Month: May 2004
Go Get ‘Em, Will!
by Ken Arneson
2004-05-08 22:11

Right on. Irresponsible journalists like this one deserve all the public flogging you can give them.

Baseball Execs Buy Picasso
by Score Bard
2004-05-08 18:21

The Humbug Journal has ascertained that the bidder who purchased a Picasso for $104.1 million is a group of baseball executives headed by art collector Jeffrey Loria (owner, Florida Marlins), Bob DuPuy (President, Major League Baseball) and parking lot mogul Frank McCourt (owner, Los Angeles Dodgers).

McCourt helped the group finance the entire purchase through a series of loans, equity partnerships, and pre-arranged promotional deals. The group supplied no capital of its own to acquire the painting, titled “Boy With A Pipe”.

The first promotional deal will take place in June, when the painting will be modified slightly to participate in an advertising campaign promoting a new motion picture.

A source familiar with the Picasso group explains the promotion like this: ‘We need to reach out to a younger demographic to bring them to the museums. Our research shows that we have a huge opportunity with kids, to bring them into painting. We needed to engage them in relevant and meaningful ways. It’s the future of how we generate excitement inside the museum and about art itself.”

Picasso’s work is now relevant and meaningful.

“This is the perfect alliance between two quintessential art forms, painting and movies,” said the source. “This partnership celebrates superheroes, whether they are on the canvas or on the big screen and we are extremely excited about the opportunity to create this unique promotion.”

“It will become a part of our continuing marketing efforts to appeal to younger art lovers in new and non-traditional ways,” added the source. “We anticipate that the painting will break records at our museums and movie will be a hit in the theaters.”

[UPDATE: Our source has denied making these statements. “I never said that,” said the source. “Don’t put words into my mouth. Listen to what I say. That’s not what I said.”

Humbug regrets having said that he said what he said. It’s an isolated mistake. We’re not like that. That’s not who we are. We do not intend to step down. We will stay the course. Humbug stands by its name.]

Petco from the Getgo
by Ken Arneson
2004-05-06 18:05

When I attended college in the mid-80’s, the only kind of computer printers anyone could afford were dot-matrix. Although professors usually wanted your essays typed, they hated reading dozens of papers written with those fuzzy dots. Most professors didn’t allow dot-matrix printouts.

That meant you had to write your papers twice, the old-fashioned way: once in an original draft, and another time on a typewriter.

One time, I wrote a brilliant essay, typed it, and turned it in. When I got it back, I was shocked to find I had received a B. The professor commented: “You make some excellent points, but your paper lacks a strong thesis.”

When I went back and compared my original draft to what I had turned in, I discovered I had forgotten to type one sentence. Not just any sentence, either: I skipped the thesis sentence, the one sentence that tied the whole paper together, that expressed the very point I was trying to make.

Petco Park is like that paper. It could have been brilliant, but there’s one big flaw which drops it from being a masterpiece to merely good. The Western Metal Supply Company building, which should be a centerpiece of the park, gets lost in a sea of larger, noisier structures surrounding it.

There’s a more in-depth review, along with lots of pictures, at

Google Haiku
by Score Bard
2004-05-06 11:49

The following poem (in haiku form) consists exclusively of the top search engine keywords for this blog. That is, it uses only the words that people have googled to reach in May, in order of their frequency. I only added punctuation, and broke ties. Thanks to grapez for the idea.

Poem: free verse. Nick
Swisher, less than Greek of life.
Essay-my Swedish table.

Periodic and
baseball: the humbug nature.
A translator rhyme.

Limerick, sonnet,
acrostic: translate. Is art
blue about value?

Bard simulator.
Haiku fanimutations.
Memory for sports.

Piazza Sets Catcher HR Record
by Score Bard
2004-05-05 23:33

Piazza’s home runs are sublime.
He’s passed every catcher all-time.
It’s especially neat
That he pulled off this feat
Without playing years past his prime.

About Last Night
by Ken Arneson
2004-05-05 16:25

OGIC suggests using “Spotless Mind” technology to erase painful sports memories.

It’s a great idea. I think I’d begin by forgetting about last night. In fact, I think I’d just go ahead and erase from my mind the whole concept of the New York Yankees.

The 1988 and 1990 World Series? Didn’t happen. ALDS Game 5? What’s that? Artificial turf? Never heard of it. And what’s a Bud Selig?

Come to think of it, maybe someone already used this technique to erase the concept of “touching home plate” in the minds of some recent A’s players. Is erasing someone else’s memories a crime?

Perhaps, but if I had the chance, I’d risk jail time to enter Ray Fosse’s brain and erase the word “especially”. How much would I love to eliminate that annoyance, especially since Fosse uses especially so much, especially to create long, meandering, Faulknerian-length run-on sentences, when making an argument, and especially when he’s asking interview questions, especially since I end up listening to him over 100 times a year, on radio, and especially, on TV?

The technology isn’t real, but maybe I could use some psychological tricks to create the same effect. I’ll just build a lockbox in my brain, put these bad things in there, and throw away the key. If these things come up in conversation, I’ll just ignore them, like I can’t even recognize what the heck it is. They will bounce off me like bullets off Superman.

I feel happier already. :)

Petco Park Tour
by Score Bard
2004-05-04 17:51

I visited Petco Park on April 15th. I took a lot of pictures, and have now assembled them into a slideshow format. I have two versions:

The Art of Being Interesting
by Ken Arneson
2004-05-04 15:07

Contemplate the complex task of writing well. The long history of storytelling, the masters of the art, the years and years of apprenticeship and practice, the many tricks of the trade, the connotations and implications of choosing just the right words, in just the right order, with just the right point of view.

Then go find three lines, arranged just so.

Why Angell is so good
by Ken Arneson
2004-05-03 17:28

Some ask what makes Roger Angell so good. I’ll take a swing at that pitch.

Angell literally grew up at New Yorker magazine. His stepfather was E.B. White, a New Yorker staff writer, and author of several famous books. The New Yorker had a particular style of writing, which is actually based on an old French style of prose. That style must be as natural to Angell as breathing.

There’s a book which defines that style called Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose by Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner.

Denis Dutton has a good review of the book. The web site for the book also has a good guide to writing in classic style. Here’s an excerpt:

Classic style is not descriptive style…The classic stylist, by contrast, first perceives an interesting, not necessarily grand, truth that is worth presenting. This perception almost always involves conceptual nuance – the classic stylist would otherwise have no reason to speak, since there is no call to point out what everyone already sees.

Angell doesn’t report. He’s not interested in providing you with a list of facts. He’s not arguing a point, either. He’s presenting an idea. He lays it out like a master chef lays out a dish, and then he simply places it in front of you and assumes you’ll know what to do with it. Or, as Denis Dutton puts it:

The classic prose stylist therefore need never descend to grinding persuasion; an unobstructed view of things is always enough. Every decision of the writer is presumably the same decision that the reader would have made.

“Grinding persuasion”: is there a more apt term for so much of sabermetric writing? Between that and just plain re-reporting what’s been reported elsewhere, you’ve probably got over 90% of the baseball blogosphere.

That’s why writers like Angell and Alex Belth, who present, rather than report or persuade, are so refreshing. It need not be, but it’s rare.

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