You Only Get One Abbreviated Clip Of Entrance Music To Make A First Impression

MLC sent along this link about Jonathon Papelbon ragging on Boston Red Sox fans. Well, to be fair, he didn't quite rag on them, he just said they were "a little bit more hysterical" than Philadelphia Phillies fans, who "tend to know the game a little better." That's provocative enough.

Two things: One, it's important to suck up to your new masters, and if nothing else, Phillies fans love to be told they're intelligent. Now, Philadelphia will never be mistaken for Oxford or Cambridge or Alexandria or anything but they'll always have sports intelligence.

Believe me, I'm not trying to minimize this form of intelligence: As a Diamondbacks fan, I freely admit that the fans in Phoenix could use some remedial baseball classes. Mom always talks about how the D-Backs fans not only like to do the wave but they also do it at the wrong time — I can't quite make out when there is a correct time: Is it meant to distract the hitter or the pitcher? Doesn't it distract both of them? The mind reels.

And two (I almost forgot that I said there would be "two things"), given all this, what does it mean to be intelligent about baseball in the first place? I mean, when people praise a town's collective baseball intelligence, aren't they just saying that it's nice that the fans rise to their feel on an 0-2 pitch? And how smart do you really have to be to count to two?

Now look, I've watched enough Joe Morgan to understand that there is much I don't understand — or at least wouldn't immediately put together — about baseball. (Funny, I didn't realize there was so much animosity pointed toward Joe Morgan; Tim McCarver I almost understand, but Joe Morgan? Guess I haven't been paying that much attention.) But people talk about "baseball intelligence" like it's a matter of not going apeshit over a lazy fly to short right, or maybe being able to explain the infield fly rule without having to Wikipedia it.

But like I said, I'm just being a goof — I definitely value and respect a municipality's baseball intelligence. Clearly, I'm just jealous.

But that's all neither here nor there. The buried lede in the ESPN piece is actually this:

Dropkick Murphys front man Ken Casey caused a bit of a stir earlier in the week when he said Papelbon, whom he calls a friend, couldn't come out of the Phillies' bullpen to "Shipping Up To Boston," the popular Dropkick tune Papelbon used for years with the Red Sox.

Papelbon on Thursday would not reveal his new entrance song, but did say it wasn't by the Dropkick Murphys.

Setting aside the foolishness of Papelbon continuing to use a song titled "Shipping Up To Boston," he can't do much worse than Ryan Madson's entrance music from last year: Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'". Because nothing says "game-tying base hit to center field" like this namby-pamby bit of 1980s nostalgia. (And I say this "believin'" that this YouTube video of that song being played during the 2010 NLCS Game 5 is the greatest one of all time.)

So if Papelbon is looking for some good-timey, vaguely intimidating entrance music that also contains some sort of local reference, there are some options.

If he wants to build on Madson's namby-pamby 1980s nostalgia — and I'm not suggesting he do this — he could use Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger", which isn't the worst guitar riff in the world, and also has a nice Rocky tie in.

Some other local favorites might include the Dead Milkmen's "Bitchin' Camaro" or perhaps even "Big Lizard In My Backyard". The Hooters' "And We Danced" (the open sort of evokes the bagpipe in "Shipping Out To Boston," though ultimately this might be too pussy, although the league needs a new Eric Byrnes). How about Cinderella's "Nobody's Fool" (I totally didn't know they were from Philadelphia)? And then there's P!nk's "So What", an idea so dumb it might actually work.

Another bank-shot idea: Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy wit It". Not exactly "intimidating," but doesn't Joe Morgan always say that it's important to stay loose or something?

And then there's Boyz II Men's "End Of The Road", which although on the face of it lacks an intimidation factor is actually a bigger "fuck you" to an opposing team's 3-4-5 hitters. In addition to the obvious lyrical content, there's kind of a quiet brilliance in a player coming in to shut down the visitor's side of the ninth to a song you'd hear at a middle school dance. It's got a sort of Quentin Tarantino vibe going.

Another outside-the-box idea: Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom". Another "fuck you" in the sense that you're so convinced you can shut down the opposing team that you are comfortable enough to enter to Elton John. If I were an opposing batter, I'd be pissed. Another reason I like this idea — the lyrics scream "high-priced free agent":

I used to be a rolling stone
You know if the cause was right
I'd leave to find the answer on the road
I used to be a heart beating for someone
But the times have changed
The less I say, the more my work gets done

You could always get a harder-rockin' band to do a cover of "Philadelphia Freedom" — we could get something done during Spring Training. Maybe even the Dropkick Murphys themselves? Just a thought . . .

Posted: March 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: FW: Link, Jukebox, The Thrill Of Victory And The Agony Of Defeat! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

They Took All The Walkup Music, Made It Seem Really Exclusive, And They Charged The People Ninety-Nine Cents Just To Rehear It

The other night I came across this article "What's Up With Former Baseball Player Royce Clayton?" and clicked on it because I actually was really interested in what was up with former baseball player Royce Clayton.

I suppose it says something when you have to specify "former baseball player." I didn't need the clarification, though — I totally remembered Royce Clayton. Clayton was one of the Giants' top prospects in the early 1990s. He came through Phoenix on the way up to the big leagues, back when Phoenix was San Francisco's AAA affiliate. He played there the summer I worked at Scottsdale Stadium selling programs. I remember watching Chris Berman call him "Royce-A-Roni The San Francisco Treat Clayton" when Clayton was called up and made some sort of big play.

Part of the fun of watching minor league baseball — for me, at least — is the possibility that you'll see "Tomorrow's Stars Today" (which was a Phoenix Firebirds slogan, if memory serves). I don't know that I saw many stars of tomorrow in the Giants organization — Clayton was probably the biggest — but I did see Mike Piazza and Pedro Martinez when they played for the Albuquerque Dukes.

If you click through to the article and read between the lines you'll glean that Clayton had a mediocre career:

I don't look back with any regrets. I played my ass off. I never cheated anybody. People can say whatever; I know I'm not going to the Hall of Fame. But a lot of guys did a lot of different things and I never had to do that, and I stayed in the league 17 years. I can tell my kids that's what I did and that's what matters to me.

I guess you don't really have to even read between the lines.

Anyway, besides acting in the recent adaptation of Michael Lewis' Moneyball, Clayton has been involved with something called Balltunes, which sounds like the sort of enterprise stoned characters in Judd Apatow films might come up with. Clayton explains how it works:

We create original content for walkup songs. We get input from the player and coordinate with the artists and the producers. It will be the players' original song. Like Xavier Nady has come up to (songs by rapper) DMX his whole career, so we have interest in getting those two together. They're both very excited. We're finishing up a deal with Derek Jeter, and we've talked to a lot of other players: Mike Napoli, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard. We're talking to some of the top players in the top markets.

Talk about commodifying just about everything! At the risk of sounding like an old frump, walkup music was one of the last remaining "authentic" things about watching baseball. Think about it — the messaging tends to be so tightly controlled and/or disciplined that you never get a sense of what players are actually like. It's the reason post-game interviews and newspaper quotes are so boring, and why unscripted Twitter moments are so interesting.

The only other way you see through to a player's core is his walkup music. You get a real feel for Jayson Werth, and that filthy flavor-savoring facial hair, when pivotal bars of Kings of Leon's "Sex On Fire" blast through the ballpark. Eric Byrnes' "Your Love" by The Outfield (get it?) showed how much of a goof he was. It's important stuff.

Some folks talk about what they would request if they were entitled to walkup music — and that's fun to ponder — but it just doesn't work that way. Walkup music seems thrust upon a player. It's cool because no player seems to overthink it. In this way, Chase Utley's "Kashmir" is as natural as it gets.

Maybe you want to believe Chase Utley sits up at night making walkup music mixtapes for himself, carefully choosing the exact right song for how he feels when he needs to hit something out to the alley in right field. But that's absurd. Chase has better things to do than worry about his walkup music. Plus, "Kashmir," while a nice groove, isn't really a unique song. It just fits.

Here's a list — from a few years back — of different walkup music. It's pretty funny.

But back to the point. Having your own original walkup music just ruins something. When Tino Martinez plays Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song," you get a sense for what kind of man Tino Martinez is. Your own walkup music? That's just too slick.

And I don't like the sponsorship opportunities. Would Derek Jeter get a cut of the money from iTunes downloads of his own walkup music? After a point it seems a little unsavory.

Let walkup music be. It's one of the few ways fans get a sense of players as individuals and not gladiators. Because how can you really hate a guy who is that big a 3 Doors Down fan?

Posted: January 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Jukebox, M+/MR, Shiftless When Idle | Tags: , , , , ,

Eric Byrnes Continues To Invade My Mental Space

One thing we can thank the current highest-paid beer-league softball player for is playing a key role in rehabilitating The Outfield's "Your Love."

After we attend a wedding and the wedding band pulls out the number at some point in its final set, I want to argue that former Major League Baseball player Eric Byrnes is singlehandedly responsible for this, but Brother Michael vehemently disagrees, and provides the Wikipedia proof. Yes, Michael, maybe Katy Perry did cover the song in 2007, but that was well before "I Kissed a Girl" catapulted her into the mainstream. And sure, the Decemberists have been covering it since 2005, but who is really paying attention to Decemberists covers? I mean, to the extent that we're hearing "Your Love" at a wedding — and not just a DJ's pick, but a song that a five- or six-piece band actually took the effort to learn — I blame Eric Byrnes.

I have to say that I really do like Eric Byrnes. Maybe you want to dislike Eric Byrnes, but it's not Eric Byrnes' fault that the management under Josh Byrnes (no relation) gave him so much money to play softball (think about that, Wilpons!) (Alright, so maybe it wasn't all Josh Byrnes' fault, but it's difficult to resist a gratuitous dig at the Mets' ownership).

There's a long list of loopy stuff Byrnes did during his career that might get tiresome but which in the rigidly conformist world of baseball seemed relatively endearing: Sliding headfirst into bases when there's no play; Flossing and surfing; Mustaches. He even blithely rode his bike through the clubhouse after forgetting to bunt during a suicide squeeze — of course he was released only a few days later; a "free spirit" is a cool thing — until he starts to suck. And after Eric Byrnes started to suck, he quickly became the highest-paid player in the history of beer-league softball.

One of the funnier things about Byrnes was his walk-up music. Circling back to the original point, Byrnes began the 2008 season by using The Outfield's "Your Love" as his walk-up music (though when he hit a slump, his teammates took matters into their own hands). And the clip he used wasn't the four measures of Summer of '69-ish fart guitar that opens the first 30 seconds of the song but rather that distinctive Alan and The Chipmunks-like first line: "Josie's on a vacation far away . . ."

I know, corny — "The Outfield," get it? Probably even cornier than "Disco Inferno," one of Byrne's previous picks: "Burn, baby burn," get it? But in a milieu where stuff like "Crazy Train" and "Big Pimpin'" is the normal fare, Eric Byrnes' walk-up music was kind of funny. (I'll admit that there are some other goofy songs on this list — did the Reds' Ryan Freel really walk up to "Tom's Diner"? Inexplicable! — but over and over it's stuff like "Slow Ride" or "Sweet Child o' Mine" or "Low Rider" . . . and I hope I go my whole life never again having to think about "Machine Head" — thank god Jeff Cirillo has retired.)

It sounds one of those half-baked arguments that I like to double down on — and it is! — but I'm actually curious: Were we hearing "Your Love" at a wedding because Eric Byrnes started playing it as his walk-up music in 2008? As far as I can tell, "Your Love" had no particular big boost in the way that, say, Trio's "Da Da Da" got a reprieve from the cutout bin of musical history from that VW ad. Even seven straight weekends of I Love the 80s marathons couldn't totally explain why a wedding band would choose to include "Your Love" in its set list.

I admit, it could be that it is a purely organic cultural zeitgeist — part Decemberists, part VH1, part aging demographic and part Byrnes — but if success has a thousand fathers, then rehabilitating "Your Love" should probably be pinned to one asshat. If so, then at least that's something for Byrnes' legacy.

The song itself is an odd choice for a wedding. Sure, it's "fun" to "dance" to, but once you take the lyrics into account, it's hard to justify its inclusion, since it seems to be about a creepy ne'er-do-well having an affair with an underage girl (we caught Adventureland the other night on cable, and without giving too much away, I'll report that "Your Love" is used more appropriately). (The wedding band, by the way, was awesome — the drummer was the lead singer, just like Peter Prescott . . . or Phil Collins.)

One thing I didn't realize was that not only were The Outfield baseball fans but they were actually English, as well. I guess it makes sense — English people seem to love to write creepy sexual subtexts into their pop songs. Their bio page is pretty great for the pictures alone. I don't think even East Williamsburg Industrial Business Zone subletters could bring themselves to wear those high-heeled boots lead singer Tony Lewis is showing off in the top photo there (the pair of shoes that figure so prominently and inexplicably in the foreground of the bottom photo, on the other hand, I feel like I've seen on the B62).

I do hope that Byrnes eventually returns as a commentator or something — he's actually fun to root for — when your team isn't paying him $11 million to play softball that is.

Posted: October 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Half-Baked Theory, Jukebox | Tags: , , ,