Continuing to Answer

Pushing through the inquiries posed on Ask Me Anything! 2010. These are all from Roger, who always asks the most (and usually best) questions.

OK. How the heck could you dislike the entire ouevre of The Beatles for so long? I can see if one doesn’t like the more avant garde stuff, or thought the early material wasn’t as as good as the later tunes. But to reject the whole eclectic eight years? And how did you finally become enlightened?

The flip answer is, “Tastes change”.

The more serious answer is…”Tastes change.”

The thing with the Beatles is that I’ve always liked a lot of their songs, even loved a small number of them, but with one proviso: I liked or loved them done by other artists. My main problem was that I just never cared for the Beatles’ sound as a band.

I’m not sure it was an “epiphany”, really, but the movie Across the Universe made me love the songs I already loved even more and gave me a greater appreciation of other songs I didn’t know so well, so I decided to investigate the Beatles themselves, to hear what songs I didn’t know that well. And that was when I noticed — or realized, or recognized, whatever you want to call it — that the Beatles don’t have just one sound. Their sound not only changes from album to album, but from song to song. And in general, I found myself liking, for once, even their singing voices, the slightly nasal quality of which I had never much liked before.

Mostly, yeah: my tastes changed. I’d put my liking of the Beatles in the same general category as my coming to like eating squash. (My newfound Fab Four fandom isn’t all-inclusive, though: I’m still not that fond of the song “Yesterday”.)

Why isn’t there a punter in the Football Hall of Fame? Should there be, and if so, who would you choose?

Because nobody likes punting. Seriously. Punting sucks. It’s openly admitting, “We didn’t get the job now so we’re gonna give you the ball.” The punter’s job is basically to attempt to allow the team punting to save a little face. I think that’s a big part of it. Football tends to be a game of narrative, and punters just don’t fit into the narrative well. They’re the period at the end of the sentence.

Now, people who really know the game know that punting, while ending one offensive series, can be a strong factor in winning what’s called the “Field Position battle”. If your punts leave the other team starting drives from their own ten yard line, then that’s better than just turning the ball over on downs at mid-field. Or so the theory goes. Going for it on fourth down is getting more and more popular.

Should a punter be in the Hall of Fame? Sure. I’d probably start with finding out what punter had the best statistics — punting average, average opponent drive start, percentage punts not returned, that sort of thing. Now, stats aren’t everything, and it’s called the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Stats; but as I note above, there’s never been a punter who was a strong figure in the narrative of the game. Punters are a major part of the game, like it or not, and if the Hall is going to reflect the entire game, then there should be punters there.

Should any of the following be in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmiero. Why or why not?

I think so. All of them, probably. The whole steroid era is problematic, but ultimately, I just don’t find the case for ignoring an entire era of baseball all that compelling. If we’re going to say that the Hall of Fame shouldn’t reflect the steroid, how far should we take that? Should the standings from those years be set aside? Should pennants and World Series titles be revoked?

To me, the most glaring fact about the steroid era is that baseball had no policy about it. I don’t see how, given that fact, we can retroactively decide to hold these players responsible for the sullying of an entire era. And besides, why is the steroid era generally considered “soiled”, while other eras weren’t? Matthew Yglesias addressed this point the other day:

There was no time “before” people tried to get an edge by ingesting useful substances (I drink a lot of coffee while writing blog posts in a rush in the morning) and there never will be. Sports have rules for a reason, and rules that aim to restrict consumption of potentially dangerous drugs seem like a good idea to me. And players shouldn’t break the rules. But the idea that some vast moral transformation occurred circa 1995 to which the great ones of yore were immune is silly.

Ultimately, though, for me, the steroid thing is one more instance of something ugly in the history of baseball, which for all the beauty of the game, has an awful lot of ugliness within it.

(Now, if we want to put asterisks on the players from the Steroid Era, and supplement the Hall with plaques explaining what happened and why, then that might be fine. But I’m not even sure about that.)

More answers to come!

(And gee whiz, I still haven’t shut off comments on the original post soliciting questions. You’d think I was enjoying this or something!)

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2 Responses to Continuing to Answer

  1. Roger Owen Green says:

    Thanks.

    I've actually come to tire of Yesterday myself, truth to be told.

    My punter would be Ray Guy.

    And for the baseball players, Palmiero is a bit on the border, but the others, for sure.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ray Guy is already being considered for the Hall. KC Joyner makes a case for Ray Guy here.

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