The Rotation: How members of R.E.M. formed The Baseball Project
Welcome to The Rotation! This is a weekly column, written by yours truly, that talks about the wonderful blended worlds of baseball and music. These two have been staples of Americana for centuries and are as big a part of our culture as apple pie and Chevrolet. My goal is to pick a different topic between the beautiful, unified world of baseball and music and write about it each week.
What do you get when you combine 90’s Alt-Rock and Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Ichiro? Apparently – you get The Baseball Project.
The Baseball Project
When alt-rock band R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, few could have predicted what ensuing conversations that day would lead to for a pair of the band’s most well-known performers.
R.E.M. co-founder Peter Buck and founding member Mike Mills sat down with three musicians; Scott McCaughey (who was a partial member of R.E.M.) and Steve Wynn and his wife, Linda Pitmon, both of The Dream Syndicate.
The resulting conversations lead to them forming a band about….baseball? Strangely enough yes, and the five musicians ended up releasing their first album Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails, later that year.
That album featured all songs about baseball – obviously – including titles like Satchel Paige Said, Fernando, Sometimes I Dream of Willie Mays, The Death of Big Ed Delahanty, and Ted F*cking Williams.
Reviews of the album are generally positive, with many praising the lyrics and creativity – plus the passion that the band members clearly show for their topic.
Their second album came out three years later and was titled Volume 2: High and Inside.
A few song titles from that album: Panda and the Freak, Ichiro Goes To The Moon, Buckner’s Bolero, Pete Rose Way and Fairweather Fans.
Their third and final album was simply called 3rd, and while one might think another album all about baseball might start to grind on people, the 77% metascore is actually just higher than their first and second albums.
If you’re trying to figure out what a band with three members from R.E.M. singing about baseball would sound like – it’s literally exactly what you’d expect. I suggest giving it a shot if you are into 90’s alt-rock and baseball – because it’s pretty freaking fun.
Walk-Up Songs of the Week
Note: If you want a playlist of all the walk-up songs of the week, go to Spotify and search “Pitcher List Walk-Up Jams”
Hitter: Brandon Lowe, Wow (Post Malone)
I tend to stay away from popular, current songs in this segment because, well, they are kinda boring picks. However, I like that Rays infielder Brandon Lowe uses Wow for one reason: Most people pronounce Lowe’s name like the homegoods store, when it is actually pronounced as if it rhymes with Wow.
I have no idea if that’s why Lowe went with this Post Malone song or not, but it does make it more interesting than your typical young player using a top-40 hit.
Lowe is hitting .276 with 16 home runs and 127 wRC+ this season, although he’s been out for a while with a leg injury.
Pitcher: Jonathan Papelbon, I’m Shipping Up to Boston (Dropkick Murphys)
Relief pitcher walk out songs should at least have one of two characteristics:
- Represent the city/team that they pitch for and
- Get the crowd pumped up
Papelbon hit both categories while in Boston, using the Dropkick Murphys iconic metal classic, I’m Shipping Up to Boston.
Known primarily for being the intro to the movie The Departed, this heavy metal jam has one of the most intense openings, and works absolutely perfectly as a closer intro song – particularly, of course, in Boston.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)