Welcome to another installment of Question Time, where you ask me stuff and I do my best to answer. Here we go:
What would you consider the perfect uniform (or closest to it) from each of the Big Four pro leagues?
I go back and forth on some of these, so these answers reflect my mood at the current moment:
MLB: Mets home pinstripes
NFL: Raiders black
NHL: Rangers road white
NBA: Suns home white
How do you genuinely feel about readers pointing out typographical errors in the blog comments? I can see how it’s helpful to have sort of an instant-edit safety net, but do you feel that having that safety net makes you less precise with your own editing? Also, isn’t it just annoying as hell to have people constantly nitpick spelling miscues and other inconsequential inaccuracies in a such a public way? You’re a good sport with the “Thanks, fixed” responses, but doesn’t it grate a little to see these comments nearly every day?
Lots of thoughts here. One at a time:
• I want the site to be as accurate and clean as reasonably possible. To me, typos, broken links, and so on are not “inconsequential”; they’re sloppy. It’s sort of a broken-windows kind of thing: If we’re sloppy about the little things, we’re more likely to become sloppy about the big things, and I don’t want that happening on my website. Think of it this way: Uni Watch is like a house — my house. Each day I invite all of you to come on in. I don’t want to have dirty socks on the floor. And if you spot a dirty sock, I don’t expect you to pick it up, but I’ll gladly pick it up myself if you point it out to me.
• I spend plenty of time pointing out and critiquing other people’s mistakes, so I think it’s important that I take responsibility for my own. Similarly, when people challenge my positions on certain topics, I often push back and refuse to back down, so I think it’s important to show that I’m willing to acknowledge when I’m wrong. And I think it’s best if all of this is done as transparently as possible (i.e., I could just fix the typo and then delete the comment that pointed it out, but I prefer not to erase the evidence). Doing it in public makes the whole thing a bit of an exercise in humility, which is probably something I could use more of.
• I absolutely do not use the collective readership safety net as an excuse to be more lax with my own work. I assure you, I’m mortified by each and every typo and always aspire for the number of typos to be zero.
• I don’t find it grating when people point out my mistakes. I find it grating that I made the mistakes.
• If I thought people were pointing out the typos strictly for “Gotcha!” purposes, or just as a way of getting some cheap glory for themselves (“Look at me, whoo, I found a typo!”), that would be annoying. For the most part, though, I don’t sense that to be the case. Most of our de facto proofreaders are longtime readers who just want to help. I appreciate their eagle eye and the spirit in which they operate.
• My one misgiving about all of this is that I feel bad for the readers who have to scroll through all of the “Typo”/”Fixed” comments each morning, which must get tedious. (I sense that this may be the real impetus for your question, right?) Sorry about that, folks.
Like you, I was born in 1964 and am a Mets fan. When l was a kid in the early ’70s, l thought that their uniforms were boring. I wish they went the pullover/sansabelt route and had uniforms similar to what the A’s and eventually the Pirates wore. Did you ever wish that the Mets had different uniforms?
I’ve always loved the Mets’ pinstripes and am happy that they’ve been largely unchanged over the years. I like what the A’s and Pirates wore as well, but I never wanted the Mets to go that route. As I’ve written before, some teams are Coke teams and others are Pepsi teams, and I’ve always viewed the Mets as a Coke team.
As an aside, whenever people say that a losing team should change its uniforms in order to turn the page on a bad era, I always think of how bad the Mets were from 1962 through 1967 (they averaged fewer than 54 wins a year during that six-year span — think about that), and how grateful I am that they stuck with their uniforms anyway.
Where did you go to college, what did you study, and when did you first fall in love with uniforms?
You’re cheating — that’s three questions! But I’ll cut you a break: I’m a proud graduate of SUNY-Binghamton, where I majored in political science. I became fascinated with uniforms pretty much as soon as I became interested in sports, when I was seven or eight years old.
Was there ever any talk of you being part of the recent layoffs at ESPN?
I signed a new ESPN contract in March. At the time, I had no idea that those layoffs were coming in April. Obviously, it feels good to know that the company was willing to continue investing in me and my work even during a belt-tightening phase. On the flip side of that, I have some survivor’s guilt, because several good friends were let go.
As a Steelers fan, I am interested in which Steelers number font you prefer: the old block numbers that they wore until 1996, or the current Chicago Bears-style round numbers?
”¨First, I just want to say that I don’t consider the Steelers’ current numbers to be “Bears-style.” The Steelers’ font is much thicker and heavier, and the italic numerals look much more sleek.
That said: I realize most Steelers fans prefer the old block numbers, but I actually like both versions. If they went back to the old style, I’d be fine with that, but I also like the current style. Most NFL numbers are either boilerplate block or some ridiculous custom font; the Steelers occupy a nice middle ground in between.
Did you happen to read Gary Shteyngart’s New Yorker piece a couple of months ago, “Confessions of a Watch Geek”?
Yes. It’s really good.
I know that you’ve mentioned on the site before that Lou Reed was a big influence on your younger self. I recently listened through Transformer for the first time and have absolutely fallen in love with it. Where would be a good place in his discography to go from there?
First and foremost, get the six key Velvet Underground albums: The Velvet Underground and Nico, White Light/White Heat, The Velvet Underground, VU, Loaded, and 1969 Live. All of those are essential. Also, get Songs for Drella, Lou’s collaboration with fellow ex-Velvet John Cale, which consists of songs about Velvets patron Andy Warhol.
Lou’s solo output had several different distinct phases, and people argue a lot about which ones are the wheat and which are the chaff. It’s hard for me to think of another major artist whose work tends to divide people into such divergent camps. With, say, Dylan or the Stones, most serious thinkers agree about which stuff was good and which was crap. But with Lou, some people think Berlin is a masterpiece and others think it’s an embarrassment. Some people think Street Hassle is high art and others think it’s a pretentious mess. Some people think The Blue Mask is magnificent and others think Lou was a shell of his former self. And so on.
Some of this, I think, is because Lou represented many different things to many different kinds of people. For some, he was a proto-punk. For others, a bisexual (or at least sexually ambiguous) hero. For still others, a poet. And I think some of it may also be because Lou could be, by pretty much everyone’s account, a real dick, so some of the assessments of his work are no doubt colored by the interactions that people have had with him. (I never met him myself.)
Anyway, this is a long way of saying that my favorite Lou solo albums are Legendary Hearts, The Blue Mask, Coney Island Baby, and New York, but your mileage may vary.
Earlier this year, a big retrospective box set of Lou’s work came out, which prompted this essay in New York magazine. I don’t agree with all of it — like I said, Lou’s work tends to divide people into separate camps — but I do think it’s some of the best writing about Lou I’ve ever seen (and probably some of the better rock criticism I’ve seen, period). Highly recommended.
I follow Uni Watch on Twitter, and I also read the website. But I’m beginning to realize that the daily Ticker is mostly items found in your latest tweets and retweets. By the time I get to the blog, I’ve already seen most of the items on twitter. So my question is this: Can you cut down on tweeting to help avoid this problem?
Great question. As more and more of our Ticker submissions come in via Twitter, instead of via email, it’s true that a lot of the Ticker is somewhat redundant. I’ve been a little conflicted about this — on the one hand, my Twitter activity brings up the problem that you describe. On the other hand, it allows me to keep my finger on the pulse of daily uni events as they unfold. If I stopped tweeting and retweeting, I worry that fewer people would tweet things at me (sort of a “got to feed the beast” problem). Also, tweeting sometimes leads to responses that provide additional info, or answers to questions, etc. It’s a two-way information portal.
I’d be interested in hearing what other readers think. Does anyone else have the same complaint as the questioner here?
Favorite Rolling Stones era: Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, or Ron Wood?
The Stones are my favorite band, and I love a fair amount of their work from all three phases. Brian was probably the best musician, Mick T. the best guitarist, and Ronnie the best complement to Keith.
My absolute favorite Stones LPs are Sticky Fingers and Exile, both of which are from the Mick T. period, although I’m not sure he’s the source of those albums’ greatness — I think it’s more that he just happened to be in the band during the years when everything else fit together perfectly. My favorite Stones are Keith and Charlie, both of whom have been with the band all the way through, so I don’t get too hung up on the rotating lead guitarists.
What is your favorite cut of beef?
Bone-in ribeye. And to be even more specific, I love the spinalis dorsi (sometimes called the “cap of the ribeye”), which is the best muscle on the entire steer. But I’ll also happily eat a hanger steak, a
New York Kansas City strip, top sirloin, and lots of other cuts.
Just don’t ever serve me a filet mignon, which is mushy and flavorless — meat for people who don’t actually like meat. And it’s super-pricey besides, so it’s a lose-lose-lose. Since T-bones and porterhouses include part of the filet, I try to avoid those as well.
Which MLB team do you think should move to Montreal, and which team would you like to move to Montreal?
The Nats should move back, obviously. Failing that, I don’t see why Montreal should have to settle for a relocated team. They should get their own new team.
What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven a car?
When my then-girlfriend and I drove cross-country in the summer of 1997, Montana had no daytime speed limit. Drivers were simply supposed to maintain a speed that was “reasonable and prudent.” (This was later struck down as being unconstitutionally vague.) We were driving a pretty new rental car, and at one point we were on an empty stretch of flat, straight Montana highway. My girlfriend was driving, and she said, “I want to do something I’ve never done before: I want to slow down to 100.” So she gunned it to about 115 and then slowed down. About an hour later, I was driving and did the same thing. Pretty sure that’s the only time I’ve gone into triple digits on the speedometer.
Footnote: During the last day of that trip, I got caught in a speed trap outside of Roanoke, Va.
Aside from purple, what is the worst sports uniform color (in your opinion)?
I love orange as an accent color, but I’m not so fond of it as a main jersey color.
Also: MLB road uniforms notwithstanding, all the grey that we see in the uni-verse these days, especially in college sports, does nothing for me.
Does it bother you that this logo essentially misspells the team name? Whale + ers = Whaleers!
I prefer to process the logo elements phonetically: wÄl + ers = whalers. No problem!
What is your favorite type of hot dog, and what kinds of condiments do you like to put on your hot dogs?
First and foremost, a hot dog should have a snappy natural casing. If it’s skinless, no cooking method or toppings can save it.
Assuming it has a casing, I like my dogs deep-fried, grilled, or griddled. I prefer a toasted bun, although that seems to be increasingly rare. Personally, I’m fine with just mustard and chopped white onions. If the onions are sauteed/grilled, that’s a nice bonus. And as I’ve written a few times here on Uni Watch, capers work quite well on a hot dog, although that’s something I can only do at home, because I’ve never encountered a restaurant that offers capers as a topping.
There’s also a “When in Rome” factor. If I’m in Rhode Island, I’ll definitely get the thin meat sauce that’s common there; in Chicago I’ll get the full treatment with all the crazy toppings; in Cincinnati I’ll get chili; and so on. But there are limits: People in some parts of the country like coleslaw on their dogs, which is something I cannot and will not do. (My life is a mayonnaise-free zone.)
”¨I avoid cheese sauce (not my thing), the kind of onions served by NYC street cart vendors (ditto), and sauerkraut (gross).
What are the top five hot dog joints you’ve been to across the country?
Hard to stick to just five, but here are my favorites, not necessarily in this order, including a few fondly remembered spots that are no longer with us: Rutt’s Hut (Clifton, N.J.); Hot Dog Johnny’s (Buttzville, N.J.); Olneyville New York System (Providence, R.I.); Superdawg (Chicago); Gold Coast Dogs (N. Wabash location, Chicago); Katz’s (NYC); Blackie’s (Cheshire, Conn.); Ted’s Jumbo Red Hots (Meadow Drive location, North Tonawanda, N.Y.); Charlie’s Pool Room (Alpha, N.J.; now closed); Yocco’s the Hot Dog King (Liberty St. location in Allentown, Pa.; now closed); Hot Doug’s (Chicago; now closed).
With the NBA seemingly ready to phase out the short-lived sleeved jersey trend Adidas forced upon them, why doesn’t the league just adopt soccer’s rules when it comes to sleeves and give players the option to go sleeved or sleeveless?
Before I answer, let’s make it clear that Adidas did not “force” the NBA to adopt sleeves. I swear, some of you people think the outfitters control the world! For the umpteenth time: The outfitters are the source of a lot of ideas, including lots of bad ideas, but they cannot force teams or leagues to do anything. Now, some teams — mainly on the college level — choose to put themselves in an outfitter’s hands and say, “Go ahead, do whatever you want to us, we’ll wear it!” But I assure you no pro team would ever do that, much less an entire league like the NBA. Adidas may have proposed the idea of going with sleeves, but it was ultimately the NBA’s decision to go ahead with it.
Now then, as for your suggestion: I agree, I think it’s a good one. I’d be in favor of it.
When might we see you in Seattle again?”¨”¨
No current Seattle travel plans, I’m sorry to say. In fact, at the moment I have no travel plans at all. I’m hoarding my ESPN vacation days because I have a big extracurricular project in the works — or at least a potential extracurricular project — that might require a lot of my time, so I might need to use a good chunk of my vacation time for that. We shall see.
I have always wondered why we don’t see colored chin straps in football. I figure it must be a safety thing, but when white is not a primary team color, the white strap sticks out like a gray facemask. Are you surprised they still require white?
I don’t mind white chinstraps in the same way that I don’t mind white cleats. White is a neutral color, it goes with everything. But I agree that it’s pretty surprising that the NFL hasn’t gone to colored straps by now.
Why does the Pittsburgh Penguins’ logo have the penguin wearing what appears to be figure skates instead of hockey skates?
You know, I never thought about that before, but you’re right! Wow. How has this never come up before?!
My wife will soon have a Ph.D. in Art History. Her dissertation analyzed the role of a curator at MOMA in the field of photography. If you had to write a dissertation for an Art History Ph.D., what uni-related subject would you use as your focus?
The evolution of the baseball uniform’s lower-leg area, including pants, stockings, stirrups, sanitaries, two-in-ones, cuff heights, blousing, and more.
When you use a pen (or pencil), which finger does the pen rest on — your middle finger or your ring finger? Or do you use some other psychogrip?
I’m not sure I fully understand the question, because I don’t think of the pen resting on any finger. But I hold my writing implements like this. I guess that means the pen is resting against my middle finger.
Why don’t teams incorporate city flags into their uniforms more? I remember the Chicago Blitz had a Chicago flag sticker on the back of their helmets and I figure it would be a great sleeve patch for most MLB teams.
I’d say there are two reasons: First, I’m fairly certain that most city residents have no idea what their city flags look like. Chicago is a rare exception — its flag seems to be fairly well known. (Then again, maybe more people care about city flags than I realize. We had a robust discussion of city flag designs right here on Uni Watch in the comments section of this recent entry.)
Second, city flags are in the public domain and cannot be trademarked, which creates an exclusivity problem for licensing and merchandising purposes. Why put a city flag on your uniform when you can use a secondary logo that you can then exploit exclusively? (To be clear, I’m not endorsing this line of thought; I simply think it would play into a team’s decisionmaking.)
As a lefty, do you notice or pay closer attention to who’s left-handed? I am lefty and I notice it almost off the bat every time. But the weird thing is, I kick right-footed. Are you a true lefty, even with kicking?
I always notice left-handedness. If a waitress is writing down my order with her left hand, I notice; if someone in a movie shoots a gun with his left hand, I notice; basically, if anyone does anything left-handed, I notice. In fact, I even notice if someone’s wearing his or her watch on the right wrist, which is usually a sign of left-handedness.
I’m really weird when it comes to kicking: When punting a football (something I haven’t had much occasion to do over the past 35 years or so, admittedly), I use my left foot. But when kicking something that’s on the ground — a soccer ball, a football on a tee, a kickball — I use my right foot. I can’t explain why. Both motions seem completely natural to me. And I absolutely cannot punt righty or placekick lefty.
Could you tell us more about how Uni Watch gets to our screens each day? I always thought you uploaded the entries for this website the day before and scheduled them to be published automatically at 8am Eastern. But there was recently a morning when nothing new had been published and it was getting close to 9am, and then you published a short notice saying that the day’s new entry would be coming shortly. What’s the process?
Generally speaking, I don’t schedule the weekday Uni Watch entries to auto-publish. The very rare exceptions — maybe two or three per year — are when I know I’m going to be out of the house between 7am and 9am (like if I’m traveling and have an early flight).
For the Monday through Thursday entries, the process works something like this:
• By the time I go to bed, I usually know what I expect the next day’s lede to be. Maybe it’ll be coverage of something that happened that day (a team unveiling, an announcement of some sort, a uni-related oddity in a game that took place that night, etc.), or maybe it’ll be an evergreen (i.e., something that isn’t time-sensitive that I’ve had in the pipeline for a bit). I’ll usually have any sub-ledes or other items (membership updates, “Culinary Corner,” etc.) already written and ready to go as well.
• I usually wake up around 7:15am, give or take (although I’ve been struggling with insomnia lately, which means I sometimes wake up a lot earlier than that). If the girlfriend is also in the bed, I get up and go to the next room; if I spent the night on my own, I stay in bed and just open the laptop. Either way, I immediately start to piece together the day’s entry. Step one is to check my email and Twitter feed to see if any major uni-related event(s) took place overnight. If not, then I can use the lede I had planned to use. But occasionally I find that something big happened in a west coast MLB game or whatever, and that means I have to scrap the lede I had planned on using and write a new lede right then and there. This is what we journalists like to call “a pain in the ass.”
• Usually, of course, nothing lede-worthy has happened overnight. So I retrieve the Ticker that Mike Chamernik (if it’s a Tuesday or Thursday) or Alex Hider (if it’s a Monday or Wednesday) has left for me. They compile the Tickers on their assigned days and leave them for me at the end of each night so they’re waiting for me the following morning (and they do a fucking awesome job, I might add). Once I retrieve the Ticker, I read through it and edit it, and then I add any Ticker items that have come in overnight via email and Twitter.
• Once the Ticker is set, I assemble all the pieces — the lede, any sub-ledes or other items, and the Ticker — proof everything to make sure it looks good (although I inevitably miss some mistakes), and click the “Publish” button. I try to watch for the first few comments of the day as they come in, because those are usually the ones that point out typos or other mistakes, or provide the answers to questions I might have posed. If needed, I then update the entry accordingly.
• The routine for Friday entries is the same, except I don’t have to retrieve and edit the Ticker, because I’ll have compiled it myself.
• My goal is always to publish sometime between 7am and 9am. On the very rare occasions when I’m not ready to go by 9, like on that recent morning that you mentioned, I’ll publish a quick “Please stand by” placeholder message, just to let everyone know that everything is okay and that I’m just running a few minutes late. This usually happens only if I sleep late and/or if I have to write a new lede on the spot and can’t do it quickly enough.
Once the entry is posted, I go feed the cats, eat my breakfast, and read the paper. Then the rest of my workday starts.
I have searched high and low for an explanation of the value of or reason for the railings between “box” seat sections at older ballparks. Even at our beloved Shea, they had those annoying railings against your neck, cramping your space in the box. Was it merely to demarcate the “box” of four seats?
“Box” seating is something that dates back to the world of theater. It supposedly separates the bluenoses from the rabble, and box seating doesn’t have long rows, so the patrons don’t have to climb over one another just to go to the john, or whatever. Or at least that’s the idea. These days, the term “box” seems to be more of an excuse to charge a higher price than anything else. A seat can be behind the foul pole or have no view of the scoreboard, but call it a “box” and people are willing to pay an extra $20 for it. Morons.
Like you, I always hated the box seats at Shea, and I went out of my way to avoid them. For years I had this one friend who loved the idea of box seats, no matter where they were located. We’d be, like, down the right field line, in the “field box” area near the foul pole — arguably the worst seats in the entire fucking stadium — and he’d be sitting there saying, “Box seats, baby! Are these great seats or what? Box seats!” Drove me nuts.
Have you ever been to or vacationed in Maine before?
”¨I’ve traveled in every state except Hawaii. My family vacationed in Maine when I was 10 years old, and my parents liked it so much that we did it again two years later. The details of those two trips sort of blur together in my mind, but I know we spent a lot of time at Bar Harbor and ate plenty of lobster. More recently, I was in Maine in 2014 (my mom’s best friend, who she met when they were both in the first grade, currently lives in Portland, and they’re both too old to travel on their own, so I brought my mom up there so they could have some time together). I think the time before that was in 2002ish, when my then-girlfriend and I were doing a New England road trip. A very beautiful place. I’m overdue to go back.
If you dislike the New Era logo creep on MLB caps so much, why not just quit watching baseball forever?
“Love it or leave it” is, and has always been, a false choice. I might just as easily say to you, “If you dislike my position on New Era logo creep so much, why not just stop reading Uni Watch?”
The reality is that most situations do not present us with simple binary choices. There are lots of options in between.
How does a Long Island kid who loves the color green not become a Jets fan?
Born into a Giants family. My father and brothers were Giants fans before the Jets even existed. That was the culture of our household.
Do you wear a watch? If so, what kind?
”¨”¨I haven’t worn a watch in many, many years. I work at home, where there’s usually a clock within view. If I’m out and about, I usually have my cell phone with me. I’m not opposed to watches, but I don’t miss wearing one.
I know you’ve previously said you don’t have an ear for rap music, but has anything at all caught your ear in even the slightest bit?
”¨Hip-hop just doesn’t speak to me. As I’ve said before, I wish I liked it, because it’s the preeminent form of contemporary black cultural expression, so turning my back on it means I’m badly out of touch with an important part of America. But it just isn’t my thing.
As a New Yorker, do you identify in any way with Billy Joel’s epic “The Downeaster ‘Alexa'”? Is it your favorite Billy Joel song? If so, why? If not, which is?
My feelings about Billy Joel have nothing to do with my identity as a New Yorker, and everything to do with my identity as a former Long Islander.
Growing up on Long Island in the 1970s and ’80s, Billy Joel was everywhere. I mean everywhere. On the radio, at restaurants, at your friend’s house, at the bagel shop — all Billy, all the time. I didn’t mind at first, because I didn’t really know any better and hadn’t yet developed any taste or ideas about music or culture. I didn’t think of it as good or bad; it was just one of those things that were always there, like the weather.
When I was 13, my next-door neighbor and I would hang out in his bedroom and play with his CB radio while listening to his copy of The Stranger over and over and over. It had that song “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” where Brenda and Eddie decide to get married but “Everyone said they were crazy / Brenda you know that you’re much too lazy / And Eddie could never afford to live that kind of life.” At the time, it had never occurred to me that people could assess the pros and cons of someone else’s relationship, or that they’d even pass judgment on it. Pop music (including much of Billy Joel’s music) was mostly about happily-ever-after, so the bit about Brenda and Eddie seemed really sophisticated and worldly-wise, at least to my 13-year-old self. It made Billy Joel seem very adult.
Eventually, though, I started to get tired of Billy Joel. I was also getting tired of Long Island, which sort of felt like the same thing. At some point in high school I began reading music criticism and became interested in things like punk, jazz, and blues, all of which I had to special-order from our local record store, where the manager always looked at me like I had two heads as he took down my latest request (often with Billy Joel playing in the background at the store). It was around this time that Billy Joel, while testifying as a witness in a court case, had to be told by a judge to stop chewing gum, whereupon he stuck the gum to the side of the witness stand and then, as I recall the reports at the time, put the gum back in his mouth as he left the stand, all of which seemed to symbolize everything that was wrong with, well, everything. It occurred to me that maybe Billy Joel wasn’t so sophisticated after all. By the time I graduated high school, I couldn’t wait to go to college and get the fuck away from Long Island and everything it represented, and that definitely included Billy Joel.
Unfortunately (at least in this particular regard), the college I went to was a New York state university, which meant a lot of the students were from Long Island, and they all brought their goddamned Billy Joel records with them. Three extremely annoying chicks who lived a few doors down from me in my freshman dorm made a point of sitting on the floor each Saturday at 5pm, blasting “Piano Man” from their stereo, and singing along at the top of their lungs. I thought about heaving a cinderblock through their stereo. Instead, I started volunteering at the on-campus record co-op, where I would later become a manager. We sold lots of Billy Joel records, but I made sure we stocked lots of punk, jazz, blues, and other stuff too.
Many years later, what do I think about Billy Joel? He’s not untalented, certainly. His strengths are a serviceable piano technique, an undeniable knack for the catchy hook, a flexible musical approach (probably too flexible, as his stylistic diversions have often come off sounding like rote genre exercises), and an above-average vocal technique (he really knows how to phrase, which is something not enough singers can do effectively). His weaknesses are many but could generally be summed up as a lack of taste and a steadfast embrace of the middlebrow, both of which make him the perfect Long Island artist. Actually, he’s usually been more of a technician than an artist, at least to my ear. And when he’s tried to shed that role and be more of an artist, he’s usually been a bad artist.
I’m genuinely surprised that Billy Joel has never followed the lead of his fellow piano man Elton John by dabbling in musical theater. His piano style and sense of schmaltz are made for Broadway. So are the characters that populate his songs. Wouldn’t the saga of Brenda and Eddie be just the thing for out-of-town tourists to sing along to when they can’t score tickets to Hamilton? (Update: Reader/commenter Adam JK reminds me that there has been a Billy Joel musical on Broadway: Movin’ Out. My bad for not remembering this.)
I’m even more surprised that he hasn’t gone the Rod Stewart route and built a new chapter of his career by singing standards. He has the vocal chops for it, and his audience of aging-Boomer suburbanites would eat that shit up. But he’s apparently content to sing his old hits. (He’s doing that on tour right now, in fact.)
And hey, why not? Some of those hits have aged pretty well. But like I said, I grew up being saturated with Billy Joel, and he and his work came to represent all sorts of things to me (most of them bad), so he’s sort of a loaded proposition for me. I’ll say this: When I think of the songs from The Stranger, I’m reminded of those nights in my next-door neighbor’s bedroom, playing with his CB radio, and that’s not such a bad thing.
As for the song you asked about: I’m not familiar with it (or maybe I’d recognize it if I heard it but just don’t know it by name). I’ve decided to keep it that way, at least for now.
Have you been following the new season of Twin Peaks?
Yes. I was a big fan of the original TV series (although, like many people, I lost interest midway through the second season), and I’m a fairly big David Lynch fan in general (I don’t love everything he’s done, but I think his good stuff is very good), so I’ve been following along with the new version.
So far I think it’s been consistently interesting and also pretty consistently unsatisfying. It all feels like an elaborate setup or prologue for a payoff that still hasn’t arrived, sort of like going fishing and getting lots of nibbles without actually landing a fish. But I’m hoping — okay, expecting — to see that payoff arrive soon.
You and Chris Creamer both seem to break fairly significant uniform news and happily link to each other’s site when one of you has a detailed writeup, most recently with the MLB holiday uniforms. Is this as simple as who gets the story first, or is there a friendly agreement between the two of you on who gets to break a story?
Chris and I do not have any sort of agreement regarding this type of thing. We’re both trying to get every story first. But we’re friends and have plenty of professional respect for each other. So if one of us scoops the other, we always give credit (just as I’d give credit to anyone else who scooped me on a big story, actually).
What are your favorite book covers and why?
”¨This is a great question, because book cover design is a category unto itself. I haven’t really kept a list of favorites over the years, though. Sorry.
Readers: If you have favorite book covers, please feel free to link to them in today’s comments. This would definitely be a good rabbit hole to explore.
NBA uniforms have recently been made by Adidas, and that license is about to change over to Nike. Prior to Adidas, the uniforms were made by Reebok. But who made NBA uniforms before that? Was it up to the individual team, or did the league grant the license to somebody else?
NBA uniform history is murky. For one thing, there’s no comprehensive database (although that will be changing soon — stay tuned). And since the league has never allowed maker’s marks, it’s hard to know who the manufacturers were.
It’s hard to find definitive documentation for the years prior to that, but there’s a lot of information spelled out in this blog post. Honestly, I don’t know how accurate that is. I have no reason to believe it isn’t accurate, but I’m not familiar with that blog and don’t know its track record.
How far do uniforms go in determining who you personally root for? For example, if the Mets come out tomorrow in head to toe purple, are you still rooting for them? If a team you can’t stand did a redesign with the most beautiful maroon and green uniforms, will you start rooting for them?
My most passionate rooting interests were formed when I was very young and have proven to be pretty impervious to bad uniforms. I remained a Mets fan even during their BFBS phase, for example. For that matter, I’ve remained a baseball fan despite all the pajama pants.
On the flip side of that, there are plenty of good-looking teams that I hate, like the Yankees and Cowboys. (Yes, I know some people think the Cowboys’ uniforms suck because of the mismatched blues and all, but I still think of them as one of the NFL’s better-looking teams.)
But if I’m watching a game in which I have no obvious emotional interest — the A’s against the Rangers, say — uniforms often go a long way toward determining who I’ll root for. And there are some teams, like the Bengals, whose uniforms are so awful that I reflexively root against them all the time, even though I don’t really care about the team per se.
I think your backyard looks pretty cool. Was the grill already there when you moved in or did you have to build it?
My backyard is indeed very nice. The built-in grill was already there when I moved in nearly 17 years ago. In fact, when I first looked at the apartment and the landlord was showing me the yard, the moment when I saw the grill was when I thought to myself, “Okay, I am definitely taking this apartment.”
That’s it for this round of Question Time. My thanks to everyone who submitted questions. We’ll do this again soon-ish. You can see previous installments of Question Time here.
KRC update: Most Key Ring Chronicles entries are about a single item on a key ring. But the latest installment is about someone who has four special items on his key ring. Check it out here.
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: Looks like new Blue Jays catcher Miguel Montero is still wearing his Cubs gear (from @AaronBerk14). … The Angels’ Yunel Escobar was still wearing his American flag-patterned sleeve, made from a repurposed sock, during last night’s game (from reader C. Duncan). … Bizarre uni matchup in collegiate summer ball on Tuesday as the Madison Mallards wore mono-yellow against the Kenosha Kingfish, who wore yellow tops (from Nick Mueller). … The Everett AquaSox have a “Hit the sign, win a suit” promotion, which is an homage to Ebbets Field (from Jason Hillyer). … The emojis for the All-Star Game Final Vote has players’ caps with the correct team logos, except for Xander Bogaerts, who has an “X” in the style of Boston’s “B” (thanks, Joanna Zwiep). … A few weeks ago it was announced that most of the regional Root Sports channels will be renamed AT&T SportsNet. An unnamed reader notes that Pittsburgh’s sports channel has had a bunch of different names: It started out as Pirates Cable Network in 1986, then became the KBL Entertainment Network, Prime Sports KBL, Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh, FSN Pittsburgh, Root Sports Pittsburgh, and now AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. … Some newbie baseball fans read too deeply into the meaning of the K Corner, the section of the ballpark that hangs K signs for every strikeout. … Braves C Tyler Flowers had a lot of yellow and red trim on his catcher’s gear last night.
NFL & College Football News: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has been accused of using a machine to sign autographs on Panini’s 2016 Prizm set of trading cards. … Steve Johnston was walking around Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and spotted commemorative plaques for the original AFL teams. … Also from Steve: Here’s how the Missouri Tiger logo has evolved over the years. … A construction worker in New Hampshire was spotted wearing a Cowboys hardhat.
Hockey News: Here’s the first good look at the Oilers’ new road jersey. The shade of blue is darker than before, and the white number outline has been dropped (from Doug McLean). … New 30th-anniversary logo for the ECHL. … Check out this cool Whalers cornhole set. … Tris Wykes was at a hockey training center the other day and saw a goalie with Bamm-Bamm Rubble on the back plate of his mask. “He said Bamm-Bamm is his father’s nickname for him and his dad had that put on the mask when he gave it to him as a gift,” Tris says.
Basketball News: The NBA filed trademarks on a few alternate logos for the 2018 All-Star Game. The primary logo was released earlier this year (from Conrad Burry). … The Chicago Majors, an ABL team in the early 1960s, had their logo between the numbers on the front of their uniforms. Here’s a clearer shot of the logo, a drum major (from @redbuppy and several readers). … New court for Kent State (from Alex).
Soccer News: The Houston Dynamo had American flag-colored numbers last night (from Travis Piercefield). … ACF Fiorentina will have five kits next year, the most a pro soccer club has ever had (from Josh Hinton). … New third jersey for Hajduk Split, a Croatian club (from Ed Å»elaski). … Here’s a good piece on how soccer clubs and kit manufacturers have stopped taking risks with uniform designs due to fears that social media backlash could lead to a decrease in sales (from Ryan Keberly). … New home and road kits for VfL Wolfsburg (from Anthony Zydzik). … Also from Anthony: Starting in 2019, Volkswagen will take over from Mercedes Benz as main advertiser of the German Football Association. “In the past the Mercedes logo has appeared on practice jerseys and jackets, so I am guessing the VW logo will have similar placement,” he says. … Here’s the complete collection of all of the newly released or leaked kits for Europe’s top-five leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1) and notable clubs in lesser leagues (from Josh Hinton). … New goalie kits for Wycombe Wanderers (from Edoardo Salvati).
Grab Bag: Wimbledon requires all-white attire, so Venus Williams got some attention for her pink bra straps that were visible under her outfit (from Brinke). … USA played France in a World League volleyball match on Tuesday in a covered soccer stadium in Brazil. It was cold enough that most of the players for both teams wore leggings and sleeves under their uniforms (from Ryan Patton). … Pressure washers can be used to remove tough stains from sports uniforms and accessories. … Here are the liveries for this weekend’s IndyCar race, the Iowa Corn 300 (from Tim Dunn).