It's World Series time again. That could mean one of three things:
1. You're gaining interest in baseball.
2. You're losing interest in baseball, or
3. You don't give a flying monkey biscuit about baseball and never did.
Summer is over and baseball season is about to end, but I'm still listening to this CD. I think it's wonderful. Soon I'll have to put it away until next spring.
The Baseball Project is a band thrown together by Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows/ Minus 5) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate). Peter Buck (REM) and Linda Pitmon (I don't know what bands she's been in, but I think she's Wynn's wife or something) make up the rest of the group. Wynn and McCaughey each wrote about half the songs and they're all great. The songs are mostly based on real people and real stories, or at least real legends. They sound like they were all written quickly and without too much fuss. There are very nice liner notes telling the stories behind each song. For me to just repeat those stories here would be pretty weak, so I'll just add my two cents to a few favorites.
"Ted Fucking Williams" sounds like a cross between "Rock and Roll Part II" by Gary Glitter and "Helen Wheels" by Wings, but that just makes it better. Williams apparently bestowed himself with his unique middle name - his bible-thumping mother did not give it to him. If there were still such things as hit songs this would be one.
"Fernando" No, it's not an Abba cover. It's about Fernando Valenzuela.
"Long Before My Time" has kind of "Sweet Jane" groove and it's about Sandy Koufax. That makes two songs about Dodger pitchers here. If this band chooses to make it a trilogy, I hope they don't write the third song about Chan Ho Park giving up two grand slams in one inning.
"The Death of Big Ed Delahanty" If you don't want to know how it ends, don't read this. Big Ed got thrown off a train for being drunk and ended up being swept over Niagara Falls. Bummer.
"Harvey Haddix" is the catchiest song you will ever hear that recites a list of all the pitchers that have thrown perfect games. I agree that Harvey should be added to that list.
"The Yankee Flipper" would fit comfortably on any Young Fresh Fellows album. If you want to know the story behind the song, go buy the CD.
I just realized that I used the word "hit" a few comments back and did not intend it as a pun. Allow me to kick myself for missing such an obvious opportunity. As the old folks say, if it was a snake it woulda bit me. I will now make up for lost time with "every song is a hit, without a foul in the bunch!" Or maybe "Every pitch is a strike and there are no balls?" No, that really wouldn't be true. Okay, wise guy, see if you can work phrases like "out of left field" into this without sounding like a dork.
Feeling creative? Try "eephus pitch," "rhubarb," or "worm burner" on for size. It's not so easy is it? Where's Rex Hudler when you need him?
And in case you'd like to know:
Frozen Rope - A hard-hit line drive. Also a strong throw from the outfield.
Dying Quail - A batted ball that drops in front of the outfielders for a hit, often unexpectedly (like a shot bird). Also known as a blooper, a chinker, a bleeder, or a gork.
All the songs on this CD are good, but I'm fresh out of snark.
I consider this album to be a nice companion piece to a book I have called "Strange But True Baseball Stories." I had it practically memorized when I was a kid. Although the Harvey Haddix story is the only overlap, it follows along the same chalk lines.
I'm looking forward to The Baseball Project Volume 2. There are a lot more baseball stories that demand to be told and retold: The Black Sox scandal, Pete Rose, Daryl Strawberry, Billy Martin, Jose Canseco, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, and many others.
You might as well throw in Curt Schilling's bloody sock for good measure.
Personally, I would like to hear a song about Joe Ferguson - former catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers (and current manager of the Camden River Sharks). He may never be inducted into the Hall of Fame but, for a brief period in the mid 1970's, he was my hero.