January 2006 Archives for Agony & Ivy

Highbrow Hyperbole

By JCB on Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Garrison Keillor reviewed Bernard-Henri Lévy’s recent book for the New York Times last weekend, which I bring up for the following passage:

“He blows a radiator writing about baseball - "this sport that contributes to establishing people's identities and that has truly become part of their civic and patriotic religion, which is baseball" - and when, visiting Cooperstown ("this new Nazareth"), he finds out that Commissioner Bud Selig once laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington, where Abner Doubleday is also buried, Lévy goes out of his mind. An event important only to Selig and his immediate family becomes, to Lévy, an official proclamation "before the eyes of America and the world" of Abner as "the pope of the national religion . . . that day not just the town but the entire United States joined in a celebration that had the twofold merit of associating the national pastime with the traditional rural values that Fenimore Cooper's town embodies and also with the patriotic grandeur that the name Doubleday bears." Uh, actually not. Negatory on "pope" and "national" and "entire" and "most" and "embodies" and "Doubleday."”

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And Then We Move Along

By JCB on Saturday, January 28, 2006

Here it is, another Saturday night, and I’m sitting down to write. I realized this morning that I did not write anything for A & I all week, which is poor discipline on my part. Just because there is nothing to write about when you’re sitting in your recliner does not mean there is nothing to write about when you sit down at your laptop to start. So I’ve poured myself a glass of Patron Anejo to sip while I meander along again.

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Saturday Evening Meandering

By JCB on Saturday, January 21, 2006

It's finally going to rain in Austin, and to be honest, I’m struggling with what to write here. The stove is not hot, and I am not going to busy myself with statistical analyses or projections for a while longer. So, until I read something else that takes me down a line of thinking or until I sit down to write a few of the longer pieces I have in mind, I’ve got nothing. Which is to say that I need to ramble a while and see what happens.

To be honest further, I didn’t even mean to write for A & I tonight. I meant to work on another writing project. Except, I just don’t have it tonight, and it’s not the sort of thing I can force. So I have put on The Fragile from Nine Inch Nails because I just bought tickets for their March show, which reminded me that I hadn’t listened to this album in a long time. At the time this album slipped largely under the radar, but it deserved better because it’s not just good but also fascinating. I cooked pancakes with blueberries and raspberries and something called marionberries, which are delicious it turns out, and now the music is going and I’ve sat down to put something out so the night is not wasted.

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Anxious For The Story To Begin

By JCB on Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Well, it’s getting to be that time when we turn our attention more fully back to baseball. Football has ended, or it might as well have for me anyway since all the storylines I care about have closed. UT won the Rose Bowl, and Vince Young is going pro, although Houston has said they won’t draft him if Reggie Bush is available, disappointing all the fans who might be representing 713 and nodding along to Still Tippin’. But I am not one of those Houstonites.

For that matter the Bears lost in disappointing fashion. So did the Colts, and now Peyton Manning lost all the street cred he might have gained from those Mastercard commercials where he asked grocers for their autographs. New England is not going to three-peat, and that’s that. So, other than a brief occasion to party for the Super Bowl, I don’t have anything much left to interest me on the gridiron.

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Oh What A Relief He Was

By PMC on Friday, January 13, 2006

The years between the Cubs' prolonged winning if ultimately not winning it all days in the late 60s and early 70s and the Tribune Company's takeover in 1983 brought a decade of leanness -- from Whitey Lockman to George Mitterwald, Herman Franks to Dave Kingman. Sure, there were individual highlights along the way, batting titles and such, but the Cubs of that period -- my formative years as a fan -- were frustrating because for every move forward, they seemed to take two steps backward.

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Loyalty and Eras

By JCB on Thursday, January 12, 2006

With Bruce Sutter going into the Hall of Fame, my thoughts are rolling around a bit. PMc dropped me a note, reading “Been thinking about Sutter and how he helped contribute to the one blip of excitement between the Durocher era and Tribune ownership, circa 1977 getting all those saves and leading cubs to division lead until he got hurt and they wilted ( I can still see Davey Johnson's HR off his replacement Dave Giusti flying over the LF wall),” but that was before my time. I didn’t really get to know Sutter until he was with Atlanta, and only then because of baseball cards. Which is to say I didn’t know him as a player at all.

So, can I claim excitement about this as a Cubs fan? Not like Sandberg, or like Dawson if and when he makes it. I don’t have any personal experiences tied to Sutter’s era.

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Not Worse, Anyway

By JCB on Sunday, January 8, 2006

I am quoting this comment from andyrut on the View From The Bleachers, but it could have been any number of comments from any number of other websites:

As for giving it up for the Cubs brass, there are just so many question marks out there and I couldn't say that the 2006 team will be any better than the sub-.500 2005 team.
I just don’t understand this sentiment. I can’t think of a single area in which the Cubs of 2006 should be worse than 2005, and while in many respects it’s a wash, there are several important areas in which they should be better. And I’m saying this from my head, not my heart.

Let’s break it down, and start (as always) with the pitching.

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Hook 'Em, If I Can Say That

By JCB on Wednesday, January 4, 2006

6:58 PM

I’ve decided to stay home and write during the Rose Bowl. I fully intended to go to the bar district or one of the bars near UT’s campus, but I bailed at the last minute. I went for a run instead, just got out of the shower, and I have macaroni & cheese on the stove. I forgot to run to the grocery store so I’m going to be cooking without milk, but I’ve done this before and it doesn’t taste awful.

My top choice was to watch the game at the Alamo Drafthouse, the downtown view & brew featuring quirky arty movies and old classics, the sort of theater that makes one want to live in a big city because just knowing that they aired The Jerk with Steve Martin the other night while serving Pizza in a Cup just makes everyone feel cooler by association. Cool by association is a lot of what constitutes cosmopolitanism, when you break it down.

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Sincerely, JCB

I founded Agony & Ivy about five years ago for two reasons. First...


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