Now that we’re done with all that bozo knucklehead football horseshit, we can move on to a real sport: Baseball. The thinking person’s pastime. Poetry on grass. The ballet of the bat and the ball. And all that other crap that shrimpy turd Bob Costas is always on about. It’s a magical time of year–the most magical time of year, really–because pitchers and catchers have reported this week, and you can almost hear the beautiful sound of stitched cowhide slapping into supple leather gloves from thousands of miles away. Yes, the Mets are going to be wretched (again) this year, and everyone on the Yankees is 1,000 years old, but fuck it: Baseball! Anyway, to celebrate, here’s 9 of our favorite baseball-related tunes.
BELLE & SEBASTIAN
“Piazza, New York Catcher”
Leave it to Belle & Sebastian to write a song about former Mets catcher Mike “I date women” Piazza and that utterly weird 2002 press conference he held to deny the rampant rumors that he was gay, which of course made even more people think he was gay. In his new memoir Long Shot (a title that doesn’t sound gay in the least), Piazza again denies the gay thing, insisting “If I was gay, I’d be gay all the way.” Interestingly, Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch has also been compelled to publicly deny being gay all or part of the way, insisting in an interview a while back that he is “straight to the point of boring myself.” Kindred spirits, these two.
“(Love is Like a) Baseball Game”
Hailing from Philadelphia, The Intruders teamed up with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to lay the foundation for the storied Philly Soul sound in the mid-1960’s. They made the keen observation that love is so very much like a baseball game because “Three strikes you’re out/ Whether you win or lose,” although they neglect to mention how often you may be called upon to sacrifice in order to score. This song is kind of like Ichiro: Smooth, a little bit of pop, kinda old by now, sorta wise but then again doesn’t really say much when you get right down to it, and loved by millions of Japanese people (or so we hear).
THE BASEBALL PROJECT
“Ted Fucking Williams”
If you ever liked “college rock” then The Baseball Project’s lineup is a murderer’s row: The Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck (and occasionally Mike Mills), Young Fresh Fellows’ Scott McCaughey, and the Miracle 3’s Linda Pitmon. They’ve put out a couple of baseball-themed albums since 2008; one of their best tunes is this tribute to Teddy Ballgame: “Everyone says ‘Hey Mick!’/Mantle this, Mantle that it makes me sick/It’s just so hard to see/Why do they like him better than me?/I’m Ted Fucking Williams!”
“Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)”
Swing music sucks shit, but only because the stupid fucking ’90s swing revival ruined more than a half-century of decent music in one fell swoop. So we’ve gotta give it up for The Treniers — jump blues pioneers and Vegas regulars back in the ’50s who kicked it with Dean and Jerry and even got Willie Mays himself to provide some dialogue on this tune.
KANYE WEST (featuring LIL’ WAYNE)
This one’s not really all that much about Barry Bonds except for Kanye comparing himself to BB in the hits department and Weezy dropping a “Suck my bat, bitch.” Oh, and there’s also that line “My head’s so big you can’t sit behind me.”
Much like minor league baseball, which this song is about, Alabama is all right if your expectations are fairly low to begin with. And if you go see them nowadays, it’s probably buy one ticket get 11 free, and there’s likely a T-shirt cannon involved at some point. OK, this song does kinda suck, but it’s so much better than John Fogerty’s “Centerfield,” which is basically the main criteria for inclusion on this list.
Sure, Bob Dylan wrote and recorded this tribute to late, great pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter — “Come up where the Yankees are/ Dress up in a pinstripe suit/ Smoke a custom-made cigar/ Wear an alligator boot/Catfish, million dollar man/ Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can” — but we actually prefer Joe Cocker singing it. Maybe because the idea of a British guy singing about Catfish Hunter is kinda weird, and because Catfish coulda learned a thing or two from Cocker’s arm movements.
“Beat on the Brat”
“Beat on the brat with a baseball bat”: How could we not?