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15 Most Recent Questions

Bill, I can't recall you opining on the cancellation of the entire minor league season. My opinion fwiw is that it's unnecessary, ridiculous, disgraceful and tragic. And more.
Asked by: manhattanhi

Answered: 8/3/2020
 I'll mark you down as undecided.  

 

Regarding what religion is about: I think religion fills a lot of roles for people. I'm talking my way or looking at the world, which doesn't include religion. I didn't say religion has no answers for people. You said atheism is giving up. I'm not characterizing religion or attacking it.
Asked by: Fireball Wenz

Answered: 8/3/2020
 Well, I appreciate your saying that, but it seems to me that in fact, you did.  You wrote that  "TO ME, it is saying that the universe exists, and we don't divide the universe into what is natural and what is magic, just between what we understand and we don't understand."    (Don't know how to turn off bold face here.)  Anyway, it seems to me that this is both characterizing religion and attacking it.   
 
But perhaps I am projecting onto you the faults of others.   The generation before me, the Depression/World War II generation, was at least 50-70% composed of people who actually had no particular religious belief, but they were what might be called passively religious.  They almost universally accepted the idea that religion had value, that the church made a positive contribution to the society.   My generation split 50/50 on that issue, and the generation that followed me--that is, people now aged 50 and under--has largely rejected the idea that religion has value.   The portion of that that stems from the abuses of the clergy, I quite understand, and I would never argue with that.  
 
The explanations of the cosmos which come from ancient religions are of course not consistent with our modern understanding of these issues.   But they are also almost totally irrelevant to religion.   If you read the Bible cover to cover--which I never have--but I believe that if you read the Bible cover to cover, you wouldn't find 50 sentences which have anything to do with the nature and origin of the universe, probably not 20.  That's not actually what religion is.   Rejecting religion based on that is like rejecting baseball because you can't stand the infield chatter, and you don't think the infield should be square.  To say such things--as you did--reflects a profound lack of understanding.  

 

 

Thirty (or more) years ago you wrote something about players with similar names having similar skill sets, thus becoming difficult to distinguish.  Bob Allison and Johnny Callison have always been representative of that for me.  Two power-hitting rightfielders in the same era who posted remarkably similar numbers. I was born in 1969, so I was not a baseball fan until after both careers were over. What are your recollections, and did you ever confuse the two?  
 
Asked by: LanceRichardson

Answered: 8/3/2020
 No, I never confused the two; in fact, I don't ever remember noticing that their names were similar until after they were retired.  There is a peculiar thing that happens, that sometimes two players will occupy the same memory space, and you can never overcome that.  There is a musician that I actually like and listen to sometimes, whose name I can simply never remember; I have to google it every time to come up with his name.  (Eric Clapton).  Something else is occupying that space in my head where his name should be, and I simply can never dislodge it, although I have been trying to for almost 50 years.  Or that thing where I call one of my sons by the other one's name, or, sometimes, by my dog's name or my wife's dog's name.  They're occupying the same branch in the organizing tree inside my head.   But I never confused Callison and Allison, because I had baseball cards of both of them.   Allison (a) was a Kansas University football player, and (b) was widely known as the most aggressive baserunner of his time.  If you were the catcher and he was trying to score, he would knock you into the next county. . .big guy, a good runner, and he loved contact.   Callison was more on the branch of "the next Mickey Mantles", like Bobby Murcer and Rick Reichardt.  Callison was from Oklahoma, like Mantle, and had many of the same baseball skills, although just not as many.  

 

A new day is dawning.  The Rays just got swept by Baltimore's aggressive lineup and unhittable pitching.    
 
Not Only Reminded Me, Circuitously, About Slap Hitting and Bunting Ostentatiously, But About Lincecum Lobbing Inside Sliders, Orchestrating No-hitters.  
Asked by: Jaytaft

Answered: 8/3/2020
 Congratulations to the Orioles.   

 

Vic or Cecil? How much better a fielder would Power have to be to rank above Fielder who obviously had much more power than Power but was as notoriously poor a fielder as Power was one of the all-time great fielders, though lacking in the power we expect from 1B-men? Or is there no degree of fielding ability that would rank Power in Fielder's class overall? If you had both on the same team in their primes, what is the ratio of at-bats you would give Power and Fielder, and the number of innings played? (Don't tell me "Too many questions." You can cut me off anytime you think I've had too many, just like my bartender every night.)  
 
Asked by: 337

Answered: 8/3/2020
 Power wasn't a terrible hitter, of course; in 1955 he hit .319 with 190 hits, 34 doubles, 10 triples, 19 homers, scored 91 runs.  In 1956 he hit over .300 again; in 1958 he hit .312 with 37 doubles, 10 triples, 16 homers.   It would not seem likely that Power could save enough runs that you would prefer him over Fielder at the start of the game, thus limiting Power's playing time if the two of them were teammates to late-inning defense with a lead, pinch-running for Fielder sometimes and then playing late-inning defense, pinch-hitting for somebody else and taking over in a double swap, and playing first sometimes when Fielder was hurt or needed a day off.  

 

Bill, I'd say you've definitely fulfilled your requirement to mention Norm Cash on this site every day, but I can't recall you ever mentioning Bob Allison. He doesn't seem remotely as interesting as Cash. Not that I know a whole lot about him.
Asked by: manhattanhi

Answered: 8/2/2020
 Checkmark.  Cash, Allison.   August 2.  Move on. 

 

Hi Bill,  
I have no idea who has the most HOF teammates, but two people came to mind -- one of whom also managed other HOF players he didn't play with. Frankie Frisch, naturally, had quite a list. I think it was about 22, but I decided to look into someone I thought could blow that away -- Bobo Newsom.  
 
T
Asked by: abiggoof

Answered: 8/2/2020
 I don't care anything about who had the most Hall of Fame teammates.   That isn't what the tweet was about.  

 

I don't understand how atheism is accepting defeat. TO ME, it is saying that the universe exists, and we don't divide the universe into what is natural and what is magic, just between what we understand and we don't understand. And that we're not going to make up explanations for the part we don't understand, or accept explanations based on someone else's faith. But we still try as best we can to understand as much as we can, and make peace with the unknown and the uncertainty.
Asked by: Fireball Wenz

Answered: 8/2/2020
 OK.   But surely you are not simple-minded enough to think that that is what religion is ABOUT, are you?  Or are you?  

 

All this Dylan stuff is interesting.  
 
I have this thing I often say to people: "All I have are my opinions and my experience."
Asked by: Gfletch

Answered: 8/1/2020
 Thanks. 

 

Not a question, but I don't think it's correct to say Dylan was never highly political, as you did a few days ago. I think he WAS, for about a year, mid-1962 to mid-1963. He wrote Masters of War, Times They Are a-Changin', Only a Pawn in Their Game, Hattie Carroll and a few others; he also attended the March on Washington and went on a trip through the South with Pete Seeger and other activists designed to get more black voters registered. That's about as political as a singer/songwriter could get. It's the image of him that many non-fans still have, and it reflects reality.  
 
But a short-lived reality. It was just a phase for him. After a while he started to feel -- no doubt correctly -- that people in these movements were expecting him to keep doing this sort of thing, and he's never been comfortable in that kind of situation. He got interested in a different kind of writing and moved off in that direction.  
 
But for that year or so, I'd say he qualifies as highly political.  
 
Asked by: BobGill

Answered: 8/1/2020
 Sure.   Google "Silas McGee's Farm" for futher details.  He had great admiration for Pete Seeger, and kind of went along being treated like Pete's protege for a while.   Then he just couldn't take it anymore.  

 

Not a question... I really dig it when you share your thoughts on topics other than baseball (though, of course, baseball is what brought me here.) Over the years you have really made me think about a variety of topics, some quite existential. I never was a Dylan fan, but have now begun to explore and appreciate him more. I appreciate your nuanced view of our president. This is just a sincere thank you for all that you do and share. (Gosh, I wish I had kept all of those early Abstracts; I found you in 1979....)
Asked by: jhynes57

Answered: 8/1/2020
 Thank you.  You kept me, at least. . . .

 

Re: Tris Speaker’s Teammates.  
 
Tris Speaker’s collection of teammates is hard to beat. I think the player with the best collection of teammates from the post expansion era was Bob Miller. He had 22: HOF teammates: S. Musial, B. Gibson, R. Schoendienst, H. Wilhelm, R. Ashburn, S. Koufax, D. Drysdale, D. Sutton, H. Killebrew, R. Carew, L. Aparicio, F. Jenkins, R. Santo, B. Williams, E. Banks, W. Stargell, R. Clemente, B. Mazeroski, A. Kaline, D. Winfield, T. Seaver & W. Mays.  
 
And then he had a good list of Non HOF teammates as well: R. Staub, V. Pinson, K. Boyer, W. Davis, N. Cash, A. Oliver, G. Nettles, F. Howard, T. Oliva, B. Freehan, C. Flood, B. Allison, J. Callison, J. Kaat, T. John, J. Koosman, M. Lolich, L. Jackson, J. Perry, C. Osteen, S. McDowell, & W. Wood.  
Asked by: John-Q

Answered: 8/1/2020
 Thank you.   This fulfilles my daily requirement to mention Norm Cash and Bob Allison at least once every day on the site, so thanks for that, too.  

 

RE: Dylan's intentions.  He's a great artist and a notoriously slippery interview, especially when asked about the meaning of his songs or what he's trying to accomplish.  There's a great press conference that was recorded for public tv I think in San Francisco in 1965 that's available on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m68JY-7LfpQ  There's a famous moment when someone asks if he thinks of himself as more a singer or a poet and he says the thinks of himself as more of a song and dance man.
Asked by: marbus1

Answered: 7/31/2020
 I know the interview, although I actually don't recall that line.  Could be a different interview, I guess.  Dylan in that interview seems brilliant, but also arrogant and rude.  He is at the end of that period in his youth when he was able to enjoy his success, and is being pulled under by the undertow of his success.   He is starting to resent what other people have made of him--as he did for five to ten years after that and still does to a certain extent, although he has come to terms with it to a certain extent.  
 
Dylan is in a certain sense like our beloved President, in that he feeds off of negativity.   Whatever he is told he cannot do or should not do, that is what he is GOING to do.   
 
There is a passage in Hamlet. . . .I am sure I am going to make of mess of this, because I haven't read Hamlet in 40 years. . . .but there is a passage in which one of his young friends, I think, is trying to manipulate Hamlet to some end, I forget what.   Hamlet hands his friend a violin, I think, and says "play this violin".   The friend says that he cannot, and Hamlet says, in essence, "Well then, don't try to play ME.  If you can't even play a goddamned violin you have no business trying to play me."   
 
I think that is Dylan.  I think he has a sense--not incorrectly--that if you understand him, then you have contained him, that you have become greater than him because you have subsumed all of his abilities, all of his soul.   He doesn't want you to do that.  He doesn't want you to understand him because he doesn't want you to think that you have control of him.  The same with Trump; he does not WANT you to understand him, because he does not want you to be greater than he is.  
 
 
**********
 
    Back later to try to tie up the thought.   I relate to Dylan because I think that he is a flawed and damaged person, in ways that are similar to the ways that I am a flawed and damaged person.  I suspect that many people see that in him, see in him the failings that they recognize in themselves.   
 
    But also, what Dylan is doing is compatible with my philosophy of the world, as I have tried to explain many times.   The world is vastly more complicated than the human mind; therefore, all efforts to understand the world terminate in wrong answers.   The conservatives are full of shit; the liberals are full of shit.   The Christians don't have it, the Jews don't have it, the atheists don't even have a clue.   The world is simply not something that you can understand.   All your understandings of it are just simplifications, just models of thought.   Plato's allegory of the cave; we just have shadows in mind, two-dimensional things without color which represent real things which are vastly more complicated.   That is how I see the world; that, I think, is also how Dylan sees the world.   When you force the world to make sense, you are simply buying into some into some kind of phony baloney plastic banana explanation that would disintegrate in your hands if you were honest enough to accept that.  
 
     Trump is also SORT OF like that, in that he doesn't really believe in any of these bullshit explanations that the Republicans and the Democrats like to cling to.  But he is different in that he thinks that NOBODY ELSE understands it, but, being smarter than everybody else, he has it figured out. 
 
 
***
     Again trying to finish the thought. 
     But this does not mean that we do not struggle to see the truth.  It means that we CONTINUE to struggle to see the truth, rather than claiming that we have it.   There is truth and there is wisdom in the conservative theory of the world, and there is truth and wisdom in the progressive view, and there is truth and wisdom in Christianity or Judaism or in psychology or philosophy.  But there is no truth or wisdom in atheism; that is merely defeatism.   That is merely accepting defeat.   
 
     It isn't really that Dylan is a slippery interview.  It is that interviewers are always trying to get out of him something that just isn't there.   They want to know what is the stopping point at which he rests, secure in his understanding, but there is no stopping point.   

 

At the height of Watergate, 1/30/74, Dylan played Madison Square Garden and the one moment I distinctly remember (I was sitting in the cheap seats, but my future professor Daniel Mark Epstein, who wrote about the concert in his THE BALLAD OF BOB DYLAN, easily the most masterful biography of the man, was sitting in the front rows and affirms my memory) came in "It's All Right, Ma" when he snarled the line "Even the President of the Yoo-nighted States sometime must havta stand NAKed!"  with such vitriol and contempt in his voice that it's impossible to believe he ever voted for the man. The place went crazier than it ever had for a Walt Frazier steal or a Rod Gilbert slapshot. If he was just pretending to hate Nixon's guts, or to encourage his audience to revile Nixon, then he's the greatest actor in the history of acting, and he's not. I've sat through MASKED AND ANONYMOUS and RENALDO AND CLARA, and he just isn't that good an actor. (I know you didn't suggest he had voted for Nixon.)
Asked by: Steven Goldleaf

Answered: 7/31/2020
 Sneering is a part of his self-definition, and I've never really liked that.  But many times he delivers his lines flat so as to leave them open to interpretation.  Johnny Cash--one of my other favorite artists--recorded "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" at least a couple of times, but I think he makes a mess of it by doing exactly that.   He sings lines like "You just sort of wasted my precious time" with such vitriol that, to me, it ruins the song. ..whereas Dylan sings the song with sadness and understanding.   You made mistakes, I made mistakes, you wasted my time, I'm moving on, but don't beat yourself up over it.   
 
 

 

I’ve always thought the Dylan phrase "the geometry of innocent flesh on the bone" is Dylan saying Galileo is hopelessly distracted by the young woman’s body. Does that work as an interpretation for anyone else?
Asked by: DaveNJnews

Answered: 7/31/2020
 Yes, but the other person it works for has lost his marbles, so you might want to be careful. 

 

 
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