Another week, another episode of the super-serious MLB Power Rankings. The boys over at the M.I.T. think tank took a look, and these are ready to go.
This week they're based on songs with team names in the title. Note: I picked the songs completely at random. The only restriction is that the songs can't be about the baseball team. So no Mountain Goats' "Cubs in Five," which would rank highly, and no "Go Cubs Go," which would have forced me to make this a list of baseball, football, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, and MLS teams just to make sure that "Go Cubs Go" was at the bottom of the list.
My only regret with this list is that there isn’t a team named the New York Milkshakes or the Atlanta Iko Ikos. That eliminates a ton of material.
1. San Francisco Giants - John Coltrane - "Giant Steps"
For most of the week, I think about ways to rig these rankings so that the Giants come on top. This one is perfect. Who is going to come on a baseball site and argue against John Coltrane? I don’t go on the message boards at Pravda.ru and complain about borscht.
Plus, if you say bad things about baseball and jazz, Ken Burns will hunt you down and attack you, and he’ll take a picture as you writhe around on the ground in pain. Then he’ll zoom in on the picture and slowly pan over it as you beg for mercy. That guy will mess you up.
2. Toronto Blue Jays - The Beatles - "Blue Jay Way"
There should be a Beatles cover band named Blue Jay Way that plays Beatles songs rewritten with a Blue Jays theme. "Jesse Barfields Forever." "I’m Just Happy To Rance With You." "Dave Stieb Came In Through The Bathroom Window." Get on it, Canada.
3. Washington Nationals - Radiohead - "The National Anthem"
If you go to the lyrics for this song on Pandora, you’ll find a few of these sprinkled in:
I’d like to think he’s singing about the Jayson Werth contract, but that’s just the poet in me.
4. Seattle Mariners - Iron Maiden - "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner"
If I were a closer for the Mariners, this would be my entrance song. I’d make them play all 13 minutes before I’d throw a pitch. I’d finish warming up, and then I’d just stare the hitter down for ten minutes as Maiden rocked everyone’s face off. This is probably why I’m not a closer, other than my lack of athletic ability.
5. New York Mets - Sam Cooke - "Since I Met You Baby"
There are so many different versions of this, from B.B. King to Pat Boone, so you can pick your favorite. I chose Sam Cooke because he’s Sam Cooke, which is to say he’s awesome. It was tempting to pick Johnny "Guitar" Watson’s version, though, because the opening sounds like music that plays right before you start a Mario Kart race.
6. Houston Astros - The Misfits - "Astro Zombies"
If Glenn Danzig were a baseball player, he’d probably be a David Eckstein type. He’s 4’1" and stocky -- so he’d be a middle infielder without the best range, but with the ability to pop 15 homers a year. He’d also be suspended after continually taking the field without a shirt on.
7. Philadelphia Phillies - Boyz II Men - "Motown Philly"
If Philadelphia ever sends a spacecraft up, and if they want to put a Pioneer Plaque on it to let extraterrestrial life know what it was like in Philadelphia in the ‘90s, they should engrave a picture of Mickey Morandini with a mullet, and he would be holding a copy of a Boyz II Men CD. That’s all you need to know. Not just about Philadelphia in the ‘90s -- that’s all you need to know about life.
Also, this song is awesome. Shut up.
8. Atlanta Braves - Cream - "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
The power trio comparison fits if you think about the Braves in the ‘90s. Ginger Baker is like John Smoltz -- powerful and versatile. Jack Bruce is like Tom Glavine -- crafty and talented. And Eric Clapton is like Steve Avery -- boy, that was really a good start, and sorry about that whole decline thing.
9. Cleveland Indians - Anthrax - "Indians"
In retrospect, it was kind of unusual for a metal band to make a politically correct anthem in the Reagan ‘80s. It was ahead of its time, better than most of its peers, and more than a little silly when you really look at it. The Manny Ramirez of metal, then.
10. Minnesota Twins - The New Pornographers - "Twin Cinema"
A strong collection of talent, consistently doing good things year after year, just like the Twins. Er, just like the Twins used to be. The 2011 season for the Twins is like The New Pornographers coming out with some sort of zydeco-prog fusion album. Oh, and it would be an acoustic album because there’s no power.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers - Crooklyn Dodgers - "Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers"
This comes close to violating the rule that the song can’t be about the team -- the name of the band and song is obviously a play on the Brooklyn Dodgers -- but the list was way too light on hip hop, and this is a good song from a supergroup. The combination of Chubb Rock, Jeru, and O.C. is similar to the talent that the Dodgers were able to collect with all of their Rookie of the Year winners in the ‘90s, though that means Todd Hollandsworth is kind of like Brian Austin Green sneaking in for a couple of verses.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks - Primus - "The Ol' Diamondback Sturgeon (Fisherman's Chronicles, Part 3)"
Forget just a regular old pool. If I were a billionaire owner, I’d build a ballpark and then have Les Claypool in right-center field. Anyone can go to the YMCA and go swimming, but to watch a ball game with some guy whomping on a bass and talking about fish? That’s how Abner Doubleday probably envisioned it.
13. Chicago White Sox - Johnny Russell - "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer"
Is it wrong that all I can think of is Tom Gamboa when I see the White Sox next to this song title? Probably, but only because I don’t think the attackers were wearing socks.
14. Colorado Rockies - John Denver - "Rocky Mountain High"
It was hard to choose with this one. "Rocky Mountain Way" is all ‘70s-riff sweetness; you can climb to the top of the Moon Tower to that song. But "Rocky Mountain High" is written by a guy with a last name of Denver. That’s the tiebreaker. Of course, his real name is Henry John Deutschendorf, but that’s okay. Todd Helton’s real name is "Skance Hottentot." It happens.
15. Chicago Cubs - Holopaw - "3-shy-cubs"
16. New York Yankees - David Lee Roth - "Yankee Rose"
The Wikipedia page for "Yankee Rose" said that the song was written about the Statue of Liberty. Didn’t know that. That piqued my interest. What were the lyrics for this touching, patriotic anthem?
But what I need right now/ is the original good-time girl
I'm gonna get a little bit/ of apple pie, man
Oh. So David Lee Roth wants to have sex with the Statue of Liberty. We’ve all had our moments of weakness, I suppose. And while looking this up, I stumbled across the end of the internet. If you want to lose a little faith in everything, click here. You’ll find people arguing, over a span of eight years, about the meaning of a David Lee Roth song.
I have to tie this in with the Yankees somehow, so I’ll just have to state the obvious: if Alex Rodriguez could sleep with the Statue of Liberty, he would. Not because he has a copper fetish, but because there are a lot of guys who have hit 500 home runs. He needs something to separate himself from the pack, you know? Mel Ott didn’t have that kind of game.
17. San Diego Padres - Elvis Presley - "Padre"
Elvis from the ‘70s isn’t my bag -- feel free to move this one up if you want. But the pairing makes aesthetic sense. What kind of cap would go with this beauty?
The answer is pretty clear:
18. Boston Red Sox - Foals - "Red Socks Pugie"
There just aren't a lot of songs about red socks out there. This one sounds like a cross between The Dodos and Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse and Wolf Eyes and Wolf Parade and Superwolf and Wolf Kati and Randy Wolf. You would have heard it first if you weren't too busy singing "Sweet Caroline."
19. Milwaukee Brewers - Buckethead - "Brewer in the Air"
The good news is that in my research, I found a country & western song that references Paul Molitor and Gorman Thomas. That counts for something.
20. Baltimore Orioles - Bobby Day - "The Bluebird, the Buzzard, and the Oriole"
Day was the same guy who made a big hit out of "Rockin’ Robin," so he was trying to dip back in the bird well with this one for another strike of bird lightning. His other songs included "Grousin’ ‘bout That Grouse," "Pigeon-Toed Pigeon Dance," and "I Am a Vulture Who Will Peck Your Lifeless Eyes Out, and Maybe This Song Is a Little Dark for the ‘50s, But, Dammit, I’m Just Being Me."
He probably could have had Terry Cashman-like career writing songs for the Cardinals, the Blue Jays, and Mark Fidrych.
Also, there’s a song about Buck Showalter here if you’re brave enough.
21. St. Louis Cardinals - Black Sabbath - "Cardinal Sin"
The Cardinals’ progression of left fielders: Stan Musial to Lou Brock to Dane Iorg.
Black Sabbath’s progression of singers: Ozzy Osbourne to Ronnie James Dio to Tony Martin.
That’s more than a little creepy.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates - Emerson, Lake & Palmer - "Pirates"
23. Texas Rangers - Jan Hammer - "Texas Ranger"
This was written for the "Miami Vice" soundtrack, and I can picture Oddibe McDowell listening to it to fire himself up before a game. He’d have to write "The D.O.C." on the cassette so no one would know, but every night before a game: smooth synths ... cool lines ... sweet riffs. Boom. Fired up. Let’s swipe some bags.
24. Kansas City Royals - Steely Dan - "Royal Scam"
Steely Dan’s alright, but this song is boring. It’s not bad, just boring. It’s like when you know that Bruce Chen was 1.3 wins above replacement in 2010, which means he was better than a multitude of other options, but that didn’t mean you really wanted to watch him pitch.
25. Florida Marlins - tie: Mango Trio - "Marlin’s Tune"/Bobbi Humphrey - "Marvelous Marlin"
The only things that came up for "marlin" were a couple of smooth jazz ditties. That makes sense. Purgatory is defined as someone in an elevator listening to one of these songs on their way to a Marlins game that’s being delayed by rain for eternity.
26. Oakland Athletics - Raven - "Athletic Rock"
This is some sweet NWOBHM magic, and it’s only this low because it wanted to beat up the next song on the list.
27. Detroit Tigers - ABBA - "Tiger"
There have been four major leaguers who were born in Sweden, and Eric Erickson was the only one who played for the Tigers. This factoid was brought to you in order to make you forget about ABBA. If that didn’t work, then just give in. Start humming "Fernando" while looking over the stats of Fernando Rodney.
28. Tampa Bay Rays - Jimmy Ray - "Are You Jimmy Ray?"
There are plenty of others songs to choose from -- "Gamma Ray" is one of my favorite newer Beck songs, for example -- but this one was so, so bad that it pushed its way into consideration. I’d never used the word "insipid" in my life, but when I was reminded that this song exists, my first thought was, "Oh, man, what an insipid song." I had to double-check the definition to make sure I was using it properly. I was. This song was bad enough to improve my vocabulary.
29. Los Angeles Angels - Train - "Calling All Angels"
There are thousands of songs with the word "Angel" or "Angels" in the title. You can pick from Aerosmith, Angel Witch, or Akon without leaving the "A"s. This one wins because Train is from the San Francisco area, which means that the song a) has to do with angels, b) was first played in 2002, and c) continues to embarrass San Francisco to this day. Just like the 2002 World Series. Gross.
30. Cincinnati Reds - UB40 - "Red Red Wine"
Oh, there were plenty of other options. "Red" by King Crimson might make the top five of this list. Bob Marley would have rounded the list off nicely. But "Red Red Wine" has the team name twice in the song title, and there needs to be fodder for the bottom of the rankings. Neil Diamond’s original would be way higher, but UB40’s version is the musical equivalent of betting on your own team. It’s here, at the bottom, to live in ignominy forever and ever.
5/10 - Hair metal bands
5/3 - Sitcom locations
4/24 - Team names