Dead Moon rising on Sub Pop

One of my favorite discoveries of the past few years is getting a proper retrospective on Sub Pop: Oregon garage rockers Dead Moon. They're one of the truly great unknown rock bands in the land of liberty, and now that their songs are readily available via a mega-indie, you have no excuse for not falling in fucking love. I say they sound like Love if Arthur Lee and the boys had huffed a mighty dose of Radio Birdman. Or, more to the point, they sound like a trio of crusty punks, each with a broken, bleeding heart tucked under a tight, sweaty T. It doesn't get any more sincere than Fred Cole and company. If anyone knows squat about maintaining his cool, it's Cole, whose pushing 60.

My only complaint about this 49-song comp is the omission of my fave Dead Moon song, "Crazy to the Bone". It would have been a fitting 50th song. Here's a synopsis from their Sub Pop bio to get you up to speed, followed by some tunes:

Clackamas, Oregon’s Dead Moon is truly one of the most independent and revered Northwest underground bands of all time. With Fred Cole on guitar and vocals, his wife Toody on bass and vocals, and the indefatigable Andrew Loomis on drums, Dead Moon have been churning out their own indescribable brand of rock and roll for nearly 20 years now. Their dedication and love for each other and what they do make it unlikely they will be stopping anytime soon.

Fred began his recording career in 1964 with The Lords, releasing the single "Ain't Got No Self-Respect." Fred’s next band The Weeds released a 7” before being renamed The Lollipop Shoppe to avoid confusion with The Seeds (with whom they shared a manager). Their 1968 burner “You Must Be a Witch” was released on 7” by MCA subsidiary Uni Records and eventually landed on the first Nuggets anthology box set. The Lollipop Shoppe / Weeds configuration went on to play with the likes of The Doors, The Seeds and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin before disbanding in 1969.

Fred and Toody met in Portland in 1966 after The Weeds ran out of gas on their way to Canada where members of the band were planning to wait out the Vietnam War. They were married in 1967, and when The Lollipop Shoppe disbanded in 1971, the couple spent some time homesteading in the Yukon, briefly lived in LA and finally landed back in Oregon, just outside of Portland, in Clackamas.

In 1987, after years spent playing in and releasing records by a dizzying succession of bands, Fred and Toody recruited Andrew Loomis to play drums for a new rock and roll band that would be stripped to its rawest essentials: electric guitar and bass with no effects, simple, powerful drumming, and tough, impassioned vocals (from both Fred and Toody). A red moon Fred and Toody saw on the way home from one of their many trips to Reno spawned the name for the new band, and Fred’s desperate, intense and haunting lyrics fit perfectly...

Dead Moon - "Dagger Moon"
Dead Moon - "A Miss of You"
Dead Moon - "Walking on My Grave"


You can beat the Cardinals...

...But you can't beat Pujols. It's a saying that started in Cardinals nation last year, gaining significant momentum in the playoffs when Albert crushed that game-winning home run against Brad Lidge. It's been true ever since then, including last night when Pujols collected his 23rd game-winning hit of the season -- 18 of which have been homers. Last night's was merely a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth against Lidge. With that hit, Pujols probably halted the Astros run at the postseason.

Talk of the MVP race is heating as usual in September. Ryan Howard has grabbed a bulk of the headlines with his barrage of home runs, and deservedly so. The kid is having a monster second half. If you look at his core stats -- 56 HR, 138 RBI, .316 AVG -- he's hard to argue against. I don't buy into the argument that if the Phillies miss the playoffs he shouldn't receive as much consideration in voting, because he's carried his team this far -- to the brink of a playoff spot. There are too many other factors that will ultimately decide if his team makes it or not. But we can be certain that they wouldn't be in the hunt this late in the season without his lumber.

However, I can't give him the nod over Pujols -- despite the traditional stats in his favor. Pujols only leads Howard by the slimmest of margins in OPS, and trails him by a considerable amount in homers and ribbies. But I can't get beyond those Major League-leading 23 game-winning hits. Where would the Cards be without even half of those? The answer is in second place -- or worse. I shy away from the term "clutch" because so much of baseball is pure luck. But in Pujols' case, I make an exception. The man is capable of willing his team to victory, and he's proven that fact time and time again this season. His typical Pujols numbers (he's on pace for a career-best 51 HR, 137 RBI, and 121 runs) coupled with his stellar play in the field (a Gold Glove is not out of the question) give him the qualities one looks for in an MVP candidate. And his name recognition alone will probably give him the slight nod. But this year, maybe more so than any other, he truly deserves it, with key injuries to Edmonds and Eckstein (his protection and lead-off hitter) and our pitching staff's ineffectiveness causing this team to stumble throughout the season. This is weakest Cardinals team of the Pujols era.

Of course, just because he deserves it doesn't mean that he'll get it. He'll have to battle Howard, set to break 61 homers, and fabulous seasons from Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano, and Miguel Cabrera, the latter of which right now is what Pujols was to Bonds four years ago. But for my money, there's no one else in baseball that I want at the plate with the game on the line and runners on base. And that, to me, is one true way to measure an MVP.

I'll leave you with these splits, which illustrate that sometimes the numbers don't give you the whole truth. RBIs -- of which Howard leads Pujols by 18 at this point -- are a function in part of the effectiveness of the lineup around you. Anyone who has watched more than a handful of Cardinals games this season can tell you how poor our 7-8-9-1-2 hitters have been this year at reaching base. Pujols has simply had fewer opportunities to knock in runners than Howard: Albert's had 150 plate appearances with runners in scoring position; Ryan's had 197. What Albert has done with those opportunities, however, is why he gets my vote for MVP.

With runners in scoring position, Albert is hitting .383 and slugging .766 to Howard's .248 and .517. With runners in scoring position and two outs, Albert is hitting .405 and slugging .703 to Howard's .230 and .473. Howard narrows the gap in close and late situations -- Albert's at .306/.742 to Howard's .293/.646 -- but the fact remains that Albert does his damage when it counts the most. Hard to argue with that.

UPDATE: Apparently, I should write for ESPN. I noticed this article was posted today, but I had no advance knowledge of it before penning the above. Funny, we're making a lot of the same points.


The absolute worst baseball uniforms of all time: Part 2, 1950-2006

It's been a while since Part 1 of my countdown of the worst fashion baseball has had to offer. Without further ado, here's the second half of the list. I'm skipping odd one-off unis that have appeared, like those camo jerseys the Padres occasionally trot out in honor of the troops.

Baseball unis from 1950 on are, for the most part, a bore. I had a hard time finding anything from 1950-1970 worth including on this list. Uniforms were plain Jane, to a fault. The same can be said for 1990 onward. The years inbetween, especially the flamboyant '70s, make up the bulk of this list thanks to uniforms featuring lots of color. Enough color to blind you. Colors that grown men should never wear from head to toe. And that makes their selection almost too easy. Or, maybe too hard. It's difficult to fault those who tried to stray from the norm. But instead of interjecting just a splash of color, these uniforms go overboard. Here's the losers...

No. 10
1969 Seattle Pilots (64-98; last in AL West)

Ah, the one-year losers that gave us Jim Bouton's Ball Four and these sickly road unis. The Pilots got the trend started: yellow as an accent color on powder blue unis. Upon relocating to Milwaukee in 1970 and renaming themselves the Brewers, the team continued this terrible tradition well into the '80s. But back to the Pilots, led by a group of grizzled vets, including two-time batting champ Tommy Davis and the aforementioned Bouton, the Pilots stunk it up and would be all but forgotten if not for Ball Four, easily one of the top five baseball books ever published.

No. 9
1983 New York Mets (68-94; last in NL East)

From 1962-82, the Mets home uniform looked pretty much the same. Pinstripes, blue caps and stirrups, and "Mets" scrawled across the chest in cursive. In 1983, they added a small embellishment -- an orange and blue stripe -- down the shoulders and up the sides. In a word: overkill. Why add stripes to a pinstriped uni? The Mets had been sucking for years, and this change to their uni's trim did little to turn that around in their first season in revamped unis. However, in the following season Davey Johnson came on board as skipper, Darryl Strawberry blossomed, and a young kid named Doc Gooden toed the rubber in his rookie season. Needless to say, they did alright despite their uniforms.

No. 8
1977 Atlanta Braves (61-101; last in NL West)

In case you haven't noticed the trend yet, teams playing in ugly uniforms haven't fared so well. The '77 Braves didn't buck that trend, finishing a distant last to the Garvey-Cey-Lopes-Russell Dodgers. Red pinstripes should never be an option. Ever. This was the first of four years the Braves tried this look for their home jerseys, and they won an average of just 69 games per year over that time span. The '77 Braves featured one of my favorite-named players of all time, catcher Biff Picoroba, as well as slugger Jeff Burroughs and a second-year outfielder soon to break through, Dale Murphy. A couple other points of interest about this team: 1) Phil Niekro tossed 330 innings that year, the first of three-straight years of 330-plus innings; and 2) media mogul and hands-on team owner Ted Turner took a turn as manager one day in the '77 season. It was his first, and only, turn as skipper, and the Braves did him the honor of losing. About managing, Turner said, "Managing isn't that difficult, you just have to score more runs than the other guy". On this day, he didn't, as they lost 6-2 to the Big Red Machine.

No. 7
1971 Baltimore Orioles (101-57; won AL pennant)

The '71 O's bucked the losing trend of the other teams on this list with their third-straight 100-win season. Earl Weaver's boys were led by sluggers Frank Robinson and Boog Powell and a vacuum cleaner at third, Brooks Robinson. And in this particular year, four 20-game winners: Cuellar, Dobson, Palmer, and McNally. Helluva team; still surprises me that they only won one World Series in three successive attempts. Anyway, in 1954 the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. For several years, the O's kept the Browns brownish unis, eventually morphing from brown to a dull orange. For one year only, they tried an alternate uni at home that featured an orange jersey and pants. I think it speaks for itself -- not the best look. It must've gone over with a dud, as they used orange only as an accent color the following three years before going back to orange jerseys for a long stretch. The question on my mind is: Does Listmaker have this vintage orange uni, and if so would he kindly model it?

No. 6
1975 Cleveland Indians (79-80; 4th in AL East)

Everyone knows the Indians sucked in the '70s. Matter of fact, they pretty much defined mediocrity throughout the '60s, '70s, and '80s, until Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez rescued them in the mid-'90s. That '75 team was managed by 39 year-old, rookie skipper Frank Robinson, who took his turn in the field as well. Was it Frank's idea to make one of the Indians' two road unis feature red pants and jerseys? (Maybe he was inspired by the success of the '71 O's? After all, Boog Powell played on this Cleveland team, too.) They sort of look like ketchup bottles, especially if you imagine the unis without the blue undershirts. The unis stuck around throughout Robinson's three-year stint as manager, and then promptly disappeared just as he did. So maybe he did have something to do with the bold look?

No. 5
1963 Kansas City A's (73-89; 8th in AL)

In the '60s, the KC A's were continuing their proud tradition of being a farm team for the Yankees. The A's roster was like a turnstile during this time. They would ship their best talent to the Yankees and other winning clubs in losing trades time and time again. Their stability was so poor that the team actually used 11 managers in the decade of the '60s alone. This particular team featured a bunch of who-dats: Bobby Del Greco, Gino Cimoli, Jose "Father of Danny" Tartabull, Ed Charles, and the like. Five years later, owner Charlie Finley would move the team to Oakland. But in '63, Finley had other changes in mind, namely to his team's unis. This was the beginning of the colors green and yellow for the A's. Finely ditched red and blue for the more vibrant scheme, which surely shocked his players as much as the fans. At least he had some restraint: Upon moving the team to Oakland in '68, Finley decided to make the socks yellow, too. It would have been easy to select any of the '70s A's unis for this list, but this is where they all got their start.

No. 4
1972 San Diego Padres (58-95; last in NL West)

Speaking of yellow, how about this variation on a theme? Ugh. Coupled with the brown, doesn't this scheme sort of resemble cat diarrhea? The Padres have had some ugly uniforms since their inception in '69, but none top this uni, which somehow survived for two seasons. I don't know how anyone could get geared up to play when part of the process involved slipping into this uniform. Sure enough, the Padres won just 37% of their games while wearing these colors. In '72, they were under the guidance of rookie manager Don Zimmer, who had an anemic offense and an abysmal pitching staff to name as scapegoats. But I'd still blame the unis.

No. 3
1975 Houston Astros (64-97; last in NL West)

Seriously, are you keeping track of how many of these teams suck? How can you possibly ignore the threads when considering how poorly these teams performed? The Astros went radical in '75 with the debut of these famous jerseys, which they wore both at home and on the road. Never has any team tried something so odd. I was tempted to put this uni on the good list, simply because it's such a ballsy design. But let's be honest, do bands of orange and yellow stripes do much for hiding the gut of a major league player? I think not. But the Stros kept these jerseys around until 1987. And throughout those years, they did have some flashes of brilliance, three times winning their division. But in '75 they stunk. Fireballer J.R. Richard, then 25, had yet to strut his All-Star stuff, and veteran Larry Dierker was at the end of the rainbow (and there was no pot of gold). But over the next four seasons Richard would win 74 games and strike out 1,044 batters while his team slowly rose in the standings.

No. 2
1979 Philadelphia Phillies (84-78; 4th in NL East)

Well, pick your poison with this one. I hate all three of these uniforms. The Phillies had been sporting the maroon pinstripes at home for years. It's the easiest one to swallow of the bunch, but still makes my stomach turn due to the lack of an accent color. So you would think adding another color would help. But when that color is baby blue, well, puke. Those road jerseys had been around for several seasons as well. But the all maroon solid color look, that was new in '79 with the arrival of Pete Rose, and it didn't last a year longer. I'm guessing that Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton approached ownership after the season and said, "Either the alternate unis go, or we go." And the Phils chose wisely.

No. 1
1977 Pittsburgh Pirates (96-66; 2nd in NL East)

Chuck Tanner's "Fam-a-Lee" sure played the game the right way; too bad they were wearing the wrong unis. The Pirates needed to fire their creative director. I mean, who came up with one of these unis and then said, "You know what? We need four more uniforms to complement this one. I'll get to work." All five of these unis debuted in '77, even though they were popularized by the '79 World Series winners. I've got an image of Dave Parker in uni No. 4 emblazened in my mind from my childhood, and I don't think I could shake it if I wanted to. The worst part of these uniforms was the hat, with its piping wrapping around the skull several times. U.G.L.Y. But the ridiculousness of Pittsburgh's uniforms coincided with the excessiveness of the Disco era, and in part I can excuse such blunders in design as a result. Still, large adult men simply should not wear bright yellow uniforms. M and Chris may disagree, but they're just allowing their childhood emotions to get the best of 'em.

On turning 30

I believe it was former Giants outfielder Chili Davis who said, "growing old is mandatory; growing up is not." Mark Twain may have put it better when he said, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." But I prefer the ageless wisdom of Bob Hope, who said, "middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle." So by adopting that philosophy, I'm still in my 20s.

But who am I kidding? The 20s sucked. They were so ... you know ... 20s. At any rate, they're over. Ain't no going back. I woke up one day last month, and I was 30. I even took a picture to prove it.

My 30th just happened to fall on a Sunday, and not just any Sunday but the Sunday that the Cards went for a sweep of the Cubs. To celebrate the potential broomstick I headed to Mike & Molly's with my peeps. There, I met up with the MVP of the '82 World Series, Mr. Darrell Porter, and we enjoyed a cold one. (Left to right: Cold One, Porter, a kick-ass homemade B-day card.)

Later that night, I was given plenty of fabulous gifts. Gary Bennett hit a walk-off grand slam to secure the sweep of the Cubs, and my friends chipped in a stack of old baseball cards (including some Fleer!), several mix CDs, a gift card that turned into Willie Nelson's new book The Tao of Willie, a collection of Cardinals DVDs showcasing their World Series years from the '40s to the present (thanks M!), and the following stellar shirt from D&A (keeping me in the coolest threads as I enter my 30s).

Of course, no birthday at MnMs is complete without an Irish Car Bomb (or two). Bombs away!

I'm not sure that Amy -- who turned 30 just one month prior -- approves of all this drinking.

I leave you with this, a salute to beards and Hall-of-Famers with the baby blue Birds on the Bat. Bet you wish you got this for your b-day, huh?