Baseball is back.
Today is Opening Day.
And on this auspicious spring holiday (if you're a baseball fan, anyway), let's celebrate by filling out our lineup of best baseball jams of all time.
1. “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request,” by Steve Goodman
Sorry Cubs fans, but "Go Cubs Go" is bad. I know it gets played at Wrigley after every Cubs W, and it has sentimental value, but could it be any more trite? Luckily it wasn't the only song about the Cubbies from lifelong fan and songwriter, the late Steve Goodman. In "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request," a Cubs fan on his deathbed blames his life's stumbles on the lovable losers' longtime foibles. Then he asks for a funeral in Wrigley and concludes, "I've got season tickets to watch the Angels now ... You the living, you're stuck here with the Cubs, so it's me who feels sorry for you." If Goodman were still alive, I'm sure he'd have penned a sequel when his song subject watched the Cubs win the World Series from above.
2. “Ted F****** Williams,” The Baseball Project
Why does everyone else get all the credit? Told from the perspective of one of the best hitters ever to play the game, this tune has Williams wondering why he has to be kind and humble when he's so good. And why do Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider get all the love? There's nothing they can do better than old Teddy Ballgame could. "I'm Ted (expletive) Williams."
3. “Centerfield,” John Fogerty
If you've played baseball, you know the excitement of playing a game. The sun's up. Taking the field. Warm-up tosses. Batting practice. You're ready to play and feeling born again on the green grass. With its claps, punchy organ and bright melodies Fogerty's jam feels like a beautiful day at the ballpark. What's not to love?
4. “All The Way,” Eddie Vedder
"Don't let anyone say it's just a game." Amen, Eddie. Though written specifically about the Cubbies, this one's for any baseball fan whose heroes wear pinstripes, who feels redemption in victory, who keeps the tradition of baseball alive and who dreams that one day — someday soon, hopefully — their team will go all the way.
5. “My Oh My,” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Growing up in Seattle, Macklemore listened to his beloved Mariners on the radio. And though it's certainly a remembrance of Dave Niehaus' broadcasts and Ken Griffey Jr., the song is also about Macklemore learning baseball from his father, playing with friends after dinner like in "Sandlot" and his old baseball cards collecting dust in a shoebox.
6. “Tessie,” The Dropkick Murphys
The Boston rock band took the Red Sox's longtime anthem and turned it into a song that's about being a being a fan — "Don't blame us if we ever doubt you/You know we couldn't live without you" — and a little history lesson in how "Nuf Ced" McGreevy led the Royal Rooters in singing "Tessie" to help the Sox win the 1903 World Series.
7. “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” by Meatloaf
Largely about a couple and their, ahem, escapades in the backseat of their car, it contains possibly the best baseball metaphor of all time. As the young man attempts to push his luck, famed announcer Phil Rizzuto provides a play-by-play broadcast that mirrors his attempts to round the bases. He's an aggressive base runner and nearly gets called out a few times, and he eventually tries for a suicide squeeze on his way to home plate.
8. “We’re Talkin’ Softball,” Terry Cashman
More than 25 years ago, Homer Simpson was the star player on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's softball team. But Mr. Burns hired some ringers including Ozzie Smith, Darryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco. One of the best episodes of "The Simpsons," it prompted Terry Cashman to remake his classic baseball track, "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey & The Duke)," as a parody about the ridiculous hazards that befell the team. It's fantastic.
9. “Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song),” The Treniers
There's a long line of tribute songs to individual players, and this one's about Willie Mays, who runs the bases like a choo-choo train and swings around second like an aeroplane. The Giants center fielder himself appeared on the recording.
Runners Up: "Right Field," Peter, Paul and Mary; "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio," Les Brown & His Orchestra; "The Greatest," Kenny Rogers
“Marlins Will Soar,” Scott Stapp
What were they thinking? The Creed frontman took an already forgettable song from his solo release, "You Will Soar," and amended the lyrics to generic baseball terms — rhyming things like double plays with swing away and stolen base with playoff race. It aims to be lofty and inspiring, but it instead crashed and burned. Ugh.