Sunday, March 25, 2012

Exotic Creatures Of The Deep - The Ultimate Sparks Album?

Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (ECOTD) is an album by Sparks from 2008.  This is not a typical pop album. First, it is a Sparks album, which pretty much ensures a challenging and rewarding musical experience. Still, in its depth, narrative, creativity, coherence, and execution, this album surpasses even the high standards usually associated with Sparks. One expects quality and thoughtfulness; I doubt anyone could have expected this.

In a nutshell, this album is a brilliant, conceptual masterpiece, a vision realized. And very witty! That's what this post is about.

From the first time I heard the album, I listened with unusually rapt attention.  The songs all seemed to fit together but I couldn’t figure out how. I listened over a dozen times straight through, trying to understand this album.  Only a couple of th songs, on their own, are true standouts.  Yet the album is so much more than the sum of its parts...Why? What were Sparks, aka keyboard player Ronald Mael and his brother, singer Russell Mael, getting at?

Then, like a thunderbolt, it hit me. I had the epiphany; it all came together.

ECOTD is not simply a collection of songs that kind of go together; it is a fully realized epic drama of operatic proportions.  It is a tale of one man’s odyssey to attain acceptance from others – a lesson which cannot come until he learns, perhaps grudgingly, to accept himself for who he is.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Where Should Pedro Start the Season?

This post addresses a simple question:  Should Pedro Alvarez start the season on the major league club, or in AAA? More to the point, is there even ONE argument in favor of him going north with the club and starting in Pittsburgh?

I don’t think so. I can’t think of a single argument to support the idea that he should start in Pittsburgh out of spring training.  Let’s look at the possible arguments, and respond to each of them:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Training: Surprises On The Horizon?

Well, here we are a week into spring training games, and I think it's time to ask two age-old questions: Can some would-be rookies earn a spot on the team? And even more interesting: is it possible for an incumbent STARTER to be unseated?

In an age of options, waivers, major league service requirements, and the like, it’s not clear that a hot youngster will make the major league roster. There is also the question of whether such a player would be better served by getting more playing time in the minors. 

Case in point: Matt Hague. He has, as most of us know, torn it up every year in the minors. He is having a great camp and has seen action at AAA. There may still be things for him to learn at the AAA level, but if he continues to tear up the camp the rest of the spring, the Bucs brass will have a decision on its hands. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

All About Pedro? Maybe Not

Over and over your hear it, or read it: it’s all about Pedro. If Pedro turns it around, the Buccos have a chance. Without him, well, just forget about the season right now.

I would love to see Pedro succeed.   He has only one full year under his belt, he has shown signs, his potential is obvious, and he wants to be a well-paid young man for a very long time. So the incentive is there, the talent is there, and he may end up justifying his enormous signing bonus.  We’d all love to see it and it would make a huge difference for the Pirates this year, and well into the future.

However, I do not agree with the oft-expressed view that “for the Pirates to succeed, Pedro must succeed.”  I don’t think it’s true, and I don’t think the Pirates’ management thinks so either.  In fact, I think they are planning around the possibility that he is NOT a significant part of their present - or their future.