Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

This and That

Posted in baseball,Classical,Music by bourdaghs on the July 14th, 2010

It must be summer, cuz you’re never around (a good line stolen from the Fountains of Wayne). But I protest: I really am around. You just wouldn’t know it from the paucity of blog updates lately. I’m juggling a large number of rather rather bulky and wobbly projects these days.

I did manage to catch some of the baseball All Star Game last night. When I heard the news yesterday morning about former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, I had to smile at the timing. Back in his heyday in the 1970s and 80s, if the Yankees didn’t make it to the World Series in a particular year Steinbrenner would always pull some stunt right in the middle of the series (fire his manager, berate his team captain, whatever) to steal the headlines away from the teams still playing for the championship. So of course the man would pass away on the day of the All Star Game, assuring that all the coverage would focus not on the mid-season classic, but on the Boss.

Yankees’ fans clearly held the man in great affection. As a Twins’ fan and therefore a congenital Yankees’ hater, I generally despised him and everything he stood for as a baseball owner. But as several tributes I’ve read point out, wouldn’t it have been great to have a Twins’ owner as committed to winning as Steinbrenner was with the Yankees? Anyhow, I imagine he is up in heaven now (or, given the Damn Yankees thematic here, down there below), trying to rehire Billy Martin.

The very odd Nagoya sumo tournament got underway Sunday. Something like a quarter of the wrestlers in the top two divisions are suspended or banned due to the gambling/yakuza scandals, and NHK has gotten all holy about this and is refusing to televise the bouts live. Yokozuna Hakuho will no doubt take the title, as usual–on Tuesday he broke his own personal record of 32 consecutive wins. But with so many of the usual faces sitting this one out, the tournament should generate some unusual results. For starters, it’s a terrific opportunity for lower ranked wrestlers to leapfrog up the rankings.

Other than that, what have we been up to? Last Saturday night, we headed downtown to catch the Grant Park Orchestra play a free concert in Millenium Park under the energetic baton of female conductor Xian Zhang. We liked the program very much, as did Tribune critic John von Rhein and Sun-Times critic Andrew Patner. They played a piece by the contemporary composer Chen Yi, Prokofiev’s “Suite from Love for Three Oranges,” and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major. Didn’t mind the raindrops or the firetruck sirens hardly at all. It must be summer.

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