Saturday, May 01, 2010

Game Twenty Three: Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out)

Riding high on a three game win streak and a day off, the Red Sox were laid low by Baltimore last night, 5-4. JD Drew untied the game with his second homer of the night in the 8th, but ancient Miguel Tejada retied it in the bottom half off of Danny Boy. Tejada won in in the 10th with a base hit, and Boston finished April 11-12.

For those of you scoring at home, or if you're by yourself, (h/t Keith Olbermann) that makes the first sub .500 April for Boston since 1996. Not exactly auspicious beginnings, one might say.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Game Twenty Two: Now That's More Like It!

In Toronto tonight, Jon Lester and friends made short work of the Jays, allowing only two hits on the way to a 2-0 victory, bringing them to 11-11 on the year.

Game Twenty One: Closer To Fine

The Red Sox came ever closer to even steven on the year as their record improved to 10-11 after a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays last night. Cowboy Clay was impressive, for once, and Mike Lowell, American Hero, worked an 8th inning bases loaded walk to push in the winning run.

Confidential note to Terry Francona: It is not only possible, but legal and actually desired to win a game by more than one run.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Game Twenty: How's That Pitching And Defense Working Out For Ya?

In Toronto tonight, in a game that took slightly less time than a coronation, the Red Sox outlasted the Blue Jays, 13-12. Both starting pitchers, Josh "Commander Marshmallow" Beckett and old friend Dana Eveland, were beaten like they stole something, and we were off to the races, trading runs like heavyweights throwing haymakers.

Tomorrow, if there are any pitchers left, these two teams square off again.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Games Eighteen and Nineteen: Turn Around, And I Will Sing For You A Song

In Boston last night, the Red Sox rode twin 3 run homers from Marco Polo and Our Man Youk to power a 7-6 win, then turned around and gave up a 7-6 loss Sunday in ten innings, spoiling a fine Tim Wakefield effort. The Red Sox, 8-11, now travel to Toronto and Baltimore before returning home to face the Angles.

Does Billy Joel Suck?

Various things-a Steven Axelrod piece in Salon that a friend directed me to, which was reacting to a Ron Rosenbaum piece in Slate, along with the incomparable To The Best of Our Knowledge and the sometimes annoying but generally listenable Slate Cultural Gabfest -have gotten me to thinking about critics, and criticism, and whether or not Billy Joel is any good.

I don’t claim to be the biggest Billy Joel fan in the world, but I am pretty close. In any randomly selected group of 100 people, I am probably the biggest fan in that group. His music has been my constant companion for two decades or more-when I don't know where to turn, he speaks to me.

I was introduced to Billy Joel’s music by Shawn, a neighbor who became a close friend, on the bus coming home from school. He had made me a tape (remember those, kids?), along with his own hand drawn artwork, of “The Nylon Curtain” album. At that point, my memory goes hazy.

I know I became a big fan, and Shawn and I eventually set out on journeys via train to obtain rare Joel B sides from record stores in Cambridge, not knowing that a couple of decades later, all these sides would be collected in a CD box set we could just buy.

I don’t remember the process-what it felt like to not be a fan, then to be one. I don’t remember what it felt like to not know how to read-the story in my family is that I have read since age two-and now, I can’t remember what it feels like to not be a Billy Joel fan.

I was a big metal kid at the time-not with the hair, and certainly not with the lifestyle (I was far too chicken to drink or do drugs)-but metal was pretty much it for me. Shawn certainly broadened my perspective on music-he was also the first person to really introduce me to musicals, which I have loved ever since.

Like anyone you love, I am not unreservedly pro-Joel-there are songs, like “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and “Just The Way You Are”, that I can go the rest of my life without hearing again. But his music, virtually all of it, has comforted me for years. I find his lyrics deeply meaningful, and his musical arrangements clever and thoughtful.

But is he any good?

He’s good to ME, obviously. He has sold tens of millions of records and concert tickets for literally all of my life-his first album, Cold Spring Harbor, came out the year I was born. So he is popular, certainly.

But is he any good?

People will argue that there is an independent scale of quality that applies whether or not an artist is popular-a scale that says that Justin Bieber is mediocre and Michael Buble is not, or that Kevin Smith is terrible and Martin Scorcese is not. Taste doesn’t matter-there is good, and there is not good, and where you stand determines how smart you are.

I know that he's thought of as popular, which is, of course, not the same as good. I also know that he's been deeply important to my life.

I get really defensive when something I love is criticized. Which is stupid. It’s not a criticism of me, just of a work of art that I had no part in creating. But it feels like it’s a refutation of my world view-that if you don’t feel like I feel about it, I must be crazy. Which is also stupid.

But, as Joyce Carol Oates once put it, because it is bitter, and because it is my heart, that’s how I feel. Billy Joel is good because he speaks to me, and you can't convince me otherwise.