Monday, October 31, 2005


We are, we are the youth of the nation

Sandy passes along this iTunes link to playlists consisting of the favorite songs of the White Sox and Astros, and would like to call special attention to Damaso Marte's choice. Well, maybe it's his favorite video.

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Here is a large metal sculpture that kinda, sorta resembles the stitches of a baseball, outside Principal Park in Des Moines, home of the Iowa Cubs:

The name of the artist? James Ellwanger.

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Tampa's very own Al Lopez, 1908-2005

The hometown obituary. At least he got to see "his" Chicago White Sox win a World Series before he died. Now, about the other team he once managed...

The oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame is now Phil Rizzuto. Another Scooter!

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Friday, October 28, 2005


Hooray! The animated baseball has been indicted!

Wait, what? Oh, sorry. Wrong Scooter.


Thursday, October 27, 2005


In the news

In addition to today's front pages, has newspaper front pages from certain historic dates since they've been collecting front pages.

Here are the newspapers in the U.S. that ran a front-page news photo relating to the White Sox's win today, October 27, 2005 (as opposed to a photo used in a referral box at the top of the page or down the side): Arizona Daily Star (Tucson); Los Angeles Times; The Record (Stockton, CA); San Diego Union-Tribune; Ventura County Star; Denver Post; Rocky Mountain News; Hartford Courant; The Ledger (Lakeland, FL); Augusta Chronicle (Georgia); Chicago Sun-Times; Chicago Tribune; Daily Herald (Chicago); Peoria Journal-Star; Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL); Rockford Register-Star; The Times (Munster, IN); Quad City Times (Davenport, IA); St. Louis Post-Dispatch (with the special added bonus of Weatherbird wearing a Sox shirt); Las Vegas Review-Journal; The Press (Atlantic City, NJ); New York Times; Albany Times-Union; Columbus Dispatch (Ohio); The Morning Call (Allentown, PA); Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jackson Sun (Tennessee); Abilene Reporter-News; Austin American-Statesman; Corpus Christi Caller-Times; Dallas Morning News; Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Houston Chronicle; Rumbo (various Texas cities); San Antonio Express-News; San Angelo Standard-Times; Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City); USA Today; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and The Post-Crescent (Appleton, WI).

Now, here's the list for the Red Sox from Thursday, October 28, 2004: Anniston Star (Alabama); Anchorage Daily News; Daily News (Los Angeles); Los Angeles Times; Oakland Tribune; Record Searchlight (Redding, CA); Sacramento Bee; San Diego Union-Tribune; San Francisco Chronicle; Fresno Bee; The Press-Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA); Ventura County Star; Rocky Mountain News; The Gazette (Colorado Springs); The Day (New London, CT); Hartford Courant; Norwich Bulletin (Connecticut); Record-Journal (Meriden, CT); Republican-American (Waterbury, CT); Washington Post; Charlotte Sun (Florida); The Ledger (Lakeland, FL); Miami Herald; The News-Press (Ft. Myers, FL); El Nuevo Herald (Miami); Palm Beach Post; St. Petersburg Times; Bradenton Herald (Florida); Augusta Chronicle (Georgia); Honolulu Advertiser; Idaho Statesman (Boise); Chicago Sun-Times; Chicago Tribune; Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL); Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA); Portland Press-Herald (Maine); Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME); The Sun (Baltimore, MD); Boston Globe; The Enterprise (Brockton, MA); The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA); The Sun (Lowell, MA); Kalamazoo Gazette; Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN); Springfield News-Leader (Missouri); St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Las Vegas Review-Journal; Reno Gazette-Journal; Concord Monitor (New Hampshire); The Telegraph (Nashua, NH); Union Leader (Manchester, NH); The Press (Atlantic City, NJ); The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ); Albuquerque Journal; Buffalo News; Hoy (New York, NY); New York Sun; New York Times; Post-Standard (Syracuse); Poughkeepsie Journal; Times Herald-Record (Middletown, NY); Albany Times-Union; Charlotte Observer; News & Observer (Raleigh, NC); News & Record (Greensboro, NC); Winston-Salem Journal; Cincinnati Enquirer; Columbus Dispatch (Ohio); Dayton Daily News; Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH); Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK); Beaver County Times (Pennsylvania); Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA); Philadelphia Inquirer; Morning Call (Allentown, PA); Providence Journal; Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN); Abilene Reporter-News; Al Día (Dallas, TX); Amarillo Globe-News; Austin American-Statesman; Beaumont Enterprise; Dallas Morning News; Fort Worth Star-Telegram; San Antonio Express-News; The Monitor (McAllen, TX); Times Record News (Wichita Falls, TX); Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City, UT); Salt Lake Tribune; Rutland Herald (Vermont); Culpeper Star-Exponent (Virginia); Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA); News Leader (Staunton, VA); Richmond Times-Dispatch; USA Today; Olympian (Olympia, WA); Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA); Columbian (Vancouver, WA); Charleston Gazette (West Virginia); Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and The Post-Crescent (Appleton, WI).

I had a point, but after typing all those in, I forget exactly what it was. Something about the Red Sox list being longer and it being evidence of what a well-publicized "curse" can do for you. Oh, and I also want to note that both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times used the same front-page headline for the White Sox victory ("Believe It!") -- so now that they've both used that, what do they do when the Cubs win? Actually, there may not be such a thing as newspapers by the time the Cubs win.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Score that play 6-3, and thus ends 2005

Wow, every time Levi's wife makes a jack-o'-lantern involving a baseball personality, their team with which they're associated wins the World Series! Levi, how does it feel to be married to someone with magic powers? I hope you're more accepting of it than Darrin Stephens!

No, seriously, I'm sure Stacey would be the first to tell you there's nothing otherworldly about her pumpkin carvings. However, consider the following: we started this blog at the beginning of the 2004 baseball season, and since then...

Clearly, the existence of this blog has been a major force for good in the world of baseball. Therefore, I'm considering starting a few more blogs.

Uh, but just for interest's sake, Stacey, whose face do you foresee rendering on a gourd next October?

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A hell of a full-body beatdown is administered to Phil "Scrap Iron" Garner by Tom Verducci at

And every word of it seems right on. The manager did take several chances last night to put his team into the best position to win, then he complained about their effort afterwards.

That's a couple of the key ingredients for longterm bad karma.

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Longer than there've been fishes in the oceans

Six hours into the broadcast -- reflecting Fox's ridiculously unrealistic 3-hour time slot plus the maximum 3 hours of TiVo padding, it was the top of the 14th...

The good news is that I had caught up to the live broadcast at 10:30, and set a manual recording for 11:00 until -- well, just in case, I set it to go until, well, about the time the morning news was going to start. So I was a little disappointed that it was "only" 11:20 when the game actually ended. But I have to assume I was one of a very select few not in Houston or Chicago who actually saw the game from beginning to end, although it's admittedly a lot easier to sit through 14 innings of baseball when you can fast-forward through the commercials...

That Chicago Sun-Times "Market Wrap" edition isn't looking like such a silly idea now, is it, Levi? That might be the only way for Chicagoans to get the box score of this game in their newspaper tomorrow -- uh, I mean today.

Hey, speaking of silly ideas, where was Aaron Neville in the middle of the 14th to sing the real song? Actually, Bud Selig probably would have insisted on a reprise of "God Bless America" for no good reason.

On a TV note: since I grew up in the Eastern time zone, I'm used to sporting events that run long being followed by the local affiliate's 11:00 or 10:00 news in its entirety, whether it's at 12:00, 12:30, or even later. Therefore, I was a little surprised to discover that Fox's flagship station in Los Angeles must have their entire 10:00 news crew home, because when the coverage of the game ended, they went straight to their regularly scheduled 11:30 "Simpsons" rerun.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The Ozzie Guillen pumpkin

Clearly, if the Sox win, Stacey should be voted a full World Series share.

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In the ninth innning of Sunday's Sox win, Scott Podsednik at the plate, Joe Buck says to Tim McCarver, "You know, Tim, a lot of people thought Garner should have put Lidge into game six of the NLCS, just to get the taste of that Pujols home run out of his mouth. What do you think?"

"Well, Joe, I don't think that taste is there."

But right around the time McCarver said "taste," the ballgame was ending as Podsednik's homer cleared the right field wall.

Maybe that taste is there after all? Tastes a bit coppery, like blood.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005


More baseball audio, just in time for the World Series

Shout! Factory, the imprint of the folks who used to run Rhino, has a new 4-CD box set out called "The Great American Baseball Box." Looks like only one CD is songs; the other three seem to include play-by-play clips and whatever other audio they could dig up. I've got almost all the songs already, so if they sold Discs 2 through 4 separately, I might be tempted.

Also, when the White Sox revealed that their playoff anthem is Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," it didn't take long for the record company to take advantage. This week, they released a 1981 live version as an iTunes single (maybe elsewhere as well). Actually, some of the iTunes reviewers claim the release is to promote a DVD release of the concert the song is taken from, but we know better -- everything comes back to baseball.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Roy Oswalt is quite a good pitcher

No reason for me to pause the TiVo tonight. If there's any good news for Levi, it's that he can now join all right-thinking Chicagoans (and probably much of the country as well) in cheering for the White Sox.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Thank god for 13th-round draft picks, or, Barbara, don't pack up your bag just yet!

Well, well, well.

1) That was a nice reminder that what we're all seeing every time Pujols plays is a Hall-of-Fame career in the making. Cardinals fans are extremely lucky to have him, and we ought to appreciate it with every at-bat.

2) Even were the Cardinals to go on and get trounced tomorrow night, Pujols (and, to give credit properly, Eckstein and Edmonds, who had tough at-bats before him) at least took what had been a frustrating, disappointing series and gave us something we'll remember for a long time.

3) My brother's two concerns post-game? He was hoping the construction guys hadn't started the wrecking ball back in the 7th for Busch Stadium. (Fox had, as their highlight reel of Busch over the years demonstrated.) Second, he wanted to know if Fox had reconsidered their choice of Lance Berkman as Chevrolet Player of the Game--chosen, as usual, in like the second inning.

4) In the 9th, with one out, Barbara Bush--visible all game as a little Boglin head perched just above the railing behind home--started packing up her bag. "Why," she probably thought, "would I want to sully my beautiful mind with thoughts of Brad Lidge blowing this game?"

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Monday, October 17, 2005


Better luck next year

Well, Levi, I'm sorry the Cardinals didn't make it to the Series this year -- but White Sox vs. Astros, now there's a couple teams you don't see in the Series very often!

The game's not actually over yet, but I've got the TiVo paused with two outs in the top of the 9th, the Astros ahead 4-2, and Fox running all the Astros history footage they can get their hands on. So it's pretty much a foregone conclusion; I mean, the only hope the Cardinals have would be something along the lines of Brad Lidge giving up a 3-run homer to Albert Pujols, and how likely is that?

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Sunday, October 16, 2005


Sound the air-raid sirens

Four consecutive complete games? In the postseason? The White Sox bullpen must really suck!

On another note, since Levi has some stuffed animals that he lines up to watch Cardinals games with him, I decided to do the same on Saturday night with my stuffed animal collection...

I'm sure all the birds were rooting for their brethren the Cardinals, and cats are always in favor of birds running around, and I told Wallace they put cheese on their toasted ravioli in St. Louis, so he was happy -- but I suspect Shaun the Sheep was pulling for Mike Lamb and the Astros. I have no idea what Goofy was thinking.

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Friday, October 14, 2005


What Is and What Should Never Be

Note to headline writers and creators of Fox graphics:

A word or phrase that sounds like a different word or phrase is not necessarily a pun. A pun must involve some play on both the sound and the meaning of a word or phrase.

For example, titling a graphic describing, say, David Eckstein's postseason hitting prowess "Eck-Ray Vision" is utterly inappropriate, unless he's managed his postseason hitting prowess with rays from his eyes or some such nonsense, which he hasn't.

So stop it. Stop it stop it stop it.

That is all.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005


Things that make Jim scream

At 9:33 P.M. Eastern time, Scooter explains that a 12-6 curveball is a curveball that changed its name after a cease-and-desist letter from the 7-Eleven Corporation. Steve Lyons jokes that Scooter would never have been allowed to play for Bob Brenly looking the way he does, round around his midsection and with his cap on backwards. Then Thom Brennaman says that won't be an issue, because "just announced before the LCS, Scooter signed a lifetime contract with Fox."

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Congratulations, George Bush!

With the sale of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the subsequent firing of the only general manager in the team's history, Chuck LaMar--he of the .400 winning percentage over the team's 8 seasons--the field has been cleared for the Bush administration to take sole possession of first place in the "least accountable organization" standings.

Manifest failure? Sickening incompetence? Take a bow, Donald Rumsfeld. Smile while you're picking up your consulting check, Brownie. If you worked for anyone else--even the new and improved Tampa Bay Devil Rays--you'd be out of a job. As someone more clever than I put it, "Not only does the buck not stop there--it doesn't even slow down!" Well, it's finally landed, for the Devil Rays, at least.

Next step for the Devil Rays: setting some goals. Any kind of goals.

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A couple of notes from the ALCS (so far)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Good thing the Cubs didn't make the playoffs

Nomar Garciaparra has had plenty of time to hang around at home just in case someone falls into Boston Harbor.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Faux News

This just in: Fox has invited the Yankees and Red Sox to play a seven-game series in the consolation bracket. The games will be broadcast in prime time Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the NLCS and the ALCS play-by-play will be delivered via telegraph and local re-enactors. Or, if you prefer, you'll be able to get a radio broadcast by Scooter.

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Monday, October 10, 2005


I think you know what you must do

Sorry I wasn't made aware of this sooner. A blog called "The Road from Bristol," originally founded for the purpose of conducting an NCAA basketball-type tournament to determine the worst ESPN personality (Stuart Scott won, of course), went on to do a similar tournament to determine the worst non-ESPN sports broadcaster. The championship "game" is currently under way, and it's Tim McCarver versus Hawk Harrelson. Vote in the comments to this post.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005


If baseball games were decided by "number of cool things in the stadium"...

The banner at Petco Park that turned "Western Metal Supply Co." into "Western Division Champions" was very clever. Perhaps in New Busch Stadium, the Cardinals can have a legend under the scoreboard clock reading "Central Time" that can be appropriately altered in applicable Octobers.

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Friday, October 07, 2005


Make your plans now

It'll probably change soon, but right now, a highlighted link on the Tampa Tribune's home page is to a PDF file of the Devil Rays' tentative 2006 schedule. This is clearly intended for the people who are incredibly excited about the fact that minority owner Stuart Sternberg has taken control of the franchise -- all five or six of them. Also, on a non-baseball-related note, the headline on the Tribune's story about a major traffic jam caused by a truck overturning on Interstate 275, the main freeway through Tampa, is "Late For Work Thursday? Show This To Your Boss," which is just too cute.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Operation Duplicate Chili: a qualified success

Hey, look, I made chili! And there are plenty of things to put on and in it, including Farmer John brand bacon, in honor of the poor Dodgers (their longtime sponsor, one of the few "longtime" things the Dodgers still have)...

The chili would probably taste a little better if Derek Jeter weren't on TV, but that's what Fox gives us...

I call this only a "qualified success" because I've heard no reports from Levi on whether he's eating chili as well, which was the whole point of Operation Duplicate Chili. Levi's been jet-setting all about, going from apple orchards to public libraries in the Pacific Northwest. But since I have plenty of the chili left over -- and most of the makings for a second batch -- it's a safe bet that we'll be eating the same chili some night in October. Actually, not exactly the same, since I bet Levi won't be putting bacon on top of his.

The best part of the game was the tape of Joe Torre interviewing Gene Autry in the Angels' locker room in 1986; that tape's probably been shown before, but I don't remember having seen it.

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Monday, October 03, 2005


Everyone's getting into the baseball act

I know it's hard to believe, but even the monthly customer newsletter of the service that hosts wants in on the baseball commentary action...

Baseball is a weird sport because it's quite often the cheapest sport to attend, yet the players are paid the most of any pro sport. For example, I believe they were paying people $12 to attend the Giants games this weekend, but at the same time Alex Rodriguez earned $20,000,000 per attempt to swat away the ball while being tagged on his way to first like a little girl!

The way baseball can afford to pay its athletes so much while at the same time keeping ticket prices and stadium refreshments so reasonable is actually through a number of quite-unrelated side businesses. The most lucrative of which is the bulk purchasing and re-selling of highly desirable domain names! I KID YOU NOT.

It USED to be that only the richest sports franchise-owning billionaires and the president of the United States could get into this literal GOLD MINE of easy profits. But now, thanks to DreamHost lowering the price of .com, .net, .org, and .info domain registrations to just $9.95/year even YOU can now get in on this GUARANTEED PAYDAY! (You still get one free domain registration with every shared hosting plan too of course.)

Just remember, you are required by law to send all profits made through the resale of domain names to the New York Yankees. With the playoffs beginning tomorrow, they need this money more than ever to offer complimentary tickets to the starving children of the rest of the league's players.

Yes, the newsletter is always written in this style, although it's usually not about baseball.

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Standings in the place where you live

That's right, it's time once again to compare the Sports Illustrated predictions with what really happened in 2005. Oh, and I might as well throw in Bob's picks, while I'm at it, and I hope I've managed to correctly decipher all the cute names he used for the teams...

SI Prediction             Bob's Prediction            Actual Results

NL East

Atlanta Braves N.Y. Mets Atlanta Braves
Florida Marlins Atlanta Braves Philadelphia Phillies
N.Y. Mets Philadelphia Phillies Florida Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies Florida Marlins N.Y. Mets
Washington Nationals Washington Nationals Washington Nationals

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs Chicago Cubs Houston Astros
Houston Astros Milwaukee Brewers Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds Cincinnati Reds Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers Pittsburgh Pirates Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates Houston Astros Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West

San Francisco Giants San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
L.A. Dodgers Colorado Rockies Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres L.A. Dodgers San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks San Francisco Giants L.A. Dodgers
Colorado Rockies Arizona Diamondbacks Colorado Rockies

AL East

New York Yankees New York Yankees New York Yankees*
Boston Red Sox Boston Red Sox Boston Red Sox
Baltimore Orioles Toronto Blue Jays Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays Baltimore Orioles Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Tampa Bay Devil Rays Tampa Bay Devil Rays

AL Central

Minnesota Twins Detroit Tigers Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians Minnesota Twins Cleveland Indians
Chicago White Sox Chicago White Sox Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers Cleveland Indians Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals Kansas City Royals Kansas City Royals

AL West

L.A. Angels Oakland A's L.A. Angels
Texas Rangers L.A. Angels Oakland A's
Oakland A's Seattle Mariners Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners Texas Rangers Seattle Mariners

*-The Yankees and Red Sox both finished with the same record (95-67),
and the MLB standings I'm looking at have the Red Sox on top for what
I believe are reasons relating to alphabetical order. But it seems weird
to me to have the division champion listed under the wild-card team.

Sports Illustrated was better with their predictions than they were last year, but here's a special salute to Bob for predicting the correct division champion in the NL West (and they managed to finish with a winning record, too!).

One thing I noticed while perusing the final standings: the Cardinals had the same record at home and on the road (50-31). I believe earlier in the season, I made a tongue-in-cheek comment in this blog that the Cardinals were "boring." Clearly, the word I meant was "consistent."

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Sunday, October 02, 2005


The views of Bill James do not necessarily reflect...

This is probably going to be the last Bill James excerpt for a while, because it's playoff time. I have balsamic vinegar and cocoa powder in my kitchen right now, two things I have never had in my kitchen before, because I am preparing for Operation Duplicate Chili, in which Levi and I both eat chili made from the same recipe while watching the baseball playoffs, even though we're several thousand miles apart. This can only help the Cardinals. Why, I might even take my stuffed animals into the living room and set them up facing the TV!

The following is from the 1986 Baseball Abstract, and the headline is "Is Steve Sax Available?"

The Houston Astros, I have decided, must be an acquired taste. You know what an acquired taste is, something like French cooking, modern sculpture, jazz, fat women, ballet, Scotch, Russian's hard to define. An acquired taste is a fondness for something the advantages of which are not immediately apparent. An acquired taste in my part of the country is painted saw blades. Do they have those where you are? You go to somebody's house and you discover that above their fireplace they've got a bunch of old, rusty saw blades with farm scenes painted on them, look like a hybrid of Currier and Ives and Norman Rockwell. I don't really understand what the advantages are of having them around, but I figure that they must be an acquired taste. Or like Charlie Chaplin. I mean, W.C. Fields is funny. The Marx Brothers are funny. Charlie Chaplin is an acquired taste.

We all acquire a certain number of inexplicable attachments; mine include Bob Newhart, Jethro Tull albums, sabermetrics, and Pringles potato chips. I am assured by other people in my life that all of these can be hard to get into if you have no history with them. If taken literally, everything in life is an acquired taste with the exception of a few basic staples like salt, sugar, sex, and slapstick comedy, which we all share an enjoyment of; however, the term is not usually applied to things which make an obvious display of their attractions -- in the case of a baseball team, by doing things like winning lots of games, playing interesting baseball, or developing exciting young players. One would never describe the New York Mets, for example, as an acquired taste. Acquired tastes have very subtle advantages. The expression "this must be an acquired taste" is quite useful, inasmuch as it can be adapted to hundreds of situations, meaning something a little different each time.

If you hear the expression "Must be an acquired taste," on leaving a French restaurant or any other restaurant in which the food costs more than $20 a pound and tastes as if the oregano was left out, what it means is "I suppose you'd rather have stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken, wouldn't you?"

On a date, if you hear the expression "Must be an acquired taste," what it means is "This is the last time I'm going out with this bozo."

In an art gallery, if you hear the expression "I guess it's an acquired taste," what it probably means is "What the hell are we doing here?"

If you're discussing a fondness for some particular poet, painter, playwright, or breed of dog with someone you are close to, and he or she says "I guess it's just an acquired taste," what that means is "I don't want to talk about it right now."

"It's an acquired taste" means either that I'm in the know and you're not, or that this is a particular type of sophistication to which the speaker does not aspire. I do not aspire to be an Astros fan. The Astros are to baseball what jazz is to music. Think about it:

1) Jazz is improvisational. Jazz musicians, uniquely among musicians I hope, sometimes string the elements of their music together as they go, with no particular plan or outline. Do you think the Astros know where they're going? Do you think there's a score for this?

2) Jazz ambles along without crescendos or refrains, going neither andante or allegro and without reaching either fortissimo or pianissimo. A good piece of jazz only uses about half an octave. The ultimate jazz tune is a saxophone player undulating slowly between D flat and middle C.

Similarly, the Houston Astros amble along at 80, 82 wins a year; the last four years they've been 77-85, 85-77, 80-82, and 83-79. Since 1969 the Oakland A's have finished a total of 216 games over .500 in their good seasons, and 169 games under .500 in their bad seasons. The Houston Astros have finished 70 games over .500 in their good seasons, and 67 under in their bad seasons. The ultimate Houston Astros season is one in which they lose on opening day, then win, lose, win, lose, win, etc. until they reach 81-81.

3) Jazz is usually played indoors.

4) Jazz uses comparatively few instruments. Jazz ensembles are rarely enlivened with sousaphones, steel guitars, oboes, bassoons, or any other instrument which might tend to break up the monotony. Similarly, the Houston Astros use comparatively few weapons, relying heavily on the stolen base and the starting pitcher, but with no power hitters, no batting champions, no Ozzie Smiths or Jack Clarks. Both jazz and the Houston Astros, in short, are boring.

5) All jazz music sounds pretty much alike to the uninitiated, that 99.97% of us who haven't acquired the taste; it's repetitious, depressing, ugly, and inclined to bestow a headache upon the recipient. Much the same can be said of the Houston Astros, well known for wearing baseball's ugliest home and road uniforms. Similarly, one Houston Astros season, one Astros game, and one Astros player looks pretty much like the next one.

No, I'm kidding of course; the Astros have been a little boring in recent years, but they'll get over it, and I'm sure jazz is as beautiful, varied, and enjoyable as real music if you happen to have a taste for it. It's just that...well, I'm a night person. During the Abstract crunch (a fifth season, unique to Winchester, Kansas) I start to work around 4:00 P.M. and I work until daybreak. About ten years ago we went through a period where the only thing on the radio between one and four A.M. was country music. I've never understood this...I mean, if you don't like C&W in the middle of the afternoon, why do radio executives think you're suddenly going to be struck with a yen to hear some Merle Haggard at 12:59 A.M.? Now it's jazz; I listen to a mixture of classical music, rock music, and talk shows as I work, and at seven o'clock every evening, they all decide that I'd like to hear Count Basie. Public radio stations, usually a reliable port in a storm, have for some unfathomable reason decided that jazz is socially and morally uplifting, and that they have a responsibility to impose it on us. But if I want to listen to Mozart in the afternoon, why does anybody think I'd want to listen to Miles Davis all night?

Ah well, I've got my Jethro Tull and a stereo, and baseball season's coming...what I should do is get a VCR and record a couple hundred baseball games, and play them back while I'm working. I might even acquire a taste for the Astros.

This time around, Bill James lost me in calling Bob Newhart an acquired taste. This was written in late 1985, when he was starring in a very popular sitcom on the CBS Monday night lineup. The modern-day equivalent: would anyone call Ray Romano an acquired taste? No, everybody loves him.

Also, "...undulating slowly between D flat and middle C..." -- I think Bill James may have confused jazz with new age here. I haven't gotten around to reading the 1987 Abstract yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's mention of a myriad of fans of both baseball and jazz having written him angry letters in response to this piece. "Jazz is usually played indoors" is very, very funny, however.

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