Tuesday, January 08, 2019

All-Time Teams #20: Oakland Athletics

I'm trying to revive this ongoing series where I'm naming an all-time team for each of the current 30 MLB franchises, but in the interest of time I'm abandoning the greatest eligible player who is not in the Hall of Fame part. 

Franchise History


An asterisk (*) denotes a Hall of Famer.


15 Hall of Famers on this squad. Only the Cubs -- who added their 16th and 17th when Ron Santo and Lee Smith, respectively, were elected after I wrote their all-time team post -- have more. 

Starters

C - Mickey Cochrane* (1925-1933)
1B - Jimmie Foxx* (1925-1935)
2B - Eddie Collins* (1906-1914, 1927-1930)
SS - Bert Campaneris (1964-1976)
3B - Sal Bando (1966-1976)
LF - Rickey Henderson* (1979-1984, 1989-1995, 1998)
CF - Al Simmons* (1924-1932, 1940-1941, 1944)
RF - Reggie Jackson* (1967-1975, 1987)

Simmons was the regular center fielder for the first four years of his career, so he makes the position shift that avoids having to relegate one of this franchise's four or five best everyday players to the bench. 

Otherwise, I honestly can't see anyone taking exception with any of these starting picks, unless perhaps you're a Home Run Baker guy.

Rotation

Lefty Grove* (1925-1933)
Eddie Plank* (1901-1914)
Rube Waddell* (1902-1907)
Chief Bender* (1903-1914)
Eddie Rommel (1920-1932)

I suppose some will argue for Catfish Hunter over Rommel, which would give this team a rotation of five Hall of Famers, but a lot of those folks probably don't realize how good Rommel was, especially at the start of his career. Despite three consecutive top four Cy Young finishes -- some of which can be attributed to his win totals while pitching for the iconic 1972-74 dynasty -- nothing Hunter did with the A's can compare to Rommell's 1921-25 stretch while pitching for a mostly bad team.

Closer

Dennis Eckersley* (1987-1995)

Reserves

C - Terry Steinbach (1986-1996)
1B - Mark McGwire (1986-1997)
2B - Max Bishop (1924-1933)
SS - Miguel Tejada (1997-2003)
3B - Frank Baker* (1908-1914)
OF - Bob Johnson (1933-1942)
OF - Dwayne Murphy (1978-1987)

I was going to take Gene Tenace over Steinbach as backup catcher, but Tenace really was only a part-time catcher and Steinbach was an above-average offensive player and solid defender at the position for Oakland for nine years.

Advanced statistically speaking, Eddie Joost might deserve the backup SS spot over Tejada, but Tejada's league MVP and overall presence as a more dominant player wins out.

Henderson, I suppose, could backup Simmons in CF, but since neither of them played the position primarily in their career, Murphy's inclusion is almost essential.

Other tough omissions included Danny Murphy, Eric Chavez and Jose Canseco.

Bullpen

Rollie Fingers (1968-1976)*
Tim Hudson (1999-2004)
Vida Blue (1969-1977)
Catfish Hunter* (1965-1974)

I was seriously considering Barry Zito over Hunter, and he perhaps deserves the final spot on this staff on merit. But, Catfish is in the Hall of Fame, his uniform number is retired, and he's the team's leader in post-Depression era wins. So, despite his status as perhaps this franchise's most overrated player, he has to be represented here.

Manager

Connie Mack* (1901-1950)

It did take Mack five times as many seasons to win four times as many games as Tony LaRussa, but the latter will have to wait until St. Louis to get his due.

Next Up: Philadelphia Phillies

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Best Music of 2018

It's that time of year again.

This will be my one and only post of the year. I'm still going to do the big reveal countdown-style, but I'm just going to keep adding to this post, so stay tuned for more to come. As I do so, I'll share video/audio of some of my favorite songs and/or stuff by artists new to the list, but probably not much more commentary beyond that.

Also, here's a link to a 2018 Spotify playlist that I'll be building as I go.

If you're one of the few loyal enough to return to pay attention to the music I care about, thank you. I hope you had a great year and a great many to come.

Peace!

50. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Sparkle Hard

49. Wussy - What Heaven is Like



48. Son Lux - Brighter Wounds



47. Death Cab for Cutie - Thank You for Today

46. Okkervil River - In the Rainbow Room

45. PinegroveSkylight

44. Alejandro Escovedo - The Crossing



43. Eric Bachmann - No Recover

42. Darlingside -Extralife



41. Rolling Blackouts Coastal FeverHope Downs

2018 was a good year for Australian bands...



40. Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt

39. Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog



38. Eleanor FriedbergerRebound

37. Beach Slang - Everything Matters but No One is Listening (Quiet Slang)



36. Hinds - I Don’t Run



35. Wild NothingIndigo

34. TyphoonOfferings



33. Neil Young - ROXY: Tonight’s the Night Live

The first of two live records by older artists in my top 50.

32. Tracyanne & Danny - Tracyanne & Danny



31. Neko Case - Hell-On

30. Natalie Prass - The Future and the Past



29. Metric - Art of Doubt

28. Phosphorescent - C’est La Vie

27. Alela DianeCusp



26. Loretta Lynn - Wouldn’t it Be Great

25. The Jayhawks - Back Roads and Abandoned Motels

24. Marianne Faithfull - Negative Capability



23. J Mascis - Elastic Days

22. The Essex Green - Hardly Electronic



21. Dirty Projectors - Lamp Lit Prose

Pretty sure you'll either love this song or you'll hate it.



20. Saintseneca - Pillar of Na



19. Lucy DacusHistorian



18. Mastersystem - Dance Music

Scott Hutchison posthumously delivers the most heartbreaking lyric of the year:

I missed the summer, but didn’t care.
There will always be another, if I make it to next year.




17. TomberlinAt Weddings

This, however, is both the saddest and most beautiful song of the year.



16. Half WaifLavender



15. Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar



14. U.S. Girls - In a Poem Unlimited



13. Arctic MonkeysTranquility Base Hotel & Casino



12. St. VincentMassEducation



11. Soccer MommyClean



10. Middle KidsLost Friends

The second of three Australian bands in my top 50 and the first of two, of course, in the top ten.



9. Nap Eyes - I’m Bad Now

One of only two male-centric acts in this year's top ten.



8. Bruce SpringsteenSpringsteen on Broadway

I like Bruce, but I’m by no means a huge fan. That said, this is an amazing performance, in my opinion. If you haven’t heard it yet, and if you’re a Netflix subscriber, I suggest experiencing it that way your first time. I laughed. I cried. I fell in love with "The Wish," Springsteen's tribute to his mother. I even gained a newfound appreciation for "Dancing in the Dark."



7. Sugarland - Bigger

This one is a bit outside the norm for me, but the songs are super catchy and many of the themes hit home. Also, as I alluded to earlier, I'm a sucker for songs that are tributes to mothers.



6. Janelle MonĂ¡eDirty Computer



5. Camp CopeHow to Socialize & Make Friends

I believe this is the first top five finish for a band from the southern hemisphere.



4. Lori McKennaThe Tree

Every artist in my top ten so far has achieved that distinction for the first time, however two of the top three have been here before.



3. Kacey MusgravesGolden Hour

Kacey's second top three finish in the past four years.



2. The AcesWhen My Heart Felt Volcanic

This year's highest-ranking Americans and debut artists.



1. CHVRCHESLove is Dead

The Scottish indie pop trio scores their second top three in the past four years and their first album to top my year-end list.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Best Music of 2017

As it turns out, I couldn't even get it together to do this countdown style this year, so here is the complete list of my favorite albums of 2017. Also, here is a Spotify playlist if you're interested in a sampling of these albums.

Happy New Year!

30. Elbow - Little Fictions
29. Jesu and Sun Kil Moon - 30 Seconds to the Decline of Planet Earth
28. Roger Waters - Is This the Life We Really Want?
27. Son Volt - Notes of Blue
26. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
25. The Clientele - Music for the Age of Miracles
24. Stars - There is No Love in Fluorescent Light
23. Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry
22. Craig Finn - We All Want the Same Things
21. Anders Parker - The Man Who Fell from Earth
20. Dan Auerbach - Waiting on a Song
19. Matt Pond PA - Still Summer
18. The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions
17. Real Estate - In Mind
16. Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up
15. Old 97’s - Graveyard Whistling
14. John Moreland - Big Bad Luv
13. Conor Oberst - Salutations
12. HAIM - Something to Tell You
11. Shout Out Louds - Ease My Mind
10. Lorde - Melodrama
9. Broken Social Scene - Hug of Thunder
8. Sampha - Process
7. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - The Nashville Sound
6. The Districts - Popular Manipulations
5. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
4. The xx - I See You
3. The National - Sleep Well Beast
2. The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
1. Jens Lekman - Life Will See You Now

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Best Music of 2017, Part 1

As this is my first post since last year's countdown, it seems documenting my favorite albums of the year is now the sole purpose of this blog. I actually started this countdown on Twitter a couple days ago (sorry loyal reader), so for the sake of simplicity, I'm just going to embed those tweets here with a few comments added.

Mark Kozelek...you either love him or you hate him. Actually, I usually love him, although sometimes I...well, hate's a pretty strong word. 

This year's best album by an artist in his 70s. He actually has some choice words for another high-profile guy in his 70s, but I won't get into that here. You'll have to listen for yourself. 


A couple familiar faces in a row. 



Two Canadian bands in a row, although our neighbors north of the border are less well represented than our friends across the pond this year. 

Speaking of familiar faces. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Best Music of 2016, Part 6

A lot of people have called 2016 a horrible year, because of all the high-profile musicians who passed away, as well as another significant event that could have repercussions for years to come. The latter could probably downgrade the year all by itself, but my family created some great memories in 2016, so I'm going to give it a mixed review.

This year's top five includes three artists brand new to my list and two old favorites.

5. The Besnard Lakes - A Coliseum Complex Museum
Considering the consensus is this is only their fourth best album (out of five), I'd say I've got some back-catalog exploring to do with this band.




4. The Jayhawks - Paging Mr. Proust
The "Comeback Kids" return for their fourth appearance in my top ten and first in 13 years, breaking Ryan Adams' record of 10 years between top ten finishes.




3. Pinegrove - Cardinal
These guys are the best thing to come out of Montclair, New Jersey since Stephen Colbert.




2. Lydia Loveless - Real
This year's female musician count is eight solo artists, one duo, one trio, one male-female duo, and two male-female co-fronted bands. None even came remotely close to this one, which was an album-of-the-year contender until last week.




1. Cloud Cult - The Seeker
Cloud Cult's fourth top ten album is also their second to claim the top spot, tying them with the legendary Pernice Brothers as the only band to every accomplish that feat.




Happy New Year and the best of luck in 2017!