Ah, the smell of leather! The boys of summer! The thrill of a well-placed slider! Yes, it’s baseball season again, and what better way to preview this year’s Major League Baseball slate than by tying each team’s prospects to songs from the great Long Island metal band Blue Öyster Cult? Not only has BÖC been around forever, and not only do they have the greatest song titles in history, it’s pretty clear that they have been previewing this baseball season in mystical and occult ways for decades.
Tonight’s first regular-season matchup on American soil is a National League tilt pitting the St. Louis Cardinals against the rebranded Miami Marlins, so the first part of our preview will focus on the NL. (Part two will run tomorrow.)
TEAM: Arizona Diamondbacks
SONG: “Gil Blanco County” (when BÖC was known as the Stalk-Forrest Group and/or Soft White Underbelly)
PREVIEW: Why this early country-psych jam for the D-backs? First: It builds to a big hoedown, just like Arizona’s season in 2011. Second: it’s obscure, like this team—except for Justin Upton, who will be MVP this year.
CONNECTION: There is no Gil Blanco County anywhere; it was named for Gil Blanco, a pitcher from Phoenix who played for the Yankees. That’s kind of eerie and occult, right?
TEAM: Atlanta Braves
SONG: “This Ain’t the Summer of Love”
PREVIEW: A biker song for the most un-biker team in the majors. Last summer was all love for the Braves; they were 8 1/2 games up for the Wild Card spot before they choked away September. “Things ain’t like they used to be,” indeed.
CONNECTION: A lot of question marks in this team’s makeup… and the BÖC logo features an upside-down question mark!!!
TEAM: Chicago Cubs
SONG: “Career of Evil”
PREVIEW: Hire all the Theo Epsteins you want, Cubbies, but you’ll never get anywhere until you get rid of Alfonso Soriano, as foretold by this nasty Secret Treaties track. For his remaining $54 million, he’ll just keep striking out, misplaying balls off the ivy, glowering, and pissing off the guys at WSCR.
CONNECTION: Lyrics written by Patti Smith, who was born in Chicago.
TEAM: Cincinnati Reds
SONG: “The Horsemen Arrive”
PREVIEW: Might think this rarely heard song was chosen to compliment Votto, Bruce, Mesoraco, and the other young stars that are supposed to win a division title this year. But this tune’s underbelly shows a deep distrust of technology—just like manager Dusty Baker.
CONNECTION: This song was featured in the super-obscure sci-fi movie Bad Channels, summed up by io9.com as “WKRP in Cincinnati with alien perverts.”
TEAM: Colorado Rockies
SONG: “R.U. Ready to Rock”
PREVIEW: This screamer, which opened Side 2 of Spectres, seems appropriate because the Rockies seemed ready to rock last year, but couldn’t even make the playoffs despite having good top-shelf talent. This year, everyone’s writing them off—will they rise to the occasion?
CONNECTION: The weird “I only live to be born again” section at the end is a good match for the Rockies’ alleged former (current?) “Christian” code of conduct.
TEAM: Houston Astros
SONG: “I Just Like to Be Bad”
PREVIEW: In a good world, we would be using the classic BÖC tune “Astronomy” here, but the low-expectation Astros shouldn’t hope for more than this self-explanatory blah sort of thing from 2001’s Curse of the Hidden Mirror… at least until new GM Jeff Luhnow’s reboot takes.
CONNECTION: Next year, the Astros flip over to the other side of the hidden mirror… by joining the American League.
TEAM: Los Angeles Dodgers
SONG: “Shadow of California”
PREVIEW: Just when the Anaheim Angels looked to be in LA monopoly mode—boom, suddenly a group plunks down $2 billion just to get out from under Arte Moreno’s shadow. Also, the Dodgers still have the best hitter and the best pitcher in the league… but that was true last year too.
CONNECTION: Song comes from The Revölution by Night, an album named for a Dadaist painting by Max Ernst, who was married to Peggy Guggenheim, who comes from the same family as Guggenheim Partners, which just bought the Dodgers.
TEAM: Miami Marlins
SONG: “Shooting Shark”
PREVIEW: New name, new uniforms, new stadium with a huge excellent monstrosity in center field, new shortstop (Jose Reyes was kind of born to be in Miami, wasn’t he?), new manager in the eminently quotable and infuriating and awesome Ozzie Guillén—soon the Fish will be shooting up the power rankings. Just not this year.
CONNECTION: Bass on this track was ably slapped by Randy Jackson of American Idol—BÖC has long been accused of being idol-worshipping Satanists.
TEAM: Milwaukee Brewers
SONG: “The Vigil”
PREVIEW: A lot of baseball people will be keeping a vigil at Miller Park to see if Ryan Braun’s production falls off dramatically (it won’t) and if the departure of Prince Fielder leaves a giant hole in the lineup and the clubhouse (it will). Don’t tell, but the team’s real strength is its pitching.
CONNECTION: This spooky, harmony-dripping tune from Mirrors is about the Very Large Array of UFO detectors in New Mexico –among U.S. states, Wisconsin is right behind NM in UFO sightings.
TEAM: New York Mets
SONG: “She’s as Beautiful as a Foot”
PREVIEW: The 2012 Mets are already a mess, and the season has yet to start—owner Fr*d W*lp*n will probably lose control of the team financially, and he’s already lost the locker room. The No. 1 starter, Johan Santana, hasn’t pitched since September 2010. This might get ugly, y’all.
CONNECTION: The Mets should be the official MLB team of BÖC, which got its start at Long Island’s SUNY-Stony Brook.
TEAM: Philadelphia Phillies
SONG: “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”
PREVIEW: For a long time, the Phillies have been the class of the National League: five straight division titles, best record two years running, blah blah et cetera. But that has only led to one championship, and the reaper—injuries, age, Ryan Howard’s contract—awaits.
CONNECTION: During the 2008 World Series Tampa Bay fans, inspired by a certain Saturday Night Live sketch, tried to distract the Phillies by banging cowbells. (It didn’t work.)
TEAM: Pittsburgh Pirates
SONG: “Dancin’ in the Ruins”
PREVIEW: Might just be us, but the Pirates might be an interesting team this year. Well, maybe not this year, where they’ll compete for the bottom with Houston. Can they build a team around McCutchen and Tabata, two of the most exciting young talents in the bigs? If they can’t get about 10 pitchers, they’ll stay in the ruins for a while longer.
CONNECTION: This song was the only hit from 1989’s Club Ninja. And stuff like this happens about 18 miles from PNC Park.
TEAM: San Diego Padres
SONG: “Stairway to the Stars”
PREVIEW: The Padres have a lot of stairs to climb, even in the confusing NL West. Somehow, San Diego ends up as a small-market franchise, so they’re looking to make a splash with up-and-comers like Cameron Maybin and (calling it right now) Rookie of the Year Yonder Alonso.
CONNECTION: This garage rocker about dangerous driving foretold the injury bug hitting Carlos Quentin and others during Spring Training.
TEAM: San Francisco Giants
SONG: “Burnin’ for You”
PREVIEW: BÖC resurrected themselves with this MTV-friendly song. Similarly, the Giants hope to resurrect themselves; after winning the Series in 2010, their offense sucked last year, they lost star catcher Buster Posey to a horribly mangled leg, and, despite three Cy Young-quality pitchers, they didn’t even make the playoffs.
CONNECTION: If any baseball player could embody the result of “givin’ the devil his due,” doesn’t it have to be terrifyingly bearded reliever Brian Wilson?
TEAM: St. Louis Cardinals
SONG: “Les Invisibles”
PREVIEW: It seems like so long since the Cards went from last-second Wild Card entry to World Series champion. Since then, they’ve lost both the greatest hitter of our time and their Mephistophelean manager. St. Louis is banking on continuing miracles from David Freese and Allen Craig, and a speedy recovery from Chris Carpenter. Are they a cool stealth pick to repeat, or just a two-hit wonder?
CONNECTION: BÖC’s deepest mystery is the Imaginos saga, in which aliens guide a character to influence important events through centuries and start World War One. Tony La Russa was only the second manager to win the World Series in both leagues. Dismissed… as coincidence!?
TEAM: Washington Nationals
SONG: “I’m on the Lamb, But I Ain’t No Sheep”
PREVIEW: Ever since the Expos said au revoir to Montréal and moved to DC to become the Nationals, teams have assumed that they could just whip into town, whip up on the Nats, and whip on out of there. So how about an S&M-flavored early tune to reflect the new attitude in Washington, where the Nationals figure they have enough pieces to contend?
CONNECTION: This song, also known as “The Red and the Black,” is actually about hanky-panky with Canadian Mounties. Bonus points if you can pretend that the Nationals’ unis are red and black.