Sunday, August 29, 2010

Metal Gods

I used to work in the transportation industry. More specifically, I worked for a couple of logistics providers, who were really just glorified trucking companies. Even though I never worked in passenger transportation, I've always had a fascination with that business as well. So, when I planned my first trip of the season to New York City for a Yankees game, I was intrigued by the idea of riding a BoltBus for the first time. But, I didn't make my plans far enough in advance, so I opted for the old standard—Greyhound.

Still, I was curious what effect BoltBus has had on Greyhound's business, considering so many of their early Saturday buses were sold out in advance. Greyhound, of course, affords you the "luxury" of being able to just show up at the terminal and get on the next available bus, but often that means you need to arrive as much as an hour in advance and stand in line.

I really wanted to get on the 6:30 bus last Saturday morning, but there was no way I was getting to Boston's South Station by 5:30, so closer to 6 would have to suffice. When I got in line at around 5:50 am, I was a little surprised that there were only about 10 people in front of me. I was even more surprised, after boarding the bus—which turned out to be a Peter Pan—when it pulled away from the gate with at least a dozen empty seats. Then, I remembered that we were stopping in Framingham on the way to NYC, so it ended up being a full bus after all.

So, considering this was an early AM departure, maybe BoltBus will settle into the niche of catering to the traveler able to make plans in advance and lock in a specific time, while Greyhound will serve those willing to sacrifice a little comfort for flexibility of travel. What do I know about the business of passenger transportation anyway?

Of course, the purpose of this trip was to go to a Yankees game with my pal Lee Mazzola. I began going to games with Lee back in 2001, after a conversation we had when I stayed with him the night before running the 2000 New York City Marathon. It was that weekend that a short-lived tradition began—he would host a Yankees-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium, and I would host at Fenway. Although the games in Boston were more eventful, that end of the tradition lasted only two years, in part due to the excessive cost of obtaining tickets for those games. But, despite the fact we failed to keep up the intended tradition, another resulted, and this was the 10th consecutive year we've attended at least one game in the Bronx together.

There was a brief period when the Yankees-Red Sox affairs were frequently lopsided contests in favor of the visiting Red Sox. The frustration of such games led to the development of a system of side bets to help us pass the time when necessary, and this has come in handy when the Yankees opponent has been a less-than-exciting one, such as the 2010 Seattle Mariners. As is usually the case, I came out a few dollars ahead, primarily thanks to Russell Branyan's first-inning homer off of Javier Vázquez, and Robinson Canó's two-run single, also in the first.

Another unofficial tradition that was honored was that of baseball trivia and inane music discussion. While Lee did a pretty commendable job chipping away at the answers to my question about the eight active pitchers ranking in the top 100 all-time in strikeouts, it was the music discussion that ruled the day.

We were mostly in agreement with our picks for the eight most important heavy metal bands of all-time, a list that was difficult to compile due to the challenge of defining who fits into the genre. We may have broadened our definition of heavy metal a little more than most, but our consensus top five were Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, AC/DC and Nirvana, not necessarily in that order. We also agreed that Iron Maiden and Judas Priest deserved to be considered two of the remaining three, but I didn't really agree with his choice of Slayer for the remaining spot.

A couple of interesting online lists confirmed most of our picks. The Daily News' Top 11 had Motorhead at #8, Slayer at #5, and no Nirvana, while MTV's list had Pantera at #5, Slayer at #6 and Motorhead—once again—at #8. In addition to Nirvana, Led Zeppelin was absent from the latter list.

It appears the consensus is that Nirvana is not a heavy metal band, but since they satisfy perhaps the most important criteria for inclusion in the genre—the Beavis and Butthead test—I contend they should be part of the discussion. So, after taking into consideration the input of Lee and these other sources, I compile my final list as follows:
  1. Black Sabbath
  2. Metallica
  3. Led Zeppelin
  4. AC/DC
  5. Nirvana
  6. Judas Priest
  7. Iron Maiden
  8. Kiss
The Yankees won the game 9-5, by the way, with the highlights being Eduardo Núñez's first career hit and Chad Gaudin, Boone Logan and David Robertson combining for 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of the ineffective Vázquez.

For Lee's slightly different account of the game's festivities, particularly the outcome of the metal bands discussion, check out his blog post at Lee's Steez.


    1. I think you've got to put Ozzy as a solo artist up there primarly because Randy Rhoads' contribution was so infuential on subsequent metal.

    2. Good point, Joey. We were focused mainly on bands, and I would have had a tough time including Ozzy twice myself, especially considering I'm acknowledging that he was a member of the band I have at #1. Still, from my days as a young teenage metal-head, Ozzy solo ranks right up there with Maiden and Priest.