Monday, June 10, 2013

How Can Tom Petty Explain This Baseball Season?

Over the weekend a Tom Petty concert in L.A. got shut down because the venue was over capacity by 100 people. Ever the stand-up guy, Petty said he would reimburse fans out of his own pocket if that was the only way they could get their money back.
I hadn't thought about Petty in a while, but the story got me thinking about which of his songs could describe the baseball season so far. Here are 10 tunes that aptly explain some of MLB's most important storylines of 2013:


1. Refugee
One of my favorite Petty songs could describe Domonic Brown, one of the season's biggest surprises. After spending parts of each of the last three seasons bouncing around different minor league outposts, Dom decided that he didn't have to live like a refugee anymore. He is now in Philadelphia to stay after crushing 12 home runs in May.
2. Don't Come Around Here No More
Those lyrics are what members of the Tigers, Indians, Rockies, Royals, Mets, and Mariners thought as Mariano Rivera pitched in their respective stadiums for the last time. You can almost hear sighs of relief from hitters that know they likely won't have to face him again. Although the Mets ruined Rivera's farewell to Citi Field as they rallied to beat him, Mo has been having a typically dominant season. He leads the league with 23 saves while boasting a 1.48 ERA. As usual, the closer's bald dome-piece is the only thing that betrays the fact that he's 43 years old.
3. Free Fallin'
Obviously, this song has provided many locker-room jokes about players letting their manhood hang out. But the phrase "Free Fallin'" can also explain the seasons of several teams, including the Astros, Marlins, and Royals. As expected, Houston and Miami have been horrible, with some people wondering if they are historically bad. Kansas City, meanwhile, has been atrocious offensively. Last week the Royals hired George Brett to be their interim hitting coach, but Brett would only commit to working for a month. "I don't know if I'm going to be any good at it," Brett said. "If we start winning and I see some progress, some success and I'm having fun, I'll keep doing it. For how long? I don't know." Brett doesn't sound too confident, and it's hard to blame him.
4. The Waiting
This tune captures the feelings of fans of some of the league's Free Fallin' franchises. Many of the league's worst teams have stud prospects in the minor leagues. As members of other organizations saw how the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig set the league on fire last week, they must have felt a anxious to bring up their own prospects. For fans of teams like the Mets (Zach Wheeler), Rays (Wil Myers), and Mariners (Danny Hultzen), the waiting is indeed the hardest part. 
5. Runnin' Down a Dream

Of the great young players to enter MLB in the last few years, few have matched the buzz created by Matt Harvey. Harvey has been awesome in running down his dream of becoming the best pitcher in the game. As the Mets' only bright spot, the 24-year-old has pitched to a 2.10 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning. He had a little tightness in his back during his last start, but it appears that he's fine. It's going to suck to have to root against him for the next 15 years, because he is a pleasure to watch.
6. American Girl
This Petty song serves two purposes here: 
1. It's a good description of Derek Jeter's new girlfriend, Hannah Davis.
2. It's a chance to show some gratuitous photos of the aforementioned Hannah Davis.
 
Jeter may be injured, but his ability to take down 10s isn't. Davis grew up in St. Thomas, which is in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is technically part of the United States. Technically, she's an American Girl.
7. I Won't Back Down 
For the past several years, the Pirates have been good in the first half of the season before fizzling out badly after the All-Star break. This year, Pittsburgh is 37-26 but has the unfortunate luck of playing in the NL Central. The Cardinals look like the class of that division, but the Pirates look primed for at least a wild-card run. Is this the year they won't back down?

8. Don't Do Me Like That
Some of the biggest disappointments so far have been Josh Hamilton, Matt Kemp, and R.A. Dickey (as well as most of his Blue Jays teammates).

9. Green Onions

This is one of the songs on the excellent soundtrack of The Sandlot. Even though it wasn't the Petty version that was used in the movie, the opening guitar riff always gets me thinking about Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez and the rest of the crew. The most natural player in baseball, a guy that looks like he could play on a sandlot all day long, is again Mike Trout. After a bit of a slow start, Trout is back to putting up near-MVP numbers. It's just an awesome sight when he runs a ball down in the gap or flies out of the box on his way to a triple.

10. Room at the Top
This song closes out our list in honor of the Red Sox and Yankees. In a year when most people picked against those two teams, they're again sharing the real estate at the top of the AL East. All is right in the world when fans can look forward to a pennant race featuring the Yanks and Sox.

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