Musings @musicandmeaning.com

I'm dreaming still of who we were.
"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.


Sunday, 15 September 2002

New Buckner CDs; tough road for Dodgers

Last week I wrote about pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii suffering a concussion and skull fracture. It’s good to write that he’s been released from the hospital after surgery, and is doing well. He’s out for the rest of the season, obviously, but in one article I read yesterday, the Dodgers management, coaches and trainers are going to work with him before spring training and provide counseling. They’re even considering some sort of protective armor or shell that will fit underneath a cap. I know this is all preliminary, but I am so glad that these ideas are on the table.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers themselves are fading fast in the NL Wild Card and Division races. They need to command the series at home with the Giants. Their starting and middle-relief pitching hasn’t been as effective lately, save Odalis Perez and Hideo Nomo, and with the lack of run production (which has been the case all year), that’s not a good sign. The team just hasn’t been playing well the last few weeks, and meanwhile the Giants are winning most of their games. If the offense doesn’t put up big numbers every day, the outlook looks rather grim. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though. They’ve come up with some clutch wins, and they need to be a clutch team now.

Buckner and more Buckner: Richard Buckner‘s new CDs are available now! Go get ’em. They’re called "Impasse-ette" (EP — some places may still have the older title "Born Into") and "Impasse" (full original album). Check out more details from Overcoat Records. "Impasse" is set for release in a few weeks officially, but you can get a copy (legitimately) from Village Records. And yeah, I don’t have either yet but I’m sure they’ll be sitting in my CD player soon.

And a note: I know 11 Sept. has come and gone, but I purposely avoided writing about it here on Wednesday. Just thinking of posting something about it here gave me flashbacks to that day a year ago, when I was so overwhelmed by confusion and shock and tried to write something coherent and cohesive here. All I’ll say now is that I hope people are doing better.


Sunday, 8 September 2002

Baseball shouldn’t be this scary

Watching the Astros-vs.-Dodgers game on television earlier, I saw L.A.’s starting pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii get hit in the forehead by a line drive. I was so shocked that I couldn’t even say anything — not even a gasp or an "oh no." It looked really nasty, and when Vin Scully speculated (and hoped) that Ishii might at least have put his glove in front of his face to deflect the ball, the replays showed no such luck. Upon being struck, Ishii just crumpled in front of the mound, writhing in pain, and was taken away in an ambulance that drove onto the infield. It was really awful to watch. As I write this, the latest AP report states that Ishii suffered a concussion and a small skull fracture. The report also said that after the ball hit Ishii, "it ricocheted all the way to the backstop behind home plate." Geez. There was a somewhat reassuring moment, though, when he moved his arms and showed that he was conscious while being strapped to the stretcher.

Like many baseball fans, I just wish that he’s okay. I didn’t see Dodger Alex Cora sustain his concussion while sliding into second base a few weeks ago (I’m glad that he’s recovered nicely), but this accident was just gruesome to witness. It made me think of John Olerud, first baseman for the Seattle Mariners. When playing defense, Olerud always wears a helmet — it looks kind of like a slimline version of a batting helmet — instead of the usual baseball cap. I’m sure he gets a lot of ribbing, but I’ve always thought he was smart to do it. The helmet is cheap insurance, and it makes a lot of sense on the field. When something like today’s accident happens, it makes even more sense.

Also, as Vin Scully pointed out, the difficult lighting within the stadium did not help at all. At the time of the accident, the last rays of sun were slowly moving away. The mound was bathed in a patch of sunlight, but the entire area in front of the mound, including the batter’s box, was in shade. Scully guessed that Ishii may have lost sight of the ball as it crossed the shaded area into the sunlight towards him, and hence couldn’t move out of its way in time.

As the medical personnel were examining Ishii and the game was put on hold (there was no break to commercials until the ambulance left the field and Kevin Beirne came in as the emergency reliever), Scully kept saying that pitchers don’t like talking about the hazards of working on a mound a mere sixty feet in front of the batter, and the possibility of getting seriously hurt. I got the impression that it was a taboo subject among both pitchers and players — that they just ignore the negative possibilities and hope for the best, considering any accident part of the job. But why is that? That just seems so wrong. If the players don’t want to talk about it, why don’t the team trainers and management at least pick a bone about it? Ishii certainly isn’t the first pitcher to ever get struck in the head by a hit baseball. Is it because accidents like this don’t happen everyday?

Okay, so I’m not sure if requiring helmets for fielders would be the answer… I know pitchers and many infielders would balk (no pun intended) at a helmet on the field, saying it would hinder their abilities. I would really be interested in learning about Olerud’s experience in wearing a helmet while playing first base. I tried Googling for interviews or articles quoting him on the subject and how it affects his play, but couldn’t find anything of substance. In any case, I can’t come up with the perfect solution right now, but all I’m saying is that this really shouldn’t be a taboo subject to sweep under the rug and ignore, hoping that an accident won’t happen. It should be addressed carefully and thoroughly, because safety should never be a low priority.

Posted at 12:00 am | Filed under Baseball, sports, Favorite posts |  

Thursday, 8 November 2001

The power of music and WBE

It’s been nearly two months since I last updated this page… the last time was just after the attacks on 11 September, and me trying to begin to deal with it, through written words.

In nearly all the difficult periods of my life, I have found music to be extraordinarily healing. I remember that on the weekend after the attacks happened on 11 Sept., I tuned in to KCRW to hear Weekend Becomes Eclectic, and was relieved to hear Anne Litt at the mic again. I think at that point, everyone was just trying to get back into some sort of post-trauma life as best as possible. But it was very, very helpful to hear the show again, and the music that Litt selected was just spot-on for the moment. I remember thinking that she knew just what to play. Some of the tunes: U2‘s "Walk On," David Gray‘s "My Oh My" — which got cut off, unfortunately, leading into an NPR news report — Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Dave Alvin, even some strong>Beatles and Kinks tunes…and music that I learned to love thanks to my dad: some Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole… she played a lot of older tunes that would definitely not be played much by any other station in the same weekend.

I felt better after listening to the shows, and I’m sure that I was not the only one. In a time of chaos and confusion — and we all felt it; no doubt the folks at KCRW were just as affected as anyone — it was good to hear my favorite radio music program on the air. When I wanted news, I’d go to a network TV station, but by the time the weekend arrived, I needed to break away from the hard reality and I needed to know that the world that I used to know wasn’t completely eradicated by terrorism — that "my" world was still intact…still going forward in spite of sustaining a huge wound. Hearing the show that weekend, live as usual, was a clear sign indicating that we would go on and we could go on.

It may seem like a small event, really, or even a non-event, but to me it was important. It wasn’t just the music that was healing (I think Litt herself said that the music she chose was for "comfort food"); it was also because of the fact that she showed up to work as usual, as did all of the KCRW music program hosts (and other programs, but I won’t go into that here). Music is an extremely important part of life — for me, anyway — and, as I mentioned, can be especially important during difficult times. So, thank you Anne Litt and thank you KCRW. And thank God for the gift of music.

Moving on to less serious things… I’ve given this some thought, and I’ve decided that at some near point in the future, I am going to start using this space (probably) to write more formal entries. More like an infrequent column. I guess you could already call this a sort of column, but they’re more newsy bulletins than personal essays. For example the opening topic of this entry (about KCRW after 11 Sept.) would actually be an ideal subject for a column, IMO. That’s the kind of stuff I would write about. But maybe more in-depth. With titles. 🙂 The last time I wrote a regular column was over six years ago. I guess that I miss the experience, so I’m creating my own opportunity here.

Other news: Was that one of the best World Series ever, or what?! Absolutely amazing.

Music of the moment: Richard Buckner is remarkably still very much a factor here. Especially "Pull," "Goner w/ Souvenir," "Lucky Buzz" and "Once." As for other music, well, I’ve been listening to a lot more than just five CDs lately. But for a sampling: I finally
updated my CD player inhabitants.

Quote for the time being:

Hey Jude,
don’t let me down.
You have found her,
now go and get her.

Remember
to let her into your heart.
Then you can start
to make it better.

— what else? The Beatles’ "Hey Jude"


Friday, 8 September 2000

Baseball = players, coaches, a stadium, cheering fans, and Vin Scully

I am an L.A. Dodgers fan. I was an avid baseball fan from 1988 until 1992 (the strike). My favorite players back then were mostly Dodgers (obviously), and not necessarily famous or long-term ones either: outfielder Stan Javier (recently retired; finished his career with the record-breaking 2001 Seattle team), pitcher Ray Searage (whatever happened to him?). Of course I also liked the more well-known names: Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser, Steve Sax and Mike Marshall. Non-Dodger faves included Nolan Ryan and Paul Molitor. I didn’t really follow the game again until 1995 (thanks to the fabulous season by Hideo Nomo), but then lost interest once more until 1999. This might sound odd, but even if the Dodgers never win another title in my lifetime (don’t get me wrong…I would be thrilled if they did!), I’m very grateful to have had the experience of a home team winning the series, and it happening during a time when I was such a big baseball fan.

The best thing about being a Dodgers fan, for me anyway, isn’t about the players or the city, and it’s definitely not the current Rupert Murdoch era. The best thing about being a Dodgers fan is the amazing, eloquent Vin Scully. I could go on to spout about why I feel so strongly about this, but suffice it to say that for me and for countless other fans, he has been the mainstay, the consistent element to our baseball experiences, the voice of the Dodgers for over 50 years. And yet, I didn’t fully appreciate his talent and his dedication and significance to the franchise until a year ago.

A few days before graduating from college, I was in the middle of packing one morning when I happened to switch on the little TV in my room. Instantly, before the picture even showed up, I heard Vin Scully’s voice calling a Dodgers game. It had been a few years since I’d tuned into a baseball game, and my immediate reaction was to smile. It reminded me of when I was younger, when my life seemed so different, and experiencing the thrill of a home team’s World Series. That era seemed so far away; yet there was Vin Scully calling a game, 11 years later. At that moment, I felt a very strong connection to the past, and the feeling was extremely moving, and almost surreal.

Now, I’ll listen to him announce and laugh at his jokes and puns, and appreciate his wit, whereas I don’t recall ever noticing his wordplay in my youth. And every so often during the course of a game, I’ll find my attention drawn not to the action on the field, but to the familiar timbre and poise of his voice — grateful to have at least one constant in my life, and wishing that "The Voice" would be there forever.

[Read more about Vin Scully’s amazing career]