Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.


‘Twould be hypocritical of me to crack on someone who seemed to be writing about topics about which they weren’t exactly experts.

Exhibit A: … this Blogge, hello!

Talk about not staying in my lane.

So with that in mind, I shall tread carefully.


Seems like almost every year at this time, someone leaps onto social media to say some intemperate thing about that curious activity about which I swoon, namely, The Marching Band. Makes sense: if you watch TV on New Year’s Day, you may be subjected to more sights and sounds of the marching arts than on any other TV day, what with the Rose Parade and various college football bowl games and all.

So it makes sense that people who are apt to be critical or prone to mockery, regarding this activity, are going to be that way right around the New Year.

And so it was, yesterday, with a fellow called Bill James.

Honestly, if I wanted to save time … I could just direct you to a piece I posted here three years ago; you could read it and every time you read the words “Jim Rome” you could replace them mentally with “Bill James” and be just as far ahead. You would be forgiven if you did this. Or if you didn’t.

Mr. James leapt onto Twitter and, as you do, Tweeted:

Does the world really need marching bands? I know I am [in] trouble for even asking this question, but what do you think?”

And offered Twitter followers a poll, the results of which happened to end up 88 to 12 in favor of “Yes, we need bands”.

A futile poll, as it happened, but 7 to 1 in any sport constitutes a convincing win, I should think.

Myself? Rather than losing my ever-lovin’ mind – as a couple of my colleagues have done – trying to change Bill James’ ever-lovin’ mind – which is futile because anyone who posts an opinion online and is then pushed back against … digs in that much harder and We Shall, We Shall Not Be Moved – I merely sighed, “ah, he’ll never understand, and it’s his loss.”

True enough, at least to me – a fellow who understands that the marching arts can be dreadful if done poorly, BUT if they’re designed and done with a certain amount of skill and caring can be positively transcendent, even if the purveyors do wear feathers on their heads. So there’s that bias built-in.


My curiosity got the better of me, though; and so I peeked at the replies to Mr. James’ Tweet. The replies were predictably – how dare you, sir – but it turns out that Mr. James felt the need to engage with many of the aggrieved respondents. And in the process, he revealed a couple of interesting things about himself.

First, I guess maybe I should have known who Bill James even was.

Not that jazz composer who wrote the theme from “Taxi”.

Not that fellow who co-starred with Will Smith in that romantic comedy movie of a few years back.

He’s a baseball writer. Who invented “Sabermetrics”.

Sabermetrics is the empirical analysis of baseball, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity. … Sabermetricians collect and summarize the relevant data from this in-game activity to answer specific questions. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the Society for American Baseball Research, founded in 1971. The term sabermetrics was coined by Bill James, who is one of its pioneers and is often considered its most prominent advocate and public face.”


See, I knew I should have recognized that name right away. But I guess I didn’t.

And, more importantly and with less needless snark … something else that Mr. James revealed about himself was this: it turns out that he wasn’t, after all, violating the rule of “only write about what you know”.

One Twitter respondent noted, “That’s a funny question coming from the ultimate sports nerd. Let the music folks have their fun.” Mr. James shot back:

I was in the Marching Band in high school. I was on the field at the halftime of many football games. In retrospect, I’d like to have those 500 hours back.”

In retrospect, it was a shame that there wasn’t one of the Drum Major Academy drum majors in charge of that band, as that student leader might have been able to get to Mr. James before his attitude went all toxic and he either quit the band or destroyed it. (I know; that drum major would have needed a time machine, since Mr. James’ age is closer to seventy than seventeen; you get my point, I trust.)

Sorry! I’m sorry. That was not how I meant this to go. I really wasn’t going to be all snarky about this. I was going to let all it roll off my back. I was going to stay positive.


I know a good way to stay positive. It’s this angle:

When another Twitter respondent wished Mr. James would respect the amount of work that goes into being in a marching band, Mr. James shot back:

I respect their work. I just think I would respect if more if they worked on something more worthwhile.”


Is it worthwhile to commit all that time and effort to marching in a band?

Is it worthwhile to commit all that time and effort to being a Sabermetrician?

Is it worthwhile to make solar panels?

Is it worthwhile to paint sunsets?

Is it worthwhile to learn how to play chess? To play autoharp?

Is it worthwhile to create computer graphics software that will allow more realistic renderings of video-game backgrounds?

Is it worthwhile to write a blog?

Is it worthwhile to commit ridiculous amounts of time and effort to activities that other people don’t understand, and can’t understand, and sometimes even mock?

Sure it is.

Because the alternative is having a population full of people who aren’t curious, aren’t creative, don’t know how to commit time and effort to something … but instead are just drones who only know enough to be “prepared for the 21st century workforce”. Or who would rather mock the people who are curious, creative, and willing to sweat a little – because throwing Internet snark is just easier. Far less risky. Much easier to get attention any which way one can. Look at me and my disdain for people whose activity I think isn’t worthwhile. I made you respond. I win.

Unless, apparently, you get under the skin of the band people, some of whom Tweet things at you like..

It appears the father of Sabermetrics has not found a new audience amongst band members.”


We used to be awfully quiet about you, because we had no idea who you were. Must suck to be insignificant, until the bandos come after you.”


Then it doesn’t make you come out looking like that much of a winner.

At which point it doesn’t seem as worthwhile, I guess.

January 2, 2018 Posted by | arts, band, baseball, DMA, Internet, marching band, music, social media, sports, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not a Damn Thing Wrong With It

I heard some pretty good news this afternoon.

Well, what the heck, it was very good news.

I first realized what I was reading, online, when I realized that a friend’s Facebook cover photo was not merely a picture of a left hand but that the left hand in question had a wedding ring on it.

Cool! And then some. How exciting! Someone’s engaged.

After some careful reading, I realized that I knew both parties involved in the engagement. Even better.

I will admit that I haven’t known these two terribly long, at least not as Official Facebook Friends. We all were in the same college band, but I was not in the band at the same time as these two were (I’m very old; they’re not), so we only actually connected within the last couple of years. Most of those years, at least as they relate to our college band, have been chronicled to some degree in this blog space. No need to go back over that territory specifically, except to note that an awful lot of people from different band “generations” have ended up better connected … or in fact connected at all … because of the events of these past couple of years.

Therefore, I’ve stood and chatted with Friend #1; and with Friend #2 I’ve only traded Facebook and eMail messages. Friend #2 actually offered a few thoughts that helped reduce the stress of my one stressful blogging experience awhile ago, so although we’ve not ever talked face-to-face, we’s like THIS.

So. Two relatively new friends, whom I knew were an Item … are now planning to become a Legal Item. Again … cool!

This engagement thing is a big decision, as I recall. When you participate in this agreement, you commit yourself to a new joint life, to be spent primarily with one particular person. To share an awful lot of yourself and your existence with them.

Yeah, yeah: fill in your punchlines here … clearly not every wedding in the world is followed by a marriage that lasts the entire remainder of the newlyweds’ lifetime. You want to take my word on this: I am well aware.

But I do not begrudge others the opportunity to go for it.

There are people out in the world that do, though – and not because of the punchlines that you may have filled in, above. And not because of any particular bitter experience with matrimony that they may personally have had. They’ve just decided that some people really ought not enter into that dangerous, uncertain, risky behavior we have labeled “marriage”.

But, anyway, I’m thrilled to hear that Friend #1 decided to propose to Friend #2. As far as I can tell from their almost ridiculously cute Facebook posts, these two were destined for this from the get-go. Yes, all relationships do (or will) undergo trials and tribulations – after all, when two separate distinct human beings share a relationship for a long enough time, they will discover differences that will seem as important as their cute and fun and wonderful shared interests and beliefs. But Friend #1 and Friend #2 just seemed like a very logical pair.

So if they want to make a go of it, more power to them. Mazel tov, said he, in spite of his documented Methodism.

If you hadn’t guessed the Paul-Harvey-esque “rest of the story” already, … good. If you have, … then you know what I’m about to write.


Friend #1 obviously loves her friend very much. And Friend #2 … seems to love her friend just as much.


Not a damn thing wrong with it.

November 11, 2012 Posted by | friends | , , , , , , | 5 Comments