Monday, September 24, 2018

Why It Might Be An Advantage to Have The Second Best Record in The AL

This post I first published 2 months ago on July 24, 2018 is even more relevant because since I wrote this post the Oakland A's in the AL West have played great baseball, having the best record in MLB these last couple of months.  That means there are four super teams in the American League led by the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, New York Yankees and now the Oakland A's.  If Houston wins the West, by virtue of finishing behind the Boston Red Sox, the Astros will not have to face the Wild Card winner [between the Yankees and the A's] but the Red Sox will [because they will have the best record in the AL].  That means if the Astros can beat the Indians in the ALDS, they will only have to face one of the other 3 best teams in the AL, while the Red Sox will have to face two of those other best teams back to back.  

That is why I repeat this post from July 24 and propose the following thesis =>

Why It Might Be An Advantage To Have The Second Best Record In The American League:

Full disclosure:  I am a 100% full-throated Houston Astros fan who is proud of the Astros winning the World Series Championship in 2017 and who wants them to repeat in 2018. Also, I would love for the Houston Astros to have the best record in, not just the American League, but in all of baseball to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

A million people in downtown Houston during Astros 2017 championship parade
While I would love for the Astros to have the best record in the American League going into the playoffs, a case can be made why it would be advantageous to have the second best record in the AL [and baseball].

There are many great teams in the American League and I don't want to slight any team, but it seems like, so far, the three best teams are the Boston Red Sox, the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees.  It would be very demanding for one of those teams to beat the other two, back to back, to make the World Series.  The Wild Card winner would almost certainly have to do that.  And who else would probably have to do that?  That would be the team with the best record in the American League.

Check out this official playoff format for MLB: [since MLB went to a second Wild Card team in 2012] "under the expanded wild card format the winner of the one-game wild card playoff faces the top-seeded divisional champion in the Division Series, regardless of whether the two teams are in the same division, while the second- and third-seeded divisional champions play each other in the other Division Series."

So, for example, if the Boston Red Sox had the best record in the American League, then that would mean automatically that the New York Yankees would be a Wild Card team playing a one game playoff.  If the Yankees were to win the Wild Card game, the Red Sox would have to face them in a tense 5 game series and not the Astros having to face them [and that would be true even if the Yankees also had a better record than the Astros].  That would mean the Houston Astros, by not having the best record in the AL could avoid playing the Yankees and the Red Sox back to back and at most they would only have to face one of them in the ALCS, and if somehow the Wild Card winner [let's say the Yankees] were to upset the Red Sox in a best of five series, then the Astros [provided they ended up with the second best record] would still have home field advantage in that Championship best of  7 series.  If the Red Sox were to beat their rival Yankees, they would then immediately have to play the Astros with, yes home field advantage, but in a 7 game series.  That certainly would be a big mountain for the Astros to overcome, but possibly not as hard as if they had to face the Yankees and then the Red Sox back to back [even though they would have home field advantage].

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Happy Birthday To Two Great Americans!

On this Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, I say:

Happy Birthday, Sheralyn!
I love you, Sheralyn!
Sheralyn, the fetching Mrs. B., is my love, my wife.  God has blessed me with such a wonderful wife, without who I would be lost in this world.  I did this post on her, "A Strong Black Woman"  and also this tribute for her and Jermaine, the son she lost May 25, 2013: "Tribute to a special child.""Tribute To A Special Child"

I love you , Sheralyn!  I don't know what I have done to deserve such a wonderful blessing.

Happy Birthday, Duane! 
Big Duane
Duane Patterson, is the producer of the Hugh Hewitt radio show, that is, the way Hugh tells it, if he only had a producer.   "Duane Patterson's New Life Journey" is a tribute to this courageous Christian man battling and defeating cancer.  As I stated in the post, cancer picked the wrong dude to mess with.  There is no doubt in my mind that Duane, with prayers to God and the wisdom God gave to Duane's  wonderful doctors in Germany and in this country, will completely defeat this cancer and will for decades will be the producer of the Hugh Hewitt Show.  

UPDATE From Sept. 2017: More than 5 years later [now in 2018, 6 years later], Duane has finished his treatment and the latest test results from his recent PET CT scan shows that Duane is virtually cancer free!  Thank you, Lord. 

I believe it is okay to say that Duane is celebrating the big 52.  Oh, and if you are wondering what birthday my wife is you think I'm crazy?  :-) 

So, these two great Americans don't just share the same birth date, but also a strong unwavering Christian faith who have battled the road blocks in life with a self reliant, strong willed fervor.  

Because of their courage, their faith, and their patriotism, both my wife Sheralyn and my friend, Duane Patterson, are truly heroes of mine.

On this 23rd of September, I wish my wife Sheralyn and my friend Duane Patterson a very Happy Birthday and many more!  Sheralyn and Duane, have a great blessed day on this, your day. 


Happy Birthday Sheralyn!

Happy Birthday Duane!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Tutti-Oh, What a Relief It Is

This is a Tales repeat post, that was first published in 2012.

A great feature of a Houston Symphony concert at Jones Hall is the pre-concert lecture they have called "prelude", which occurs about 45 minutes before each concert.  The speaker gives out wonderful information about the concert we are about to hear-about the music and about the composers.  I have learned much about classical music from these talks. I learned a new term from last Saturday's [January 21, 2012] prelude: tutti.

Tutti literally means all together [implying the whole symphony orchestra].  In a concerto, where there is a soloist and the orchestra, tutti passages are those passages where the orchestra plays while the soloist is silent.  Tutti passages can be very helpful to the soloist in a long concerto giving the soloist a brief break. 

Sergei Rachmaninoff [1873-1943]
We were told that the Rachmaninoff piano concerto #3, known as the Rach 3, is considered one of, if not the most difficult piano concertos ever composed.  It is so difficult not just because of the physical playing involving so many large chords and technically difficult passages, but also because there are very few tutti passages in the concerto.  It is almost continuous piano playing without a break for the soloist for very long stretches.

I did a post earlier on cadenzas where [usually near the end of the first movement and sometimes third movement of a concerto] the orchestra stops playing and is silent while the soloist gets to show off his virtuosity.  So, while cadenzas are meant to demonstrate the skills of the soloist, tuttis, when the orchestra plays while the soloist is silent, are sometimes helpful in giving the soloist relief in a physically demanding concerto.

Let's look at the aforementioned piano concerto by the great Russian Romantic composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.  You will see in this 14 minute plus finale, Alla breve, that except for a tutti passage that goes from 2:40-3:13 of this video and one from 9:00-9:22, it is continuous piano playing [and you will see that it is physically demanding continuous piano playing].  With this technical and physically demanding concerto, I'm sure the soloist appreciates those two tutti passages for some brief relief.

Because there are so few breaks for the pianist in the Alla Breve movement, the two tuttis that the pianist does have must have the soloist thinking to himself when the tuttis do come, "Oh, what a relief it is."  

Please turn up the volume and watch in full screen this great display of virtuosity by the soloist in the final movement of one of the greatest piano concertos in the repertoire, the "Rach 3".

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #3 in D minor, Movement 3, Alla breve:

Now an added bonus video of a concerto where I will let you see if you can pick out the tutti passages on your own; those passages where the orchestra is playing without the soloist.  I will stick with the Rachmaninoff theme by having the ultra beautiful final movement of Rahmaninoff's second piano concerto.  I'll give you the first tutti--the opening of the movement that lasts for about 20 seconds before the soloist enters the fray, and the second tutti from 1:47-2:19.  Now let's see if you can pick out the other tuttis. 

Again please turn up the volume and enjoy this melodic filled piano concerto, with one of my favorite pianist, Yuja Wang, as the soloist. 

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #2 in C-minor, Movement 3, Allegro Scherzando:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Great Czech's Great Cello Concerto

Yesterday [From July, 2014-updated in 2017] on the Tales classical music weekend I featured one of my favorite composers, Antonin Dvorak.  I gave five examples of great music from the Romantic Czech composer to give you a reason why I consider Dvorak one of my favorites.  I did not include my favorite piece from Dvorak, his great cello concerto, in order to save it for today's post.  Most people want to save the dessert for the last part of their meal in order to save the best for last, so, I saved this luscious treat for last. 

On yesterday's post I got this wonderful reply from a twitter friend and great and knowledgeable classical music enthusiast's  @PamelaGordon2:  "OMG; no highlighting of his exquisite cello concerto? I am telling Yo-yo Ma on you ;-))"

I love her most appropriate word exquisite and hope she doesn't mind if I borrow that in describing the greatest cello concerto ever composed.  Thanks Pamela and thanks Antonin Dvorak for this exquisite and at the same time exciting music.

Dvorak scored his masterpiece in B minor with 3 movements: 1. Allegro, 2. Adagio ma non troppo, and 3. Allegro-Andante-Allegro vivo.

Please turn up the volume to hear the exciting final movement of the great Czech's great cello concerto.  

Note: This awesome video on You Tube was posted by Jakob Koranyi , great cellist from Sweden who gives this magnificent virtuoso performance. You might want to subscribe to him on You Tube.

Antonin Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B-minor, Movement 3, Allegro Moderato: