Blowout, and blowoff.

Twelve-zip? Isn’t that supposed to be a football score? On the other hand, a lopsided blowout is proof your team won, so I won’t complain. It was hot, sunny and our seats were in the shade, if a little high up for foul-ball action. And how often do you get to see a triple? That was in the fifth, after which the Tigers were up 10-0.

Comerica Park — an antimatter version of Ford Field, known locally as Home of the Losers.

As should be blindingly obvious to regular readers, I’m not a sports fan, but if I were, I’d be a baseball fan. It has all the advantages — a season that runs through the pleasant ones of the natural world, players that are good-looking but not mutant freaks (depending on their steroid preferences), beer. My term editing sports copy ran through most of baseball season, and many of the people in the newsroom in the 5 a.m. hour were baseball fans, so I have these pleasant memories of a very quiet place punctuated by the clicking of computer keys and a discussion of the previous day’s games between Andrew (Yankees fan) and Rick (Indians fan). Rick was my boss, and tolerated even the stupidest questions I had about the game; it was like he was instructing the daughter he didn’t have (and who was older than him, but never mind that). He explained walk-off homers and the fierce power of the players’ union, sacrifice fly balls and saves, and ruled on whether “midsummer classic” should be up. (It should, so: Midsummer Classic.)

If I’d had another season with him, I might have understood why Sean Casey was intentionally walked in the third, but I’m afraid my understanding of the game remains at the kindergarten level. Oh, so what? There’s beer.

A Muslim family sat a row over from us, although I’m sure I’m getting the relationships wrong. Four girls approximately the same age (12-13-ish), all in headscarves, dressed American-style modest: long pants, but jeans; T-shirts, but with long-sleeved undershirts. One girl wore Ben Wallace’s Pistons jersey with matching headscarf, another chose Tigers blue/orange. Must be some of those moderate Muslims we’ve been hearing about lately. Also, sports fans.

And now the weekend is nearly here, and I have to catch up on all the stuff I put off when I was doing weekend-type stuff earlier in the week. We have now entered the Twilight Zone of the school year, in which no learning happens, replaced by the whirlwind of end-of-year parties, picnics and gift envelopes for the teacher. Jeez, whatever happened to an apple and a nice note saying “thanks for doing your job”? I don’t begrudge Kate’s teacher his gifts, but the first two weeks of every June is like my last year of high school.

OK, I’m officially bagging it. I’m distracted by Project Playlist. I’m trying to put together a list called Men You Should Avoid, based on my thunderstruck revelation that I own — and love — two songs that are basically about women who are in love with bums.* Not as in “rascally guys,” but “train-hopping hobos without a job, or any hope of holding one.” So now I have to comb the internets for “Wives and Lovers” and goddamn, but did anyone ever invent a better procrastination tool than the internet? Didn’t think so.

Also, I just discovered Brewer & Shipley’s version of “Witchi-Tai-To” on iTunes. And you thought they were one-hit wonders.

Have a good weekend. Back after it.

* “Gentle on My Mind” and “Rainy Night in Georgia,” if you’re interested.

Posted at 9:20 am in Same ol' same ol' |

32 responses to “Blowout, and blowoff.”

  1. Marcia said on May 25, 2007 at 9:46 am

    There were several of those Muslim-type families at graduation last night. It’s kind of intriguing.

    Speaking of graduation:

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  2. Marcia said on May 25, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Oh: link.

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  3. michaelj said on May 25, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Brewer and Shipley? Watchu talkin’ bout Willis? It’s Jim Pepper, who apparently actually was an Indian, as Brewer and Shipley most certainly were not. It’s a pretty good song. I’d say, if you love music, this theme is pretty much gorgeous. I know your not supposed to think that if your hip, but damn, it’s gorgeous. I’m not big on chanting, but that’s just gorgeous. Oh-ran-ikah.

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  4. Dorothy said on May 25, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Why do I always get a big stupid smile on my face when I read you using the term “the internets”?!

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  5. michaelj said on May 25, 2007 at 10:07 am

    What’s this muslim-type families horsecrap? I figure I’m a muslim-type family member because I’ll kill you if you f##k with my brother. Racist garbage.

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  6. brian stouder said on May 25, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Marcia – very cool!

    The baseball game sounds great. I haven’t been to a major league game in many years – and anyway, my friends and I were always National League fans (for me it was the Reds, baby! but my misguided friends were mostly enamored of the Cubs), and not the Junior Circuit. But when Sparky Anderson got whacked by the Reds (which was criminal!) and went to the Tigers, I began to like the Tigers, too.

    Here in Fort Wayne it was Family Fun Night at Friemann Square (probably spelled that wrong) last evening – so we loaded up the young folks and went downtown. It was quite nice – a good crowd (but not a crushing one); relaxed and kid-friendly. It was non-political, but Tom Henry was wafting around the crowd, with a big smile on his face. (subtext note: yesterday’s breaking news was that the GOP nominee Kelty had actually “borrowed” the $180,000 that his campaign reported as his own personally donated money, and that he “borrowed” this money from a couple of unlisted major contributors; so a fairly major scandal will almost certainly engulf and destroy his campaign!)

    So, I shook Henry’s hand (subtext note 2: he did NOT say “pray for me”; instead, he said “Ain’t this GREAT?!” and I said “Yes, it IS!” and then asked him if he was going to win in November, and he laughed and said “YES!”) and Chloe (our 3 year old) thrust her hand up, so as to get a handshake, and the candidate obliged her, too.

    There is an oddball piece of industrial ‘art’ near the square – all angular I-beams and plates bolted together, and kids were climbing all over it…and I couldn’t watch. I suspect a kid could get killed if they fell from the peak down onto one of the supports – but nobody (parents of those kids least of all) seemed to care, which was my only complaint on the evening’s outing

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  7. michaelj said on May 25, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Men You Should Avoid: Mr. Bad Example. Are we kidding? Warren invented this category, and I wasn’t far behind, if I do say so myself. Roland the Thompson Gunner? Excitable Boy? And he did it with such style. Best piano player ever and a decent guitar player, but he’s not Steven Stills, who’s actually the best guitar player that ever lived. Apologies to Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, that played on Steven’s record. He’s just better. Only a little better than Jimi. Way better than Eric. That one’s not even close. Go and Say Goodbye.

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  8. nancy said on May 25, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Michael, you’re on crack. I said B&S’ version of the song, knowing FULL WELL it was written by Jim Pepper. And yes, it is a gorgeous song.

    Found a blog where a guy planned to play every version available back to back on his internet radio show. Had something like 28 lined up. We may save radio yet.

    (The last time I heard that happening in commercial radio was when some DJ in Boston played every extant version of “Jambalaya” back to back for Hank Williams’ birthday. It took him hours.)

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  9. nancy said on May 25, 2007 at 10:33 am


    My new laptop makes podcasting a breeze.

    Please, someone stop me before I figure out a new way to waste time.

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  10. Danny said on May 25, 2007 at 10:33 am

    …Steven Stills, who’s actually the best guitar player that ever lived.

    michaelj, you misspelled Steve Howe.

    And you should give Marcia a break. She’s way cool. And do a little introspection. I mean, “crackerization?” Pffft.

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  11. Emma said on May 25, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    The narrator from “Thunder Road” has always struck me as a guy to avoid. “You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re alright.” Flattering. (Also: “The door’s open, but the ride it ain’t free” sounds pretty bad.) Still love the song though.

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  12. Marcia said on May 25, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    No, michaelj’s right. I didn’t mean it in a racist way, but I can see where what I wrote could be construed like that. So here’s my clarification:

    I find the Americanization of some of the Muslim families intriguing–the way the women are still held to the conservative covering of the head, but then can wear tight jeans and, well, baseball jerseys. That was all I meant.

    What’s more, my sister is married to a Muslim, and I have an Arabic niece and nephew. Believe me, I’m the last to be racist.

    Nancy, if I could figure out a way to make myself stop wasting time online, I’d have written the Great American Novel by now.

    Okay, maybe not. But at least my house would be clean.

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  13. Ricardo said on May 25, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    These posts got me wondering what old high school chum and California house guest was up to. Last time I spoke with Mike, he was doing his intern work at Henry Ford Hospital, midnight shift. Lots of gang-related injuries came through. Mike was the most regular guy I knew, legally blind for a while, and a Viet Nam vet. Also was active in the Lebanese-American group in Detroit.

    So I did a search and found out Mohamed Okdie is now the first Arab-American on the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and Vice Chair of the County Mental Health Agency. He is also a mental health specialist for the Detroit School Board. No wonder he never calls any more, too damn busy.

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  14. michaelj said on May 25, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Guys somebody should have avoided: the bastards that signed that PNACenturions letter to Clinton back in ’98.

    Marcia, please excuse my intemperance. I blame the lawless times we’re living in. Everybody’s suspect when, as Garrison Keillor says,

    The party of Lincoln and Liberty has been transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk.

    Well, the moonwalk probably did get shot in a studio. But President Segway has to report to Congress July 15. The infamous enabling legislation for the invasion had a whole section called Reports to Congress. Can they just throw his ass out if he blows this one off too?

    As far as saving radio is concerned, how ’bout all Norman Greenbaum, all the time?

    Steve Howe’s mighty good, he just tends to doodle a lot, and cute can take you only so far. Stills is like the hoops player that makes everybody else better, including Neil. Listen to any live version of Bluebird.

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  15. Danny said on May 26, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Hey, I know everyone is probably enjoying a fine three-day weekend, but this is a great article on a true pirate, Bartholomew Roberts, aka Black Bart. If you have young folks, they may want to read it too.

    And I love the first comment: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his own soul.”

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  16. michaelj said on May 26, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Mark Fainaru-Wada is one bd facial hair piece of crap. If he knows something about Barry Bonds, let him prove it. As things stand, he’s got all the credibility of Rick Reilley. Meaning, None whatsoevever, He apparently invaded a grand jury. That doesn’t prove shit burtt that he groke the law. This i s all so tedious. How would steroid abuse affect hitting home runs? Well, it wouldn’t. Askany scientist. It might make you more likely to come back quickly from rapid muscle abuse, like pitching. It sure as hell has nothing to do with hitting baseballs. That’s hand-eye coordination. Sterpods don’t get that. Just nonsense. What is it with this crap? One season, bonds hit a ton of homers, Other than that, he never hit more than 49,. He’s just a great hitter, and a great base runner and a great teammate, and a very great fielder I rhink he’s just a great baseball player I think anybody that would argue with that assertion just doesn’t know much about baseball.. Jeez, I wish I could have been as good a ballplayer as Barry Bonds. Hall of famer, bud. If cutesies keep you out, Rick Reilley and Fainaru are on the outside, looking in.

    I was only a decent high school athlete.Ran a sub five minute mile once. Fainaru-wada wasn’t either, so he’s got to make some shit up to tear somebody down? Randy Newman said this best. Jesus, what a jerk. And shield laws ntwithstanding, the bastard broke the law. But what the hell’s the law in the Goodling era?.

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  17. brian stouder said on May 27, 2007 at 10:15 am

    How would steroid abuse affect hitting home runs?

    Well – I’d grant that it probably has less of an effect than, say, smoking crack would have on a person’s writing skills

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  18. Marcia said on May 27, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Brian just killed me dead.

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  19. Danny said on May 27, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    For those of you who don’t know baseball (which apparently includes at least one person who thinks he does), the argument goes thusly:

    Steroids increase strength which increases bat speed. They will not enable you to hit a ball if you are not a hitter, but if you are a true hitter like Bonds, they will allow you to get a longer look at a pitch before you must commit to that pitch and commence a swing. And the increased bat speed will also make the ball carry further (basic mechanics of the phyics of elastic collisions) which increases the likelyhood of a homer.

    Steroids will also increase your hat size, which is just one of the many documented things that have changed in Bonds’ physic over the years. So while nothing is “proven,” most people who are not Giants fans realize what is going on.

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  20. Danny said on May 27, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Just thought I should add something for clarity. Getting that longer look at a pitch is very, very important to a true hitter. Just a split fraction of a second of a longer look enables the hitter to determine if it is a good pitch, worthy of a swing and gives them that much more of a chance at a solid connection.

    I’ve hear Tony Gwynn talk about conversations that he had with Ted Williams where the two discussed their uncanny hitting skills. Williams and Gwynn both swore that at times they felt as if they could actually see the seams of the ball and make out the rotation pitch as it approached them.

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  21. nancy said on May 27, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Williams was a genius at that sort of thing. Kirk once sent me a half-dozen anecdotes about his ability to see tiny nuances in the game — bats that were a half-ounce different in weight, a pitcher’s mound an inch too high, etc. Maybe he’ll post them here.

    And even I know enough about baseball to know Popeye-style biceps will give you a stronger connection with the ball when you swing.

    While we’re on the subject, anybody taking bets on when St. Lance Armstrong will come clean about being dirty? I once read a piece on cycling and dope by Julian Barnes (novelist, cycling fan) in which he said the strongest evidence against Lance was the fact the sport was simply drenched in chemical help from top to bottom, and going back to nearly the beginning of the modern era. (The earliest cyclists doped with plain old amphetamines, which caused its first Tour de France death, when some schmuck’s heart gave out high in the Pyrenees.) It’s true that the guy trained with a single-mindedness and efficiency that was truly magnificent. But as Danny points out, drugs don’t make an athlete; they give you the edge that makes you a winner.

    No one will ever convince me FloJo’s death — and records — weren’t somehow drug-related, either.

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  22. Danny said on May 27, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Yeah, I’ve thought a lot about FloJo over the years and concur. My buddy, who was something of a runner in his day, told me that she was a very average runner before she just started blowing the field and record book away.

    Track and cycling seem to unfortunately be dirty throughout.

    As to Lance (who you noted and some writer correctly labeled, “the secular saint”), I think you are probably right too. The only slim hope I hold to is the possibility that the cancer ordeal and subsequent treatment being of some benefit. You have his somewhat believable claims that:

    a) The cancer and chemo and operations totally broke his body down, emaciating him, depleting all muscle mass. When he built back up, he built up on the bike as a cyclist and did not develop his upper body as before when he was a triathelete who was transitioning into cycling. So he had more of a cycling physique upon his return.

    b) His treatment regimen did involve the legal application of EPO, normally a banned substance for cyclists. EPO is given to chemo patients who are having trouble with anemia. The EPO causes the production of more red bloods cells and these new red blood cells have enhanced more oxygen carrying capacity courtesy of modified hemoglobin (my understanding).

    So it is a little concievable that he was reborn as a pure cyclist with greater than normal VO2 capacity. But just barely.

    Floyd Landis, though, he undoubtedly must come clean. I think what happened with him is that he put on that herculean, never-seen-before, kick-ass effort in that mountain stage, coming back from that amazing deficit from the day before … and something that is normally masked successfully by the team doctors metabolized differently. And voila, c’est la vie.

    Oh and then there is the interesting coincidence that many former US Postal/Discovery riders seemed to get popped for doping when they move to another team.

    And have you read any of the recent courtr0om drama with Lemond and one of Landis’ guys trying to blackmail Lemond that he would expose the fact that he had been molested as a 6-year old boy. Tragic, gross, and wild stuff.

    Lemond has said for years that all of cycling (and Lance) is dirty. He may be a bitter guy (and for good reason if you know some of the story of his Tour experiences and perosnal tragedies), but he seems believable.

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  23. MichaelG said on May 27, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Let’s look to the future. There’s a kid here in Sacramento named Alex Kosinski. She’s the best high school middle distance runner in the country today. Maybe ever. For example she owns the United States national high school record at 1600 meters. She runs the 800 and anchors the 400 meter relay. She’ll be going to Oregon in the fall where she (naturally) has a scholarship. So far she’s clean but imagine the pressure on this kid and expectations this she faces. I hope it works out for her and I hope she stays clean. I’ll be following her career.

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  24. michaelj said on May 28, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Michael G.

    I used to be a pretty good middle distance runner in High School. In those days, we ran yards, not meters. I ran a 1:54 something 880. I ran under five minute mile. I couldn’t keep those times up, and I think it was because of swimming. These sports don’t lend themselves to each other.

    Anyway, I love middle distance running. My dad used to take me to the NCAAs at I think Ford Auditorium. We saw Mohinder Gil, a triple-jumper, the best that ever lived. He made a jump that exceded the world record by several feet but officials claimed he fouled when he clearly had not. He broke the record bya proverbial mile.

    Around midnight and time to clear out. My dad saud it was time to go. Wvewrybody in the place started chanting “Mohinder’. He’d taken off his turban and leaped, and everybody in the place knew he was better by three feet than the world record. The chanting went on. My dad relented. A Sikh? Nope. They moved us out.
    They didn’t count his jump, but it would be an unassailable record today. You know, he pulled a Bob Beamon. You couldn’t go 29 ft.

    He was my hero. Like Tommy Jones. Those guys on the stage? Those were my heroes. Pure balls. And I was some dumbass white kid that knew what I knew about race and heroes. I was a kid in ’68. And I was white and lived in Birmingham Michigan.

    Almost as white as Grosse Pointe. But I knew. I was born lonely down by the riverside, learned to spin fortune wheels and roll dice, I was just fourteen. when I knew I had to leave home, knew I couldn’t stick around, I had to roam.

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  25. Kim said on May 28, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Michael J, I can hardly keep up with you.

    Nancy, I am with you on FloJo. But she really rocked that one long, one short leggings look, didn’t she?

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  26. Kim said on May 28, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    One more thing, michael j — thought you were 13 when you knew you had to leave home, knew you couldn’t stick around, had to roam. You ramblin’, gamblin’ adolescent, you.

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  27. michaelj said on May 28, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    So Michael G. IG. I want this kid to run like hell, and win. Running middle distance is strange. When I did this, it was hard for 660, you stay even, and run like hell for the rest. You either burned them on the last turn or you got burned. Strange races. No strategy. No sprints. Middle distance comes down to one thing. Who gives up. Running out the end. Somebody gives up when they know they’re beat. These are the hardest races anybody runs. You celebrate your finisher wherever they finish, because it’s just really hard.. Nobody that
    hasn’t ever done this has a clue. Not like sprints, not like miles and longer. It’s just incredibly difficult. You trash yourself for a while and then you try to run as fast as you can next time.

    I apologize for sounding like an idiot. I think running in competition doesn’t change by your gender. You run against your competition. Trying to run faster than everybody else is just hard. I couldn’t run faster than my little brother (had a tryout with the jets, and if you think I’m lying, he had 12 interceptions and 18 tackles for loss in his college career with Princeton), and it drove me nuts, until I realized if you stretched it out, over several hundred feet, like 440, and 880 and a mile, he couldn’t touch my ass. I could outrun him forever. Not that I’d want to. He’s my best friend and he’s my little brother.

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  28. john c said on May 28, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Just back from “up north” and catching up. For a non-sports fan you picked up on one of the real joys of Comerica Park – triples! With its vast expanses in center and left-center fields, Comerica sees more triples than any other park. And you are right, there is nothing quite like a triple, especially that moment when your eye moves from watching the ball as it bounces toward the wall to the baserunner who is not slowing down as he thunders around second. Great stuff. Most new ballpparks were built to make home runs easier. The Tigers built their park thinking they would go the other way, and create teams built on defense and speed. Then steroids came, the home runs were a-flyin in all those little parks. And the Tigers languished. They even moved the fence in left in (it’s still farther than most parks!) Finally the team is winning, everyone is having fun. And we get to see lots of doubles and triples!
    Glad the boat got in. as we now have access to a sailboat, here’s to rafting and cocktails on Lake St. Clair!

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  29. michaelj said on May 29, 2007 at 4:05 am

    Kim, in this case it came a year later. Met somebody at the Michigan State Fair. 14. I was caught and brought back. All-state and National honor society following. I’d say it was an aberration, but things went from bad to worse, and it seems to have become a life’s work. Underwhelming expectations at every opportunity. If underwhelming can be a verb.

    The two greatest Detroit bands at that time were MC5 and SRC. SRC was Yes before there was such a thing, I guess. They made a song about an angel that gives up being one to have a dream. Sounds cheesy, but it isn’t. I don’t know any of y’all, but if you like something with science fiction lyrics and insanely great guitar playing, backed by little brother’s B3 Hammond (and the Hammond organ is a mighty instrument) , SRC is worth checking. For the most part the songs are stories. I know this sounds lame but I’ll tell you what, this is some of the greatest guitar playing and singing you might ever hear. You know Beck’s Bolero, these boys put it to shame, and they introduce it with about five minutes of “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. An exceptionally talented band. I know. If you like the song Citadel by the Stones. Or if you like the Call or Screaming Blue Messiahs.

    MC5 is another whole story entirely. Iggy’s cool these days. Those boys couldn’t play a lick. We all thought they were a joke, and yeah we were jocks, but in those days, in Detroit, if you were swimmer jocks you were very cool and you most certainly had the best drugs.

    Anyway. Other than SRC, MC5 basically ruled. You had two guitar players that could play better than anybody, almost. Better than Clapton, not Jimi, quite. They played insane leads apart from each other that seemed to come together. They had a song called “Come Together” and at the end they’d say “and I hope you all did– come together”.Which of course, adolescently, we thought was the height of cool. These guys were alleged revolutionary types. And their manager, John Sinclair got put away.

    I don’t know about that. I do know they were spectacular rockers. “Kick Out the Jams” is one of the most astounding live albums ever made. This is not yer Lynnyrd Skynnyrd. More like Alvin Lee and Alvin Lee’s clone. All these metal bands? Metallica? Gimme a break.

    I should be a big fan of triples. I’m a huge fan of players that hit triples because it means they’re fast. My possible favorite player that ever lived kind of specialed in triples

    That would be Kirk Gibson, but he used to be a Tiger. I used to sit in center field with old me that would pass a pint of Ancient Age and tell stories about age-old Tigers legends.I used to listen to the Tigers on TV and even on the radio. George Kell and Ernie Harwell. If you love baseball and you can’t tune in Vin, this is as good as you can get.

    Tiges had a truly great first baseman named Norm Cash. He wasn’t Gil Hodges, who was such a man he only wore a glove because everybody else did, but he was hellaciuos, and he hit 361 one year, which is just amazing whatever sort of rube he may have been. . But Norm Cash had a peculiarity. With every pitched ball, he grabbed a sac, and it wasn’t first base. Seemingly incomprehensibly, he’d cup his non-glove hand over his nads. And George Kell, I think, would start the call of every play by saying, Norm Cash, guarding the bag at first.

    Tigers had a guy with what I think may be the greatest baseball name ever. Purnal Goldie. He homered his first at bat in the majors. And sank like a stone thereafter. An object lesson in why baseball is the greatest game.

    We were just kids. We thought this was the funniest thing we ever heard. Every time.

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  30. brian stouder said on May 29, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Speaking of funny things – the following struck me as funny, and NN.c touched on this subject (so to speak) a week ago

    (from today’s msnbc “Scoop”, but I won’t post the link)

    Heidi Klum says she has names for her boobs. She calls one Hans and the other Franz. “They’re German,” she explained.

    But I wanna know which one is which!

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  31. Kirk said on May 29, 2007 at 8:25 am

    Norm Cash admitted a few years ago that he corked his bat the year he hit .361 for the Tigers.

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  32. michaelj said on May 29, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Did Norm cash cork the bag he was guarding at first?

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