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"And then AJ Pierzynski is an incredible baseball mind. He’s like an unrepentant asshole, and clearly one of the worst people, right? But if he’s on your team, he’s your asshole. Like, you own him, and you are so down with him using every dirty trick and shooting every angle, like, you know, stepping on the middle of somebody’s back."

This is so true, and utterly relatable. Funny how a player can be public enemy #1, then they get traded to your team, and suddenly you love him (or vice versa)--doubly so if a rival team is involved.

Separately, I wonder what Albini thought of the rules implemented at the start of last season to speed up the game?

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That, and so many of the other new rules implemented since we did this interview. 🤔

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May 17Liked by Dan Epstein

What a great read! It brought back a lot of memories (my high school baseball team played summer league at Winnemac Park), and playing fast pitching at Hibbard grammar school for years.

Also, running into Pete Rose in Las Vegas, and having a very memorable conversation with him.

Also, I'm old enough to remember that when I was in high school, the Cubs weren't the phenomenon they are today in terms of attendance. They were drawing 5,000 people a game, so to put asses in the seats, they gave season passes to high school baseball coaches to give to their players. My buddies and I went to dozens of games with those passes.

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I went to several weekday Cubs games in the early 80s where the ushers just waved me in without a ticket after the 5th or 6th inning!

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May 17Liked by Dan Epstein

Talk about getting to the heart of the issue of loving baseball despite it all: “You have to just divorce every aspect of culture from baseball in order to appreciate baseball.”

How many mental cycles have we all spent circling around all of this?

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I’m still struggling with it, frankly!

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May 17Liked by Dan Epstein

Great read! I also am not a huge fan of a lot of his musical output but I do think Man Or Astroman's work sounded its best with Albini. It is kind of the one band that I really think that.

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That’s a fair point, actually - they did sound great with him. Thanks for the reminder!

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May 17Liked by Dan Epstein

Awesome that the Twins he likes are like a “deep cut” of Twins eras. Terrific read. Thanks, Dan.

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I thought I was the only person in the universe that read that Jim Bouton book. It was an infuriating book to read and it’s also one that more sports fans should read because it is very enlightening into all of the political and backroom crap that goes into stadiums and cities, etc.

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I read it too, and you're totally right...

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I came for the Albini, and left with, among other things, a head-spinning discussion on the maximum number of pitches in a single at-bat. Excellent interview, Dan, and I can't wait for Part 2!

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May 17Liked by Dan Epstein

This was so good. I remember losing interest in baseball for a few years after I picked up the guitar. So when I read about Albini having a similar experience, I thought ‘I know that!’ Thank you for posting - looking very forward to part two

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May 17Liked by Dan Epstein

Awesome read and love the Knoblauch shoutout! Dude was my favorite player from around ‘96 until the bitter day he retired.

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May 20·edited May 20Liked by Dan Epstein

Hey Dan, I am with you on the overall impression of Albini, per your first couple of paragraphs. It's great that he (and you) had an equal obsession with a sport. While I don't follow baseball close enough to debate his points, I am wondering if in Part 2 you mention the word "cricket" as in his interesting overview of sport, he states:

"So there are “pong” sports and “mob” sports and baseball. Baseball, the unique game, where the ball doesn’t do the scoring — actual people have to do the scoring."

Assuming he is right in his delineation - and I don't think he is - then where would cricket fit in? As cricket is essentially a variation of baseball in countries that don't play the latter, and vice-versa.

As for having to separate the players and their politics and their characters and sense of self-entitlement etc. from just enjoying the game, he is correct up to a point. Football - yes, I mean soccer - has arguably been ruined by the influx of Monopoly money in recent years, much of it coming from dubious government investment firms, oligarchs, American hedge funds and oil-rich nations, and certainly, everyday fans are now disconnected from even lower league players in a financial way that never used to be the case. But I think what we still see in the better football player stories is the "local lad come good" and the role models who are willing to stand up for what they believe in. Palace's Wilf Zaha went public with the online racism he received and fought a strong battle against unconscious bias in referees. Man United's Marcus Rashford went up against Boris Johnson over free school lunches during Covid - and won. Maybe it's still a football thing, but it feels like though the players may be multi-millionaires, there is something about many of them, even Lionel Messi the GOAT, that is forever the "lad made good." Anyway, look forward to Part 2.

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He didn’t mention cricket - and as that’s a game I truly do not understand, I have no idea where it would fit among his classifications. Ditto for curling, for that matter…

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