There are many different ways to summarize the first month of the year. You can parse endless stats, compose paragraphs of the sweetest prose, or just make yet another damned list.
I decided to change things up around here. You know, wake the neighbors, scandalize the community, turn the volume up to 11, things like that.
In other words, I have created a video-soundtrack, via Youtube, for what I very subjectively consider to be the most significant story-lines in baseball for the first month of the season. I hope you enjoy it. And, as it says on the back of the Rolling Stones L.P. “Let it Bleed,” play it loud!
To begin with, let’s honor Robin Ventura’s Chicago White Sox, under whose steady hand the South-Siders are keeping their collective heads at or above .500. More to the point, the White Sox currently enjoy the best run differential, +3, in their division.
So let’s celebrate with a rousing version of “Sweet Home Chicago,” brought to you by an unbelievable All-Star cast of blues musicians. Guaranteed to get you up and rocking, even if you aren’t a White Sox fan.
On the other hand, Chicago still has to answer for the Cubs, who finished the month of April with an extremely dismal 8-15 record. Sure, they have a few interesting players. Starlin Castro is a star in the making, and my kids love Darwin Barney, but let’s face it, this is a team going nowhere.
The song I’ve decided to dedicate to the Cubs for their April performance is a classic of the 1970’s, a song that when I first heard it as a kid of around 8 years old, I was fascinated and mesmerized. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said (except in a negative sense) about the Cubbies so far this year.
So listen, if you will, to the most original Rock song ever, “The Night Chicago Died,” by a band called Paper Lace.
Are you still with me? Good. Now let’s turn to a player who may be the most underrated star in the game, Joey Votto. Votto currently sports a .939 OPS and an OPS+ of a cool 158. He also leads the N.L. in doubles with ten, and in walks with 20.
Did I say walks? Perhaps he should show the rest of the league how to Walk This Way, as Run DMC does with Aerosmith, in one of my favorite Rock songs and videos. Again, if you missed the original announcement, PLAY IT LOUD!
Poor Bobby Valentine. Hasn’t Managed a Major League baseball team in years, then gets shanghaied into taking the helm of a Red Sox team more in need of a psychoanalyst than a manager. He found out just how quickly the Red Sox fans, media and even the players could turn on someone who had the temerity to, you know, speak honestly and candidly, (if not very wisely) about, just perhaps, the lack of focus of one semi-star (Kevin Youkilis) player.
Boston currently sits in last place in the always tough A.L. East. Although it’s not too late to turn this season around for a talented team like the Red Sox, one has to wonder if Bobby V. will still even be around at the end of the year to take credit if a turn-around does occur. Bobby V. must be confused now, and thinking something along the lines of, Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Mick Jones, Joe Strummer and the boys in The Clash just happened to be wondering the same thing back in 1982. Here’s how that sounded. (Incidentally, I was at the show at Shea Stadium where this live footage was shot.)
Speaking of managers who put their foot their foot in their mouth this past month, it’s hard to top Ozzie Guillen’s mega-stupid comment (in Miami, no less), that he admired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. That’s a little like Mayor Bloomberg of New York City saying to a throng of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn that he kind of admired Adolf Hitler.
But Ozzie has made a career of allowing his mouth to function at 45 RPM’s while his brain spins around (when it functions at all) at about 33 RPM’s. He likes to impress people, I guess, but not everyone is amused by a Big Shot. Just ask Billy Joel.
On the other hand, the news out of Baltimore is positive for the first time in many years. The Orioles finished April with a record of 14-9, just one game out of first place. Manager Buck Showalter has his kids playing fundamentally sound baseball, outfielder Adam Jones is off to a strong start, catcher Matt Wieters is displaying the multiple skills scouts raved about a few years back, and the pitching is holding its own.
Wouldn’t it be nice if this could last the whole year? Wouldn’t it be nice if they were in a weaker division, say, the A.L. Central? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear the Beach Boys about now?
If you don’t love this song, your U.S. citizenship will be revoked. Please proceed to the line to the left marked, “Un-Americans.” Thank you. Waterboarding begins at Noon.
Then there’s Albert Pujols, formerly the best player in the game. Is it too soon to say that Sir Albert may never again be the best player in baseball? How is it possible that he didn’t hit a single home run in April? Is it the pressure of his huge new multi-year contract? The change of leagues and ballparks? Is age prematurely setting in?
The Angels and Albert Pujols himself must be wondering if somehow, he made a wrong turn somewhere out in the California desert, and left his talent behind in some long-forgotten hotel along the way. ‘Cause, you know, the heat of the California wastelands can cause hallucinations and create mirages. Perhaps that’s what happened.
If Albert’s nightmare season continues, the lyrics of “Hotel California” might come to seem benign by comparison. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that.
Has there been a less fortunate pitcher in all of baseball over the past half-dozen years than Matt Cain of the Giants? Through 207 career starts dating back to 2005, Cain has a career ERA of 3.33, an ERA+ of 125, and a 1.183 career WHIP. Somehow, though, his career record stands at 70 wins and 74 losses.
This April, it was more of the same. In four starts, he has recorded a 2.37 ERA, and has just one win to show for his efforts, and it took a complete game shutout to earn that win.
Matt Cain displays a stoic demeanor, but internally, he must be a “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Wouldn’t you be? Hot Damn, it’s the Soggy Bottom Boys!
Speaking of people who must be ready to stick forks in their eyes so they don’t have to watch what’s going on down on the field anymore, how would you like to be a Royals fan? Not only are the Royals an A.L worst (tied with the Twins) 6-16, they have yet to win a game at home! That’s right, folks, no Royals fan this year has yet witnessed their team triumph over the opposition on their home turf. The Royals are 0-10 at home.
Now this was a team featuring a youth movement of talented young players like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, among others. How did it all go so wrong? It’s like washing your car, changing the oil, rotating the tires, then ending up with a Flat Tire.
What’s that like? Just ask Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons.
Well, folks, there are an endless number of story-lines to choose from, but we don’t have time for them all. I’d be interested to hear your story-line / songs that you would have added to this soundtrack. I hope you enjoyed at least some of it.
Maybe we’ll do it again at the end of May. Thanks again for reading, er, listening.