2018 Rapid Review

The year 2018 was a year. Here are some of our favorite things from the year that was 2018.

  • Atlanta United winning the MLS Cup, at home, in their second year of existence.
  • America’s women’s hockey team beating Canada to win gold at the winter Olympics.
  • Phish summer tour. My first time seeing them three nights in a row. That they never repeated a song during that stretch was notable but not terribly surprising. What was remarkable and never received the treatment at this site that it deserved was the overall quality of the performances, especially on Friday, August 3 but really consistently throughout the weekend, where a wide array of songs from across their thirty-five-year catalogue provided launching pads for fresh, collaborative jams time after time. It feels like the band has reached a new level.
  • Hamilton College’s Francis Baker, the American hockey goalie who stood up to Hitler. This was your most-read story posted on this site in 2018.
  • Steve McNair: Fall of a Titan. This, from Sports Illustrated, was my first foray into the true-crime podcast genre. The gist: what we were told was an open-and-shut case probably has a lot more to it than what the investigating police department allowed to meet the public eye. Story had some additional resonance for me because I had been living in Nashville at the time.
  • Maryland-Baltimore County beating Virginia to become the first-ever sixteen seed to beat a one seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
  • Justify‘s dominant Triple Crown achievement.
  • Baseball Hall of Fame adding Alan Trammell. Still no Cooperstown spot for teammate Lou Whitaker, though.
  • The Supreme Court clearing the way for states to authorize sports wagering.
  • J.R. Smith delivering the most memorable moment of LeBron James’ final series with Cleveland.
  • Shohei Ohtani making his major-league debut.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights reaching the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence.
  • Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in football again. The Commodores have won five of the last seven games in this series. (If you’d lost track of him, Derek Dooley’s currently working as the quarterbacks coach at Missouri.)
  • Baseball Prospectus revised its flagship bating metric and now concedes that Miguel Cabrera, not Mike Trout, deserved the 2012 and 2013 AL MVP awards.
  • Tiger Woods winning the PGA Tour Championship at East Lake.
  • In personal news, I published my first article at Baseball Prospectus, which took a look at whether MLB teams were colluding to depress player wages.
  • In memoriam:

Thank you for your readership this year. Look for more great content here in 2019.

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Analyzing college football coaches’ favorite musical artists

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ESPN conducted a survey of all 128 Division I college football coaches, asking them to name their favorite musical artist. The full list of responses is here. My cursory analysis is here:   Continue reading

Friday Jam Rumours

I am not much for cover bands, and tribute bands, I think, are even worse. The former are, at best, live-action human jukeboxes, and the latter present, to me, such an existential block that I can barely hear the music when I’ve found myself in their presence. I realize, though, that there is mounting evidence that I am a music snob, which is why I am happy to report the following:

Last week, a group of top young musicians from across the state came together to present a one-off tribute performance of Fleetwood Mac’s multi-platinum album, Rumours. In short, it was fantastic. The players were in full costume and persona, and they performed the album, as well as an encore of hits from the band’s other albums, extremely well. There really was a special feeling about the night, a fundraiser for the 100-year-old Wealthy Theatre, which served as the venue.

Because I’m planning to enjoy my vinyl copy over the weekend, I’m not going to feature a Rumours track in this space this week. Fleetwood Mac has a large catalogue and a long history, and many fans of their Stevie Nicks-era hits might not realize that the band went through a number of substantial changes in its history. The easiest way to think about it is as two different groups: first, a guitar-driven British blues group, and then second, as the vocal-driven pop act better known to FM stations today. The band’s founder, namesake, and drummer was Mick Fleetwood, and he and erstwhile bassist John McVie decamped from John Mayall’s legendary Bluesbreakers to form the steadfast rhythm section of Fleetwood Mac. They were fronted by what became a three-guitar attack of legendary players– Peter Green (writer of such songs as “Black Magic Woman”), Jeremy Spencer, and Danny Kirwan– all of whom eventually went mad, triggering the band’s first decline. Before that point, though, they were ripping the classics: