Sunday, August 23, 2009

Boston's Bad Boys

Time once again to check in with our friend Randy, this time to see if we can find a correlation between the career trajectories of some of the most popular names in music and sport.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: Alright Randy, choose the topic. We can go on any of these 3-
1) Is Plaxico's sentence too harsh?
2) Does Brett Favre actually deserve the flak he's taking?
3) (My favorite) Is Kurt Warner the Aerosmith of NFL quarterbacks?

Randy: I like the topics, but I'm really curious on #3 since I am not a huge Aerosmith fan (sacrilegious in these parts).

B: Alright, here's the thing with Aerosmith: They are pretty consistently referred to as "The (or "A) Great American Band" or "The American Rolling Stones/American Zeppelin" - and, I think, this is a little bit of a reach. If you take a look back at their career, you get a different picture. They released their debut in 1973, only to have it toil in relative obscurity until the release of the next 2 albums brought them closer to the mainstream. In the mid to late 70s, they were among the major rock acts in terms of both sales and touring success - but then it fell apart. 2 original members left the band - including the lead guitarist (Joe Perry), which is never a good sign. Some pretty crummy albums followed until 1985, when Run DMC remade "Walk This Way."

Now, a lot of people consider that a big deal for Aerosmith, but Bod Dylan doesn't get any credit for Jimi Hendrix's amazing guitar work on his cover of "All Along the Watchtower" - if you catch my drift. Anyhoo, 1987's Permanent Vacation saw "Ragdoll" and "Angel" top the charts, but the album was a mixed bag of sorts that sold well, but was not the full fledged "comeback" it was cracked up to be. That comeback occurred in 1989 with Pump, with its 3 top ten hits and another single in the top 40. Aerosmith was back at the forefront of American Rock. The success continued with Get a Grip in 1993, but the string of "Cryin" "Crazy" and "Amazing" turned the band into sort of a punchline - and deservedly so, they released the same awful song three times under three cheesy names.

Nowadays, Aerosmith is more of a "personality act" than a legit musical force. Age, of course, factors into this - but they're still not as old as The Stones. Now, you could make the argument that Aerosmith is more likely to have one more "hit song" than The Stones, but their also more likely to make an appearance on The Simpsons, a late night talk show (as a guest), or in a format other than music.

Should I follow through with "The Kurt Warner Story" - or do you see where I'm going with this? For the sake of those who'll read this and are not familiar: Warner was not exactly a hot prospect coming out of college, toiled in the arena league, and actually left football for a while. The Rams picked him up in '99 and BOOYAH - Trent Green blows out his knee and Warner gets the starting job. The Rams become "The Greatest Show on Turf", win a Super Bowl, lose one more...and then run out of steam. Warner goes to the Giants, toils as a starter, toils as Eli Manning's back up...goes to Arizona...toils as Matt Leinart's backup...until...BOOYAH - don't call it a comeback. The 2008 Cardinals become The Greatest Show on a Crazy Surface That Literally Rolls Around - and suddenly this guy is getting serious Hall of Fame consideration...

Slow start, a several year string of elite performance, obscurity, comeback, talk of being "great." There's my analogy (over-simplified) - work for you?

R: Like the summary, but my move to Boston did not change my view of "The Great American Band". So while my allegiance to American League East teams has changed (I used to like the O's pre-Angelos), I still am not a fan of Aerosmith.

If pushed, I liked their really old stuff (think "Rocks") and even got into Run's version of "Walk this way", but that's it.

So, for me, while I think the parallels exist between Kurt and Aerosmith, I at least think Kurt has (or at least "had") real greatness. The other difference has nothing to do with performance, per se, but I just cheer for Warner. He seems genuine and I respect that he paid his dues and persevered. I mean he used to bag groceries after college, right? Good God! Not that Aerosmith didn't, but I just get the sense that they have a higher opinion of themselves. Fair or unfair, that's my sense. Again, nothing to do with performance.

B: Here's the crazy thing: While Warner's Hall of Fame credentials are hotly debated - Aerosmith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and in 2005 the band ranked #57 in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Now, I know this actually kills my initial analogy, but I guess it takes a lot more to be considered an "All Time Great" in sports than it does in music...

It would actually be pretty hilarious, come to think of it, if Kurt Warner used this example to point out his legitimacy as a Hall of Fame candidate, a la "I am the Aerosmith of NFL quarterbacks! 2008 was my Pump! For crying out loud, backing up Eli Manning should get me as much love as "Dude Looks Like A Lady!!"

R: 57??? Are you serious?

I would put Duran Duran in front of them. I think Aerosmith most resembles Jamie Moyer: long-lasting, had flashes, and is good, not great. At least Moyer has Digger as a Father-in-law!

B: Can we think of another Athlete/Musician analogy? Is Brett Favre Kiss? Is Barry Sanders Nirvana? Is Derek Jeter Brittany Spears? Are Papi, Manny, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa Milli Vanilli?

R: Barry Sanders and Nirvana. Deep! I like it.

How about Brady Anderson and "pick your favorite" one-hit wonder. I like Falco personally.

Did I tell you that I saw Milli Vanilli back in the day (with Paula Abdul, Was Not Was and Information Society)...yes, a girl was involved in this.

B: Hmmm. I'll give you a pass, for the concert. However, Falco as the greatest one-hit-wonder?? I could think of a few that would come in above them like, I don't know, Information Society, maybe?

How about instead of greatest one hit wonders - the greatest behind the scenes athletes of all time? Just like the 3 or 4 people actually producing the infectious pop of "Girl You Know It's True" were unarguably talented musicians, you would quite literally have better odds at picking a specific grain of sand off the ocean floor than you would at picking any of those performers out of a crowd.

On a related topic - here is the greatest co-worker Christmas card I've ever sent (I make my own, can you tell?):

A Warm Holiday Greeting

“Hello, I’m Fab Morvan, former ‘lead vocalist’ for Milli Vanilli.”

“And I’m the re-animated corpse of Rob Pilatus, the deceased second ‘vocalist’ for Milli Vanilli.”

We’re here to usher in warm Holiday tidings for you and your loved ones this Christmas season. Now, you may ask what Milli Vanilli has to do with the holidays, and the answer simple: If you think we’re selling these cards to help pay off our enormous tax burden and legal fees, well, Accounts Receivable, You Know its True.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,


(ed. note - Here's where the conversation between Randy and I went off-line. We joked about awarding our favorite New York shortstop Derek Jeter with the "Behind the Scenes Athlete Award" alluded to above, as a sarcastic nod to our opinion of his over-hyped status. However, after speaking with Randy, something else hit me, which I'll elaborate on below.)

Our friend "Smack" sent along the link to a recent column by writer Joe Posnanski, in which he spends the first half of the piece supporting my argument that Derek Jeter has long been one of sport's most over-rated athletes, and the second half of the piece illustrates that Jeter is quietly having the best season of his career in 2009.

Posnanski is absolutely spot on with his summary of Jeter's career, and as I put together this post shortly after reading Posnanski's column, it hit me: Derek Jeter is the Aerosmith of baseball. He enjoyed early career success, which allowed his popularity to endure through a highly over-rated majority of his career, and this year is his "Pump" year - possibly the best of his career - and just like Aerosmith was beaten out in the Grammy race in 1990 (losing to Living Colour), Jeter will most likely see his MVP bid fall short (to Joe Mauer), as well.

Plus, the dude looks like a lady.

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