My Fascination with Stats

It is kind of ironic that I work with numbers all day.  I’m not good at math.  I never have been.  But that has never stopped me from being borderline obsessed with stats.  

My obsession with stats started back when the New York Mets were good at baseball.  The 1986 Mets were the most fun team that an 11 year old kid could watch.  I remember reading each game’s box score in the Bergen Record newspaper the morning after each game.  Batting Averages, RBIs, Strike Outs  were all compiled neatly for me to pour over every morning.  It helped that the Mets were so good that they had players in almost every League Leader category, which meant more stats for me to check.  So, Dwight Gooden with your league leading 24-4 record, 1.53 ERA, 16 complete games, 276.2 innings pitched and 268 strikeouts – thanks for making me obsessed with stats.  

Thank you Tecmo Super Bowl on NES.  The greatest football videogame ever made.  It was the first one to have real players names from real NFL teams.  Except for QB Eagles – screw you Randall Cunningham.  Freshman year at College, our entire floor played an entire season together.  We had at least 10 guys who each picked a team name out of a hat. (the Giants and 49ers were excluded because they were too good.)  After each week, the stats were handwritten and posted out in the hallway so everyone could see where they stood.  In the words of one of my floor-mates that year – “Awww stats.”

Thank you NHL 94 and 95 on Sega Genesis.  There was nothing better than being able to play an entire 82 game NHL schedule and have all of your goals and assists kept track of for you.  Especially since having a 100 goal scorer was not unheard of.

Thank you Microleague Baseball for the Apple IIGS in my parent’s basement circa 1986-1987.  This game wasn’t much on actual gameplay, but rather it was all about stats.  You didn’t even have to use a controller.  All you did was press One for a fastball, and Zero to swing the bat.  The computer simulated every play.  The original game contained about 25 old-time great teams including the 1927 Yankees and 1969 Mets.  It had actual player names and their actual stats from the season.  The best part about Microleague Baseball was that you could print out the box score at the end of each game.  With the addition of a “General Managers Disk,” you could create your own teams.  I remember spending hours entering entire teams stats onto that old computer.

That’s why I am such a geek when it comes to Phish.  Why do I need to know that I have seen Chalk Dust Torture the most times (36) of any song played?  Or that I have seen it at 37% of the shows that I have attended?  The answer is that I don’t need to know that, but I want to. 

Why do I need to know that it was 66 shows between seeing the Beatles “A Day in the Life” on 10/17/96 in Penn State until 6/05/2009 at Jones Beach? 

Why not?

Padding The Stats: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez Go to a Phish Show

I’ll admit it.  I love stats.  One of my favorite things about this whole blog thing is that I get to see how many people visit my page each day.  Not only that, but it shows me where most of the clicks come from.  After only a few short weeks of life, my page is now searchable on the Interwebs.  I received my first Search Engine hit the other day.  Someone in Singapore entered in his Yahoo! search bar – “I feel feeling.”  I have no idea what the hell they could have been searching for, but it directed them to my first ever post.   

I started thinking about a way to get the most readers with the least amount of work.  That’s kind of how I roll – I like to work smarter, not harder.  And honestly, I’m not very smart.  But today I am a genius.  To steal a line from my other blog inspiration, “that’s right kids”  JUSTIN BIEBER AND SELENA GOMEZ went to a Phish concert last week in Long Beach, California.  And he like, totally Tweeted about it on the Twitter.

BIEBER TWEETS

I can’t wait to see how many hits those two names get me in the next couple of days and weeks.  A bunch of Tweens are going to be searching for more info on their favorite heartthrob, but instead they will get directed here to my blog.  Ha – the joke is on you 13 year old girl from the midwest!  No Justin Bieber content here. 

Alright, maybe just one picture from backstage.

 

OMG – Biebs (That should get me at least 6 clicks from Google) and Selena!!  Also known as Jelena (worst Hollywood couple nickname ever).  According to Hollywood insiders – and a bunch of dirty hippies at the Phish show, they were throwing glowticks during the second set.  Glowsticks wars have been a normal scene at Phish shows for the past 15 years.  When Justin Bieber was only 3 years old, I was at the Great Went listening to Phish play “Harry Hood” in complete darkness while thousands of glowsticks were launched into the air for the first time.  A Glowstick War was born!  It was spontaneous, it was beautiful, it was painful at times – but it was a moment I will never forget.

Thank you Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez for helping me remember my first Phish glowstick war – and more importantly, for padding my stats.

And if you want to see Justin Bieber’s arm throwing glowsticks, watch this Youtube video:

August 8th, 1998 – Phish – Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD

I spent a week and half in August of 1998 traveling the east coast in my 1985 Toyota Camry with my college roommate and good friend DanO.  We left New Jersey on the night of August 7th and would be staying the first night in Alexandria, Virginia.  We merged onto the Garden State Parkway just as the sun had set and it had just turned dark.  A beat up car with its windows rolled down passed us just as we entered the highway.  The two long haired guys in the car had big smiles on their faces – and a Phish sticker on the back of the car.  We were more than 200 miles and 4 hours away from where the concert was the next night, and the first car we saw when we got on the highway was going to the same place as we were.

It was dark, and they did not have their headlights on.  I pulled up next to their car and yelled for them to turn them on.  “You going tomorrow night?” I yelled.  They both nodded yes.  “We’ll see you there.”  And we drove off into the night towards an adventure that would feature many more moments of magic like this.

I have zero recollection of what we did the next morning and day leading up to our departure for the venue.   We left for the show at 4:20.  The only reason I know that is because we wrote it down on the back of my setlist pad for the night.  The drive was supposed to take about 45 minutes.  It took us more than three and a half hours.  We sat on the exit ramp in the same spot for almost 2 hours.  It was a party on the highway.  People were out of their cars tailgating, riding skateboards, kicking around hackysacks and having a great time.  The most fun you can have in traffic is on the way to a Phish show.   It started to get a little nerveracking once showtime was approaching.  Luckily we found the Smooth Jazz station on the radio and got to listen to some Sade which helped calm our moods.  Traffic finally started rolling again, but we were still quite a way from the parking lots.  We made a decision that would go on to be a common theme for all of my future concert going excursions.  Get off the highway and take the backroads.

It was 8:00 by the time we finally parked our car.  The ticket time said 7:30.  We quickly walked to the venue and found a spot on the back of the lawn.  Just as we sat down – the house lights went down, and the band came on stage.  The stars were aligned for us on this night.  Even though we didn’t have good seats – the fact that we made it there was all that mattered at that point.  They opened with a song called The Wedge.  The chorus of it appropriately sang – “Take the highway, to the Great Divide.”  We had arrived at the Great Divide.

I don’t think I was able to see the band on stage the entire night.  I watched the show mostly on the monitors above the roof of the pavilion.  The show was extremely well played from start to finish, but the biggest memory from this night was the Encore.  The only time I was able to see the stage was when they started playing Sabotage by the Beastie Boys.  To put it bluntly, the place went fucking crazy.  I jumped so high in the air that for a brief moment I was floating above the entire lawn and caught a glimpse of the stage.

The first night of our tour was a wonderfully stressful but perfect way to start the week ahead.

August 6th, 2000 – Santana in Hartford, CT.

It is really hard remembering stuff sometimes.   But, I Try…  Just like Macy Gray sang about when she opened for Santana in Hartford on a rainy evening in August of 2000.  I dare you to listen to this song and not have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.  Macy Gray – I Try

I remember singing this song all night after the concert.  Maybe it was just me, or maybe these 5 can help me remember more about this night.

Pictured left to right: BlackSaab, Suzy Greenberg, Brown So Sloppy, Jannifer Kawaka and “Keith”

Our seats were on the lawn this night, but the rain had us doing a lot of wandering around.  During Macy Gray’s set, Brown So Sloppy and Jannifer Kawaka found themselves in a VIP tent and acquired a few VIP passes and a bag full of swag.   I don’t remember how it all went down, but at some point during Santana’s set – I had one of the VIP passes hanging around my neck.  For the first time in my life, my Concert Instincts kicked in.  With Suzy Greenberg in tow, we walked ourselves into the pavilion.  Just like that scene from Wayne’s World when Wayne and Garth win backstage passes to Alice Cooper, I waved that VIP pass at every person that I saw.  Every yellow shirted usher just waved us passed them – never asking to see the Lawn tickets that were in our pockets.  We suddenly found ourselves in the center of the pavilion.  We slipped into a section of empty Box Seats and within 30 seconds someone approached us.  I thought we were done for.  Instead of asking to see our tickets, a girl in a white shirt asked us if we wanted to order anything.

We had great seats, were dry from the rain and now I had someone bringing me a beer.  Life was good this night.  Sometimes the music gets completely overshadowed by the experience.

SANTANA
MEADOWS MUSIC THEATRE
HARTFORD,CT 8/6/00

MILES INTRO
1.     SPIRITUAL/ YALEO
2.     LOVE OF MY LIFE
3.     PUT YOUR LIGHTS ON
4.     AFRICA BAMBA
5.     DAY OF CELEBRATION
6.     VICTORY IS WON
7.     RENE INTRO/ MARIA MARIA
8.     CORAZON ESPINADO
9.     *SUPERNATURAL THING
10.   EVERYBODY'S EVERYTHING
11.   SAVOR (KARL & RAUL SOLO)
12.   RIGHT ON/ GET ON
13.   BLACK MAGIC WOMAN/ GYPSY QUEEN 
14.   OYE COMO VA
        -ENCORES-
15.   APACHE/ SMOOTH/ DAME TU AMOR
16.   JINGO

*WITH MACY GRAY

The Day We Drove for 2 Days

The drive from New Jersey to Limestone, Maine was supposed to take about 11 hours.  We left the morning of Friday August 1st, 2003 and got to the line of traffic leading into the venue right after sunset.  We parked our car as the sun was rising on Saturday August 2nd.  We were attending Phish’s 6th Festival – titled simply, “IT.”

On the morning of August 2nd – I learned that Leighmo had never pulled an all-nighter before.  A shocking revelation.  She was behind the wheel when we finally pulled into the retired Air Force base.  She had been up for a long time and had that look in her eyes.  You know the look that women get when lasers are shooting out of their eyes ready to cut you in half?  Yeah – this look.

That was the look she gave me as we were being directed towards our campsite.  At one point she pulled the car out of traffic and made a beeline towards the tent village that was already setup.  A Maine State Trooper had to point her back in the right direction.  Back to the same line of cars were were sitting in traffic with for the past 8 hours. We setup our tent in silence and were finally able to crash for a few hours comfortably.  But the damage had been done.  We never fully recovered from the long drive.  The tone for the entire weekend was set.

The highlight of the weekend was grilling the individually wrapped lamb chops that we had brought with us.  The smell of the delicious tender lamb turned a few heads on some Vegan Hippies, but Leighmo and I savored every mouthful that we had.   In fact, knowing that the mere smell of  it was offending some of our neighbors, made it that much better.

I compare this weekend to one wedding that Leighmo and I went to together.  I won’t say whose wedding it was to protect all parties involved, but there was ONE wedding that we attended together that we did not have fun at.  It was still a wedding and the drinks were flowing, there was a party atmosphere and good friends were everywhere – but something just wasn’t right.  Everything was forced.  From the ridiculous amount of pictures taken by the seemingly omnipresent photographer to the the overly loud band with way too many instruments, it was hard to step outside the psycho-bride’s preplanned comfort zone.   And that was how the weekend at “It” felt.  I had two of my favorite things collide that weekend,  Phish and Leighmo.  But they didn’t mesh.  “It” was the last Phish concert we would go to together.

Luckily Phish stopped touring the next Summer.  So I did exactly what I needed to do.  Got engaged on December 7th of 2004, married on October 8th of 2005 , and bought a house in December of 2005.

This weekend in Maine – I learned what not to do with the woman I would spend the rest of my life with.