Long before steroids scandals, routine strikes (hey, it's hard living on 175 grand a year), and the high jinks of Pete Rose and Darryl Strawberry made national news, baseball was considered America's great national pastime. As near-religious zeal for Abner Doubleday's invention cuts across generational lines, it's only natural there'd be rock 'n' roll songs on the subject, and some rock 'n' roll swells have colluded for a most heartfelt homage — the Young Fresh Fellows/Minus 5's Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn (of the legendary Dream Syndicate), REM's Peter Buck, and drummer Linda Pitmon (of Wynn's combo Miracle 3). One of the best things about their Project is one need not be a fanatic for the game. Ropes stands on its own as a fine set of Kinks-esque power pop and Band/Uncle Tupelo roots rock, along with being a tuneful repository of baseball history. Some songs relate serious history, such as the plaintive, strumming folk rock of "Satchel Paige Said." Then there's a satirical, glitter rock-tinged tribute to the game's greatest egomaniac, "Ted Fucking Williams," with a chorus you won't be able to stop singing. The trials of Jackie Robinson, who broke the game's racial barrier, are epitomized by McCaughey's casually rollicking, bittersweet "Jackie's Lament." The mid-tempo rocker "Harvey Haddix" is an ode to an undervalued player, borne on Wynn's Dylan-esque vocals, its joyous ramshackle melody recalling Bob The Zim circa Blonde on Blonde and the Mekons in their folk-y mode. This album is the Baseball Project's Field ofDreams — if they record it, it will come. Play ball!