There were four real breakout stars of this year's postseason, and when the Cubs capped that postseason with their first World Series title in 108 years, there were four departed dignitaries of Cubdom who ought to have been at the front of every fan’s mind. Three of the breakout stars are Javier Baez, Andrew Miller, and Alex Rodriguez (as a broadcaster). Three of the Cubs’ deceased heroes are Ernie Banks, Harry Caray, and Ron Santo. The final name on both lists is the same person, even though it's a name you might hardly recognize: Steve Goodman.
The song stuck in America’s heads for the last fortnight or so, the one baseball writers mostly loathe for its insipid catchiness, the one Cubs fans sang at the top of their voices after every win during October and November (even on the road), the one that sometimes served as a relentless auditory bed for the commentary on the postgame shows, the one sung by the cast of Hamilton on stage in Chicago and featured on Saturday Night Live, the one that reached the Billboard pop charts this week, belongs to Goodman.
Baseball teams don't always choose wisely when it comes to the music they play at the ballpark.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Riley Breckenridge has spent the past 14 years traversing the globe and making (mostly) loud noises with the band Thrice. He was born and raised a California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels fan and gave up on aspirations of playing professionally after his junior year of college, when he realized that his inability to hit anything other than a fastball was not a trait that scouts found endearing. He is also “the other guy” from @ProductiveOuts.
While it may be easy to root for certain ballplayers, we have to be open to honest assessments of their abilities.
Ever since I was introduced to Bill James’ works in the mid-'80s, I have wanted to learn as much as possible about baseball so that I can better understand and appreciate it. If you're reading this, you're probably wired the same way. It might be easier to watch without thinking so much, but we don't know how to do that.
I have a similar problem with music. I started playing guitar at the same time I started reading James (correlation does not equal causation), and although I'm a bit of a hack, I've earned enough over the years from my efforts to attract the U.S. government's attention.
For fans, baseball offers an escape from everyday life. For players, baseball is their life, so they seek other diversions, both in the clubhouse and away from the ballpark. Trevor Plouffe, a 23-year-old infielder in the Twins system, likes to escape the daily grind with his guitar.
A famous rocker talks about one of his other great loves beyond music: baseball.
There are baseball fans, and then there is George Thorogood. An icon in the music world, Thorogood is not only a passionate Mets fan, he is also a walking-and-shouting baseball historian. A former second baseman with the semi-pro Delaware Destroyers, Thorogood has multiple gold records to go with his baseball pedigree, not to mention a reputation as one of the best live performers on the blues-and-rock circuit. About to hit the road for yet another tour, Thorogood shared his thoughts on performance-enhancing drugs, the brilliance of Sandy Koufax, and what it was like to talk baseball with the legendary John Lee Hooker.
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In today's music man two-fer, we run around the bases with the co-owner of Rounder Records.
When the subjects are baseball and music, Bill Nowlin is about as knowledgeable as they come. The Vice President of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), Nowlin is also a co-owner of both Rounder Books and Rounder Records, the latter of which produced the 2009 Grammy Award-winning collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. The author of over 20 books on baseball, Nowlin also serves as the publications editor for the Ted Williams Museum.
Wes Littleton is bringing his sidearm delivery, and his downbeat, to Boston. Acquired from the Rangers in a November trade, the 26-year-old Littleton brings more than just a sinkerballer's pedigree with him to the Red Sox bullpen: he also brings a love of music. A deejay in his spare time, the Cal State Fullerton product has a record of 5-3, with a 3.69 ERA and three saves in 80 big-league appearances, and he has one of the best GB/FB ratios in the game. Littleton talked about his two passions while he was in Boston for the team's recently completed rookie development program.
Talking with the Rays' leadoff prospect about baseball, existentialism, handedness, and a whole lot more besides.
Fernando Perez is not your run-of-the-mill professional athlete. A speedy outfielder who made his big-league debut in early September, the 25-year-old New Yorker is not only a big part of the Rays future, he also holds a degree in American Studies and Creative Writing from Columbia University. Perez went into the last weekend of the season hitting .273/.344/.473 with three home runs and five stolen bases in 55 at-bats. He sat down with David in mid-September to talk about his views on both baseball and life.
Talking to Rad about the value of situational relievers, feeding off of adrenaline on the mound, and his passion for punk rock.
Scott Radinsky knows all about rocking back and throwing. Not only did the left=hander have an 11-year big league career--mostly as a situational reliever for the White Sox and Dodgers--he is also a veteran of the punk rock scene. A native of Southern California, Radinsky has balanced baseball and music since being taken in the 1986 draft, pitching in over 500 games while fronting Scared Straight, Ten Foot Pole, and now his current band, Pulley. Radinsky also missed the 1994 season while battling Hodgkin's Disease. He joined the coaching ranks in 2005, and is currently the pitching coach for the Indians' Triple-A affiliate.