Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Loan Me A Dime [Music] [Non-Sports]

[Before I started wasting all my free time writing for this site, I spent a considerable chunk of it downloading music. I have an amazing BitTorrent site (which I will not name for fear of the wrath of their fascist rules) that organizes pretty much every album by anyone ever (and a ton of live shows) by artist, by release date, and usually has them available in multiple sound qualities. It's the greatest thing ever. As result I've got a lot of pretty obscure stuff.

So, occasionally I'm going to include a YouTube of a song I really like and write a little bit about the tune and the artist. If this annoys you, please tell me I'm
a tool in the comments or something. Rest assured that this is because we are in a relatively slow period for my rooting interests and this isn't going to turn into a Phish message board. We are all for expanding our minds here at Fack Youk, but if you folks think it's stupid, I won't do it.]

Today's Selection: Duane Allman (& Boz Scaggs) - Loan Me A Dime

That is actually just an excerpt, because the actual version off of The Duane Allman Anthology [Vol. 1] is 13 minutes long. Pulling out just the best part of the solo kills the context a little bit, but I know most people can't tolerate songs with long jams and get lost without lyrics. I'm probably an exception only because I devote a healthy amount of time to messing around with my hollowbody Paul Reed Smith and trying to pretend I'm good enough to justify owning it (and failing).

Give me a song with long jam and dominant lead guitar part by a virtuoso like Duane, Derek Trucks*, Clapton or Trey Anastasio and I can listen to it 1,000 times. No matter how good your memory is, you're not going to remember thirteen minutes worth of notes, so you don't get sick of it like you do songs with words in them. I cue one of these tunes up on my walk to work and it's a different experience every time.

*Dickey Betts actually put down the Basil Hayden's long enough to answer the "Duane vs. Derek" question incredibly diplomatically right here.

Why, Duane? I know it wasn't your fault, but why did you have to get on your motorcycle that day? You were only 24 years old and already Jesus Christ on the Les Paul. That version of "Hey, Jude" you did with Wilson Pickett was incredible. The tribute to King Curtis you gave two weeks before you died, at the Filmore East, where you played "You Don't Love Me" into "Soul Serenade" and then flowed right into a blistering, free-form 10 minute slide guitar solo, is one of the greatest things ever to vibrate my eardrums. It was simultaneously soulful, angry and beautiful. I just want to know what you would have done with the last 37 1/2 years.

Use of the Word "Historic"

Am I the only one who gets annoyed at the continuous, cliched use of the word "historic"?

The word is overused in every facet of life, from sports (i.e. the Cardinals Super Bowl run) to politics (Obama's inauguration).

What are the standards for the use of this word?

Isn't everything historic? Last night I was at Bogie's when they kicked a keg of Guinness. Guess who got the first one from the new barrel... HISTORIC!

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, "historic" is defined as:

: historic :
a: famous or important in history
b: having great and lasting importance
c: known or established in the past
d: dating from or preserved from a past time or culture

But when we use the word in the present, how do we know that it will be "famous or important in history" given that history is what occurs in the past? Another cliche is "witnessing history". Isn't whatever we see "witnessing history"? And why exactly is the Cardinals Super Bowl run "historic"? It doesn't fit into any of those definitions.

Why can't writers come up with another word?

[Ed. Note: I blame Joe Buck. I can just hear him saying it.]

The Reason WR's Are Divas: Their Job Is Easier

[Ed. Note: This was the 6th post ever written on this blog, so I wanted to pull it forward because it's relevant to what I wrote earlier about Anquan Boldin. If you were reading this blog back then (Google Analytics gives that a 99+% chance of being a no), I apologize.]

A diva used to refer to a supremely talented female opera signer, and comes from the same root at the word 'divine'. The genesis of the negative connotation of the word diva were (usually female) lead singers that were notoriously difficult to work with.

Being a lead singer, while it is the most visible position in the band, requires the least amount of work. Most of what differentiates lead singers from the other members of the band and the rest of the world, is a great singing voice. Unfortunately for most of us, 99% of the population was not born with the requisite combination of vocal folds, muscles and ligaments to have a resonant, pleasing, and in the cases of the best lead signers, distinctive singing voice. Similarly, 99% of the world was not born with the DNA to grow to six feet tall or more, with elite speed, agility and the hands and reflexes to snare a NFL sized football traveling 45 or 50mph while running full speed.

The most accessible component of music for most people are the vocals. Above all the complicated layers that comprise any piece of music, the words are the one thing almost everyone listening can understand. Far more people, for instance, can remember the words to a song than hum along with the guitar solo, much less play it. The inner workings of the bass, drums, guitar and other instruments can be enjoyed by all, but understood only by a musical connoisseur or someone with a background in the instrument.

Likewise, the passing game is the most exciting part of the football game, partly because of the fast pace and partially because, with two people involved, it is the easiest to understand. Quarterback drops back, looks to the WR, who creates separation and they connect on a crisply thrown ball, hopefully. That's the part of the game than happens in Brett Favre's Wrangler Jeans commercials, not the scrum between the center, right guard and the nose tackle.

Like the chords and rhythm of a hit song, most fans can't process the complicated strategy and execution of offensive and defensive line play either, although they can appreciate the end results. Collectively, line play is universally considered the most important component of a football game, laying the groundwork for everything else that happens. But there are too many things occurring at once. The only people who can dissect line play are those with access to the overhead-view coaches' tape: current and former coaches, players and analysts.

When it finally all comes together, like the lead signer, the WR might have the easiest job on the field, save for the kicker. Wideouts match up with guys they typically have 3” of height or more on, and have the knowledge of where they are planning on going.

The obvious comparison between an band and a football team should be quarterback to lead singer. But the problem is that the quarterback's job is extremely difficult, and his level of performance is directly affected by this teammates. The quarterback bears responsibility closer to the band manager or sound guy. A wide receiver can get open on a play regardless if the TE on the opposite end of the formation runs his post route efficiently or if the running back runs too flat or a screen. A quarterback, however, will have no chance of completing a pass if a defensive tackle shoots through a gap and gets to him before he completes a three step drop.

That's why some top level WR's complain all the time and all of them think they don't get the ball enough. They actually are open, they are doing their job, while someone else, be it a lineman or quarterback isn't. The thing is, getting open doesn't take nearly the amount of playbook study, time in the gym, or technique that blocking a 290lb missile does. It doesn't take the same level of film study and ability to dissect the entire defense that is necessary for a top level quarterback to be successful. They don't take the physical punishment in between the tackles that a running back does. In both cases, it takes a complex and heroic effort to set the table for both wide receivers and lead singers.

The Curious Case Of Anquan Boldin

One of the Giants' highest priorities this offseason is going to be filling the hole on their roster left by the bullet that went through Plaxico Burress' thigh. Burress is probably going to make an "Up North Trip" for what went down in the Latin Quarter just after midnight on the morning of November 30th, thereby vacating his post as the #1 WR on the GMen.

I don't know what Jerry Reese is scheming up over in the Meadowlands, but I can tell you what Giants fans are thinking. They want Anquan Boldin in the worst way. They speak in hushed reverent tones and call him the "toughest player in the league". Except for Ed Valentine at Big Blue View, that is (I've added some subtle emphasis):
Cross Arizona's Anquan Boldin off the list of potential targets for the Giants at wide receiver. Tom Rock of Newsday does a great job calling out Boldin for his sideline tirade near the end of Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Mike Freeman of CBS Sportsline went even further, calling Boldin a 'jackass.' Boldin apparently continued his tirade after the game, refusing to celebrate the Super Bowl berth with his teammates. Sorry, I want nothing to do with a player who acts like that during and after the biggest game of his team's season. 'Kudos' to Pro Football Talk for the Freeman find.
Hear that, Jerry Reese? Cross the number one potential target at wide receiver in the league off your to-do list because some clueless hack of a "blogger" "want[s] nothing to do with [him]". Forgive me Ed, I thought you were going to give an ACTUAL REASON.

The Cardinals were running a one reciever set and obviously the human-like machine referred to as "Larry Fitzgerald" is going to be that one WR. Boldin probably wanted to be in the game. You just said it was the biggest game of the season, would you rather he sat on the sidelines with his helmet on, like LaGroinian Toemlinson?

I don't think we should judge his integrity and character from 10 seconds of FOX sideline camera shots. The media will no doubt take a rolling pin to this story and try to stretch it out over the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Great, I hope that lowers his value this offseason and the Giants can get him for less. Who knows what was actually said? The sidelines in the NFL are probably an incredibly emotional place (I've never been), and I'm sure things are said and forgiven that the general public never hears a whisper of.

This guy wanted to play so badly, in fact, that after he was knocked unconscious by this hit in Week 3 and carted off the field, it took him only three weeks to return to the starting lineup. He had a broken sinus cavity, two fractures in his face, it took eight plates and a jaw wiring for the surgeons to repair it all and he (supposedly) didn't take any painkillers. I wouldn't have back to my job in three weeks, and I sit at a desk writing marketing research reports.

Before & After

My one concern with Boldin, is that he's only 6'1", 217. Most of the true #1 receivers in the league are taller than that. Calvin Johnson (6'5"), Plax (6'5"), Randy Moss (6'4"), Brandon Marshall (6'4"), T.O. (6'3"), Andre Johnson (6'3"), LFitz (6'3"). Unfortunately, I don't think Eli Manning is ever going to be a deadly accurate passer, and as a result, he'll need a bigger target to throw to.

I threw out the possibility of TJ Houshmanzadeh, who is going to be a free agent, because the Giants won't have to give anything up besides money and cap space. Up until this year, Housh has taken a backseat to the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson. TJ caught 905 of the 2672 yards thrown for by Bengals QBs this year, and has had more touchdowns than Ocho in each of the past three seasons. But he's 6'1", 199, and 31 years old.

The Giants aren't getting Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson. They aren't going to bring in T.O. if the Cowboys release him. I'd certainly rather have Boldin than Housh, but regardless of this dust up on the sidelines, the Cardinals aren't just going to give him away. They'd probably want some draft picks in return and I'm assuming it would be more than the 2nd & 5th the Giants got for Jeremy Shockey. Probably more like the 1st, 3rd and 6th the Cowboys (stupidly) gave up for Roy Williams.

I love Boldin, but the Giants might be better off signing Housh and/or seeing if one of the receivers in this year's draft, like Jeremy Macklin or Percy Harvin, falls to them at the 29th pick.

Bud Selig For A Day

Jason at It Is About The Money, Stupid was kind enough to guest-post our suggestion for what to do if we were commissioner of Major League Baseball for a day. It includes a little of our email exchange that led up to the post.

He originally asked me to write a few sentences, I obliged, and then asked if he had any edits or suggestions. He offered some direction, I asked Will and Cliff for some input, and pretty soon the offering was almost 400 words. Check it out if you get a chance, and I'll re-post it here later on, just for the record.

Check out Jason's blog in general, too. (Not just because he was the first person to link to us). He's a Yankees guy, but always has a unique and objective take on tough issues like Stadium financing and other stuff throughout the league.

Number of Days Until Spring Training: #23 (Mattingly)

There are 23 days remaining until catchers and pitchers report. The number 23 on the New York Yankees was last shouldered by a man that needs no introduction... Sir Donald Arthur Mattingly, a.k.a. The Hitman a.k.a. Donnie Baseball. From 1984-1987, he had the makings of a surefire Hall of Famer.

In 1984, at age 23, in his first full season in The Bigs, he finished 5th in the MVP voting after batting .343 with a 156 OPS+.

In '85 Donnie batted .324 (3rd in the league) with 35 home runs (4th), 48 doubles (1st), and 145 RBIs (1st), then the most RBIs in a season by a left-handed major leaguer since Ted Williams drove in 159 in 1949. Don's efforts were recognized with his first and only MVP award.

He had another spectacular season in 1986, losing the MVP Award vote to only pre-tractor-teeth-pulling/forehead ear Roger Clemens. In '87 he racked up 30 homers and 115 RBIs and finished 7th in the voting despite only playing 141 games. That year, Mattingly tied a major league record by hitting home runs in eight consecutive games, set a major league record by hitting six grand slams (somehow, the only 6 of his career) and got an extra base hit in 10 consecutive games.

Donnie's career was cut short by a series of ongoing back problems starting in 1987. He retired in 1995, a season before the longest World Series drought in Yankee history ended. Unfortunately for Yankees fans, his bad back is going to keep him out of Cooperstown. However, his outstanding career batting numbers, his amazing 1984-1987, and his 9 Gold Glove awards were recognized by the Yankees when they retired his #23 and placed a plaque in Monument Park to honor him on August 31, 1997. His plaque reads:
"A humble man of grace and dignity, a captain who led by example, proud of
the pinstripe tradition and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, a Yankee
On a personal note, I love Don Mattingly. He is my favorite Yankee of all time and the reason I started liking the Yankees in the first place. I saw him at training camp in 1991 and he gave me a baseball which he then signed a few hours later. I was seven years old then, 24 now, and that ball still adorns my dresser.

God Bless the Yankees, God Bless Don Mattingly, and God Bless these United States of America.