The First Pitch

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 Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Scott McCaughey, Linda Pitmon, and Steve Wynn (The Baseball Project) have just released their third album, curtly and evocatively entitled 3rd.  That’s not bad for a party-generated idea. The results so far are brilliant and I was hooked at “Ted Fucking Williams” from Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails.

In fact, I wish The Baseball Project’s albums had existed when I was at university when we used to turn the sound down and play music to watch the games.  It may have prevented us from discovering that the Blue Jays played better to Pink Floyd, including Moseby’s amazing catch on the wall, but it would have been cool to have content-specific music to go with the visuals.  We sometimes put on Babe Ruth for irony, but The Baseball project would have suited best.

Partying After R.E.M. Goes Home

Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails is certainly a surprise for a peripheral baseball fan, mostly because it seems fanatical at first sight and then delivers amazing song after amazing song.  How could such an amazing bunch of musicians get together to exclusively write songs about baseball? A short version of the answer would have to mention R.E.M.’s 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the party that followed. But it’s one thing for a lingering crew to be at the party and think up ideas, to slur amazing projects, quite something else to have three innings of follow-through, so far. The Baseball Project’s 3rd was just released in March 2014 and their first was released a mere year after the R.E.M. induction. Not bad for a late night, party-fueled plan of action. 


The songs on the first album, and on the next two, are all about baseball and are brilliant mixtures of storytelling and musicianship. That’s a weird accomplishment. At its best it sometimes seems like you are sitting on a sunny afternoon with someone you can talk to, beer and peanuts, and watching a live game, the announcer’s voice lazily echoing throughout the park. Being at a game is the best baseball experience you can have, and it is certainly one of the most relaxing times you can have.  There’s the odd blare from the organ, sometimes some pump-up music, but there is no sustained album-length accompaniment to the game. If you are home—on the other hand—and are one of those of us who lower the sound to watch the game, you have a readymade soundtrack three-albums’ long. Lately I’ve been cranking The Baseball Project and just enjoying the game. 

There’s great guitar (“Past Time”), some Dylan-CCR fusions (“Satchel Paige Said”), funky tunes (“The Death of Big Ed Delahanty”)—a total of 13 great songs, including the final one, aptly named “The Closer” (makes me wonder if they remember Henke...).


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