EDITOR’S NOTE: It is this blog’s belief that absolute truth is knowable, and that the excellence of disparate entities can (and should) be ranked based on the answers to three seemingly inconsequential but actually indispensable questions. In that spirit, this is the city line. presents to you: THING FIGHT.
It’s a battle the world has been waiting decades to see. In one corner: Eccentric former big-league reliever Turk Wendell.
In the other corner: “Mr. Wendal,” the conscious-yet-poppy third single off of hip-hop group Arrested Development‘s debut album, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of…:
Which of these two entities is more excellent? There is only one way to find out. That way … is THING FIGHT.
QUESTION THE FIRST:
WHICH ENTITY IS MORE FREE?
A difficult question, to be sure. Much of Turk Wendell’s career and aura was predicated on certain antics that were perceived as indicative of his “free” spirit: his penchant for leaping over the baseline as he left the field after each half-inning he pitched, his tendency to brush his teeth in the dugout during games, his love of wearing camouflage and posing with gentlemen and deer in the woods, and such and such.
Upon further review, though, those behaviors can be seen as a pattern of obsessive-compulsive-Southernive disorder, a debilitating affliction Wendell developed despite having grown up in Pittsfield, Mass. OCSD makes a man many things — delusional, bloodthirsty, a bad credit risk and a serviceable seventh-inning option, for example — but free is not one of them.
On the flip side, “Mr. Wendal” tells the tale of a man who has freedom. Sure, it’s a freedom that you and I think is dumb, but it’s still freedom from the worries of a quick-to-diss society. (You see, Mr. Wendal’s a bum.) Also, you can listen to the song gratis via YouTube (see above) and download it at no charge through a variety of sublegal file-sharing services. Free as a bird.
WINNER: “MR. WENDAL”
QUESTION THE SECOND:
WHICH ENTITY HAD MORE SUCCESS AS A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PITCHER?
While Turk Wendell was by no means a dominant reliever, he was a decent short man in the latter half of the 1990s and the early part of the 2000s for the Mets and, for about a year-and-a-half or so, the Phillies.
Despite showing a lot of promise as a sinker-slider type during demoing for 3 Years…, “Mr. Wendal” just couldn’t get anybody out upon reaching the bigs, washing out after one season with a WHIP approaching 4.
WINNER: TURK WENDELL
QUESTION THE THIRD:
ACCEPT AS GIVEN THAT WE ARE ABLE TO TRAVEL BACK IN TIME. WE DO SO. OUR DESTINATION: 1993. WHICH ENTITY IS MORE LIKELY TO GET DANCE CLUBS ON SMASH?
In 1993, Turk Wendell was a 26-year-old big-league rookie breaking in with the Chicago Cubs, living as a young and (relatively) well-to-do man in one of the truly great American cities, smack in the middle of the first Bulls threepeat, at a time when awkward white people totally went to singles bars and dance clubs. Dude was in prime position to get mad clubs on smash.
Unfortunately, though, he’s running into a juggernaut here. “Mr. Wendal” reached number one on Billboard’s “Hot Dance Music/Club Play” charts in ’93, as well as number four on the “Hot Rap Singles” chart and number six on the Billboard Top 100. People then mostly just wanted to chill out, watch Real World: Los Angeles and forget about David Koresh and Waco and stuff. But sometimes, cats also wanted to get conscious while simultaneously dancing to a skee-ba-dee-bop-bop-ba-da-dop beat. Enter “Wendal.”
WINNER: “MR. WENDAL”
ULTIMATE WINNER OF THING FIGHT:
“Mr. Wendal” defeats Turk Wendell two to one in THING FIGHT. Let the cry ring forth across the lands: The Arrested Development song “Mr. Wendal” is more excellent than eccentric former relief pitcher Turk Wendell.
Thanks for joining us for this installment of THING FIGHT. Take us home, Speech!