For god’s sake – what is WRONG with Arizona?

First it becomes the state with the most backwards and xenophobic immigration policy in the Union, and now the schools will not be permitted to teach ethnic studies because it promotes an atmosphere of resentment and increases the possibility of a violent takeover – I know, WTF indeed.

The 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is scheduled to be held in Arizona and, given the high percentage of Latin and Hispanic players that play professional baseball, it seems like there may be a problem.  A number of players have thrown their support behind MoveTheGame.org, which is an offshoot of MoveOn.  Commissioner Selig has said that he doesn’t expect the game to be moved, but he’s just biding his time while waiting to see which way the winds of public opinion blow.  The man is a coward.

Elon James does an excellent (and humorous) job of helping us put some of Arizona’s policies in perspective.  The thing is, I’ve been to Arizona.  It seems like a nice place.  Can anyone tell me how it got so fucked up?

Links and stuff, including Lincecum video and Moog Bass pedals

Let’s start with the video that makes me like Tim Lincecum even more:

That gem comes courtesy the me via the good folks at Big League Stew.

Next is a beautiful Flickr gallery of the current incarnation of a Moog Taurus bass pedal.  When used correctly, this instrument can take the paint off the walls, remove fillings and rearrange internal organs:

moog-taurus-III-synth-porn-hd

Click here for the droolworthy gallery.  Via Sythtopia.

Steve Hackett will be playing NearFest next June.  Other acts include Iona, The Enid, Three Friends (what is that, a Gentle Giant cover band), Astra and Pineapple Thief.  Since I don’t know anything about the other acts, I have a lot of homework to do.  Nearfest takes place in Bethlehem, PA.  (Via Bill’s Prog Blog)

Zombi is coming to Johnny Brenda’s on December 19.  Should be a pretty good prog show.  So far, I like what I’ve heard from this Pittsburgh duo.  Tickets are ten dollars and it is the best place to see music of any type in Philadelphia.  Here’s a taste of Zombi:

via the @progscape twitter feed.

And a few fiction notes:

  1. Aliette de Boddard has some new fiction available for your reading pleasure.  ‘After The Fire’ is another intense SF short story that you can read here or listen to as part of a podcast here.  Both are highly recommended.
  2. There is a feisty conversation about my favorite book of the year, Jay Lake’s Green over at Torque Control.  You have excerpts of some reviews, but the real drama unfolds in the comments.  My thoughts are interposed and largely ignored by the literati sharing criticism.  The link came via the author’s twitter feed.

Hope everyone has had a nice weekend.  It’s a beautiful Sunday here in Philadelphia, so we’re off to do some outdoor chores.  Peace, live and music to you all!

Afternoon links, retweets and goodies

Start with this beautiful tourist video of our fair city from 1977, courtesy Philebrity:

@AnswerDave is one of the great sports humorists I follow on Twitter.  He and the folks at Big League Stew have found a great animated feature of Doc Ellis’ 1970 no-hitter for the Pirates, supposedly while he was tripping on acid.  There is an online petition urging MLB to find and air a video of the game.  It’s a veritable certainty that the poswers-that-be will not want to glorify Ellis’ claimed drug use, but it is a charming part of Baseball lore.  Here’s the animated feature, which should clearly win an Oscar of some kind:

In the world of F1, Jenson Button will be driving for McLaren next year.  This will be the first time two British champions will be on a British team since Graham Hill and Jim Clark back in 1968 – RULE BRITANNIA!

Here’s two links to Synthtopia that made me smile.

  1. First one is a live Berlin School jam with Moog modulars.  The set-up may not be as big as Tangerine Dream or Kieth Emerson, but it’s still pretty cool how people can pull this off, even in the age of computer synths and sequences.
  2. The second is a beautiful glimpse of Vangelis current virtual orchestra set-up, including great footage of the genius at work.

Here’s an AP article, via The American Blues Blog, that provides information about the birthplace of Robert Johnson.

Last week io9.com put up a bunch of artwork by Shusei Nagaoka, who created artwork in the 70′s for Deep Purple, ELO and Star Trek.

500x_s_nagaoka_19_large

Finally, there’s a whole mess of great music available for immediate download over at ParisDJs.  What are you waiting for?

Baseball = love

j-roll

This is why we love the game.  This is why we put up with the frustration and the grind and the years of futility when things don’t go our way.  This is why Harry Kalas said, in his Hall of  Fame induction speech, that, “no matter how long you’ve been in [the game], you learn more about it every year, every day. Every year I see things on the field that I’ve never seen before.”  This is why generation after generation can sit in a crowded park next to tens of thousand of strangers and have the time of their life just watching men stand around and think for three hours.  This is why it’s a chess match and this is why the Phillies have the heart of a champion.

This morning, everyone is at a loss for words and we haven’t even won anything yet.  This series will go on and may even go back to Los Angeles.  But today, none of that matters.

Go read about it at The Fightins, Beerleaguer, The Phrontiersman and The Walkoff Walk.  Soak it up on Twitter and Facebook with the 700Level.  See what they’re saying at We Should Be GMs.  Last night was a special night, and whether you were watching on TV, listening to the radio or lucky enough to be in the stands, that was a Phillies game that will live on in history forever.

Today everyone will try to explain the inexplicable.  They will try with words to describe something that cannot be described.  The emotions run high and we all want to share in this in some way, because that makes something good feel so much better.  I think I know a word that describes this phenomena pretty well:

philadelphia9

Owning Brad Lidge

pujols-lidge

In 2005 Brad Lidge had 42 saves in the regular season, that’s one more than he had in the magical run that lead him to his first and only World Series ring last year.  In 2005, Lidge also had more strikeouts (103 vs 92) and fewer walks (23 vs. 35) compared to 2008.  By all accounts, Brad Lidge had a pretty good season in 2005.  He wasn’t perfect (4 blown saves) but he was a lot better than solid.  He was the kind of closer that gives confidence to every other member of the team.  The kind of closer that makes the other team think that, if they’re down (even by one run) in the 9th inning, they can not win.

But now, there is only one pitch for which Brad Lidge will be remembered in 2005, only one at-bat that matters.  Because on a warm October night in Houston, at the end of game 5 of the NLCS, Albert Pujols owned Brad Lidge.

That probably should have been the end of the story.  I certainly thought I would never here from Lidge again.

And then he ended up in Philadelphia.

Baseball is unrelenting.  Baseball goes on forever.  In Baseball, the ‘modern’ era includes things that happened a hundred years ago.  So first Lidge should have been done-in by Pujols’ gargantuan 3-run shot in 2005.  But that wasn’t the end.  Then I would have expected him to gently ride off into the sunset, perhaps fading to age or injury, after the electric perfection he conjured in 2008.  But that was not the end.

Like Baseball itself, the story goes on and on.

And now, in Philadelphia and Colorado, the next chapter will be written.  Lidge was not just good last year – he was perfect.  Every time he tried to get a save – he saved it.  Every time the team was leading at the end of the game and he was on the mound, his team won.  No closer has ever performed better in a single season for the Phillies.  Not.  Ever.

And what has happened in the recently completed 2009 season?  The one in which the Phillies return to the playoffs as division champs for the third year in a row?  The season when four members of the Phillies everyday lineup have thirty or more homeruns?

Brad Lidge has turned in the worst performance by any relief pitcher on any team in baseball this year.  He is, statistically, Baseball’s worst relief pitcher.

We are well beyond any worthwhile investigation into why this is the case.  The only relevant statement is that he is not injured.  Which means that the cause of his dizzying, dazzling fall from perfection is a true mystery, especially to Lidge himself.  Anyone who says they know what’s going on is wrong.  The nature of closing baseball games is such that these horrors happen.

So, really, the only question is, “What do we do now?”

In mere hours, the playoff rosters will have to be set, and while skipper Charlie Manuel is mulling some players on the bubble, one of them is not Brad Lidge.  He will be on the team, not necessarily because he has earned it with his performance this season, but because he is still better than Escalona and other truly marginal major leaguers.

And he won’t be on the roster to play shortstop.  Or even come in for the 6th or 7th inning.  There is only one thing that Lidge is here to do, arguably only one thing that he is prepared and able to do – close games.  Will he be able to flip a switch and feed off the intensity of a playoff situation?  Not likely.  Not when he’s been so off all year.

But there is no solution or alternative.  And this is not assured failure, not with home-field advantage in the first round and an offense that can produce runs in bunches.  Even if that solid fastball (thrown for a strike) and that magical, disappearing slider don’t come back in full force, Lidge will still be able to get batters out.  And he has the confidence and love of his manager – that’s a factor that may not fix the problem, but it can only help.

And we Phillies fans will bite our nails and sit on the edge of our seats and try to remember that Lidge was successful during 74% of his save attempts (I would have been happy with a 74 for some of my first-year law school classes).

But, as we get ready to go into the playoffs, this is where we live.  Because, in a very different way from Albert Pujols on that night four years ago, we all own Brad Lidge.

Phillies going great – is it time to manage differently?

horse_2dcart

The Phillies shoved it in the Marlins’ nose one more time today, five – zero, and they’re just cruising.  Even during the ‘June swoon’, they never fell out of phirst place, and they were playing horrible.  That will tell you about the competition in this division.  I have read that the Red Sox, who face more of a threat in their division than the we do in ours, are considering a six-man rotation to keep their front line pitchers rested and healthy heading into the playoffs.  I have to say that I love this idea, but is it a jinx?  Baseball is a funny game, and you never know what can happen.  Is it putting the cart before the horse to plan for the playoffs in mid-July?

Jamie Moyer – Lots of Wisdom

Nationals Phillies Baseball

Yeah, he chalked up his 250th career victory, and that’s great.  But it’s more important that he’s turned things around a bit and can now put the team in a better position to compete and win.  He also dispensed the following pearl of wisdom to John Smallwood in today’s Daily News:

When thing are going right, I try to keep it simple. When things are going wrong, I really try to keep it simple.

That’s also got a lot of application outside baseball, to be sure.