by Matt Wells
Recently, I wrote an article giving songs to some of the starting pitchers of today’s game. Josh Towers, the now-demoted Oliver Perez, and the now-promoted Jered Weaver were just some of the names who were in sync with the songs I chose from my playlist.
So, we got relievers who enter the game to their choice of music. We got some starters who had some songs hand-picked for them by me. What about the teams? (This time, I’ll go outside my playlist for a few of the songs.)
The Yankees have a song (“Here Come the Yan-kees”). The Mets have a song (“Meet the Mets”). What about some of the other teams? What songs can I give them? Read on….
Toronto Blue Jays – “Swing Swing” by the All-American Rejects
The Jays head into today’s action leading the majors in batting average at a cool .296, which means they know how to “swing, swing” the bat effectively. Alex Rios is hitting .330, while teammates Vernon Wells and Shea Hillenbrand come in at .315 and .310, respectively. Lyle Overbay is hitting .304, and Bengie Molina is just one point shy of the magic mark, hitting .299.
These guys also have power, though they got the team song because of the batting average. Rios, Wells, Hillenbrand, and Overbay have combined for 60 homeruns, with Wells leading the pack with 20. Troy Glaus, not big on the batting average thing, leads the team with 22 dingers.
Now, if only someone in the starting rotation not Roy Halladay could get the Jays some innings…
New York Yankees – “Real World” by Matchbox 20
Yes, the Yankees are learning what it is like in the “real world.” Alex Rodriguez will not always do what he supposed to at the plate. Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui will not always be there to hit 30 dingers each. And Randy Johnson will not always pitch like a 25-year old.
At the same time, youngsters Andy Phillips and Melky Cabrera (among others) are getting some “real world” experience at the big league level. And, get this: the Yankees enter tonight’s play against the Mets just 4 games behind the scorching BoSox.
They might not resemble the Yankees of the late ’90s, but they’re still getting the job done. Not everything will always be peaches and cream in the Bronx, it’s time to learn about the “real world.”
Detroit Tigers – “It Just Takes Some Time” by Jimmy Eat World
The team that was so bad a few years ago has the best record in baseball at 54-25, entering tonight’s play. This was a team that nobody thought would be this good for quite some time. As we all know, “it just takes some time” for these things to happen. Well, that time is now.
Justin Verlander and Kenny Rogers are anchoring the rotation; both have 10 wins. Don’t forget about Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman; they have 8 and 7 wins, respectively. And veteran closer Todd Jones has converted 21 of 24 save opportunities.
While Detroit’s offense doesn’t look like they could overwhelm you, four players on the team have hit more than 15 homers: Brandon Inge – 16, Marcus Thames – 16, Magglio Ordonez – 15, and Chris Shelton – 15. The most recognizable Tiger, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, has just 7.
Jim Leyland (yes, that Jim Leyland) clearly deserves to be the AL Manager of the Year for the wonderful job he’s done in turning around this team. And with all of these young players as the core of the team (Verlander, Bonderman, Curtis Granderson, etc.), the Tigers could be contenders for more than just this season.
Chicago White Sox – “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne
No, the whole team isn’t crazy, just their manager. But where the manager goes, the players try their hardest to follow.
Ozzie Guillen, for those of you who haven’t heard him speak in a while, has instructed his pitchers to retaliate against opposing hitters if a White Sox batter is hit by a pitch during the course of the game. When rookie Sean Tracey fails to do this (he gets the guy out!), Ozzie goes ballistic.
Throw in the A.J. Pierzynski/Michael Barrett feud from earlier this season, and you got a ride aboard the “crazy train” in Chicago. I’ve said it before: if the White Sox stunk, Ozzie would have been fired already.
Cleveland Indians – “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
The Indians, led by their core of rookies, were 93-69 last year. They finished just 2 games behind the wild card-winning Red Sox, but things were looking up for the 2006 season. What goes up, must come down, however.
The Indians have been a woeful 36-43 in 2006, and are getting almost no offensive production from players not named Travis Hafner. Aside from Hafner (22 HR) and Grady Seizmore (15 HR), no one is producing for the Indians. One of the Tribe’s best players, Casey Blake, is on the DL. Jhonny Peralta has just 7 homers after slugging 24 last year, and Ronnie Belliard has just 6 dingers this year. You can also throw in Aaron Boone, who has just 3 homers despite playing almost every day.
The pitching is also struggling. Losing reigning ERA champ Kevin Millwood to free agency has hurt the team’s ERA, which was a ghastly 4.87 heading into today’s play. Record-wise and ERA-wise, the Indians have probably the worst bullpen in the game. Rafael Betancourt, Guillermo Mota, and Bob Wickman (the closer) have combined to go 1-10, after Wickman blew his fourth save of the year tonight in Cincinnati.
Yes, the dreams of the 2006 Indians are already broken, being 15 games out of the wild card as of last week. It will be a long road to travel for the Tribe.
Oakland Athletics – “Boys of Summer” by The Ataris
Baseball starts every April, and sometimes it starts at the end of March. Nevertheless, the season is always underway and the A’s are still about two months behind. April goes by, and the Angels, Rangers, and Mariners are neck and neck with the A’s. Then, June comes. That’s when Oakland wakes up.
Summer officially starts in June and, apparently, so do the A’s. The A’s went 21-7 in June 2002, 15-12 in ’03, 17-10 in ’04, and 19-8 in ’05.
This June was no different, as the A’s went 18-8 for the month, even after losing their final game of the month to the Diamondbacks. Nick Swisher, who has hit 19 HR, has been superb of late to lead the A’s offense. A resurgent Barry Zito leads the A’s staff with a record of 8-4.
If the past years are indicators, the months of June, July, and August are where the A’s really heat up. This division could be a laugher come August, especially if the Angels continue to struggle. Just call the A’s the “boys of summer.”
Atlanta Braves – “This Is The End” by The Doors
Not including the strike-shortened year of 1994, the Braves have won 14 consecutive division titles, starting in 1991. Bobby Cox has been along for the entire ride and, before this season, pitching coach Leo Mazzone had been right next to him, rocking back and forth.
Is it a coincedince that Mazzone leaves for Baltimore and, all of a sudden, the Braves stink? Not really. Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are long gone. Do you think that you could get by with John Thomson and Jorge Sosa in your rotation? Probably not. Yes, Horacio Ramirez was hurt this year. However, Tim Hudson is not pitching the way he did in Oakland (6-8 record), and John Smoltz, at 4-5, just cannot carry this team on his back. Throw in the fact that this team has no real closer, and you have a problem.
With a record of 34-47, the Braves are on the verge of visiting last place in the NL East. No, there won’t be a division title this year. As The Doors put it, “this is the end.”
Florida Marlins – “Youth Of The Nation” by POD
After a decent 2004 season, Marlins management decided to sell most of its players. Again. Remember what happened after the 1997 season? Yeah, it was like that. Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett went to the Red Sox. Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca went to the Mets. Luis Castillo went to the Twins, while fellow speedster Juan Pierre went to the Cubs. Only Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera remained.
Surely, the 2006 Marlins would finish in dead last place, making rookie manager Joe Giradi’s life a living hell. Well, we were all wrong…for the most part. The Marlins got off to a cold start, but finally the core of young players is playing together as a team and, gasp!, they’re actually playing well.
The hitting was not supposed to be this good. Miguel Cabrera has stepped it up, as usual. Mike Jacobs started off the season cold, but is now hitting .272 with 10 HR. Second baseman Dan Uggla is a Rookie of the Year candidate, with 13 HR and 43 RBI, to go along with his .313 average. Josh Willingham has a had a great season that has been slowed recently by injury. And Hanley Ramirez, in the leadoff position, has 22 steals.
Then, there’s the pitching. Josh Johnson is 7-4, while Scott Olsen is 6-4. Youngster Ricky Nolasco is also 6-4. The Marlins have already turned to rookie Anibal Sanchez, as well, and he shut out the Yankees over 5 2/3 innings in his debut, though his second appearance in relief against the Red Sox wasn’t as impressive. All of this is coming with Dontrelle Willis just 5-7.
Sure, the Marlins are still under .500. However, their recent winning tear has vaulted them into a tie for second place in the weak (except for the Mets) NL East. See, sometimes it’s good to be the “youth of the nation.”
New York Mets – “Running Away” by Hoobastank
It’s July 2nd, and the Mets are “running away” with the NL East. Despite a recent cold streak, they have a 11 1/2 game lead on the Marlins and Phillies.
Jose Reyes is doing what he does best – getting on base and stealing second to manufacture some runs. David Wright is a legitimate MVP candidate at .325-18-66. Carlos Beltran, who hit just 17 homers in his first season in Flushing, has 22 dingers coming into today’s play. Carlos Delgado, in his first season with the Mets, also has 22 homers.
Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine continue to prove that age is not a factor with pitching; the two have combined to go 18-6. And finally, the Mets have a decent bullpen: Darren Oliver is 3-0, Chad Bradford has an ERA of 2.51, Duaner Sanchez is 4-0 with an ERA of 2.68, and Billy Wagner has converted 15 saves in 19 opportunities.
Not only are the Mets comfortably ahead in the NL East, they may soon be “running away” with the entire National League. Do I sense a rematch of the 1986 World Series?
Pittsburgh Pirates – “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day
At 28-54 heading into today’s play, the Pirates are the worst team in baseball. They even got swept by the Kansas City Royals a few weeks ago. The Royals! Before beating the White Sox on Thursday, the Pirates had suffered through a 13-game losing streak.
Oliver Perez, the opening day starter for the Bucs, has just been demoted to AAA. The team ERA in Pittsburgh is 4.91; of course, Kip Wells (0-3, 15.19) has helped that along nicely.
At least Jason Bay is getting recognition from All-Star voters for his superior play. Now, if only Jim Leyland could come back to Pittsburgh and turn this team around like he’s doing with the Tigers.
The Pirates continue to play hard, but odds are that they are waiting for the season to end so they can improve their golf games. Just “wake <them> up when September ends.”
Chicago Cubs – “Everybody Hurts” by REM
Everybody in Chicago is hurting in some way. Derrek Lee, Mark Prior, and Kerry Wood have all been hurt this season. The fans are also hurting just watching this team try to match the Pirates loss for loss.
Heading into today’s play, the Cubs are just 29-51, meaning that they’re just 2 games ahead of the woeful Bucs. If heads begin to roll, Dusty Baker might be the first to go. I don’t blame Baker; you can’t win when your best offensive player is hurt and your two promising pitchers are shelved for months at a time.
The Cubs are also hurting at the plate, with a .261 team batting average. Aramis Ramirez is hitting .259, Juan Pierre is at .257, and Matt Murton is batting .264. God Bless Jacque Jones and Michael Barrett, who are hitting .306 and .300, respectively.
While the White Sox continue to win on the South Side, “everybody hurts” on the North Side. At least Cubs fans had that Barrett/Pierzynski fight…
San Francisco Giants – “100 Years” by Five For Fighting
These days, it seems that everyone that wears a Giants uniform is 100 years old. Barry Bonds, Omar Vizquel, Steve Finley, Moises Alou, and Jose Vizcaino can all qualify for AARP.
Yet, despite a .259 team batting average (.002 lower than the lowly Cubs) and despite having just 2 guys with more than 10 homers (Pedro Feliz – 12, Barry Bonds – 11), the Giants are 41-40. That record puts the Giants in 4th place in a tight NL West; the good news is that they are just 2 games behind the division-leading Padres.
The Giants’ players may be well-traveled, but they’re getting the job done through the first three months of the season. Let’s see what the last three months have in store for us.
Colorado Rockies – “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver
To Rockies fans, the song selection is obvious. However, the Rockies success isn’t as obvious. A 41-39 record through July 1st puts the Rockies on the baseball map for, seemingly, the first time since the days of Walker, Galarraga, Bichette, and Castilla.
The real surprise has been the pitching. Despite a team ERA of 4.23 (a little high), the Rockies have starting pitching that isn’t getting lit up for once. Byung-Hyun Kim is 5-4, Jason Jennings is 6-6, and Josh Fogg is 6-5. Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis, despite losing records, have pitched well. And closer Brian Fuentes has converted 15 of 18 save opportunities to the tune of a 2.27 ERA.
The offense is getting production from players not named Todd Helton, for once. Helton, who has spent time on the DL, has just 8 homers. Meanwhile, Brad Hawpe and Matt Holliday have 15, and Garrett Atkins has 10. All four of the aforementioned players are also hitting over .300, with Holliday leading the way at .348.
The altitude in Denver is high, as are the players’ stats. All of a sudden, the fans’ expectations of the Rockies are high. Everything in Denver these days is on a “Rocky Mountain high.”
As you can see, some teams can have songs that perfectly reflect how they feel at the current moment. Unfortunately, not all the songs convey positive feelings. But, hey, we need new songs…aren’t you tired of “Meet the Mets”?
NOTE: Feel free to make comments listing songs you think would fit well with some teams that I did not mention (or different songs to teams I already mentioned). Just remember to dance to the music you choose.
‘Til next time…