Music Monday #1

I listen to a lot of music. I like to share the music that I love with my friends in the hopes that they find something that they like, too. Last week, I had an idea that I would start to post some of the music I like on Dave Roberts’ Dive to share this aspect of my life with my readers (who are, by the way, negligible). To this end, I thought I would come up with a series of posts called “Music Mondays” to give people an idea of what I am listening to on a weekly basis (and to hopefully, eventually, introduce some people to music that they find enjoyable). I know that today is Tuesday, but I forgot to share yesterday. So, I guess this is Music Monday Tuesday. Or something like that. Whatever, my blog, my rules. I’m going to start with some FAQ about my music and then share some of the things I’ve been listening to over the past week or so.

What type of music do you listen to?

For the most party, I listen to various types of electronic music: dubstep, trap, DnB, future bass, house, glitch, funk, and lots of stuff in between. If you follow electronic music closely, you know that there are lots of different genres. Sometimes, an artist has his or her own classification for their music and, other times, they prefer that the genre goes unclassified. I also listen to rap, hip-hop, reggae, and rock. If I find a song that I like within these genres, I give it a listen.

How do you find your music?

I have lots of different ways to find music for myself. My two most fruitful and tested methods for finding new music are to subscribe to channels on YouTube and to listen to mixes that my favorite artists put out for individual songs that I like. I also follow artists on Facebook and Soundcloud and wait for new releases. Finally, I love to go to live shows and find the music online that I loved during the set.

When and how do you listen to music?

I listen to music in any format and at all times. At work, I listen to my iPod through my headphones. At home, I usually listen at my computer through a set of headphones (because I can’t listen to loud music through a set of good speakers in my apartment). I now love to drive, because I realized that my car speakers are actually better than my headphones or anything I have in my apartment. But, by far and away, my favorite way to listen to music is to go to live shows and hear songs dropped live. For me, nothing beats feeling the bass in my chest and hearing the energy of the crowd (especially at large festivals).

Can you define what a good song is?

Generally, when I really like a song, I can point to a very specific part of it that draw me to it. For example, five of the more common things that I like are: a.) dark tones that convey a deep and serious vibe; b.) heavy bass that “grinds” or “rumbles”; c.) hip-hop/rap (or any short vocal) samples that flow in well with the over the music and provide a sense of rhythm; d.) coordinated wobbles that give the song an implicit bass line to assist with proper head bobbing; and e.) any upbeat rhythms that convey a reggae-influence. Of course, these are not hard-set rules, but they are certainly aspects of individual tunes that I like. Ultimately, my end-all, be-all of listening to music is to do so at a live concert. Much of what I like on my headphones or in my car will not totally replicate the feeling I have at concerts, but I can tell what the music would sound like if I were listening live. Aside from giving me the opportunity to find new individual songs that I love, I think this is why I love mixes so much: the vibe from that an artist generates from a mix is one that is similar to a live show because all of the songs are strung together. I can almost feel what the DJ is trying to do with the crowd and imagine how this would translate at a venue.

Without further ado, here is some music I have been listening to in the past week:

1.) Jaymes Young – Habits of My Heart (BENTZ remix)

Genre: Future Trap

Why I like it: The melody and the vocals give the tune a beautiful “love-sick” vibe. Also, the bass that drops during the hook shakes my central rearview mirror (this is the threshold that I have set for “good bass”.)

2.) Curren$y – Bottom of the Bottle feat. August Alsina & Lil’ Wayne

Genre: Rap

Why I like it: Curren$y has been one of my favorite rappers since high school. While this isn’t necessarily the “stoner rap” vibe I’m used to from him, he still uses his relaxed and fragmented flow to complement the beat. The vocals on the course are also a great touch.

3.) Styles&Complete – Free (feat. Empress)

Genre: Future Trap

Why I like it: the vibe of the song is serious and heady. Moreover, the use of cut up samples to construct the hook is exceptionally done — the perfectly placed “Ha!” conveys a sense of anticipation and rhythm. Also, the second drop utilizes one of my favorite musical tactics — something I like to call the “phantom beat”. The producer cuts out the hit of the drum and creates an “implied beat” that changes up the listener’s perspective on the song.

4.) Alison Wonderland – Jun 12, 2015 Mixmag Live Mix

Genre: Trap/Future

Why I like it: I first realized that I loved this mix @14:15. The sample (“tell you what I want”), which might be annoying in any other context, is mixed with a couple deep wobbles. @47:20 she mixes in a tropical house tune that absolutely bumps. This is what tropical house is supposed to sound like. I also love the song that drops @51:20. Great future bass. The general trap/future vibe is what I’m really digging right now.

In other news, she’s obviously affiliated with Future Classic. I don’t know if she’s signed or whatever because this is honestly one of the first times I’ve heard about her. TSIS just released a remix she did of Hermitude and she drops Flume a couple times in the excellent mix that I’m posting here.

She said in an interview that she’s from Boston and the YouTube video briefly said she is from Boston, but she’s plays out of Australia so many people assume she’s Aussie. If she actually grew up in Boston, that’s bonus points.


Ben Cherington’s Departure

My first post upon returning from my years-long hiatus will outline my feelings on GM Ben Cherington’s departure from the Red Sox. Ben Cherington held my fantasy dream job from 2011-2015. I admired Ben greatly and especially respected his accountability, intelligence, thoughtfulness, and calm demeanor. When he stepped down, my mom sent a typical “mom email” titled “Are you sad about Cherrington?” The body of the email included the following: “What do you think about the new guy [Dave Dombrowski]? Was this a good move?” That’s all. After reading my response, she was so impressed by the detail that she (in typical mom fashion) encouraged me to contact the now-exiting president of the Sox, Larry Lucchino. To save myself the embarrassment, I’ll instead simply post what I wrote to her on Dave Roberts’ Dive. I’m sure Larry has his own thoughts on the matter.

Funny you should ask, I just so happen to have a strong opinion about this issue.

I like Ben and appreciate what he did in Boston. On the other hand, the Red Sox are a huge mess (albeit, fixable) and it is almost 100% his fault. Ben had three fatal flaws: he was incapable of scouting and developing pitchers, he overvalued the talent (particularly the prospects) on our team, and he created logjams by signing and trading for redundant players.

Ben’s philosophy was this: acquire the best possible players and figure out where they are going to play later. What do Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Hanley Ramirez, and Mookie Betts have in common? They are all right-handed hitters who basically play the same position. In some instances, Ben paid a hefty price to get these players. To his credit, Ben acknowledged the players were redundant, but noted that, “this is a good problem to have” in case of injury. What happened, though, is that players didn’t get the playing time necessary to grow and develop and our outfield has been a complete disaster. Ben had two colossal failures this winter when he signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. I never agreed with signing Pablo. I was excited about signing Hanley, but I will now say that he is the biggest problem on the entire team and we have to figure out how to get him, more than anybody, straight out of Boston. While the Red Sox would never say this publicly, I still think that they never meant to sign both players. They offered both of them contracts with the idea that only one of them would sign, and both players decided to sign the contracts at nearly the same time.

Ben did a great job in two respects: we won the World Series in 2013 thanks to his outside-the-box free agency strategy and he built one of the best farm systems in baseball. But he had many, many failed projects with pitchers. This includes Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello, and many other pitchers in the minor leagues that you have never heard of (because they stink). The bottom line is that he doesn’t have an eye for pitching. I agree with the decision not to sign Jon Lester, but the moves he made to try and fix it have bombed. In addition, for the most part, he hasn’t drafted pitchers who have panned out.

Ben overvalued his prospects and was afraid to pull the trigger on a deal to acquire Cole Hamels this winter. Who knows how many other opportunities he had to trade these guys. Instead, he kept a glut of overvalued “talent” on the team at the expense of pitching and, lo and behold, we are at the bottom of the division. Now, to fix this team, we are going to have to swallow losing a few promising young players (think Bogaerts, Betts, Bradley, Swihart, Owens, etc.) just to rid ourselves of Hanley. It makes sense that Ben would be attached to the aforementioned players because he drafted and developed them. At the same time, he needs to go because a more objective person in charge will use the pieces we have to build a better team.

As for the new guy, Dave Dombrowski; he is, quite easily, one of the top five “baseball minds” that are in front offices. He built the Tigers into a perennial contender from the ground up. Back in the day, he is widely regarded to have performed miracles with the Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos to somehow, some way, build these teams into contenders. He is also known for swinging massive trades to acquire superstar players (Miguel Cabrera is a good example of this). I would expect some major changes to the Red Sox this winter and I am fully on board with the abrupt leadership turnover. We needed a new vision.

Now, if anyone asks me of my opinion of the Red Sox GM move, I suppose I can simply forward them to my blog.

Hello World

Hello World,

To say that it has been a while since I last posted on Dave Roberts’ Dive would be an understatement. It’s been nearly two years! Luckily, everything is mostly as I’ve left it. The Red Sox won the World Series (and then promptly played dismally until now). Also, it turns out my predictions about Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were pretty much spot on.

I hope to revive this blog for all of my avid readers (read: me) starting right now. In the time since I last updated, I graduated from MIT, began work in a cancer research laboratory at Stanford (and hence moved to Palo Alto, CA), and started applying to medical schools. My hopes in reviving this blog are to provide an outlet to express myself about my life. Since much of my life is consumed by the Red Sox, I will certainly continue posting about them. But, I would also like to post about other aspects of my life, including (but not limited to) my work, my social activities, and my few interests besides baseball. To this end, I’ve added a few categories to the blog: volunteering, general thoughts and ramblings, science, medical school, music, and tutoring. As I become inspired to write about more things, I’m sure categories will be added to this list.

In the meantime, I would like to explain a bit why I named the blog the way I did. To be honest, not too much thought went into it; I knew I wanted a baseball reference (because the whole plan was to have a blog with statistical analysis) and I knew I wanted it to roll off the tongue (the jury is still out on that one). Also, I realized that “Dave Roberts’ Dive” not only described a moment in time, but could also describe a place (i.e. a “dive bar”). In this way, it was a bit of a double entendre, if you will. The blog was intended to be a place that the interested reader could come to “dive” into the statistical analysis of baseball. There’s no going back now.

As I thought about the name of the blog more, I realized that the event itself (Dave Roberts’ steal of second base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS) was truly a microcosm of my own life. What do I mean by that? I have always viewed baseball as a metaphor for life and I think that this is healthy. It has taught me about failure: the best players fail 70% of the time. It has taught me about luck and natural progression: one of my favorite sayings is “well, that’s the way she goes.” It has taught me about diligent preparation and hard work: in baseball, talent can only take you so far — learning and owning the intricacies of the game is what truly takes you to the next level. I could go on and on.

In any case, as I reflect on Dave Roberts’ Dive (the actual thing, not the blog), I realize that I find parallels in my life, too. Mainly, Dave’s steal epitomizes the idea that performing under pressure in a single moment in time can cosmically alter the course of the universe. Applied to my life, I know that performing under pressure in certain moments can and will shape the course of my life. Similarly, I use the metaphor of Dave Roberts’ Dive to remember that I must always take advantage of the tremendous opportunities I’ve been afforded in life (indeed, nobody in Boston would remember Dave Roberts if the Sox didn’t win the 2004 World Series).

Anyways, I hope this single post inspires me to write more and allows me to express myself in new ways. Happy reading!