Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Musical Youth

Games 47 through 50 - Red Sox

Red Sox 10, Rangers 6
Red Sox 7, Rangers 4
Red Sox 6, Rangers 5
Red Sox 5, Cleveland Indians 3
Record: 35-15

Apologies for the lengthy hiatus, but tonight's Sox/Indians game is the first live Red Sox action I've seen since last Sunday. I spent the Memorial Day weekend at my parents' house in Myrtle Beach, SC getting lots of sun and throwing munchkins around in the surf. Mom and Dad's crib is an Extra Innings-free zone, and their computer is in the guest room, meaning that the internet was off-limits from the time my daughters crashed for the night. For all intents and purposes, I was transported back in time 3 years, reduced to following the ESPN Ticker, carefully reading the box scores in the morning paper, and catching whatever highlights I could on SportsCenter before lighting out for the beach.

I was sad to miss Trot Nixon's return to Fenway, but Sox fans welcomed him back with open arms, as well they should have. In small part because it's better for all involved that he be playing in a different uniform this season, but in much larger part because he gave everything to the Sox for his entire career in the Boston organization.

Since it sure seems like the Sox didn't miss me, I'll limit my remarks regarding their efforts to just a few, lauding Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, both in the top 5 in the AL in OPS in May. Pedroia's very quietly crept over the .800 mark for the season after a very slow start, while Youks just notched a hit in his 21st straight game tonight, and recorded a stand-up inside-the-park homer last night. Youks now sports a .981 OPS for the season, while Pedroia's hot streak has taken him to .814, good for 4th among regulars.

Schilling responded brilliantly to the recent concerns about his stuff, spinning 7 innings of 10 K, 1 run ball against the Tribe last night. Paps tried to make things interesting in the bottom of the 9th, allowing the first three runners to reach and putting the tying run on second with nobody out, but he retired the final three Indians to close the game. Probably...no, certainly a good thing that my Dad and I didn't have to watch that live.

The lack of Sox action didn't spell complete baseball withdrawal, however. The family took in a Myrtle Beach Pelicans/Wilmington Blue Rocks Class A Carolina League tilt on Sunday night. The Pelicans completed a rousing comeback with a walk-off basehit in the bottom of the 10th. Only slightly less exciting to me was the fact that my daughters made it through the entire contest, juiced by an overdose of ice cream and the promise of post-game fireworks. In a nod to one of this blog's secondary passions, I note with some glee that the pyrotechnics were accompanied by a cheese-metal soundtrack perfectly fitting with Myrtle Beach's Redneck Riviera vibe. Equal parts Guns n' Roses, Ratt, Crue, Skid Row, Winger, and Whitesnake had Coastal Federal Field rocking, and my 3 year-old daughter clapping in time. I tried to teach her the three-fingered devil horns metal sign, but her little fingers aren't yet dextrous enough to hold that position. In time. In due time.

Indeed, the ballyard music ranked highly on my list of appealing elements from a night replete with them. As is the custom in most stadia, the home team's batters each came to the plate accompanied by music of their choice. The Pelicans roster is a microcosm of professional baseball in 2007, with a broad mix of ethnic and geographical backgrounds, and their musical choices echoed that diversity, spanning rap, country, rock, and, um, Marvin Gaye. We'll get to that one later.

Leadoff batter Jordan Schafer betrayed his Jamie Kennedy wanna-be impulses, channeling Malibu's Most Wanted in his choice of Young Jeezy's "I Luv It". Good song for a leadoff guy - catchy, bouncy beat, positive vibe, drug-slinging references. And if you think I knew who Young Jeezy was without Google, I'm sorry to tell you that you're not that bright.

Venezuelan shortstop Elvis (Yep, Elvis) Andrus went with Unk's "2 Step". Decently catchy rap, fairly popular with the kids - pretty straight play for Elvis in the two-hole for the Pelicans.

Things started to get a little interesting with third baseman Eric Campbell's selection. Campbell, a big, rawboned (and importantly, very white) kid from the heart of Middle America, got my attention with Wild Cherry's iconic "Play That Funky Music". I nodded in solidarity, and assumed that he was in on the joke. Campbell's walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th won the game for the Pelicans, one day after his homer plated that game's winning runs, making a pretty good Memorial Day weekend for the funky white boy.

Cleanup hitter Isaiah Ka'aihue was a bit of a disappointment, choosing a generic rap song that didn't register at all in my memory. The big Hawaiian had lots of choices to honor his heritage, from the obvious Don Ho, to Poi Dog Pondering, to Hawaiian rappers Sudden Rush, among others.

DH Roberto Alvarez was similarly uninspired, which bummed me out for a bit, until catcher Jerry Verastegui stepped up to the familiar strains of Alabama's "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)". I knew he was a Texan before I looked it up (he's from Atacosa, wherever the hell that is). Great choice - honors his heritage, gets heads nodding and feet tapping in the crowd (at least the whiter portion thereof, and in this corner of Myrtle Beach, that's pretty much all of it), and puts him in a comfortable place as he gets into the batter's box.

Then, diminutive outfielder Matt Young stepped up and blew my ever-lovin' mind, going way outside the box with the aforementioned Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On". Young's still in A-ball at almost 25, which doesn't bode well for his professional prospects, but may explain his musical choice - he's basically at the "fuck it" stage in his career, so why not go for cheeky irony and excellent music. It even works as a subtle challenge to the pitcher, though most of them at this level hear the song and think about the Baseball Annie they banged last night, so the subtlety may be lost on them. The snippet played at the yard included the sublime, "Let's love...sugar" drop that Jack Black appropriated so brilliantly in High Fidelity, which was an added bonus for me. Mr. Young, I salute you.

Fleet outfielder Quentin Davis picked something vanilla and rappy, and if my age and ethnicity show in that sentence, then please forgive me. You are right on both counts.

Second baseman Derrick Arnold closed out the order with the potentially subversive "Real Good Man" by Tim McGraw, which features the following lyrical couplet: "I may be a real bad boy/But baby I'm a real good man". Cheddar, to be sure, and actually a pretty lame choice if Arnold was playing it straight, but I choose to believe his target audience was the legal-age ladies in the crowd, and not the opposing ballclub. If I'm correct, I applaud Arnold's priorities, as his career .220 average doesn't augur well for his pro prospects.

You've certainly been kind to read this far, and in recognition of that, and of the fact that I'm both really tired and running out of things to say, I'll hold Part 2 of MLC's Music at the Bat documentary series. In tomorrow's episode, Whit and I will collaborate on an exposition of the perfect tunes to accompany a purposeful stride to the plate.


rob said...

yeah, so part 2 ain't happening today. tune in tomorrow. maybe.

Whitney said...

I'll hold out hope to add a little something later...