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Yo Joe! Football and Rock ’n Roll WAR

From Brilliant Reader Ed: 

Yo Joe! Can football be saved?  Right now the physical toll on the players and the violent culture are dragging the game down.  


Pro football remains the most popular spectator sport in America by a landslide so “saved” might not be the right word. Most people love football so much — along with the various extras like fantasy football, gambling on football, the NFL Draft and so on — that they are willing to look past just about anything.

I will admit, though, the NFL is not as much fun for me as it used to be. When I was a kid, I was an enormous NFL fan — way bigger than baseball. I lived and died with the Cleveland Browns. t hasn’t been nearly the same since the Browns left town. It dropped much more in the last few years for many reasons including the safety issues and the arrogance of the league. But my sense is that I’m something of an outlier on this — the sport, by most measurements, is more popular than ever. 

There is the question: Can pro football get me and people like me and you back? Well, I just don’t think that’s much of a priority.

From Brilliant Reader Paul:

Yo Joe! f you have a spare moment, could you rank your favorite Springsteen albums in order? Tongue now firmly in cheek….: can you compute a WAR for him? 


I’ll give you five: 1. Born to Run; 2. The River; 3. Darkness on the Edge of Town; 4. The Rising; 5. Nebraska. But ask me again in 20 minutes I’d probably give you five more.

More interesting to me than Bruce’s WAR is who would represent replacement level rock and roll. I’m going with Hootie and the Blowfish  or Huey Lewis for now, but would love to hear opinions.

From Brilliant Reader Charlie:

Yo Joe! What’s your ‘walk up to the plate’ song?  Or, perhaps you’re a closer – what’s your entrance song?


I’ve got to say that I’m a bigger fan of closer entrance songs — Hell’s Bells and Enter Sandman are songs I wasn’t even crazy about on their own but I absolutely loved them as entrance songs. I’m fascinated by the idea music changing character when you hear it in a different environment. For instance, I always loved the song “Layla.” But now when I hear it, I think only of the meat locker scene in “Goodfellas.” 

Point being, I probably wouldn’t want a song I LOVE to be my closer entrance song because it would then change for me. Maybe it could be ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down.”

From Brilliant Reader Jonas:

Yo Joe! I’m a Notre Dame grad, and an ND football fan.  My 70 year-old mother, who did not go to Notre Dame, is a bigger fan than me, but does not waste her time in keeping up with the unbearable and inscrutable morass that is college football at large.  I was trying to answer her simple question: “Why are Notre Dame and Michigan not playing any more?”  I started to get into ,the number of games ND and Michigan have actually played, how that rivalry compares to other rivalry games for both schools, conference ties, the machinations of the power conferences and how it affects schedules, the enlargement of the Big 10, Notre Dame’s deal with the ACC, the benefits and drawbacks of football independence, the CFB playoff, and finally, realizing that this answer was needlessly complex, misleading, and thoroughly boring, I stopped and just said “Money.”

Can you think of one word that would definitively and accurately answer more “Why” questions in sports than “Money”?   



From Brilliant Reader Richard:

Yo Joe! Shouldn’t “Post Season” stats be separated into “Playoff” and “World Series” stats?
Think of all those great players who never got to pad their career totals because they had no more than seven (or 9 in a few cases) “post-season” games each year that they could be in. Bob Gibson. Christy Mathewson. Gil McDougald. Frankie Frisch. But when you add in all the extra games from the extra rounds of playoffs, names like David Justice and Bernie Williams appear on the lists. Fine players, but given an unfair advantage.


Yes, I don’t care much for postseason numbers as such but then I wonder if we have a real handle on postseason numbers at all. We all know they are hugely important and yet, when looking at a players career totals, postseason accomplishments are often ignored or considered as a smaller side item.

When someone asks how many home runs Babe Ruth hit, it’s always listed as 714 — even though he hit 15 more in the World Series. Then they will add “Oh, he was also good in the postseason” like it’s something just worth mentioning. That just seems weird to me. I think that’s part of what made the Jack Morris Hall of Fame case so controversial — nobody really knew how much credit to give him for his World Series masterpiece.

From Brilliant Reader Brian:

Yo Joe! I was looking at the potential playoff lineups in each league the other day, and I noticed something really quirky (as of Sept. 10) that I know you’ll appreciate.  Check this out:

AL           NL
1. LAA 1.  LAD
2. BAL 2.  WAS
3. KC 3.  STL
4. OAK 4.  SF
5. DET 5.  PIT

Do you see anything weird about those lists?

Maybe look at it this way:

1. LAA – LAD
2.  BAL – WAS
3.  KC – STL
4.  OAK – SF
5.  DET – PIT

All five of those pairings are interleague rivalry pairings!  What are the odds?


Pretty cool. Detroit and Pittsburgh and not really rivals — but if Cleveland catches Detroit for the second wildcard spot (and Kansas City holds on) you have something here.

From Brilliant Reader John:

Yo Joe! My brilliant wife asked me during a game, “Since starting pitchers are so hard to find, why not just use 6 or 7 guys to pitch the whole game?”
My best answer why not is that everybody has a bad time once in a while, and if you use 7 pitchers, the odds are good that someone is having a bad day.
I know the Rockies tried a 4 man rotation asking their starters to go 75 pitches in 2012. How long before we see another team brave enough to try something new? Who do you think is most likely to try something?


I do keep thinking some team will try something wildly different with pitching staffs because (1) The current system doesn’t seem particularly sound logically and (2) Pitchers continue to get hurt a lot. But I don’t think we’re in an environment right now for anyone to be bold on that front because so few runs are being scored.

It’s easy to miss JUST how crazy this year has been for pitchers. Teams are scoring 4.09 runs per game, the lowest average in a full season since 1976. Strikeouts are at their highest point ever. Home runs are at their lowest in more than 20 years and — this one will blow your mind — hitters are drawing fewer walks than any time since that crazy 1968 season, and fewer intentional walks than any time since they started keeping count.

Point is: With pitching thoroughly dominating baseball I doubt anyone will go out on a ledge and try a new pitching concept. Offense will come back, and that’s when pitching experiments will begin again.

From Brilliant Reader Scott:

Yo Joe!  You recently wrote, “It’s one thing to say Larkin was as good a player as Jeter.  It’s another to say that Jeter was as good as Larkin with about 25% more career.”  That’s fair enough, but it ignores a different reality: given that they have almost the same career WAR – a cumulative stat – Larkin was a better player per game, so to speak, than Jeter.  They are pound-for-pound about the same, because Jeter’s longevity brings him up to Larkin’s level.  Saying that Jeter is as good as Larkin but played longer is to count the same stat twice.
In the same way, the career WAR of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker averaged together is percentage points higher than that of Derek Jeter.  Thus, if you had the opportunity to have Derek Jeter and his second base equivalent on your team for a full career, or the combination of Trammell and Whitaker over their careers, it would be a tossup, with a slight edge to the Tiger combo.  But because Trammell-Whitaker played fewer games, if you had a choice of two Jeters or Trammell-Whitaker for a single game, you would be wise to choose Trammell-Whitaker.
I admit that the flaw in my argument is that it arguably gives undue weight to WAR, but to me WAR remains the ultimate stat.


Well, I don’t have time to get into more WAR talk but I would make two quick points:

1. Jeter’s offensive WAR (95.1) absolutely swamps Larkin’s (67.5) so in order to believe that Larkin’s overall WAR is as good or better than Jeter you will have to believe he was 28 or so wins better than Jeter defensively. I feel sure that Larkin was a much better defender than Jeter, but that’s a lot of wins, and that’s a pretty big leap even for many people who like WAR a lot.

2. Jeter had many better offensive seasons than Larkin — largely because Larkin simply could not stay healthy. That’s not Larkins “fault” but it’s a reality. On days that Derek Jeter played and Barry Larkin did not — and Jeter played in four more full seasons worth of games — he was worth A LOT more than Larkin.

Put it this way: Dwight Gooden in 1984-85 was one of the greatest pitchers I ever saw. Tom Glavine was never as good for a sustained period of time as Gooden was those two years. But if I am drafting, I take Glavine first every time. Presence matters.

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95 Responses to Yo Joe! Football and Rock ’n Roll WAR

  1. Gospodin Dangling-Participle says:

    Re: closer entrance music: I promise right now to buy the jersey of any closer who uses the Chemical Brothers’ “Lost in the K-Hole.”

    Both home and away versions if he’s a pitch-to-contact guy.

  2. Chad says:

    Whoa. Huey Lewis and the News has a WAR well above 0. Several big albums and songs Hootie and the Blowfish seems perfectly acceptable to me as replacement level. 1 big album and then faded.

    • Ed says:

      I totally agree that Huey Lewis would have to be above replacement level — but I think Hootie is too. One big album is a big deal… they were everywhere in the mid-90s.

      Of course, I suppose it depends on how you define replacement level for music. Does it have to do with commercial success, or with influence (or something else entirely)? I don’t think Huey Lewis or Hootie did much influencing, but they were certainly more successful than a lot of other bands.

      Off the top of my head I would give Van Morrison the highest WAR of anyone in rock music history (if you consider him rock… which may be arguable). Only because he attained a significant level of success while making music that wasn’t even remotely similar to what other people were making (or at least anyone who had even a modicum of success).

    • Trent Phloog says:

      My thoughts exactly re: Huey Lewis… his career WAR has to be around 25-30 — maybe not a Hall of Famer, but a solid regular with a couple of really good seasons. Like the Garret Anderson of rock.

      Hootie’s a pretty good replacement level, but even that one song might put them above 0 lifetime.

      True replacement level would be a band that is kinda competent and successful, but has never done anything exciting, ever. I nominate The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Even their name sounds like they gave up…

      • DjangoZ says:

        The Yeah Yeah Yeahs is a terrible choice. People have very strong feelings about them. They are not a waiver wire band.

      • Brett Alan says:

        Well, I can dig what Joe means about Huey Lewis if you go by taste–to me he made competent music that wasn’t unpleasant, but also never excited me. But you’re right that both bands had a level of success that well exceeds the equivalent of a replacement player.

        One idea of mine is to go with Paul Carrack. He flitted around from band to band, often as kind of a replacement–he replaced Jules Holland for a while in Squeeze, sang some of the David Gilmour parts on Roger Waters tours, sang for Mike + The Mechanics on songs that Mike Rutherford would probably have liked to have Phil Collins for. He seems kind of generic.

        But it probably should really be an artist that we’ve seen opening for someone but never had a real hit record, you know? (But what fun is that to talk about? B^)

        • invitro says:

          Carrack has had many huge hits: Ace’s “How Long?”; Squeeze’s “Tempted”; Mike + The Mechanics’ “Silent Running” and “The Living Years”, and his solo “Don’t Shed a Tear”.

    • DjangoZ says:

      Yeah, neither of those are good WAR analogies. They both were huge successes by music standards.

      The problem is to find a band that one could pick up off the waiver-wire of music…but that people have heard of.

      How about Wang Chung? They had a few hits, nothing special though, and few people have strong feelings about them. But you probably know one of their songs, so they qualify as a “major league” music act.

      • Trent Phloog says:

        Have people heard of The Airborne Toxic Event? They’re a AAAA-level, waiver-wire band.

          • Jason says:

            Ooops, hit the post button too soon and don’t know how to delete it. Anyway, I love TATE, saw them in concert earlier this year. I’ve seen plenty of much more “popular” acts that I enjoyed less live, but nobody I know had ever heard of them, so yes, I’d say The Airborne Toxic Event is probably a replacement level band.

      • Chad says:

        Dexy’s Midnight Runners?

        • nightfly says:

          We’re probably looking for a band that’s never been in the public eye, but has been gigging together for years and years, can cover lots of big hits competently, and is fun to listen to while you’re at the bar or whatever… a group that at their best has never been more than the opening act.

          Ironically, considering that Springsteen was the guy who kicked off the “rock n roll WAR” discussion, the replacement-level band I’m thinking of, that most people would recognize, is Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.

          • jroth95 says:

            That’s pretty good, and dovetails with what I was going to say, which is that IMO a replacement level band is the kind of band that plays straight rock n roll* in every town and city in America. They’ve got solid chops, write (some of) their own stuff, and, if somehow they got exposure, could have a moment in the spotlight, but will never be a big deal nationally. I’m thinking Buffalo Tom or DelFuegos in Boston, or the Clarks in Pittsburgh, or (kind of) the Smithereens in NY/NJ.

            Southside Johnny is bigger than that, but really that’s just because of Bruce. Actually, that might be a good model – replacement level rock bands are the ones who get famous when a scene explodes, but they don’t have any staying power – Quicksilver from psychedelic SF, or Mudhoney from grunge Seattle. Just like how a replacement level player can, on the right club, be a part of a championship team (think Luis Sojo, Charlie Hayes, or Enrique Wilson for the Yankees).

            *that’s not definable, but basically I mean guitar(s)/bass/drums lineup, songs about love/sex played to a backbeat. They can be a little country or a little soul or whatever

  3. dglnj says:

    Any question that begins with the word “Why” can generally be answered with the word “Money”.

  4. Matt D says:

    Tony Cruz, the backup catcher for the Cardinals, uses the Chest Thump Song from Wolf of Wall Street as his walkup song.

    It is amazing.

  5. Carl says:

    Yo Joe!

    How about Millie Vanilli having a WAR of 0. After all, they were lip syncing during concerts and didn’t even have their voices on the album. Their replacement value is a 4A singer and an amp.

    • NRJyzr says:

      I see Milli Vanilli more like the rookie out of nowhere who has a good start to the season, then is suspended for PED use and largely vanishes after that.

  6. Rick Johnson says:

    Finally “Nebraska” gets an honorable mention here. I was beginning to think you had never even listed to Springsteen’s best record.

  7. Ben says:

    The Wild, The Innocent not in the top 5? Say it ain’t so!

  8. Dan Backslide says:

    It’s funny but if you use the band The Replacements as the replacement level in your music WAR calculations, almost all bands would have negative ratings.

    • Brian La says:

      If you use the studio musicians who performed with Paul Westerberg on All Shook Down under the name the Replacements then you have the perfect replacement level

  9. NRJyzr says:

    I’m hoping someone someday uses the opening minute or two from Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell” as entrance music. I think it fits pretty well.

    For a hitter’s walk up music, it’s really hard to beat Reddick’s use of Careless Whisper. Not a fan of the song, but as walkup music, it’s brilliant.

    For replacement level, it seems like the former star act hanging on too late in their career makes a good fit. Reminds me of a 1B/DH in heavy decline, signed to big money, isn’t really hitting, but playing anyway on reputation (or other reason). I would put the last decade (or two) of the Rolling Stones in this category, but I may be biased, not having been a fan in the first place. 🙂

    • Love the Stones. Saw them in 1980, when they were already pretty old. That was closely following Some Girls. I honestly can’t think of anything worthwhile that they’ve done since then…. And Some Girls was unexpectedly good, like Jack’s 1986 Masters win. Hey, the old guys still have it!…. For another couple of years, anyways.

    • tayloraj42 says:

      I’ve always thought of the Stones as rock ‘n roll’s Ernie Banks: strong start, some monster seasons in mid-career (the 1968-72 period is basically like winning back-to-back MVPs) and then just hanging around forever as a shell of their former selves. Banks averaged 1.3 WAR a season as a first baseman with a couple pretty good years and a lot of lousy ones that didn’t do much besides padding his career HR totals in very much the same way that the last 40 years have mainly been about padding the Stones career record sales.

      • Herb Smith says:

        No, the Stones do NOT work, unless we’re simply talking about a “final swan song” replacement-level year (like Jeter is having right now). Their “Career WAR” is too high. That’s why the Ernie Banks analogy doesn’t work; Banks is maybe Top-50 or Top-70 in the GOAT discussion.

        Is there any honest person who, in the discussion of “Rock Band, GOAT” would put the Rolling Stones any lower than Top-3? If you truly detested them, and didn’t have a good grasp of Rock History, I could see you ranking them at, say, a Rogers Hornsby level, but that’s still Top-tennish.

        Also, their 1968-1972 peak was more similar to Bonds 2001-2004 than to Banks 1958-1959. (And in both cases, illegal chemicals played a large part. 🙂

  10. Jake says:

    I think “Ego” would be competitve as an explanation for sports-related actions.

  11. Craig Kimbrel’s entrance to “Welcome to the Jungle” is awesome. It’s not just the song really, since everyone’s heard it a million times, including being the Jim Rome theme song for his shows. But, they light up the place with fire on the message boards & literally time his entrance on the field to a specific part of the song…. then he sprints to the mound to warmup. It gives the ambiance that the opposing team is about to go into the bowels of hell against Kimbrel. I honestly think that’s got to be really intimidating above even the fact that Kimbrel is really tough to hit. Yeah, I know. Pro’s don’t care. Or, do they?

  12. Tim says:

    To Joe’s point about Jeter vs. Larkin, it is very interesting to count seasons in different ways. For instance, both Jeter and Larkin had 8 seasons with a WAR of 4 or more (i.e. about twice as productive as a theoretical average player). But if you take the defense with a grain of salt (again, Larkin was clearly a better defender, but was he worth that much more as Joe asks?) and just look at oWAR, Larkin’s down to 7 seasons with >4 wins while Jeter has 13.

    It’s very clear though that Jeter’s defense really hurt his value (though we can argue about the extent). But Jeter’s offense was so extraordinary for a shortstop, it makes you wonder what his production would have looked like somewhere a bit lower on the defensive spectrum. You’d have to make a positional adjustment that would hurt his offensive production, but it wouldn’t be by much (maybe half a game a season for 2B or 3B?). And his defense would probably hurt him much less at those positions, so I could easily see him being worth a bit more. Anyway, as much as I always hated Jeter and the Yankees, there’s no denying he’s one of the all-time greats.

  13. Richard says:

    For my “walk up” music, if I was forced to use some, I’d go with one of these:

    “Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla” from Wagner’s Das Rheingold
    “Triumphal March” from Verdi’s Aida
    “March of the Toreadors” from Bizet’s Carmen

    Or perhaps just the opening fanfare from “Chicken Fat” by Meredith Wilson.It has the advantage of being only 9 seconds long….

    • BeninDSM says:

      I would totally go with Moneytalks from AC\DC. Objective: piss off everyone then kick butt and get paid. There is nothing sports fans (at least midwestern ones) hate more than the guy who stops caring upon getting paid. Screaming from the mountaintops that I’m here to get paid would be so much fun. After all it’s my fantasy, I get to include the fact I can back it up for long enough that the whole thing becomes a classic by the time I fade out.

  14. James says:

    I never understood why Billy Wagner didn’t use “Ride of the Valkyries” as his song. It would have been perfect.

  15. agmonaco says:

    I never understood why Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs don’t publish WAR-per-game or WAR-per-plate-appearance or WAR-per-inning-played… anything so that you can fairly evaluate performances over different time periods. I appreciate the fact that the stat is cumulative and rewards those players who play consistently, so it’s ideal for things like choosing an MVP or Cy Young winner. But WAR-per-X would be best for determining pure player ability, without regard to how much time the player has missed due to injury, etc. (Whether a player is injury-prone is important, of course, but it can be considered independently of a player’s production while they are on the field.)

    • Ed says:

      I’m not totally up to date on all the advanced baseball statistics, but I’m sure there’s something that does what you’re looking for.

      WAR itself wouldn’t make sense to break down into per game, etc. numbers because they would be very small and I don’t think the stat itself is set up to do that. Guys would be getting like .005239 WAR per game.

    • nightfly says:

      WAR already has a playing time adjustment.

      • jroth95 says:

        Huh? Isn’t it just a counting stat? Am I missing a component?

        • nightfly says:

          I’m not sure about FanGraphs, but BR gives players an adjustment (usually something like 20 wins per 600 plate appearances) based on their playing time. In the Player Value table it’s called Rrep. A healthier player will, in addition to accumulating more WAR through performance, will get credit for being in the lineup instead of a (presumably) inferior emergency fill-in. This is naturally problematic when the player IS the emergency fill-in, but they are much less likely to get enough playing time to really make a difference.

          Along with this, the other measures (batting runs, baserunning runs, etc) are done against league average (zero) instead of replacement, so this adjustment is not double-counted.

  16. thoughtsandsox says:

    The most perfect Walk Up/Entrance music I have ever heard was at a Tyson fight. He came in to Tupac’s “Ambitionz Az A Ridah”. Since I doubt many here would know the lyrics here is just one verse:

    So many battlefield scars while driven in plush cars
    This life as a rap star is nothin without heart
    Was born rough and rugged, addressin the mad public
    My attitude was, “Fuck it,” cause motherfuckers love it
    To be a soldier, must maintain composure at ease
    Though life is complicated, only what you make it to be

  17. Jamie says:

    Wouldn’t the best replacement band roughly be Wings minus McCartney? Seems like the very definition of replacement level.

    • Karyn says:

      I don’t think you can separate McCartney from Wings, though. It’s not like they had much production without him, ever.

      • jroth95 says:

        That’s where advanced statistics come in. If you look at Denny Laine’s peripherals…

        • otistaylor89 says:

          As much as Linda McCartney was a fantastic person, mother and wife, her musical talent would have a hard time reaching the Mendoza line. She was someone who was a great team player.

          • Actually Linda had no talent. It came out in the 80s that her playing wasn’t allowed to be piped to the crowd….on the orders of Paul. A radio station got hold of her feed and played it one time. It was tone deaf. Seriously awful.

        • Brett Alan says:

          Um…yeah, actually. I once saw Laine, Laurence Juber, and Steve Holly–the three non-McCartney members of the last Wings lineup–play Laine’s “Weep For Love” live, and it was amazing. Laine’s written some really good songs. Juber was, and is, a tremendous guitarist who has played on a lot of things you’ve heard, including TV and movie scores as well as other hit singles. His predecessor, Jimmy McCulloch, was pretty darn talented too.

          • Herb Smith says:

            Yes, but Linda sang backup vocals on a lot of Paul’s early solo albums. You can actually hear her voice, and this is in the days before auto-tuning.

  18. wkkortas says:

    So if we somehow get a Cleveland-Pittsburgh World Series, do the ghosts of Crosby and Hope each come out to throw a ceremonial first pitch?

  19. Jon says:

    I swear I’m not trying to make a bad pun, but my thought is that War would be about as replacement level as you could get. Generally irrelevant but occasionally show up here and there.

  20. Chad says:

    I thought of the Buggles, famous for having the 1st video on MTV, and instantly equated them to Ron Blomberg, the 1st DH. I looked up Blomberg’s WAR, hoping beyond hope it would be zero or close, but alas, it was 9.4

  21. Patrick Hogue says:

    To me Aerosmith is the Harold Baines of Rock and Roll. A few good moments and a ton of mediocrity and outright garbage. 38 WAR in 21 seasons.

    • Aerosmith is an interesting study. To me, their best work was their first four albums. (Looking at studio albums only). But they ranked anywhere from #3 (Rocks) to #74 (Get Your Wings). But their last five albums, which I didn’t like as much , were all Top 5, with Get a Grip and Nine Lives going #1. Anyway, I think Aerosmith was far more successful than you may recall. They’re sure fire HOF level.

      • Patrick Hogue says:

        No doubt they were successful, I’m just not a big fan and think they are way overrated. Perhaps when you look at chart success, that would be an analogy for RBIs which are a factor of opportunities or in the case or record sales, marketing. But in terms of the components of WAR, their originality, songwriting, and musicianship are just average to me.

  22. Chad says:

    It would be fitting if “The Outfield” were replacement level, but they had a solid15-20 WAR I’d say …

  23. Reagan says:


    You’re not the only “outlier” on the NFL. I feel the same way. Once loved the sport, now thoroughly down on it. Mostly because of the injury factor. Injuries aren’t incidental to the game – they are fundamentally unavoidable given it’s current format.

    Also, everything associated with the presentation and marketing of the game is just so crass. But that’s a minor component compared to the injury issue.

    The only way to save football (at any level) from its problems is to change it so much that it’s no longer football as we know it: non-contact football. Since that change won’t be accepted by the fans, it won’t happen, and the game will continue on it’s current path until who knows when (or what).


  24. Matt says:

    I have always answered the walkup/entrance music question the same way, for at least 15 years. Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Describes perfectly what I want to accomplish.

  25. Jamie says:

    With my comment about Wings above I was sort of getting at that the replacement level band is not one anyone has heard of, or know any songs. They are like a long serving house band at a bar or something. Good enough to get work, not good enough to really make it. Some members of this band could even be occasional session musicians on a couple songs for a bigger act, but they can never really ever breakout from that. Doing more seems like it would make them more than replacement level. Bands seem like they can sink to replacement level though and it seems like they are the ones who perform at your local Native American run casinos, bands like Hootie and the Blowfish or America.

    • Karyn says:

      Oh, I see. Yes, that makes sense. I’m not sure I agree with that definition, but now at least I understand what you’re saying.

  26. otistaylor89 says:

    Replacement level musical act? How about Weird Al?

  27. otistaylor89 says:

    My Baseball/Rock Acts equivalents(examples):

    Babe Ruth/The Beatles
    Rickey Henderson/David Bowie
    Pedro Martinez/the Clash
    Adrian Beltre/Tom Petty
    Dizzy Dean/Nirvana

  28. AndyL says:

    Replacement level seems to mean below the average major league player but good enough, if you get a break or two, to play, although not well, in the big leagues (of baseball or music). So, you still have to have a lot more talent than a non-descript semi-pro ball player or a bar band playing covers. With that in mind, I would nominate bands like Thin Lizzy or the Romantics, talented enough to have a hit or two (The Boys are Back in Town, That’s What I Like About You), and hang around but not talented enough to accomplish much more.

    • Jeff says:

      I initially thought Thin Lizzy but, really, they were much better than that. Their one big hit album (Jailbreak) was much better both commercially and artistically than the big Hootie album.

      My nomination fro replacement level (bar band makes good if given the chance) would be one Joe may recognize as a Clevelander: Michael Stanley Band.

      • Chad says:

        Yeah, I’m with Jeff. Thin Lizzy is too good to be replacement. I can come up with 4 good songs off the top of my head that are heard with regularity on classic rock stations (The boys are back in town, Jailbreak, Whiskey in the Jar, and the Cowboy song). And I might be missing some.

  29. Phaedrus says:

    Count me as someone that doesn’t like football as much. It used to be that you could get excited about a big hit on a receiver over the middle. Now all I think about are concussions, dementia, ALS, e

  30. Cuban X Senators says:

    Yo Joe! My brilliant wife asked me during a game, “Since starting pitchers are so hard to find, why not just use 6 or 7 guys to pitch the whole game?”

    The opposite of Earl Weaver’s axiom —

    “if I’m struggle to find 4 starting pitchers, why would I use a 5-man rotation?”

  31. richie bklyn says:

    Count me as someone that doesn’t like football as much. It used to be that you could get excited about a big hit on a receiver over the middle. Now its a penalty/fine and sometimes a suspension. Use to QB’s would love to 10+yr career, now QB’S like Brees, Brady, Manning play great forever, have better years stat wise in there 35-40 year old years then most of the best ever had. For the last 15years or so, every rule change has favored the offense and player safety and like in real life, the safer you play the less exciting it is and the safer you want to be the more rights they take from you. All while fining players more, selling less to fans for higher prices, and exploiting everything n shoving it down your throat. The NFL was alot more fun in mid late ’80’s til late ’90’s. Even the early/mid 2000’s were alot betterto watch then the last 5-8years. every year it gets worse. QB’s of today have nothing to fear compared to’80’s 90’s qb’s nevermind ’60’s n ’70’s. WR have no reason to fear goin over the middle. Slot recievers like wes welker would never get 120 catches every year, he’d be lucky to have half of wayne chrebets careers numbers, if he played the same years wayne did. And because of all the no fear offense,teams tend to throw alot more short/screen passes at the expense of the running game. We keep pussifying everything, kid n grown ups alike dont know how to ride a bike w/o a helmet, today and technically, rightfully so, its safer. but not as fun. TE AFTERMATH of a NFL carreer can be sad w/ injuries and lower life spans and what not. But these players know that going in,and are well compensated for it. Like in real life, no risk, no glory. Stop pussifying the game.

  32. John Leavy says:

    Q: How do yo usend 15,000 people to the bathroom or snack bar at the same time?

    A: “Thank you- and now we’d like to play you some songs from the ‘Nebraska’ album.”

    • Silver says:

      Open All Night – Johnny 99 – Atlantic City – Reason To Believe

      You’re telling me you’re heading to the bathroom during any of those songs? If your seat is closer to the stage than mine, then I’m taking it while you’re away. And you ain’t getting it back!

      Hey ho rock and roll, deliver me from nowhere.

      • John Leavy says:

        I’m completely serious. The entire album was self-important junk by a guy who isn’t very bright but was trying really hard to make A Really Big Statement. “The entire “Nebraska”album was a snooze. “Johnny 99” never felt like a real person- just like a ham-handed symbol of working-class suffering under Reaganomics. Sorry, but I’m not buying the idea of a factory worker turning to armed robbery the day after he gets laid off.

  33. Dan says:

    I think of there was a rock and roll WAR, The Kinks and Neil Young would have the highest WOE (WAR above expected) if all time. Yes, I know WOE is an atrocious acronym, but then again, so is WAR.

  34. EnzoHernandez11 says:

    I agree with most everyone above. Hootie and Huey were authentic stars, though obviously below the Springsteen level (I didn’t like either band, but you can’t deny their success). It’s like saying that the best examples of replacement players for Greg Maddux are Kevin Brown and David Cone.

    By definition, replacement players cannot be stars, much less household names. Your parents had probably heard of Huey Lewis and Hootie and the Blowfish. Certainly, all your friends were aware of them. Even now, you can probably name a couple of their hits, or at least hum along (blah, blah, blah, blah, blah-ah, I only wanna be with you-oo).

    Replacement players are men of relative obscurity, known only to the hardcore baseball fan or the fans who live in his major or minor league town. They’ve got talent, obviously, because they made it to the AAAA/fringe major leaguer level. Put them in the right place at the right time, and they could make a little noise (think Brian Doyle in the ’78 World Series). But, mostly, they’re the player to be named later. Mario Ramirez backed up Garry Templeton for the ’84 NL Champ Padres; you’ve never heard of him.

    So, anyway, here’s my nominee for a replacement-level rock band of the (early 80s): Stonebolt. They were a Canadian band that managed to get a song into the mid-20s on the charts in, I think, 1978 (I was in radio then, so I was aware of a lot of the minor acts). So they obviously were better than the band you’re going to hear live at your local club tonight. But they were barely on the fringe of the bigtime, though they did at least briefly break out of the Canadian AAA League.

    Stonebolt: the Mario Ramirez of rock bands.

  35. Rudy Gamble says:

    I nominate Cake as replacement-level. Perfectly competent but you want to replace every song within 30 seconds. Pandora puts them in the mix whenever a starter needs rest.

  36. Steve says:

    Replacement level is clearly Maroon 5. Or maybe Train.

  37. When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time making up baseball stats for rock stars and making player equivalents. Batting average was determined by album sales, walks by critical success (which I defined rather loosely), power by hit singles. I don’t remember a lot of the specific numbers, but I couldn’t help but think of it reading this.

    There are a few player equivalents I can remember: Elton John was Hank Aaron (Perhaps the single most amazing fact in the history of modern music: Elton John had at least one top 40 hit every single year from 1970 through 1995.)–a long, long career where he did everything but his most dramatic achievement was his consistently excellent power.* The Beatles were Babe Ruth–incredible numbers across the board during an era where competition was rather limited. Bruce Springsteen was probably Ted Williams–huge walks and avg with big power early on that faded with age, but at a far more advanced age than most.

    *His 1997, though, with the biggest hit single in history, makes Barry Bonds perhaps a better equivalent.

    While I understand the idea that essentially a local bar band is replacement level, I think that’s ignoring that the replacement level we talk about in baseball is relative to MLB players–calling a local bar band replacement level is like saying the best player on a typical college (maybe even high school) team is a replacement-level player, when in fact that guy is nowhere near as good as, say, Mario Mendoza or Neifi Perez (both career -2.9 WAR). I suggest that rock replacement level is actually someone like G.G. Allin–not actually capable of producing like a professional but able to draw a crowd if nothing else is going on in town.

  38. Jon Fishman says:

    Beatles were like Koufax..great for the short term and impact to culture was huge. Led Zepplin had popularity, musicianship, good road numbers (toured a lot), and 10 years of dominance. I think you start with them and work backwards. I’m not that big of a fan, but I don’t see any other who could match their Ruthian stats. Genesis is like Dennis Ecklersley with 2 distinct eras. Rolling Stones are like Yaz..couple of great records, but mostly good years. Replacement level would have to be a one hit wonder type. Good bar topic.

  39. tosmolskis says:

    My nominee for Rock’n’Roll replacement level band actually declared it in its own name: Average White Band, the Scottish R&B band from the ’70s that had, maybe, one hit back then.

    • Andy says:

      Good name but just on name alone The Replacments would be better (but they were too talented to be the replacement level band). And the Average White Band had two top ten hits, including a number 1 hit, Cut the Cake and Pick up the Pieces, so I think they are above replacement.

  40. tosmolskis says:

    I’m surprised that no closer has chosen (to my knowledge) Muddy Waters’ great hit “I’m Ready”:

    I am ready, as ready’s anybody can be.
    I am ready, ready’s anybody can be.
    I am ready for you, I hope you ready for me.
    I got a axe-handled pistol on my graveyard frame,
    That shoot tombstone bullets, wearin balls and chain,
    I’m drinkin TNT, I’m smokin dynamite,
    I hope some screwball start a fight.
    Cause I’m ready, ready’s anybody can be.
    I am ready for you, I hope you ready for me.

  41. Tom K says:

    Martha and the Muffins, if Canadians are eligible.

    • tosmolskis says:

      Martha and the Muffins’ first album, “Metro Music” makes my top 200 albums of all time. It’s one of the best albums ever made by folks who were basically amateurs. “I wish that I could be excited, then I’d understand where life is going for me”. “Cheesies and Gum”.

      I can’t think of a cut I don’t think is pretty wonderful.

  42. Dave B says:

    I agree with Joe in that NFL football used to be by far my favorite sport, but I’ve recently lost a lot of interest in it, such that baseball is now my favorite sport. Like Joe, the safety issues and the arrogance (and greed) of the league have turned me off, as well as some of the rules changes (I have no idea what a fumble is anymore – what the heck is a “football move”??) and I also think that over the past 10 years, most of the Super Bowl champs have been relatively mediocre teams, probably due to the salary cap,

  43. Damian says:

    Harold Baines was not a replacement level player, and his low WAR could serve as an indictment of the statistic and its bias against the DH. If a player with his career slashline was active in the AL today (.289/.356/.465) he would rank (13/15/17) in the slash stats as of today. A top 15 player.
    Further, he had 1628 RBIs, more than any other active major leaguer.
    You don’t rack up that many hits and RBI opportunities unless you add value. He didn’t hang on for sentimental reasons, late in his career he lost ABs to a rejuvenated Jose Cansceo, of all people. He flat out raked for twenty years. Not playing the field makes it even more difficult, as virtually every position player’s numbers dip when DHing.

  44. Herb Smith says:

    The Elton John/Hank Aaron analogy is clever, but doesn’t fit, for me. For starters, you have the most loud/flamboyant of all the major rocks stars, in Elton. Hank was perhaps the exact opposite amongst MLB superstars…the LEAST flamboyant, quietest star.

    Also, unless you lived in the ’70’s you probably aren’t aware of this, but Elton was the single biggest musical star in the world for awhile…his 1972 to 1976 peak period was like a 10-WAR season, 4 or 5 years in a row. Henry Aaron never had a Pedro-like peak.

    Oddly, Aaron compares well to…yep, Bruce Springsteen. Both were always WAY above average, but never in the Mays/Mantle (or Beatles/Michael Jackson) stratosphere. But, then when all the other stars have faded, they’re out there still producing.

    • Chad says:

      I would say Barry Bonds is Elton John. Both were good, but needed assistance (Bonds – PED’s, John- Bernie Taupin) to become what they were.

  45. Herb Smith says:

    And the Stones simply do not work as a replacement-level band, and some have said (unless we’re simply talking about a “final swan song” replacement-level year, like Jeter is having right now). Their “Career WAR” is too high. That’s why the Ernie Banks/Stones analogy doesn’t work either; Banks is maybe Top-50 or Top-70 in the GOAT discussion.

    Is there any honest person who, in the discussion of “Rock Band, GOAT” would put the Rolling Stones any lower than Top-3? If you truly detested them, and didn’t have a good grasp of Rock History, I could see you ranking them at, say, a Rogers Hornsby level, but that’s still Top-tennish.

    Also, their 1968-1972 peak was more similar to Bonds 2001-2004 than to Banks 1958-1959. Also, in both cases (Barry and the Stones), illegal chemicals played a large part.

  46. basileus says:

    I wrote something similar to what Herb Smith wrote above before my computer ate my post. To piggy back off his thought: the Stones didn’t have just a couple of great records, and then a lot of good ones, as another Brilliant Reader asserted above. They had, by my count, at a minimum, five MVP years (not counting live albums): Let it Bleed, Beggars Banquent, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street (one of the all-time great four-album stretches of all time) and then Some Girls. Some would make the argument (though I wouldn’t) that one of Aftermath and Tattoo You–inarguably very good-to-great albums that might merit a couple of MVP votes and were certainly All-Star quality– could be included in the MVP category. They have another half dozen All-Star level albums (Goats Head Soup, Its Only Rock and Roll, Between the Buttons, etc), and arguably almost no albums no be completely embarrased by (in my estimation, Steel Wheels, Voodoo Lounge, and Bridges to Babylon were no worse than respectable). Compare their 5 MVP years with Zeppelin’s 6.

    As for replacement level, as Stonebolt guy pointed out above, it has to be a someone that, by definition, most of us won’t even recognize. It can’t have been someone with a hit single or a gold/platinum album because that would be roughly equivalent to having an All-Star year. And we’ve already established that it can’t be someone that sold nothing but was influential, like say, Velvet Underground, The Replacements, or Big Star, since all of those are remembered and people cover their songs, and are regularly cited in histories of modern popular music. In other words, they have not been forgotten.

    So my nominee is a band from the 80s hair metal era, Black n’ Blue. I was in elementary school during the height of this era and was into that scene (Ratt, Crue, Cinderella, even some slightly less popular acts like Dokken, Tesla, Faster Pussycats, Dangerous Toys) and never even heard of this band until the 2000s when I saw some retrospective show on VH1 about the 80s. Their career arc mirrors neatly that of a replacement level player. They were enough of something to get signed to a major label, sticking around enough to have Geffen release four of their records, three of which charted in the 100s. Their Wiki page says a couple of their songs received moderate MTV airplay (naming the song “Hold on to 18” which I’ve never heard of). Very similar to a replacement level player: Signed to a major league team (signed to Geffen), stuck around a few years (released a few albums), cups of coffee in the Majors (brief, unimpressive appearances in the Billboard 200), then completely forgotten (they don’t even get included in the 80s nostalgia package tours that began around the late 90s/early 2000s such as Poison/Ratt/La Guns, etc). The only reason they are remembered at all is because their guitarist is currently the lead guitarist in Kiss.

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