Baseball Season Will Be Starting Soon
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"Baseball season will be starting soon" begins Going to Tennessee by The Mountain Goats. Fortunately, the next line "But we have no baseball team here" need not apply to us here in San Diego, nor any longer to my family back in Virginia. One might think that with the latest news about Barry Bonds, steroids, and the web of lies, deception and cover-ups concerning those topics, that it would be impossible to retain the same child-like excitement I once had regarding America's pastime. One would be very, very wrong.
I find it even easier these days to romanticize the game of baseball, in spite of its glaring flaws. The fact of the matter is that there will always be dozens of memories I will have of the game that I reminsice about fondly, beer in hand, before Barry Bonds, the strike of '94 or DC Councilwoman Linda Cropp come to mind. Among these include:
-Skipping school to see the Orioles opening day at the height of my childhood baseball fandom in 1989 with my dad and grandfather, where we sat in the bleachers and sang "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye" as a brawling drunken couple was escorted from the stands
-Watching the Red Sox's 2004 World Series run, where a roar of the crowd across the street at Nick's signified that something great was about to happen on my five second delayed cable
-Every phone call I made during the course of last seasons ill fated "Mets vs Nationals" bet.
-The first time I ever heard that bell tolling in the 9th as an entire stadium of Padres fans rose to their feet
-Remembering where I was and who I was with when Cal broke the streak, Luis Gonzalez beat the Yankees and McGwire hit 62
-The time that several friends bet heavily on "watch" mode on RBI Baseball, where the computer proceeded to play out an extra innings contest so dramatic that the next door neighbors had to come over to see what all the shouting was about
-Performing James Earl Jones' "Baseball Speech" from Field of Dreams with full band accompaniment at a concert last December
-Attending my first Nats game in the nation's capital on the Fourth of July last year and thinking "Yeah, this feels right"
And fortunately, for us romanticizers, baseball has more and better music associated with it than any other sport. For those of you who remain skeptical about the inherent goodness of the upcoming season, I've prepared a short 9 inning program for you to get yourself pumped. It starts slow, and saves the big guns for the end. We'll begin below:
1. The RBI Baseball theme remix. Made by some enterprising nerd, this brings us back to a great era of sports video games, where there were only two buttons, players who looked like Fisher Price men and secret weapons like Tony Armas off the bench. UPDATE: Thanks to the readers at dee-nee.com, a great RBI Baseball resource, for pointing out the far superior Dylan Gentile RBI Techno Remix
2. Vin Scully announces Sandy Koufax's perfect game. A pretty remarkable performance, both by the pitcher and the announcer.
3. Baseball can inspire strange devotional activity, none more so than this spot on Springsteen parody of Take Me Out To The Ballgame, complete with Rosalita style hand clapping breakdown and gratuitous CC-esque sax solo.
4. The Mountain Goats sing about the Chicago Cubs on "Cubs In Five". On his webpage, John Darnielle is seen drinking a can of Old Style, thus proving that he is the real deal. The fact that Old Style is a revered local beer that they serve at Wrigley Field is obviously the only cultural fact i know about the third most populous city in America.
5. A brief video interlude, the fifth inning stretch if you will. This is where stuff starts to get intense:
6. Are you starting to understand why in the grand scheme of things Barry Bonds is nobody, why his actions can't detract from the mystique of the game? Can you listen to the music from The Natural and not have a bit of a chill go down your spine?
7. What about the music from Field of Dreams? At the Nats first game ever last year, my parents described to me how the current Nats took the field, and as this theme music played, ran out to their positions in the field, where former Senators players shook their hands and passed their gloves to them. That is worth getting excited for.
8. The power of basball romanticism is such that Steve Goodman, an obviously goofy guy with a voice not made for singing, can turn in this hymn to Cubs fandom, and make you wish that you were a Cubs fan so that you could have it played at your funeral.
9. And finally, the aforementioned James Earl Jones speech. Far be it for me to criticize today's college students for wanting to spend their spring breaks in places like Daytona Beach or San Diego, but they really ought to be making pilgramages to Dyersville, Iowa to walk around the hallowed grounds of the Field Of Dreams in revered silence for days at a time. The field is, for those of you who have not been there, owned by two separate feuding groups, whose distaste for each other is made quite apparent by signs on both properties encouraging you not to buy souveniers from the other guys. I suspect Barry Bonds is involved somehow.
Baseball season will be starting soon. Go Padres. Go Nats.