Thomas B. Shea – USA TODAY Sports
Potential is a fickle mistress. In the right hands, she can grant you the world, mold you into a giant, open doors where once there were merely plastered walls. Precocious potential can just as easily buckle under the conspiratorial weights of onlookers, both the hopeful and the atheistic. It takes more than a little bit of luck to successfully extract talent from potential, with many left wondering whether the pursuit is alchemical in nature. We’ve covered this before, of course, but it’s worth doubling back anyway.
When surveying the biggest stories left to contemplate during the dwindling NBA regular season, one sees quite the smorgasbord of offerings: the Golden State Warriors’ courtship of 73 victories°, Kevin Durant’s impending free agency¹ and a teammate dispute in Los Angeles that somehow pulls the double magic trick of 1) dimming the spotlight on Kobe, and 2) making Iggy Azalea a sympathetic figure. Strange days, indeed.
On paper, this is what the 2016 New York Mets look like. They’re just numbers, sure, but in the era of sabermetrics, these are some damn good numbers. These numbers represent the skills and know-how that, we hope, will bring us glory this fall. These are the players who carry the promise of greatness, the clubhouse that could win it all. All of our hopes and dreams, summed up in two innocuous spreadsheets – fourteen players, nine positions, 140 statistics.
Do you feel the tables mocking you? Those perfectly ordered, neatly typed grids? Those consistently high batting averages and promising ERAs?
Do you have nightmares about Daniel Murphy in a Nats jersey? Is Chase Utley’s arrogant smirk burned into your retinas? Do you shudder when you think about having to watch Royals players receive their rings – while our team stands just yards away?
No? Okay, maybe it’s just me.
Fantasia 2000/Walt Disney Pictures
By 1924, American popular music was undergoing a systematic shift. Going were the days of classical dance hall music, with it the borrowed waltzes and concertos which had for so long dominated musical thought and exploration. Polyrhythms and improvisation found their way into compositions with alarming regularity via the African influences from port cities like New Orleans, which many cite as the birthplace of jazz. Perhaps the most emblematic composition of that time, and one which stakes a claim as the most important piece° of American music ever, arrived via George Gershwin, sans his brother Ira, in the form of a commissioned work that, if the composer is to be believed, was written in only three weeks’ time.
“Rhapsody in Blue” opened on February 12, 1924 in a concert at New York’s Aeolian Hall. Mainstream critics left the afternoon showcase confused, with New York Tribune critic Lawrence Gilman saying of the piece, “Weep over the lifelessness of the melody and harmony, so derivative, so stale, so inexpressive!” By 1927, the recording from Paul Whiteman’s band had sold over one million copies. Perhaps related, the Tribune went under in 1966.