Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or Treating with Cardboard Clubhouse

After a sports weekend which featured: (1) my favorite English Premier League team, Manchester United, shooting 37 times without scoring a goal; (2) my favorite college football team, the Georgia Bulldogs, failing to supply any significant offensive output against Florida; and (3) my favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, coming to Atlanta and losing to the Falcons, I started to wonder why I bother with sports. There are just weekends where it would definitely be less frustrating, more entertaining, and more peaceful if I just didn't give a damn about sports at all.

I wondered that for about 5 minutes or so, and then I dismissed that notion quickly. I've been a sports fan my whole life without questioning how or why, and my life would feel emptier -- less complete -- without having the ability to come online, lob a few comments/jokes, and watch the carnage. 

A lot of folks have other things in their life that they like just as completely. For instance, Adam from Cardboard Clubhouse is a huge Halloween fan. I mean huge. As in, "devoting his blog to Halloween since the beginning of September" huge. That is devotion. 

Also as impressive was his "Trick Or Treat" mailer that he sent out to the "SuperCollectors". Let's look at some of the offerings and see what tricks and treats came my way.

First off the top are two minor league cards. Cody Ponce is younger than the Bert Heffernan card by about 5 years -- the Heffernan is from 1989, and Ponce is from 1994. Ponce, of course, is pictured on the Topps Pro Debut set from this year. 

Bert Heffernan was a ninth round pick for Milwaukee from Clemson in 1988. He was already 23 years old when he was drafted, so he really had to be pushed up the chain quickly. He made it to Beloit in 1989 at the age of 24 -- 2 years older than the average Midwest Leaguer -- and slashed .296/.398/.376. He never hit for any power at all. He also never suited up for the big league Brewers. They traded him to the Dodgers for Darren Holmes. The Dodgers were unimpressed enough to allow him to be drafted away in the minor league Rule V draft by the Seattle Mariners after the 1991 season. It was with the Mariners that Heffernan tallied his single major league hit -- a double off Scott Sanderson -- in 11 plate appearances. He was removed from that game for a pinch hitter -- Edgar Martinez.

So, these two qualify as a TREAT for me because (a) I'm really digging the Brewers minor league cards a lot more these days, and, (b) I needed both of them.

Depending on how you look at it, it sure seems like Jonathan Lucroy's 2016 season is like this scene...

His choosing not to join the Indians because of his concern about playing time next year definitely cost Lucroy a trip to the World Series (assuming, of course, that we don't play out a counterfactual which leads to the Indians falling out of the playoffs early) and it may have cost him a championship. 

Of course, Luc doesn't look at it like that. His wife is from Louisiana, and Dallas was his desired location above all -- that or Houston -- when it came to moving on from the Brewers. I'm happy for him that it worked out to get there, though I'm sure he might ask himself "what if" in 10 years or so if the Rangers don't get to the World Series.

Rickie Weeks Jr. is 34 and finished his season with Arizona. But, let's talk about Rickie Sr. instead. Rickie Sr. is the CEO of The Orlando Monarchs Youth Leadership Baseball Program in Florida. That program has its primary focus of reviving baseball in economically deprived areas in the US -- places, as the website says, that do not have "fields, community sponsorships, and baseball leadership support to effectively render the fundamentals of the game in a safe supervised environment." As best I can tell, though, this might be a for-profit enterprise -- none of the usual notations about the enterprise being a 501(3)(c) charitable entity where donations are tax-deductible are present on the website. Hmmm.

Not to cast aspersions on Mr. Weeks Sr., but these two cards are definitely tricks. The giveaway should be the fact that they are logoless Panini. Also, is there a worse set in the history of baseball cards than the Panini Triple Play cartoon set from a few years ago? Seriously, is there?

Score. Geez, remember Score? Pinnacle Brands issued its first set in 1988. Audible gasps came when (1) the cards came in a plastic baggie more akin to opening some candy than getting baseball cards, and (2) there were full color mug shots of the players on the back of each card. Pinnacle also is credited with being the first company to insert printing plates into packs. 

That led to Beckett naming Jerry Meyer -- Pinnacle's CEO -- as Sports Card Executive of the Year in early 1998. That didn't go too well for Beckett or Pinnacle -- Pinnacle declared bankruptcy less than a year later, so Beckett retired the award. 

The upside on these two cards is that I needed both of them. The downside is that the Surhoff was "just" for the set and the Bell is the "Gold Rush" Parallel that I haven't even tried to chase as of yet. Also, Bell passed away due to kidney issues in the Dominican Republic in August at the age of just 48.

Still, needing both of these cards makes this a Treat.

Two checklists from 1970s Topps usually would not make it into any blog post for me because I have these cards already. But wait -- don't call these "trick" yet. While both are a bit off center, both are in wonderfully sharp condition, and both are completely clean on the back. It's not often you find a 40-year-old card in nearly perfect condition (though that will happen with exceptional regularity in about 5 years time, I'd guess).

Both of these ended up being upgrades to existing cards in my collection, so call this a Treat!

Oh Ricky. If only you'd stayed with Lucy and little Ricky, you could have been something -- maybe even a "90's Impact Player" like Doug Henry. 

He's not this Doug Henry, though:

Luckily, that is. I don't think that the baseball player is paralyzed from the waist down, nor did he allegedly expose himself to two female construction workers last year. Nope, this Doug Henry is still hanging around baseball. 

He is the current bullpen coach for the Kansas City Royals. Henry came into the AL like a house of fire; in his rookie season in 1991, he appeared in 32 games (36 IP) and finished with 2 wins and 15 saves -- good enough for just 8th place in the Rookie of the Year voting, however, behind Chuck Knoblauch, Juan Guzman, Milt Cuyler, Ivan Rodriguez, Rich DeLucia, Mike Timlin, and Mark Whiten. Henry's problem -- like Heffernan -- was being old by time he hit the majors at the age of 27. It just took that long for him to arrive, it seems.

All in all, these two cards are a trick. I have both of them already, I believe. Even if I didn't, Bones reminds me of Sheffield (always bad) and Doug Henry reminds me how poor talent evaluation got in the Brewers organization in the late 1980s.

Blindingly colorful PC guys! That's usually worth a treat. But, I have both of these. The Molitor card, in particular, is painful to look at. It's so "1990" that it's painful. What else is "1990"?

Your 1990s SNL cast, featuring the late Phil Hartman and the late Chris Farley. Chris Rock, Tim Meadows, David Spade, Farley, Rob Schneider, and Julia Sweeney all debuted in 1990 officially, and Adam Sandler made his uncredited debut on December 8, 1990, marking one heck of a good new group of cast members. 

That's the upside. The downside is clearly how ugly those Classic Pink cards were. This was too:

Before Colin Kaepernick took his much more principled stand, Roseanne Barr just destroyed the National Anthem before a game in San Diego on July 25, 1990. This is how ugly those Classic cards are. No question.

Plesac's 1986 Donruss Rookie pales in comparison, but that, too, is not a pleasantly colored baseball card. The Green version of those cards is tough to look at, and the photo itself is bleached out.  

This is such a trick that it's like candy corn level of trick -- so terrible and obviously disgusting that it should surprise no one that candy corn is made entirely of corn syrup, honey, and table sugar with food color, gelatin, and just a little bit of salt. Candy Corn is lethal too -- if you are 180 pounds and eat a little over 1,600 pieces of candy corn in one sitting, you'll die.

I think the same would happen if all cards looked like that Classic Molitor.

Adam, many thanks for the great cards, and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bubba's Bangin' Batch of . . . Bale?

I figure that baseball fans will barely notice that I post this, what with it being in the midst of Game 2 of the World Series and all. The only baseball fan who'll notice is Night Owl, and he'll ignore it as soon as he sees what Matt from Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits sent to me. 

Matt shipped a great package of cards my way, but only about half of the cards are baseball cards. Guess what? I'm not going to talk about them tonight. Nope. Instead, I'm going to highlight the pack of Donruss football, er, soccer cards that Bubba sent my way. While I do it, how about I act like a British tabloid and also post photos of each player's "WAG"? Indeed, it's an excuse to put up photos of attractive women, so why not? Maybe that will get this post some readership.

Let's start with this Mario Götze card. Götze burst on the scene in 2010 with Borussia Dortmund in 2009, getting his senior debut with the club at the age of just 17. The precocious midfielder received his first call-up to Die Mannschaft (that's the German Men's National Team, in case you couldn't figure it out) at the tender age of 18. By the time he was 21, he'd completed a move to the giant of German fußball, Bayern Munich. Just a month after his 22nd birthday, he scored the winning goal in extra time to lead the Germans over the Argentinians in the World Cup Final. Oh, and he has been dating German model Ann-Kathrin Brömmel since 2012.
Well done, Mario. Well done.
But all was not as rosy as it seemed. Under coach Pep Guardiola in 2015-16, Götze found himself getting less and less playing time and getting left on the bench. He was able to engineer a move back to Dortmund this past summer. Here's hoping that will put a smile on Mario's and Ann-Kathrin's faces.

Hulk is the appropriately provided nickname for Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, a Brazilian footballer who is pictured with Zenit St. Petersburg on this card. Supposedly, he got his nickname because of his likeness to Lou Ferrigno. I personally don't see it. 

Hulk is married to Iran Souza. This weird story on "" notes that Brazilian women "like big butts on their man and . . . Iran . . . is proud to be married to one of the current 'sex symbols' of Brazil." The story quotes her as saying, "He is physically privileged, and I can not deny." 

Who knew it goes both ways in Brazil?

Now, I'm not going to go through all of the cards Matt sent because that would get a little tedious (there are 10 different players on 9 cards, after all), but we cannot get past Gerard Piqué. Piqué is still only 29 years old -- it sure feels like he's been around for much longer -- and has been with FC Barcelona for much of his professional career. 

He started in the youth ranks at Barcelona at the age of 10 in 1997 and stayed there until 2004. He left Barça in 2004, though, and played a youth for a year with Manchester United in England. I watched a couple of Piqué's games during his time with United (he only played in 12 senior games, to be fair). He went on loan to Real Zaragoza in 2006 on a loan which required that he appear in at least 20 games for them. He came back to United for the 2006-2007 season, and even scored two goals in the Champions League for the Red Devils (against Roma and Dynamo Kyiv). 

But, he longed to go back home, and with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand ahead of him, it apparently made sense to sell him back to Barça for £5 million.

Wyclef Jean apparently helped Gerard Piqué notice that Shakira's hips don't lie. Actually, the two met when Piqué appeared in the video for the official song of "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" which I just learned was by Shakira and not Fozzy Bear. Shakira is actually 10 years older to the day than Piqué, and the couple have two sons.

Luiz should have been sent off last Sunday against Manchester United for planting his studs into Marouane Fellaini's leg. As former referees' chief Keith Hackett said, referee Martin Atkinson "lacked the courage" to make the right decision and send Luiz off with a straight red card. 

Based on Atkinson's history in those games, it did not surprise me.

Gareth Bale started his career in the Southampton youth academy. Southampton has had an incredible run of producing top class football players -- Bale, Theo Walcott, Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to name just a few from the past decade. 

Bale made his way in 2007 at the age of 18 to Tottenham Hotspur. With Spurs, he had a terrible run to start his career. He suffered ankle ligament damage in a game in early December of 2007. At the time, he was playing left back for the club, so he got injured making a tackle -- something he doesn't do very much of these days as an attacking midfielder for Real Madrid. 

As he got into his early 20s, though, he started moving up the field and, by 2012, he changed his number to 11 to reflect the fact that he was no longer a defender. He kept signing contract extensions with Tottenham, indicating his interest in staying. But then, Real Madrid came in on September 1, 2013, and made a "Godfather" offer -- a then-record £85.1 million fee (since topped by Paul Pogba's fee this past summer). Spurs owner Daniel Levy snapped it up, and Bale moved to Real. 

He has since led Wales as far as it ever got into any competitive tournament, reaching the semifinals before losing 2-0 to Portugal.

Bale and his high-school sweetheart, Emma Rhys-Jones, got engaged, finally, on July 17, 2016. I say finally because they already have two daughters. They tend to stay out of the spotlight to try to give their daughters as normal a life as is possible.

Atlético Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann was one of the revelations of the Euro 2016 tournament -- at least to folks who were not paying attention to anyone but Barcelona and Real Madrid. Griezmann is just 5'7" tall, and his big break in soccer came thanks to getting invited to come train in Spain with Real Sociedad. 

He played for Sociedad until the end of the 2013/14 season, at which time the capital's less-fancied team came calling. In the time since moving to Atlético and as of October 26, Griezmann has appeared in 81 games for the club and has score 50 goals. His rise has been so meteoric that he was surprisingly named the best player in La Liga just a couple of days ago. Yes, better than Lionel Messi.

Griezmann really became the face of the French team in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in November of 2015. He was on the pitch at the Stade de France, playing against Germany in the friendly match that was abandoned after suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the stadium. Luckily, those bastards didn't get into the stadium.

Even luckier for Griezmann is the fact that his older sister, Maud, is still alive. She was at the Eagles of Death Metal show at the Bataclan music hall. Maud and her boyfriend clung to one another on the bloody floor motionlessly in silence. If they had moved, they would be dead. Indeed, the person next to Maude was shot and killed. 

Griezmann met his significant other, Erika Choperena, in 2011. Erika is a Spanish fashion blogger, so she makes sure that Antoine is dressed spiffily every time they are at a formal event. The couple welcomed their first child, daughter Mia, in April of 2016.

Thanks, Matt, for these soccer cards and the excuse to put up these photos of these attractive women. And, for the excuse to talk about some of the great stories that exist in world football outside of the English Premier League.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Meet the Brewers #34: Tito Francona

On June 15, 1970, Marvin Milkes was wheeling and dealing and engaged in three trades for, as The Sporting News put it in their June 27, 1970, issue, "three pinch-hitters." In a move that makes little sense in light of the ages of the players and, frankly, in light of how quickly the Brewers got rid of his cohort in the trade (but more on that when we meet Brewer #38, Al Downing), the Brewers traded away 25-year-old outfielder Steve Hovley to the Oakland A's and, in return, received Downing and Brewer #34, Tito Francona. 

John Patsy "Tito" Francona grew up in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, and attended high school in New Brighton, where he would later raise his own family. Tito got the nickname of "Tito" by his dad for being the little brother to David. Tito was a local sports star in the late 1940s in Western PA. His SABR biography mentions that he was the starting QB for his high school and was even All State in 1951. Maybe if he hadn't loved baseball he would have joined the assembly line of professional quarterbacks to hail from the area (he is from the same county that produced Joe Namath, after all). But he loved baseball, and his uncle got the attention of St. Louis Browns scouts. He signed with the Browns for $5,000 and a $250-month salary.

The military intervened and took Tito's next two years. On his return, he was no longer with the Browns -- they had moved to Baltimore and become the Orioles. Manager Paul Richards took a liking to Francona and gave him a shot to start at the age of 22. He did pretty well and even got a vote -- probably not deserved -- for rookie of the year in 1956. He and Rocky Colavito tied for 2nd with one vote each behind Luis Aparicio. Of the three, Colavito deserved the award based on WAR (2.4 to Luis's 1.5 and Tito's 1.2).

1994 Miller Brewing Commemorative Set
Tito was not a star, though. The Orioles decided to trade him to the White Sox prior to the 1958 season along with Billy Goodman and Ray more in exchange for Jack Harshman, Russ Heman, Jim Marshall and Larry Doby. The White Sox only gave him 142 plate appearances before deciding to get rid of him as well, sending him to Detroit with Bill Fischer in exchange for Bob Shaw and fellow father-of-a-manager Ray Boone.

The Tigers seemed unimpressed as well. Thus, on March 21, 1959, Francona is traded again -- for the third time is just 14 months -- but this time to the Cleveland Indians and once again for Larry Doby. Francona responded with his best season as a major leaguer -- 20 HR, 79 RBI, 2 SB, .363/.414/.566 slash line, and a fifth place finish in the MVP voting. 

Going by WAR, he was highly overrated -- really finishing about 10th -- but still it was a good year for Tito. And, as he said when his son was hired in 2012 as the Indians manager, Cleveland "was [his] home team. There was always a great atmosphere and it was only 90 miles from home." In 1961 he was named to his one and only All-Star team as an Indian at the age of 27. 

He stayed in Cleveland until after the 1964 season when the St. Louis Cardinals bought his contract. He played through 1966 there until the Phillies purchased his contract prior to the 1967 season. His stay in Philadelphia lasted only two months, at which time the Atlanta Braves bought his contract. He spent three years in Atlanta before, in August of 1969, the Oakland A's bought his contract -- only to trade him at the age of 36 to Milwaukee in 1970.

Tito's 1970 season was his last as a major leaguer. In an odd quirk, his son Terry also finished his career as a Milwaukee Brewer. Thanks to Terry joining the Brewers in 1990 -- 5 full years before the short, forgettable Milwaukee career of Derrick May -- Tito also can claim the title of being the first Brewer to see his son play for the Brewers!

After his retirement, Tito worked as the Parks and Recreation Director in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. He was inducted into the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame in 1978 -- an honor his son also received in 1995 and that guy Namath got in 1982. 

Finally, the Indians honored Tito in 2016 by inviting him to throw out the first pitch before Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series against the Boston Red Sox. Tito looks damn good for being 82 years old!

Due to his short time with the Brewers and his retirement from baseball after the 1970 season, the 1994 Miller Brewing card set is the only card of Tito as a Milwaukee Brewer. He actually had a card on the Indians in 2016 in the Topps Archives set, and the "Father-Son" insert set also featured him and Terry together.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ugliness in a One-Card Post

I have other cards I could write up, but those cards are going to take a little more time and effort to write up than I can muster today. So, I'm going with a really ugly one card post. It's okay that I say that, because Peter -- the man behind the Baseball Every Night blog said it himself when he sent the card to me.

See? I never knew that Peter was a cheerleader in his past, though. It's amazing the things you can learn about your fellow card collectors just by interacting with them. Granted, based on his "cheer" in his letter above, Peter must have cheered in the 1870s.

Still, with an introduction like that, I was halfway expecting a crime scene photograph from the Manson Family or something. Nope -- it's just Graeme:

1995 Fleer is one of those sets that really creates a split in the hobby. Some people will tell you it is one of the ugliest sets ever made with all the busy crap going on here. Then, there are some baseball card collectors who are blind and cannot see how ugly it is.

That's the split, really. 

Peter sent me this in response to an email he sent to me where he listed out a bunch of cards that he had in his possession that he wanted to get rid of as not fitting in his collection. I looked at his list, and this one was the only card on the list that I needed.

Today, I was doing some sorting and cleanup around here -- finally getting cards into their binders after being lazy about it for a little while. I went to put old Graeme away, and things got even uglier. You see, I already had this card in my binder -- I just hadn't updated my Fleer Want List to reflect it. Thus, things got even uglier for me because, well, this one is just a duplicate.


At least I had the opportunity today to get some organization done and to talk to a friend on the phone for a while. It's one of the fundamental things as a collector -- trying to stay organized enough so that you do not become the place where people dispose of their ugly children.

Next time, it will be different.

Many thanks, though, to Peter for adding some ugliness to my life. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bad Brains with Brent & Becca

I should really go on eBay more often to find team sets for recent issues rather than flailing around trying to find them at card shows. I know -- that's anathema to many people in the hobby. But, you have to get lucky at card shows to find what you want. On eBay, though, you just have to look.

Certainly, you can pay a premium on eBay. That's the argument against it, of course. There are times it is okay, at least to me.  In particular, I don't mind it when I support someone whom I "know" (at least in internet terms) -- Brent & Becca. Brent was selling a few Brewers team sets at a discount, so I picked up several sets that, with combined shipping, cost me maybe $15 total. 

Those cards arrived this week, and I wanted to show them off. But how? This is an easy one.

Outside of the presidential crap, one of the major stories that I've paid attention to this week was the announcement of the final nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The list of 19 nominees includes a fair number of bands/acts that a lot of people have heard of -- Journey, Pearl Jam, Steppenwolf, The Cars, Janet Jackson, and Tupac Shakur, for example. But as the list went around, there was one band I saw a lot of people discounting because they had never heard of them: Bad Brains.

So, to show off the cards, let's listen to one of the seminal bands of the punk rock era.

Bad Brains started in Washington, DC. A group of African-American boys -- H.R. a/k/a Paul Hudson, Dr. Know a/k/a Gary Miller, Darryl Jenifer, and Earl Hudson (Paul's younger brother) formed a funk cover band called Mind Power. They were playing jazz fusion covers of Chick Corea and funk covers of Parliament Funkadelic. 

Then one of them saw a show on PBS about the new punk movement in England where the show talked about the Sex Pistols and, in particular, the Dead Boys. They heard it and were hooked on the sound and the idea. So, after listening to a Ramones song called "Bad Brain," they changed their band name.

But, they wanted to be the loudest, fastest, most bad ass punk band out there -- and with a twist. Rather than being nihilists like the Sex Pistols -- where everything sucks and should be destroyed -- Bad Brains came at music with positive ideas and attitude. At least at first.

So, let's go for some positive stuff right now:

One of the first things I picked up was a team set of Brewers Allen & Ginter minis. Sure, I need to get a couple more of a few of these, but I wonder why I haven't gone down this path before and picked up team sets? Okay, I have in the past, but perhaps I should go back to this.

I mentioned that Bad Brains came at music at first with a positive message and attitude. After a couple of years together, though, they all got influenced heavily by the Rastafarian movement. Their music reflected it too -- picking up a lot of Jamaican spirituality and grooves with it.

They didn't give up their speed punk, though, because, well, they enjoyed playing it most. 

As often happens with teams in transition, the Heritage High Numbers this year contained nearly as many Brewers as the main set did. It's a pretty cool thing to have cards for this year's National League co-champion in Home Runs (Chris Carter) and this year's Major League stolen base king (Jonathan Villar) showing up in the set. 

Another guy who is making Brewers fans excited -- if he can stay away from the outfield walls and not break his wrist again -- is Keon Broxton. Broxton struggled badly in his first two stints in MIlwaukee in 2016. He was sent down to Colorado Springs on July 1 with a major league slash line of .125/.253/.188. Yes, a .188 SLG. Clearly, what he was doing was not working. 

So, he went down to Colorado Springs and changed his stance and mechanics a bit. He was called back up on July 26, and things fell into place. Yes, he had an unsustainably high BABIP (.425) over his last 169 plate appearances, but his hitting had clearly turned a corner: slash line of .294/.399/.538 with 8 HR, 25 BB, and 16 SB. Even if his batting average walks back a bit, he could be a real sleeper for next year. Of course, he's going to be 27 years old next year too, so he needs to make it happen to have a career.

Over the course of their career, Bad Brains got a reputation of being some of the coolest, nicest dudes in the business. On more than one occasion, they would finish a show as the headliner somewhere and see a fellow band -- new guys -- in the audience. They would bring the new guys up on stage, hand them their guitars and drumsticks, and tell the new guys to play -- just to help them out and give them a bigger stage than they may have had in the past.

Indeed, in the early 1980s, they had new bands come open for them. So, for instance, they had some Jewish kids from Brooklyn open for a show for them in New York. Those kids? They were called The Beastie Boys and it was their third show as a band. No kidding. Later, when The Beastie Boys were huge and went on tour for Ill Communication, they returned the favor and had Bad Brains open for them. 

One of the benefits from buying from Brent is that he sells "master" sets. Oftentimes, the inserts can be tougher to track down than the base cards. Being able to knock out the inserts with the base cards at the same price is even better -- and that's what I got to do with both the full-size Allen & Ginter set and the Bunt set. I still need one more "Program" card though.

When I think about why a band should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, one of the main things that should be considered in my opinion is the influence that the artist had on later artists. I've already mentioned the fact that Bad Brains gave The Beastie Boys a big break. There is a great documentary about Bad Brains on YouTube where luminaries such as Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl, and Anthony Kiedis talk very personally about how Bad Brains influenced them. 

For example, Grohl admits that the drum opening to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a riff that he basically ripped off from Earl Hudson playing "How Low Can a Punk Get". As Grohl says, it's not exactly the same -- but you can definitely hear it in the intro here:

Some other bands that Bad Brains influenced? Anthrax, Deftones, Faith No More (whose lead singer actually filled in as the lead singer for Bad Brains when H.R. was walkabout in the mid-1980s), Jane's Addiction, Living Colour, Rage Against the Machine, Sevendust, Soundgarden, Sick of It All, Sublime, and 311, to name a few.

The final team set I got was the Series 2 Gold Parallel. Man, I wish I had thought ahead of time to get Series 1 from Brent too. I figured I'd highlight Corey Knebel here. Knebel didn't have a great 2016, but he had some bad luck (FIP of 3.58) combine with some control issues (BB9 lept from 3.0 in 2015 to 4.4 in 2016). He's such a high-end arm, though, that he's been a key part of two big trades (for Joakim Soria and Yovani Gallardo). Here's hoping he can continue to develop and be a big part of the team next year.

I don't know if Bad Brains will make the Hall of Fame. I personally think they should, of course -- otherwise I wouldn't have spent all the time putting this post together. Other than Bad Brains, I'm voting for Tupac, Pearl Jam, and Depeche Mode for sure. I'm waffling a bit on the last vote -- either ELO or Kraftwerk, though Yes was good too.

Who do you think should be inducted?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I've Been Called Out, It Seems

My musical tastes tend to be very eclectic. If you've read through my blog when I am showing off cards I have bought/received in trade/found in the gutter along side of the highway, you have been treated to/abused by many of my various tastes. Sure, I will go the way of the random song from time to time and just see what happens, but most of the time I tend to stay reasonably close to my heart.

Because I will listen to and talk about any and every song around, people in my office often get tired of hearing me say, "that reminds me of a song." Today, for example, a woman was talking about taking a hike in a canyon in a state park here, and all I could hear in my head was "Down in It" by Nine Inch Nails... because she mentioned being down in the canyon and then up above it on the canyon rim.

I'd almost forgotten how good early NIN is. 

Still, my loner qualities mean that I have spent an inordinate time in my life listening to music. When I find kindred spirits -- or even just a song on someone else's blog that strikes a chord with me -- I often can't help myself and have to comment. That's what has led to this post. You see, our good friend Zippy Zappy may be a bit burned out on collecting -- probably because school has intervened and, well, the minor league season ended too -- but he isn't burned out on music

In fact, he called me out about music. Twice. He said that he "expect[s] you people who fall into this category [complete with two links in the same sentence to my blog] to listen to all of these and respond with feedback for each song ;)."

Not being one to turn down a challenge, I thought, "why not?" My next thought was, "well, it's not like I have a ton of backlog to post either, so this will be a good one to give me something to write about."

So, here goes. In the order that ZZ posted them, I'm going to put these up and go stream of consciousness on them -- listen once, gather my thoughts, and type.

First up -- some old Italian guy:

I learned Italian about 8 years ago, and I remember a little of it -- mostly the stuff that sounds exactly like the Spanish words that mean the same thing. As I watch the video for this song, I think "I didn't realize Ric Ocasek learned Italian! I mean, I know he married Paulina Porizkova, but wasn't she Czech?" 

Then Battiato starts moving a little bit, and he looks a bit like David Byrne. On meth.

This song is harmless enough. It's your basic 80s synthpop mixed with a crooner's sensibilities and sung in Italian. It probably helps not knowing exactly what he's saying, though this title means something like "Center of Permanent Gravity" (though I feel like it should be "Permanent Center of Gravity").

I'm excited for the next song...always love a new Georgia artist to get into.

So yeah, Tamar Chokhonelidze is Georgian as in the country next to Armenia and not next to Alabama. As I listen to this song, I can't help but wonder if Zippy Zappy is pulling my leg about this song. That, or he's got a 2-year-old that he has to figure out how he'll get the child to sleep every night.

As ZZ said, lavnana means "lullaby" in English. It's definitely quiet, slow, peaceful, and meant to help a little one feel safe at night. If you're looking for a song like that and either (a) speak Georgian or (b) don't care about knowing what the lyrics are, then this song should be right up your alley.

It really is not up my alley, though. Or in my wheelhouse. Or any other analogy you might use.

Let's go to Japan now.

The band is called Frederic, and the song is called "Oddloop." You can read more about that name on ZZ's post.

The weird dancing girls appear are just weird. Even weirder is that it appears that these two appear in several of Frederic's videos, such as Owarase Night.

Okay, Oddloop. If the guys from a-ha ever listened to the song, they'd sue. It's not so close to "Take on Me" that it's obvious, but it definitely was the first thing that came to mind in the opening riff of the song to me. The lyrics are really repetitive, so the chorus words can get stuck in your head really quickly. Or maybe that's just me.

It's a decent song. It's catchy and derivative, so it's pretty much every song that has been made since 1969 after the Beatles broke up.

Or, at least that's what the music critics will have you believe.

Scotland's up next.

Oh yeah. This is much more my speed. I'm someone who really got into bands like Keane and Snow Patrol, so Frightened Rabbit is right in that sweet spot. 

I'm actually a bit embarrassed that I haven't listened to this band before for a very personal reason: my brother-in-law Matt has built guitars for both Scott Hutchison (the lead singer/lead guitarist) and Billy Kennedy (the bass player), among others. In fact, when Frightened Rabbit played Austin City Limits, Scott was using his Copeland Guitar (as you can see in the video here on Red Bull TV).

So, yes, this is great. More! More!

Continuing our tour around the world, let's go to Finland:

I had no idea that Macklemore could speak Finnish. Incredible.

Oh, what? That's some Finnish group called JVG? Okay. That's cool.

My impressions? Well, like any good rap video, this has a lot of hot women in it, but too many skinny sweaty guys with their shirts off. I have to admit that the groove to the song is cool, but I really wish I could understand the words. When you get down to it for me, I am into lyrics in songs. 

This song sounds like something I might have heard on a FIFA soundtrack, though. Except that the song supposedly means "Funky Badonk" in English. That's funny, of course, because Badonk is pretty much a meaningless word anyway. The translation I linked to actually has footnotes that say that "Mauton Jasso" is something to the effect of sick ass. Also funny is that at least one line translates to "Girl twerk that ass" (likka twerkkaa sitä jassoo, in case you find yourself in Finland and want to talk to that hot girl in a way to get you slapped).

See, you always get useful knowledge from me here.

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a Welsh band who are actually playing in New York tonight and at the Variety Playhouse here in Atlanta next week Wednesday (but the Atlanta show is sold out already...). They will hit DC, Norfolk, and Nashville before going back to the UK and Ireland for a month. Then, they are back in the US for 6 shows before heading to Australia right after Christmas. And who can blame them for that, since that's the beginning of summer there?

I had heard this song -- "Pacifier" before on XFM out of Manchester/London on TuneIn Radio. Zippy Zappy rightfully said their band name reminds him of Echo and the Bunnymen. He said their sound reminds him of Kings of Leon. I can see that some. I'm a fan and I need to listen to more of them.

Yeah, this song is actually from 1906. I personally would have preferred if ZZ would have linked to Murray's song "Under the Anheuser Bush" just because, you know, beer.

This song feels a bit like a college fight song. It's probably that low brass line you hear in the background -- the trombones and tubas with their somewhat staccato notes that move the song forward but make it sound like a marching band rather than anything else. I guess that probably has as much to do with the fact that people really hadn't figured out jazz or blues or chord progressions or anything like that.

In the end, this song would not feel out of place in a silent movie.

The Babies are a four piece band out of Brooklyn. This song's rhythm guitar line makes me think of old 50s music -- it's repetitive, all major chords (for the most part), and it's the same rhythm all the way through the song (again, for the most part). It's not a bad song. 

The band apparently took a hiatus in 2014 because band members Cassie Ramone -- real name: Cassie Grzymkowski -- and Kevin Morby decided to focus on their solo careers more. Oddly enough, Cassie Ramone cites to The Ramones as one of her influences.

You don't say.

Cara Salimando is trying to make her name in music the newfangled old-fashioned way: building up a grassroots following by getting her music out to people. I say newfangled because there's a lot of the "do-it-yourself" feel that MySpace used to have for music about 10 years ago -- you know, back when there were actually people on MySpace and not the skeletal remains of profiles that are all probably porn bots.

This song sounds like it could have been an album extra on Taylor Swift's last album. It's poppy, and Cara's voice is very "sweet". There's nothing wrong with that, mind you. With a sweet sounding voice like that, though, I'd prefer a little more edge to it -- more like Luscious Jackson from 20 years ago ("Naked Eye" is what I was thinking of here).

Out of curiosity, I listened to "Dust" by Cara Salimando while typing this. The "sweet" part of her voice has faded, but I like the song more. It's got more of a lyrical edge and is a bit more wistful and darker. 

Not bad at all.

And finally:

Lord Huron is a Los Angeles "indie folk" band. It's a pretty good song, but it strikes me like a weird folk version of Enya or something. I'm not being critical by saying that -- Enya's "Orinoco Flow" had that expansive sound that made it sound, well, BIG. Enya did it orchestrally with big strings and such, but Lord Huron does it with a big percussion section -- you can hear the timpani in the musical breakdown as the "credits" roll at the end of the video.  

It's a pretty cool sound. 

Many thanks go out to Zippy Zappy for bringing a few of these songs to my attention.

But you can keep Franco.