Ted O'Reilly

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About Ted O'Reilly

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    Groove Merchant

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  1. Play ball! 2019 MLB season thread

    Steve has since had additional/second thoughts, Berigan... I may have been a bit unfair to Ted Simmons earlier. In 2001, Bill James ranked him #10 all-time among catchers, which is impressive. James also said Simmons was underrated defensively early in his career, mainly because he came up at about the same time as Johnny Bench and like every other catcher then he suffered in comparison. He did develop defensive issues later on though, in particular throwing. Remember, the mid-seventies to mid-eighties were a time when there was a lot of speed and base-stealing, so not throwing well was a problem. I think that’s mainly why Herzog got rid of him – Whitey was obsessed with running on offense and stopping it on defence. Also I think Simmons was a bit “modern” and “independent” in his outlook to suit a hard-ass like Herzog. I’m going to edit the Yogi blog to include Simmons – he deserves to be there, my oversight. Steve Wallace got back to Yogi, in a way... (Ex-catcher/manager Buck Martinez calls the Toronto Blue Jays on TV, as you may surmise here): On a Jays telecast the other day Buck Martinez told a funny story about Charlie Silvera, who was the backup catcher to Yogi Berra with the Yankees 1948-56. Talk about being the ultimate caddy, his sole function was to give Yogi a day off every once in a while so he didn’t get to play much. It was a pretty cushy setup though, because he got to cash a World Series winner’s cheque like everybody else – in 1949- 53, and 1956. I looked him up, and the most at-bats he ever had in a season was 130 in 1949. He was adequate defensively and hit for a decent average - .282, but had zero power, hitting 1 homer in his whole career. In spring training of 1957 the Yankees traded him to the Cubs and as Buck told it, Silvera was dejected at the news. He was sitting slumped over in front of his locker and Mickey Mantle tried to cheer him up – “Charlie, this is great for you, you’ll get to play a lot more games.” And Charlie said, “Mick, I can’t play more games!” And he was right – after 26 games and 53 at-bats with the Cubs that year, he called it quits at 32. I doubt if there was ever a player so marginal who got to experience more glory and cash more WS cheques than Silvera.
  2. Play ball! 2019 MLB season thread

    Berigan, I sent your reply to Steve, and he's replied, via email to me... (Don't shoot the intermediary!): Yeah, he’s right, I totally forgot about Simmons, but thought about him later along with a few other guys. Without a doubt, he was one of the best-hitting catchers of all time, and he walked more than he struck out, which you have to like. But he never led his league in anything either, which surprised me. Well, like a lot of other catchers, he led in GIDP once, but that’s a negative. Simmons was universally admired as a hitter but I get the definite sense that he left a lot to be desired as a receiver – defense, throwing, handling pitchers, blocking the plate, etc. Also that he was somewhat polarizing in the clubhouse, not very disciplined. That may have been partly a racist perception as Simmons, known as “Simba”, was part, if not all, Native American. Baseball is hardly immune to that sort of thinking. When Whitey Herzog took over the Cardinals in 1981 he soon came to the conclusion that he’d have to get rid of Simmons, he just didn’t think he could win with him behind the plate. Herzog dealt for Darrell Porter and Gene Tenace to do the catching, which set up a huge trade between the Cards and Brewers in February of 1981. The Brewers got Simmons, Rollie Fingers (by way of the Padres) and pitcher Pete Vukovich, and the Cards got outfielders Sixto Lezcano, David Green, and pitchers Lary Sorensen and Dave LaPoint. At first it looked lopsided for the Brewers, but Herzog was that happy to be rid of Simmons. In truth it helped both teams, who faced each other in the 1982 Series, the Cards coming out on top in seven. This guy [Berigan} makes the point that Simmons played on a bunch of mediocre St. Louis teams in the ‘70s, which is true – sort of. I would make the point that catchers are very impactful and if Simmons was that good the Cardinals wouldn’t have been so mediocre. Or to put it another way, he was part of the reason for that mediocrity. To underline that, as soon as they got rid of Simmons, they became a winning team in the ‘80s, with pennants in 1982, ’85, and ’87. To be fair, it wasn’t just Simmons, they made a lot of moves. I think Ted Simmons was a terrific hitter playing out of position – he should have been an outfielder – he ran pretty well - or a first baseman. I should have remembered him, though. Feel free to pass this on to Organissimo if it doesn’t break any rules.
  3. That's right, about being lazy... There was some re-issue or another where they couldn't find the master of a hit, of a George Avakian production. He told me they simply never went to him in his office down the hall to ask...he happened to have the master sitting there, as it was re-used for the 45 version. They didn't bother to either ask him, or even look for it in the 45 masters. (Coulda been 'Mack The Knife', but I'm not sure...) I've gotta admit though, the first issued CD version of the Handy was an interesting listen to the sessions... I wonder how often the masters differ from the Mono and the Stereo versions of the supposedly-same item. As an example, Bobby Hackett's wonderful "Jazz Ultimate" on Capitol, with Jack Teagarden, has 3 or 4 tracks that show different takes between the two. One wonders why?, unless there was some technical reason...
  4. Ah, yes...those lovely "Living Stereo" releases... I have a couple of box sets of them from a decade or so back. Haven't taken them off the shelf lately, but should do so. Maximum mic positioning, minimal processing. Mercury's efforts in the same period were Fine (pun intended) too. And weren't some of them recorded on film rather than tape? And somewhere, I have/had a tape of a CBC radio broadcast of Phil Nimmons' band Nimmons 'N Nine in a single-point 'kunstkopf' recording. Effective with a stereo headset. One more re-creation thought: didn't someone mate some Charlie Parker recordings from the St. Nicholas arena in the same manner as the 1932 Ellingtons? Same moment in time, two separate recordings, mated...
  5. As was pointed out in the original post, that Ellington recording was likely not thought of as a 'stereo' recording, but as a difference in microphone placing. The binaural result was the same moment in time captured differently, and assembled. The same technique gave us the stereo version of the Newport '56 Ellington, notably the Gonsalves marathon. Jerry Valburn's Marlor-Meritt label put out a special release for the 1986 Ellington Conference in Newark NJ, "A Stereo Excursion With Duke Ellington" with 15 tracks. The first three, in true stereo, (multi-mic'd, if not multi-tracked) were done in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho on October 4, 1953. And back to the '32 Ellington, I think the version that was included in the Complete Victors was superior, using masters and newer techniques.
  6. There are those Hollywood film recordings of such as Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey that were released (some by Rounder I think it was), about 20 years ago.. They date from the early '40s, but were not originally intended as records. A bonus from film-making's ability to multitrack. (Wasn't Disney's Fantasia presented in stereo in some major markets on original release? I think I've heard that soundtrack in stereo. Stokowski was a bit of a 'sound nut', wasn't he? I have a Les & Larry Elgart CD "Ain't We Got Fun" (A&M/Drive Entertainment DE2-41068) recorded in stereo at the Hollywood Palladium in February and March 1955. Credit is given to Gerry Macdonald for original recording. The issue comes from Les Brown, Jr., and the liner notes indicate the Brown band and Harry James also were taped in the same period by Macdonald, who in the 1970s started the Choice jazz label.
  7. Bob Wilber RIP

    An obituary has finally made the New York Times... https://nyti.ms/2ZO7sCa
  8. Play ball! 2019 MLB season thread

    Steve Wallace's Yogi piece. Good research, good writing... A while back I had occasion to look over Yogi Berra’s career stats and noticed something for the first time which shocked me a little: in his long and storied career, he never led his league in a single offensive category. That’s not to take anything away from him, but I just assumed a player that great would have led in something – maybe doubles or sac flies or RBI – at least once. Because he looked funny and sounded so funny, a lot of people don’t get how great Berra was as a player, they just think he’s famous because he played for the Yankees and said all those goofy things. But to me, he’s still the easy pick as the greatest catcher ever to play, and it’s not real close. He won 3 MVP awards, a record for catchers equalled by Roy Campanella during the same era. But Berra was more consistent than Campy, who had a habit of alternating monster seasons when he won the MVP with average ones. Berra also finished in the top 4 in MVP voting four other times. Think about that for a second. That means that professionals who watched him play every day went on record to say he was one of the best 4 players in the AL 7 times – that has to carry some weight. Then there’s the 10 World Series rings, also a record for a player, and the most important one there is. Joe D is next with 9, and obviously some of those were the same rings. It’s universally accepted that great teams have great catching and Berra was the catcher for the greatest team in history. Case closed. He wasn’t the best at any one thing. There were catchers who played better defense or threw better, catchers who had more power (though not many) and catchers who were better all-around hitters. I doubt any catcher was ever any smarter or better at handling pitchers. But Yogi combined all the things a catcher had to do with a really productive bat and he did it longer and better than anyone else. Anyway, it turns out I shouldn’t have been so surprised that Yogi never led his league in any hitting category. I looked into a bunch of other really good catchers who played a long time and very few of them did either. Basically, I learned three things. One, the rigours of the position and all the nagging injuries make it really hard for a catcher to lead his league in even one batting category. Two, the list of really good-hitting catchers is a short one, maybe 20 guys, and their long suit is usually power. And three, if a catcher is going to lead his league in anything, it will be grounding into double plays (GIDP), because they’re usually so slow. Other terrific catchers who never led their league in any hitting stat include Pudge Rodriguez, Yadier Molina, Bob Boone, Thurman Munson, Bill Dickey, Jorge Posada, Benito Santiago, Mike Piazza (maybe the best hitting catcher of them all) and quite a few others. Well………….. Piazza, Pudge and Santiago each led the league in GIDP once, but that’s a negative thing. Posada did it twice and Ernie Lombardi, maybe the slowest player ever, did it 4 times. Gabby Hartnett, one of the best NL catchers ever, led his league once – in strikeouts. Carlton Fisk was one of the best ever and ked the league once – in being hit by pitches. Basically, it comes down to a few catchers who have been offensive leaders, even just a few times. They’ve won just seven batting titles, and it was four guys. Joe Mauer won three (an amazing accomplishment in itself), Ernie Lombardi won two, Buster Posey won one and so did an old-timer named Bubbles Hargrave way back in 1926, the first to do so. Mickey Cochrane won two MVPs and led the league once in OBP. Gary Carter was no slouch – he led the NL in RBI and sacrifice flies once, but also in GIDP once. Campanella led the NL in RBI once. Apart from the three batting titles, Mauer also led his league in OBP twice, and in slugging, sac flies and OPS once, all between 2006 and 2012. The most dominant guy was Johnny Bench, who led the NL in RBI and sac flies three times, homers twice, and total bases and intentional walks once, all from 1970-74. Because of injuries and wear-and-tear, he wasn’t able to sustain his dominance after that, but for five years there he established a peak level that was the highest for a catcher ever. But Yogi was great for 11 years as a full-time catcher, 1949-59. The most surprising fact I discovered is that Tim McCarver, who caught even longer than he’s yakked on TV – 1959-1980 – led the NL in triples in 1966 with 13. I’m not sure but I’d bet money he’s the only catcher to do that. It’s a good bet that no catcher ever led the league in stolen bases, that just doesn’t compute. Getting back to Yogi, I’m no Yankees fan but if I was choosing players for an imaginary all-time great team, he’d be my second pick behind Honus Wagner. Any team with Yogi on it would win a lot and laugh even more. It’s a hard combination to beat. As to what catchers might do as the game changes, who knows? As Yogi said once (maybe) – “Never make forecasts, especially about the future.” Good thought! I'll let him know. I wonder what the Strike-Calling-Robo-Ump is going to change about pitch-framing. That skill will be minimized, I'd think.
  9. Play ball! 2019 MLB season thread

    There's something about both jazz and baseball that links them. Like, no matter how constraining "the rules" may be (90' between bases, blues changes) on any given day something can happen that has never happened before. Steve Wallace is a top-rank jazz bass player, and a fine writer about both (and wine, but later for that...). His musing about Yogi Berra, written just for a couple of us -- he'll let me send it out, so I shall -- led to a chat about catchers/bassists, which I'll share first. "Yeah, for sure a lot of parallels. We’ve talked about this before, Ted, and Merv, too. I should probably do a blog on it because the connections are both interesting and funny. Like, catchers have their “tools of ignorance” – mask, shin guards, chest-protector, huge glove - and bassists have the doghouse itself, plus the amp now. And the stuff with the hands and body, the wear-and-tear. When a catcher is really doing his job, you barely notice him, ditto bassists. Catchers have to handle pitchers who struggle with control, bassists have to handle drummers who struggle with tempo. And after all the stuff they do, catchers are expected to get in there and hit as well as anybody else, whereas bassists are expected to solo after playing 40 or 50 choruses of quarter notes, with very little meat left on the bone as it were. I’m a good defensive bassist – i.e. playing in the rhythm section – but as a soloist I’m batting about .250." Nah, Steve...you're a solid .350 at least... I'll put the Yogi piece up separately, to save your eyes if you're not interested in the pure baseball side of Steve Wallace...
  10. I've long been noticing, and enjoying your comments here.  Now, I've taken to wondering who you are (other than ejp626).  Care to reveal yourself?  I promise to not spread the word if you don't want...  ^_^

    Ted O'Reilly


    1. Rooster_Ties


      Beware, your note above *wasn't* sent via private msg, but rather via whatever the other thing is that's public -- I forget what it's called.

      -- Rooster_Ties

    2. Ted O'Reilly

      Ted O'Reilly

      Thanks. My ignorance.  So long as ejp626 can see it...  (I must admit I'm no fan of aliases.  Even Rooster_Ties... :D

    3. Captain Howdy

      Captain Howdy

      IMO only a fool uses his real name online without a good reason. Everything you say and do online can be used against you.. 

  11. Does the First Version You Hear Become the "Best" Version?

    Right you are, there... My first radio job in the early '60s was to host an evening show of the Candlelight & Wine ilk: lots of Mantovani, Frank Chacksfield,101 Strings, Percy Faith... But boy did I learn some songs a.k.a. The Great American Songbook. And was able to slip in some slightly hipper nice Mancini, Ray Conniff, Robert Farnon, and got to appreciate some great arrangers, who could make treacle appetizing.
  12. Bob Wilber RIP

    He did indeed, Peter and I got to know him quite well over the years, recording him as early as about 1972 when I recorded Bob as a member of the WGJB at Massey Hall. That was quite a gang of veterans which as Big Beat Steve sort of remarked, were all still playing great (Vic Dickenson! Bud Freeman! Ralph Sutton! Gus Johnson! Billy Butterfield! and of course the leaders Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart!) and showing a kind of professionalism that was often lacking in those days... Bob was an intelligent man and widely-experienced musician who really lived for jazz as he knew it (Bechet! for crying out loud!). I was once told that he came from a well-to-do family and that he could afford to indulge himself in the kind of music he loved. If that's so, he spent his largesse well...
  13. Bob Wilber RIP

    I've note seen details yet, but it's on Wikipedia that he has died... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Wilber
  14. Miles Davis KInd of Blue listening event

    Maybe Savion Glover will show up...that'd change Flamenco Sketches...
  15. Happy Birthday Louis Armstrong!

    I saw Armstrong, with Trummy Young, Peanuts Hucko, Billy Kyle, Danny Barcelona and I think Mort Herbert, at the Arena in Hamilton Ontario, in the autumn of 1959. I remember the event, if not the exact date. Most of my college classmates were already deep into rock, and me liking jazz was considered odd.