Archive for July, 2011

I Do Believe I Feel the Heat

What follows is not especially new, but neither am I.

You’ve often heard loose talk of the “Drums of War,” no? What follows features the less famous though equally rousing and deadly, “Guitar and Lead Singer’s Voice of War.”

If the voice strikes you as “Wagnerian” — and it surely does — then that’s because it’s actually Wagner singing.

I don’t have unassailable proof that Alexander’s muscled, glistening, loiny troops listened to this heart-pumping anthem before vanquishing Darius III, but, after allowing this song to course through me over and over on my Sony Walkman with auto reverse, I’m willing to test that theory in the streets. With my war-fists.

(Hot, knowing glance: BBTF)

Mustache Watch: Luke Gregerson

Using Jon Dyer’s blog as reference, I’m likely to identify Padre reliever Luke Gregerson’s facial hair situation as a Zappa — although with more of a Pencil, and less of a Chevron/Police, situation on the upper lip.

Octavius V. Catto: Baseballer, Martyr

This is Octavius V. Catto and he is something of a forgotten titan of American history — if not American history, then certainly Philadelphia history. Born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1839, Catto’s father — a slave — was granted his freedom when Octavius was a child and the family moved North, finally settling in Philadelphia. Catto took advantage of the educational opportunities available to blacks in the North as he attended the prestigious Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney University). He was later hired by the ICY to teach math and English.

In the midst of the political ferment of mid-19th century America, Catto became involved in the movements for abolition and equal rights. He was a contemporary and colleague of Frederick Douglass, and joined the effort to enlist black soldiers to fight for the Union in the Civil War. Following the war, Catto was instrumental in the passage of a bill barring the segregation of streetcars in Pennsylvania.

I first discovered Catto when I was working as a research assistant on a project that retraced W.E.B. Du Bois’s groundbreaking sociological study of fin de siécle black Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Negro. Given my backgrounds in African American and Philadelphia history, I was interested in learning more about this apparently influential figure who I had never heard of before. There is one particular facet of his biography that was quite intriguing to me (and, likewise, should be intriguing to NotGraphers).

Read the rest of this entry »

Photo: Bobby Cox’s Face Tattooed on Someone’s Thigh

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that isn’t Yunel Escobar’s thigh in the image above. No way.

As much as I want to say that the cat who had that done, who actually paid for someone to tattoo Bobby Cox’s face on his thigh, now and forever more, is certifiably insane, I can’t. Because the team I root for has never won 14 straight division titles under one manager. I’m going to go ahead and assume that if and when that does happen for my  team, all bets are off.

Does that mean I might end up with John Farrell’s Presidential mug tattooed on my arm? Maybe. Like I said, I can’t in good faith rule out the possibility of it happening. I have to admit, though, that right now, I’m leaning more towards an Alex Anthopoulos tattoo. Yeah, definitely an Anthopoulos tattoo.

But you, dear Braves fans, you tell me: From 1991 through 2005, Atlanta racked up divisional titles. Other than Bobby Cox, because, well, it’s been done, which player’s face are you tattooing on your thigh: Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, or Tom Glavine?

Image courtesy of The Associated Press, via Sports Illustrated. And a tip of the cap to Scott Carefoot, one of The Score’s many basketball gurus, whose Twitter account led me to the photo.

GIF-imaufry: Five Clayton Kershaw Sliders

The attentive reader will notice that yesterday, at mission control, I wrote a love letter to Clayton Kershaw and his newfound command.

Please believe me, reader, when I say that said piece does not represent the last of the electronic ink I’ll be spilling on Kershaw and/or his Ample Talent.

In fact, in what I’m calling GIF-imaufry (in homage to our white-bearded forebears), I present this: five sliders, from Clayton Kershaw’s hand to your eyes.

All five of the GIFs you see here are from Kershaw’s 12-strikeout performance against the Giants on July 20th. They all contain footage of Kershaw inducing a swing and miss on a slider. (Per Brooks Baseball, Kershaw got whiffs on six sliders. I didn’t find the sixth one. Che to the sarà, is my thought on that matter.)

Otherwise, um, here:

1. Cody Ross, Bottom 1st:

Read the rest of this entry »

Nickname Seeks Player: Vote on “$45 Couch”

So robust was our initial list of nominees that some culling was in order. So the list of final candidates for the nickname “$45 Couch” is the product of some painful yet necessary “executive decisions.” Please direct any complaints to the convention parliamentarian, who neither cares about your complaint nor exists.

By all means, please revisit the nomination thread, which includes some feverish and well-stated arguments for all involved, in addition to the cracking of wisecracks.

Now, however, the question is before us for a final time: who should be nicknamed “$45 Couch”? Vote, beautiful sons and daughters of the Republic!

Baseball Card Tourney: Haas vs Thomas

Last week was one of the hardest-fought battles of the tourney so far. The smooth stylings of Keith Hernandez went up against the brash bravado of Wally Backman and it looks like we have our second upset in a row. Wally Backman moves on. Keith Hernandez and his mustache power were defeated by young Wally in his utterness. Another #7 moves on! Are the number two seeds cursed?

This week, it’s time for another team-themed battle. The Brew Crew puts forward two young men in their primes for the third #2/#7 pairing. Once again, there’s a favorite. What will happen this week on Baseball Card Tourney?

#2 1980 Topps Gorman Thomas
Read the rest of this entry »

A More Different Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt is a mustachioed former third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. A different Mike Schmidt is Madison, Wisconsin’s funniest comic and the author of the joke you see embedded expertly above.

In point of fact, I’ve heard Schmidt tell this joke in a slightly different (and, depending on your tastes, perhaps slightly more offensive) way, as follows.

My friend asked me to participate in a fantasy draft with him. He chose Alex Rodriguez and I picked two Korean girls.

Now that I’ve told the joke that way, let me tell it this way…

My friend asked me to participate in a fantasy draft with him. I picked two Korean girls. He chose Alex Rodriguez.

It should be noted both that (a) Schmidt tweets a number of his jokes and (b) those same jokes are frequently hilarious and entirely sans taste. Futhermore, he can often be seen in real life at Madison’s Comedy on State.

Fair Sailing, Rick Kaminski

I never got to see Rick Kaminski, Seattle’s “Peanut Guy,” ply his trade in person. But I knew of him and was glad to know he was out there. He died late last night.

No one is reducible to his job or what you think you know of him from afar, but, based on those distant impressions, here’s to a guy who seemed to love his life, which would strike most as a simple life, and who, over the years, gave a lot of people a laugh or two that they probably needed. To be honest, that’s more than most of us are good for.

Tonight, I’m raising a drink to Rick Kaminski. Join me?

Nickname Seeks Player: “$45 Couch”

Our ongoing quest, in the manner of the noble knight-errant, is to assign players to cool nicknames rather than indulge in the tired, shopworn paradigm of assigning nicknames to cool players.

First, though, a brief jaunt through our Nickname Seeks Player Sun-Dappled Old-Growth Forest of Honor:

“Bad Miracle” – Wily Mo Peña
“Captain Black Tobacco” – John Danks

Moving on … The nickname up for grabs in this episode? It’s “$45 Couch”!

The inspiration for the nickname “$45 Couch” comes to us by way of thinking-man’s kick boxer Dan Wade, who, recently over large beers, informed us that he once owned a $45 couch. He prattled on. We, meanwhile, thought about how “$45 Couch” would make a good nickname …

Denotations, Connotations, Implications, Intimations, and Incriminations:

A $45 Couch is not something you want; it is something to which you are resigned. The $45 Couch is a signifier that, in the famous manner of signifiers, signifies something. That something is the plucky region between full dependency on the parental unit and the soulless expanse known as one’s “earning years.” The $45 Couch is the best you can do under the circumstances. And isn’t that — along with putting off death until it’s at least convenient — the point of all this?

The $45 Couch can also be something endearingly serviceable. Although you can afford something better, you stick with the $45 Couch because of nostalgia or frugality or force of habit — even if your significant other forces a “basement/garage diaspora” upon you and your beliked $45 Couch. The people say: serviceable!

Prototypes from Baseball’s Gauzy Past:

In all instances, it is preferable if the player in question at least vaguely resembles a couch. Bob Hamelin felt like the best we could do at the time, and he was large without necessarily being in charge. John Kruk was all serviceable and stuff despite looking very much like a couch. Ditto Dmitri Young.

Guiding, Determinative Query: What current major-league player should be nicknamed “$45 Couch”?

The floor, gorgeous signatories to every important historical document, is open for nominations …