Jim Tremayne is the editor of DJ Times, a monthly trade magazine for professional DJs. He lives in New York, but he's a UGA grad and native of Columbus, Georgia, and is a huge fan of the Dawgs, the Braves, and the New Jersey Devils. He comments on Braves Journal as Ububba. This is also the game thread for today's opportunity to sweep the Reds, when Kenshin Kawakami will go against Micah Owings, who at this point in his career looks like a much better hitter than a pitcher. I'd never put it past the Braves offense to miss an opportunity, but on paper this sure looks like a great time to sweep our way above .500.
1. You do a better job keeping a bad Braves loss in perspective than any other Braves fan I know, because you survived the '70s and '80s teams. What do you think about the 2009 Braves? How confident do the Mets fans feel?
It's true that the Braves have served up some giddy highs & depressing lows over the years, but my general perspective on the Bravos is informed by plenty of other experiences as well--namely, seeing other fans acting entitled or just plain crazy. That happens here in New York, of course, but it happens in the SEC, too. Kentucky basketball comes to mind.
Basically, I wanna enjoy sports, so I don't let 'em get me bent out of shape. I go to tons of Yankee games--and, don't get me wrong, the overall experience is interesting as hell--but there's a certain joyless quality among a good chunk of that fanbase. If a non-title year is considered a "failure," as it seems to be in YankeeLand, then why bother?
If the sport's ultimate championship is the only way your team can make you happy, I hate to break the news, but you could probably use some kind of prescription. As great as the '95 title was to all Braves fans, my brightest shades of Braves-happy resulted from the 13-game winning streak at the beginning of the 1982 season, the entire 1991 season (still my favorite team), and Francisco Cabrera's pennant-winner in 1992. To me, the '95 title was half-expected, but none of those other experiences were.
This year's Braves? Like most post-2005 seasons, I have some guarded optimism, but my gut feeling isn't so doomy-gloomy. Why? Mainly because this team has something we didn't really have last year: pretty good starting pitching. When it comes to team construction, I'll take that as top priority every time.
Nonetheless, this team's issues are obvious. Most anyone coming out of the bullpen not named Soriano is at least a little suspect. Gonzo may have a good year. Moylan might bounce back. But these other guys? For them, I can't project guarded optimism. It's been said & written plenty that there are few things more disheartening than a crappy bullpen. After 16 games, it seems we could have one.
Yes, the lineup is shaky. We have exactly 2 scary hitters & they've had trouble staying healthy. (Nothing against Omar Infante or Martin Prado, but how come guys like that never seem to have freak injuries related to Lasic surgery, vertigo or on-deck circle warm-ups?) I suspect that our 1-2 hitters will be alright, but prone to slumps & GIDPs. And Frenchy/Kotch/Diaz? Not exactly work-the-pitcher types, all flawed players to varying degrees--surprise me, fellas. IMO, Schafer gets a pass for the time being. Bat 8th, catch the ball & try not to strike out so much, and we'll see where we end up this year.
If this team is going to enter post-season, I think a lotta best-case scenarios have to happen. Will Atlanta be playing meaningful baseball after Labor Day? I'll say yes, but mainly because this year's division lacks a great team. I'm thinking 88 wins could win the East.
The Mets? Often a favorite subject with me and, right now, the current level of fan freakout has gone into the red. Santana beat the Nats on Friday night, but they also just got bludgeoned by the Cards. Flushing folks remain restless. In LF, Daniel Murphy looks like Foster Brooks (or Matt Diaz). Big hits have been few--that will change some, of course, but they're something like 3rd in NL hitting & 10th in runs. Santana has been Cooperstown-caliber awesome, with a 0.70 ERA--yet each of the other four starters has ERAs over 7.00. And as of today, they have a worse record than the Braves. What's not to like?2. How do you juggle between your loyalties? If the Braves, Dawgs, and Devils are all playing, which do you watch, and which do you flip to during commercials?
Oh, it's easy. MLB, SEC football & the NHL pretty much cover the 12 months, and hockey's great for that winter sports deadzone. Baseball's every day, so the emotion tends to accumulate in patches; the Dawgs, however, are a bit of an event for me and, in some ways, it's more rewarding to follow from afar.
The Devils are something I picked up when I moved to the area in 19 years ago. I went to a playoff game in '91 (Devs vs Penguins with Mario Lemieux) and I got hooked. As I grew up in Georgia, it was a sport I didn't fully understand, so I set out to get a handle on it--the Devils were my entry point. Lucky for me, the Devils (along with the Red Wings) have been the sport's most successful team since then and I've seen a succession of players that have been an absolute pleasure to follow.
So...what to watch? Depends on the gravity of the situation, the game's implications. Of course, in reality, they can only all play at the same time in October. So the Braves would probably get the nod--and I'd have the Dawgs on the laptop. Devils, I'd catch the score because it would be the first month of the season. Of course, if it's Devils-Rangers...
The Real Scenario: The last few nights have seen the Devils playing Carolina in the playoffs. That got my undivided attention, while the Braves were playing quietly on the laptop on MLB.TV.
If you're a real hockey fan, you know that there's nothing like having your team in the playoffs. There's always that moment where you feel what I call "the fear." It's the realization that all can go wrong in an instant--that shift, that game, that series, that season. But because hockey is such a fluid game, that moment can be quickly righted as well. In the baseball post-season, there's no clock, of course, so it's a slower agony when things go wrong. But, unlike hockey, you can go from near-defeat to victory in an instant, as in the Cabrera hit in '92. You can't score 2 goals at once, but you can score 4 runs at once.3. What are you listening to at the moment?
Just got back from the gym where I listened to Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde, so I guess that counts. Other current gym CDs: The Best of The O'Jays, Talking Heads' Fear of Music, Metallica's Death Magnetic & Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus.
New stuff? I like what I've heard from the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs record [It's Blitz!], but it's been electronica mostly: A remix/retrospective called History Elevate by Detroit techno legend Kevin Saunderson; an unreal 2-CD mix compilation (Balance_14) from this Dutch techno guy named Joris Voorn that has 100+ mixes, pretty spectacular stuff for a DJ record; just got some unreleased mixes from these teen house-music DJs called The Martinez Brothers that are really good; a nd I've been listening online to this mash-up guy from the UK called Fake Blood. I'm not a huge mash-up guy anymore, because it's just so overdone in the clubs now, but his approach is really gritty and fun. He cuts up the Bad Brains--good enough for me.4. If you were commissioner of baseball, what changes would you make?
I could go on forever here, so I'll offer just two. If nothing else, I'd get rid of the DH & have everyone play real baseball--everyone bats, everyone wears a glove. Despite my pubescent induction in the Kiss Army, I generally don't go for gimmicks.
While I'd love to dump the ridiculous Wild Card setup, I realize you can't get rid of a round of revenue-generating playoffs. Nonetheless, I'd try to bring some sanity to the post-season by giving the #1 team in each league an advantage. (I'm not sure an extra home game would qualify--yes, 4 home games in a best of 5 series--but it's a start. [ed. note: Rany Jazayerli suggested the same.]) Or even go the odd route of adding another Wild Card team, so you have a one-game playoff between the 2 WC teams and make the winner start its series with the top team the very next day, just to tax the pitching. Also, if you're going to have this Wild Card system, you gotta play balanced regular-season schedules.
The best teams don't win much anymore because MLB rewards relative mediocrity by treating crappy division winners and WC teams the same as the league's most dominant teams. The St. Louis Cardinals had baseball's 13th best record in 2006, but, by virtue of their geography and a misguided system, they won the big APBA tournament that MLB post-season has become. Kinda ridiculous. I'm still surprised that things like that don't bother more fans.5. Now for the serious one... print journalism is going through terrible times these days, with a bad economy and an uncertain business model in the age of the internet. (I should know, working at a newspaper that's hurting badly.) How is it going at DJ Times? Do you have any insights into what works online, what makes money, and who may survive this awful recession? Any advice?
I'm afraid I don't have any more insight than anybody else in this business. Like other pubs, DJ Times has had to adopt some belt-tightening measures, but (again, lucky for us) we've always been a lean-and-mean outfit, even in grander times. At my publishing company (which has 3 other pubs), everyone does a lot of things--and it's always been that way. For example: because DJ Times has 3 related properties, I edit and write for the magazine, I co-organize an annual trade show/exhibition, and I co-organize a sponsored 20-date DJ tour.
What works online? Depends on what you're trying to accomplish. In my world, unique content (or at least a unique voice) can go a long way. Our site includes stories from the magazine, but it's unique in that we believe our approach to the market is different from other outlets.
The site also has a tremendous archive. We've been publishing for almost 21 years & we have nearly 12 years worth of issues online--cover stories on the biggest DJs of all genres (from Jam Master Jay to Fatboy Slim, Paul van Dyk to QBert) going back to 1998. I think that qualifies as unique. The company's diversity of properties has allowed us to survive and, I believe, so has our dedication to the market.
My advice to writers, journos & the like: Keep writing, develop your voice & avenues will open. And remember, great art always comes from trying times.