Some Things I Read Today

Leading off: Joe Posnanski on Albert Pujols

Think of this: Many people who are reading this love baseball. I do. Maybe people who reading this dedicated part of their lives to becoming pretty good at baseball. I did. But nobody reading this, nobody, worked as hard as Albert Pujols to become the best hitter in the world. We can say, “Oh, he had more talent,” — and he undoubtedly did have talent — but talent isn’t an easy thing to quantify. Pujols wanted baseball greatness much more than I did. He wanted it to the exclusion of almost everything else. All the money, all the fame, all the cheers, all the love we have for baseball, all the joy that undoubtedly comes with being the best hitter in the world could not push us to Albert Pujols’ level of zeal and focus and certainty. No, to get that good takes something else, something both admirable and scary, something that we might not fully understand.

– Joe Posnanski, “The Real Albert Pujols”
Sports Illustrated

I wonder if trying to determine how and why professional athletes make their life decisions is futile. The decisions Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez, or Michael Jordan, or LeBron James, or Tom Brady makes, how the best of the best decide what to do, who to marry, where to live — can we understand those choices? I’ve just started reading Steve Jobs biography, and it is immediately clear that, if Apple never took off, Jobs would have been just another anonymous loony. I wonder if what manifests as genius — mental or physical genius — in one person also manifests as insanity in 99 others. That is, if trying to determine what drives Albert Pujols is akin to trying to psychoanalyze a genuinely crazy person.

Moving on to the Knicks, and the sad fact that I’m more excited for the opening of the NBA season than Christmas itself:

Those efforts start in the pick-and-roll game, where Chandler is as mobile and active in contesting penetration as any big in the N.B.A. That in itself is a bit of a game changer for the Knicks, particularly due to the defensive flexibility it affords them. No longer is New York tied to covering the pick-and-roll a certain way; they won’t be trapped into trapping, forced to switch, or made to fight through screens preemptively. Chandler buys the Knicks’ perimeter defenders some invaluable time, as he’ll cut off the ball handler before seamlessly retreating back into the heart of the defense.

– Rob Mahoney, “The Many Virtues of Tyson Chandler”
New York Times

Chandler should be particularly good for Toney Douglas’ health, as, if I recall correctly, Douglas is quiet talented at blindly fighting his way over screens and doing himself physical harm in the process. All kinds of interesting stuff about what Chandler means to the Knicks in that article.

Louis CK was answering questions on reddit today (language and content warning, for people offended by f-bombs):

i don’t know about “Supposed to” I think there’s a million ways to do things. there was a pitcher for the Yankees once named Orlando Hernandez or “el Duque” he was a cuban exile. A thing they said about him was he was hard to hit cause he had so many arm angles and release points. a hitter studies a pitcher and watches for the ball so he can time it, but with el duque, you don’t even know where the [guy] is coming from. Nine o clock? Eleven? And does he let go of it up top or out front? Impossible. I sometimes think of comedy in those terms.

Anyone else remember the game against the Colorado Rockies in 2007, when Hernandez — with two outs, the bases loaded, and a full count — threw consecutive eephus pitches to Todd Helton? Helton fouled the first one off, and took the second pitch for a ball, bringing a run home and ending Hernandez’s night. If I had to pick just one at-bat to explain El Duque to a stranger, I would go with that one. I wish he would come back; I loved watching him pitch.

Is this the best U2 song rarely played on the radio? Other candidates are “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World” and “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Some Things I Read Today

  1. The Unforgettable Fire is quite possibly my favorite U2 song, period, not just one that is seldom played on the radio. I spent more hours listening to that album in the autumn of 1984 than I did doing anything else other than sleeping.

    Keeping it to songs rarely played on the radio I think my favorites would be Surrender and Trip Through Your Wires. I’m not terribly fond of their post-1980s output but during that decade they were an endless source of aural pleasure.

    Well I know what band I’m going to stay up too late tonight listening to. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Patrick Flood

      Okay, I love U2, but here’s my one criticism of their catalog: They never made a great, great album — they never had that Cy Young season. They came very, very close a couple of times, but always fell just short: The second half of The Unforgettable Fire isn’t as good as the first half, Achtung Baby doesn’t end well with its two weakest songs last, and Joshua Tree is almost perfect except for “Bullet the Blue Sky” (which isn’t even a bad song, necessarily, but it’s just really out of place on that album and specifically after those first three songs). Those are all great, great albums. But I don’t think of them as perfect, like I think of Beggars Banquet-Exile era Rolling Stones.

      U2’s album output is like a pitcher who wins 15 games season after season, but never quite has everything all fall into place and throws up a Cy Young season. U2 has the rookie of the year award for Boy, they won 300 games, but they just lack that one dominant season. Still an obvious Hall of Famer though.

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