Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Class of '09

The newly announced inductees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as seen through the prism of the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Run-DMC: Rickey Henderson
One thing Rickey knew how to do was to walk this way. The kings of rock did it first and did it best, and even if hip-hop or a .400 OBP took a little time to get accepted by the cognoscenti, there was no denying them when their time came.

Metallica: Jim Rice
The accepted meme around Rice is that he was the most feared hitter in baseball, and there was never anything scarier in rock than the glower of James Hetfield. Both gained attention early for some impressive accomplishments - rolling up over 400 total bases in a season, writing heavy-metal songs with eight different time signatures - then repeated those achievements at a lesser, unremarkable level, but long enough to get the call.

Jeff Beck: Bruce Sutter
A highly developed purveyor of something with limited value, Beck was a guitar god in that British jazz-blues field. Beck never had a hit (this is a solo nomination, so his work with the already-inducted Yardbirds doesn't count), although a lot of people who are more familiar with such things than I am say he's really good. I'll take their word for it, but to me, he's basically a less-funny Nigel Tufnel.

Little Anthony and the Imperials: Dean Chance
Little Anthony recorded one classic single, the utterly charming 1958 hit "Tears on My Pillow," and followed that up with two more worthy top ten hits, "Goin' Out of My Head" and "Hurts So Bad." Dean Chance was a great pitcher, if only for a moment, winning the Cy Young Award in 1964, when he led the AL in wins, ERA and shutouts with a staggering eleven. He won 20 games again in 1967, too, his "Goin' Out of My Head" season. "The Little River Band would have been a saner choice," a friend emailed me this afternoon. "So would Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul." To which I say: Come on. "Tears on My Pillow" is really good. But I'm not ruling out Little Eva.

Bobby Womack: Tony Perez The versatile soul man could do it all, although in a lot of cases he was relegated to sideman on greater artists' records, like Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On or Janis Joplin's Pearl or Joe Morgan's Reds.

Wanda Jackson: Dizzy Dean The hellion whom no one could tame flamed out early but left a mark on everyone who heard her. She later found success as a country and gospel singer, just as Dean did behind the mike as a slinger of English. Nick Tosches said you could fry an egg on her mons venus; his opinion of Dizzy Dean's genitalia has gone unrecorded.

Still on the outside looking in War: Tim Raines Both suffer from the fact that their most visible moments - Raines as a fourth outfielder on the late-90s Yankees, War backing up self-important white bluesman Eric Burdon - didn't showcase them at their best. Latino funk, like on-base skills, still has a hard time getting respect.

4 comments:

MJN said...

If you Google "Dizzy Dean's genitalia," you'll discover that this is the only place on the entire internet where that phrase can be found. Well done!

Rob said...

Brilliant work, Tom.

War's most famous hit was "Spill the Wine," which has obvious resonance for Tim Raines, who always slid headfirst to keep from spilling something else.

T. Nawrocki said...

I told you it went unrecorded. We have occasional readers who know Nick Tosches, though, so maybe they can check it out for us.

Thanks, Rob.

KickinFamily said...

Rob: One note on Raines... Not accurate to say he "always slid headfirst", presumably a reference to him doing so in order to not damage the cocaine in his back pocket... That issue was only during his second season, 1982, not something that was a career-long problem...