Sorry, We're Closed

Monday, January 31, 2005

Tough Sportswriters

Now that Sammy Sosa's gone, it's nice to see the sportswriters--many of whom skip in and out of covering baseball whenever it suits them--digging in. Takes a lot of guts to rip someone when you'll never have to see them again.

Sometimes I think that some sportswriters are just overgrown children; everything is black and white to them. Either a guy like Sosa is an unimpeachable hero or a complete dog. Maybe it's because these guys count on players to be their "inside sources" that they have to coddle athletes when they're playing well and can dump all their repessed anger on them when they get the first chance.

(Unnecessary disclaimer: I have some friends who are sportswriters. They probably wouldn't like this post very much.)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Exit, Stage Right Field

Sammy Sosa's tenure as the Chicago Cubs' right fielder is about to end. He's set to join the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston and a couple of as-yet unidentified minor leaguers. At one point, the teams had considered adding relievers Jorge Julio and Kyle Farnsworth to the mix, but that portion of the deal appears dead.

The Orioles will only pay about $9M of Sosa's $17M 2005 salary, with the Cubs picking up the rest. Sosa will waive his 2006 option, getting a $4.5 million buyout from Chicago for doing so. That means the Cubbies are set to pay $12.5 million just to get the 36-year-old Sosa (at least he claims to be 36) out of town.

Baltimore acquires a legitimate box-office draw who could hit 40 homers for a relative bargain, and the Cubs shed more than $6M (taking into account Hairston's salary) from a high payroll. The Birds are expected to ink Sosa to a contract extension as well.

What will the on-field results be? The Cubs see Hairston as their new leadoff man and everyday left fielder. Last season was Hairston's first in the outfield, and he played just 86 games. He began and ended the season on the disabled list, first with a fractured finger and, more seriously, a broken ankle suffered in August. Hairston is not a power hitter and has never been more than an average base stealer, so his on-base skills will be critical to his success.

In 2004, Hairston batted a career-best .303 for Baltimore and walked more than he had previously, but one good reason for his high average was that he didn't play the last six weeks of the season. Hairston, over his career, has been a poor second-half hitter, and it's likely that had he been healthy in September, he'd have wound up batting far less than .303.

Therefore it is unrealistic to expect Hairston to be a star-quality leadoff man, or even a particularly good one. He'll be 29 in May, which means that what we're seeing from him now is about as good as he's going to get. If the Cubs open the season with an outfield of Hairston, Corey Patterson, and Todd Hollandsworth, that'll put plenty of pressure on the infield to produce.

The Orioles, with Sosa slated to go to right field, are probably going to move Jay Gibbons to first base, a move that will automatically make them one of the weaker teams in the league at the position. Gibbons has only once cleared .250 in four seasons with Baltimore and his power numbers have dropped dramatically over the last two seasons. He's also coming off a season of back injuries. While Gibbons was indeed a fine Rule V draftee in 2000, and he has a role in the majors, the soon-to-be-28-year-old has not yet shown that he is capable of playing every day for a major league team.

Sosa's stock fell dramatically in Chicago over the last two years, making a deal necessary for all parties. While Sosa is no longer a game-breaking star, and his exit from the Cubs last September was indefensible, he was, for several years, the best the Cubs had, and he enjoyed well-earned affection from the fans. I personally won't miss everything about him, but I will miss him. Thanks for the thrills, Sammy.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Beltran vs....

Peter Gammons' current ESPN.COM column discusses Carlos Beltran and how his skills have put him in an elite category among center fielders.

Gammons' criterion for Beltran's exalted status is his 2004 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). Beltran posted a .915 OPS last season in his combined AL and NL tenure, his all-time best by a wide margin. While a fine figure, however, this total would not have ranked near the top five in either league had he played a full season in one city.

Beltran's career OPS is .843. While he has improved over the years as an offensive player, especially in his strike zone judgement, he has also been quite inconsistent, batting .306 to .273 to .307 to .258 (!) over the last four years, and is moving into a ballpark--Shea Stadium--that will almost certainly strongly decrease his offensive production. Quite honestly, Beltran was never a premium player before 2004, and doing what he did last year, at age 27, is much less impressive than doing it at age 25.

Compare Carlos Beltran, then, to another contemporary center fielder who is ONE DAY older than Beltran. This center fielder has an career .837 OPS, having played most of his career in a ballpark that has significantly decreased his offensive production. This player is also an inconsistent hitter for average but has better strike zone judgement and has already hit more than 30 home runs five times in his career.

He is also quite possibly the best defensive center fielder in the history of baseball. His name is Andruw Jones.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Random Rock Thoughts

Byrd Watching
For some reason, I don't find myself going back to The Byrds' hit singles ("Mr. Tambourine Man," "Turn! Turn! Turn!") too much. Maybe it's just overexposure, but I don't think so.

"Mr. Tambourine Man" just doesn't swing--of the guys in the group, only Roger McGuinn was allowed to play on it, and the session musicians (the usually great drummer Hal Blaine and bassist extraordinaire Joe Osborn) don't do much. "Turn!," on the other hand, just seems a little long in retrospect. There are far better songs on each of the first two Byrds albums, including "I Knew I'd Want You," (there, the session cats rock up a waltz tempo), the great near-hit single "It Won't Be Long," and the first album's centerpiece, "The Bells of Rhymney," an adaptation of a folk song about a Welsh mining disaster.

When you get to albums #3-5, the classic Fifth Dimension, Younger Than Yesterday, and Notorious Byrd Brothers, the hit singles pretty much stop coming. "Eight Miles High," "Mr. Spaceman," "My Back Pages" were all minor hits, much less than any of them deserved, and that was basically it for the Byrds as a chart entity. With barely a shred of filler on any of the LPs, these three classics--which along with classic pop songs and great harmonies encompass jazz, psychedelia, country, straight rock, electronics, and Eastern influences--are truly the Byrds' greatest work. does a body good
When Kelis sings about her milkshake bringing all the boys to the yard, what is she talking about?? Her boobs? Is she lactating? Should she be shaking it up while she's pregnant?

The CD reissue of Public Image Limited's third album, The Flowers of Romance, contains several bonus tracks, one of which is "Home is Where the Heart Is," an amazing creation featuring a dub reggae bass and drums, Keith Levene's psychedelically phased and fuzzy guitar bursting in and out of the mix, and John Lydon's arresting monotone vocal, which splashes impressionistic images of domestic bliss and suicidal ennui on the spacious but completely realized musical canvas.

A truly essential song, buried the first time around on the b-side of the "Flowers of Romance" 45, here rescued and put forth to strike a new generation with awe.

A Good Day to be Todd Ritchie

...and a bad one to be John Van Benschoten.

Sox Sign Tadahito Iguchi

The White Sox have signed Japanese infielder Tadahito Iguchi and will give him the second-base job for 2005. What will Iguchi give them?

Last season, in Japan, Iguchi—who turned 30 in December—batted .333 with 24 homers and 89 RBI. The Sox, however, see him as a #2 hitter, implying that they believe his power will deflate on coming to the United States. As a table-setter, then, Iguchi’s on-base ability is critical. Last year he took just 47 walks in 124 games, but did draw 81 passes in 2003. He has some speed, but his stolen base total dropped by 24 in 2004.

He has played both shortstop and second base for Fukuoka, and is sure-handed. The Sox have given Iguchi a two-year deal, and hold a club option for a third. At $2.5 million per year, Iguchi is a pretty decent gamble. For now, incumbent second sacker Willie Harris becomes an all-purpose utilityman.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

An interview with new Cubs telecaster Len Kasper

Len Kasper has picked one of the plum jobs in broadcasting at the relatively tender age of 34. After three years of televising Florida Marlins games—and receiving a World Series ring for the 2003 season—Kasper was hired in December 2004 to replace the departing Chip Caray. Kasper will team with new analyst Bob Brenly (who replaced Steve Stone) to televise around 150 Cubs games on WGN and Comcast SportsNet.

Kasper was kind enough to spare a few minutes of his crammed calendar at the 2005 Cubs fan convention to speak about his new job, ideas about his successor in Florida, and some of the nuts and bolts of his work.

You’ve reached the Holy Grail of Broadcasting.

LK: That’s a good way to put it, the Holy Grail of Broadcasting. I think it’s the best play-by-play job in baseball, and I would have to say it’s the best play-by-play job in sports, when you think about the reach of WGN, you think about the Cubs’ following, you think about how knowledgeable the fans are, what a great city Chicago is, and the history of this franchise. And who has sat in the television play-by-play chair in Wrigley Field…you add that all up, and I don’t think you could ask for a better situation for a play-by-play person like me.

Have you felt that any expectations have been put on your shoulders?

LK: I know that this job is different than a lot of jobs. I know the position carries with it prestige that in a lot of other places…you can go about your daily life and people aren’t going to recognize you as much even though you’re on television. That’s not the case in Chicago. I didn’t get into the business for that reason at all, but it’s certainly something that I’ve dealt with here this week.

But I enjoy it. Who wouldn’t want to talk baseball with Cubs fans that know everything there is to know about the team?

So that part of it I understand. As far as the work pressure, I probably put more pressure on myself than anyone could ever put on me externally, because I’m driven to do the best job I can and to work as hard as I can and be the best broadcaster I can be. The key is to not overthink that part of it, not think about Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse, or Chip Caray—who I have a lot of respect for—who have been in this chair. I just need to do the job the best way I can and let the rest fall into place.

Have you found that doing play-by-play in different cities means that your level of game prep has changed over the years?

LK: I think every year I’ve done it, I’ve streamlined it a little bit. You get more efficient in how you prepare. The more you know the league, the more you study the players—everything you do to learn about player—that’s less work you have to do later. In that sense, I think I do less, in terms of time, than I used to. But the quality of my prep is better than it’s ever been, because now I know what to look for on a daily basis. I know what things I see that I can then say, “Okay, I can use this.”

I tended to look at things and think, “oh, that’s important” maybe five or six years ago, but in reality it was something that I’d never use. But I just felt like, “I need to know this.” You just kind of streamline a little bit. A lot of stuff you can tuck away in the back of your head about a player or a team that you don’t have to really write down. I like to write down everything I can; when I do that, I usually remember it. There are a lot of things that I’ve learned that I don’t have to write down, and that’s been very helpful.

When you travel with a team, you tend to collect a lot of “deep background” info that you can’t really use. Where do you draw the line?

LK: Sometimes I will ask a player, manager, or coach—for air—“tell me about this.” I don’t do that all the time. If it’s about a hitting position, or something that’s not sensitive, I’ll use it. There are occasions where things are sensitive, and I’ll say, “Look, I know you can’t say much, but when I go on the air tonight, and I need to talk about this situation (for instance, about a manager), what can I say that you said about it?” That’s usually a good way to handle it.

If I’m ever concerned that something said to me that I think was really interesting, but that if it gets on the air that the person might not have wanted it on the air, I’ll go to that person and say, “The thing you told me about x, is it okay if I use that?” I’ve had a couple of players say to me, “No, I’d prefer that you don’t,” and I’ll say, “Okay, that’s fine.”

I think just that it’s good to be as open as possible about it…sure, there are times that things get on the air that maybe weren’t supposed to, but nobody says a word about it. I’m sure that happens. I try to be as diligent as I possibly can as far as on- and off-the-record comments, or things about certain players.

You and Bob Brenly are replacing two telecasters who spent last season fending off some squabbles with the ballclub. Is there an approach you plan to take to defuse such controversy?

LK: Nothing I’m going to do and nothing I have done since I got this job has been done to defuse anything or change anyone’s mind. Chip and Stoney were terrific on the air together. I didn’t watch every inning of every game they did, but because the Marlins played a lot of night games and the Cubs played a lot of day games, I had a chance to watch a lot of their work. And I thought they were great. I’m just going to be—as corny as this sounds—the best Len Kasper I can be. And Bob Brenly is going to be the best Bob Brenly he can be. I think you take the simplest approach and just try to do your job the best way you know how. You can’t really worry about all the other stuff that’s around it. Anyone in this position, I think, would say the same thing.

Someone said to me something today about Harry Caray. I said to them, it’s unfair to expect me, or any other broadcaster, to be Harry Caray. There’s only one Harry Caray. So I’ll just do the best job I know how to do.

Some Cubs fans tend to see the Cubs as almost an extension of their own family. Did you find the same depth of feeling in Florida?

LK: I did, on a somewhat smaller scale since the team has only been around since 1993. But in 2003, look at the playoff run. In the post-season, they drew over 60,000 for pretty much every game. The fans went crazy for their team. There are a lot of very good Marlins fans. Having won a couple of World Championships has helped the franchise. I think it’s going to take a little time for it to build into something bigger than it is right now.

The fans were unbelievably great to me, and to my family; the ballclub was as good as it could get, the way they treated us. I got a World Series ring—an “A” ring—which was beyond generous. All I was was a passenger along for the ride, and I ended up getting the same ring that the players got. I’ll never forget that, ever.

I was very happy in Florida, but this [Cubs] opportunity was too good to pass up.

Do you feel good about the chances of the Marlins getting a new stadium?

LK: I do. They have worked a lot behind the scenes, and are getting to the point where they are now a step or two away at most from getting it finalized. It sounds like if they get their ballpark it’ll be near the Orange Bowl, it’ll be closer to downtown Miami, and it’ll have a retractable roof. I think that’s a very important piece of the puzzle in South Florida with the weather being what it is.

Were you asked for any input on your successor in Florida?

LK: I was asked for a few people for my opinion. I told them my opinion. It’s someone who’s already working with the Marlins. Basically, Jon Sciambi was my choice. He’s been there for a long time doing radio. If it’s something he wants to do, I think it’d be great. They’ll make the right decision—it’s their decision—and I’ll definitely be paying attention, and watching, because I will still follow the Marlins, and Tommy Hutton is still one of my best friends. [Note: On Tuesday, January 25, it was announced that Jon Sciambi has left the Marlins and taken a deal to do 20-30 regional baseball games for ESPN.]

Have you done any test broadcasts yet with Bob Brenly?

LK: No, we haven’t. We’re just gonna jump in and do it. When you do a national game—and I know Bob has done this before—you’re teamed with someone you’ve never worked before. I worked a Fox game as a fill in, the #2 game, and it went to the entire southeast part of the country, in 2003, with Joe Magrane. I had known Joe a little bit from running into him when the Marlins played the Devil Rays, but we had never worked together. We just jumped in and we did the game, had a lot of fun, had good chemistry. Play-by-play announcers know their role, and color analysts know their role, and the key is that you just jump in there and you do your thing. We’ll have six spring training games, and I don’t think it’ll take very long at all. We’ll hit the ground running.

Is this the coolest job in the world?

Yeah. Yes! I’m speechless. When people ask questions like that, I have a million things that run through my head. But emphatically—with a capital Y—Yes.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Let's call A. J. Pierzynski "Nut Job"

From Bruce Jenkins in the San Francisco Chronicle:

One of those now-it-can-be-told stories the White Sox, A.J. Pierzynski's new employer, surely haven't heard: During a Giants exhibition game last spring, Pierzynski took a shot to his, shall we say, private parts. Trainer Stan Conte rushed to the scene, placed his hands on Pierzynski's shoulders in a reassuring way, and asked how it felt. "Like this," said Pierzynski, viciously delivering a knee to Conte's groin. It was a real test of professionalism for the enraged Conte, who vowed to ignore Pierzynski for the rest of the season until Conte realized how that would look. The incident went unreported because all of the beat writers happened to be doing in-game interviews in the clubhouse, but it was corroborated by a half-dozen eyewitnesses who could hardly believe their eyes. Said one source, as reliable as they come: "There is absolutely no doubt that it happened."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Another Quick Note from the Cubs Fan Convention

According to my friend and SABR colleague Rich Smiley, high-level Cubs employees--in two separate sessions with fans this morning (Sunday)--opined that the Washington Nationals were not going to sell many tickets this season.

Assuming that these figures, one of whom is the team's Chief Executive Officer, have seen the totals on season tickets (apparently over 30,000), does this mean that Cubs management figures are being disingenuous? Or is something else going on?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Randoms from the 20th Annual Chicago Cubs Fan Convention

Did you know...

That the Cubs have sold 50,000 blue "believe" wristbands (to benefit Cubs Care, the club's charity arm) in the last two days?

That the Cubs plan to enter the 2005 season without a legitimate leadoff man?

That Fergie Jenkins truly is a rancher, cowboy hat and all?

That a dessert product sold at the convention is the "Official Filled Honey Wafer of the Chicago Cubs"?


More to come.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Chicago Cubs Sign...Peter Bergeron?

The Chicago Cubs have signed Peter Bergeron to a Triple-A contract and will invite him to spring training as a non-roster player.

That may not seem like big news…but Bergeron is exactly what the Cubs need—a versatile defensive outfielder with speed who hits from the left side. He could be very valuable in a reserve role.

Bergeron, originally with the Dodgers but acquired by the Expos in a 1998 deal, spent 2000 as the Expos’ everyday center fielder. He didn’t set the world on fire, hitting .245 and stealing successfully only 11 times in 24 tries, but he hit some doubles and triples, showed himself to be a good bunter, took 58 walks, and played a solid center field.

Unfortunately, he didn’t develop, and the Expos seemed to give up on him rather quickly. He was a very patient hitter up through 2001—one wonders whether the ‘spos, who do not seem to value players who walk, tried to change Bergeron’s approach—but since then, he has seemed lost at bat.

While the Cubs don’t seem to think much of the base on balls much either, perhaps Bergeron, if he makes the club, can get on base a bit, play good defense in the late innings, add a little speed, and get some of his game back. A change of scenery can help a guy, and Bergeron doesn’t turn 28 until November. This looks like a good signing by the Cubs, who are not deep in bench outfielders. Last year, Dusty Baker gave far too many at-bats to Tom Goodwin, who has proven conclusively what he is capable of doing and not doing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Weapons of Mass Stupidity

Just a brief comment…

The President of the United States is a functional illiterate who, in his days as a violent drunk, used his connections to get out of military service, then later reinvented himself as a warmongering patriot.

His brother presided over the stealing of a presidental election by disenfranchising the aged and minorities.

The lady who would be Secretary of State was derelict in her duty securing the country, leading to the tragedy of 9/11, then lied about WMDs to get us into a war in which thousands of Americans have been killed.

The man who would be Attorney General believes that he, rather than the U.S. constitution or the Geneva Convention, should define the limits of personal freedom and what constitutes “torture.”

Is there no end to the line of bootlicking toadies whose lies are killing and bankrupting this nation and its children?

Enjoy the inauguration, America!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Are the White Sox...dumb?

Much as I hate to pass judgment on any baseball organization’s decisions, being as that I’m just a writer and not actually someone running a baseball team, it’s rather difficult to shine much positive light on what the Chicago White Sox have done this off-season.

Last season, the White Sox had the AL’s third most productive offense; only the Yankees and Red Sox scored more runs. Consider that for a minute. The way some people talked about the team, however, you’d think they were incapable of pushing men across the plate.

Even lacking a consistent leadoff man (Willie Harris hasn’t yet gotten himself together), taking into account the disappointing performances from brothers Roberto and Sandy Alomar, the injury to perennial threat Frank Thomas—who wears out pitchers simply by taking so many pitches—an off year from shortstop Jose Valentin and third baseman Joe Crede’s lack of development, Chicago still scored 85 more runs than division champion Minnesota.

The Sox tied for the league lead in homers, which helped them, but they didn’t take many walks (largely because of Thomas’ injury). With Thomas back, 2005 could have been a very interesting season offensively.

So what do the White Sox do? Decide that it’s time to ditch their approach. No more home runs. No working deep counts. Instead, under manager Ozzie Guillen, who was, as a player, one of the worst hitters in modern baseball history, the Sox are gearing up for a “speed and defense” approach, a strategy effective in baseball about as often as the ol’ “Statue of Liberty” play works in football.

First, the Sox traded their best player, Carlos Lee, to the Milwaukee Brewers. Lee’s salary will soon be spiraling into baseball’s upper strata, but that didn’t seem to faze the always-penurious Brewers...and apparently, Lee wasn’t even traded because of his salary. At last week’s Soxfest (an annual club-run fan convention), manager Guillen complained that Lee didn’t slide hard enough into a Twins infielder in a game where a Minnesota outfielder ran over White Sox catcher Jamie Burke in a home-plate collision, then intimated that this is a reason Lee was traded.

Apparently, Guillen would rather have his best player risk injury and possible suspension in order to get revenge rather than have him remain in the lineup.

For Lee, the Sox got righthanded reliever Luis Vizcaino, effective but plagued with arm problems, and Scott Podsednik, who won the NL’s 2003 Rookie of the Year award at the advanced baseball age of 27. Podsednik stole 70 bases last year for the Brewers, a league-leading total that clearly set Guillen drooling.

Unfortunately, Podsednik, for all his basestealing ability, is still a poor offensive player; he hit .244 last year with a horrid .313 on-base percentage, making him not only a bad hitter but also a miserable leadoff man. And to make things worse, he may not even play center field for the White Sox. The ONLY reason Podsednik belongs in the lineup is if he can play center, but the club is now hedging, saying that Aaron Rowand, who enjoyed a breakout last year, may remain there in 2005.

Should Podsednik play left field—a spot that demands offense, because defensively it’s the second-easiest position on the diamond—for Chicago, he will almost certainly be the league’s worst regular outfielder.

On the other side of the outfield, to replace departing free agent Magglio Ordoñez, the Sox signed 31-year-old Jermaine Dye, who since breaking his leg in 2001 has average at best. He is valued for his take-no-prisoners attitude, which the Sox need (Ordoñez was not a vocal leader), but while Dye’s offensive numbers may improve a bit in moving from cavernous Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland to the relatively comfortable U.S. Cellular in Chicago, he won’t match what Ordoñez gave the Sox.

Shortstop Valentin is also gone, and in his place will be Juan Uribe, a utilityman in 2004 who started the season hot and progressively cooled down. Like most of the remaining Sox, Uribe rarely walks. In fact, it’s hard to find anyone besides Frank Thomas in the lineup who will work the count. Paul Konerko, who had a big 2004 after a terrible 2003, drew 69 passes last season. Harris only walked 51 times, which at least was more than Dye, Uribe, Crede, new catcher A.J. Pierzynski, or Rowand did.

The new offensive “strategy” the Sox are embracing—contact hitting, moving runners along, and basestealing—might be doable if the Sox actually had the personnel to do this. But Podsednik’s poor leadoff skills, Harris and Uribe’s lack of baserunning savvy, and the relative immobility of Konerko, Dye, Crede, and Thomas make the strategy a non-starter.

Had the Sox used Lee, or the money spent on signing Pierzynski, Dye, and a contract extension for Rowand on quality starting pitching, that might be an improvement. The Sox’ ERA last year was 4.91, better only than Detroit and Kansas City. Two in-season trades, bringing over Freddy Garcia (who cost the Sox catcher Miguel Olivo and outfielder Jeremy Reed) and Jose Contreras, were of only fitful gain, and signing Dustin Hermanson and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez to two-year deals makes little sense; both are journeymen at best, incapable of shouldering a heavy load.

Some rabid fans think that the Sox are going to play more spirited baseball this year, that they’ll run more, hustle more, and won’t depend on home runs. I don’t know; hitting home runs and drawing walks seems to work awfully well in baseball, certainly much better than littleball does. If I were the White Sox, I’d be trying to emulate the 2004 Red Sox, not the 1986 White Sox of Ozzie Guillen’s heyday.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Run, Run, Run--a surefire song title!

If there's one song title that's guaranteed to bring a smile in my book, it's gotta be "Run, Run, Run." Submitted for your approval: five great songs, all with that name.

First of all, there's 1964's "Run, Run, Run" by the Gestures, a blistering piece of Minnesota garage-band surf-rock with an odd minor-key chord structure and cool vocal arrangement. This all-time great is on the Nuggets 4-CD box set.

Next, there's the Who's "Run, Run, Run" from 1966. It's the leadoff track on their second album, A Quick One. Taking "My Generation" and moving it the next step--from Jimmy Reed-influenced autodestruct to hard-swinging R&B--the band never sounded more confident.

Third, we have the Velvet Underground's "Run, Run, Run," also from their 1967 debut. The lyrical images, concering running from place to place, nervously sucking on a cigarette while waiting for someone to get you something (probably illegal), are complemented by the drony, noisy backing, with guitars spewing feedback and Maureen Tucker's rolling, clattering drums fogging things up like the stuff at the bottom of Bo Diddley's glass.

A slightly lighter form of fun is also on Nuggets, the Third Rail's 1967 "Run, Run, Run." A twee piece of social commentary a few layers beneath "Pleasant Valley Sunday," this near-hit was the product of New York studio monkeys Joey Levine and Artie Resnick. It features a fake-British-accent mid-song 'newscast' that's as ridiculous as the backing track is innocuous.

Finally, we consider Jo Jo Gunne's "Run, Run, Run," of which there are at least two mixes. A rollicking bit of early 70s rock, this was a hit single of sorts that sounds like nothing else. It's got a strange melody and chord structure, with lyrics referencing motorcycles, running from the law, and how "we're all just papers in the wind," and a great slide guitar carries it home.

There must be other songs with this title...I'm just hoping they're good.

Hello and Welcome

Hi, folks.

Welcome to the first installment of what I hope will be a freewheeling corner of cyberspace...I'll be writing about baseball, music, culture, history, art, food, birds, and the search for the perfect organic snack food, among other topics...

Please tune in, email, communicate...much love to you all.