Somehow, I missed the fact that the ballots for the 2018 Hall of Fame were distributed in November to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). They voted by mail to select from a ballot of recently retired players and were returned by December 31. The results will be announced on January 24.

The candidates can be found here – inductees will need 75% of the vote.

The ones I would have picked:

1 Barry Bonds (6th year of eligibility, out of 10; 53.8% of the votes last ballot)
2 Roger Clemens (6th year, 54.1%)

Still, by far, the best players on the ballot. One of the greatest position players (Bonds) and pitchers (Clemens) of all time. Performance-enhancing drugs were not really regulated until 2004, and their achievements before any allegations were stellar. They each received over 50% of the vote last time, with 75% needed, which is on the upswing.

3 Vladimir Guerrero (pictured, 2nd year, 71.8%) – the outfielder had career batting average of .318, with 449 home runs. If the ballot wasn’t so stuffed last time, he would have made it then

4 Chipper Jones (1st year) – the third baseman/outfielder spent his 19-year career with the Atlanta Braves and hit over .300, with 468 homers

5 Trevor Hoffman (3rd year, 74.0%) – painfully close for the guy with 601 saves

6 Jim Thome (1st year) – with 612 home runs, he is 8th on the all-time list

7 Larry Walker (8th year, 21.9%) – though having a .313 batting average, his 9.5 years playing his home games in Colorado, advantageous to a hitter, has made him a less attractive choice

8 Edgar Martinez (9th year, 58.6%) – voters have been resistant for voters to select a full-time designated hitter to the Hall, though they’ve picked Frank Thomas, who was a DH about 58% of the time

9 Jeff Kent (5th year, 16.7%) – solid infielder at three positions, solid hitter, and has the same birthday as mine

10 Mike Mussina (5th year, 51.8%) – solid pitcher for many years, not always the ace of the staff – he won 270 games at a point that winning 300, once the gold standard, is almost impossible to achieve with a five-man rotation

One could make a good case for Omar Vizquel, the slick-fielding infielder with over 2800 hits
The National Football League playoffs start this weekend. My rooting interests this postseason, in order:
1. Buffalo Bills – only team that plays its home games in New York State
2. Pittsburgh Steelers – the favorite team of Chuck Miller
3. Philadelphia Eagles – my favorite bus driver’s favorite team
4. Carolina Panthers – where my parents moved to in 1974
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – they’ve been terrible for a decade, went from 3-13 in 2016 to 11-5 in 2017, and the city took a beating from Hurricane Irma in September 2017
6-11. whoever
12. New England Patriots

Back on the evening of December 28, 2017, someone wrote on his infamous Twitter feed: “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”

According to Ed Landing, NY State Paleontologist emeritus, i.e., an actual scientist, who has been writing on the global hyperwarming:

“Here is why it’s so cold – the jet stream has a lobe of Arctic air that’s come down over a good portion of the eastern US, which is unusual. Why unusual? Because that lobe is caused by an overly heated Pacific. Warm air travels north. The excessive heat of the Pacific has gone northeast, as warm air does, and is encountering and pushing the Arctic air aside and down toward the US, thus the lobe.

“In addition, a great lobe of warm air over the Atlantic is pushing northeast and locks in the cold jet stream air over the US—and is warming western Europe. Last year western Europe had the lobe, with killer cold.

“The lobe is stationary because there’s a lot of “hot air” being pushed north. How long will the cold continue? Until a storm or front from the southwest interferes with the jet stream and begins to push it back north, so some of that warm air can come into place over us.

“Is this related to global warming? Yes. If the Pacific, at the equator and tropics, wasn’t so warm from the climate warming (remember the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has been nearly destroyed by the warmer ocean temps), the excess heat wouldn’t be pushing north and thus forming the jet stream into the lobe over us. Thus we are getting the Arctic temps that should remain in the Arctic to stop the ice sheet melting. Everything is haywire.

“It’s good that it’s windy here (sort of), even though the wind chill makes it far colder because that means there’s a front from the southwest trying to get through to push the jet stream back north.”

At least the Tweeter-in-chief didn’t throw a snowball.

In the beginning of each year, I select a post for each month of the previous year, using a random number generator, which may not actually be random, or not, but is adequate for this exercise. I like to see how well it reflected that year just passed, or did not.

I figure if I do ABC Wednesday once a week, it should show up once or twice. Those link summaries are 2 or 3 times a month, so a couple of those too, I imagine.

And Allah help me, but I have no idea how many times I mentioned, or at least alluded to, the current American regime. It was painful enough to live through, and I might have to regurgitate it? Them’s the rules.

I’m fairly sure I got this from Gordon, who lives in Chicago and still remains the only non-local blogger I’ve ever met.

But I love it because it’s quasi-mathematical, like doing the first level of these Brilliant quizzes that I get in my email and occasionally get right. “You have a one-day streak going.”

The pic is me putting in a random search in Google limiting to .gov site. The pic’s from NIST, but I don’t know the context.

January: Mary Tyler Moore: “girl with the three names”
1974: AITF, Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers#, MTM#, Bob Newhart#, Burnett (hr)

When one of my favorite actresses died, I noted the CBS lineup during the run of the show named after her. AITF is All in the Family. MTM is of course the Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show is the one based in Chicago, and Burnett is The Carol Burnett Show. The # indicated shows produced by her and then-husband Grant Tinker’s production company.

February: Smoothing over rough edges with friends
The message the sender thinks she’s giving is “I’m a good friend/relative, just trying to be helpful.”

Answering Chris’ Ask Roger Anything question, citing Deborah Tannen’s 2001 book “I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs, and Kids When You’re All Adults”

March: March rambling #2: Vitiligo As Body Art
This is what happens to your body when you stop having sex

Landing on a provocative link.

April: Systematically listening to the music
LOTS of Paul Simon gets played in October, so the S&G is played in November, for Art’s birthday.

Explaining the pathology of my CD playing.

May: Q is for Quisp and Quake cereal
It [Quisp] was brought back in the mid-1980s, then again in the 1990s and in 2001, where it was relaunched as the “first Internet cereal”.

ABC Wednesday post about my fascination with breakfast cereals.

June: June rambling #2: Sheila E. and Lynn Mabry
Anita Pallenberg Passes Away at Age 73

The second death I’ve hit on.

July: Music Throwback Canada Day: The Guess Who
“Quality Records credited the [1965] single [Shakin’ All Over] only to ‘Guess Who?’ in an attempt to build a mystique around the record…”

I’ve been doing Music Throwback almost weekly as well.

August: August rambling #2: Mamihlapinatapai
He has a fake Civil War monument at his golf course and Lies About His Reaction To Charlottesville

Ah, the first tRump references

September: Enroll in the Equifax free ID theft protection ASAP
You may have heard about the Equifax cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers.

One of the relatively few times I posted twice in one day.

October: Q is for a Famous Quotation
That apparent need to always say SOMETHING is often to the detriment of the speaker, and, quite often, of us all.

For ABC Wednesday. The quote was: “It is better to remain silent and be thought of as a a fool than to speak up and remove any doubt.”

November: E-cigarettes: a solution to smoking?
“In addition to the unknown health effects, early evidence suggests that e-cigarette use may serve as an introductory product for preteens and teens who then go on to use other tobacco products, including cigarettes…”

Someone had suggested I put some pro-vaping info on my blog recently, as a result of my previous annual Great American Smokeout posts. But, in doing the research, I became less than enthralled with this alternative, though I suppose it’s better for people already smoking.

December 18: Xmas: St. Nicolas Day to Russian Christmas
What is Santa’s favorite sweater?
His Fleece Navidad

ABCW: I HAD to give you the following line, or you’d be lacking the payoff
And now the Kickstarter I’m supporting (deadline: Wed, January 10 2018 11:59 AM EST). LOLISTRAW is the world’s first edible, hypercompostable straw aimed at replacing the 500M plastic straws used every day in the US.

Zest is a noun meaning “great enthusiasm and energy”. It’s also a verb: “scrape off the outer colored part of the peel of (a piece of citrus fruit) for use as flavoring.”

I was thinking about that when I read this from Ken Levine’s blog, sitcoms could be better. Larry Gelbart, chief writer of the TV show MASH, explained to Carol Burnett that current writers “never played stickball,” that their references are usually other sitcoms and pop culture.

While I mostly agree, I think that in virtually all the arts have always stealing borrowing from what came before. The renowned classical composers such as J.S. Bach were notorious for this.

The question is: how innovative is the borrowing?

When my wife and I went to the Albany Symphony Orchestra in November 2017, we heard The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas. Naturally thought of the Mickey Mouse segment in the 1940 film Fantasia. The story line of the cartoon is a rather strict retelling of the 1797 Goethe poem. Yet it’s a classic.

Jazz musicians recreate standard tunes. The early rock and rollers purloined blues, country, jazz and more. Cover artists, when they do it right, can replace the original in the minds of the audience.

The Beatles were notorious thieves: a Bach bit in Penny Lane, Fats Domino in Lady Madonna, Little Richard in I’m Down. And on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, they stole from everyday life: a child’s drawing (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds), an old circus poster (Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite), a meter maid (Lovely Rita). The question is whether they’ve taken the musical stew and found the zest to make it it innovative, or is it just derivative? Usually, it was the former.

One of the pop songs that most irritated me is Susan by the Buckinghams, a #11 song on the US charts in 1968. It is a rather ordinary, even bland tune. But Sgt. Pepper had come out, so it was decided by some producer to throw in, for no discernible musical reason, a weird A Day in the Life-inspired orchestration in the middle that just wasn’t earned.

How you make what’s old, new, whether in sitcom writing or music, is zest.

Listen to:

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Dukas; Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic

A Day In The Life – The Beatles

Susan -The Buckinghams

For ABC Wednesday

I had not yet seen the review of the Cuckoo’s Nest restaurant when I saw it referred to on Facebook. But once I read it, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Below is my buddy Mark Mishler’s response to the review, and the only things I changed were the reference date and adding the reviewer’s name.

As this mostly terrible year comes to a close, a mostly irrelevant article in the December 28 issue of the mostly insignificant Albany Times Union caught my attention as an tiny example of what could charitably be called complete insensitivity to the history of slavery and racism in the US (and, therefore, a neat little coda to a year filled with a resurgence of violent neo-Nazi and racist activity and apologies for it from those in power.)

The article is a review of a new restaurant in Albany, te Cuckoo’s Nest, which apparently has a “Southern” theme, whatever that means. The headline is “Rebel Yell”. Describing this new restaurant (in what used to be a wine bar), the Times Union reviewer, Susie Davidson Powell, writes that the changes to the previous decor serve to “recalibrate the familiar wine bar with antebellum warmth.”

Does the Times Union not understand that there is nothing quaint about the violent and terroristic “rebel” culture that supported slavery and Jim Crow? Or, that there were many, many people – primarily the African-American people who lived there the time – who did not find the antebellum period in the Southern slavocracy states to be filled with cozy “warmth”? How could this nostalgic elegy for the period of slavery pass the eye of the editors at the Times Union?

I should add that I have no idea whether the views of the reviewer reflect the views of the restaurant’s owners. Maybe the reviewer did not do them a positive service by couching the review in these terms. I look forward – though not really optimistically – to a new year in which the horrors of racism and slavery in this country are fully acknowledged and addressed.

I’ve not been to the restaurant, located where the Gingerman used to be on Western Avenue. (I’d been to the Gingerman several times over the years.) Let me reiterate that this is a reflection of the review, not the restaurant.

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