The Baseball Project

Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails |  Yep Roc
By MIKE MILIARD  |  July 8, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
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A couple of weeks ago I overheard a reporter asking Carlton Fisk what his favorite baseball song was. “Baseball song?” he replied, nonplussed. “The only one I know is ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game.’ ” Someone should get Pudge a copy of this record. The members of the Baseball Project — a sorta-supergroup featuring Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), Peter Buck (R.E.M.), and Linda Pitmon (ZuZu’s Petals) — are students of the game’s rich history. And the smart, funny, fanclub chants herein, each as catchy as Willie Mays in the ’54 Fall Classic, are gemlike tributes to the characters who’ve made that diamond shine, from Satchel Paige to Fernando Valenzuela. “Gratitude (For Curt Flood),” is a Zevon-esque dirge offering posthumous props to the man who “paved the way with blood” for the era of free agency. Mourning the waning days of booze/baseball symbiosis, “The Death of Big Ed Delahanty” retells the legend of the turn-of-the-century Hall-of-Famer who was swept over Niagara Falls in 1903 after being kicked off a train — literally — for being drunk. The tragic “Harvey Haddix,” who lost a perfect game in the 13th inning, gets his due as well, with an ersatz folk ballad embellished with Buck’s mandolin. And if “Broken Man” is a tuneful but rueful post-mortem on Mark McGwire’s fall from grace, the stomper “Ted Fucking Williams” is pure superman swagger. Its title comes from a war cry the Splendid Splinter would below during batting practice: “I’m Ted Fucking Williams and I’m the greatest hitter in baseball! Jesus H. Christ himself couldn’t get me out!”
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