A Christmas Playlist for You

Rather than upload a collection of music files, I decided to be a little lazy and just slap together a YouTube playlist. I’ll bet you’re wondering why I don’t just create a Spotify playlist. Aside from not wanting to join Spotify (or any other similar service) when I’ll use it only once a year, a good number of these pieces are probably NOT going to be found there.

Sometimes you WANT the video, so you can actually see the artists performing the songs.

Again, I wish I could do something about volume levels and extraneous material in the videos. Such is life.

Here’s the playlist:

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On the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot – III

In addition to the regular Hall of Fame ballot that pretty much all baseball fans are following, there are two special committees that will examine the cases of several players who either never got their proper due, or were somehow overlooked.

The “Early Era” committee looks at players and people from before 1950. The “Golden Days” committee covers the years from 1950-1969. Each committee has sixteen members; nominees must get twelve votes to be inducted.

Here are the nominees on the Early Era ballot:

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On the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot – II

In addition to the six mentioned the last time, there are two dozen other players on the Hall of Fame ballot:

Returning candidates are Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Andy Pettite, Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner, Jeff Kent, Mark Buehrle, Todd Helton, Manny Ramirez, Torii Hunter, Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield, and Bobby Abreu.

The other newcomers are Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski, Jimmy Rollins and Mark Teixeira.

All deserving of the nomination, but it’s hard to see anyone who clearly is a Hall of Famer.

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On the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot – I

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has announced this year’s candidates for the Hall of Fame. It is now up to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to decide who gets the bronze plaque in the “shrine” in Cooperstown.

There are six names on the ballot that are, well, “problematic”, to put it mildly. Four people who are on their last chance to be voted in, and two newcomers.

Those with having their last shot are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa. The newcomers are David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez.

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Classic Drinking Songs

About a decade or so ago – probably more – I came across a blog post counting down the Top 100 Drinking Songs of All Time (or so it claimed). There were a lot of songs I recognized. Another online essay I had read and enjoyed recommended that anyone worthy of the name Drunkard should know – be able to sing all the way through, that is – at least one classic drinking song.

So, having (at the time) just acquired a computer with a CD burner, I thought it would be cool to download a bunch of those tunes wherever I could get them, and make a CD or two of “Classic Drinking Songs”. Well, I started collecting them. My guidelines were 1) Original artists where at all possible, and b) no more than one song per artist. I wound up with over seventy before I cried “Enough already!”

Then I discovered that you could make playlists on YouTube. I said to myself, “Self, why don’t you make a playlist on YouTube of these Classic Drinking Songs so you can share the fun with other people??

So I did.

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Movie Review: Peking Opera Blues (Hong Kong, 1986)

The Middle Kingdom has collapsed. As a democratic government struggles to find its feet, several factions are jockeying for power. In the chaos in a general’s mansion, traveling musician Sheung Hung (Cherie Chung) bops a hapless soldier, Tung Man (Cheung Kwok-Keung), on the head with her instrument, and scampers off with a box of valuable jewelry. To evade the police, led by Inspector Liu (Feng Ku), she stashes the box on a cart belonging to a theater troupe. It shouldn’t be too hard to follow it to the theater, sneak in backstage, and collect it, right?

At that very theater, manager Master Wong (Wu Ma) is struggling to get tonight’s production off on schedule. His daughter, Bai Niu (Sally Yeh), isn’t helping. She wants to be in the show, but he knows well enough that the theater is no place for a young lady. Especially because any distinguished guest might want to order an actress to come home with him – and the manager would be powerless to refuse.

One of those “distinguished guests” could be General Tsao (Kenneth Tsang), who is on the rise in the local game of “king of the hill”. What he doesn’t know is that his recently returned from abroad daughter, Tsao Wan (Brigitte Lin), has sided with the new democratic government. In cooperation with a young army officer, Pak Hoi (Mark Cheung), she’s plotting to pilfer the documents that would prove dad is in cahoots with foreigners to pretty much sell out the country.

Can these three young ladies find happiness, friendship, and success?

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On the 2021 World Series

Well, that was….. a “best of seven” series.

We can’t expect every Fall Classic to be a Fall Classic, but this one was still rather dull. Half the games were pretty much over by the fourth inning. Only two could be considered interesting. Would the Astros ever get a base hit in Game 4, and holy crap did the Astros find their offense in Game 5!

But that was it.

One of the problems was that the announcers continued to include the stats from the earlier playoffs in a “Post-Season” bucket. This made the World Series seem like just another round of playoff games and NOT the Championship Series. I can understand doing it in the first two games, when the players haven’t accumulated enough appearances for any stats to be meaningful, but once Game 3 starts….

It would have also been nice to mention which players were appearing in their first World Series, or who was in their third or more WS.

You want to make the World Series a special event – treat it like something special.

Another problem – that wasn’t anyone’s fault – was the lack of “star power” on the teams. When the biggest names on the teams are Freddie Freeman and Jose Altuve, you’re not going to get much interest from the casual fan.

Much press attention was given to how the Braves added a bunch of outfielders at the trade deadline, and then turned out to have an incredible impact on the team’s playoff run. But isn’t that pretty much the same as “buying” a championship? In past years, we’ve looked down on teams that grab “free agents to be” at the trade deadline in order to secure a playoff spot – why are we giving the Braves a bit of a pass this time?

Speaking of free agents, I don’t recall hearing much about how a good number of prominent Astros will be free agents this year, making it pretty much the end of a dynasty that won three pennants in five years. Well, there was mention of the free agency thing, but not about the dynasty. They’d won four divisional titles in five years, but that’s somehow not a “dynasty”. But the San Francisco Giants, who won three WS in five years, despite having won their division in only two of them, and even having losing records in the non-WS years, ARE a “dynasty”.

Well, that’s all for baseball for this year. The awards will be given out in the next week or so, and then the collective bargaining agreement is going to expire, so that may be all the real baseball for much longer than just the winter.

Overrated – Underrated: Playing Professional Sports While Injured

With Braves’ pitcher Charlie Morton suffering a broken fibula from taking a line drive off his leg in Game 1 of the World Series – and staying in to face a few more batters before he couldn’t continue, there was quite a bit of talk in the comment sections about sportsball figures playing while injured. Mention was made of when Bob Gibson suffered a similar injury during the regular season, and Curt Schilling’s “bloody sock”, among others.

My mind quickly recalled a draft post I’d been puttering about with for a while…

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The Worst World Series

It’s a lot of fun at this time of year to reminisce about the great World Series. The great games, the great players, the upsets…

But not every World Series lives up to the expectations.

Sometimes, one team totally overpowers the other, and the Series is done in four or five games. In the era of divisional play, a team with a poor regular season record can get hot at the right time and sneak into the Series. Sometimes, you just have two uninspiring teams with no one to root for. And sometimes, the games themselves are devoid of any interest or excitement.

Here are some (in chronological order) that were the opposite of a “Fall Classic”.

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Movie Review: Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Noted barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) has just been released from the hospital after suffering a heart attack and is heading back to his office at the Inns of Court (where he is also fortunate enough to have his residence). Accompanying him, much to his irritation, is his home health care aide, Nurse Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester). She’s tasked with looking after his health; making sure he gets plenty of rest, avoids stressful situations, takes his medications, and completely avoids his beloved cigars and brandy.

This is torture as far as Sir Wilfrid is concerned. Fortunately, almost immediately after his return to his office, Solicitor Mayhew (Henry Daniell) arrives, with Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) in tow. Vole is in a really tight spot: a widow with whom he has been on friendly terms has been killed, and as he was the last person to see her alive, he’s expecting to be arrested for murder at any moment. Could the great “Wilfrid the Fox” be so good as to represent him in court? Shouldn’t be too hard – Vole’s wife Christine (Marlene Dietrich) can give him an alibi….

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