Monday, April 21, 2008

Curse Reversed?

I may be a little late in chiming in on this one, but the recent controversy over the Red Sox jersey that was buried underneath the visitors' clubhouse at the soon-to-be New Yankee Stadium, and was later unearthed at the apparent direction of Yankees' management, got me thinking. It got me thinking about something I wrote the day after the infamous Midge Game, that is game two of the Yankees-Indians' ALDS matchup of last year.

"For years prior to 2004, I'd observed the slogan "Reverse the Curse" all around Boston, including a "Curve" sign on Storrow Drive that was defaced to reflect the locals' favorite slogan at the time. I wondered to myself if they didn't really mean "Erase the Curse", if they actually understood the significance of "reversing" the curse. Were they really hoping to turn "the curse" on the Yankees, or was it just a case of improper use of the English language? Of course, I'm sure every Red Sox fan would love for the so-called "curse" to be deflected in the Yankees' direction, but I doubt if, prior to 2004, any of them would dare to set their hopes that high. I think simply winning a World Series of their own was all that they could have even dreamed of.

Then came the 2004 ALCS, and the greatest comeback in the history of post-season baseball. Notice that I choose to call it the greatest comeback, while most Red Sox fans choose to call it the greatest choke. You can draw your own conclusions, but I say that I'd rather give credit where it is due, while the Boston brethren choose to go the negative route, thus detracting, to some extent, from the accomplishment of their team.

But, that's just my opinion, and it's not my point anyway. What happened last night at Jacobs Field was beyond bizarre, and I have no intention of making any excuses for my team, just as Joba Chamberlain has decided to place the blame squarely on his own shoulders. I'm just throwing this out there for consideration. The Yankees are 2-12, I think, in post-season play since annihilating the Red Sox 19-8 in game 3 of the 2004 ALCS...and since Gary Sheffield made that ill-fated "they're a mess" quote following said game. But, again, the fact that Sheffield should just shut his trap and do what he does best isn't my point either.

I realize that the swarms of bugs that were flying around Jacobs Field last night weren't just harassing Joba, but they seemed to affect only him. And, they seemed to show up just in time for him to go back out for the 8th inning. And, with only 24 big league innings under his belt, making his first post-season appearance in an almost do-or-die situation for his team, he was the most likely candidate to be thrown off his game. Additionally, the Yankees were leading, and certainly stood to lose the most from a change in playing conditions.

So, I pose the question...are the Yankees now cursed? Or, are they just an uninspired collection of overpaid mercenaries who just can't seem to overcome the pressure of the win-or-else mentality? Or, will Roger Clemens earn his $20 million in game 3, pitch them back into this series and confirm that maybe it was his influence that turned this dismal season around in the first place?

We may begin to learn the answer to that last question tomorrow night. It may take longer to know the answer to those first two questions, though."

Looking back on this now, the answer to the first question is still maybe; the second question, yes; and the third question, no.

But, my point here is, when your team seems to obviously have the upper hand, why mess with that? You didn't see Yankees' loyalists trying to "curse" the Red Sox in the 80's or 90's. They didn't care, because the Sox didn't pose a threat. In fact, they were already cursed...supposedly.

Boston fans may be far from being able to rest that comfortably that the Yankees are unable to knock them off their mantle, but maybe it's time for them to start acting that way. You may never get the chance, folks, to be as cocky as the Bronx brethren have been in the past, so take advantage of your good fortunes while you can. I realize the uniform burying incident was the action of only one fan, but maybe this will serve as a wakeup call. When you're on top, there's no need to try to invoke superstition, because that type of action is bound to backfire. Or, as Sox principal owner John Henry likes to say "Don't awaken a sleeping giant".

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Frequent Spins (2008.3)

March was a bit of a slow month, not so much with respect to the quality of releases, but mostly in terms of my interest in new music. When I mentioned in last month's Frequent Spins that I needed to do spend a little time diving into American Music Club back catalog, it got me into that mode in general. I actually spent more time listening to Luna's Bewitched and Penthouse than any older AMC albums, mainly because I'm still obsessed with The Golden Age, easily the record of the year so far.

There were a few good, if not great, albums to come out in March though. So, here goes...

Devotchka - A Mad & Faithful Telling
An interesting trend in the current indie scene involves the use of elements of various ethnic styles, with Beirut being a prime example of this. Beirut also happens to be the most obvious band to compare Devotchka to, mainly due to the Eastern European influence in their respective styles. Still, there's no denying that this is more electic American indie music than anything else. There's also no denying that A Mad & Faithful Telling is littered with modern pop gems and definitely one of my most listened to albums of the past month.

Kathleen Edwards - Asking for Flowers
I fell in love with Kathleen Edwards when she burst onto the alt-country scene in 2003, pretty much at the tail end of my interest in that genre. She's primarily responsible for my somewhat recent trend of leaning towards female singers of said variety. Her second and third albums, including this year's release, have fallen a bit short of living up to the magic of the debut, Failer, but that's a tall order, and it's not like either of them have disappointed. She may not break any new ground here, but she's still the #1 alt-country diva in my book.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
Stephen Malkmus is a God to a lot of music fans for being the frontman of one of the 90's most important indie rock bands, Pavement. Not to detract in any way from his importance in that respect, I adore him for a different reason. In an interview in this past week's Weekly Dig, a Boston alternative news-weekly, he states emphatically, "I can't stand the Red Sox. I'm always happy when they lose. Sorry. All of a sudden the Red Sox Nation becomes this massive thing? I was right there in the '70s, man. Where was Red Sox Nation when they were being humiliated all the time? They weren't around. I can understand if you're from Boston, that's your team. There's a lot of people who aren't from Boston that have, like, one Irish uncle and they're Red Sox fans." He then goes on to say that he'd kick Dustin Pedroia's ass if he got the chance. Well, actually that's a lie, and he'd probably lose that battle anyway...although I bet he could kick Johnny Pesky's ass. But, I digress. Real Emotional Trash plays like an homage to an era when all was right in the world, and Boston-ites had yet to be deprived of their right to do what they truly love...complain about their team.

Malcolm Middleton - Sleight of Heart
Malcolm "Walter Becker" Middleton probably knows nothing about baseball, but he certainly knows a thing or eight about heartache, misery and loneliness. On Sleight of Heart, he once again hits the nail on the head, although there aren't any songs here that make you want to down a pint or four as did last year's "Fuck It, I Love You" and "Up Late at Night Again". Still, this is another impressive effort from the former #2 guy from Arab Strap.

Also spin-worthy
Destroyer - Trouble in Dreams
Ladyhawk - Shots
The Ruby Suns - Sea Lion

Making up for March's short-comings, April looks to be an exciting month for new music, with Cloud Cult and Sun Kil Moon topping the list of my most anticipated. Add The Black Keys, Clinic, R.E.M., Colin Meloy, M83 and Gnarls Barkley to that list, and...well, you get the picture.