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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Joe Posnanski: Knowing Arky

Might as well be Parkyakarkus* Vaughan.

Extreme Seinfeld reach

And then, the Royals announcers started to talk about it.

Ryan Lefebvre’s color commentator these days is Rex Hudler. I’ve never met Rex. I’ve been told he’s a wonderful guy, and I have every reason to believe that. But I will not lie: He’s the reason I don’t watch the Royals broadcast regularly anymore. His voice hits me the way Mary Hart’s voice used to hit Kramer on Seinfeld. Well it’s not the voice itself — his voice is fine — it’s the stuff he says about baseball. I’m not going to go any deeper than that; he’s not my thing.

But I was listening here and Rex saw the list and said something to the effect of, “Wow Honus Wagner. He goes all the way back to the ’30s.”

The thirties. Yeah. Honus Wagner. who is probably most famous for the T206 baseball card of 1910 (or so) that has sold for about $3 million dollars, who was a childhood hero of Babe Ruth, who may have been the greatest deadball player ever … Rex had him playing in the 1930s. When he was 60. Ugh.*

*I’m told that later in the broadcast, Rex referred to the moon as a planet. I don’t know if this is true or if it was done as a joke. I was watching the Penguins-Rangers.

So, I grimaced there but was ready to move on. Then Ryan — my pal Ryan who I greatly admire and enjoy — started going on about how he had never heard of Arky Vaughan. Never heard of him. Well, more than that, Ryan did something that bugs me: He made it seem like NO ONE has ever heard of Arky Vaughan, like it was incredibly nerdy for his name to even be on this list. I realize Ryan was just trying to get a little comedy out of the moment, but I have to say I really don’t like that. I have a lifelong aversion to people who don’t know things acting like not knowing is the default position. In high school, I once had someone make me feel really dumb because I had read Moby Dick (it was a fluke, I admit; I had not read any other classics as a kid) … and it affected me. It really did. It made me think it was uncool to know things. It made me embarrassed to raise my hand and say something because not knowing was cooler. That sort of downward pressure drives me nuts.

It is bad enough that Ryan has not heard of one of the five greatest shortstops in baseball history (Bill James ranks him second) and the 73rd greatest baseball player ever on my list (Ryan, aren’t you reading me here?). He didn’t need to keep harping on it as if Arky Vaughan was the most obscure player in the history of mankind.

Repoz Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:13 AM | 174 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, media, royals

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM (#4706460)
I realize Ryan was just trying to get a little comedy out of the moment, but I have to say I really don’t like that. I have a lifelong aversion to people who don’t know things acting like not knowing is the default position.


Amen times 1000. I HATE when people are proud of being ignorant about things. And this goes from being proud about being ignorant about climate change or international affairs, but it even bothers me when people say they are proud of not knowing about cultural things like who a certain pop singer is (the "I don't even own a TV" crowd). You shouldn't be proud of not knowing things, you should know things, and you sure as #### better know things in the field where you are paid to talk about those things on a nightly basis.
   2. McCoy Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:34 AM (#4706471)
You had me then lost me. Life is finite and there are a lot of things that take up a lot of time and are completely useless, empty, unfulfilling, and pointless. A lot of pop culture trivia and minutiae fits that bill. I shouldn't know which star injected her butt with collagen or who had it sucked and if somebody was trying to take up my time by informing me of these trivial matters I would be very glad to inform that I'm completely ignorant of these facts and wish to stay that way.
   3. spike Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4706479)
Well okay, but if you hold yourself out to be an authority, as opposed to just "some guy", then knowing who say the top ten or so historical figures at a particular position doesn't qualify as minutiae - you are supposed to know that stuff.
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4706482)
I'm with Joe. This concept of willful ignorance is so frustrating to me and we see it in all aspects of life. I'm fine with not being up on pop culture or whatever but it's the pride people have in not knowing that grates.

Knowing things is better than not knowing things.
   5. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4706487)
I don't even mind that Hudler doesn't know when Wagner played or who Arky Vaughan was. He should want to learn though.
   6. McCoy Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:54 AM (#4706491)
Knowing things is better than not knowing things.

Spending time learning how big Kim Kardashian's butt is and what piece of food Lady GaGa is wearing now is less time to learn and do things far more productive.

Knowing important things trumps knowing unimportant things and if you have to not learn 5 unimportant things to know 1 important thing that is an easy tradeoff.
   7. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4706493)


Spending time learning how big Kim Kardashian's butt is and what piece of food Lady GaGa is wearing now is less time to learn and do things far more productive.


The argument isn't that you should know all things, but that ignorance of any topic shouldn't be a point of pride.
   8. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM (#4706496)
You had me then lost me. Life is finite and there are a lot of things that take up a lot of time and are completely useless, empty, unfulfilling, and pointless. A lot of pop culture trivia and minutiae fits that bill. I shouldn't know which star injected her butt with collagen or who had it sucked and if somebody was trying to take up my time by informing me of these trivial matters I would be very glad to inform that I'm completely ignorant of these facts and wish to stay that way.

It's fine not to know stuff -- like you said, life is finite and no one can know everything. But loudly celebrating your ignorance, no matter what the subject, does nothing but celebrate ignorance.
   9. Rants Mulliniks Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4706497)
You don't know anything until you realize you know nothing.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4706498)
But loudly celebrating your ignorance, no matter what the subject, does nothing but celebrate ignorance.


I don't speak for McCoy, but I think sometimes loudly celebrating your ignorance about certain subjects is celebrating your priorities, not necessarily ignorance in general.
   11. McCoy Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4706499)
The argument isn't that you should know all things, but that ignorance of any topic shouldn't be a point of pride.

And I'm arguing that you should be proud to be ignorant of those facts.
   12. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4706503)
If not knowing anything about the Kardashians or Lady GaGa (other than the fact that, collectively & individually, they apparently need killing) is wrong, I don't want to be right.
   13. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4706505)
I've lived long enough to learn that many of the things I now value I once was ignorant of, and proud to be ignorant of, so I try to be a little humble and not denigrate any kind of knowledge, though as noted above, we all have priorities.

I mean yeah, I don't know anything about the Kardashians, but I know the titles and plots of every classic Star Trek episode, the names of the top 50 deadball players, and can recite the complete ancestry of Elrond from memory, so who am I to judge?
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4706507)

I don't speak for McCoy, but I think sometimes loudly celebrating your ignorance about certain subjects is celebrating your priorities, not necessarily ignorance in general.


Yes, I think people mostly mean it as a put down, like "this is so stupid as to be not worth my time knowing it" which is kinda the same vein Lefebvre seemed to speak of Arky Vaughn. I just find that attitude off-putting I guess, even if it is about pretty trivial stuff.
   15. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4706512)
Yes, I think people mostly mean it as a put down, like "this is so stupid as to be not worth my time knowing it" which is kinda the same vein Lefebvre seemed to speak of Arky Vaughn. I just find that attitude off-putting I guess, even if it is about pretty trivial stuff.


And it casts a massively blind eye to the fact that we're all here to celebrate a related kind of trivial stuff.
   16. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4706513)
I picked up a copy of Branch Rickey's "The American Diamond," and have been leafing through it recently. Rickey chose one of his Gas House Gang players, catcher Bill Delancey, to his 30-man alltime team. It's obviously largely a sentimental pick because Delancey was one of Rickey's guys and died young of tuberculosis, and when I looked him up I was expecting a .220 hitter who was good on defense and a "timely" hitter. But there he is - 670 plate appearances before his 24th birthday - .289/.380/.472 for his career. I'm drawn to the sad stories myself, and am pretty much stunned that I couldn't have identified Delancey until this weekend.

Edit: Pos picked up the Baseball 100 with Pedro Martinez at No. 44.
   17. BDC Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4706514)
There's a certain kind of academic pride in ignorance that I can understand but don't share: for instance, being very proud that you have never read Moby-Dick (to pick up on a theme from TFA) because you do 18th century. It can be masked as modesty but often is really meant to imply how much you must know about the 18th century if you've managed to pick up so little about the 19th, much as we assume that shortstops who can't hit must be great fielders.
   18. Greg K Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4706521)
The other day Tyler Skaggs was pitching for the Angels and Buck Martinez mentioned that the Angels had won all five of his first starts for the team (though at that time the streak had been broken by Texas the previous game). Buck said Skaggs was joining some pretty elite company with that stat, tying Bo Belinsky, Chuck Finley, and Scot Schoewenweis. I mean, I'll give you Finley as a very good pitcher, but if Skaggs turns out like Schoewenweis I think the Angels will be a bit disappointed.

Arky Vaughan probably does have the best greatness/obscurity number of any baseball player, but if you're going to be a baseball expert you should probably have heard of him.
   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4706524)
Yes, I think people mostly mean it as a put down, like "this is so stupid as to be not worth my time knowing it" which is kinda the same vein Lefebvre seemed to speak of Arky Vaughn. I just find that attitude off-putting I guess, even if it is about pretty trivial stuff.

And "off-putting" is quite generous when the person's entire job is talking about baseball. It's not like this is Neil DeGrasse Tyson not knowing who Arky Vaughan is.
   20. Rants Mulliniks Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4706537)
I was visiting my aunt a few weeks ago, and her less-than-intellectual (but not stupid) son-in-law Kirk, who lives next door, came over. We got to talking about gardening, because my uncle died last year and I was wondering if anyone was going to put his little greenhouse to use. I made some comment about planting dates or vegetable yields and Kirk said somewhat derisively "I suppose you read that somewhere", which I confirmed. Then he said "Debra (his wife and my cousin) told me you used to read all the time when you were a kid", so I said that I still do. Then he said "My Dad never read much at all, but he started reading books about 10 years ago and he said it was amazing how much he learned", basically looking for confirmation from me that it was true and he Dad wasn't just pulling his leg.

I get frustrated at people who haven't yet learned that Google can answer virtually any question you could ever have, but I guess when you aren't even aware the answer to those questions has also always been available in book form.....well, I guess I don't know what to think.

   21. billyshears Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4706538)
Spending time learning how big Kim Kardashian's butt is and what piece of food Lady GaGa is wearing now is less time to learn and do things far more productive.


Well, these are the types of things that may seep into one's head when they have a wife/girlfriend.

Besides, everybody needs a little fluff in their life. I'm not entirely sure why it's ok for me to spend time on fantasy baseball or on an internet baseball forum but it's not ok for somebody else to read TMZ and to know which Kardashian has had the most plastic surgery.
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4706541)
It's not like this is Neil DeGrasse Tyson not knowing who Arky Vaughan is.


Come on. A hundred bucks says Neil DeGrasse Tyson knows who Arky Vaughan is. Dude knows everything. He also probably wouldn't call the moon a planet.
   23. McCoy Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4706546)
Somebody can be proud of not knowing a thing about baseball as well. I simply don't agree with the idea that all knowledge is important and that one shouldn't be proud of not knowing about something that isn't meaningful and is largely trivial which is what the entertainment business as a whole largely is.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4706548)
I'm not entirely sure why it's ok for me to spend time on fantasy baseball or on an internet baseball forum but it's not ok for somebody else to read TMZ and to know which Kardashian has had the most plastic surgery.


There's a qualitative difference between these two that's kind of hard to put into words, but off the top of my head I'd say it has something to do with the fact that, especially around here, we see and discuss baseball as an extension of our intellectual curiosity, bringing analytical skills to bear, etc. etc. Whereas by and large, being into TMZ and the Kardashians and US Weekly and whatnot tends to reflect a lack of curiosity and disposition towards valuing the mindless, the shallow and the superficial. Call it elitism or whatever, but I call 'em as I see 'em.
   25. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4706554)
I really can't stand people who are fascinated by trivial and unimportant things.

Now excuse me while I go look up how many walks Oscar Azocar had in his rookie season.
   26. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4706555)

And it casts a massively blind eye to the fact that we're all here to celebrate a related kind of trivial stuff.


Right. I have a friend who is rather contemptous of sports fandom in general. To him, our knowledge of Arky Vaughn is about as trivial as we find someone else's knowledge of Kim Kardashian.
   27. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4706557)
McCoy… McCoy… Ignorance is bliss, huh? Hijacked this into some pop entertainment thread? Joe was talking about classic literature, not Kardashian's butt. Turn off TMZ.
   28. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4706558)
Somebody can be proud of not knowing a thing about baseball as well.

I think Ryan Lefebvre should be always trying to learn more about baseball. Unless he has directed all his brainpower to an encyclopedic knowledge of the team he broadcasts, to the exclusion of everything else. Has this happened, Royals fans? Does he often add historical context to the broadcast with relevant facts and anecdotes about Kurt Stillwell or Larry Gura or Cookie Rojas?
   29. McCoy Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4706562)
I think Ryan Lefebvre should be always trying to learn more about baseball.

I agree though was it Hudler that was proud? If your job is to be the entertainment part of the program you shouldn't be proud of not knowing things about your field.
   30. jmurph Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4706573)
Right. I have a friend who is rather contemptous of sports fandom in general.


The only time this has bothered me is when people who are otherwise consumers of mass culture are morally outraged at the salaries of pro athletes while being completely comfortable with the cast of Friends (timely reference, I know) pulling in $22 million each.
   31. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4706575)
I was ecstatic when Hudler and Physioc were booted off the LAA broadcast team a couple of years ago. Rex would make my head hurt and Physioc was just awful.

Sorry the Royal faithful have to endure Rex now. Did Physioc get the boot from there, too?
   32. PreservedFish Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4706579)
My father has been turning into a xenophobic ignorant patriot type of guy in his old age. One of the affectations is that he'll pronounce foreign words incorrectly on purpose, as if to emphasize that he is not familiar with them.


I simply don't agree with the idea that all knowledge is important and that one shouldn't be proud of not knowing about something that isn't meaningful as is largely trivial which is what the entertainment business as a whole largely is.

I think we're talking about two different things here. It's one thing to be privately proud of your ignorance - it's quite another to arrogantly flaunt your ignorance. If you don't a tv and you think it makes you a better person, sure, be proud of it. But don't be that guy that can't wait to tell people that you don't own a tv.
   33. billyshears Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4706583)
Somebody can be proud of not knowing a thing about baseball as well.


I guess my question is, so long as we accept that it's OK for everybody to have some frivolous pursuits, why is pride in ignorance the appropriate response to somebody else's frivolous pursuit as opposed to a mere acknowledgment that it's just not your thing?
   34. Rants Mulliniks Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4706586)
#32 - My father-in-law says "eye-talian" too.
   35. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4706587)
Of all the many reasons to hate Rex Hudler: Play-by-Play Guy, placing Honus Wagner 30 years after his prime is nothing.
   36. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4706596)
Hud is one of my favorite ballplayers of all time, but he makes my ears bleed as a commentator.

I love players who can play everywhere on the field, hit a bit, run well, and are willing to go face first into the wall if that's what it takes to get the job done. I'm less excited about announcers who won't. shut. up.
   37. theboyqueen Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4706597)
There's a qualitative difference between these two that's kind of hard to put into words


It's not at all hard to put into words -- it's called arrogance.
   38. Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:35 PM (#4706599)
By some definitions, the moon arguably could be considered a planet. The Earth and the Moon have been referred to as a "double-planet" system by the European Space Agency. That probably doesn't hold up to strict scrutiny, since the centre of mass in the orbital relationship still lies within the primary (Earth) rather than outside it (although give it a few hundred million years and the Moon's orbit will have widened sufficiently to achieve that).

But relative to its primary, the Moon is huge. All moons of all other planets in the solar system have masses less than 1/4000th of their planet, whereas the Moon is about 1/80th the mass of Earth. Imagine if Ganymede were 1/80th the mass of Jupiter -- I'm guessing that would make it roughly the size of Earth.

Probably not what Rex Hudler was thinking, though.
   39. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4706604)
That probably doesn't hold up to strict scrutiny, since the centre of mass in the orbital relationship still lies within the primary (Earth) rather than outside it (although give it a few hundred million years and the Moon's orbit will have widened sufficiently to achieve that).


This creeped me out to think about....
   40. The elusive Robert Denby Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4706605)
I agree though was it Hudler that was proud? If your job is to be the entertainment part of the program you shouldn't be proud of not knowing things about your field.

I don't think Rex was proud of his ignorance. He's just comfortable with not being very smart.
   41. Sunday silence Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4706607)
this is like knowing Willie McCovey is second on the all time list of career HRs.
   42. Greg K Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4706609)
I suppose it's possible he's mixing up Honus Wagner and Rogers Hornsby. I used to do that all the time as a kid.
   43. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4706611)
It's not at all hard to put into words -- it's called arrogance.


Got anything to actually refute my thoughts?
   44. Moeball Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4706617)
I suppose it's possible he's mixing up Honus Wagner and Rogers Hornsby. I used to do that all the time as a kid.


Nah. Rex doesn't know who Hornsby is, either. And he's proud of it! Cause only nerds who never played the game (you have to say that with a tone of haughty disdain) would know stuff like that.

Hmm - so the Royals broadcasters are Rex/Ryan? Appropriate. Rex Ryan is just another loudmouth who talks loudly, knows little.
   45. Chone Mueller Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4706618)
This was a very good thread. A thoughtful exchange of differing, reasoned opinions without any flaming. Can we have more of this, please?
   46. jmurph Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4706622)
This was a very good thread. A thoughtful exchange of differing, reasoned opinions without any flaming. Can we have more of this, please?


Go #### yourself.

(Just kidding, obviously.)
   47. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4706624)
I think Ryan Lefebvre should be always trying to learn more about baseball. Unless he has directed all his brainpower to an encyclopedic knowledge of the team he broadcasts, to the exclusion of everything else. Has this happened, Royals fans? Does he often add historical context to the broadcast with relevant facts and anecdotes about Kurt Stillwell or Larry Gura or Cookie Rojas?


He used to when his partner was Paul Splitorff or Frank White, as a setup to one of their anecdotes. He does this less with Rex, since Rex never played for the Royals.


Sorry the Royal faithful have to endure Rex now. Did Physioc get the boot from there, too?


IMO Physioc is actually worse than Rex.
   48. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:16 PM (#4706626)
IMO Physioc is actually worse than Rex.


Totally agree on that one, AG#1F....
   49. Rob_Wood Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4706638)

Arky Vaughan quit baseball when he didn't want to play for Leo Durocher any more. And he died young drowning when trying to save a friend.

Yes, one of the highest ratios of baseball value to today's fame.
   50. DL from MN Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4706643)
Protesting too much? 100 years from now many people will still know Arky Vaughn and nobody will remember Rex Hudler.
   51. asinwreck Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4706656)
As comedic bloodlines go, you'd be hard-pressed to top Parkyakarkus.
   52. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4706657)
can recite the complete ancestry of Elrond from memory, so who am I to judge?

Get back to me when you can recite the descendants of Elros from memory.
   53. Jeltzandini Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4706665)
I'd love it if MLB broadcasters had a good knowledge of baseball history, including 19th and early 20th century. But expecting that of them is expecting them to do a fair amount of reading (books or online) in their spare time. Arky Vaughan isn't going to come up any other way. And reading history for pleasure isn't a habit for a large percentage of people, especially people in the sports industry.
   54. Rob_Wood Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4706686)

you think most baseball announcers have never read bill james's historical abstract?
   55. BDC Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4706702)
When I was in my early teens (the early 1970s), I learned of Arky Vaughan's existence from the Sports Illustrated dice-baseball game. There were sheets of all-time teams for the sixteen original franchises. Vaughan was on the Pirates' sheet, but it was hard to work him into the lineup. The game generated almost all bases on balls from the pitchers' charts, so it was very misleading about the value of a guy who walked a lot. Vaughan had a good batting average and occasional power, but so did Pie Traynor, whom the game rated much better at 3B; and Vaughan wasn't going to start over Wagner at SS. I'm not sure if the game allowed you to put Vaughan in the outfield, but even there, the Pirates had Clarke and Carey and Clemente and Ralph Kiner. So Vaughan would sit on the "bench" in my dice games along with George Grantham, who was also a high-average hitter and whose chart wasn't highly distinguishable from Vaughan's. (And now that I look at his record, Grantham was an excellent hitter, too, though not quite as good as Vaughan and nowhere near him defensively, a 1B stretched to play 2B.)

I wasn't surprised to see Vaughan elected to the HOF in 1985, because by then I was reading Bill James and had been set straight on his specialness. But growing up, I thought he was just another of those guys from before WW2 who had a few absurd batting averages.

None of which has anything to do with announcers in 2014, but I enjoy remembering it :)
   56. A triple short of the cycle Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:21 PM (#4706712)
I vaguely recall seeing Rex Hudler's first major league hit - a dunker to shallow right IIRC - so it must have happened in Oakland. I have thankfully never heard his sportscasting.

Edit: Doh, 1984! Must have been at the Stadium then.
   57. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4706714)
Here's something: My wife is very smart and well-read - but her being "well-read" is largely limited, at this point, to books of fiction. I am a voracious reader, but I don't read a fraction of the books my wife does - virtually all of my reading is non-fiction. And a lot of my reading is in periodical form: data, analysis, studies, essays, public policy, interviews, etc.

My wife argues that my lack of reading fiction probably inhibits my imagination, my vaguely-described "cultural" side, and probably creates awkward moments in conversation when I might not get a literary reference.

I argue that there are very few topics about which I cannot make a positive contribution to a conversation. In fact, one of the best ways to engage people in conversation is to ask them questions - but if you don't a little something about many things, you can't ask the kind of questions that allow them to talk about what they know.

I often have the chance to speak with groups of college students in the context of "where the jobs are", and one of the first pieces of advice I give any young person is: Know a little bit about almost everything, and be the "go to" person on a few important areas of knowledge.

Also: If your profession is a major league sports color commentator, you should probably some time studying the history of your sport.
   58. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4706716)
How is Snarky Vaughan not taken as a handle?
   59. DL from MN Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4706729)
one of the best ways to engage people in conversation is to ask them questions


Most people do not share my interests so I usually ask people questions about their interests instead. It almost never fails that people love to talk about themselves.
   60. Srul Itza Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:43 PM (#4706740)
I agree with McCoy that there is a benefit to not knowing about the mundane uselessness that fills so much of what now passes for popular culture -- Kardashians; Paris Hilton; Reality show; etc., etc.

I also agree that there is no reason to flaunt this. Unless you have a specific reason for wanting a person to know more about you, there is, in my opinion, very little reason to share too much, or brag about such things. If you are looking to find people with common interests, let them know what you are interested in, but don't dwell, especially if there is no interest on the other side.

Which plays into the last point: There are times when you really have to let people know that they should stop talking to you about X, Y or Z because you just could not possibly care less, in fact you find it painful to even consider it, and you just don't have the strength to keep pretending. Bearing in mind (point 2 above) that the same may apply to your own hobby horse.
   61. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4706775)
Knowledge about the Kardashians or a reality show could very well be quite functional depending on where your interests lie. If you have a passion for fashion, I would think the Kardashians would at the very least be a touchstone for the conversation even if ultimately you were against their fashion sensibilities.

Also, extensive expertise in one area often precludes acquiring some knowledge that many other people have. I've spent significant time not only knowing who the hell Austin Kubitza and Cody Ege are, but trying to understand their various strengths and weaknesses as players. Now there are baseball fans, somewhat serious baseball fans mind you, for whom those two names sound completely made up.

There are quite obviously are opportunity costs to that. Knowing what is fairly obscure baseball information, even for a baseball fan, almost certainly prevents me from knowing information about something else that a greater number of people find important. I may do it because it's my job, but it's my job because I find this kind of info and analysis interesting.
   62. bunyon Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4706799)
But relative to its primary, the Moon is huge. All moons of all other planets in the solar system have masses less than 1/4000th of their planet, whereas the Moon is about 1/80th the mass of Earth. Imagine if Ganymede were 1/80th the mass of Jupiter -- I'm guessing that would make it roughly the size of Earth.

About four times bigger than Earth, actually.
   63. Ron J2 Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:31 PM (#4706807)
#25 "I no walk. He walk me" -- Azocar after his first major league walk.

And given that the pitcher in question was Vance Lovelace (career 19.3 BB per 9 IP) and the PA in question also featured a wild pitch, he may have had a point. It's possible that the PA featured 4 pitches he couldn't actually reach.
   64. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4706828)
But relative to its primary, the Moon is huge. All moons of all other planets in the solar system have masses less than 1/4000th of their planet, whereas the Moon is about 1/80th the mass of Earth. Imagine if Ganymede were 1/80th the mass of Jupiter -- I'm guessing that would make it roughly the size of Earth.



About four times bigger than Earth, actually.


I love that I can come here and read this kind of thing. I'm not particularly interested in space or the moons of other planets but it's interesting to me that others are and have this sort of knowledge. I think when you have a lot of people interested in different subjects from the life-altering to the ridiculous it creates a well-rounded and more interesting society.
   65. Publius Publicola Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4706839)
I'm not particularly interested in space or the moons of other planets


Does this qualify as a good enough reason for putting Jose on ignore?

I find astronomy endlessly fascinating.
   66. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:25 PM (#4706848)
I find astronomy endlessly fascinating.

Well, yeah, of course. The Universe is like the biggest thing ever!
   67. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4706851)
I find astronomy endlessly fascinating.


I'm about as apathetic toward science as can be, but yeah ... this, pretty much. (Ditto for epidemiology & the like.)
   68. FrankM Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4706881)
It's possible that the PA featured 4 pitches he couldn't actually reach.

For Oscar, that's no excuse.
   69. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4706886)
The Moon was originally a planet! The word planet comes from the ancient Greek word meaning "wanderer" - the planets were the things in the sky that didn't stay in the same spot all the time. That includes the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Also, Rex Hudler is an idiot, and I thank the heavens he is out of California.
   70. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4706888)
About four times bigger than Earth, actually.


Good enough for Fermi, good enough for me.

I generally take a dim view on being proud of not knowing something. If it's not your thing, cool. But it doesn't make you superior for NOT knowing it.

As for Pedro at 44, I'm curious to see what pitchers make it in above him. I love Pedro beyond all reason, and after the Johnsons, Seaver, Clemens, and Maddux (edit: and probably Lefty Grove) I don't see anyone as clearly superior. Part of that is trying to compare dead ball pitchers like Cy Young and Nichols and Matthewson to Pedro, part of it is because I actually saw Pedro pitch, part of it is sheer cussedness, but 44th best player ever? There's probably another dozen pitchers on the list!
   71. tfbg9 Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4706889)
Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo did not know for sure if Tris Speaker played CF.
   72. Walt Davis Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:19 PM (#4706914)
People spending time posting on a baseball website in a thread about how people shouldn't be ignorant about a 1940s baseball player discussing whether/when/what one should be ignorant about because there's just not enough time or utility in knowing everything ...
   73. Swedish Chef Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:21 PM (#4706918)
There is no such thing as unimportant knowledge, if you look deep enough you can see the universe in Kardashian's butt.
   74. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4706919)
if you look deep enough you can see the universe in Kardashian's butt.


Hm. I wasn't aware of this. I must not have paused the video at the right moment.
   75. bjhanke Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:02 PM (#4706942)
I became aware of Vaughn when I first started playing, in 1956, a board game called Cadaco All-Star Baseball, which has a round disc for each player, with numbered arcs on the discs for various events. 1 was a homer, 5 a triple, 9 a walk, 10 a strikeout - you get the idea. Well, the games had disc sets for "All-Time Greats", and I promptly found out that the very best shortstop disc was for somebody named Arky Vaughn. (The game did not adjust for time period, so the Honus Wagner disc was the unadjusted numbers from the dead ball era.) That made me look up Vaughn. The important thing that I remembered was that this guy was the best, except for the unadjusted Honus. And sure enough, when advanced analysis came into play, he WAS the best.

Rex Hudler, whose nickname was "The Wonder Dog" owed his career and reputation to unlimited energy, all dedicated to charging straight ahead. Sort of like a combination of George Patton and one of those little thin guys who can't sit still. Once, when the Cards were having trouble keeping 2B healthy, they decided that Luis Alicea cold not play, which was wrong, and sent him down to AAA, leaving Hudler as the only 2B on the roster. Hudler, in his first game as the teams' only 2B, broke a body part trying to assault an infielder on a force play, and Alicea, while his plane was still in the air, was told to get on a return flight as soon as he got to an airport. Luis promptly hit a bunch of triples, and the Cards forgot they ever had anyone named Hudler. But a large group of fans, who love to see "dedication" and "aggressiveness", never lost their love for Rex. My guess is that Rex, as a broadcaster, is much the same. Man people love him; he drives the rest crazy because he just doesn't think. About anything. He just charges. - Brock Hanke
   76. OCF Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:12 PM (#4706945)
The Moon was originally a planet! The word planet comes from the ancient Greek word meaning "wanderer" - the planets were the things in the sky that didn't stay in the same spot all the time. That includes the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Exercise: match these seven planets to the seven days of the week. (Hint: use a combination of English and some Romance language - the latter keeps you from getting frustrated over Norse gods by giving you their Latin equivalents. And knowing the source of "By Jove!" doesn't hurt.)

Harder exercise: explain why the seven days of the week are placed in the order they are.
   77. Rob_Wood Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:29 PM (#4706951)

i loved that spinner baseball game. I loved the old-timey names such as zach wheat, tris speaker, honus wagner, nap lajoie, arky vaughan, luke appling, etc.
   78. Baldrick Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:30 PM (#4706952)
If not knowing anything about the Kardashians or Lady GaGa (other than the fact that, collectively & individually, they apparently need killing) is wrong, I don't want to be right.

But see, this is a perfect example of the problem. The Kardashians are genuinely worthy of total ignorance. Your life will indeed be better if you know nothing about them.

But Gaga is totally different. She's not simply famous for being famous. She's a talented and at least somewhat unique artist. Now, you may not LIKE what she produces. But she represents actual elements of contemporary culture. Or, more than that, she reflects on those elements. She's not just a cipher.

Educated people who want to engage with the world out there ought to have at least a passing familiarity with her, some of her songs, and the general artistic milieu from which they emerge. You should have an opinion. The opinion might be 'this is the detritus of history and should be launched into the sun' but it should be an informed opinion, not simple ignorance.
   79. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:32 PM (#4706955)
Exercise: match these seven planets to the seven days of the week.

Saturn was in opposition last Saturday, and when Mars was in opposition back in April it was on dies Martis, aka Tuesday. I harvested some home-grown nettles for Mars and started a hellebore tincture on Saturn's day. This has been a magical ####### year and I am going to hex the #### out of any ############ who says otherwise.
   80. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 07:21 PM (#4706981)
Educated people who want to engage with the world out there ought to have at least a passing familiarity with her, some of her songs, and the general artistic milieu from which they emerge. You should have an opinion.


All I know about her is that she makes a big deal of dressing like a complete idiot. I tend not to like people who dress like complete idiots. If they're musicians, I prefer for their music to do the talking, not their hairstyles, makeup, costumes, etc.

So ... I guess the "general artistic milieu" you're talking about is the one that starts with "complete" & ends with "idiocy"? God, I'm so fascinated I don't know what to do.
   81. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 14, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4706984)
I picked up a copy of Branch Rickey's "The American Diamond," and have been leafing through it recently. Rickey chose one of his Gas House Gang players, catcher Bill Delancey, to his 30-man alltime team. It's obviously largely a sentimental pick because Delancey was one of Rickey's guys and died young of tuberculosis, and when I looked him up I was expecting a .220 hitter who was good on defense and a "timely" hitter. But there he is - 670 plate appearances before his 24th birthday - .289/.380/.472 for his career. I'm drawn to the sad stories myself, and am pretty much stunned that I couldn't have identified Delancey until this weekend.


I know DeLancey from playing Strat-O-Matic baseball, and from having played the 1934 Cardinals in that game. His card for 1934 (.316/.414/.565) is an absolute monster. And he was just the lefty part of a catcher platoon - the righty half was Spud Davis at .300/.366/.464, which may not be quite as otherworldly, but makes one hell of a platoon combo...
   82. Publius Publicola Posted: May 14, 2014 at 07:55 PM (#4706996)
I found out about Vaughn leafing through through the Macmillen Encyclopedia looking for players I never heard of who had a lot of black ink. Vaughn was one of them. Great baseball name too.

The other guy who caught my eye was Amos Rusie. I never forgot his nickname either: "The Hoosier Thunderbolt".

That is such an awesome nickname. Why are we so unimaginative now, that we can't think of better nicknames than "A-Rod" and "Petey" and "Jetes"?
   83. AndrewJ Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:02 PM (#4706998)
As comedic bloodlines go, you'd be hard-pressed to top Parkyakarkus.

And his eldest son edited the Fireside Books of Baseball.
   84. Publius Publicola Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:11 PM (#4707004)
All I know about her is that she makes a big deal of dressing like a complete idiot. I tend not to like people who dress like complete idiots. If they're musicians, I prefer for their music to do the talking, not their hairstyles, makeup, costumes, etc.


Seconded.

The tragedy of modern music is that all of it is videoed in some form now, so the best performers aren't selected for anymore. Instead, we get these exhibitionist idiots painted in primary colors who who will say or do anything to get noticed.
   85. OCF Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:12 PM (#4707005)
Arky Vaughan probably does have the best greatness/obscurity number of any baseball player,

There are a number of different levels on which to pitch that idea of greatness/obscurity. Here's one measurement: there was that notorious 1999 fan vote for the "Team of the Century" . There was a "panel of experts" tasked to fix the most egregious omissions from the ballot. The fans elected 25 players: 6 pitchers, 9 outfielders, and two each at the other positions. So one criterion for greatness/obscurity would be this: who were the players the "panel of experts" felt compelled to rescue?

Honus Wagner
Stan Musial
Warren Spahn
Christy Mathewson
Lefty Grove

(And I'll offer the opinion that even this panel erred in picking Mathewson ahead of Alexander, but whatever.)

Honus Wagner began his major league career in the 19th century, with his first team being Louisville (who?). Yes he was that great, but that really was a long, long time ago (which didn't stop the fans from electing Cy Young). So at this end of the scale, the two names I'd most like to point out are Musial and Grove.
   86. Baldrick Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:15 PM (#4707006)
All I know about her is that she makes a big deal of dressing like a complete idiot. I tend not to like people who dress like complete idiots. If they're musicians, I prefer for their music to do the talking, not their hairstyles, makeup, costumes, etc.

So ... I guess the "general artistic milieu" you're talking about is the one that starts with "complete" & ends with "idiocy"? God, I'm so fascinated I don't know what to do.

You are of course welcome to that opinion. But that basically amounts to dismissing all pop art since...well, ever, really. People hated the Beatles because they were all style and no substance (cut your hair, hippie). People hated Beethoven and jazz music and Andy Warhol and Madonna and the impressionists and abstract expressionism and basically everything else ever.

If you want to be a grumpy old man who stands athwart history yelling 'stop,' go ahead. But categorically refusing to pay attention to the dominant popular cultural themes of our time is not a very appealing trait, nor is it likely to be vindicated by history.
   87. Steve Treder Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:21 PM (#4707008)
But categorically refusing to pay attention to the dominant popular cultural themes of our time is not a very appealing trait, nor is it likely to be vindicated by history.

Fully agreed.
   88. Steve Treder Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:25 PM (#4707011)
The tragedy of modern music is that all of it is videoed in some form now, so the best performers aren't selected for anymore. Instead, we get these exhibitionist idiots painted in primary colors who who will say or do anything to get noticed.

Yeah, like Little Richard and Elvis Presley and Liberace and Elton John and Cab Calloway and Cher and Bette Midler and Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie and Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix. These moderns! All they focus on is putting on an outrageous show!
   89. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4707012)
Were there any popular musicians between 1967 and 1982 who didn't dress like complete idiots? Jim Croce maybe? Jackson Browne? Carole King? That's about it.
   90. Publius Publicola Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4707013)
People hated the Beatles because they were all style and no substance (cut your hair, hippie).


I don't remember that. I remember that people conceded the Beatles were really good, despite the haircuts.

I thought Madonna was really good at first, despite the whore-ish look. GaGa I put in something of the same category except I'm not a big fan of electro-pop.
   91. Baldrick Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:31 PM (#4707017)
The tragedy of modern music is that all of it is videoed in some form now, so the best performers aren't selected for anymore. Instead, we get these exhibitionist idiots painted in primary colors who who will say or do anything to get noticed.

I agree, things certainly were better back when we all died of diphtheria and had virtually no access to music or theater or art.
   92. Baldrick Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:32 PM (#4707018)
I don't remember that. I remember that people conceded the Beatles were really good, despite the haircuts.

Smart people said that. Ignorant people didn't bother to listen to the music. Since the girls liked them and they had long hair, they just KNEW they were not worth paying attention to.
   93. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:14 PM (#4707075)
I'm sure I'm wrong in some respects here, but I don't think Lady Gaga can be as big a factor in popular culture as Elvis or the Beatles were, because popular culture (or the media delivering it) have become so fractured. The elders in my family could recognize the music of Elvis and the Beatles because they were on Ed Sullivan and were played repeatedly on powerful AM radio stations. Aside from her duet with Tony Bennett, there is literally not a single Lady Gaga song that I could identify as hers. She could be great musically for all I know, but from where I sit it looks like her fame is almost entirely based on mentions in print and electronic tabloids, exactly the same as the fame of the Kardashians.
   94. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:21 PM (#4707079)
If you want to be a grumpy old man who stands athwart history yelling 'stop,' go ahead. But categorically refusing to pay attention to the dominant popular cultural themes of our time is not a very appealing trait, nor is it likely to be vindicated by history.


Short version: You're a Lady GaGa groupie, & you've managed to rationalize it.

That's ... charming. Whatever turns you on.

I now look forward to your deeply felt invocaton of the intellectual & sociological validity of Bronies. Extra points if you're writing from personal experience.
   95. Ryan Lind Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4707082)
Well it’s not the voice itself — his voice is fine


God, do I disagree with this.
   96. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:31 PM (#4707083)
Were there any popular musicians between 1967 and 1982 who didn't dress like complete idiots? Jim Croce maybe? Jackson Browne? Carole King? That's about it.


I could be totally wrong, but somehow it seems to me that you're saying Klaus Nomi wasn't normal-looking.

(Normal-looking, IIRC, musicians from that era -- John Fogerty/CCR, Springsteen, etc. Also, in my world Siouxisie Sioux, Robert Smith et al. were pretty much the defintion of regular Joes & Josephines. It's all in the eye of the beholder, of course, but from what I've seen GaGa's crap is more like Bjorn dressing up as a ####### swan -- a pretty sad state of affairs for someone whose first band started out on the Crass label. But these things happen, obviously, once the money & drugs really kick in.)
   97. Steve Treder Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:39 PM (#4707084)
Short version: You're a Lady GaGa groupie, & you've managed to rationalize it.

So very wrong.
   98. Srul Itza Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:40 PM (#4707085)
but from what I've seen GaGa's crap is more like Bjorn dressing up as a ####### swan -- a pretty sad state of affairs


Assuming they are serious about it.

If it is all just a huge put on, as I suspect, then your reaction is exactly what they are trying to elicit. You are taking the joke seriously. I think it reflects worse on you than it does on them.
   99. Steve Treder Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4707086)
it looks like her fame is almost entirely based on mentions in print and electronic tabloids, exactly the same as the fame of the Kardashians.

So very wrong.
   100. Steve Treder Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:42 PM (#4707088)
your reaction is exactly what they are trying to elicit. You are taking the joke seriously. I think it reflects worse on you than it does on them.

Damn f@cking straight.
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