Musings @musicandmeaning.com

Only hope can keep me together. Love can mend your life but love can break your heart.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for the 'Baseball, sports' category

When baseball is good, it’s thrilling. When it’s bad, it’s monotonous. But I love it.


Saturday, 30 April 2005

Summer surprised us

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is already the 1st of May. April is like sweeps month when you’re on the semester system. A few updates:

I haven’t forgotten about the posts I’ve mentioned writing, re: WordPress, and even that episode from Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! from a few weeks ago. They’re in the queue.

Went to the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Sunday (the site’s already advertising for next year); made it to four panels. I’ll try and write more about that soon.

I haven’t watched any television programs in a while…same goes for movies. I did switch the set on for a Dodgers game last month. That’s another thing that happened since I last wrote: baseball season is here. And the Dodgers run out ahead, 12-2 — their best start since 1955 — but in the next seven games, they’re 1-6. Welcome to the Show.

I’m listening to Anne Litt and Weekend Becomes Eclectic as I write this. I haven’t been able to properly tune in to the show for a number of weeks now, for one reason or another. I’ve had to miss it or listen to a small portion for a while now — I did get to catch some of the repeat broadcasts, which air from 7 to 10 a.m. on KCRWmusic.com, KCRW’s all-music MP3 streaming music station. Last Saturday, I finally got to hear most of the show live and felt at home right away: there was no lack of the magical WBE quality (that keeps causing me to marvel over the selection of songs). Among the playlist then: Chet Baker, Keren Ann, Mogwai, Laura Cantrell (the first time I’ve heard her on the show), new material from Aimee Mann, Willie Nelson, and the Jayhawks (first time I’ve heard them on the show, I think). Last last weekend, I was able to listen for a bit, and heard Richard Buckner’s "A Chance Counsel" during the set!

The last set that Litt just played (today): Spoon, Bob Marley, Keren Ann, Patti Smith, Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Sinatra, and Anne McCue. Excellent.


Monday, 20 December 2004

Habits are hard to break

Re: baseball: Picture me shaking my head. Re: Dodgers: Picture me grimacing and shaking my head.

If the 10-player mega-trade happens…seriously. I don’t understand it, as a Dodger fan. But then again, after the management traded Paul LoDuca in a deal that didn’t really benefit the Dodgers last season, I guess no one on the team is safe. I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the team let Eric Gagné go to another team sometime down the road. I wouldn’t like it, but I wouldn’t be surprised — not after what’s happened and what’s happening. Shawn Green is one of my favorite players because he’s one of those quiet players who shows up to play everyday. I thought his willingness to start at first base last year — and he did an excellent job for a career outfielder who’d never played that position full-time before — demonstrated an admirable amount of team spirit. It’ll be a shame to see him go to the D’backs.

In other news, goodbye Adrian Beltre and Steve Finley, as well as Jose Hernandez, Hideo Nomo and maybe Yhency Brazoban and Kazuhisa Ishii. I know I’m leaving out a few other names. In a strange twist, welcome to Jeff Kent, who I still think of as a Giant. So that’ll be interesting. However, welcoming him poses a question mark for 2B Alex Cora, another one of my favorite Dodgers who had his best year last season.

Oh…Dave Roberts is back in the NL, after helping the Red Sox beat the Yankees and get to the World Series. He’s now with the Padres and apparently in the leadoff spot again. I’m looking forward to seeing him play the Dodgers.

It’s a habit. That’s what baseball is. I’m not sure if next season looks like a winner for L.A., what with these major changes to the cast. Especially with the absence of Beltre, who led the team offensively last season and was the NL MVP runner-up to Barry Bonds.

Speaking of Bonds and the whole steroids thing in general…is anyone really that surprised? There hasn’t been any strict, frequent testing, so gee. What a shocker! As for Bonds using creams and not knowing what they were…I join many others in chorusing, "Puh-leeaze." These are professional athletes, for goodness’ sakes. And Bonds is the most feared hitter in baseball and knows that health and physical training are at the top of the list for his career. How would he not question what he was using for/on/in his body?

Posted at 8:13 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |  

Friday, 29 October 2004

Way to break the curse

Congrats, Red Sox Nation!

For some reason I did not blog about postseason baseball this year, but it was wonderful to see the Dodgers make the playoffs and win at least one game (a complete game shutout, no less), and to see the unbelievable comeback of Red Sox v. Yankees and then Sox v. Cards. Next year, L.A. baseball will be different, but I’ll talk about that later…

Posted at 4:02 am | Filed under Baseball, sports |  

Friday, 30 July 2004

Noooooooooo

Dodgers nearing deal to trade Paul Lo Duca

Say it ain’t so….

If this happens, I will be seriously, seriously annoyed. Paul Lo Duca is one of the team’s best players and allies, and he’s handled the wonderful pitching staff and Gagne’s record-breaking streak. What the heck are they thinking? Are they that desperate? Egad. I’m sure I’m not the only one shaking my head over this one.

Don’t they remember what happened the last time they traded away an all-star catcher to Florida?

Not only that, but looking at the full trade:
C Paul Lo Duca, RP Guillermo Mota and RF Juan Encarnacion
for
SP Brad Penny, 1B Hee Seop Choi, P prospect Bill Murphy

it’s seriously a lopsided trade. Lo Duca is an integral part of the Dodgers, and Guillermo Mota has been the most successful setup man for Gagne this season. Even if the Dodgers land Randy Johnson and/or Steve Finley (let’s face it, Charles Johnson is no Lo Duca, and he’s hitting in the .250s for Colorado), they’ll miss two key elements that were working all season long, and severely undercut what had been the league’s best bullpen.

What the heck?

This is one of the things I hate about baseball. In the end, it’s still a business, and loyalty is not high up on the values/priority list.

Update, 31 July 2004: Oh, dear. More cast changes.

OF Dave Roberts, the best scrappy player and base-stealer the Dodgers have had in a long time: traded to Boston for a minor league OF. I doubt he’ll get much playing time now.

RP Tom Martin, the lefty phoenix who rose from the ashes to make a startling comeback last year: traded to Atlanta of a minor league P.

Minor leaguers P Bill Murphy, acquired only yesterday from Florida, C Koyie Hill and OF Reggie Abercrombie: traded to Arizona for veterans OF Steve Finley and C Brent Mayne.

And, nope, no Randy Johnson deal. As of now, the members of the rotation appear to be Odalis Perez, Kazuhisa Ishii, Jeff Weaver, Brad Penny and Jose Lima.

It seems that the team is looking away from speed and scrappiness now, and gambling on the power offense game. Still, the outlook on consistent offense from the primary catcher has plummeted. How does playing new 1B Hee Seop Choi, who’s been touted for his on-base percentage, strengthen the defense? Even 1B-rookie Shawn Green has fewer errors in more games. And by dealing Martin, the team has lost its primary LHP in the bullpen. That leaves LHP Wilson Alvarez. Who will take over for Guillermo Mota? Darren Dreifort? Who will take over for Darren Dreifort? That’s the bigger question.

It’s just still odd that the Dodgers traded away some of its most integral and fan-revered players. I keep reading the same sentiment on various trade reviews: the first-place team has the best record in July: why fix it when it ain’t broke?

The L.A. vs. S.D. game was on the telly last night, and I have to admit, it was probably the hardest Dodgers game I’ve ever watched. Even though they clobbered the hot-on-their-heels Padres 12-3, it was a bittersweet experience, more bitter than sweet. It’s not a good sign when Vin Scully opens up the broadcast by saying he saw "Paul Lo Duca sobbing" and "Guillermo Moto crying." Even if L.A. gets to the playoffs, I’m not sure if I’d be as energized and motivated.

Florida has a three-game series in L.A. in just a couple of weeks. I hope Lo Duca reminds his former management what they lost. And sure, it’s only business, right? So it’s still very possible that he’ll be back in L.A. next year or in the future. Depending on how he feels about the ownership at the time.

But it’s still baseball, and as much as this stings, I’m excited about Steve Finley in the outfield and look forward to watching his defense and hope he’ll continue his consistent hitting at Dodger Stadium. I also hope Choi will be a good addition, and anticipate Brad Penny settling in as well. And I’ll look for "Roberts, D" and "Lo Duca, P" and "Martin, T" in the other box scores.

That’s enough of that for now.

On a different note: I find it amusing yet wrong when, after a trade, graphics artists doctor player photos and digitally replace their former hats/uniforms with the uniforms of their new teams — before the players have even gotten their new uniforms, e.g. Nomar Garciaparra on espn.com in a digitally altered image, wearing a Cubs cap and jersey…it’s wrong. There should be a clear disclaimer saying that the image is not a true photo but a graphic illustration.

Posted at 5:59 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |  

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

The streak ends at 84

Eric Gagné‘s amazing, record-breaking streak of 84 consecutive saves ended last night against Arizona — but fortunately, the Dodgers came back to win the game (the win credited to Giovanni Carrara).

Gagné hadn’t blown a save since August 26, 2002. He definitely didn’t earn the nickname "Game Over Gagné" for nothing.

Gagné’s stats during the streak:
Innings pitched: 87 2/3
Strikeouts: 141
Hits allowed: 43
ERA: 0.82

The rest of baseball closers during the streak:
946 blown saves

Time for a new streak!

Posted at 8:35 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |  

Thursday, 16 October 2003

Go underdogs

"Ouch," Cubs.

Go Sox.

Yank the Yanks.

‘Grats Fish on their wish…

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to watch Game 7 of BOS vs. NYY because I have class at the same time.

And now for something completely different: Yo-Yo Ma is a guest on the Charlie Rose show tonight. Don’t miss it.

Posted at 4:19 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports, Television |  

Monday, 6 October 2003

Bases loaded, bottom of the 9th

Congrats to the Red Sox and to the Red Sox fans. That was an awesome game. Except, of course, for the collision between Jackson and Damon.

Let’s face it, each of the Divison Series, save maybe the last two NYY-MIN games, have been dramatic and exciting.

The Marlins beat the Giants, but the NYY-BOS series will happen, as will the Cubs vying for World Series contention.

This is a great game. I’m still holding out for a BOS-CHC World Series — a rematch of when Boston last won — and it’s good that it just might happen. But we can’t rule out Florida of course…

Posted at 8:55 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |  

Saturday, 27 September 2003

When all is said and done, I still love this game

Once again, the Dodgers end the season agonizingly close to the playoffs. Not as close as last season (last year they still had a chance coming into game 161 of 162, I believe), but still…the last week is pretty dang close.

So, my hometown team won’t be showing off its fabulous pitching staff in the World Series this year, but there’s always next season. Manager Jim Tracy will be back, with his entire current coaching staff, and as long as the pitching stays good, and Shawn Green and the hitters are healthy…watch out. At the end of last year, I was writing off Kevin Brown as the injury-cursed All-Star who would never match up to his talents of old. I was wrong.

In any case, the Dodgers are out of contention, and although I’m disappointed, all I have to do is think of the Red Sox and Cubs fans. At least I can be grateful to have experienced my hometown team winning the Series in my lifetime, and while I was old enough to watch. But for fans of the Red Sox and the Cubs…they haven’t tasted the Series in years, particularly Chicago: 58 years. And they haven’t seen their team win the World Series in four generations. Boston: 85 years. Chicago Cubs: 95 years. Now that has to hurt.

So, although I’m a Dodgers fan, when all is said and done, I’m still a baseball fan. It’s true that I wasn’t for a long time. But I came back to the game, and I was cheering and exhilarated watching the World Series of 2001 (one of the best series I have ever seen in my life), when Luis Gonzalez hit that game-winning RBI single against Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 to give the Diamondbacks their first World Championship. The same went for the ALDS of 2002, when those pesky Angels upset the Yankees in five games.

Perhaps it was the team with which I grew up: during my conscious life, the Dodgers never powered their way to the playoffs. They were never the favorite. In 1988, they stunned everyone by beating the heavily favored Mets in a dramatic NLCS, and plucked out enough victories against the (also favorite) A’s to win the Championship. We all have seen the images of an injured Kirk Gibson, coming up to pinch-hit in Game 1 — which would turn out to be his only at-bat in the five-game series — the Dodgers down by two runs in the bottom of the 9th, two out, and driving that game-winning home run off of the A’s closing ace Dennis Eckersley, hobbling around the bases and pumping his arm…it’s the stuff no one would believe if it were fiction. Well, that’s just one dramatic example of the scrappy Dodgers of ’88. So maybe that’s how I learned to root for the underdog. To have faith. To never believe the numbers or polls because in baseball, anything is possible.

So ideally — not statistically, or logically — here’s what I would like to see happen in this year’s playoffs:

ALCS: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees. Who doesn’t want to see this matchup? If I truly wanted to root for the underdog, I’d love to see Minnesota make it, but in terms of drama and rivalry, there isn’t any comparison. Fans of both teams would eat it up.

NLCS: Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants. Again, not that I’m particularly a Giants fan <cough>, but Dusty Baker facing his old team…Sammy Sosa vs. Barry Bonds…it’s really a no-brainer. Plus, former Dodgers Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek will experience the postseason. I’m not as excited about this matchup as I am about Boston and NYY, though. But as long as the Cubs are in it, I’m happy. Stats dictate that Atlanta will be one of the teams in this series. A true underdog NLCS: the Cubs and the Marlins.

World Series: Chicago Cubs vs. Boston Red Sox. Let the clubs with the longest, historic droughts win their respective pennants, then meet and duke it out. The fans have waited long enough.

Of course, this is just my ideal scenario. For the Cubs to actually get to the Series…for the Sox to actually get to the Series…requires some true baseball willpower.

Update: Florida takes all, winning the series 4-2 over the Yankees, with Josh Beckett throwing a championship-clinching complete game 6 shutout (2-0).

Team in 2003 postseason Last league championship Last world championship Total world championships
Chicago
Cubs (NL)
1945 1908 2
Boston
Red Sox (AL)
1986 1918 5
Oakland Athletics (AL) 1989 1989 4
Minnesota Twins (AL) 1991 1991 2
Florida Marlins (NL) 2003 2003 2
Atlanta Braves (NL) 1999 1995 1
New York Yankees (AL) 2003 2000 26 (record)
San Francisco Giants (NL) 2002 n/a 0


Posted at 5:31 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |  

Wednesday, 16 July 2003

Baseball’s finest?

It’s too bad for Eric Gagne. Pretty much is a good reason for why the All-Star Game should not be a factor in anything important for the regular season, let alone deciding home-field advantage for the World Series. If, say, the Yankees make the series, are Garret Anderson and Hank Blalock really going to be pleased that they helped NY win home field advantage? If, say, Dusty Baker and the Cubs make the Series, is it really fair that the guy who was charged with the loss of the All-Star Game be stuck with knowing that his unfortunate, uncharacteristic bad outing on the mound cost the NL team in the World Series? [Gack.] But that’s just MLB. One of these days I will actually learn to not be sucked in by the increasingly ever-commercialized, over-hyped All-Star game.

This is why watching baseball — not just this thing but a normal season game — on a network broadcast like Fox Sports is such a culture shock for me, after growing up and still watching the dignified play-by-plays from Vin Scully or even the radio broadcasts with the other — single — play-by-play guys. I never really appreciated the whole concept of "color commentator" on network broadcasts, especially when the two guys end up paying less attention to the game on the field and end up talking to players and coaches and asking them questions during the game, or fitting them with mics and listening in on their conversations. Really, it becomes two or three guys having a chat-fest with each other, and I miss the personal aspect of e.g. Vin Scully talking to us. To me. To you. I don’t tune in to watch a behind-the-scenes show, or to listen in on a bunch of guys joking around with each other. I just want to experience the game.

Posted at 6:26 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |  

Wednesday, 26 March 2003

Goodbye Gio

Aww….

The Dodgers placed Giovanni Carrara on waivers.

They don’t even trade him? That must hurt. Carrara was a stable force for the Dodgers during the past two years as a relief pitcher and emergency starter. And without him, the team wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did last season…or the season before that.

There was an awesome, 16-inning marathon game the team played at Atlanta last year; Brian Jordan, in the first series back in his hometown and against his former team, slugged his second homer of the game to put L.A. up in the top of the 9th, 5-4. But Eric Gagne blew the save (his first of the season) in the bottom of the 9th by giving up the tying home run to former teammate Gary Sheffield. Well, Carrara came in from the bullpen and pitched five amazing shutout innings in relief. The Blue scrapped together another run and Carrara got the win (and, also meaningfully, Jesse Orosco notched his first save since 1999) of the game, which lasted five hours and 19 minutes. (You can check out the box score and story of the game courtesy of USA Today.)

So what if his spring hasn’t sparkled…that’s why it’s called Spring Training. Imagine a team dumping some big multi-million-dollar pitcher if he happened to have a lousy spring but had a good past record. [Okay, so the Astros just released Shane Reynolds…]

I guess it’s the pitfall of having too many pitchers before the season starts. The current popular theory is that Andy Ashby will be moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen as a middle reliever, but he hasn’t pitched in relief since 1993 (!), and frankly, I’m concerned about his consistency, since he won’t have time to get into a groove during a game as a starter. Another possibility is keeping Wilson Alvarez as a middle reliever, but his last truly good season was with the White Sox in 1996, and he had a 5.28 ERA last year with TB. If the team sees something in Alvarez, that’s one thing, but to gamble especially by releasing someone like Carrara…not something I would have done. But I guess that’s why the management gets the big bucks, and I sit here and just write about it.

Undoubtedly, some team will claim Carrara fairly quickly. I hope he does well, as he’s done in the past. Good luck, Gio.

[Update: the Mariners signed Carrara. He’s going back to the AL…I hope he makes the adjustment well.

Also, Wilson Alvarez did not make the Dodgers’ 25-man roster.]

Posted at 12:26 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |  

Thursday, 13 February 2003

‘Cashman’ is also his nickname

In case you missed this article from 5 Feb:
‘Yankees Ensure 2003 Pennant By Signing Every Player In Baseball.’

Anyway, so yes, Spring Training has arrived. Although, this year it does seem like a long time has passed since last season. The Angels winning the World Series…it seems like a distant memory.

So many trades and signings in the offseason. I didn’t even mention any of them before. For the most part, 2003 looks like it’ll be a very different year and look of baseball. Especially since the Dodgers, along with many other teams, have shuffled their rosters drastically. Most of the players I grew up watching are now retired or are grizzled veterans…it certainly can be disconcerting to realize that many of the players now are younger than I am. The game also has acquired a not-so-pleasant taste since I was a big fan 15 years ago, what with the multi-million dollar contracts (as is the case for most pro sports) and — not naming names — prima donna-like behavior from some of those contract holders.

All of that aside, though, will I still watch baseball? Probably. Will I be disappointed if the Dodgers get really close (again) and don’t win the pennant (again)? Of course. But as long as the sport stays exciting and there is great baseball, I confess I’ll watch anyway, and enjoy it.* That’s the draw of the game. Welcome to The Show.

*As long as the Yankees don’t win the Series. 😉

Posted at 7:24 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |