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Cataloging the music which is haphazardly barfed out of the loudspeakers at ballgames

Sep 5, 2013, 2:27 PM EDT

Speakers

Let’s talk about music and other pumped-in sounds at the ballpark.

I don’t have anything against walkup music or some well thought out musical interludes here or there, be they organ or pumped in rock or whatever. But the level of sound saturation we have these days — not to mention its scattershot nature — is really frustrating. Wall-to-wall music is bad enough, but it often makes no sense even if you accept its presence. The “charge” organ when nothing particularly interesting is happening. The “everybody clap your hands!” thing. “Day-O!” Those opening claps to “Car Wash” or whatever it is is simply pointless. It doesn’t comment on or enhance or often even match what’s going on on the field.  It’s the equivalent of some dumb conversation people have when they can’t bear even a momentary silence.

Larry Granillo of Baseball Nation has noticed this too and he did something I’ve thought to do in the past but never had the drive to actually accomplish: he made a note of every single musical cue that blared out of the loudspeakers at a major league game.

His game was Monday’s Pirates-Brewers game and the results are pretty startling:

Of the 271 pitches thrown on Monday, 119 had some sort of musical cue afterwards. If we count the walk-up music for each of the Brewers’ plate appearances, that brings the total to 152, or 56 percent of the game’s pitches punctuated by music in some way. This does not include the extended musical selections heard during nearly every inning break.

He catalogs each and every song in a separate appendix, showing what was played batter-by-batter. Reading that appendix is telling of that stuff I talk about above. The lack of a plan with music. It’s just belched out there for no reason so often.

While I think baseball would be fine without musical accompaniment, music can be just as good and entertaining a part of a viewing experience as the event itself. Think movie soundtracks and scores and the like.  Why baseball, if it insists on pumping in so much music, seems content to treat it as some moronic afterthought is beyond me.

  1. rickdobrydney - Sep 5, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    Good points—- The operative word is “barfed” —-

  2. dowhatifeellike - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    The day-o cue has always seemed inappropriate to me. What does a Jamaican folk song about working all night have to do with baseball? “I want to go home” is an awfully weak lyrical link, and often the bases are empty when it is played.

    “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” is played during the 7th inning stretch in Baltimore and I am physically pained every time. It has nothing to do with baseball or Baltimore and I think they just played it every game until fans developed Stockholm Syndrome.

    • nolanwiffle - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      Whoa there big fella! Don’t go messin’ with Baltimore traditions! “Thank God I’m A Country Boy has been a 7th inning staple at Orioles games going back to at least the ’79 pennant-winning season.

      Not the greatest song in the world. However, when watching the Birds at Memorial Stadium/Camden Yards with a coldie in your hand……it becomes kind of catchy.

      Yee-ha!

      • dowhatifeellike - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:37 PM

        Thank you for making my point.

      • nolanwiffle - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        What song would you suggest that has “something to do with baseball or Baltimore” that wouldn’t “physically pain” you? It’s a 35 year old tradition for a tradition-rich franchise.

        Did you also find Wild Bill Hagy to be a public nuisance?

    • lew24 - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:45 PM

      Well Dowhatifeellike Do you think “Sweet Caroline” has anything to do with baseball? What does a song about a 6 year girl have to do with baseball? lol

      • dowhatifeellike - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        No, I don’t. Hate that one too. The difference is that I don’t go to Fenway.

    • DJ MC - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM

      Next you’ll start complaining about “The Star-Spangled Banner” because it is a mediocre poem set to a British drinking song about a lesser battle in a second-tier war that the US didn’t even win.

      • dowhatifeellike - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM

        Actually, I think the SSB has a great origin story. What part of that description is NOT truly American? British roots, medicore poetry, losing second-tier wars… that’s 100% americana.

        God Bless America, on the the other hand, is a showtune from the 1920s. That one can go away forever.

      • DJ MC - Sep 5, 2013 at 8:02 PM

        I agree about “God Bless America”. The fact that baseball has adapted it as much as it has just bugs me to no end. It really has a negative affect on my fan experience.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Educate yourself on the tradition before you bash it. It’s part of Baltimore’s culture at this point, and I for one would picket if they ever got rid of our personal anthem.

      http://www.pressboxonline.com/story.cfm?id=2189

      • dowhatifeellike - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        Do you not see the irony in using that story to defend the song?

        “Coincidently, 1975 was the year the Orioles, at the suggestion of general manager Frank Cashen, began playing pop music to reach out to younger fans. Throughout the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s the Orioles played “old folks” and organ music, and Cashen felt it was time for a change. So that season, public relations director Bob Brown began playing pop tunes during the seventh-inning stretch to see if anything would “take.”

        Late that season, shortstop Mark Belanger and his wife, Dee, went to Brown and suggested he try “Country Boy.” The Belangers were fans and friends of Denver; they felt the song might catch on. ”

        It was a catchy pop song at the time so they kept it. That was 37 years ago.

      • dowhatifeellike - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        My point is that there was and is nothing special about the song. Any random pop song could have been used instead and it would have the same “tradition”.

        The fond memories people associate with the song have nothing to do with the song – it’s about what happened on the field. It’s time to pick a new song and create new memories.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

        Obviously you didn’t read the entire post, or you just cherry picked out parts that suited your argument. It was a song picked by the players, and enjoyed by the fans, which is why it stuck. The song also stood to symbolize the team’s nature to come back after the 7th inning and became a rally cry for the team. It’s a blue-collar song for a blue-collar city that’s surrounded by country. It’s about taking pleasure in the simple things in life, taking time out to enjoy things such as a baseball game. A game that is founded on tradition itself! It’s a tradition that’s 38 years old and is still enjoyed by the vast majority of fans. The song is tied to most of the memories I and many fans have who have regularly attended Orioles games over the past 38 years. In one of his last public appearances, Denver himself danced on top of the dugout during a nationally televised Orioles game.

        What does Sweet Caroline have to do with the Red Sox? What does yellow towels have to do with Pittsburgh? What does seven nation army have to do with the Ravens? The Braves War Chant has a lot to do with the team, something that a lot of people argue is extremely racist. What should we do, replace it with some pop bullshit by Brittney Spears or Miley Cirus? Let’s all bring back the Macarena.

        I’m sorry if you can’t relax and enjoy something that’s as part of the city as the crab cake and a Natty Boh, but this is the city, and we’re quite happy with it the way it is.

    • rje49 - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      I always thought that Day-O thing was most annoying and amateurish. If my favorite team starts that Day-O crap I’ll officially quit liking them.

  3. kander013 - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    The worst sound, is one of the newer ones. The damn Mario Brothers coin sound when a runner crosses the plate. I feel like Cleveland started a few years ago and now the Twins do it. Just awful. Very minor league.

    • theuncletodd - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      I think the Monty Python ‘foot splat’ would be a huge improvement

  4. gdobs227 - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    It wasn’t during the game, but I once heard Phish’s “Run Like an Antelope” during pregame at PNC Park. I don’t think that will ever be topped.

    (And the Buccos went on to win the game on a Freddy Sanchez walkoff HR.)

    • blues1988 - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      sounds good to me! the canucks play chalkdust torture and kill devil falls at puck drop a lot! i’ve always wondered why no one with the last name has ever came out to “WIIIIILLLLSOOOON” :)

  5. The Rabbit - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Yeah, most of the music is pretty bad, but worse is the “let’s give the fans 10 seconds of fame” BS on the scoreboard, fan “interviews” conducted mainly by airheads, cheer squads, and the like. This is in lieu of getting the scores of other games at some stadiums.
    Busch Stadium, the closest stadium to where I live, is absolutely the worst I’ve found in this respect and I avoid it like the plague. Yeah, get off my lawn.
    As I continue to make the pilgrimage to stadiums across the US, so far, the best pure baseball experience I’ve had has been at Camden Yards. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t better…just haven’t gotten there, yet. (Was unaware of the “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” tradition, but trust me, it pales in comparison to what you are subjected to at a lot of stadiums.)
    Hope to hit 5 more stadiums next season. Would appreciate the insight as to which stadiums to target and avoid based on a fan’s perspective.
    If getting free T-shirts and hot dogs via slingshot is your thing, let me know and I’ll put it on the “avoid” list. Just personal preference.

  6. ritzdeez - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I know the Mets occasionally play Darude’s “Sandstorm”. Usually when there’s a rally brewing. Hell yeah, 90s music.

  7. cadillacjosh - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    I’m a big fan of the various foul ball sounds.

  8. psunick - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Gotta admit, “Bye bye birdie” (by Ann Margaret!) after Marlon Byrd stuck out was pretty cool.

  9. Old Gator - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    I would like to hear the Feesh repertoire changed to all John Cage prepared piano pieces. That would make the musical atmosphere at Macondo Banana Massacre Field as incoherent as the management philosophy.

    • Brian Donohue - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      Agreed, I’m in favor of playing Cage. The piece I have in mind is 4’33”. Those who know what it “sounds” like may understand. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4%E2%80%B233%E2%80%B3

    • 4d3fect - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      Conlon Nancarrow prepared piano pieces.

      Guaranteed to drive you insane.

  10. coryrox78 - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    We are subjected to Cotton Eyed Joe and other musical one hit wonders. I’ll take music at a hockey game anytime over music at a baseball game.

  11. geoknows - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    What I really want to know is how he knows the title/artist of all of the prerecorded musical pieces. There’s absolutely no way I could ever do that.

  12. offseasonblues - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    Is this where I protest God Bless America in the 8th inning on Sundays?

  13. km9000 - Sep 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    They talk about this on the most recent “Hang Up and Listen” podcast, and I guess they tried to reason it in part by saying it’s hard to get kids to pay attention for an entire game. I dunno.

    But the worst is the NBA, where they blast annoying pop songs during actual play now. Does that really make the game more interesting?

    • offseasonblues - Sep 5, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      So in order to get kids to pay attention to the game, they provide distracting neon “clap now!” sings, mascots, electronic sounds (no, it’s not music), and between innings entertainment on a large screen.

      Funny how when the game is the only thing going on, kids didn’t have any problem paying attention to it.

      • offseasonblues - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM

        signs. Yes, this site needs and edit function!

  14. shadowoflambeau311 - Sep 5, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Is there anything Craig doesn’t complain about?

  15. rollinnumbers - Sep 6, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    i’d rather listen to cheap trick

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