Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Potpourri No. 25

Starting Pitchers

Cactus League games begin on Wednesday, and yesterday my beloved Kansas City Royals made the announcement that top pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer will start the first game.

RHP Zimmer was the team's 1st Round draft pick in 2012, but 2015 was his first healthy minor league season. At age 24, he is still likely to open 2016 in Double-A, but everyone thinks he is very close to getting a shot at the major league club.

Zimmer will start on Wednesday against the Texas Rangers, the team that has invited former Royal Jeremy Guthrie to spring training. It will be odd to see Jeremy in another uniform, but Royals fans are hoping he catches on in Texas. He was an important part of the Royals resurgence the past three years.

It isn't clear yet when Jeremy will make his first appearance for the Rangers, but since they are just across the training complex from the Royals in Surprise, Arizona, it is likely that he'll make at least one appearance against his former teammates.

"He does look weird in a Rangers uniform, doesn't he?"

He really does, but I wish him nothing but success while wearing it...he'll always be a Royal to me, though...


February 28, 1533 - September 13, 1592
The first heroes of my childhood may have been baseball players, but it wasn't long before they were joined by great writers.

One of the most influential writers I found at a relatively young age was essayist and philosopher Michel de Montaigne, who was born 483 years ago today.

His Essays was one of the first non-fiction books I ever encountered, and his reputation as a master of the essay form
is well-deserved. Anyone who wishes to excel at the rhetorical arts would do well to study him.

Not Exactly Montaigne's Heir

From the delightful comic strip FoxTrot, by Bill Amend, which you should read every Sunday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

My social life in high school was almost non-existent, but it was not for lack of trying. One of the stratagems I employed was to become a fan of musical artists favored by girls to whom I was attracted. This didn't get me any dates, but it did lead me to discovering some music I might have overlooked otherwise. Simon & Garfunkel are the leading example of this sort of thing. I began paying attention to their music to curry favor with a cute girl I knew in 9th grade, but although I never got to date the girl I became a lifelong fan of the popular duo.

By the time my junior year of high school reached its halfway point, rumors of the group's impending breakup were rampant. On January 26, 1970, just a couple of weeks before my 17th birthday, the group released what would be their final studio album together. They certainly made it count. Bridge Over Troubled Water became one of the landmark recordings in the history of American popular music. It spent ten weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart that year, and was the best-selling album of 1970. It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and for awhile it held the record as the best-selling album of all time.

"Bridge Over Troubled Water," the album's title track, was released as a single on January 26, the same day the album hit the stores. It began rocketing up the charts immediately.

Original 1970 45 rpm single
On February 28, 1970, just 10 days after my 17th birthday, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, a position it would hold for six consecutive weeks. It went on to be Billboard's No. 1 Single of 1970, as well as winning Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

It is by far the most commercially successful song of the duo's career, selling more than six million copies worldwide, an unusually high total
for a single.

For all intents and purposes it is now their signature song. That in itself is quite an achievement, considering that in their career they produced 13 Billboard Top 20 hits (including two others that also reached No. 1).
There have been numerous successful covers of the song since its release, including a version by Elvis Presley that was Paul Simon's own favorite, and a version by Aretha Franklin that won a Grammy Award. My own favorite cover of the song was done by my hero Maynard Ferguson for his Alive and Well in London album in 1971. You can enjoy that version here.

Both the original and Maynard's instrumental version are consistently able to reduce me to tears. If there is a more moving musical tribute to the power of friendship, I can't name it. And the irony of its release just as Paul and Art were breaking up was not lost on those of us who were fans of the group. The song will always have a certain wistful quality for me for that reason as well.

Today's send-off is the 2001 remaster of the original album track. Enjoy...

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