MLB: Describing Each 2012 Team with 90's Songs
"Why do you need new bands? Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It's a scientific fact."
Standing in a loud grungy music store, surrounded by young bands he'd never heard of, those defensive words were uttered by a clearly out-of-touch Homer Simpson in a 1996 episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homerpalooza."
As a 16-year-old cherub-faced teen, I remember thinking how odd that feeling must be. It just seemed so old. To really step in the cement of a certain era and let it dry around your feet? That's just weird.
Apparently you have company Homer. Here it is, sixteen years later and I have realized in 1996, I clearly must've planted my Airwalked-feet into the ground as well.
So, how does this tie into the sporting world? This is Bleacher Report after all, not MTV's 120 Minutes.
As a given sport reaches the December of it's season, it is commonplace to assign season grades. Summing up months of intense training, tireless practicing and backbreaking play into the same five letters we used to get for a boring history exam in school.
Well, what better time to merge the two?
Here, for your reading (and listening) pleasure, a step into the past five months of baseball with a soundtrack of the more distant past.
So my baseball-loving, fellow stuck-in-the-past friends, dust off that slap bracelet, break out your Reebok Pumps and crack open an ice cold Crystal Pepsi. It's time to grade the 2012 MLB teams...with a 90's twist.
Baltimore Orioles—"Mr. Jones"
Band: Counting Crows
Album: August and Everything After
Get alternative! Listen to the song here.
Looks like no one told the Orioles' Adam Jones that.
The O's are one of 2012's biggest surprises, holding their own in a tough AL East division, and keeping themselves a solid contender for a wild card spot, thanks in large part to the red-hot outfielder.
Jones has come into his own this year—an All-Star, a 6-year contract extension worth over $85 million and a chance to help the birds have one of their most exciting finishes in a decade and a half.
There's certainly no need to feel crabby in Maryland this year.
Boston Red Sox—"Say It Ain't So"
Join the nerds and take a listen.
Say it ain't so Sox Nation!
- Your top two starters have ERA's that are higher than Steven Tyler was in the 70's... or 80's... or 90's... or yesterday.
- Injuries have plagued your star second baseman, two-thirds of your outfield and your first-year closer.
- Your burly third baseman clashed with your new manager, prompting a midseason trade to the other team named after footwear.
- The only reason you're out of the cellar of the AL East is because the Blue Jays are more injury-prone than Amelia Bedelia.
Yes, playing for the 2012 Red Sox has the same follicle effect as seeing a freakin' ghost.
Chicago White Sox—"Ironic"
Artist: Alanis Morissette
Album: Jagged Little Pill
Unless you're Dave Coulier, listen here.
The 2012 White Sox season is, in a word, unexpected. Perhaps we can throw in a dash of irony to the situation as well.
The AL Central is expected to be dominated by the orange and black striped cats. Simple as that. No one expects the Royals, Twins or Indians to compete for the time being. While Cleveland has had a respectable campaign this year, it's Chicago's finest who are shocking the Midwest as August rolls by.
Why is it ironic? Seems like this year was set up for mediocrity.
Chicago's outspoken manager went to a brand new team, which was built to be a force. Not to mention, the Sox's perfect game pitcher of recent years also took his talents to South Beach with him. That team is currently deader than the actual term "Linsanity" now.
To top it off, few expected anything out of pitching stud Chris Sale. Adam Dunn was coming off a 2011 season he basically sleepwalked through, and perennial-Mr. Congeniality, A.J. Pierzynski, wasn't a major factor.
Rest assured, the Tigers will not go down quietly, but major kudos to the White Sox for proving the baseball world doesn't always go the way it's planned on paper.
Cleveland Indians—"Give It Away"
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Time to get funky with Flea here.
If the season ended at Memorial Day, there'd be some happy fans in Cleveland.
The early part of the 2012 season featured some real surprises. Strong showings were popping up from some unlikely sources around the baseball map. Some, such as the White Sox and Orioles have held up well, and others, like the Mets and Blue Jays, fell back down to earth like a lead balloon tied to a pallet of bricks, tied to Kirstie Alley.
Well, the Cleveland Indians have grabbed hold of their own lead balloon this season as well and took a fall only Humpty Dumpty could appreciate.
A couple of recent sour road trips have left the Tribe slip-sliding down to an early tee-time at the golf course in October.
Just watch out for Ubaldo Jiminez on the links, he's got more mulligans than a phone book.
Detroit Tigers—"No Excuses"
Artist: Alice in Chains
Album: Jar of Flies
Get your grunge on here.
Raise your hand if you've spent $119 million dollars this year.
Unless Tigers owner Mike Ilitch is reading this, I doubt there are many hands raised right now.
Well, when you're spending a fortune, including a cool $23 million on Prince Fielder in the offseason, you'd better produce.
When your team's roster can boast having Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, one of the game's scariest bats, stress-inducing closer Jose Valverde and 2011 Cy Young/MVP-winner Justin Verlander on your staff, you'd better produce.
When it's late August and your powerhouse team is still behind the White Sox in the division, you'd really better produce.
No excuses, boys.
Kansas City Royals—"Far Behind"
Relive Candelbox's 15 minutes of fame now.
Now that the Pirates are having a successful season, it's the Kansas City Royals' turn to step away from the perennial sad sack ballclub we've come to know over the years.
With a minor league system that's ripe with talent, the future for the Royals always looks promising, but the present? Let's just say keep your receipt, because it's a present you'd like to return.
Designated hitter Billy Butler is having a stellar season, and third baseman Mike Moustakas is coming into his own, but with last year's breakout star Eric Hosmer having a pitiful 2012, it just never materialized for the Boys in Blue.
The Royals just dug themselves too much of a hole early on, and now, currently sitting at 11.5 games back in the wild-card race, they're just too far behind to catch up.
Really, though, how awesome was that song?
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—"Sure Shot"
Artist: Beastie Boys
Album: Ill Communication
Get ill with the Beasties now.
The extra wild card spot couldn't have come at a better time, because it looks like the battle in the AL West is going to be a horse-race to the finish.
While the Rangers are currently sitting atop the division and the A's are making baseball analysts scratch their heads, it's nearly impossible to count out the Angels, a team so rich in talent.
Even though things may be an uphill battle now, don't doubt the Angels are a sure shot.
A sure shot to stay a contender. A sure shot to make baseball fans forget their slow start. A sure shot to keep churning out a killer rotation and astonishing bats... and a sure shot to make the end of the season nothing but Trumbo for their competition.
Plus, the Beastie Boys even referenced former Halos Hall of Famer Rod Carew in this song, a perfect fit.
Artist: Soul Asylum
Album: Let Your Dim Light Shine
Put on your flannel and listen here.
Soul Asylum's biggest hit may be 1993's "Runaway Train," but to fully describe how Minnesota faithful are viewing the Twins' lackluster season, it's their single, "Misery", that hits the bullseye.
Over the years, the Twins, much like the NFL's Broncos and Ravens, always seemed to be a postseason staple. Year in and year out, you could always count on them to be at the dance.
Unfortunately for the Twinkies, the last time they made the postseason, "Chocolate Rain" was all the rage in America.
Outfielder Trevor Plouffe was a pleasant story, and the developments of pitcher Scott Diamond and outfielder Ben Revere are positive signs for the future, but 2012 has put Joe Mauer in danger of pulling out his highly-valuable hair.
Think of how disappointed this adoring fan is going to be!
Artist: The Cranberries
Album: No Need to Argue
Braaaains! Dig in!
One of the biggest hits from alternative Irish import, The Cranberries, was a fuzzy rocker about the violent unrest in Northern Ireland, entitled "Zombie."
It may not carry the same heavy definition, but for a team that many buried earlier in the season, "zombie" seems like a perfect metaphor for a resurgent Oakland Athletics club in 2012. Can you say 28 Weeks Later?
Low on payroll, high on walk-off wins, (maybe The Walking Dead is a more fitting name?) the A's are a shocking wild-card contender with impressive youth that are keeping things mighty interesting as we get into serious late-season ball.
New York Yankees—"No Surprises"
Album: OK Computer
This video is pretty darn Swishalicious.
The sun will rise. Water will be wet. Rob Schneider will still somehow get work. The Yankees will be in first place.
The status quo is status quo for a reason. No surprises here.
In the Big Apple, sports radio phone lines light up when the Bronx Bombers are flopping, otherwise things are a bit quiet. Everyone expects the Yanks to be a powerhouse, to rule the roost in the AL East, and this year is going according to plan.
It's anyone's guess what will happen in a playoff series, but with Derek Jeter's late career renaissance, Curtis Granderson's made-for-Yankee Stadium swing and Robinson Cano's made-for-everywhere swing, it seems likely that peanuts and Cracker Jacks will be the food of choice in the Bronx on those chilly autumn nights.
John Sterling approves.
Seattle Mariners—"My Hero"
Artist: Foo Fighters
Album: The Colour and the Shape
Stop, drop and Grohl!
Seattle's rainy season isn't a shock to anyone.
They're simply a young team who are years away from making any waves. Their Hall of Fame outfielder was traded to the Yankees at the trade deadline, and the rest of their squad is mostly fresh-faced youngsters.
Not to mention playing in a highly competitive division, it's clear the Mariners are a-ways off from everything gelling together.
In the meantime, they can hang their hats on the fact they have Felix Hernandez on their team.
King Felix is the team's lone superstar, potential Cy Young contender and now perfect game winner to boot. He's their rock, and at the age of only 26, their present and future hero.
Tampa Bay Rays—"Big Empty"
Artist: Stone Temple Pilots
Relive the days of the Clinton administration right here.
Why are the Tampa Bay Rays attached to such a song title?
Well, go to Tropicana Field, wait to hear your own echo, and you'll understand.
Perhaps it's the area, perhaps it's the eyesore stadium, perhaps it's the lingering effects of a decade's worth of lousy play, or maybe it's bitterness over these uniforms.
The bottom line with the Rays, now in their fourth straight season of excellent play, it's a shame their stadium is still as empty as the theaters during a showing of Battleship this past spring.
As far as play goes, the Rays knew the Yankees would be their fiercest competition in the AL East, but the surprising Orioles are providing unexpected competition to a Rays team that features top-notch pitching and their All-Star third baseman back in the fold.
Hopefully more fans will fill the park to cheer on their home team, as it's going to be a mighty competitive month of baseball coming up in Tampa Bay.
Texas Rangers—"U Can't Touch This"
Artist: MC Hammer
Album: Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
Finally! A reason to wear your baggy pants.
The Wild Wild AL West belongs to the Texas Rangers.
The surprising A's are a great story, and it would be a "Sixth Sense ending" kind of shock to not see the Angels play in the wild-card playoff game, but when it comes to the division, don't mess with Texas.
Oddly enough, The Lone Star State has a plethora of stars on its squad. With Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, David Murphy and Elvis Andrus, their lineup is a relentless force, top to bottom.
Even with Yu Darvish's recent struggles and Ryan Dempster's AL growing pains, this Rangers team has their eyes set on serious fall ball, and may even swipe the American League's best record in the process.
With two consecutive "oh so close" World Series appearances, the Rangers look to be unstoppable, and pretty darn untouchable this fall.
Toronto Blue Jays—"Everybody Hurts"
Album: Automatic For the People
Make Michael Stipe happy, watch this.
If you're a baseball fan in Toronto and you want to score an autograph from your favorite ballplayer, don't bother trying to sneak past security in the Rogers Centre, just go to the infirmary instead.
The Jays' strongest bats, Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia and, most notably, slugger Jose Bautista, have all found themselves on the DL recently.
The mound in Toronto hasn't been much luckier—starters Brandon Marrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchinson all went down in one single week this past June.
Maybe it's something in the water, or maybe it's just karma's way of punishing Canada for unleashing Nickelback upon the world. Either way, it's a good time to stock up on bulk packages of bandages in Toronto till season's end.
Artist: Pearl Jam
It doesn't get any Vedder than this.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are alive.
That's actually quite a statement when you look at their 2012 campaign.
With fellow NL Westers, the Giants and Dodgers, leading the pack, and the Rockies and Padres taking up residence in the basement, it would just seem appropriate for the D-Backs to hang lifelessly in the middle.
You know, the middle. That black hole-ish, Jan Brady "no one gives a flying hooey about me" kind of area... just there.
It's not like the team hasn't tried their darnedest to live up to that mediocre standard either. Chris Young has looked old, Kate Upton's GQ cover had more success than namesake Justin Upton did this summer and last year's stud, Ian Kennedy, well, let's just say his value this year has been worth about a half dollar.
Throughout all of this, despite the division's stiff competition, the Snakes are showing venom down the home stretch as they are alive and kicking.
Artist: Collective Soul
Album: Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid
You know you want to listen.
The NL East is the Phillies turf. Heck, for the past few years, the whole NL has arguably been the Phils' turf.
Not so fast cheesesteaks...
With the perennial-winner Phillies, new-look Marlins and up-and-coming Nationals, the Braves weren't expected to be a real contender in their division in 2012.
They've certainly shined though. This is a team currently tied for the top spot in the wild-card race.
It's been a big comeback year for Jason Heyward, they have one of the best closers in the majors, a cream-of-the-crop catcher and a staff that's exceeded all expectations placed on them, even with their first-rate arm, Brandon Beachy, going under the knife midseason.
Things in Atlanta certainly are looking, wait for it... peachy.
Artist: The Smashing Pumpkins
Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Fall's almost here, enjoy the Pumpkins.
It seems rather fitting to tie Chicago's finest alterna-rockers, The Smashing Pumpkins, to their hometown ballclub, although it's not really a great comparison in this case.
Why "zero" you might ask?
- zero chance of making the playoffs
- zero tolerance from frustrated fans
- zero interest left in Chicago for any baseball team not named the White Sox
- zero percent chance Theo Epstein's house isn't getting egged this Mischief Night.
Artist: Nada Surf
Avoiding this song is "Nada option"
Many may have mistakenly written off indie-alterna rockers, Nada Surf, as a mid-90's minor one-hit wonder, but you can bet your bottom dollar the Reds bats are producing many hits in 2012.
One of the best records in the majors, a potential Cy Young contender in Johnny Cueto, the re-found pop of Drew Stubbs' bat and a closer who throws lightning, the Reds are looking unstoppable, and that's all with their best player recovering from a torn meniscus.
Is there a more "popular" choice to be a force in the postseason? Not likely.
Album: Mellow Gold
Be a winner, listen here.
Yes, it's the song title no team would want to be synonymous with.
The proof is in the pudding though.
Sorry Denverites, when your team is relying on the Astros to make them look good, well...if the loser shoe fits, wear it.
The Rockies feature a who's-not of a pitching staff, an infield of anything but household names, a sidelined Troy Tulowitzki and an outfield that, for the most part, must be affected by the thin mile-high air.
As great of a player as Carlos Gonzalez is, he just can't carry this sinking team on his shoulders...or anywhere even remotely close to the .500-mark.
To the aforementioned Denverites, if you haven't already, time to turn your sporting attention over to Peyton Manning, because this season has just been a Rocky Mountain low.
Houston Astros—"Good Riddance"
Artist: Green Day
It's like reliving the end of Seinfeld! Listen here.
Yes, it's a back-to-back smattering of the NL's weakest teams.
As of this writing, the Astros are 34 games out of first place. There's probably some free-swinging little league teams that are just slightly behind them.
It's just a typical mess in Houston. The only people who will be sad to see the 'Stros move to the American League next year will be their fellow NL Central teams who got to feast on them day-in and day-out.
A bland roster that's years away from anything significant, a payroll that's near the MLB's lowest and no real end in sight? Ouch.
Houston fans aren't having the time of their lives, and they're not giving this season a bon voyage, it's simply a "good riddance."
Los Angeles Dodgers—"Closer"
Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: The Downward Spiral
Prepare to have nightmares while watching this NSFW video here.
We can get into intense statistical analysis here about how the Los Angeles Dodgers are closer to a division title, and how the San Francisco Giants couldn't be any closer behind, giving them a fight till the end, and as the season draws closer to an end, we're going to have a heck of a race in the NL West.
Or...we can just enjoy Larry David at a Dodgers game. That's the real ace in the hole here.
Miami Marlins—"All Mixed Up"
Get the 411 on 311 here.
A gaudy new stadium? Check.
An ugly new logo? Check.
A controversial manager suspended for praising Fidel Castro? Check.
Trading away your biggest star? Check.
An All-Star closer who hasn't produced? Check.
Your speedy, expensive new shortstop who's not swiping so many bags? Check.
A last-place finish in the NL East? Very possible check.
Yep, for a team who was all the rage at the season's start, things have really "floundered" for the Fish in 2K12. The Marlins are a team who need to figure out who they are next year, get things together and be the team they aimed to be this this spring.
As for right now, they just look mixed up.
Chris Cornell suggests you watch here.
In the early months of 2012, Wisconsinites were probably feeling a bit bummed out.
The Packers, who dominated the NFL all season, met their early demise to a salsa dancer, the Badgers lost the Rose Bowl to the Oregon Ducks and the Milwaukee Bucks were on their way to being on the outside looking in of an NBA playoff spot.
The good ol' Brewers would bring some levity to this situation, right?
Well, given the fact their big bopper Prince Fielder went to the Motor City, and All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun was potentially looking at a 50-game suspension, things were looking bleak.
Luckily for the Brew Crew, Braun sideswiped the suspension, but that's more or less the silver lining for 2012.
The Brewers have just been outshined in a surprisingly hot NL Central. Rickie Weeks' dud season has seemed to last years, the bullpen has been a mess and for a team with a nearly $100 million payroll, it's been a disappointing slide.
New York Mets—"Comedown"
Album: Sixteen Stone
Relive your high school years right here.
No one expected the Mets to do anything this year. Well, unless you count "losing" as something.
That made their solid start to 2012 all the more surprising. With the franchise's first no-hitter, one of the NL's top batters and a bearded knuckleballer that is having a season for the ages, the Mets looked promising.
Unfortunately, the season is 162 games, and the Mets simply are running out of gas. The bullpen is anemic, Johan Santana has been declining since tossing his no-no, David Wright can't carry the team alone, Jason Bay continues to struggle to an astonishing-level and surprise early-season performances from players such as Kirk Nieuwenhuis are a memory.
Sorry Metropolitian fans, unless All-Star arm R.A. Dickey can start every game, the bloom is off the rose.
Truly, the classic "come down."
Philadelphia Phillies—"Don't Cry"
Artist: Guns N' Roses
Album: Use Your Illusion I
Hurry up and listen before Axl Rose bans this article.
Don't worry Philadelphia, you'll always still have a champion.
Oh no, wait. Here's the right picture.
With a devastating rotation, red-hot bats, overly-rabid fans and a winning pedigree, it seemed like a no-brainer that we'd be sipping cider while watching Charlie Manuel's Fightin' Phils on our television screens again this October.
That glorious plan went awry pretty much out of the starting gate. While highly-predicted teams like the Tigers, Angels and Yankees started out sluggish in April, things were smoothed out in no time. During that spell, the Phillies just couldn't overcome their issues.
A hurt pitching ace on a relatively down season, loads of injuries, an aging team and a guy in a Cliff Lee mask who's clearly not Cliff Lee just hobbled the usual powerhouse, and they never got their stride back.
It's just a lost season, plain and simple. Don't cry and keep your chin up buddy, spring training is only six months away.
Pittsburgh Pirates—"Fantastic Voyage"
Album: It Takes a Thief
Listening to Coolio in 2012 won't up your street cred, but give it a listen.
True, the only time anyone outside of Coolio's mom has thought about the Twizzler-haired rapper in the past decade was this Saturday Night Live Jonah Hill skit earlier this spring, but fear not Pirates fans, this comparison is nothing to sneeze at.
Outfielder, Andrew McCutchen, is on the verge of both an NL MVP and a batting title, A.J. Burnett left the pies in New York and brought his talent to Pittsburgh and the rest of the club is giving the longtime-disappointed Bucs fans a reason to celebrate.
With stiff National League competition from teams such as the Reds, Giants and Nationals, few expect the 2012 Pirates to be hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy when the Jack-O-Lanterns are glowing bright, but for the first time in nearly two decades, the Pirates are a force again.
Truly a fantastic voyage.
San Diego Padres—"One Headlight"
Artist: The Wallflowers
Album: Bringing Down the Horse
Drive it home here.
Residents of San Diego are really lucky they have some of the nation's most beautiful weather. It must really help the sting of having such a lackluster baseball team over the past few years.
The thing is, despite sitting near the bottom of the division and having one of the lowest winning percentages in the majors, the Padres have actually been playing relatively better ball as of late.
The fly in the ointment? It's just a matter of much too little, and way too late. The Friars will ultimately fall short again.
Navigating this ho-hum squad through the next six weeks is not unlike driving a car home with one headlight. It's shaky and way behind everyone else on the road, but just ride it out, get it to the garage and keep it there until next spring.
San Francisco Giants—"Selling the Drama"
Album: Throwing Copper
You used to watch this video on MTV, now watch it here.
The competition in the NL West is hotter than the blazing California sun.
The Giants and the Dodgers are neck-and-neck, with the pesky Diamondbacks nipping at their heels. Who needs the drama of a division race when you have all the drama the Giants have faced already this season?
Their zany, bearded closer went down for the season, their portly third baseman has had not one but two DL stints already and their freakish ace has been uncharacteristically sour all season.
That was all before this week when the team's best hitter, Melky Cabrera, met an early end to his seemingly stellar season when he tested positive for high levels of testosterone.
Drama? The Jints have had their share. Think they're going to let it knock them off course?
St. Louis Cardinals—"Good"
Artist: Better Than Ezra
About as good as it gets right here.
You'd think "good" would be a positive attribute, but for the defending World Series champions, just "good" is cutting the mustard, but not really cutting it.
In their first post-Pujols/LaRussa season, the Red Birds have done well, but despite their current high position in the wild-card race, they seem to be spinning their wheels a bit.
With the Reds looking dominant and the surprising Pirates not going anywhere, the Cardinals may be learning it's a bit more crowded in the NL Central than they're used to. They may also be learning that this season, "good" may just not be good enough.
Washington Nationals—"Smells Like Teen Spirit"
You've heard it a million times. Make it a million and one.
As of this writing, the Washington Nationals have the best record in the majors.
Yes, as many times as we hear it, it still sounds crazy. Maybe the Mayans were right after all.
One of the most enjoyable stories of the season, the once-horrid Nationals are seeing their years of draft picks finally paying off.
Stephen "don't shut me down" Strasburg is already making his way into becoming one of the best pitchers in the majors, the arms of Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez have been nothing short of fantastic and Ian Desmond's bat has been alive at the plate.
With all of those elements, a good deal of the buzz in DC this year has nothing to do with elections, it is thanks to 19 year-old Bryce Harper. The highly-touted prospect made a stir with his late-April call-up, and has shown much more poise and presence-of-mind than a teenager should have at this point.
True, he's going to have growing pains, he's not Mike Trout yet, and he's still going to ruffle feathers, but watching this kid in the playoffs should be a heck of a fun time.