Friday, August 31, 2007

September Stretch Run: MLB Divisional Races Continue to Compel

There’s nothing like excellent baseball, surprise performances and competitive division races to help baseball fans forget about steroids. The 2007 season has been incredibly entertaining. Even at this relatively late date, nothing is assured for any front-runner, and the Wild Card subplots add yet another level of intrigue. Here’s a divisional overview:


EAST—Well, it’s presumed to be the Red Sox all the way. They’ve been comfortably atop the division all year, and currently lead by 5 games. Except the Yankees just swept them three straight. The Yanks look incredibly strong up and down their lineup, and we’re not necessarily talking about A-Rod, Jeter, Posada and Matsui. They’re getting big contris also from Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, a revitalized Jason Giambi and even Johnnny Damon. The New York starting pitching has been suspect all year, but suddenly they seem to have a strong triumvirate in Chien-Ming Wang (pictured, left), Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, each of whom recently turned in gemlike performances. As for the Sox, well, Manny Ramirez is nursing an injury, and frankly, they just don’t look as strong up and down their lineup. They have Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Dice-K and Tim Wakefield hurling well enough, so maybe they’ll hang on. But beware the Yankee storm. Whoever doesn't win the division is a good bet for the Wild Card.

CENTRAL—The Cleveland Indians are starting to assert themselves. Led by catcher Victor Martinez (left) and an overachieving pitching staff, they lead Detroit by 4.5 games at the moment, and have won 8 of their last 10, while the Tigers keep treading the waters of mediocrity, recently dropping 2 of 3 to the lowly Royals. The Twins have gamely tried to stay afloat here, but now find themselves 9 games back. They have an outside shot at the Wild Card, but otherwise will have to be content to play the role of spoiler. Then there’s the White Sox. Less than two years removed from a world championship, Chicago is mired in last place, 20 games under .500. Since 2005, the Sox have watched their ace pitching staff deteriorate, they traded away important cogs like Aaron Rowand and Tadahito Iguchi, and they’ve suffered injuries to guys like Joe Crede. Now, except for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, they’ve got the worst record in the American League. Sad.

WEST—This one might be the closest to a gimme we’ve got in all of baseball. The Angels’ lead over the Seattle Mariners is 5.5 games. It’s not a shoo-in yet, but the Halos simply are a tough bunch. They’re over .500 on the road, and they are killers at home (the best mark in all of baseball at 44-20). Vlad Guerrero (pictured, left, hat askew as always) is a run-producing machine (check out his career stats here). Plus vet Garret Anderson is irrepressible, Gary Matthews Jr. has come into his own, and Chone Figgins, who was hitting under .200 at one point earlier in the season, is now at .335. The pitching looks good enough, too. As for the M’s, they’ve been tough customers all year, getting surprising contris up and down the lineup from no-names and reclamation projects like Jose Guillen and Richie Sexson. Alas, they’re currently on a 6-game losing streak, and the pitching staff, also dotted with older wannabes like Jarrod Washburn and Jeff Weaver, just doesn’t look sound enough. But the Mariners are only one game off the Wild Card pace, so the postseason is still there for the taking. Just one other thought about the West: The Texas Rangers’ Sammy Sosa will be 39 on November 12. It’s probably fair to say his body must be steroid-free at this point. Sammy’s got 18 homers and 78 RBIs. Solid numbers, and it’s a surprise no pennant contender has tried to pick him up for insurance down the stretch.


EAST—The presumed-favorite Mets are still in the lead here, but they just dropped a three-game series to the surging Phillies. The Mets’ lead is only two games now, and they need to beware. The Phillies’ lineup at the top is unreal: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard (left), and Rowand are a formidable bunch. Starting pitching is an issue for the Phils, though. Vet Jamie Moyer wins sometimes, but his ERA is 5.08. And after the excellent youngster Cole Hamels, there are other young arms that remain untested in the pressure of a pennant race. Recently acquired Kyle Lohse might help. The Mets would seem to have the better pitching, but Tom Glavine and El Duque, both chronological wonders, are nonetheless not in their primes. Also, ace John Maine has been having a lackluster second half. Oliver Perez offers hope here. Also, keep an eye on the Mets’ run production. Despite bats like Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Moises Alou, they seem to be getting carried lately solely by Jose Reyes and David Wright. The return of Paul Lo Duca from injury should help. Then, sitting back 4.5 games (in their division and also the Wild Card race), are the mysterious Atlanta Braves, a weird mix of younger little-knowns and vets like Chipper Jones, Edgar Renteria and Andruw Jones. The Braves have nine players with double-digit home run totals, including Jeff Francoeur, who is having a breakout season, and the recently acquired slugging first baseman Mark Texeira. Pitching is led by a rejuvenated Tim Hudson and the amazing John Smoltz. Question marks abound, but the Braves, without doubt the finest baseball organization of the past 20 years, can never be discounted. Still, the Wild Card might be their best bet. [Division note: The Washington Nationals are heading south pretty fast these days, after playing gamely and having a few positive streaks. But that doesn’t mean Manny Acta shouldn’t receive serious consideration for Manager of the Year. This team has simply awful pitching. Not a single guy in the rotation has more than 6 wins, and the Nats have trotted out 13 different starters this season. With string and baling wire, Acta has held this team together, without ever losing faith.]

CENTRAL—A real dogfight here. The Brewers—with a solid mix of vets and younger stars like Prince Fielder (left) and rookie Ryan Braun—looked solid, until injury to Ben Sheets and drooping pitching performances elsewhere saddled the team with almost fatal losing streaks. They remain 2.5 games off the pace of the Cubs, whose pitching looks stronger if not exactly spectacular. The Cubs just got Alfonso Soriano back from injury, yet he’s still limping a bit, and manager Lou Piniella insists on batting him leadoff, which seems to be a mistake, especially since he’s leading the team in homers. And never bet on the Cubs; they always find ways to fail. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are but a half game behind the Brewers and only three games off the Cubs’ pace. The Cards have time-tested vets in their lineup—Pujols, Eckstein, Edmonds, Rolen—and it’s probably best to keep in mind that they’re the 2006 world champs. Their pitching looks no better than everyone else, however. Fact is, even the Wild Card looks remote for the Brewers and Cards—there are five teams ahead of them—so it’s division title or bust. Things are so tight in the Central, that even the Cincinnati Reds, at 62-72, are only 7 games out of first. This’ll go down to the wire.

WEST—Another barn-burner division. The surprising Dbacks currently lead the Padres by a game. The Dodgers are only 4 games back; the Rockies only 6 off the pace. A cold analysis says the Padres have the pitching, with starters Peavy, Maddux and Chris Young, and ace reliever Trevor Hoffman. But Arizona has 2006 Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb, and is getting a dominant performance out of stopper Jose Valverde (left). And the team is scrapping offensively in one of those magical ways that could smack of inevitability. The Dodgers are a schizoid bunch. They have veteran talent—Pierre, Furcal, Kent, Nomar (when healthy)—and youngsters like Ethier, Loney and Kemp are helping keep the ship afloat. Brad Penny is having a Cy Young-type year, but after that it’s .500 pitching with an occasional bright spot from guys like Chad Billingsley. The recent addition of David Wells may bring more PR value than practical results. Everyone here, including the Rockies, is thick into the Wild Card race, and strangely enough, a division once thought to be weak throughout, now has the two top league leaders in winning percentage. If the Mets don’t falter, West teams will be fighting the Phillies for the play-in slot.

Now you’re up to speed. Enjoy the last month!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Worst Football Telecast Ever: Overhyped Vick-Watch Hangs ESPN’s TV Coverage

NFL preseason games have no bearing on the standings. Yet preseason matchups are invaluable, not only for the teams trying to get warmed up and test out their rookies, but for gamblers and prognosticator types as well, who are looking for clues to the teams’ forthcoming performances in the regular season. There’s always some talk around the NFL about trimming the so-called exhibition schedule, but I would say that four games is about right, especially since coaches do a nice job of using their stars sporadically and/or measuredly, to get them some work but not to overexpose them to possible injury in meaningless contests.

So preseason tilts certainly have their value. Which is why it was a bummer witnessing last night’s ESPN telecast of the Bengals-Falcons game, which just might qualify as the Worst Football Telecast Ever.

The game being set in Atlanta, there was, naturally, focus on Michael Vick’s recent legal troubles. But talk about your overkill. What the ESPN team did to the game itself was as bad as...well, as bad as electrocuting a dog for not having enough killer instinct.

The Vick-obsessed ESPN talent were so intrusive into the game that we received absolutely no play-by-play during a two-play sequence where the Falcons followed up a key reception with a TD catch-and-run by Jerious Norwood, both throws delivered by new Falcons QB Joey Harrington, who had a very nice game and looked like a viable replacement for jail-bound Vick. No doubt color man Ron Jaworksi was champing at the bit to work last night, but how could he, when all we got were ceaseless and repetitive commentary and interviews about the Vick situation?

At one point, we had pointless cutie-pie Suzy Kolber interviewing another ESPN employee, Chris Mortenson. Uh...that makes no sense. Then to play the politically correct feminist and racial cards, we had overwrought Michele Tafoya interviewing black Atlanta newspaperwoman Cynthia Tucker. Then play-by-play guy Mike Tirico welcomed into the broadcast booth someone named David Cornwell, a so-called “ESPN legal analyst.” (Is Cornwell a lawyer? We weren’t told.) Cornwell is African American as well. He added nothing new to the Vick discussion; just the same old speculation that had been swirling all day and night everywhere. But at least he was the right “color man” to enter the fray. (God forbid we have more white people on air daring to say that Vick is one messed-up dude, even though we all know he is, no matter what color we are.)

Then there was the other sorta color guy, Tony Kornheiser, looking bored and being boring. No passion, no humor, no insight into the game or performances. Totally expressionless and blah, Tony—and no thanks for your (attempted) sage-like words on the social implications of L’affaire Vick.

There were oddball shots into the booth, for example, of Jaworksi and Kornheiser standing up while Tirico was sitting. (Can you say awkward??) Self-consciousness ran rampant, and the constant Vick frenzy—Does ESPN think they’re CNN during the Gulf War?—was emphasized and pounded into the ground ad nauseam. All to the detriment of our prime reason for showing up: to watch the game and to see how the Falcons QBs would handle their assignments.

In fact, anyone who’d watched even a little TV earlier in the day already knew the situation or had heard sound bites of Vick’s “public confession,” which was yet another overplayed scenario out of the modern-day jock PR playbook. (“I want to apologize to the fans,” etc.) Suck it up, Vick. We don’t give a damn if you apologize to anybody. You certainly needn’t apologize to us for throwing away the remainder of your 10-year, $130 million contract because you like to watch, partake of and invest in dogfighting.

It was a hellacious experience watching that broadcast, and sorta pathetic to see ESPN mandating such a hyper, tabloid-type journalistic style.

Oh, in case you wondered, the Falcons won, 24-19. Harrington was 13-21 for 164 yards and 2 TDs, with no interceptions. He looked good. So did backup Chris Redman.

It actually was a very good game. But thanks to ESPN, you’d never have known it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Falcons Better Off—and Maybe Even Better—Without Vick

I’m starting to feel bad for Michael Vick. Mainly because ESPN and other TV news outlets continue to show—over and over and over—the same footage of the erstwhile Atlanta Falcons quarterback walking from a courthouse, accompanied by lawyers and sporting the serious look of a once-pampered and -acclaimed athlete who is realizing that this time the hand of fate means business.

Honestly, I’m starting to find sympathy for the guy. It’s pathetic that he was involved in dog-fighting, a pursuit that would probably elude even many hardened criminals. Something dark and weird in a soul that wants to partake of that.

It wasn’t that long ago, 2004 to be precise, when Vick led the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game. Including the playoffs, the Falcons were 12-6 that year, and it looked like Vick had established himself as a force for the future.

There’s been plenty of media reflection of late about how tough it will be for the Falcons to recover from the blow of losing Vick, who’s set to do jail time and will incur league reprisals as well. The team’s obviously still reeling a bit from letting backup QB Matt Schaub go in the offseason to Houston. In his limited playing time, Schaub looked like a guy with potential, though realistically he still has much to prove.

But in losing Vick—the QB with the studly bod and the lightning speed and the elusive moves—what have the Falcons really lost? Well, a quarterback with six years of experience, in whose time the team has compiled a 47-48-1 regular season won-loss record. Vick’s completion percentage overall is 53.8. Average—maybe less so. (Gus Frerotte, A. J. Feeley, Joey Harrington, Rex Grossman, J.P. Losman, Kyle Boller, David Carr, and Charlie Frye all have better career completion numbers.) Vick’s thrown 71 TD passes and 52 interceptions. Again, mediocre. Vick’s career passer rating is 75.7. That’s respectable, I guess. But Byron Leftwich’s is 80.5. Brad Johnson’s is 83.1. Jake Delhomme’s is 84.0. Mark Brunell’s is 84.2. Matt Hasselbeck’s is 85.1. And never mind getting into Brady, Manning or Favre territory in this statistic. Vick’s a novice in comparison.

For all his swagger, speed, accumulated rushing yards and occasional highlight-reel antics, Michael Vick has in fact been a mediocre NFL quarterback. If he were anybody but Michael Vick, his team would’ve brought in stiff competition for him every year since he entered the league—in search of a QB who could lead their offense with consistency and balanced efficiency, and win 10 games minimum every year.

I was pretty excited about Vick in 2004. I thought he was the quarterback that it turns out Vince Young has a real chance to be instead. But Vick has only proved to be an improv actor in a role that demands Shakespearean chops. The current understudies are Joey Harrington and Chris Redman. Not much to crow about. But either seems fully capable of leading the team to a 7-9 record, which was about Vick’s speed.

So the Falcons are forced to move in another direction, but it’s my guess that that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Running their offense with more conventional mechanics might work a whole lot better in the long run than having Vick “being creative” and making things up as he goes.

Should be pretty interesting to watch.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

So Long, Scooter: Ex-Jock Broadcasters Everywhere Should Tip Their Hats to the Late Phil Rizzuto

Phil Rizzuto passed away at the age of 89 on Monday. He’d’ve been 90 on September 25. There’s been the typical outpouring of tributes. When a Yankee dies, it’s supposed to mean more, I suppose, than when, say, a White Sox dies. Or a Phillie. Typical New York media biases apply.

In fact, Rizzuto was a controversial figure, his folksy persona notwithstanding. Brooklyn-born, he played shortstop for the Yankees from 1941 to 1956, losing the years 1943-45 to World War II. He participated in nine World Series, of which the Yanks won seven, including a 5-1 record against the Dodgers. Rizzuto even won a Most Valuable Player Award, in 1950, during the years when Yankees players often took turns garnering that honor. (DiMaggio’s turn, Berra’s turn, Mantle’s turn, Rizzuto’s turn...)

How good was Rizzuto? At this juncture, it’s probably impossible to know. We have hearsay reports of a guy always termed “scrappy,” and “a gamer,” and “the heart of the Yankees,” etc. He was reportedly a great bunter, for whatever that’s worth, making him no doubt one of the greatest bunters ever allowed into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rizzuto (left, in uniform) compiled a lifetime batting average of .273, with 1,588 hits, 877 runs scored, 38 home runs, and 563 RBIs. Decent numbers, certainly useful enough for the shortstop on a Yankee juggernaut that won five consecutive world championships from 1949-1953. But except for 1950, when Rizzuto had 200 hits, scored 125 runs and batted .324, his numbers were ordinary. His contemporary on the Red Sox, Vern Stephens, whose career spanned from 1941-55, retired with 1,859 hits, 1,001 runs scored, 247 homers, and 1,174 RBIs. The year Scooter won the MVP, Stephens had 30 homers and 144 RBIs with a .295 batting average, making him the most productive shortstop in his league. The previous year, 1949, Stephens clubbed 39 homers and drove in an astronomical 159 runs (the same as teammate Ted Williams). Stephens never even sniffed the HOF.

Rizzuto’s career fielding percentage was .968, which puts him slightly above Tony Kubek (.967), who eventually replaced him—and definitively above his most immediate local crosstown competitors, the Dodgers’ Pee Wee Reese (.962) and the Giants’ Alvin Dark (.960)—but far below the greatest of baseball’s shortstops. Even Gil McDougald, who replaced Rizzuto initially in 1956, after moving over from second base, had a higher career fielding percentage at shortstop (.973). So did Rizzuto’s contemporary, Chico Carrasquel of the White Sox (.969). For more perspective, consider that former Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger had a lifetime fielding percentage of .977, Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith clocked in at .978, and Larry Bowa, a similar “firebrand”-type player like Rizzuto (but not a Hall of Famer), compiled a .980 lifetime fielding percentage. Needless to say, comparisons to current Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter are pointless. Jeter’s on track for quick legit Hall of Fame enshrinement, currently with a .317 lifetime batting average and a career .975 fielding percentage.

So Rizzuto’s in the Hall, though clearly not based on his numbers. For more than 30 years, Rizzuto was turned down for baseball immortality by the Hall’s voters, including the Veterans Committee, which exists to rectify historical oversights. Finally, in 1994, Rizzuto got in, with sympathy pressure and New York media bias having reached a sufficiently obnoxious level.

Rizzuto was unceremoniously released by the Yankees during the 1956 season. He was almost 39, and hitting .231, but he didn't want to quit playing ball. Connections with a beer sponsor greased the way for a new career—as a Yankees announcer. Rizzuto (pictured, left, in later years) wasn’t the first ex-jock in a broadcasting booth, but in many ways he broke unfortunate, unprecedented ground. Just like the jocks of today, without training or experience in front of a microphone, and without any journalistic or show-biz background, Rizzuto was thrust upon the radio audience to call the games. His ascent rubbed veteran New York broadcasters like Mel Allen and Red Barber the wrong way, both of them non-jocks who considered themselves media professionals who had paid their dues to reach the pinnacle of their business and went about their jobs with a particular panache geared to civilize the sport for the fans.

As a broadcaster, Rizzuto had no regard for decorum or the English language. He went at it like everyone’s goofy Uncle Tony, hollering out reportage that offended his better-trained colleagues, who figured he’d vocally bombed the profession back to the Stone Age. Because he was Rizzuto, the ex-Yankee, his blather was tolerated, until he then became dubbed “loveable.” St. Louis and Chicago broadcaster, the late Harry Caray, eventually absorbed the mantle of loveable, too, after he got older, then had a stroke, and started to slur words and mispronounce names and comport himself eccentrically on-air. Yet in his prime, Caray was a crackling good play-by-play guy, and it was only age that dimmed his star. Rizzuto, on the other hand, was arguably an embarrassment from the get-go; only his Yankee-ness got him a lifetime pass to a second career that lasted more than three times as long as his tenure as a player. Being a "loveable" ex-jock will trump broadcast professionalism every time.

So when you next hear a really bad ex-jock announcer on the radio or television—you know, the guys who can’t speak English well, who make inane comments, who are clearly under-educated, who mispronounce players’ names, who not only misuse cliches in context but often completely butcher them—think fondly of Scooter, the luckiest man ever to don a baseball uniform or grasp a microphone.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Amateur Night: Web 2.0 Meets the Wild Wild West

Title: The Cult of the Amateur: How the Democratization of the Digital World Is Assaulting Our Economy, Our Culture, and Our Values

Author: Andrew Keen

Publisher: Doubleday/Currency

Price: $24.95

ISBN: 9780385520805

A sports blog may not be the ideal venue for which to review a book about the Internet and what its technological wonders hath wrought upon our society, culture, economy and moral direction. But this is just as much a media-centric site, and on that basis we weigh in on—both for and against—Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur, a provocative attack on the evils of the Web.

Keen’s straightforward theme avers that the proliferation of Web technology and its wide and easy access to any Joe or Jane has created a rudderless, authority-less media environment responsible for the following primary ills:

1. A general and alarmingly casual disregard for facts (i.e., the truth about certain things)

2. A democratized approach to learning (e.g., Wikipedia), wherein those with expert opinion (and conventional credentials) are being pushed aside by an army of amateur thinkers and journalists

3. The rapid (and continuing and probably inevitable) financial decline in traditional media such as newspapers and magazines

4. The absolute destruction of the music business as we once knew it

5. The potential destruction of the film business

6. A compromised society-wide morality (especially among the younger, cut-and-paste generations) that fails to recognize theft of intellectual property as a criminal act (Keen dubs this scene a kleptocracy)

7. An onslaught of exposure to pornography that is warping minds and further fueling an atmosphere where sexual deviance and predatory activities are fostered

It’s tough to argue with any of this. What Keen says is true, and he brings in pertinent facts and some interesting interview responses to bulwark his points. Anyone who’s smart and Web-savvy—and also is a critical reader and observer—would have to embrace his commentary, which is expressed in eminently readable prose and with palpable passion.

What Keen refers to as the Web 2.0 environment is indeed a bit of the Wild Wild West, and what he calls the Web’s “narcissistic, self-congratulatory, self-generated content revolution” has spawned millions of blogs (many rigorously unedited, and all immune to libel laws into the bargain); a deluge of home-made (often pointless) or otherwise stolen YouTube material; music piracy on a devastating financial scale; the draining of massive advertising dollars from the coffers of daily newspapers (Craig’s List is solely responsible for much of it, with its free classifieds); and a startling lack of citizen knowledge about, or care for, the laws of copyright infringement in general, which is transforming us all into thieves of one kind or the other.

Maybe what’s at stake most are the economics of the situation. Media conglomerates are cutting jobs. The rise of the Web has traditional print outlets running scared for sure, their only solution to launch affiliated Web sites of their own and try to ride that new wave while continuing to produce their well-edited product without having to resort to cheesy, celebrity-news journalism. But if more newspapers fold, and if Disney is cutting employees (which they’ve done recently), then there’s certainly a disconnect among mainstream media, its audience, its advertisers, and its vehicles of delivery.

Yes, the Web is to blame, mainly because that’s where more and more of us are spending our time. Why put my head into a newspaper or wade through the TV jungle, when I can get it all on my Mac? Even ESPN—as powerful and profitable a media presence as there is today—looked encroachingly dated to me recently, if only because I can simply go to and download the highlight baseball clips I want—when I want. The TiVo people do the same thing, and it’s all because we don’t have time for advertising or lame-ass garbage features like ESPN’s “Who’s Now” segments.

Not that this excuses any of Keen’s critical concerns about regard for truth or the rise in theft and amorality. The losses in the music biz have been outrageous in the past decade, and his figures on free downloads versus purchases are nothing less than stultifying. Keen does raise a good ancillary question, though. In this current environment, why do record companies continue to insist on charging $15-$20 for CDs when you can download the same thing online for $10, or simply pay $.99 per individual song? Meanwhile, MySpace has become the new marketing arm of musicianship everywhere, though, as Keen proves, that only seems to induce more free downloading. Hence, grassroots bands and songwriters aren’t getting paid any more often than their major-label contemporaries. Many simply aren’t paid at all.

No, it’s all clearly a mess, this Web 2.0 world, but someone is getting rich, right? Advertising and consumer dollars don’t completely vanish, they just get pushed around. The Craig’s List incursion into classified ads is a major, major development, however; that money stays right inside the pockets of the advertisers in that case. Ditto for the music: If I’m not spending $20 on a CD—since I downloaded it for free—what am I spending that money on instead?

Keen risks a brand of snobbery when he bemoans the rise of the amateur citizenry. In fact, a lot of the amateurs—increasingly well-educated and kept out of the media loop—have grown up, and they probably don’t trust the former traditional gatekeepers of news and entertainment any more than they trust themselves. The Web has empowered them, and the genie isn’t going back into the bottle. So the Web, with its amazing freedoms and instant information, is here to stay, but how to effectively—and openly—police its use and resources and make it a better, and more profitable, place for all? It’s certainly one of the major challenges of the 21st Century.

Keen offers a few solutions for the predicaments he cites, mostly of the legislative/governmental kind, though he also gets on parents, assigning them a key role in teaching their children on responsible use of the powerful electronic tools (and more are surely on the way) at their disposal.

Yet much of what Keen’s railing against has no immediate cure. There are simply too many gunslingers in town these days, and it’s doubtful Sheriff Keen (he's a Brit, by the way) will win the shootout. When all-powerful, relatively easily mastered, technology meets a rising tide of expression, Web 2.0 in the Wild Wild West is what you get. That means a work in progress. Still, his book is must reading for the media-wise and those aspiring thereto. (No doubt, the Web will help him sell some copies!)

[Point of order: Keen states in his book that Alan Parsons engineered The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road. Wrong—it was engineered by Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald. I looked it up, and not on Wikipedia.]