Well, it was really forty years ago this month the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, cited by many critics and musicians as the most significant album in rock ‘n roll history. It’s a Fab Four blog today – so get your “Ticket To Ride” and let’s get started.
“Yesterday” (This is the week that was): Marcus Lemon’s birthday is in June – he turned 19 a little earlier this month, and he’s celebrating with a hot streak. In his last ten games the Clinton Lumberkings IF is hitting .361 with 8 BB’s to only 7 K’s – for the entire month he’s hitting a robust .341 with a .422 OBP. Frisco OF Steve Murphy still has no problems with Texas League pitching – hitting .333 for his last 10 games, and .379 in June. The most interesting box score line this week: the Rangers second overall pick in the 2007 draft – RHP Michael Main – had 4 AB’s as the DH in an Arizona Rookie league game – yeah you’re reading that right – he did get a hit.
“With a Little Help From My Friends” (This is the week that will be): Two of the newly promoted and most promising pitchers in the Rangers farm system try to put mediocre starts behind them. Fabio Castillo starts on Friday for Spokane – then Eric Hurley gets his second AAA start on the road in Omaha on Saturday while Hurley’s teammate Mike Wood and his 2.44 ERA (51 K’s in 59 IP) continue to make a case for a promotion to the big leagues. Monday is “Smokey The Bear” night in Short Season Spokane. The forecast calls for high temperatures between 109 – 112 in Surprise where the Rookie League Rangers play early morning games – who knows we might even get to see Michael Main do a little of that pitching thing the Rangers drafted him to do.
“Good Day Sunshine” – I’m going to play optimist in spite of the weather and plan a trip to Frisco this weekend for one (or more) of their games with the Springfield Cardinals. There’s no use even trying to guess who will be on the mound – I do know John Mayberry Jr. will be there in the OF and German Duran may or may not be still around to play 2B.
“Here, There and Everywhere“ (This Week’s Non-Sequitor):
“I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” – Marlon Byrd’s is in pretty good groove, I’ve even read some suggestions about signing him to a longer contract – let me tap the brakes a bit on that. Marlon likes June and July – in 338 AB’s between 2003-2006 he’s hitting .295 with 6 HR’s. However, for the other 3 months of the season (April, August, September) he’s hit .240 in 1046 AB’s – I’m just sayin’.
“I Should Have Known Better” – More numbers (sorry I can’t help myself). As of the evening I’m writing this, the Rangers have played 23 games in June. What is the biggest reason for the vast difference between their fortunes in the first 11 games of the month and the last 12 games? You already know the answer:
June 1 – June 14
Offense: .291 batting average
Starting Pitching ERA in 50 IP: 10.08
Relief Pitching ERA in 48 IP: 3.93
June 15- June 28
Offense:.283 batting average
Starting Pitching ERA in 74 2/3 IP: 4.45
Relief Pitching ERA in 38 2/3 IP: 3.49
The Rangers miss Mark Teixeira’s offense, but they don’t need it nearly as much as they need reliable starting pitching.
“Tell Me Why” – I admit to reading this interesting comparison in the Newberg Forums. One the many online fantasy sites wrote an article saying Yankees OF Shelley Duncan was better prospect for OF depth than the Rangers Jason Botts. Really? Duncan (born 9/79) is a year older than Botts (born 7/80). Duncan’s career minor league BA is .251 with 103 HR’s and a career minor league OPS of .786. Jason’s career BA in the minors is .289 with 99 HR’s (almost as many as Duncan) and OPS of .870. Botts is currently hitting .313 leading the PCL in doubles, Duncan is hitting .302 second in the International League with 19 HR’s. Of course the biggest factor in Duncan’s favor – he wears those blue pinstripes that add Yankee hype but doesn’t always translate into reality (see Joaquin Arias).
“Paperback Writer” – There are some excellent books about the Beatles and Beatlemania. I recommend: Any of the books by Beatles archivist Mark Lewisohn. Mark was commissioned by the surviving Beatles to listen to all of their master tapes and recordings in order to help them chose the ones that were included on their Anthology CDs. My personal favorite Lewisohn book is "The Beatles Day By Day"– and I’ve read that he is working on a comprehensive three volume history of the group. The first part of the triology, tentatively titled "FAB" due out in 2009. (Guess what I will put on my 2009 Birthday Wish List on Amazon.com).
Also, Richard Delillo’s "The Longest Cocktail Party" about the birth and painful disintegration of Apple Corps (and the group) is a fascinating read. One of the more esoteric tome’s is "Revolution In The Head" by Ian McDonald. It reads like a graduate school thesis – however he wrote what I consider one the best descriptions of the essence of the Lennon-McCartney partnership:
“For most of their career, their partnership was a fiction, each writing (and as a rule singing) his own songs. That said, their close creative proximity generated the electric atmosphere of fraternal competition which was the secret of The Beatles’ extraordinary ability to better themselves; and where they did collaborate the results were nearly always remarkable, ascending on the tension between their contrasting personalities and gifts”
“Do You Want To Know A Secret” – They may not have been the “best” musically – but The Beatles were the most influential group in rock-n-roll. Every band that sells out a huge outdoor venue needs to remember The Beatles were the first to do that when they played at Shea Stadium. For all the rock stars who attempt to translate their success to the silver screen: “A Hard Day’s Night” was far better than one of those trumped up Elvis musicals – some have referred to it as the first and best music video (although I think the “Eleanor Rigby” sequence in Yellow Submarine deserves that kind of praise). Speaking of music and TV – let’s not forget that for a number of years The Beatles first TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show had the largest audience in American TV history (I was a first grader at Our Lady of Lourdes school in Toledo – yes I saw it and I remember – we never missed Ed Sullivan, Mom made sure we didn’t that night).
"The Long and Winding Road" – Forty years later the Beatles music endures. It’s on numerous television and radio commercials and is the centerpiece of a Las Vegas show. Paul McCartney’s latest solo album is #3 on the charts – and Chuck Morgan never fails to play Beatles songs at the Ballpark in Arlington. They are still the soundtrack of my life.
All you need is glove – Marla Hooch.