I think you're confusing low profile with lucky.

27 rbj   ~  Jul 15, 2009 1:45 pm

[22] That's a bad throw, though I think the all time bad throw was Carl Lewis'.

28 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 1:48 pm

[26] i've listened to TONS of michael anthony's playing. it's fine for what it is... i'm a Halen fan.

i'm well aware of that re: Poison. i did think Bobby's Dall's position on it was refreshing and honest. he never set out to be a musician. he wanted the fame & fortune and all that went with it. he figured bass would require the least amount of effort to learn. he got what he wanted; good for him!

Mars: i'm not confusing anything. i have the records and am very well aware of the writing credit. and i've seen them live.

this is why i don't like these things as Jazz Tokyo pointed out. art has opinion. i'm just glad to play/teach/record music for a living! it is true though that a TON of not-so-great players have a VERY fortunate existence within the music industry. unlike professional sports, talent and hard work does not guarantee you a BIG gig...

29 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 1:57 pm

fwiw, i have the utmost respect for every "lucky" musician aforementioned on the cumulative lists here. they have paid some dues, had amazing experiences and lived a life that is not always glorious or easy.

whether it was minimal skills, right place/right time, or any other happenstance, kudos to them!!!

i'll continue to hone my skills and study music intensely on a daily basis for the rest of my days. at the end of the long day, when my head hits the pillow, it is ultimately my own musical path that has to please me and i don't worry about who is lucky or reasons why said player is actually good, not lucky...

30 The Hawk   ~  Jul 15, 2009 1:59 pm

[28] Just cause you're not great doesn't mean you're lucky though. I mean, it's pop music not sports ... You don't have to be at the top of the class skill-wise to contribute mightily.

Again, in the case of Mick Mars, he's one of the primary songwriters of the group. He's anything but lucky.

As far as Poison goes I must admit I'm no expert. Perhaps Rikki Rocket on drums puts Bobby Dahl on bass to shame, though I laugh quietly to myself considering such things.

31 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 2:15 pm

[29] thoughtful and well-said thelarmis. Thanks for that.

My point, however, includes the fact that
The Arts ≠ Sport.
"virtuosity" is not the only way to measure musical talent, otherwise we'd all be on Music Prospectus and Music-Reference looking up Jimmy Page's and Charlie Parker's NPS (Notes Per Second) stats. . . ("yeah but Sonny Rollins couldn't play as high as David Murray!", etc.)

for instance, groove type concerns or timbre (tone-color) or even song-writing ability are near impossible to quantify for comparison purposes.

I know it's as fun to argue about music as it is about anything, but I'll just stick with what Duke Ellington said "there's two types of music. Good and Bad." And the thing is, those two even change within one person from day to day, year to year, mood to mood.

32 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 2:33 pm

[31] thanks. i was gonna post that Duke Ellington quote!!!

yes, i was saying that art does NOT equal music. how do you get that slash the the equal sign? that RULES!!!

if i got paid by the note, i'd be waaaay richer, in dollars, than A-Rod!!! : )

i own albums by many of the bands mentioned above, so i'm a fan.

for me, personally, however, i strive hard for virtuosity. i've dedicated my entire life to being the best possible musician i can be.

i do NOT think it's fun to argue about music. then again, i do NOT think it's fun to argue, period! : )

33 Bama Yankee   ~  Jul 15, 2009 2:52 pm

[27] Good call on the Carl Lewis throw it ranks up there with the Mariah Carey debacle...but at least she can sing better than Carl... uh oh! ;-)

34 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 2:55 pm

[32] ≠: on a Mac it's
option + = (Option plus Equals).
Really not sure on a PC.

I don't really have much fun in arguments either, but these forum type environments seem to lend themselves to, well, let's call it debating, so I couldn't very well just write off the whole exercise. Especially as I was participating in it.

for me, personally, however, i strive hard for virtuosity. i’ve dedicated my entire life to being the best possible musician i can be.
I don't doubt it at all. And I commend you.

Virtuosity is hard to define, though. When the situation calls for an endless string of low-E eighth notes that groove just right with a heavy back beat, who you gonna call? Not Glenn Gould. Not Oscar Peterson. Not Ali Akbar Khan. Not even Charles Mingus or Jaco Pastorius. In that case you want a Michael Anthony type over many of the other possibilities. Nobody can do everything well, so I try to value musicians for what they CAN do, not deride them for what they can't.

35 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 3:03 pm

[34] "Nobody can do everything well"

i try to!!!! : )

i wanna be the guy they call to cover the endless string of low-E 1/8th notes (or in my case, simple 2 & 4, w/ 1/8's on the hi-hat, or something similar) AND the same cat called in to play solo Bach pieces (i'll do it on marimba), top flight Jazz (call my trio, we're essentially outta work right now!!!) and Indian Classical (i studied the hell outta the concepts, not the instruments).

i recorded 7 records last year and they were all sooo different. simple pop-country, singer-songwriter pop-rock and 20th century "virtuostic" avant-garde record with violin & marimba being the main instruments.

i wanna be able to cover ALL the bases and do them all well. whatever situation i'm hired to work, i'll stay true to that style. a musical chameleon, if you will. pays the bills! ; )

36 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 3:20 pm

[35] "i try to!!!! : )"

Sounds like a hell of a ride! Have fun trying!

Who's your trio? In case I need to call.

37 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 4:02 pm

[36] well, right now, we're just a local group here in here Atlanta. that said, several years ago, we were flown out to the Bay Area a coupla times to perform gigs around SF. if you had something available now, let's definitely get in touch off the Banter.

if not, i'm hoping to release a solo percussion cd in the coming months. once i do, i'll probably have a website and other pages put up online. i might link one to here...

i've gotta get ready to teach my students the virtues of being both versatile & virtuosic!!! : )

38 The Hawk   ~  Jul 15, 2009 4:17 pm

Yeah I'd have to say a real virtuoso can do the dummkopf stuff as well as the twiddly-diddly stuff.

But there is something to that groove-type concern isn't there? My favorite John Bonham performance is on "Black Country Woman" and that's certainly not some rare type of beat, but I don't think I've ever heard the drums hit quite as attractively as they are on that song.

39 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 4:24 pm

[38] imho, i'd say John "Bonzo" Bonham, is theeeee GREATEST rock drummer in the history of the world! hands (and feet!) down. period, end of.

but, that's just me... : )

40 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 4:26 pm

[38] i enjoy both the simple and complex. i have my preferences though...

yes, there are some technically proficient players that "can" do just about anything, but they are devoid of feel. i study and adore many different styles of music and work hard to stay true to whichever genre i'm playing. when it's appropriate to cross-reference styles, i'll do it; otherwise, i just try to play what is required.

41 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 15, 2009 5:10 pm

Gotta give a shout-out to Neil Peart!

42 The Hawk   ~  Jul 15, 2009 5:13 pm

[40] My litmus test is Carter Beauford. He is technically "amazing" but I want to retch when I hear him skittering around on the hi-hat and all those splash cymbals. I don't think I've ever met a drummer who doesn't admire him though.

43 cult of basebaal   ~  Jul 15, 2009 5:36 pm

Mike Shrieve and Ginger Baker get a lot of play around my household.

For luckiest, I've got to throw in Mitch Mitchell, not because of any lack of skill (he's actually one of my favorites and ofter overlooked because he essentially only played with Jimi) but because his inclusion in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and thus the fame and fortune that accompanied it, came when he won a coin flip between himself and Aynsley Dunbar that Chas Chandler used to determine who would be the drummer.

Noel Redding and Billy Mitchell however, richly earn inclusion on the luckiest list with their rather modest talents.

44 The Hawk   ~  Jul 15, 2009 5:43 pm

[43] Whoa, that is lucky! He won a coin flip? I didn't know that.

45 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 6:40 pm

Love, Love, LOVE John Bonham
Love Mitch Mitchell
Like Ginger Baker
Love Greg Errico (Sly & the Family Stone)
don't love (but greatly appreciate) Neil Peart

and I have to say. . .
Ringo Starr is abundantly UNDERrated
extremely musical, vastly influential, not (conventionally) virtuosic,
just a master of simple, effective and tasty. There is no better drummer for that band (and that band was Not Too Shabby). What, you wanted Keith Moon in the Beatles? Neil Peart? Billy Cobham? Disatrous and pointless.

Love Ringo Starr
Love Levon Helm too.

46 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 6:57 pm

[38] Agree that "Black Country Woman" is a great drumming performance.

Have to disagree partially with the premise of the first part.
Because something is simple doesn't make it "dumkopf"
Listen to a super slow Ray Charles song. There are rarely many aspects that are conventionally considered virtuosic in there. But it is DIFFICULT to play that slow and groove. Ray Charles could groove slower than just about anyone. His whole body was swaying -- he was acting as a metronome, partially so the drummer could keep it locked in. Lots of people that are "real virtuosos" can't do what he did.

47 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 6:58 pm

[37] Let us know when you put out your solo CD!

48 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 15, 2009 6:58 pm

[15] What about Bonds? Bobby and Barry Bonds.

49 The Hawk   ~  Jul 15, 2009 7:12 pm

[46] Naw, I don't mean it's stupid, really ... It's about on par with calling fleet-fingered dexterity "twiddly-diddly", which is to say an unscientific and somewhat humorous nomenclature.

I'm just saying though that a real virtuoso maybe shouldn't be considered as such if they can't hold it down on that basic level. I've played with people who had "chops" but often couldn't leave well enough alone when it was called for, so to me they weren't really all that.

Also I agree [45] 100% on Ringo. People who trash him are way off- base. Though he did get worse as time went on; there are some pretty unconvincing performances on their latter albums. But yeah I mean if Ringo's so bad how come those early songs make you want to get up and dance?!

50 NoamSane   ~  Jul 15, 2009 7:50 pm

[49] I get your meaning from [38] now.
That's the danger of focusing too much on technique and not enough on feeling--you can lose the music and trade it for. . . just a lot of notes, usually played fast, high, and loud, regardless of what is called for by the situation.

Yeah, it's true Ringo(and John)'s technical skills receded a bit after they stopped touring.

51 thelarmis   ~  Jul 15, 2009 11:16 pm

[45] i'm a HUGE Beatles fan, but i disagree about Ringo. i think the later material had better drumming on it. of course, that was PAUL on drums, NOT Ringo....

[46] it IS very very very difficult to play slow and groove, no doubt!!!! ballads are really hard to play! Brush work is also super artistic. Ray Charles, was amazing! also, VERY difficult to work for as a drummer. i've known a few guys here in town that worked with him. yes, his body is swaying, but it's certainly NOT a metronome!!! he was very FAR from locking a drummer in. in fact, he tried to throw them off! in his auditions, he would play slow, slower and slowest. he'd also tap his foot, completely out of time!!!. drummers HATED working for him, 'coz he was sooo difficult to follow.

i understand that last part. i've worked for tons of bandleaders and frontmen. they generally don't tap their feet in time, so it's really distracting to watch them and try and follow "their" time. they're usually in some kind of rhythmic vortex! : ~

[49] ah! yeah, i really didn't know what you were talking about w/ dummkopf and "twiddly-diddly". i do think some "shredder" types, with chops - any instrument - get a bad rep & rap, from other players/fans that simply don't like that sorta thing. most of them just have a greater emotional depth and vocabulary with which to express themselves.

i like a TON of different musics and different styles of players, but the ones who can do it ALL, is where i find my greatest influences.

52 Toxic   ~  Jul 16, 2009 7:58 am

Stanley and Livingstone, on a trek through the deepest jungle are awakened one night by the distant, maniacal pulsing of tribal drums. Unable to return to sleep, they leave their tent and make themselves a cup of tea at the campfire. The drums continue for hours, finally stopping at dawn.

At noon that day, while taking a break from hacking a path through the thick vegetation, the two British explorers finally get to ask one of the bearers about the drums. The man becomes extremely agitated. When pressed on the subject, he says only one thing: "Oh no, no. Drums no problem. Much worse when drums stop for two days."

That night the two explorers are woken again by the drums, and the night after that as well, but no matter how hard they push for an explanation all they hear, again and again, is the same useless reply: "Oh no, no. Much worse when drums stop for two days."

Finally, exhausted from lack of sleep, unable to go further, they give up and turn the expedition around, returning to their base at the nearest trading outpost. All the way back the bearers seem much relieved.

Immediately on arrival, the explorers seek out the chief from whom they'd hired the bearers and demand an explanation. "Oh no, no," the old man says, "Drums no problem. Much worse when..."

"...Yes, yes old bean, when the drums stop for two days, we've got that part," snarls Stanley.

Livingstone then loses it completely and screams, "But why is it bally worse when the drums stop for two days?"

The chief raises his hand for silence, pauses and says, in the gravest voice he can muster;

"That's when bass solo starts."

53 NoamSane   ~  Jul 16, 2009 8:18 am

[51] Great stuff / inside info about Ray Charles! I've definitely played with folks that you had to avoid watching so as to not get thrown off the groove.

You're kidding about Paul playing the drums on Beatles songs right?
Just in case, for the record, Paul played drums on Ballad of John & Yoko, Back in the USSR, Dear Prudence and Mother Nature's Son. That's the whole list for Paul on drum kit.

54 The Hawk   ~  Jul 16, 2009 9:26 am

[53] It's one of the immortal rock n roll myths that Paul McCartney was a better drummer than Ringo.

I'd like to hear Paul attempt "She Said She Said" ... Paul can groove but he's not really a drummer.

55 FreddySez   ~  Jul 16, 2009 10:19 am

If you're a Beatles nut and have kids, you've probably already noticed this... if yours is an adult household, enjoy:


It takes a minute to get going. The few seconds at 5:39 are worth the price of admission, but don't cheat.

56 NoamSane   ~  Jul 16, 2009 11:47 am

[54] I'm tired of that particular mythology, but Paul did improve after he no longer had Ringo at his disposal. Paul drummed the entire album of Band on the Run for instance.

[55] cute cartoon
(I'll spare everyone my defense of Yoko. I'm sure few want to hear it)

57 The Hawk   ~  Jul 16, 2009 12:45 pm

[56] I didn't watch the video once I read the Yoko thing. No need to defend her to me, at least. I mean, I don't enjoy listening to her perform but if you're talking vis a vis John Lennon and the Beatles, I think she's been demonized badly. If anything, people should blame Lennon, but even him I can't fault - dude was wildly in love and those were wild times.

As far as Paul's drumming goes, it's good - it's just wrong to say he's "better" than Ringo.

58 NoamSane   ~  Jul 16, 2009 1:37 pm

Super clear thinking from The Hawk!

59 The Hawk   ~  Jul 16, 2009 2:07 pm

Btw, Sir Paul was on Letterman and acquitted himself well. I was ready to wince through the interview but he was sincere and witty.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver