Chuck Klosterman Blog Part 2

Continuing the series of maintaining blogs for some of the authors I enjoy (Michael Lewis and Part 1 of Chuck Klosterman) because they won’t maintain them themselves, here’s another round of Chuck Klosterman on the internet.

Chuck Klosterman’s favorable and effusive review of Benji Hughes’ A Love Extreme:

Even after nearly three decades of MTV, we still tend to see musicians with our ears, which (I can only assume) is what the musicians would want.

Last week, Klosterman was on The BS Report with Bill Simmons (who calls Klosterman ‘Close-terman’ can we figure out if that’s how it’s supposed to be pronounced?) for 2 sessions. In the first they discussed the merits of pro sports (Simmons) vs college sports (Klosterman) and the second where they discussed newspapers, popularity and tenure.

Klosterman echoed David Carr’s thoughts that newspapers should have been charging on the web since the beginning and colluding to do so now is one way to save them. He also pointed out Simmons’ hypocrisy in criticizing sports columnists who have been where they are for ages. Simmons suggested that a lot of the best younger writers were leaving newspapers to go to the tubes, while Klosterman suggested that these guys might not be the best because internet is a popularity contest, judged by how much attention you can draw to yourself as opposed to how good you are.

Most interesting to me was a point Klosterman made a couple times that popularity begets popularity and the bigger websites are only going to keep getting bigger (though, wee Unlikely Words will soldier on!).

Lastly, spoke at the Highline Ballroom last night with all-girl Mötley Crüe cover band, Girls Girls Girls. I’ll assume the evening went well and post a review if I see one.

Chuck Klosterman Blog Part 2

Fluffernutter Massachusetts’ Official State Sandwich?

The Massachusetts legislature is debating a bill to declare an official sandwich. The bill, (H-2932), submitted by Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein (for the second time, actually) is “An Act designating the fluffernutter as the official sandwich of the commonwealth.” (Full disclosure: As a resident of Union Square, Somerville, where Fluff was invented, and a lifelong Fluff fan, I wholeheartedly support this bill.)

This got me curious about whether there are other Official State Sandwiches out there. Via, I found that 2 states have sandwiches known as “traditional foods” (Iowa’s Loose Meat Sandwich and Nebraska’s Runza Sandwich), but this is obviously not the same thing. Even a state in Mexico has an official sandwich (Vera Cruz’s Pambazo). Someone suggested, as a joke, that the Oreo become the Official State Sandwich COOKIE of Utah (which doesn’t count because it’s a cookie and a joke), and in response to the bill being submitted in MA, a Florida radio duo began lobbying Florida to declare a official state sandwich.

Meanwhile, bloggers in Indiana and New Hampshire have previously begun movements agitating for a state sandwich of their own. Delaware’s might be the Bobby, but there wasn’t anything definitive on the nets, so send me a message if you’re in the know and I’ll add a link. As far as I can tell, though, the only “Official State Sandwich” out there is Carle’s Bratwurst, the Official State Sandwich of Ohio (recognized as such in a 2006 omnibus bill recognizing 64 other people, places and things as official symbols of Ohio).

Finally, I would be remiss if I neglected to link to the official Marshmallow Fluff Homepage, complete with history, recipes, and fun. Obviously the Fluff Festival as well.

(This post was inspired by my friends at Grand, an awesome shop in Union Square that is celebrating their one year anniversary this weekend. (No Fluff was promised to me for this plug.))

Fluffernutter Massachusetts’ Official State Sandwich?

Appreciation of Rickey Henderson – Stories, Thoughts, and Links

Rickey Henderson is going to get a call from the Hall of Fame today telling him to pack his bags for Cooperstown. I spent a couple hours yesterday looking though old articles about Rickey because he’s always been one of the more enjoyable and enigmatic players in the game of baseball. (And hey, he played for the Red Sox in 2002, so he could be called one of my favorite Sox, right?)

Take a second to click through and enjoy Rickey being Rickey:

Joe Posnanski made a great argument that Rickey should be the first unanimous selection to the Hall of Famer, including the mindboggling statistic:

“He walked more times just leading off an in inning than Lou Brock, Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Kirby Puckett, Ryne Sandberg and more than 50 other Hall of Famers walked in their entire careers (more than Jim Rice, too).”

Of course, a writer 70 year old sportswriter left him off and now wishes he hadn’t. The BWAA might want to have some editorial control over writers who use their ballots to make a point (or in the case of Corky, just goof).

Rickey was nonpareil as a leadoff hitter, and according to this short collection of stories about Rickey, he agreed. “There ain’t no other leadoff hitter but me.”

In 1982 Rickey’s manager, Billy Martin, wanted Rickey to get the season stolen base record at home in Oakland. This is a Rickey anecdote I hadn’t heard.

“Billy told that Chicken (Stanley) to get his butt thrown out, so he wouldn’t be on second in my way,’ Henderson said. ‘But I hit the ball too hard, and he had to stop at second. Billy wants me to run, but Chicken’s in the way. So Billy tells him to get picked off. Get caught. So they throw a pitch and Chicken is way off base, and they don’t even try to get him. We’re playing Detroit and (Tigers manager) Sparky (Anderson) didn’t want me to get it. So he wouldn’t let them tag Chicken. He’s way off the base, and no one’s even trying. And that old Durwood Merrill (the second-base umpire) is getting madder and madder. He knew what was going on. He didn’t like it. He made them make the play on Chicken. I think Sparky was mad. I go on the next pitch. And I make it, I’m in there. And that old Durwood, he called me out because he was still mad at Billy and Sparky.”

He finally got the record in the next game. Over the years, Rickey’s speech after getting the record has become something critics touch on proving he was selfish and arrogant. This, because the last lines of his speech are, “Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I’m the greatest of all time.” Interestingly, the article from Time has no reaction to the speech and Lou Brock helped him write the speech before the game. Also, most of these article are full of teammates (like Don Mattingly and Dennis Eckersley) praising Rickey as a teammate. (Update: Via the comments, the speech was after he broke the career record, not the single season record, so that’s why it wasn’t mentioned in the article. My point remains, though, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his speech and “Rickey is selfish” is a media driven storyline, not borne out by facts.)

Also, via the comments, for those who say Rickey is selfish, there’s one girl in Oakland who would disagree.

See, I told you Mattingly liked Rickey.

“When Rickey was traded back to the A’s in the late 80’s, I remember watching a game the Yankees were playing in Oakland. Before the game, Rickey was hitting off the tee, and Mattingly was sitting there setting up the balls for Rickey. Mattingly liked Rickey. This was the moment that I realized that all the negative writing about Henderson was wrong. Don Mattingly was the most respected player in baseball at that time. If Don liked Rickey well enough to sit there and tee up balls for him when he was playing for the opposition, Rickey must be okay.

Rickey suffers from being inarticulate and a lack of education, just as Roger Clemens does. When they speak to the media, they have a hard time expressing themselves clearly, so they come off as jerks. I’m glad this article shows Rickey talking in a comfortable setting. It gives us a new insight into the man.”

In reading several of these articles, I found that Rickey was able to turn on and off the Rickey speak that made him seem inarticulate. And especially earlier in his career, he didn’t appear to use it at all. Roger Clemens was just a dumbass, but for Rickey, it seems like it was more of an act. “ He needed no coaxing to cruise into Rickey-speak, a mixture of a streetwise preacher and an eccentric professor.”

Here’s Eck relating a story about Rickey having trouble with R-E-S-P-E-C-T. His fondness for Rickey is clear.

This Sports Illustrated article from 2003 is overflowing with Rickey anecdotes. I’m going to go out on a limb and call this article the definitive compendium of Rickey Henderson Anecdotes. (There’s a ’25 Greatest Rickey Henderson Stories’ meme out there that you can find with Google, but this article is the source for it, and it has more than 25 stories so you may as well read IT instead.) One of my favorites, Rickey griping about his contract, “If they’re going to pay me like [Mike] Gallego, I’m going to play like Gallego.”

There’s also the ‘tenure’ story, the Olreud story (which is untrue), and TWO uncashed check stories, among several others.

The first mention of Rickey I could find in SI was when he was awarded Player Of The Week in October 1980 for having 12 steals.

Rickey was on the cover of SI 4 times:
In 1982, when he broke the single season stolen base record. In the accompanying story, “Medich and his catcher, Ted Simmons, had the downcast aspect of persons about to become answers to a trivia question.” Also, we find out that Kirk Gibson was once considered one of the faster major leaguers, which blew my mind. I had no idea.

In 1986 when Peter Gammons previewed the All-Star game by comparing Rickey to the other preeminent leadoff hitter of his time, Tim Raines.
Obviously, I’m going to snip the Rich Gedman quotation. Rich Gedman was one of my first favorites.

“Boston catcher Rich Gedman looked at Rickey Henderson, who was getting dressed. “He’s built like Superman,” Gedman said of the Yankee centerfielder. “When you play against him, you try to say, ‘Don’t let him bother you,’ because there are times there is nothing you can do to stop him from doing whatever he wants to do. He’s from another planet. Unfortunately, you can’t help thinking about him. We’re only human.”

In 1989 when he took over the Post Season. (Remember the earthquake that disrupted the Series? Rickey was apparently on the toilet for that one.) Gammons writes

“In the seventh inning, after getting such a jump on his steal of second that Whitt couldn’t make a throw, Henderson pulled up a few steps short of second and walked to the bag. “That kind of hotdogging isn’t right,” said Whitt (box, page 34). The A’s went on to win 6-3, and the next day Henderson was quoted in the papers as saying, ‘I can steal on Whitt whenever I want.'”

And in 1990 for an article about Tony LaRussa written by George Will.

Bill James’ response to Rickey setting the single season stolen base record in 1982 was exactly what you would expect. Curmudgeonly grumbling about how the stolen base isn’t an extremely effective offensive weapon and then plenty of statistics to back it up. The early Bill James byline was an exciting find, though. And, in 2001, James made his feelings for Rickey’s game clear, “Somebody asked me did I think Rickey Henderson was a Hall of Famer. I told them, ‘If you could split him in two, you’d have two Hall of Famers.'” (It’s important to note that Bill James was correct in his assessment of Rickey’s use of the stolen base because in the same year that he set the record for steals (130), he set the record for caught stealing (42).

Though Rickey and Bill James may have been of a closer mind than they knew. In this 1989 NY Times article, Rickey wants a new contract from the Yankees and is refusing to waive his no-trade clause. ”My average is down, but with a leadoff hitter, you don’t consider average,” he said. ”On-base is what’s important and mine is right up there.” I don’t think ANYONE was talking about on-base percentage in 1989 EXCEPT Rickey and Bill James.

Check out Rickey’s Wiki. He played 2 or 3 years of Independent ball after leaving MLB. Rickey was there doing his thing, hoping to get another job in the majors. Incidentally, he had an OBP of over .450 in his Independent league career.

And finally, here’s the obligatory New Yorker profile on Rickey complete with a story about getting thrown off an airplane and the quotation defining his last couple years playing for crowds numbering in the hundreds and low thousands. “I just don’t know if Rickey can stop.”

And, of course, a hearty congrats to Jim Ed Rice, as well. I’m glad he finally got in.

Appreciation of Rickey Henderson – Stories, Thoughts, and Links

Matt’s Year in Review

It was a good year on Unlikely Words, no thanks to me. Looking back over my posts for the year, it’s clear I started slacking off even before I had two good excuses. I guess my New Year’s resolution is to be a less crappy blogger.

Here are some things you might have missed:

Many thanks are due to AC for not only keeping this blog running single-handedly, but for really taking things up a notch, traffic-wise.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Matt’s Year in Review

AC’s Year in Review

It was a good year on Unlikely Words. In case you missed some or all of it, I went through the year and pulled out a few links to my favorite posts. Favorite is loose here and applies to something either I wrote or really enjoyed on the internets. What did you like this year?

In no real order…

A horse statue was vandalized in Saratoga Springs, Billy Ripken and Ken Griffey reminded me of how I spent the second half of the eighties and one summer after Sophomore year of college and Guns n’ Roses released an album leading to me telling 2 stories of my younger days.

I documented 12 cities that banned plastic bags, as well as the the 2008 Election and was PSYCHED this got linked by Kottke and Wonkette. Bill Simmons listed his favorite sports journalism and I found links to almost all of them as tons and tons of musicians told John McCain “Don’t Play My Song! and I compiled a list. I was hoping this would catch on, but, alas…

A seafood truck crashed in Worcester. Someone rented a refrigerated truck and the lobsters were sold all over town. Until they were discovered, seized and…dumped back into Boston Harbor, which seems like it could only happen in Worcester, the Paris of the Eighties.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks was my favorite book this year, Mad Men Season 1 my favorite TV show, and Eastern Promises my favorite movie. However, my favorite movie to talk about was the utterly horrible Unknown. It’s not unwatchable, though.

Dodgers touch Colon for run in fourth” was my favorite headline of the year, while seeing Sir Ben Kingsley as Ian MacKaye was my favorite video. The Barack Brains T Shirt (Bad Brains logo/Barack) tied the Cry Celtic Green T-Shirt for garment of the year. And I got an iPhone.

A hawk attacked a girl at Fenway Park and I introduced the world to cold cut flavored jelly beans, which surprisingly elicited a prompt reaction from the inventor of Jelly Belly (see the comments). I continued hating sharks while Pat Matheny continued to hate Kenny G’s “Lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing.”

Eliot Spitzer banged a prostitute and I was there to flow chart it. I also created a recipe to make Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream at home, watched my street flood, enjoyed this article about getting stuck in an elevator, and found out BJ Upton’s BJ stands for Bossman Junior, which is just awesome.

And finally, my favorite picture of the year:
Big Baby Davis and the Trophy!

Happy New Year everyone, thanks for reading and see you next year.

AC’s Year in Review