Music is synonomous with sport. Any sport. It is played over the speakers in the stadium to pump up the crowd and listened to by the athletes in the locker room to help them focus. It is safe to say music is critical to the production of any sporting event. Games and tailgates would be toned down and downright boring even.
To honor what music has brought to the game of baseball I present the Innagural Grammys of Baseball. A collection of select categories, some personal, that make baseball tunes special.
Best pump up song: Right Now-Van Halen
Resonating through the stands at Milan Puskar Stadium, the home of the Mountaineers, when the team forms its final huddle before the game, this song is not just a football anthem. I have heard it at PNC Park numerous occasions. “Don’t wanna wait till tomorrow. Why put it off another day?” lead singer Sammy Hagar sings to begin the song, it definitely builds the anticipation for something special. What is more special than attending a baseball game? While the vocals are powerful it is the special tune of the song that makes this one of the best.
Best Song for a baseball montage:Running Down a Dream- Tom Petty
Quite possibly my favorite time of a Pirates game at PNC Park is the inning break leading into the bottom of the first. A monatge of clips is played, usually coming from the previous game and exciting moments such as a double play, diving catch or monstrous homerun. This song was played at one game I was at a few years ago and I just loved the way it meshed together. The flow of the song is perfect with the “oooo’s” and killer guitar solos. The monatge focused mostly on the Pirates defense with Jasck Wilson and Freddy Sanchez turning highlight reel double plays.
Best Soundtrack from a Baseball Movie: Angels in the Outfield
I get chills everytime I see this heartwarming adventure and a lot of it comes from the score. The orchestral sound is great coming from harps, violins, cellos and such. It makes me happy and I agree with little J.P.’s famous catchphrase “It can happen”-the music helps make this movie happen that is for sure. Even though it is excellent on its own.
Best Song from a baseball movie: Hardball- Lil Bow Wow, Sammie, Lil Wayne
While hip-hop is a controversial genre, I still enjoy it. For those of you who are iffy out there, I can assure you this song is clean as a whistle. It is a great hook and shows that these young kids are enjoying playing the game of baseball, a rarity in the inner city these days. The baseball references are very clever as well. My favorite happens to be from Lil Wayne: “Pitch on the block like Nolan Ryan.” Lil Bow Wow’s part is also ingenious. “We need back to back hits, they call me little Sammy Sosa.” and “Understand I’m like Griffey I hit ’em to the wall.” I guess you can say this song is a guilty pleasure of mine. I have it on a CD in my car and my buddies make fun of me everytime it comes on.
Best batter walkup song: Jumpin’ Jack Flash- Jack Wilson
For a good eight years Jack Wilson was known for his quick wits, long range and flashy gameplay from the shortstop position. And for everyone of those eight years one song described him to a T- Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones. Maybe it was the way PA announcer Tim DeBacco said it and timed it to the intro but whenver you heard it, you knew Jack was coming to the plate. It was a nice long intro too without any vocals, it really did signify who was coming to the plate as Jack was a symbol of Pittsburgh baseball for the past decade. I did enjoy Derek Jeter’s “Empire State of Mind”-Jay-Z diddy last season but this decision was solely based on my bias.
My personal walkup song (if I was a ballplayer):You Can Call Me Al- Paul Simon
I’m a big fan of the walkup songs. I think it is a great idea that has been around for a while. Some people do not like it but like I said before it really does signify a player and it keeps the fans attentive. Any time I hear I song I like, I attempt to put a PA announcer spin on it and announce as if I am stepping to the plate. “LEADING OFF AND PLAYING IN CENTERFIELD NUMBER 15 MATTTTTHEW PEEEEASLEE” Yes I am a centerfielder and yes my number is 15-roll with it. Anywho, You Can Call Me Al is a personal favorite of mine. I like the tune, but honestly I do not understand the lyrics at all. I like the trumpet and hear it alot at college basketball games. It rolls perfectly and as a 20 second instrumental intro, which would not allow for any of the confusing lyrics to be heard. It is perfect, now I just have to hone my baseball skills and make the majors!
Best Closer intro song: Enter Sandman-Mariano Rivera
Quite possibly the best closing pitcher in baseball history has the most intimidating tune to run out too. Let’s face it a closer has to be intimidating-it his is job and really the main role. He wants to get out there, mow down the batters preferably in 1-2-3 fashion, high five teammates then get the heck out of there. Rivera does just that and Enter Sandman is the perfect song and perfect nickname for someone as nerve-wracking to the opposition as him. Trevor Hoffman’s “Hell’s Bells” come as a close second.
Best 7th inning stretch song: Thank God I’m a Country Boy-John Denver
Call me a homer once again again, but I always give love to my boy John Denver. Played in Baltimore after Take Me Out to the Ballgame, this classic country song is a great tradition. Its a fun song to sing along with and clap to. I may catch some heat from this from Red Sox fans (Sweet Caroline) Rangers fans (Deep in the Heart of Texas) and Cardinals fans (Budweiser Jingle). I have been to all three of these parks and really enjoy hearing a catchy, traditional tune after Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Its something I think should be started in Pittsburgh. Maybe with the Pennsylvania Polka or Renegade by Styx (Pittsburgh’s famous football song).
Best song played during pre-game introductions: Swingtown-Steve Miller Band
I owe my good buddy Andrew Rush kudos for this song. The notorious Yankee fan is the mastermind behind this song. A few years ago he played this song while he spouted off the starting lineup for the Yanks. He had everything timed perfectly to the music and has an excellent announcers voice. I highly suggest that any team from any level of organized baseball play this song when announcing their starting lineups. It is simply perfectly an simply irresistable.
Best Team related song: A New Pirates Generation
A lot of teams have a local band or someone who is good with words and a guitar come up with a song about their local baseball team. Many times these songs are played at the ballpark, sometimes after a win or when the team is running out of the dugout. The team has stopped doing this a few years ago but A New Pirates Generation is a good song in any outlet. Alluding to the storied past of the Pirates while anticipating a good looking future, this song is a great package. If I knew how to post a video on here I would.
Best song that reminds me of baseball: Centerfield- John Fogerty
I can listen to this anytime of day, anytime of year and still imagine a baseball in my hand. If any song could be my personal theme song, this could be it. Nothing matches my enthusiasm quite like it. “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play” And I sure am, I mean come on I am the centerfielder, number 15. But it just excited me to watch a game, blog or read a baseball website. My favorite line happens to be ‘Rounding third and headed for home, It is a brown eyed handsome man. Anyone can understand the way I feel.” I’m not afraid to admit on several seperate occasions I have re-enacted this scene picturing myself as this brown-eyed handsome man (I have blue eyes by the way), but it excites me to come in hot around third, slide feet first, dodge the tag, scoring the winning run. I know all of you cancertainly understand the way I feel.
There you have it folks, The Grammys of Baseball of come to a close. There were winners and losers. Kanye West Did not come up on stage, so we can call that a success. I am a fan of his music, just not his character. You want someone with good music and good character get a load of these guys.
Country artists, Zac Brown Band, stole the stage at the show taking home Best New Artist awards. They surely deserve it. As one of my favorite bands I congratulate them and encourage you all to give them a try. I for one really do enjoy country music and their hit “Chicken Fried” along with “Toes” and “Whatever It Is” are good listens to anyone who is a fan of good music is general. The ZBB is coming to PNC Park this summer, opening for the Dave Matthews Band. I honestly find DMB to be annoying but Zac Brown woulds surely be worth checking out regardless.
picture credits: grammy.com