The first one is by the Father of Sabermetrics, Bill James; he makes a mathematical case for Prop 24 . . . not the tax break issue in California, but the proposition that Dwight Evans should be inducted into Cooperstown. I always liked Dwight Evans, and frankly, how could you not? Sweet 'stache, unassuming guy, rocket arm, good bat. Hall of Fame, however? I wasn't so sure before reading the article, but James makes a strong, mathy case based on Win Shares (as opposed to WAR or VORP, related stats). I'm not sure whether the formulae take into account Dewey's appearance in a Farrelly Brothers film, but I would hope it does. Curious to hear what Rob thinks of this one.
The second is a curious piece by a couple of economists who take the increasing public concern about concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in football and apply economic principles to describe how, specifically, football could collapse in American society. They make that far-fetched notion less so. Curious to hear what Dave thinks of this one.
Finally, Grantland MVP Chuck Klosterman writes (more) about Van Halen. He's obviously an acclaimed writer, but the kid-in-a-candy-shop tone as he comparatively assesses VH works old and new thoroughly resonates with my rock and roll self. Even as he humbly comes to not much conclusion, confessing, "I don't know what I'm trying to express here," it's an endearing bit of relatable sentiment for anyone who loves a band through moments of fading legend and even outright embarrassment. (Perhaps e.g., Dave and The Cult.) Curious to hear what Squeaky thinks of this one.
* * * * * *
Taking a tangent and seeing where it goes . . . one of the lines in Klosterman's VH piece struck me. He's describing an Eddie guitar lick that's more than a little derivative of their old tune "Mean Streets."
"So why don't I like it more than I do? Probably because it actually is what itIs this true? Eventually, everyone becomes who they always were? It's a philosophical consideration limited to people 35 and up, I'd say. You have to be old enough to have seen a great many people change and consider that a great many of the great many eventually change back. But does everybody gravitate back to their inherent state?
sounds like — a condensed, economical, conscious replication of something that
used to be an organic extension of his genius. It's no one's fault. Eventually,
everyone becomes who they always were."
It sparks an interesting line of thinking -- at least interesting when you've had a dozen pale ales.
There are obvious examples of Klosterman's assertion: for example, Dave. In high school, Dave was a fairly amiable, brainy Jersey dude who played sports and had lots of friends. He then went to college in Williamsburg, VA, where for four years he was a warped madman who played a few sports and had a few friends but spent most of his time drinking obscene amounts of malt liquor, tequila, sangria, and Milwaukee's Best; listening to and/or making terrible music; smelling very bad; getting tattoos; insulting unattractive women (sometimes by sleeping with them); and conjuring ridiculous hypotheses of nonsense. After college, Dave went home and became a fairly amiable, brainy Jersey dude who plays sports and still has the same friends. The parabola for Dave was miniscule.
It happened to Superman in Superman II. He had to come back to his true self. Indiana Jones was under the spell in Temple of Doom, but being burned brought back his real nature. Reno Hightower tried to be a better guy, but the reality was that when Reno Hightower was a prick he was the best damn quarterback in the history of Kern County. And so he was. Dean Keaton couldn't do it. The cops wouldn't let him go legit, but neither would his inner being. Like he tried to tell Edie Finneran, "I tried."
Even in the New Testament! Luke 22:32 -- "you, when at last you have come back to your true self, must strengthen your brethren." Jesus is telling Simon that Satan is going to have at him, but after his true self prevails, he will be even stronger. Or in guitar god Eddie Van Halen's case, he will be less awesome at guitar.
"What I am is what I am, are you what you are or what?"It even happens in a physical sense. People who are big-boned and big eaters drop a bunch of weight through an array of dietary adjustments and rigorous exercise; eventually, many of them return to the plump people they really are at the core. What I can never tell them is that, to me, it feels more natural when they're their big selves and kind of creepy when they're thin.
Now, Dave's was a digression similar to lots of people -- go to college, tear it up like a wild man, and then slide back into a more responsoble self. It's the practical thing to do. Hmmm. I never got that memo, of course. I changed from a fairly reserved kid in grade school into a carpe diem idiot in high school, one who wore his Class Clown title as a badge of honor (my parents are still so pleased), and then . . . well, I just got stuck that way. It feels natural. It feels like who I really am. It's fucking fun, people.
Some folks also move away to a new town and establish new identities . . . only to move back home later. I sorta did that. But I didn't change my personality upon returning. The old neighborhood was like "Hey, Igor's back!" soon followed by "Oof, Igor's back." I boomeranged on locale but I refuse to on personality. You know how if you keep making that gross face, it'll get stuck like that? Yeah. It happened.
"We all go back to where we belong."But there are others who call Chuck Klosterman's statement into question. They changed, but they didn't change back.
Our old friend Fitz was a yellow 1979 Camaro-drivin', Old Milwaukee-drinkin', Freedom Rock-listenin' piece of fraternity house furniture. An absolute mainstay. He almost never got laid, meaning he was always there to drink with you. He was a hilarious hang-out guy. And then? A handful of years out of college (after med school) he met the girl who would marry him. And bury him. He instantly dropped out of the circle of dudes, never to return. And he's not the same now. He's not funny. He doesn't drink much. He doesn't listen to Freedoom Rock. The last time I saw him was a few years back at a Tribe playoff game. I was with Teej, Jerry, and a few other dudes, and we were sitting in one of the front rows of the sidelines. I'd had a few, saw him strolling by, and hollered gleefully, "Fitz!!!" He turned his head, forced a tiny smile, said my name, nodded, and never broke stride. Jerry turned to me: "Good friend of yours?"
He's never changing back to what he was. So Chuck Klosterman is wrong, right? Unless . . . unless Fitz was this dud, altered into a cool guy before I met him, and then reverted to the mean guy he is now. Did that happen??
Makes you wonder. Is our friend Coby a big-time lawyer who's trying desperately to keep his delinquent ruffian self stuffed into that starched shirt and tie? Or is he a natural henpecked dork who, out of boredom and curiosity, dabbled in drinking to blindness and punching cops for a few years? Makes you wonder.
"I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam."And what of people who have never really changed? Rob is pretty much the same little guy I have always known since 1988. Sure, his weight has fluctuated between the 170 lb "Little Pork Rind" era and his current svelte, gall bladderless, bicycle boy state. Sure, he used to be a bitterly short fuse who would break stuff, and now he's this mellow svengali guy. Sure, freshman year he used to . . . okay, so maybe he's changed. But which is his true self?
Only time will tell, my friends. Place your bets now on everyone you know, sit back, crack a beer, turn on Freedom Rock, and enjoy the show.
Curious to hear what Teejay thinks of this one.