Major League Baseball starts today for some teams, with the Mariners starting on Friday. Whether or not Seattle will be playing real baseball this year remains to be seen. A fresh baseball season really rejuvenates me--who knows, maybe I'll get that bagger's job at the supermarket soon.
Got to hear the new Baseball Project, Vol. 2: High and Inside (Yep Roc Records), and it's probably even better than the first volume. Members of bands like Dream Syndicate,
the Young Fresh Fellows and R.E.M. (that would be Steve Wynn, Linda Pitmon, Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck) have put together another great set of rockin' tunes that is far more listenable than your average baseball novelty. C'mon now, do you really want to hear a version of Terry Cashman's "Talkin' Baseball" more than once a year?
Volume 2 highlights include the bittersweet "1976," when the Tigers' late Mark Fidrych captured the imagination of even casual baseball fans; "Please Don't Call Them Twinkies" (the Minnesota Twins); "Fair Weather Fans" (where you wonder which team should be on the receiving end of your passion if you've moved around the country); and the crazed "Ichiro Goes to the Moon."
In the course of a (Dusty) baker's dozen cuts, Baseball Project, Vol. 2 gets into danger and mortality, which gives the package a lot of depth. I'm talking about Tony Conigliaro getting plunked in the eye and Ray Chapman losing his life in a similar situation--that one is told from the viewpoint of the pitcher who delivered the fatal blow in "Here Lies Carl Mays."
"Chin Music" may be the most fun and lyrically reckless of all the tracks--depicting those close shaves when batters take a pitch high and inside. It's got my favorite lyric on
Baseball Project, Vol. 2, one terrific album: "Ryne Duren wore coke bottle glasses/
his best pitches looked like intentional passes."