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Question Time, Vol. 8

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: wāl + 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.)

ӬI 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?ӬӬ

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?

Just to clarify, the questioner is referring to this and this, and the lower seats here.

“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.

Adidas took over for Reebok in 2006. The Reebok era had phased in over three years beginning in 2001, when Reebok outfitted 11 of the league’s teams.

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.

•  •  •  •  •

The Ticker
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).

Comments (124)

    I would say the Penguin is just wearing OLD hockey skates–not figure skates. That said, maybe an update is due.


    After all, the Penguin’s logo colleague Johnny Canuck did get a new model of skates. He wore the old tube blades during the Canucks’ WHL days:


    Johnny has upgraded his skates these days and ditch the old tube blades:


    Once upon a time, I made an update to the skates, as well as the gloves. I may or may not still have it on my home computer.

    Correct. A google search of “antique skates” reveals that they all were similar – lowish top and a tail on the blade.

    Regarding the notion of a lot of the content on the site having already been on Twitter, while I do follow Uni Watch on Twitter, I’m not always able to be on Twitter, so I definitely appreciate being able to catch up by visiting the website each morning.

    Agreed. The daily consolidation and compartmentalization of topics (baseball section, football section, etc) makes the web site’s stories and ticker work for me.

    I’m on Twitter quite often and see Ticker items earlier than posted. Seeing them at UW just gives me a little deja vu, then I move on.

    Thanks for that. I’m also a left and I get criticism all the time for how I write (although strangely a lot of compliments on my writing – they just don’t like how I actually perform it!). Turns out I’m a G so I’ll remember that. Most critics do a weird hooked hand thing when they mimic me – when you could actually run a ruler up the back of my hand and wrist it’s so straight.

    Like Paul I also notice everything done lefty – partly because I find it interesting and partly because it does look different. Obviously I don’t see myself and as most people are righty then something done with the left hand looks odd to the eye.

    Through all the Q&As, I did spot one typo, in the response to the Seattle question: “I’m hoarding my ESPN vacation da because”

    There’s a grammar error as well. “they averaged less than 54 wins” should be “fewer.”

    Hope that’s not overly nit-picky.

    Good grammar is not nit-picky; it’s just good grammar. And that’s what we aim for here.

    Fixed. (And appreciated.)

    Re: Twitter/Ticker overlap, I will mention that I also noticed this redundancy, and it has led me to pretty much stop reading the Ticker – however, as you mentioned, I still see them on Twitter, and have responded to previous Twitter posts as well.

    So, the content is still reaching me for the most part, just in a different way, which is probably fine. But things that are in the Ticker but not Twitter, will be missed by me and likely others.

    The Pressure Washer thing made me think of this: I use our old (non removable insert) Crock Pot to clean old metal parts. If you’ve got some door hinges or the like that you need the paint removed, drop them into a slow-cooker full of water and maybe a little bit of cleaner (like Simple Green) and let those babies stew all day. Carefully take one out at a time and the paint comes off with very little effort.

    “one the one hand”
    “to see that payoff to arrive soon.”

    And to add a bit to Paul’s answer about typos from this end, it’s meant to help and it’s clearly appreciated. Since the corrections are usually made early, these posts don’t sit here mocking silently. There are a couple of advantages to doing it in comments: Copy/paste is a little easier, and I can see if anyone else reported the same thing before me (there was one today), so there’s no feeling of piling on.

    I don’t mind that your Twitter and the Ticker have some repeat items. One thing that I’ve noticed over the past few months (and wondered about), though, is that your ESPN columns often include embedded Tweets that you’ve posted over the previous week about the column topic. So, for anyone who follows you on Twitter, we’ve read/seen a large portion of your column content before ESPN ever posts it. (For example, your Astros column on 6/29/17 contains a dozen or so of your Tweets about the uniforms from 6/26/17 and 6/27/17.) Is there another way to get photos into your columns that wouldn’t prove to be a big spoiler of what you’re going to write about?

    (Of course, I can see the flip side here, too. You post 2 or 3 Tweets about the Astros uniforms and maybe some readers chime in with a few more things that weren’t on your radar, which only serves to enhance your ESPN column.)

    Not everyone may feel this way. But, for me (a longtime reader who goes to the daily blog post as soon as I get to work every morning), seeing so much of your ESPN work “previewed” in advance on Twitter turns those pieces from “must read right away” to “I may get to it later, since I’ve seen a lot of it before” status.

    I’ve noticed this too, but I think it may be for another reason. ESPN has a larger audience that may saturate the site where the pictures are located. By posting the pictures for ESPN columns on twitter, you can make sure that all ESPN readers get the column as intended instead of broken links or websites that are down.
    For me it has become a fun game, I see a couple of tweets within the same topic and try to guess what the Friday Flashback will be.

    Re the Twitter/Ticker debate…I don’t have a twitter and never will so i greatly appreciate everything being in the ticker so i can see it in the morning. Thanks!

    I also do not use twitter, so I check the ticker every day.

    My favorite book cover: On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony.

    Also don’t use Twitter and have no intention of starting; honestly, Twitter has zero appeal to me.

    Always check the ticker.

    Looks like FAKENEWS existed in the 70s re: Billy Joel, Paul.


    Joel, also was irked by the way the press reported a request by the judge that he stop chewing gum during his testimony.

    “They made it sound like I swaggered in, chewing a huge wad of gum,” said. “There was one piece of gum in my mouth.

    “And the judge didn’t say, ‘Take the gum out of your mouth.’ He said, ‘I don’t think you want to talk to the jury with gum in your mouth.’ So I said OK and stuck it in my pocket

    In reference to the volleyball item; it occurred to me that volleyball might be the only sport with a rule requiring a certain minimum room temperature (50 degrees Fahrenheit generally, with a higher minimum and a maximum for high-level events):


    That NBA uniform blog you linked to isn’t totally accurate.

    Sand Knit took over as exclusive outfitter for the 1986-87 season (first season the NBA logo appeared on the unis, aside from 1-year anniversary patches). Champion took over the contract in 1989, although Sand-Knit continued to provide unis until the end of the 1989-90 season.

    Before 1986, teams would use whoever they wanted for unis, although Sand Knit/Macgregor provided most teams’ unis.

    I immediately thought about Champion when Paul posed the question about NBA uniforms. I owned so many youth replica jerseys made by Champion in the 90s. My two favorites were a Penny Hardaway USA jersey (link) and a Damon Stoudamire Raptors jersey (link). There was a Champion outlet near my house that sold misprinted jerseys that was always really excited about.

    Regarding Billy Joel on Broadway – there was a musical featuring all his songs a few years ago called Movin’ Out, which was essentially a guy playing piano who kind of sounded like Billy Joel while people danced in front of him. It was understandably pretty forgettable, though it had a decent run, I think.

    It’s pretty easy to forget – I do agree with your larger point though. It’s surprising that Billy Joel hasn’t written something original (or semi-original) for Broadway.

    I also thought he was trying to compose some kind of orchestra music. Am I wrong with that? Like some sort of Mr Holland’s Opus type route.

    Hey nice tarp photo from the last ever game at Shea! If anyone else was at that game, my brother and I were the two nuts in the Marlins gear, pretty sure the only two of the 55,000 people there. Sorry (but not really) about spoiling the day. Fun ride on the 7 train to Manhattan packed shoulder to shoulder with angry/sad Mets fans after that while dressed in teal and black haha.

    Very nitpickey but the technical term for a soccer player who wears a different shirt is a goalkeeper, or keeper. Goalie generally denotes that it is hockey, where the goalie wears the same jersey as the rest of the team. Just saw this on the soccer section of the Ticker (very common mistake made by a ton of people) .

    In the US?

    In the U.K. goalie is commonly used to describe the player properly called the goalkeeper and it’s been that way for a long time.


    Really enjoyed hearing about your musical journey re:Lou Reed, The Stones, Billy Joel, et. al. I had a parallel experience growing up in Jacksonville, Fl with Lynyrd Skynyrd. Every day was Skynyrd day in my teenage years and if someone tries to play “Sweet Home Alabama” I will dive for the volume control. The difference with me, however, is that I had personal contact with them and people in their orbit in my post-teenage years and found them to be great guys. It’s kind of ironic that I can’t much take their music but will gladly have a beer with them….

    Always enjoy hearing your “personal” stuff.

    One has to remind oneself that it’s wrong to confuse the artist with the art. Rat bastards have created enduring masterpieces, and lovely people have been responsible for execrable garbage.

    The way you feel about Billy Joel, having grown up on LI, is how I feel about Bruce Springsteen, having grown up in NJ. You couldn’t escape him, and as I learned to appreciate different music, Bruce’s work seemed boring by comparison. I can appreciate him now but can’t understand the people who follow him on tour and sit through his 4-hour concerts.

    Re: the Ticker: I don’t check in on Twitter all that much so most if the Ticker stuff is new to me.

    Hey Paul, just wanted to let you know that while the one may have closed, there are still 3 or 4 Yocco’s locations open in the Allentown area.

    Oh, I know. But it was the one on Liberty St. that I really loved — that’s why I specified its location. The others don’t compare, at least for me.

    Gotcha. I’d never been to that one, the one on Hamilton near the stadium is where I discovered them after the annual Drum Corps show.

    My girlfriend and I recently drove by the Yocco’s on route 100 in Allentown, and she pointed out a disturbing aspect of its logo: Yocco, who is a giant hot dog, is holding a fork with a smaller hot dog on it–hot dog cannibalism!

    Cannibalistic food mascots are a whole sub-category unto themselves. Back in the late 1990s, when I was the marketing columnist for Fortune magazine, I wrote a story about this. Doesn’t appear to be online anymore, alas.

    Re: AT&T Sportsnet, can i get a “I’m still calling it the Pirates Cable Network” t-shirt, please?

    I don’t really have any favorite book covers, except for this one. I’m sort of partial to it as my eyes are featured in the design. The author is a local former police officer and the graphic designer was the Art Director at the TV station where I worked at the time.


    @ Paul re Billy Joel, I have been ardently anti-Joel since I about 1983 — even at 9-years old I knew I could never forgive him for “Uptown Girl.” But I rarely find kindred spirits in my Joel aversion.

    My best friend in college (from Baldwin) told me that I, as a Midwestern, simply didn’t “get” Billy Joel the way someone from LI does.

    Pitifully, I periodically argue with my wife about Billy Joel’s awfulness. She claims I’ve never heard the “good” Joel tunes, and I maintain that such tunes don’t actually exist.

    With Bruce, I can understand someone thinking he’s quality, even though I don’t appreciate his work. Billy Joel though? If I never hear him again, it’ll be too soon.

    My definition of hell is being eternally locked in a room with Billy Joel, Paul Schaeffer, Dennis DeYoung, Randy Newman and 4 pianos.

    Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies! Scarred thinking about the never ending medleys…

    Holy Shit, that definition of Hell might be the funniest thing I’ve ever read!

    I would pay good money to watch Randy Newman and Dr. John fight to the death.

    The Ballantine paperbacks of H.P. Lovecraft have ghoulish, fanciful covers painted by British artist John Holmes. They made a lasting impression on me as a kid. I also love anything by Richard Powers.

    Having largely abandoned Twitter, I’d greatly miss the ticker.

    Book cover design is an immense topic but Dune has always been a favorite.

    Don’t worry, the Ticker isn’t going anywhere.

    The question on the table (at least for me) is whether I should cut down on tweeting/retweeting, because it diminishes the impact of the Ticker — not whether to abandon the Ticker.

    I thought the book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser had a great jacket, designed to look like old blueprints. I think the book is about the development of nuclear weapons in the ’50s or something like that. I googled for images but none are really satisfying. But if you come across the actual book in a store at some point you’ll see what I mean. Thought if I ever saw a copy cheap I might buy it just for the design.

    On the K corner:

    At Great American Ballpark, the third strikeout isn’t shown on their K corner until the fourth one happens to specifically avoid people reading too much into the 3 K’s. My guess is this was borne out of the Cincinnati riots of 2001, but I can’t find proof of that.

    Interesting! So if the pitcher is stuck on three strikeouts for several innings, the K corner just shows two?

    (Granted, players strike out at a much higher rate these days, so being stuck on three probably doesn’t happen very often.)

    It happens fairly frequently for Reds pitchers. But yeah, the outfield wall would display two K’s even though the pitcher had 3.

    At Shea in the 1980s, one of the “K” cards had a “3” instead, and was used to post the third strikeout. When the fourth “K” went up, the “3” was replaced with its own “K”: Solomonic in its cleverness and economy.

    I remember being at a game in which David Cone was pitching. A bunch of guys had white plasterboard cones on their heads. Whenever Cone struck someone out, they would write a K on them with a magic marker. Anyplace else it would have caused an uproar, but in that time and place it made perfect sense.

    Three diverse points:

    1. Whoever wrote that article on soccer teams not taking chances on their uniforms clearly hadn’t seen those Wycombe Wanderers goalie shirts. They’re definitely different. Sadly, not in a good way.

    2. Twitter isn’t working on my iPad today…every tweet I click on turns into “Twitter is taking too long to load.” Not really on-topic as it isn’t just the links here (although I discovered it here because I rarely access Twitter elsewhere), but is anyone else having this problem, or does anyone have a suggestion? Seems to work on other devices in the room.

    3. Why did those girls sing “Piano Man” at 5 rather than 9?

    You know, all this time I thought the line was “five o’clock on a Saturday.” But having now looked it up, I see that it’s actually “nine o’clock.” Huh!

    The girls always said that’s why they sang it at that time. Maybe they mis-heard the lyric..? Or maybe they just adapted the lyric to suit their preferred time slot for the ritual..?

    What kind of crowd “shuffles in” to a piano bar at 5:00 on a Saturday?

    Friday, sure, I get that (happy hour and all).

    My favorite Billy Joel moment occurred not on a Saturday, but on a Friday, and well after nine o’clock. I was in Pittsburgh when Billy Joel made his tour stop at PNC Park last summer. The shuttle bus taking me back to my hotel passed close to the ballpark across the river, where I heard the audience singing along to Piano Man, his very first hit. I later learned that this was how he closes his shows. The sound of the singing was one of the most vivid memories of what was already a memorable weekend. Still better than Kenny Chesney’s show the next night.

    I worked a Billy Joel concert. The crowd singing “The Piano Man” and the roar that followed was one of two times in my vending career that I got goosebumps (the other time was when Craig Ehlo scored the next-to-last basket of the infamous “The Shot” game).

    I don’t follow uni watch on twitter for the sole purpose of being able to see all the developments in one place the next day.

    If I see something crazy on TV I’ll go look to try and find a reason why, otherwise just stick to the website.

    I agree. No need to read things in bits and pieces. The enjoyment is having the whole thing to read each morning and the comments throughout the day. The good work is always appreciated Paul, typos and all. :)

    Also, have you considered possibly a once a week entry detailing your experiences in each state? I’d love to hear about any trips to my home state of Ohio.

    I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Ohio, and have had some excellent adventures there. But that kind of storytelling, even if only doing it once per week, takes time. And time is not something I have a lot of these days. Sorry.

    Concur. The Cremator tastes too much like a Kingsford briquette mash-up with a year old Camel unfiltered, even with the relish.

    I dig the question-and-answer entry, and in particular the musical portions. The Billy Joel answer was so good that I had to read it twice.

    Thanks, Robert. When I began answering the Billy Joel question, I certainly didn’t expect it to run nearly 1,000 words all by itself. Turned out I had a lot to say about that particular topic — more than I realized!

    Maybe one of the most gripping things you’ve ever written. A subject which has always stymied me is musical artists who are estimable but for whom I have a personal distaste. It’s difficult to judge them objectively.

    I don’t actually think Billy Joel is “estimable.” But I concede that my feelings about his work are bound up in too many external factors for me to be a fair judge.

    It happens. Many years ago, I had a roommate who believed any music that wasn’t Van Morrison was garbage. He traded cassette tapes of VM live gigs through the mail, most of them terrible sounding audience tapes. I was made to listen to to all of them. Every single one. Again and again. And again and again and again. To this day, I can’t stand listening to one single note of any Van Morrison song.

    For the record, Movin’ Out wasn’t really a musical; it was a dance show with a cover band. It was quite terrible.

    I’ve always loved Billy Joel (focused on his music while I was learning to play the piano in late-HS and college), but never cared for most of his ‘hits’ (like “Just the Way you Are” and “Uptown Girl”) and always preferred the deep album cuts like “Tomorrow Is Today,” “Temptation,” “Two Thousand Years” and pretty much all of Songs in the Attic. I still play a lot of his stuff at solo gigs (on L.I., of course) but haven’t really listened to it in years.

    Always liked Brian Eno’s quote about the Velvet Underground:
    “ENO: Very poorly compared with my other records–which haven’t done too well either. My reputation is far bigger than my sales. I was talking to Lou Reed the other day and he said that the first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years. The sales have picked up in the past few years, but I mean, that record was such an important record for so many people. I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band! So I console myself thinking that some things generate their rewards in a second-hand way.”

    Why would you have the Nats move back to Montreal? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the Mets’ link against them, would it?

    I have fond memories of listening to Francophone broadcasts of Expos games on AM radio from a thousand miles away, and I do think that not having a presence in Montreal has deprived MLB of a good bit of color. I’m also old enough to remember the expansion Senators (but not quite old enough to remember the first AL Nats) and firmly believe that Washington is no less deserving of a team than Montreal.

    If I had my druthers, Montreal would never have lost its franchise and Washington would have been awarded its own new franchise (ideally one of the two franchises now in Florida), but if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, something something something.

    Why would you have the Nats move back to Montreal?

    Because I feel bad that the franchise was taken away from Montreal, and the questioner asked which team I thought should move there. I see no reason why any other team should move there aside from the team that was originally there to begin with.

    This doesn’t mean Washington isn’t deserving of its own franchise. It means Washington isn’t deserving of THIS franchise, at least as framed by the parameters of the question.

    1) I appreciate that you appreciate the feedback you get from readers that a copy editor might provide.
    2) Keep the Tweets coming.
    3) Now I’m gonna go have a deep fried hot dog with mustard, chili, and slaw for lunch.

    good Q&A. Really enjoyed the article on watches, thanks for sharing! I love my watches but cannot afford anything like the author was discussing, but those Grand Seikos and Nomos watches certainly are easy on the eyes. When you start diving into the internals, it really gets my interest peaked. Such an addiction!

    I never thought too deeply about it, but now I have some insight into why my suburban friends love Billy Joel and Springsteen and I (City kid) just never found a place for them.

    And I developed the same kind of aversion to Dave Matthews Band when I went away to college 20 years ago at a school populated mainly by students from the suburbs of Philadelphia.

    I have been a Billy Joel fan my whole life, and I grew up in Connecticut. I love Elton’s stuff until the late 80’s when he dropped the great rock stuff and went to the schlocky soft pop crap.

    Having said that, I can understand Paul’s and others’ frustration with living where a megastar grew up. I have major Bruce Springsteen fatigue myself, mostly because his songs have become somewhat disingenuous. He keeps writing about being broke and relating to the plight of the working class, when I’ve seen his house in Jersey and everybody in the Uni Watch Membership Club can live in it.

    As for Lou Reed, never saw the allure of it. Nice album covers though.

    My favorite book covers are usually Westerns as I am a big fan of them. Also Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler have good ones as well. Unfortunately with my job, most of my “reading” are audio books.

    Some of those covers are very well done. Graphic Audio (available in most truck stops) are the best as they commission an artist to draw them.

    I always really dig the Q&A’s.

    Paul, what did you do/where did you go in Alaska?

    In March of 2005 I went on a press trip underwritten by a whiskey distiller. We flew to Anchorage and then got on a very small twin-prop plane that flew about 200 miles northwest of Anchorage. Landed on a frozen lake and spent the next three days at a wilderness resort. Went ice-fishing, snowmobiling, x-country skiing, snow-shoeing, and dog-sledding (the resort was right on the Iditarod Trail), none of which I’d ever done before. Great time.

    I can see it coming:

    Thomas S.

    You misspelled his name as Jim Fix.

    Paul Lukas


    I like the opening questions about “perfect” uniform in each sport. So mine are:

    Hockey – Blackhawks home red
    Baseball – Cardinals home
    Football – Bears black, 1960’s
    Basketball – The City


    As others have said, I love your detailed comments about subjects as varied as your feelings about Billy Joel and favorite hot dog joints. It also made me laugh that you took a picture of yourself holding a pen in order to answer the question about which finger it rests on.

    I know it’s been your policy in the past to not answer additional questions on Q&A day, but it occurs to me that we were both born on Long Island in ’64, although about 6 months apart. My family lived in Greenlawn and I was born in Huntington, but since we moved to the DC suburbs before I was 2 years old, I have no real connection to NY. What part of LI are you from?

    I’m from Blue Point, namesake of the bluepoint oyster:

    My parents moved there from NYC in the early 1950s, and remained there until 2004.

    (For those wondering about Blue Point beer, it did not yet exist when I was growing up. The brewery isn’t actually in Blue Point, though. It’s in the neighboring town of Patchogue. I have mixed feelings about the name. On the one hand, I like seeing my hometown get some exposure; on the other, it doesn’t feel right for “Blue Point” to be emblazoned on a Patchogue product.)

    If you ever travel to Tampa, there’s a hot dog place called Mel’s Hot Dogs, which is down the street from Busch Gardens. Its hot dogs are good!


    I like the look of the Oilers going back to dropping the white outline on the road sweater, I haven’t seen the Canadians new road sweater yet, do you know if they are planning to do the same? I believe the Bruins did as well. Any info is appreciated.


    I love that you’ve been to Ted’s Hot Dogs and hold it in such high regard.

    The question about the ticker and Twitter is actually something I’ve thought about as it has become increasingly redundant as I follow you on Twitter. Uni news is so much more abundant now than even when the site started and it’s a testament to you and your in depth looks at certain elements or just off the wall topics in general that I’ve been reading since day one. I started reading for “breaking” news but I’ve come to enjoy all the detailed looks and different topics that no one else offers.

    Dang, Paul.

    As a (pretty much former) musician, I have to admit that I’m laughing out loud at your reaction to the Billy Joel question. That may be the best, most honestly brutal music criticism I’ve read in my life. It’s just so… I’m not even sure there’s a word. Not angry, not apathetic, not dismissive, not petty, but somehow just slaying. Call it Lukasian? I’m bookmarking this for future reference.

    [slow clap]

    I’m a mets fan and I can’t stand the pinstripes the plain whites look better. I don’t see the point of the pinstripes when the other team in the city are famous for their pinstripes so it always looks like we are trying to rip them off. Plus the pinstripe pants make the blue alternate look worse

    the pinstripe pants make the blue alternate look worse

    No argument there. But there’s a simple solution. (Hint: It doesn’t involve changing the pants.)

    My main concern is a lot of times when you link to Twitter for images, i cannot see them as I don’t have twitter. I know this is very minor, but as a die hard uni watcher, if there was anyway you can link them to flickr or ask the poster to put the images on a more accessible platform.

    For further reference, it says I don’t have privileges to view the image.

    Really? It honestly never occurred to me that some twitter-hosted images weren’t fully viewable by everyone.

    The next time this happens, could you please send me the URL for the linked photo, and also a screen shot of the error message you’re receiving? Thanks.

    Realistically: The Ticker is already a huge amount of work. So downloading Twitter-hosted images and then uploading them to Flickr is probably not going to happen.

    Suggestion: If signing up for Twitter would solve the problem, why not just sign up, even if you never use it?

    Rather than an individual book, my favorite book covers are when a series or collection of books are issued with consistent cover designs. The old UK paperback editions of O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin novels, for example, shared a link style. Fraser’s Flashman novels were re-issued around the turn of the century in a beautiful paperback set with a link look reminiscent of the type of found-document the books pretend to be. Mariner published a set of Churchill’s The Second World War with link. I wound up buying two hardcover sets of Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative because link is so link. Other books I bought largely on account of liking the design of their covers-as-a-set would include the link of Homer and a link of McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove saga. I just love when a series of books are designed as a set. And it drives me batty when a series of books doesn’t in any way match, such as Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, whose three volumes were put out by different publishers, each of which seems never to have even seen a copy of the previous books in the series.

    And I’m a sucker for pre-1970s link. I suppose most would find those covers plain, but to me they have a simple beauty. Some of the greats of twentieth century literature and design had their hands in the Modern Library, and it shows.

    Please keep the ticker. While I follow UniWatch, Phil, Paul on Twitter, I’m not a Twit (e.g., someone who uses/follows Twitter 24×7). I read the ticker online as I have breaks during the day.

    As already noted in another thread, the Ticker isn’t going anywhere. The only proposition on the table is whether I should cut back on Twitter.

    Billy Joel/Long Island = Bruce Springsteen/New Jersey = Bob Seger/Michigan = John Mellencamp/Indiana. It’s all the same. Rock stars with a regional focus that became popular nationally.

    Regarding Billy Joel, anybody that could survive the debacles of Atilla (described in many circles as one of the worst albums ever made…”heavy rock organ and drums duo?”), Cold Spring Harbor’s botched mastering job where the master tapes were accidentally transferred to vinyl at a speed that makes the record sound like the Chipmunks recorded it,and the bad record deal with the aptly named Artie Ripp…man, most would’ve thrown in the towel…

    Well, yes, he’s always had ambition and determination. That isn’t exactly unique — I’d think those qualities would be pretty much a given for anyone at his level of stardom. (The same is true of any top-level pro athlete, or any top-level anything.)

    In any case, while ambition and determination are admirable qualities, at least up to a point, they do not necessarily correlate with artistic merit. I mean, Journey and Foreigner and [insert whatever bands you hate] probably had plenty of ambition and determination too, and we’re all worse off for it.

    It was quite a thrill to see my question answered this morning…thank you so much! Great analysis on the Stones and Billy Joel as well…l love Question Time!

    Thanks for sending in your question, Ron. Sorry we don’t agree on the Mets’ uniforms, but at least we agree about being Mets fans!

    As I got older I started to embrace their look more and more…I do have a fondness for their henley jerseys(78-82) and was never too crazy about the racing stripes. We can agree that greatness was finally restored in 2012.

    Favorite book cover? Mine.

    A life “mayo” free? I can’t imagine my Hoosier tenderloin without lettuce, tomato, pickle and MAYO! yummy! > Edwards on Sherman drive in Indianapolis is where its at.

    When I first saw “book covers” I thought of these

    I’m thinking you mean dust jackets. And, really, there are as many of those as album covers. Too many to just name a few.

    “Most NFL numbers are either boilerplate block or some ridiculous custom font” – A lot of us think the Steelers have one of those ridiculous fonts: very casual, very laid-back.

    One of the things I point out to people is that printed items that are held in your dominant hand (pens, pencils, tubes of lip balm) are right-handed. A good example is the upside-down lettering on the pen you’re holding.

    I agree with you comments on filet mignon. Same with natural casing – no way it is the same recipe as skinless. And great shout out to Teds.

    I’m thinking you mean dust jackets.

    Most hardcovers have dust jackets. But paperbacks and some hardcovers have covers.

    I worked in book publishing for nearly a decade before becoming a full-time journalist. In the offices where I worked, all of these were simply referred to as cover designs.

    As a kid I always sat in “box seats” at the old Toledo Mudhens Stadium in the early 70’s along the 3B side that my dad got through his job. Hated the railings always were in the way until one day on a checked swing by a left-handed batter the foul ball came screaming right at me, my dad and two buddies that came along. We all froze with no time to duck. The ball hit the “box seat” railing and careened up above us harmlessly. Thus , in at least one case, sitting in a box seat saved us from harm!

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