"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: November 2011

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Borderline Bernie

Bernie Williams is the best of this year’s crop of players that will be considered for the Hall of Fame. But as Rob Neyer points out, he isn’t good enough:

There’s a case to be made for Bernie Williams. For roughly 15 years, he played center field for an excellent team. He scored 100 runs eight times, and drove in 100 runs five times. Sure, his teammates helped in those areas. But Williams’ .297/.381/.477 line is quite lovely for a center fielder.

The problem for most of the voters will be Williams’ counting stats. Because he didn’t really become an every-day player until he was 24 and was finished at 37, he didn’t pile up a ton of hits or homers or RBIs. And while he does have nearly a full season’s worth of postseason statistics — for which he deserves some credit — he has few memorable October moments and overall his stats are right in line with his regular-season numbers.

That’s why he won’t get much support from the voters.

Should he, though? Based purely on his position and his hitting, I would rate him a borderline candidate. The problem is that his defensive statistics were terrible. Yes, I know he won four Gold Gloves. Derek Jeter won five. These facts say a lot more about the idiocy of the process than about Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Williams was a slightly below-average center fielder. According to FanGraphs, he was a terrible center fielder. Oddly, though, both sites come up with the same answer about his overall value: 47 or 48 Wins Above Replacement. And that’s just not a Hall of Famer.

Here’s something fun to chew on: Who has the best case of the all the Yankees who have not made the Hall, including Munson and Mattingly? Got to think Bernie ranks near the top of that list.

Afternoon Art

“The Artist’s Mother,” by Georges Seurat (1882-83)

Taster’s Cherce

I want. I need.

Still haven’t been out there. But I need. I want.

[Photo Credit: Three to One]

Life Lessons


If you are looking for a holiday gift for a young Yankee fan, look no further than All You Can Be: Learning and Growing Through Sports, by Curtis Granderson. It’s a trim, glossy, hardcover book, illustrated by students from New York City’s public schools, and it is nicely done. It also includes  some fun pictures of Curtis as a kid.

The artwork is beautiful.

Painting by Logan Hines, 7 years old (Queens)

Detail of picture by Nancy Lin, 5th Grade P.S./IS 49 (Queens)

New York Minute

Check out this gallery of New York City photographs by Stanley Kubrick.

From How to Be a Retronaut, where else?

Beat of the Day

Here’s an oldie but goodie (sent to me from my pal Max):

[Photo Credit: Amy Dreibelbis]

Here Comes Bobby V

The new manager of the Red Sox. Won’t be dull, that’s for sure.

Taster’s Cherce

One of Emily’s cousins is a self-proclaimed apple snob. Says nothing beats a honeycrisp as an everyday eating apple. I didn’t know from the variety until he mentioned it but have since tried out them out and have to say–damn tasty.

[Photo Credit: Ecker’s Apple Farm]

It Ain’t Over (Even When it’s Done)

From our pal Glenn Stout:

It’s over, but we’ve been through this before, baseball and I, and I’m sure I’ll survive the winter soon to come. I know even as the whoops and hollers of baseball’s newest world champion fade that somewhere in the silence that follows, another season will start to make its sound.

There will be trades, Tommy John surgeries and free agent signings for too much money. Even though there will be snow upon the ground, there will also be talk about pitchers and catchers reporting, aging veterans and rookie phenoms. Something deep inside me will start to stir, and then I’ll hear it again; a voice on a playground, a bat meeting a ball, a cheer and a slap on the back. At first it will be faint and far off, but as the days get longer the sounds of baseball will be back beside me. Soon enough, we will both be ready for another season.

Forty Two Times Dope

Happy birthday Mr. Rivera.

The last major league player to wear Jackie Robinson’s number turns 42 today.

Big Sexy

I always got extra excited when I saw Batgirl cruise across the screen during the opening credits to Batman.

Yvonne Craig: Hooba Hooba.

[Featured Image via 1979 Semi-Finalist]

Taster’s Cherce

Anybody down with the McRib? It scares me, but there are devoted fans.

This, via the consumerist however, makes a McRib look like filet fucking mignon.

I know Taster’s Cherce is typically about food turn-ons, but it’s stuff like molded meat that can help us appreciate the good stuff all the more.

[Featured image via MSNBC]


New York Minute

A rainy day in New York always makes me wish I was at a movie theater. Or maybe a museum, or a cozy restaurant. Or hey, what about an indoor batting cage? Yeah, taking bp with my brother, Ben, Jon DeRosa pitching. Something like that, yeah. Unless, I was just chillin’ at home, laying on my ass reading a book or watching a movie on TV. Or in the kitchen, cooking. That’d work, too. I suppose there is lots to do on a dark, wet day in New York, isn’t there?

[Photo Credit: Tall Kev]

Beat of the Day


[Photo Credit: Forever on the Hips]

The Heinz Files III: Speaking of Sports

From Gayl Heinz comes a letter that Howard Cosell once sent to her father, Bill (better known as W.C. Heinz). It concerns a Mets game back in 1962.

The handwritten P.S. from Cosell reads: “The gist of the mail and calls was…at last we understand Stengelese.”

Sir Duke

Man, do I ever miss El Duque. He was the king of style.

If you’ve never read The Duke of Havana, put it on your holiday wish list. Reads more like a Graham Greene novel than a baseball biography.

More than the Moolah

Here’s Charlie Pierce on the end of the NBA lockout:

The NBA lockout was as exclusively about money as it was exclusively about astrophysics. One way you know this is that the settlement that finally was reached was one that could have been reached last June. Like Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in 1972, the league and its players struck a deal they could have had much earlier, and without the extended bloodletting in the meantime. The players took a reduction in the amount of basketball-related income — and can we find a rocket and fire that little bit of business-school jargon off to Pluto, please? — while winning some concessions as regards the league’s salary structure and in the rules regarding free agency. And that was pretty much it after five or six months of loud public wrangling — a brief outburst of authentic MBA gibberish and (poof!) back to work, gentlemen.

Another way you know that it wasn’t really about economics is that the league’s economic public case for its position became more and more preposterous as the weeks went by, and even the public began to notice that it was being taken for a fool. The hilarity hit high tide for me when David Stern started going around explaining that 22 of his 30 franchises were losing money. Tell me, do you suppose that when Stern sat down and chatted with the Nike corporation, or with the People’s Republic of China, to name only two of the wildly successful authoritarian operations with which the league does its business, the first thing he explained while pitching the NBA to them was that 73 percent of his league was in the red? Did you, at any time, expect to see Herb Simon, the shopping-mall billionaire who owns the “small-market” Indiana Pacers — a team that he bought for $11 million and which is now estimated to be worth $269 million — swiping the leftover bourbon chicken off abandoned plates in his various food courts unless the players surrendered to him a chunk of their dough? Of course you didn’t, because your mother didn’t raise a fool when she raised you.

…Stern’s concern for his league’s fans was as transparently phony as was Carnegie’s concern for his workers. (Hearing the commissioner’s unctuous solicitude for the paying customers must have occasioned rueful chuckling, and projectile vomiting, in Seattle.) His primary constituency is a group of 29 men who don’t have to deal much with unions in their principal occupations anymore and who, therefore, are not accustomed to reacting well when the help gets, well, uppity. The lockout was THE perfect oligarch’s answer.

They got most of what they wanted, which means that most of them are probably very unhappy. The league suffered a public-relations debacle that very nearly became a public-relations catastrophe. But David Stern showed himself to be the tinhorn-in-charge once again, and there will be games on Christmas Day. God bless us all, every one.

[Photo Credit: Craig Brewer]

The Holy Greil

A new book on the Doors, reviewed by Steve Zeitchik in the L.A. Times:

At first glance, the Doors seem to be an unusual object of study for Greil Marcus, the music critic and cultural historian who likes to draw connections between punk music and world history (“Lipstick Traces”) or Elvis Presley and the American myth (“Mystery Train”). The Los Angeles band is, after all, an act that these days mainly gets airplay for a few scattered hits such as “Light My Fire” and “Break on Through (To the Other Side).” They wouldn’t seem substantial enough for Marcus’ intense gaze. And besides, didn’t Oliver Stone already spend too much time engaging us in a discussion about the Doors’ legacy?

But as he often does, Marcus dives deep, in this case into rare tracks, seminal performances and offhand interviews. The band of Morrison, Manzarek, Densmore and Krieger — referenced by last name only, like old high school friends (they are of course the late frontman Jim Morrison as well as keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger) — is in fact worthy of the author’s scrutiny. As he makes clear, this is a band “at war with its audience,” and thus merits a paradox-riddled Marcus-ian exploration.

Readers don’t need to be especially familiar with the Doors’ music to appreciate Marcus’ meanderings. But they’ll need to know, or at least quickly adjust to, the author’s unique blend of rock criticism, cultural commentary and first-person narrative, which once again takes the form of impression more than argument. It’s not often one finds a meditation on a song — say, the Doors’ ode to that woman fashionably lean and late, “Twentieth Century Fox” — wandering into a discussion of the Pop Art movement, post-feminist sexual politics and the author’s own childhood.

And also by Dwight Garner in the New York Times:

The best piece of advice I’ve heard someone give an aspiring rock critic is this: For God’s sake, don’t try to write like Greil Marcus.

It was meant as a compliment. Mr. Marcus’s style — brainy but fevered, as if the fate of Western society hung on a chord progression — is nearly impossible to mimic without sounding portentous and flatulent. This voice is so hard to pull off that 15 percent of the time even Mr. Marcus can’t do it. He takes a pratfall in the attempt.

But, oh my, that other 85 percent. Reading Mr. Marcus at his best — on Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Sly Stone, the Band, Sleater-Kinney, Dock Boggs or Randy Newman, to name just a few of his obsessions over the years — is like watching a surfer glide shakily down the wall of an 80-foot wave, disappear under a curl for a deathly eternity, then soar out the other end. You practically feel like applauding. He makes you run to your iPod with an ungodly itch in your cranium. You want to hear what he hears. It’s as if he were daring you to get as much out of the music as he does.

Mr. Marcus’s acute and ardent new book, “The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years,” is his 13th and among his best. I say this as someone who has never cared deeply or even shallowly about the Doors, a band that to my ears (I was 6 in 1971, the year Jim Morrison died in Paris) has always been classic-rock sonic wallpaper.

And here is a recent profile of Marcus by Sam Whiting in the San Francisco Gate.

[Photo Credit: SF Gate]

Beat of the Day

Taster’s Cherce

David Lebovitz offers some essential kitchen tips.

Dig it.

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