Baseball will take the Valley of the Sun by storm in about a week when Phoenix plays host to the MLB All-Star festivities (July 3 through 7). Outside the hot dogs and beer and questionably relevant events the All-Star game will allow fans to enjoy, it also gives us a chance to look back on some of the best songs dedicated to the boys of summer and the game they play.
And what is a "best of list" without an equally entertaining "worst of" counterpart?
As a lifelong baseball fan, these lists come from the heart. Some lesser-known ballads will have their day in the sun while other too-oft worshiped pieces of garbage will finally be called out. I am not doing this to make any friends. It is all for the love of the game.
5. "Fair Weather Fans" (The Baseball Project)
To say thatThe Baseball Project's
catalogue is hit-or-miss would be a drastic understatement. Most of the sport-themed super group's songs are terrible, to say the least. But the group, led by formerR.EM.
guitarist Peter Buck, struck right at the heart of what it means to be a true baseball fan with this tune. "A fair weather fan is not what I am, even though my zip code has changed/ I might smile and enjoy where I'm currently employed, but your soul can't be rearranged/ It's hard to understand, it's so hard to understand a fair weather fan."
4. "Glory Days" (Bruce Springsteen)
Okay, so this song isn't just about baseball. But it uses the game as a metaphor that really adds some gravitas to what otherwise is just that, a game. The Boss captures both the joy and pain inherent within the nostalgia of one of America's greatest past times.
3. "Tessie" (Dropkick Murphys)
The Dropkick Murphys created this song as an homage to an older one from the early 20th century that, according to lore, helped the then-Boston Americans (now Red Sox) win a world title when a group of fans sang it in the stands. After an 86-year championship drought, the Murphys covered the original "Tessie" in 2004 and the Sox promptly went on to win their first World Series in almost a century. This raucous track of the same name pays tribute to the Royal Rooters and the original song they sang way back when.
2. "Say Hey" (The Treniers)
A punchy swing classic, "Say Hey" glorifies one of the game's greatest heroes, Willie Mays. From his on-field prowess to his off-the-field persona, the Say Hey Kid's legend is fully encompassed within this catchy piece of Americana.
1. "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (Tin Pan Alley/Various Artists)
The anthem of every seventh-inning stretch perfectly encompasses the ballgame experience. As a kid, the ballgame fair -- from peanuts to crackerjacks -- was almost as important as the home team's eventual victory. This classic, covered by bands from every era, captures the utopian-esque feel of baseball's past.
5. "There Used to be a Ballpark" (Frank Sinatra)
This song is too depressing for its own good. Instead of coming off as a love letter to a greater past (Brooklyn Dodgers), it just ends up sounding like Ol' Blue Eyes is an elderly curmudgeon telling the new teams to get off of his lawn.
4. "Centerfield" (John Fogerty)
Send in the hate mail, I am deriding what some consider to be baseball music's Holy Grail. But, c'mon. The repetition in the song alone qualifies it for the Gitmo torture soundtrack. And it's campy. My god is it campy. I, for one, wish someone would have just let Fogerty play centerfield, so we could have circumvented this entire mess.
3. "The Cheap Seats" (Alabama)
After listening to "The Cheap Seats," it becomes evident that no member of Alabama has actually been to a minor league baseball game. For one thing, anyone who has ever been to a minor league town knows that the fans are not a bunch of apathetic, flat-beer drinking, homerun- loving hicks. These fans know their baseball and they know the names of all of the players because they follow the team religiously. Thanks, Alabama, for the completely inaccurate portrayal. And no one "loves" the cheap seats. They are just all that we can afford. Not to mention, this music video looks like a Just For Men commercial.
2. "Ichiro Goes to the Moon" (The Baseball Project)
And our friends in The Baseball Project make the list again. If anyone can really explain what the hell this song is talking about, please help me out. This bizarre and unintentionally racist ode to Ichiro falls flat for so many reasons. Sadly, most of the Project's songs fall in line with this one and deserve to be sent back to the minors.
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1. "Marlins Will Soar" (Scott Stapp)
So, you thought that Creed breaking up could only be a good thing, right? So did I. Unfortunately, that twist of fate gave rise to front man Scott Stapp's attempt at a solo career, which included the creation of this Florida Marlins' theme song. No one really knows if the Marlins petitioned Stapp to create this tune or if he just came up with it on his own. I know this, if the Marlins did have a hand is this garbage, they are not going to fess up to it now. This song proves that Stapp has a pretty good knowledge of fundamental baseball terms (strikeouts, hits, dow-bull plays) and has no idea what a marlin is.