Much has been said about the September collapse of the Boston Red Sox, and the face-plant that has defined the first several weeks of the 2012 season. I’m not going there, since you can’t tear down Josh Beckett, Larry Lucchino and Bobby Valentine any further.
What I will wade into is the state of the eighth-inning festivities at the ballpark. For what seems like far too long, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” an ode to JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy, has wailed throughout Fenway.
But an odd ode it is.
Examine it closely and you’ll find that it’s a song written by a then 28-year-old guy…for a 12-year-old girl. Besides the creep factor of the song, it’s just worn out.
Hearing the diehard fans calling into WEEI and The Sports Hub, the takeaway is this: The song is played for the amusement of the corporate types, or "Pinkhats," who invaded Fenway 10 years ago.
Can the Sox afford to continue to alienate the loyal fans any further, especially if they’re heading into some lean years?
A new song might be nothing more than a Band-Aid, but it could come across as a seismic gesture of good will towards the faithful. That said, it’s time to usher in a new eighth-inning song.
Here are the candidates.
This is arguably the band’s best offering, and given their Boston-based roots, it makes sense that they have a spot on the short list. Boston performed this song atop the right-field roof before Game 4 of the 2003 ALDS versus Oakland, so the nostalgia factor is there.
This was before the right-field roof was refurbished into what is now the Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck, and I happened to be sitting underneath. Looking back, it seems like a risky proposition given the structural integrity, or perceived lack thereof, of the roof at that time.
The band rocked that day and the Sox evened up the series at two games apiece.
The Boss and Sil (Little Steven)
A great song that would serve the primary goal in getting the fans fired up. Springsteen played the first concert at Fenway during the current ownership group’s foray into the music biz. It was a near impossible ticket to get, and it looks like he and the band are making a return appearance this summer.
However, The Boss has Jersey roots (and the same nickname as George Steinbrenner) and Sox fans would likely turn on this selection in time, given the association and disdain toward the Yankees.
“Born to Run” could make for an interesting alternate eighth-inning song if the Sox are trailing and need a run or two.
Another band with Boston roots, this song musters up that "never say die" attitude. The Sox could probably persuade the band to perform a surprise live edition each year, providing Steven Tyler’s duties with American Idol don’t interfere and his sexagenarian pipes can pull it off.
I’m struggling for a reason why this song shouldn’t replace “Sweet Caroline,” except that the next two are just untouchable.
A tough act to pass on.
A local favorite, and in turn, the band is a huge fan of the Sox. How deep does their loyalty run?
It was reported by Jeff Horrigan of the Boston Herald that the Dropkick Murphys offered to play at Oakland General Manager Billy Beane’s daughter’s birthday party, if Beane agreed to trade pitcher Tim Hudson to the Red Sox in return. The deal never happened, but the band’s gesture has cemented their legacy in Beantown.
They performed this song live before the Bruins vs. Flyers Winter Classic hockey game at Fenway Park a couple years back and nearly brought the frigid, packed house down.
Seems like the logical choice right?
The drawback: This was former closer Jonathan Papelbon’s walkout music. Pap left town for Philly after last season (more like the Sox made little to no attempt at re-signing him), and given how the 2011 season ended, coupled with Pap’s sometimes icy relationship with the fans, and well, it’s just too soon.
This begs the question: What should be the song of a new generation at Fenway in the eighth?
One of the most popular rock-and-roll songs ever, done by the greatest band of their time.
Guns N' Roses dominated the rock-and-roll scene during the '90s, a generation otherwise largely drowned by the somber sounds of grunge. Please don’t misinterpret that for a lack of appreciation for Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice in Chains.
Bostonians are proud. If you play “Paradise City” during the eighth inning in their team’s ballpark, effectively paying homage to the city, the team and the people, you'll have "it."
If Boston’s brass wants a quick win with the fans, they need to make the change. Is it going to translate to wins? Probably not, but it just might resurrect the atmosphere that surrounded the self-proclaimed “idiot” player era of 2003 and 2004 (Millar, Damon, etc.).
Talk about supplying an injection of attitude back into a ballpark and fanbase that desperately needs it.