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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Most Meritorious Player: 1981 Discussion

The strike, differences in games played by team and the goofy playoff system for 1981 will make evaluations more complicated than most seasons.

MMP voting will end on May 2 2013.

Player			SH WS		BBR WAR
Schmidt, Mike		29.9		7.7
Evans, Dwight		25.8		6.7
Thomas, Gorman		20.1		3.1
Armas, Tony		17.9		4.2
Dawson, Andre		24.9		7.4
Murphy, Dwayne		20.3		4.3
Grich, Bobby		20.8		5.4
Henderson, Rickey	26.7		6.6
Yount, Robin		20.0		4.9
Burleson, Rick		17.2		4.5
Concepcion, David	20.3		3.7
Foster, George		24.4		3.6
Bell, Buddy		18.0		6.2
Trammell, Alan		14.2		3.8
Murray, Eddie		21.0		3.8
Hernandez, Keith	19.9		4.2
Cooper, Cecil		22.3		3.8
Carter, Gary		18.0		3.8
Sundberg, Jim		17.1		4.0
Kemp, Steve		17.3		3.8
Paciorek, Tom				4.3

Pitcher 		SH WS		BBR WAR
Valenzuela, Fernando	16.7		5.3
McCatty, Steve		18.0		4.6
Blyleven, Bert		14.6		5.6
Carlton, Steve		15.8		5.5
Ryan, Nolan		14.6		5.1
Stieb, Dave		14.5		4.5
Righetti, Dave		10.3		3.5
Knepper, Bob		12.9		3.7
Seaver, Tom		16.1		4.4
Reuss, Jerry		13.4		4.3
Hooton, Burt		12.8		3.7
Morris, Jack		15.4		3.4
Leonard, Dennis		13.6		3.4
Burns, Britt		11.4		4.0
Gura, Larry		13.1		3.7


Fingers, Rollie		17.2		4.3
Camp, Rick		13.9		2.6

 

DL from MN Posted: April 03, 2013 at 06:15 PM | 72 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DL from MN Posted: April 03, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4403547)
bump
   2. Chris Fluit Posted: April 03, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4403575)
Should be Schmidt at the top of the ballot for me though I won't know definitively until I've done my full season work-up.
   3. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:56 PM (#4403730)
Very weird season with a lot of adjustments that I'm not entirely sure how to deal with. In past seasons, I've weighted postseason games the same as any other game, but with the shorter regular season and the extra round of playoffs, that would lead to giving the postseason a much larger weight in 1981 than in previous seasons. Which would end up giving a lot more credit to Dodgers (who won the World Series) than Reds (who didn't make the playoffs), which segues into the next weirdness: the Reds had the best regular-season record in MLB and didn't make the playoffs.

At what point did they announce that teams that won the first half made the playoffs? Because having clinched a playoff berth, essentially, by July, the Phillies, Dodgers, and Yankees understandably took the second half of the season off and muddled around playing .500 ball post-strike (the A's were also worse in the second half, but still more solidly over .500, which is likely a reflection of their manager; I can't see Billy Martin taking it easy in a game where somebody was keeping score). In the case of the Yankees and Dodgers, then, they managed to turn it back on for the playoffs and make it to the World Series. Should we discount the second-half stats of players on those teams and, if so, how?
   4. bjhanke Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:20 PM (#4403835)
Kiko - It's possible that I can answer the one about teams that "won" the first half (I put "won" in quotes because no one, at the time, thought that they were playing for a playoff berth). I've pieced together a bit of that and a bit of this, and come up with a story that seems right. If anyone actually knows for sure something that I have wrong, please help me there.

The deal is this: According to my sources, Bowie Kuhn was Walter O'Malley's man, which means he would favor the Dodgers if he got a chance. When Kuhn said, just about when the strike ended, that it would be first half against second half, lots of people raised the question of what would happen if some team had the best overall record in the division, but did not "win" either half. This didn't seem like a big deal, as surely the team that was best overall would win one of the two halves. But, by September, it was becoming clear that there were two real chances of this happening. Both the Reds and the Cardinals looked like they might actually "win" their division, but neither half. Fans pretty much assumed that Kuhn would change the playoff structure if that did happen, but he did not back down, and sure enough, the Cards and Reds won their divisions without winning either half, so they got shut out. Why? Because any other structure would involved eliminating the first half "wins" because the teams were not aware that they needed to be in first place when the strike started. And the Dodgers only "won" the first half, so Bowie had to find a way to include them. He was O'Malley's man.

As you might imagine, the owners of the Reds and Cards were not pleased. Also, there were already two owners who hated Bowie's guts, and regularly voted to fire him. At the time, it took only five "fire him" votes to remove a commissioner, so the Reds and Cards only needed one more vote.

I have to back up a bit, because at this point, Willie McGee enters the picture. The Yankees had dropped McGee off their 40-man roster in the offseason of 1981 to sign veteran Dave Collins. Whitey Herzog, running the Cardinals, was familiar with the Yankee farm system, and realized that they had just underestimated Willie's potential. So Whitey traded a medicore pitching prospect, Bob Sykes, to the Yanks for Willie. Well, Sykes didn't amount to anything, while Willie finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting for 1982. The Boss (Steinbrenner) started to take some heat from his fans. Steinbrenner did not react well to taking heat.

So, Gussie Busch, the owner of the Cards, offered Big George a deal. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Sykes/McGee trade turned out to have a "player to be named later", which had never been announced before. This player, who the Cards sent to the Yanks as, essentially, a bribe, was Bobby Meacham, a Cardinal first-round pick shortstop (8th overall his year). Well, the Cards were hardly hurting at shortstop (Ozzie), nor at any other infield position, so they could afford to give Meacham away. And that took the heat off of Steinbrenner, especially when Meacham put in about five years of backup middle infield play.

What was George supposed to do, in order to get this "player to be named later?" He voted to remove Bowie Kuhn, providing the critical fifth vote. Kuhn was allowed to stay on through the 1984 season, but then was gone.

Does that answer your questions, Kiko? Nothing in the wikipedia article on Kuhn mentions any of this. I doubt that anyone in baseball was sure that the first half "winners" would make the playoffs, except Walter O'Malley, so I'm not inclined at all to discount play in this year, except that, compared to other years, it's a short season. Every team except the Dodgers had serious reasons to play hard in the second half; most people thought it would come down to the second half vs. the overall season winner. The teams leading at the strike had no reason to just phone it in, except maybe the Dodgers. Again, if I have a fact or timing wrong here, please let me know. - Brock Hanke
   5. Rob_Wood Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4403850)
They definitely announced the split season playoff system when the strike was settled, so everybody knew it at that time. Maybe Brock thinks that the announced system would be scrapped in the event that some team (e.g. Reds) would have best overall record but win neither half, but I cannot believe that would ever happen.
   6. John DiFool2 Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:52 PM (#4403865)
I recall that season, and how the Reds (whom I rooted for at the time) got jobbed out of that (bogus) 1st half title simply because they were 1/2 of a game behind the Dodgers when the strike started-with a game in hand. Yet they were not given the opportunity to either make the game up or play the Dodgers in a playoff game to settle the 1st half of the season.
   7. DanG Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:44 PM (#4403903)
Relief pitchers. Sammy Stewart averaged 3-2/3 IP per relief appearance and led the AL in ERA, although it wasn't recognized at the time.

Rk            Player WAR ERASV    WPA  WHIP GF GS    IP Age  Tm Lg  G W L  ERA   BA OPS+
1     Rollie Fingers 4.2  333 28  3.415 0.872 41  0  78.0  34 MIL AL 47 6 3 1.04 .198   50
2      Sammy Stewart 3.2  157  4  0.931 1.300 18  3 112.1  26 BAL AL 29 4 8 2.32 .225   83
3          Rick Camp 2.8  204 17  1.323 1.053 33  0  76.0  28 ATL NL 48 9 3 1.78 .239   74
4       Doug Corbett 2.8  155 17 
-1.661 1.300 45  0  87.2  28 MIN AL 54 2 6 2.57 .239   80
5           Don Aase 2.3  156 11  1.739 1.224 32  0  65.1  26 CAL AL 39 4 4 2.34 .234   84
6       Rich Gossage 2.3  465 20  1.746 0.771 30  0  46.2  29 NYY AL 32 3 2 0.77 .141   21
7         Al Holland 2.2  142  7  1.694 1.301 23  3 100.2  28 SFG NL 47 7 5 2.41 .233   84
8       Kent Tekulve 2.1  147  3  0.235 1.200 27  0  65.0  34 PIT NL 45 5 5 2.49 .250   79
9         Gary Lucas 2.1  165 13  0.453 1.267 40  0  90.0  26 SDP NL 57 7 7 2.00 .247   86
10   Dan Quisenberry 2.1  209 18  2.120 1.187 35  0  62.1  28 KCR AL 40 1 4 1.73 .258   82
11      Jeff Reardon 2.0  163  8  2.372 0.981 33  0  70.1  25 TOT NL 43 3 0 2.18 .190   66
12      Dan Spillner 2.0  117  7 
-0.308 1.284 21  5  97.1  29 CLE AL 32 4 4 3.14 .240   88
13       Greg Minton 1.7  119 21  0.931 1.423 44  0  84.1  29 SFG NL 55 4 5 2.88 .268   89
14      Bruce Sutter 1.6  136 25  0.888 1.069 36  0  82.1  28 STL NL 48 3 5 2.62 .218   79
15         Ron Davis 1.6  132  6  1.142 0.986 22  0  73.0  25 NYY AL 43 4 5 2.71 .186   58
16     Kevin Saucier 1.6  230 13  1.544 0.959 23  0  49.0  24 DET AL 38 4 2 1.65 .160   37 
   8. DL from MN Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4404162)
1981 All-Stars

1B - Keith Hernandez
2B - Bobby Grich
SS - Robin Yount
3B - Mike Schmidt
LF - Rickey Henderson
CF - Andre Dawson
RF - Dwight Evans
C - Jim Sundberg

SP - Steve McCatty, Bert Blyleven, Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan
RP - Rollie Fingers
   9. DL from MN Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4404166)
I have to say Steve McCatty was pretty much lost in baseball history to Fernando Mania.
   10. DL from MN Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4404184)
1981 prelim - no postseason credit yet

Pretty sure Dan R's WARP2 smooths out the differences in games played

1) Mike Schmidt - not sure how this won't be unanimous
2) Dwight Evans
3) Andre Dawson
4) Bobby Grich
5) Rickey Henderson
6) Robin Yount
7) Rick Burleson
8) Steve McCatty - down year for pitchers
9) Dave Concepcion
10) Bert Blyleven
11) Fernando Valenzuela
12) Buddy Bell
13) Steve Carlton
14) Nolan Ryan
15) Keith Hernandez - 13 to 15 are tied

16-20) Dave Steib, Alan Trammell, Bill Madlock, Eddie Murray, Rollie Fingers

Fingers could move up quite a bit, I haven't worked him up fully yet
   11. Chris Fluit Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:20 PM (#4404905)
McCatty was a pretty good minor league pitching coach for a while. I can't remember if he was in the A's or Tigers system but he was very well respected.
   12. DL from MN Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:54 AM (#4405088)
I'm pretty sure the WAR/WS numbers at the top are NOT adjusted to normalize games played.
   13. Mr. C Posted: April 06, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4406066)
re the position players on DLs all star team in post 8.

I have only a slight disagreement on two positions. At 1B, Hernandez is a worthy candidate. but I would give a slight edge to Murray. Although my final evaluation for defense may tip the scale back the other way.

At C, Carter comes about a half a win better than Sundberg.

   14. EricC Posted: April 07, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4406659)
1981 prelim. 4th time voting, first time that no catcher gets any points.
Win Shares-heavy system with significant consideration of relative
performance at one's position, which helps Grich, Yount, and, to a lesser
extent, Concepcion.

1. Mike Schmidt
2. Dwight Evans
3. Rickey Henderson
4. Bobby Grich
5. Robin Yount
6. Andre Dawson
7. Steve McCatty
8. Cecil Cooper
9. Eddie Murray
10. Dave Concepcion
11. Nolan Ryan
12. George Foster
13. Steve Carlton
14-20. Jim Sundberg, Rollie Fingers, Gary Carter, Rick Burleson,
Keith Hernandez, Gorman Thomas, Tony Armas
Top DH: Greg Luzinksi

Buddy Bell has an impressive 6.2 WAR (can't tell whether this is adjusted for
the season length or not), but a conservative view on defense, and a system
that doesn't do 3B any favors, keeps him off my ballot. I may have him
underrated.
   15. Mr. C Posted: April 07, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4407083)
1981 Preliminary Ballot

Start with RAA based on value added runs. For hitters, I adjust for park, position and defense. For pitchers I adjust for level of competition, defense and park and role (starter or reliever). I then convert to WAA. I reduce replacement runs to 60% of normal replacement and this gives WARR (Wins above reduced replacement).

Note: for the preliminary ballot the defense values based only on TZ values. I have yet to incorporate DRA into my evaluation.

1. Mike Schmidt 7.5 WARR Amazing
2. Buddy Bell 6.5 WARR Excellent defense boosts his ranking
3. Dwight Evans 6.1 WARR
4. Andre Dawson 5.6 WARR
5. Ricky Henderson 5.35 WARR
6. Dwayne Murphy 5.1 WARR
7. Fernando Valenzuela 5.05 WARR Good hitting boosts him above Carlton as most valuable NL pitcher
8. Robin Yount 5.05 WARR
9. Steve Carlton 4.94 WARR
10. George Foster 4.75 WARR
11. Bobby Grich 4.45 WARR
12. Tony Armas 4.35 WARR
13. Tim Raines 4.20 WARR

Rest of the top 20
14. Bert Blyleven
15. Tom Seaver
16. Gary Carter
17. Nolan Ryan
18. Ken Oberkfell
19. Dave Stieb
20. Jerry Reuss
   16. lieiam Posted: April 07, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4407153)
prelim ballot:
my usual "uber-stat blender" system with a 10% catcher bonus and no postseason bonus.
Schmidt came out on top in all 6 systems I use.

1 Schmidt, Mike 10000
2 Henderson, Rickey 8389
3 Evans, Dwight 8296
4 Dawson, Andre 8169
5 Grich, Bobby 6822
6 Bell, Buddy 6451
7 Valenzuela, Fernando 6253
8 Carlton, Steve 6033
9 Foster, George 6013
10 Yount, Robin 5958
11 Cooper, Cecil 5753
12 Hernandez, Keith 5657
13 Murphy, Dwayne 5593

14 Blyleven, Bert 5522
15 Ryan, Nolan 5470
16 Murray, Eddie 5363
17 Burleson, Rick 5293
18 McCatty, Steve 5198
19 Fingers, Rollie 5175
20 Concepcion, Dave 5159

Schmidt on top pretty easily, then a 3 way battle amongst Henderson, Dw. Evans and Dawson.
As a Dodgers fan I'm especially pleased to see Valenzuela nip Carlton for top pitcher in my system (plus, despite the strike, I have very fond memories of my 2nd year following baseball as the Dodgers won the Series). What a mess it was, though, with the weird split season format.
   17. DL from MN Posted: April 07, 2013 at 11:08 PM (#4407205)
Have to remember that Henderson is going to accumulate more "wins" due to his position in the batting order.
   18. DL from MN Posted: April 08, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4407603)
Re: 1981, the absence of warm-weather months (I do imagine) had a lot to do with the suppressed offense, particularly the suppressed HR totals. It's a mini-outlier in that respect; the main point when you look at the full TTO graf is that a consistent upward trajectory was interrupted in the period from the mid-'60s to 1992 or so (by monkeying with mounds & strike zones & cavernous stadiums), and then picked up basically exactly where it would have left off. Perhaps this is something close to the natural evolution of the sport, if such a thing exists?


Lifted from another thread, thought it was relevant to the discussion
   19. bjhanke Posted: April 16, 2013 at 03:26 AM (#4415404)
DL - This is only sort-of related to this topic, but I think I'm not the only guy who would bring it up. You asked us to skip the music comments until the Ballot thread was up. This has resulted in, essentially, the music threads dying off. If that's what you wanted, then you did a great job, but I'm not sure that's what you were trying to do because, if I remember right, you were involved in the music discussions, too. I have noticed that there's a related issue, which is when people actually stop posting on the discussion thread. This thread, for example, was started up on April 3. The last post before this one is yours from April 8. It's currently the late night of April 15. This has been the pattern for a few years of MMP now - the discussion thread grinds to a halt about a week after it's first posted up, except for the occasional prelim.

So, would you mind asking us not to wait until the Ballot thread goes up, but just until the Discussion thread has been up for a week? By then, the actual baseball discussion is close to being over, and there's still two weeks before the Ballot thread goes up. Savoy BG, Ilieam, and I might very well make good musical use of those two weeks, as might you. There is value here, in music. We're talking year by year, which is a very good, but relatively rare, time frame to use. I, personally, have learned a hell of a lot in those discussions, particularly from Savoy, who approaches music from the exact opposite viewpoint than I use. I'd like the discussions back, baseball site though this is. So, how about it?

Thanks in any case, just for putting up with my noise, - Brock Hanke
   20. DL from MN Posted: April 16, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4415517)
I'd really like more discussion on the 1981 season at this point. I can't believe nobody here has a perspective on how to approach the screwy schedule and how to adjust credit.

Sunnyday was the instigator for the music discussion and I think the fact that we're in the 1980s is part of the reason for the decline.
   21. DL from MN Posted: April 19, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4419376)
Brock - not much discussion of 1979 in music if you're looking to discuss music.
   22. DL from MN Posted: April 19, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4419380)
Playoff credit NL LDS

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SB CS
Dawson 5 20 1 6 0 1 0 0 1 6 .300 .333 .400 .733 2 0

Schmidt 5 16 3 4 1 0 1 2 4 2 .250 .400 .500 .900 0 0

Pitcher G GS ERA W L SV CG IP H ER BB SO WHIP
Carlton 2 2 3.86 0 2 0 0 14.0 14 6 8 13 1.571 (8 walks!)

Vlnzuela 2 2 1.06 1 0 0 1 17.0 10 2 3 10 0.765
BHooton 1 1 1.29 1 0 0 0 7.0 3 1 3 2 0.857
JeReuss 2 2 0.00 1 0 0 1 18.0 10 0 5 7 0.833

NoRyan 2 2 1.80 1 1 0 1 15.0 6 3 3 14 0.600
Knepper 1 1 5.40 0 1 0 0 5.0 6 3 2 4 1.600
   23. DL from MN Posted: April 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4419398)
Playoff credit AL LDS

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SB CS
Reggie! 5 20 4 6 0 0 2 4 1 5 .300 .333 .600 .933 0 0
Winfield 5 20 2 7 2 1 0 0 1 5 .350 .381 .550 .931 0 0 (Mr. May?)

Yount 5 19 4 6 0 1 0 1 2 2 .316 .364 .421 .785 1 0

Rickey! 3 11 3 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 .182 .308 .182 .490 2 1

Pitcher G GS ERA W L SV CG IP H ER BB SO WHIP
Righetti 2 1 1.00 2 0 0 0 9.0 8 1 3 13 1.222

Fingers 3 0 3.86 1 0 1 0 4.2 7 2 1 5 1.714

McCatty 1 1 1.00 1 0 0 1 9.0 6 1 4 3 1.111 (low scoring series, Oakland ERA was 0.67 and KC was 2.08)
   24. DL from MN Posted: April 19, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4419404)
Playoff credit NLCS

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SB CS
Dawson 5 20 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 4 .150 .150 .150 .300 0 0 (ugh)

Pitcher G GS ERA W L SV CG IP H ER BB SO WHIP
Vlnzuela 2 2 2.45 1 1 0 0 14.2 10 4 5 10 1.023
BHooton 2 2 0.00 2 0 0 0 14.2 11 0 6 7 1.159
JeReuss 1 1 5.14 0 1 0 0 7.0 7 4 1 2 1.143
   25. DL from MN Posted: April 19, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4419408)
Playoff credit ALCS

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SB CS
Reggie! 2 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 .000 .200 .000 .200 1 0
Winfield 3 13 2 2 1 0 0 2 2 2 .154 .267 .231 .497 1 0

Rickey! 3 11 0 4 2 1 0 1 1 2 .364 .417 .727 1.144 2 0

Pitcher G GS ERA W L SV CG IP H ER BB SO WHIP
Righetti 1 1 0.00 1 0 0 0 6.0 4 0 2 4 1.000

McCatty 1 1 13.50 0 1 0 0 3.1 6 5 2 2 2.400 *ouch*
   26. DL from MN Posted: April 19, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4419412)
Playoff credit WS

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SB CS
Reggie! 3 12 3 4 1 0 1 1 2 3 .333 .429 .667 1.095 0 0
Winfield 6 22 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 4 .045 .222 .045 .268 1 0

Pitcher G GS ERA W L SV CG IP H ER BB SO WHIP
Righetti 1 1 13.50 0 0 0 0 2.0 5 3 2 1 3.500

Vlnzuela 1 1 4.00 1 0 0 1 9.0 9 4 7 6 1.778
BHooton 2 2 1.59 1 1 0 0 11.1 8 2 9 3 1.500
JeReuss 2 2 3.86 1 1 0 1 11.2 10 5 3 8 1.114
   27. DL from MN Posted: April 19, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4419460)
Forgot George Foster in my prelim, he may grab my last ballot slot
   28. Chris Fluit Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4422488)
1981 Prelim- NL Only

1. Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies: simply dominant, with a 198 OPS+ and +9 fielding
2. Andre Dawson, CF, Expos: a 157 OPS+ and +18 fielding in center make this one of the Hawk's premier seasons
3. Nolan Ryan, P, Astros: leads the NL in ERA+ with 195; though he doesn't crack the top ten in innings
4. Steve Carlton, P, Phillies: a very nice follow-up to his excellent 1980
5. Fernando Valenzuela, P, Dodgers: a great rookie campaign with a league leading 192 innings; no extra points for causing mania
6. George Foster, LF, Reds: 150 OPS+
7. Bill Madlock, 3B, Pirates: a 153 OPS+ at a tougher defensive position than Foster but Madlock got dinged for playing in fewer of his team's games (82 for Madlock compared to 108 for Foster)
8. Keith Hernandez, 1B, Cardinals: Essentially tied with Madlock for 8th, a 142 OPS+ and +8 fielding
9. Tom Seaver, P, Reds: the combination of rate and bulk helps Tom Terrific make the consideration set
10. Gary Carter, C, Expos: +13 fielding runs and a 112 OPS+ from a glove position

this ended up being one of the most challenging years as teams played a different number of games due to the strike.
   29. DL from MN Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4423125)
40.2 additional innings in the playoffs for Valenzuela is going to put him at the top of my pitchers.
   30. DL from MN Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4424492)
1981 is up for music discussion, ballot thread is posted
   31. Rob_Wood Posted: April 24, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4424762)

Here is my Win Values stat for 1981 -- my estimate of how many wins above average each starting pitcher contributed to his team based upon an examination of his game-by-game runs support and runs allowed:

NL
--
1. Fernando Valenzuela 3.6
2. Bob Knepper 2.8
3. Steve Carlton 2.7
4. Nolan Ryan 2.7
5. Tom Seaver 2.6
6. Burt Hooton 2.5
7. Jerry Reuss 2.4
8. Vida Blue 1.9
9. Mario Soto 1.5
10. Bill Gullickson 1.5

AL
--
1. Steve McCatty 3.0
2. Jack Morris 2.9
3. Dave Righetti 2.6
4. Milt Wilcox 2.4
5. Dave Stieb 2.3
6. Larry Gura 2.1
7. Ron Guidry 2.1
8. Jim Beattie 2.0
9. Bert Blyleven 2.0
10. Dennis Martinez 1.9
   32. SavoyBG Posted: April 26, 2013 at 09:15 AM (#4426133)
MY FAVORITE RECORDS OF 1981

1. Hepno Beat - Dynamic Hepnotics
2. Rock This Town - Stray Cats
3. Give It To Me, Baby - Rick James
4. Tainted Love - Soft Cell
5. You're The One For Me - "D" Train
6. Beat My Guest - Adam and the Ants
7. Little Pig - Polecats
8. Swords of a Thousand men - Ten Pole Tudor
9. Going Left Right - Department S
10. The Sound of the Crowd - Human League
11. Mony Mony - Billy Idol
12. To Hell With Poverty - Gang of Four
13. I'm Shakin' - Blasters
14. Super Freak - Rick James
15. Dance With You - BB King
16. Tube Snake Boogie - ZZ Top
17. This is Radio Clash - Clash
18. Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode
19. Start Me Up - Rolling Stones
20. Stary Cat Strut - Stray Cats
21. Get Down On It - Kool & the Gang
22. Working For The Weekend - Loverboy
23. Someday, Someway - Robert Gordon
24. The Breakup Song - Greg Kihn Band
25. Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag- Pigbag

   33. Chris Fluit Posted: April 26, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4426156)
We're one year away from the point at which I became aware of professional baseball and two years away from the point at which I became aware of popular music. So there are a lot of songs on that list that I've never heard of. But Tainted Love ranks as one of the greatest ever cover songs- a completely different take that supersedes the original (kind of like Arethra Franklin's Respect or Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower). Mony Mony is great too, but I'm more familiar with the later live release. Start Me Up is a classic song- one of the Stones' best. I really like that entire album (Tattoo You) though it took me a couple of listens to get used to the unusual song division (hard stuff on one side, softer stuff on the other). I'd include Waiting on a Friend from the softer side on my list of best songs of the year. Finally, I love the mix of genres in your list. It's cool to see funk, new wave and rockabilly shoulder to shoulder (Superfreak, I Just Can't Get Enough, and Rock This Town).
   34. DL from MN Posted: April 26, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4426229)
1981 music favorites

Mission of Burma - Signals, Calls and Marches
Minutemen - Joy, The Punch Line

If those were the only records released in 1981 that would be enough.

Kraftwerk - Computer World
Gang of Four - Solid Gold
X - Wild Gift
Einsturzende Neubauten - Kollaps
New Order - Movement
Cabaret Voltaire - Red Mecca
Minor Threat - S/T, In My Eyes
AC/DC - For Those About To Rock We Salute You
Devo - New Traditionalists
Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat
The Birthday Party - Prayers on Fire
Black Flag - Damaged
Rolling Stones - Tattoo You
Foetus - Deaf
Bauhaus - Mask
Ramones - Pleasant Dreams
This Heat - Deceit
Joan Jett - I Love Rock'n'Roll
Dead Kennedys - In God We Trust Inc
Elvis Costello - Trust
PIL - The Flowers of Romance
The Vapors - Magnets

I agree with the love for Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" but I don't really like the rest of the album much. There is probably a bunch of early hip-hop I'm completely overlooking.
   35. caiman Posted: April 26, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4426246)
Here's my list of the top AL Hitters, in terms of runs produced in 1981:

Dwight Evans OF 29 Boston 30.96
Rickey Henderson OF 22 Oakland 25.16
Eddie Murray 1B 25 Baltimore 21.55
Greg Luzinski DH 30 Chicago 20.99
Willie Aikens 1B 26 Kansas City 20.87
Bobby Grich 2B 32 California 20.82
Mike Hargrove 1B 31 Cleveland 19.87
Dwayne Murphy OF 26 Oakland 19.71
Gorman Thomas OF 30 Milwaukee 19.15
Tom Paciorek OF 34 Seattle 19.04
Cecil Cooper 1B 31 Milwaukee 18.79
Buddy Bell 3B 29 Texas 18.75
Ken Singleton OF 34 Baltimore 17.47
Chet Lemon OF 26 Chicago 17.02
Toby Harrah 3B 32 Cleveland 16.58
Dave Winfield OF 29 New York 16.56
   36. caiman Posted: April 26, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4426247)
Here's my list of top AL pitchers in 1981:

Dave Stieb 11-10 23 Toronto 21.48
Jack Morris 14-7 26 Detroit 16.77
Larry Gura 11-8 33 Kansas City 16.43
Ken Forsch 11-7 34 California 16.30
Dave Righetti 8-4 22 New York 15.85
Steve McCAtty 14-7 27 New York 13.66
Dennis Lamp 7-6 28 Chicago 12.85
Rollie Fingers 6-3 24 Milwaukee 12.72
Dennis Eckersley 9-8 26 Boston 10.07
   37. caiman Posted: April 26, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4426248)
Here's my list of top NL hitters in 1981:

Mike Schmidt 3B 31 Philadelphia 30.13
Andre Dawson OF 26 Montreal 25.43
George Foster OF 32 Cincinnati 23.03
Jason Thompson 1B 26 Pittsburgh 21.80
Bill Madlock 3B 30 Pittsburgh 19.23
Tim Raines OF 21 Montreal 19.08
Keith Hernandez 1B 27 St. Louis 18.20
Rick Monday OF 35 Los Angeles 18.17
Ron Cey 3B 33 Los Angeles 17.41
Gene Richards OF 27 San Diego 16.18
Jose Cruz OF 33 Houston 14.87
Dusty Baker OF 32 Los Angeles 14.34
Art Howe 3B 34 Houston 13.69
George Hendrick OF 31 St. Louis 13.69
Gary Matthews OF 30 Philadelphia 13.42
   38. caiman Posted: April 26, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4426254)
Here's my list of the top NL pitchers I 1981:

Steve Carlton 13-4 36 Philadelphia 23.16
Fernando Valenzuela 13-7 20 Los Angeles 16.66
Bill Gullickson 7-9 22 Montreal 14.03
Tom Seaver 14-2 36 Cincinnati 13.38
Burt Hooton 11-6 31 Los Angeles 13.19
Jerry Reuss 10-4 32 Los Angeles 11.39
   39. SavoyBG Posted: April 26, 2013 at 02:28 PM (#4426381)
DL - another music list with all white people. huh?
   40. Chris Fluit Posted: April 26, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4426451)
1981 Prelim - AL Only

1. Dwight Evans, RF, Red Sox: 163 OPS+ with +14 fielding runs
2. Bobby Grich, 2B, Angels: 165 OPS+ with + 4 fielding runs
3. Rickey Henderson, LF, Athletics: Surprised to see Rickey contributing more with his glove than with his speed at this stage of his career
4. Steve McCatty, P, Athletics: 3rd in ERA+, 4th in IP, only AL starter in top five in both categories
5. Rollie Fingers, RP, Brewers: a big workload (78 innings in 109 games) and an even better ERA+ (333)
6. Dennis Leonard, P, Royals: 201 innings with a 120 ERA+
7. Tom Paciorek, 1B, Mariners: learn something new every season; this time, it's the surprising discovery of Paciorek's career year
8. Jack Morris, P, Tigers: 198 innings with a 124 ERA+
9. Buddy Bell, 3B, Rangers: love the +27 fielding runs
10. Larry Gura, P, Royals: the Orioles staff did better in the Cy Young voting over the years (Stone, Flanagan, etc.) but the Royals' high usage and solid ERA+ numbers fare better for my ballots
   41. Chris Fluit Posted: April 26, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4426460)
1981 Prelim- Combined

1. Mike Schmidt, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies: 198 OPS+ and 102 runs created both lead majors; add in +9 fielding runs and you have one of the most dominant seasons we've ever seen
2. Dwight Evans, RF, Boston Red Sox: 2nd in the AL in OPS+, 1st in RC, with +14 fielding runs in front of the Green Monster
3. Andre Dawson, CF, Montreal Expos: 157 OPS+ and +18 fielding runs in center
4. Bobby Grich, 2B, California Angels: 1st in AL in OPS+ but not the great fielding year we've seen from Grich in the past
5. Nolan Ryan, P, Houston Astros: leads the NL in ERA+ with 195
6. Rickey Henderson, LF, Oakland Athletics: a 151 OPS+ with +22 fielding runs
7. Steve Carlton, P, Philadelphia Phillies: a 151 ERA+ in 190 innings
8. Steve McCatty, P, Oakland Athletics: the best pitcher in the AL and the only one in the top five in both IP and ERA+
9. Rollie Fingers, RP, Milwaukee Brewers: an unearthly 333 ERA+ (1.04 ERA)
10. Fernando Valenzuela, P, Los Angeles Dodgers: 192 innings with a 135 ERA+; no extra bonus for causing "mania"
11. Dennis Leonard, P, Kansas City Royals: a 120 ERA+ in 201 innings for a team that played the fewest games in the majors
12. Tom Paciorek, 1B, Seattle Mariners: a career best 151 OPS+
13. Jack Morris, P, Detroit Tigers: 198 innings with a 124 ERA+

And the rest:
14. Buddy Bell, 3B, Texas Rangers: love the +27 fielding runs but he falls a hair short of this ballot
15. Larry Gura, P, Kansas City Royals
16. George Foster, LF, Cincinnati Reds
17. Bill Madlock, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
18. Keith Hernandez, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
19. Eddie Murray, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
20. Tom Seaver, P, Cincinnati Reds
   42. DL from MN Posted: April 26, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4426489)
DL - another music list with all white people. huh?


Yeah, another list of albums. 1981 was pretty sparse for albums in black music. I dug around and I'd have to stick with Kool and the Gang for 1981. Rick James has a couple great singles but the album is dodgy. Prince hasn't hit his stride yet. Sugar Hill Gang didn't release an album in 1981.

I also found Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love in the list of singles and I have to say I like that one as much as Tainted Love.
   43. AndrewJ Posted: April 26, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4426531)
Re: 1981, the absence of warm-weather months (I do imagine) had a lot to do with the suppressed offense, particularly the suppressed HR totals.

Yikes -- could Schmidt have hit 50+ homers in a complete 1981?
   44. lieiam Posted: April 27, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4426901)
A lot of albums I like came out this year... but I haven't taken the time to go through it all very thoroughly, so here's my 5 favorites:
1- The Wipers- Youth Of America
2- Robyn Hitchcock- Black Snake Diamond Role
3- The Stranglers- La Folie
4- Felt- Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty
5- The Comsat Angels- Sleep No More
   45. SavoyBG Posted: April 27, 2013 at 09:48 PM (#4427247)
The Wipers albums is ranked #3 for the year by the users of "Rate Your Music."

Top Albums of 1981
   46. SavoyBG Posted: April 27, 2013 at 09:49 PM (#4427248)
   47. Chris Fluit Posted: April 28, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4427329)
I know everyone has moved on to music but I'm still trying to figure out this weird season. Looking back at my ballot, I'm way too heavy on pitchers (7 as opposed to the 2-4 on most ballots). I'll probably make an adjustment before posting my final ballot which should drop Leonard and Morris off in favor of Foster and Bell.
   48. Chris Fluit Posted: April 29, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4427886)
1981 Prelim- Revised

1. Mike Schmidt, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
2. Dwight Evans, RF, Boston Red Sox
3. Andre Dawson, CF, Montreal Expos
4. Bobby Grich, 2B, California Angels
5. Nolan Ryan, P, Houston Astros
6. Rickey Henderson, LF, Oakland Athletics- the gap narrowed but not quite enough for Rickey to catch Ryan for the top five
7. Steve Carlton, P, Philadelphia Phillies
8. Rollie Fingers, RP, Milwaukee Brewers: surprisingly, Fingers moves up as McCatty and the other starters are knocked down
9. Steve McCatty, P, Oakland Athletics
10. Tom Paciorek, 1B, Seattle Mariners
11. Buddy Bell, 3B, Texas Rangers: Paciorek and Bell both jump ahead of Valenzuela after the pitching adjustment.
12. Fernando Valenzuela, P, Los Angeles Dodgers: 192 innings with a 135 ERA+; no extra bonus for causing "mania"
13. George Foster, LF, Cincinnati Reds: lucks into the last ballot spot after Leonard and Morris' demotion

The pitching adjustment wasn't drastic but it did result in reduced placement for McCatty, Valenzuela, Leonard and Morris and brought the number of pitchers on my ballot down from 7 to 5. That's still more than the average this year but not unreasonably so.

   49. bjhanke Posted: April 29, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4428133)
Oh, hey! More music!

I'm gong to list all the songs from Urgh! A Music War, and try to describe the music and stage appearance of each band. But not all in one thread, right now. Right now I'm going to tout one of the best concert films ever - Laurie Anderson's Brave New World. Anderson, as you may know, was the Big Name in performance art. She did have songs and sell records (my favorite is "Language is a Virus"), but her main line of business was touring. Her theatrical concerts were astonishing, and Brave New World is one of the best. For one, she has a Grade-A band backing her, featuring Adrian Belew on guitar. For another, she tackles a very wide range of subjects, and has the band trained to act with her instead of just playing instruments. And then she gets William Burroughs on stage to read one of her songs, a song which fits him very well. And the girl can DANCE. If you have any interest in video performances of music, you really should pick this up on DVD. Most performance art was hype backed by little payoff, but Anderson was who kept the genre alive for about ten years.

BTW, just for Savoy, the best black band of the year for me was actually in "Urgh." Steelpulse. They do Ku Klux Klan in Urgh! For those of you who don't know, Steelpulse is a British reggae band that plays very hard for reggae. I like hard reggae, which mostly means I like Peter Tosh's solo work more than I like Bob Marley's, but Steelpulse is edgy well beyond even Tosh. I've seen them play three times, and they never disappoint, nor are they a one-song wonder. They may well still exist. If you see them on a bill in your town, go get a ticket. More to come; I've got a ballot to finish. - Brock
   50. Yardape Posted: April 29, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4428693)
It took me a little longer than usual to put my ballot together. I coutned the playoffs the same as I always do, which is to say each playoff game is equal weight to a regular season game. For this season, that means the playoffs are slightly more important than usual. I'm OK with that.

1. Mike Schmidt: A fairly comfortable leader.
2. Fernando Valenzuela: Best pitcher, with a strong postseason.
3. Andre Dawson
4. Dwight Evans: AL MVP
5. Rickey Henderson: Evans had the most offensive value, Dawson the most defense, Henderson is kind of the midpoint of these three outfielders. But really fast.
6. Gary Carter: Best catcher. Sundberg may have had more defensive value, but Carter had a good offensive season.
7. Dwayne Murphy
8. Steve Carlton
9. Bobby Grich
10. George Foster
11. Nolan Ryan
12. Rick Burleson
13. Davey Concepcion

Next five: Howe, Cooper, Paciorek, Lansford, Nettles
   51. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 01, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4430459)
Sorry I'm posting this so late. It was a lousy month for me, plus 1981 is a really strange season that I'm still not entirely comfortable with. To recap, I have constructed my own Player won-lost records from Retrosheet play-by-play data. I calculate these two ways: tied to team wins/losses (pWins) and with the context neutralized (eWins). I use two metrics, then: wins over positional average and over replacement level.

For 1981, I normalized season length for all teams to 162 games. Because of the longer postseason and the somewhat more arbitrary nature of qualifying for the playoffs (see the 1981 Reds), I only weighted postseason games at 0.5 the value of regular-season games. I gave my usual catcher and relief pitcher bonuses (20%, 50%, respectively). My initial ballot seemed a bit heavy on starting pitching, so I downgraded starting pitchers a bit (-10%) and upgraded middle infielders a bit (5%). The resulting weighted leaders are here.

My top 13, then, are as follows. Numbers here are pWins - pLosses, pWOPA, pWORL, including postseason games.

1. Dwight Evans, 19.2 - 12.6, 3.0, 4.5 - I was as surprised by this as you are.
2. Mike Schmidt, 17.5 - 11.1, 2.8, 4.2 - Evans beats him on defense (~1 net wins v. 0.3 net wins) and my positional averages for 3B and RF are very close. I'm comfortable with me having Evans slightly ahead but Schmidt actually winning the MMP.
3. Fernando Valenzuela, 18.4 - 12.8, 3.6, 5.2 - great start (8-0, 0.50 ERA) and great finish (3-1, 2.21 in postseason); he might be #1 on my ballot if I weighted postseason games the same as regular season.
4. Robin Yount, 14.5 - 10.8, 2.5, 3.7 - nice prelude to 1982
5. Dwayne Murphy, 18.1 - 12.3, 2.7, 4.2 - best defensive CF in MLB by my system gets him this high on the ballot
6. Andre Dawson, 18.4 - 14.8, 1.4, 3.0 - a lousy postseason (even at only half weight) helps push him just below Murphy
7. Dave Concepcion, 15.5 - 12.1, 2.2, 3.5 - his best season, quirky playoff format denied him a chance to improve on / bulk up his regular-season numbers.
8. Rickey Henderson, 18.4 - 14.1, 1.7, 3.3 - the 2nd of about 16 straight seasons where Henderson was around this level or better.
9. Gary Carter, 14.1 - 10.6, 1.9, 3.0 - best C in MLB
10. Bobby Grich, 12.7 - 11.7, 0.8, 2.0 - my system thinks his defense had slipped to merely average by this time (BB-Ref basically agrees); also looks much better context-neutral (14.3 - 10.4, 2.3, 3.5).
11. Steve McCatty, 13.3 - 9.0, 2.3, 3.5 - second straight season my top AL pitcher is a starting pitcher from Oakland whose career flamed out early and is now largely forgotten.
12. Rollie Fingers, 7.8 - 4.0, 1.7, 2.5 - best relief pitcher in MLB and one of the best relief pitcher seasons ever when you adjust for season length. I'm never entirely sure how best to treat relief pitchers, but this feels about right for Fingers for this season.
13. Eddie Murray, 13.0 - 9.5, 1.6, 2.6 - my all-time favorite player; rates as best 1B in MLB, which clinches final ballot slot for him over a cluster of starting pitchers (Hooton, Seaver, Carlton, Ryan).

Besides the starting pitchers named above, other guys who are just off-ballot for me (roughly in order) are George Foster, Keith Hernandez, Tony Armas, and Buddy Bell.

I'll give this one more day before I post it to the ballot thread if anybody wants to raise any issues with me.
   52. DL from MN Posted: May 01, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4430486)
I can see rating the first round of playoffs as 1/2 of a game because 2x the teams had a chance to play in them (not that I did that) but the World Series is worth as much as a regular season game.
   53. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 01, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4430554)
the World Series is worth as much as a regular season game.


My problem with the 1981 playoffs isn't just that it was longer than in 1980 or 1982, but because the rules for qualifying for the playoffs were arbitrary and not known to the participants before the season started. I keep coming back to the problem that the Reds outplayed the Dodgers in the regular season and yet didn't have the same postseason opportunities. If the Reds had replaced the Dodgers in the playoffs and Tom Seaver had pitched as well as Fernando Valenzuela did, he probably would have made at least the bottom of my ballot. I realize there's always the issue of some players getting more playoff opportunities than others and those opportunities being dependent in part on one's choice of teammates (or even the quirk of geography that, for example, had the 100-win Orioles sitting out the 1980 playoffs). The arbitrariness of the 1981 playoffs just seems a bridge too far for me.

Looking at my ballot, weighting the later rounds of the playoffs as full games might push Hooton onto the bottom of my ballot (maybe as high as #11). That feels unfair to Seaver to me, but I'll think about it.
   54. Chris Fluit Posted: May 01, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4430593)
I'm surprised. I thought Schmidt was going to be our first unanimous MMP in quite some time.
   55. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 01, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4430600)
I'm surprised. I thought Schmidt was going to be our first unanimous MMP in quite some time.


He might still be. I may override my system at the top in deference to what other systems / people think.
   56. DL from MN Posted: May 01, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4430674)
Evans beats him on defense (~1 net wins v. 0.3 net wins)


This is your place you can potentially override. I have Schmidt much higher than +0.3.
   57. Chris Fluit Posted: May 01, 2013 at 01:53 PM (#4430710)
Baseball reference has Schmidt at +9 fielding runs and +1.2 defensive WAR (out of a total of 7.7 WAR) for 1981. They also see 3B as being worth +2 runs on the defensive spectrum and right field as an even 0, a little different that the almost-even positional average you cite.
   58. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 01, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4430727)
This is your place you can potentially override. I have Schmidt much higher than +0.3.


That's where I was leaning. Also, I calculate separate positional averages by season and 1981 is a bit of an outlier in terms of how close 3B and RF are relative to the surrounding seasons. I'll probably go ahead and modify my ballot to put Schmidt ahead of Evans and drop Hooton in at #11, dropping McCatty and Fingers down one and (reluctantly) putting Murray just off-ballot.
   59. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 01, 2013 at 10:58 PM (#4431398)
It's always interesting to look at music from a year that happened long ago - there's often a disconnect between what you like now from that year, and what you liked at the time. I'm a compulsive listmaker, so I have a list of what I picked as my "Best of 1981" at the time:

Best Albums:

1. "East Side Story" - Squeeze
2. "Grace and Danger" - John Martyn
3. "Arc of a Diver" - Steve Winwood
4. "Stand in the Fire" - Warren Zevon
5. "Abacab" - Genesis
6. "Ghost in the Machine" - The Police
7. "Escape Artist" - Garland Jeffreys
8. "Tattoo You" - The Rolling Stones
9. "Give the People What They Want" - The Kinks
10. "Hard Promises" - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Best Singles:

1. "Going Underground" - The Jam
2. "Jealous Guy" - Roxy Music
3. "Vienna" - Ultravox
4. "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" - Stevie Nicks w/Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Probably wouldn't pick those in that order today, but that's what I thought back then...

   60. sunnyday2 Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4432032)
As everyone knows I am a fan of a much older style of music than most of us HoMies. Yes, the dreaded Boomer Rock. Here is the best Boomer Rock of 1981. Remain in Light may have come out in 1980, I'm not sure, but I spent 1981 listening to it. You Are What You Is remains one of Frank's best--Charlie's Enormous Mouth, Heavenly Bank Account, Goblin
Girl. Fabulous. ELO, Winwood, Hall and Oates, all well into their decline phase but one last hurrah.

The Great Curve by the Talking Heads is far and away the MMS.

I must have Abacab in a different year because it would be here otherwise.

1. Remain in Light--Talking Heads
2. You Are What You Is--Frank Zappa
3. Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma--Michael Nesmith
4. The River--Bruce Springsteen
5. Gaucho--Steely Dan
6. Controversy--Prince
7. Nothing Matters and What If It Did--Johnny Cougar
8. Time--ELO
9. As Wichita Falls, So Falls Wichita Falls--Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays
10. Double Fantasy--John Lennon
11. Face Value--Phil Collins
12. Zenyatta Mondatta--The Police
13. Arc of a Diver--Steve Winwood
14. Voices --Darryl Hall and John Oates
15. Escape Artist--Garland Jeffreys

   61. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 02, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4432096)
I was in the middle of my country music phase in 1981. In no particular order:

All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down - Hank Williams Jr.
Elvira - Oak Ridge Boys
Fancy Free - Oak Ridge Boys
9 to 5 - Dolly Parton
I Love a Rainy Night - Eddie Rabbitt
Angel of the Morning - Juice Newton (although I preferred the version by Skeeter Davis back in the 60s)
Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink - Merle Haggard
Feels So Right - Alabama
Memories Are Made of This - Statler Brothers (I don't know if this was released as a single). The Drifters also covered this in the 60s.
You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma - David Frizzell/Shelly West

-- MWE
   62. bjhanke Posted: May 05, 2013 at 03:30 AM (#4434365)
In 1981, due to my inability to get the local college radio stations, I didn't know enough music to buy albums. However, I saw this movie I've been touting called Urgh! A Music War, and think that some of that stuff is worth writing about. Remember, the movie only shows one song per band (except The Police, who got two), and I'm going to add my take on the visual shows, since I know theater better than music anyway, and all I saw were videos. Most of them look like standard club dates of the time, although there's at least one outdoor festival involved. The film maker's idea was to film the best current song of each the very best underground bands he could find, and put together a movie. Damn fine job.

First, I promised Pere Ubu. My DVD doesn't list the song they played, but that doesn't make any difference to my analysis, because they were wildly over my head. Savoy might be able to comment, but not me. As far as genre, I'd say very experimental alt-rock, but that's almost a guess, given how little I know about formal music.

But then, there is the band name. "Pere Ubu" (Father Ubu in French) is the lead character in a play called Ubu Roi (King Ubu), written in the late 1890s by Alfred Jarry. The character of Pere Ubu was conjured up by Jarry and two of his friends when they were 15. The three guys wrote various adventures of Pere Ubu, but the other two guys eventually lost interest. Jarry did not. He planned a trilogy of plays, but the only work that actually got finished before Jarry died at age 34 was Ubu Roi. The plot, essentially, is that of Macbeth. Pere Ubu kills the reigning king and seizes the throne by force, whereupon everything goes to hell in a handbasket. But this plot is not exactly linear, because Ubu Roi was an experiment by Jarry and turned out to be the first really important work in the genre of surrealism, where linear plots are all but outlawed. It's also the first play that can be seriously called Theater of the Absurd. Absurd was a very influential genre in the early 20th century, because it allowed authors to write existentialist work that wasn't depressing. They could make it funny by playing with visual gags. Ubu Roi, for example, used puppets. If you've heard of Absurd, it's probably because of its consensus masterpiece, Waiting For Godot, by Samuel Beckett. It's not really similar to Ubu Roi.

Anyway, the punch line here is that Ubu Roi is probably the most scatological work of art I have ever encountered in any form. I've read Jean Genet and the Marquis de Sade. I've seen G. G. Allin literally defecate on the stage and throw the result into his concert audience. Ubu Roi doesn't have to back down from even that. Its first performance literally sparked a riot over the language, so its first run lasted only one performance, and then Jarry started producing it with puppets in the scenes where his audience could not deal with live actors. It's also the only play I know of where, if you get hold of a written copy, it's illustrated, which you obviously can't reproduce in performance. Jarry's art style looks, frankly, like the work of a very talented ten year old.

From the band's point of view, this is an in joke. The reason for my writing this little essay is to let you all in on the joke, since I doubt that most of you are theater majors, and probably have never heard of the play. Pere Ubu is doing very experimental music, and their band name is from a very experimental, very influential play. Probably only 10%, maybe less, of their audience had ever heard of the play, but those who had, including me, found the music absolutely hilarious, given the context of the band name. The band makes no attempt to actually dress up as characters from Ubu Roi. They, if I remember right, wear suits that don't exactly fit them. But, then, in surrealism, pretty much anything goes.

Wikipedia has an article on Ubu Roi that goes through most of this, except for analyzing the band. Wiki also reproduces exactly one of Jarry's illustrations, a portrait of Pere Ubu himself. If you want to check this band's influences out in more detail, try the Wiki article or go to a college library and get a copy, which will have the drawings. I have no idea how to copy the illo onto this comment. - Brock Hanke
   63. Chris Fluit Posted: May 05, 2013 at 09:29 AM (#4434383)
bjhanke, I was a theatre major before pursuing a different profession in grad school. I remember reading Ubu Roi in college (never saw it performed though) but had pretty much forgotten about it until now. Thanks for the rundown- and the run down memory lane. You're right. Jarry had enough foul language to make even Quentin Tarantino blush. I didn't think much of it at the time (hey, I was in college) but my theatre professor was particularly interested in my reaction to it. And no, we didn't cover it in class. But I did an independent study outside of class and this was one play that my professor suggested I check out on my own (she also pointed me to the work of Georg Buchner).

   64. bjhanke Posted: May 05, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4434396)
Chris - Hi! I had no idea there was a theater major on this list, not to mention one whose baseball posts I respect. Fair warning: My Master's degree and the work I put in towards a Ph. D. before I burned out is labeled "English", but it really means academic analysis of plays, as opposed to prose or poetry. I'd have majored in theater except that I can't act. I can direct, which was a surprize, but not act, so I can't really major in "Theater." I have to fake it as an "English" degree. In any case, I'm just chock full of comments on plays, and I write enough words on this list as it is. If I start getting ultra-wordy on you, feel free to ask me to shut up. I know I'm talky. But at least I didn't completely waste all those words on Pere Ubu. Thanks for letting me know that!

Based on your description, my guess is that the professor was trying to gauge your response to surrealism. (Georg Buchner counts). I would recommend the aforementioned "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett, as well as "Rhinocerous" by - my memory for names has failed me again, but there can only be one one-act play called "Rhinocerous" in the world. If she was trying to lead you to plays with, shall we say, wide verbal boundaries, I suggest pretty much anything by Jean Genet that actually uses words (some of his plays are virtually silent; it's called "Theater of the Absurd" for a reason). The Marquis de Sade also wrote and directed a play, while in prison. I've never read it, but it's probably safe to say that the language isn't clean.

For everyone else, related to music:

I just finished looking up the actual track list for Urgh! on Wiki, and it turns out that the only way you can get the DVD is to have them "burn it to order." It wasn't expensive ($14.95), but you have to go to WB.com and wade through their menus. What I was looking for was the song that Pere Ubu did, which turned out to be "Birdies." - Brock
   65. bjhanke Posted: May 05, 2013 at 10:28 AM (#4434411)
My memory kicked in. The author of Rhinocerous is Eugene Ionesco. The plot goes that humans develop the odd ability to mutate themselves into rhinos by act of will (I'm serious). This becomes the new fashion craze. The play is told from the point of view of the last person to give in to the peer pressure of the fashion fad - the last person on the stage to give in and put on his papier mache rhino head and wander around the stage in it, interacting with all the other rhino heads out there. Hilarious. Recommended. - Brock
   66. lieiam Posted: May 05, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4434651)
bjhanke-
Thanks for the description of Ubu Roi. I'm only familiar with the name (and Alfred Jarry)because of Pere Ubu. Although I'm not really a fan of Pere Ubu... I remember some songs I'd hear back in the late 80s on the radio which were fine and I heard their early stuff (and The Rocket From The Tombs stuff)was fantastic but I got... something (don't remember off the top of my head) and it didn't really do much for me. Anyway, I've always been intrigued by the little bit I'd heard about Jarry and Ubu Roi so it was cool to get a nice summation. I'm certainly curious about Urgh! A Music War... I wish it was at Netflix!
   67. Monty Posted: May 06, 2013 at 01:16 AM (#4434890)
However, I saw this movie I've been touting called Urgh! A Music War, and think that some of that stuff is worth writing about. Remember, the movie only shows one song per band (except The Police, who got two), and I'm going to add my take on the visual shows, since I know theater better than music anyway, and all I saw were videos. Most of them look like standard club dates of the time, although there's at least one outdoor festival involved. The film maker's idea was to film the best current song of each the very best underground bands he could find, and put together a movie. Damn fine job.


I look forward to seeing what you have to say about Gary Numan's bumper car.
   68. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 06, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4435025)
The author of Rhinocerous is Eugene Ionesco.

The only reason I knew this is because we played this Alphabet Game in college, where we had 2 random columns of letters, one was first initial and the second was the last initial. You got maximum points if you had a name that no other players had. So if the initial pair was FR, and multiple players had Franklin Roosevlelt, they'd each get 1 point; if you were the only one with Frank Robinson, you'd get either 2 or 3 points.
I had a wealth of sports names that always served me well. My poor friend Gary didn't like sports at all, so as an English major his only weapon were authors the rest of us never heard of.
   69. Chris Fluit Posted: May 12, 2013 at 09:09 PM (#4441343)
Chris - Hi! I had no idea there was a theater major on this list, not to mention one whose baseball posts I respect.


Thanks for that. (And sorry about the delay in my response- I've been out of town at a conference all week).


Based on your description, my guess is that the professor was trying to gauge your response to surrealism. (Georg Buchner counts). I would recommend the aforementioned "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett, as well as "Rhinocerous" by - my memory for names has failed me again, but there can only be one one-act play called "Rhinocerous" in the world. If she was trying to lead you to plays with, shall we say, wide verbal boundaries, I suggest pretty much anything by Jean Genet that actually uses words (some of his plays are virtually silent; it's called "Theater of the Absurd" for a reason). The Marquis de Sade also wrote and directed a play, while in prison. I've never read it, but it's probably safe to say that the language isn't clean.


Actually, it was the other way around. I had written a paper on Eugene Ionesco's "The Bald Soprano" for one of her classes and performed a scene from "Waiting for Godot" for another so she had more than an inkling that I was interested in offbeat stuff like surrealism. I think she was trying to steer me to some of its historic antecedents which is why she recommended Jarry and Buchner. And yes, I've read both Jeans (Genet and Cocteau) though I remember preferring Cocteau. I don't recall reading de Sade's play. However, I did read Peter Weiss's play about de Sade and the French Revolution, Marat/Sade, which was weird enough.
   70. bjhanke Posted: May 13, 2013 at 03:42 AM (#4441427)
Chris - Cool! The minute I read my first piece of Theater of the Absurd, I was hooked, and started tormenting professors with papers about it, just like you. At the time, there was a criticism book called "Theater of the Absurd", which is really good. I went and read all the plays mentioned there. If I remember right, Ionseco is mostly remembered for Rhinoceros and The Bald Soprano; they're considered his masterworks. Cocteau, I've never read, although I've heard stories....

The Gary Numan video in Urgh! is what Monty was referring to in comment #67. Essentially, Numan (New-Man, get it?) was as much a performance artist as a musician, very interested, like Laurie Anderson, in the relationship between people and modern technology. His set in Urgh! is the most elaborate and, probably, expensive of any of the bands. The background is a wall of TV screens showing stuff. Numan himself comes out in a little kids' bumper car and drives it around while singing the song, amidst some fog effects. My take is that Numan was interested in symbolism. The wall of TVs stands for what we now call "information overload." The bumper car stands for our willingness as people to involve machines in everything, even if the machines are uncomfortable and make the work more difficult for us (Numan is essentially folded up like an accordion in that bumper car). The Talking Heads' concert movie Stop Making Sense is similar - several TV or movie screens showing assorted stuff while the band plays and sings. Didn't Numan have a minor hit actually called "Cars?"

Edmundo - If you're still playing the game, here's a playwright who is hard to beat: Xavier Villarutia. I doubt there is much competition in "XV." Villarutia is somewhere between a naturalist and a romantic, sort of like Federico Garcia Lorca, although not THAT good. I ran across him in a class on Mexican Theater, back when my Spanish was good enough to read originals. To this day, I don't know if Villarutia ever had anything translated into English, but he is a well-known playwright in the Spanish-speaking world, and his initials are XV. - Brock
   71. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 13, 2013 at 03:59 AM (#4441430)
The Gary Numan video in Urgh! is what Monty was referring to in comment #67. Essentially, Numan (New-Man, get it?) was as much a performance artist as a musician, very interested, like Laurie Anderson, in the relationship between people and modern technology. His set in Urgh! is the most elaborate and, probably, expensive of any of the bands. The background is a wall of TV screens showing stuff. Numan himself comes out in a little kids' bumper car and drives it around while singing the song, amidst some fog effects. My take is that Numan was interested in symbolism. The wall of TVs stands for what we now call "information overload." The bumper car stands for our willingness as people to involve machines in everything, even if the machines are uncomfortable and make the work more difficult for us (Numan is essentially folded up like an accordion in that bumper car). The Talking Heads' concert movie Stop Making Sense is similar - several TV or movie screens showing assorted stuff while the band plays and sings. Didn't Numan have a minor hit actually called "Cars?"


"Cars" was a bit more than just a minor hit - it was a #1 hit in the UK and Canada, and made the Top Ten in the US. I'm not sure about "the bumper car stands for our willingness as people to involve machines in everything, even if the machines are uncomfortable and make the work more difficult for us"; Numan is anything but anti-machine. His major passion in life is flying airplanes. He's actually spent much of the last couple of decades concentrating not on music, but flying his historic aircraft at airshows...
   72. bjhanke Posted: May 13, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4441548)
vortex - You may well be right. Numan may have been thinking of some other symbol, or not about symbolism at all. When you're dealing with performance art music, multiple interpretations are ALWAYS in play. Thanks for the info about Cars. In 1981, I was just getting back into music. Urgh! was followed by occasional bouts with MTV. If they didn't mention it, I probably wasn't aware of it. I knew that Cars had been some sort of hit, but not THAT big a hit. It is one hell of a song. - Brock

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