The time has finally arrived.
Spring has commenced and summer is a roarin’. Patties are fired up on the grill, fish are dancing on the end of a line, and frat bros are wearing patriotic Chubbies while shotgunning barley sodas at some lake cabin in Minnesota.
It’s the American dream.
Additionally, our country’s oldest and traditional pastime happens to be in full swing: baseball. With that, comes a lengthy, 162-game season, which can seem even longer if your team sucks balls. The difficulty to sit through Major League games has increased throughout the past decades. As of 2017, the average game was just over three hours. That’s the equivalent of watching a Lord of the Rings movie every summer night. Except every night doesn’t end the same way, with you and your buddies holding back tears in a crowded movie theater. Some nights your power hitting center fielder (presumably Gandolph) bats a disappointing 0-4, while the opposing, pesky second baseman (presumably Gollum) scores the game winning run off a lazy effort from your out-of-shape third baseman (Sam).
Baseball games are rough to sit through for the casual fan, but attending them live is completely different. Each ballpark offers a unique atmosphere, from the stadium’s architectural design, to the food options, to the mid-game entertainment.
Likewise, each franchise has at least one song associated with the ballclub. This theme song embodies the spirit of what it means to be a fan of said team, and is the reason for this column.
I’ve spent hours of my life (equivalent to 14 Return of the King viewings) listening to each MLB team’s theme song(s), trying to pick out the ultimate tracks. This list was easier said than done. I’m sure there will be heated, First Take-esque debate over which songs were snubbed, ranked too high or too low, but that’s fine. I’m merely a poor blogger.
With that, some criteria needed to be laid out.
- Sobriety – Listening experiences drastically change when under the influence. For this study, I consumed no alcohol while listening. The only drugs consumed were coffee and Zyrtec for my fucking awful seasonal allerigies.
- Team association – This means that certain tracks frequently played at a team’s stadium, but were not intended to be associated with the team upon the track’s release, were disqualified from contention. For example, “Sweet Caroline” is synonymous with Fenway Park at this point, but Neil Diamond didn’t write the song about the Red Sox. He wrote it about his wife Marsha, but needed a three-syllable name. Thus, “Sweet Caroline” cannot qualify. Likewise, this eliminates “Empire State of Mind” for New York Yankee games. Jay-Z states in the song, “Shit, I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can,” but he ain’t cracking the top ten in this blog because the song is about New York as a whole.
- Time frame – Baseball is old as dirt, which means that many songs were recorded over a century ago. Honestly, it’s impressive that some tracks still preserve meaning to this day. However, it is 2019. Your song must slap and clap. If your team’s song was released when alcohol was illegal, then it’s not making the list. I’m writing this blog via Macbook, not a fucking typewriter on the Atlantic City boardwalk in the roarin’ twenties. It’s 2019, we need bangers.
- Genre bias – I’m writing for a website called Super Metal World. Chances are your city’s local rapper that dubbed a “Black and Yellow” remix, but substituted the team’s appropriate colors, did not make the list. No disrespect to rap, but a majority of these tracks will gravitate toward rock, no matter how lame, edgy, or cheesy.
- Anthems – I’m looking for songs that still resonate with the current team. The song should be a stadium anthem that can easily be a rallying cry for fans, all the while being a track you can jam to in the car.
Without further adieu, here are the top ten MLB team theme songs.
10. “Let’s Go Mets!” – Shelly Palmer
Team: New York Mets
Brief history: Following in the footsteps of the 85’ Chicago Bears, the 86’ Mets created their own version of the Super Bowl Shuffle with “Let’s Go Mets!” Like the 85’ Bears, the Mets dominated the regular season, winning 108 games en route to a World Series title over the Red Sox. Interestingly enough, the video started as a marketing campaign to increase ticket sales. Mets Vice President of Marketing at the time, Dave Sheinman, wanted to create more of a family atmosphere at Shea Stadium. His goal was to sell three-million tickets throughout the season, so he went to Shelly Palmer, in hopes of composing a masterpiece which will live on forever in Mets lore. The Mets had the best record in baseball that season, primarily due to the creation of this official theme song (these are facts). The 86’ Mets were also known for their hell-raising and partying off the field. You know damn well that numerous rails of coke were bumped to this banger.
Lingering thoughts: From Tom Bernfeld’s opening scream “Come on!”, to the cheesy quick cuts, “Let’s Go Mets!” is peak Eighties. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Joe Piscopo, who resembles a young Ryan Seacrest sporting a mullet, even makes an appearance halfway through. “Let’s Go Mets!” is an Eighties anthem that the legendary John Parr would be proud of. This was the official theme song of the last championship squad the Mets have produced. “Meet the Mets” may have more miles in Queens, but “Let’s Go Mets!” gets the adrenaline flowing and is a timeless classic.
9. “Tribe Time Now” – Unknown
Team: Cleveland Indians
Artist: Unknown. Presumably Chad Kroeger’s Kidz Bop alter ego, Thad Doeger.
Brief history: Unfortunately, there is little to no information about “Tribe Time Now,” other than at some point during this decade, it was in fact, the Tribe’s time to shine. But shine they did not, as the Chicago Cubs narrowly defeated them in game seven of the 2016 World Series. Prior to this, the Indians had a stint in the late Nineties with a pair of World Series appearances. However, any moment in Cleveland’s history pales in comparison to the Tribe’s 1989 run, when a ragtag group of misfits dethroned the mighty New York Yankees for the AL pennant. Led by a fearless, jail-bound closer, an insurance salesman, and a manager with a hunch, the Indians made history that fall, and will remain in the hearts of Americans forever.
Lingering thoughts: “Tribe Time Now” sounds like post grunge infused with a Nickelodeon cartoon. The vocals are cheesy, but the instrumentals are akin to a mainstream rock radio hit, which gives it a pass as a stadium anthem. The main riff during the verse is essentially “Song 2” by Blur, which is an iconic crowd pleaser. It’s a newer anthem and that is fine, especially for an ancient franchise like Cleveland. The true top song for the Indians (and all of Cleveland for that matter) is “Cleveland Rocks.” Though originally sung by Ian Hunter, the punk version via The Presidents of the United States of America is now the rallying cry for all Cleveland sports, as well as the Drew Carey Show. However, “Cleveland Rocks” does not crack the top ten, due to this stingy criteria. The track is not “Cleveland Indians specific.” That being said, “Tribe Time Now” and its Unknown singer will suffice for the time being.
8. “Turnin’ up the Heat” – Terry Sweet
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Brief history – Following the 1982 season (one in which the Brewers made the World Series), Milwaukee ownership contacted Sweet to whip up a catchy track for the franchise. Sweet, an award-winning commercial jingle writer, was a mastermind at creating addicting four-chord anthems, as he does with “Turnin’ Up the Heat.” The track began as background music for Brewer radio and television advertisements, but quickly became the gameday soundtrack for (then) County Stadium.
Lingering thoughts: First off, fantastic title. “Turnin’ Up the Heat” gets the people going right off the bat. Add in the rolling pianos, crowd chanting, the dimestore Huey Lewis vocal performance, and you have yourself a masterpiece. Not to mention, the poetic and profound lyricism. “The Brewers are brewin’ up a barrel of fun!” ALLITERATION FOR THE WIN.
7. “My Oh My” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Team: Seattle Mariners
Brief history: This is an ode to long-time Mariners play-by-play announcer Dave Niehaus, written shortly after his death in 2010. Macklemore, a lifelong Mariners fan, ensures listeners that Seattle is “his city” ten times throughout the song. Growing up a Mariners fan in the late Nineties, Macklemore experienced firsthand the greatest run in franchise history. Niehaus was the signature voice during that run, and decades of baseball prior.
Lingering thoughts: This is one of the better baseball songs out there, but does not cut it as a stadium anthem. The track doesn’t pump up the crowd the same way a Jock Jams record would. However, this song makes the list due to its meaning. It’s a tribute to a legend and a personal song at that. Macklemore, discusses what Mariners baseball meant to his upbringing, just like it did for many others. Additionally, “My Oh My” is a nostalgic wet dream for Nineties kids, with both The Sandlot and Big League Chew getting shoutouts. There are also a dozen flashbacks of a Mariners teams that took the country by storm. Living in North Dakota at the time, the Mariners were even part of my childhood. The glove I used from Pee Wees all through Legion baseball was a Ken Griffey Jr. one. My sister even had the Moonshot poster in her room. Not to mention, everyone played the living fuck out of Ken Griffey Jr. presents Major League Baseball for the OG Gameboy.
What a run for Seattle during the Nineties. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains dominated the first half, while Ken Griffiey Jr., A-Rod, Edgar Martinez, and Randy Johnson (who coincidentally attended the first Pearl Jam show ever), took hold of the latter. What a run indeed.
Speaking of Pearl Jam…
6. “All the Way” – Eddie Vedder
Team: Chicago Cubs
Brief history – Don’t get it twisted that Eddie Vedder is some bandwagon chump. Though Pearl Jam is synonymous with Seattle, Vedder’s roots lie in the Windy City. Vedder grew up in Evanston, Illinois and frequently attended Cubs games and fantasy camps as a lad. This song was written (instrumentally speaking) to sound like a traditional drinking song. Lyrically, it is straightforward. When the song was written in 2008, the Cubs had their best season since 2003 and were destined for their first title in nearly a century. This was Vedder, and all Cubs fans for that matter, yearning for a taste of victory. Of course, the Cubs had to wait a few more years to reach that destination, with a World Series in 2016, their first one in 108 years.
Lingering thoughts: This is a track that’s enjoyable in most situations. It also plays well live for Pearl Jam and Eddie’s solo shows. However, it does not rank higher, as the song’s meaning has lost its luster since 2016. The song gives fans hope that the Cubs would someday go the distance. Now that they’ve earned the title in recent years, it doesn’t resonate the same way it once did.
Of course, not all fans enjoyed this song. Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan exclusively blamed Vedder’s song for the Cubs’ 2008 playoff collapse. Simmer down, Mellon Collie. Corgan has been known for bat-shit crazy comments, but this is the type of angst Chicago fans pre-2016. Though the Cubs went all the way, Vedder’s sing-a-long still gives fans of cursed and underperforming franchises (like my Minnesota Vikings), hope that we will someday reach the mountaintop.
5. “D-Backs Swing” – Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Brief history: Being a relatively new franchise, the Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall wanted a theme song to define the ballclub. Arizona already boasted a World Series title in 2001, but it lacked a stadium anthem. Hall turned to Tucson native and singer/songwriter Roger Clyne to create the tune. Clyne, an avid baseball fan, told MLB.com, “I wanted the ‘D-backs Swing’ to capture the camaraderie and excitement that is generated by the Arizona Diamondbacks.” Clyne accomplished his goal, as “D-Back Swing” is an upbeat, fun song for all fans.
Lingering thoughts: This song grows on you. What started out at number ten on this prestigious list, ended up climbing the charts all the way to number five. It’s catchy as all can be. I guarantee if you listen to this song five times it will grow on you like body hair. Clyne begins the song taking the bassline for a walk a la Green Day’s “Longview.” After that, it’s ninety seconds of nonstop family fun. Nothing gets the crowd going more than, “It’s a fact, Jack, I back, you back, we back the D-Backs!”
We also need to mention the YouTube video, specifically the title. This video was uploaded in 2007, shortly after YouTube was conceived. This was back when users felt that putting their titles in all caps and adding more than enough exclamation points would attract more clicks. This video, for example, has a total of 41 exclamation points. I was excited up for Diamondback baseball before, but now I’m FUCKING JACKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4. “Tessie” – Dropkick Murphys
Team: Boston Red Sox
Brief history: “Tessie” was released in June of 2004 and was an ode to a Red Sox squad that eventually won their first World Series in 86 years, in rather epic fashion. The idea stemmed from the 1902 musical The Silver Slipper which features its own “Tessie.” It also pays homage to the Royal Rooters, a fan club for the Boston Americans (before the Red Sox name change). The Royal Rooters were led by Michael McGreevy, who owned a bar down the street from Fenway called the Third Base Saloon. Essentially, the Royal Rooters were an early twentieth century Barstool Sports, with McGreevy playing the role of Portnoy. One flagon of ale, everyone knows the rules.
The Dropkick Murphys “Tessie” is slightly more upbeat and raucous. It also features backing vocals from former Red Sox players Johnny Damon, Bronson Arroyo, and Lenny DiNardo. Lead vocalist Mike McColgan said of the track:
“We recorded this song in June 2004 and after giving it to the Red Sox, we told anyone that would listen, that this song would guarantee a World Series victory. Obviously no one listened to us or took us seriously. We were three outs away from elimination in game 4 at the hands of the Yankees and receiving death threats from friends, family, and strangers telling us to stay away from the Red Sox and any other Boston sports team and get out of town. Luckily for us, things turned around for the Red Sox and the rest is history.”
The song is also featured on the video game MVP Baseball 2005 and the very ‘meh’ Jimmy Fallon movie Fever Pitch.
Lingering thoughts: This song is hyper-authentic to Boston, specifically the Red Sox. It has the versatility of being a kickass concert song, party song, and rallying cry. The Dropkick Murphys have made a living producing Irish-infused punk anthems, which is what they did with “Tessie.” And a phenomenal job, at that.
Cheers to you, McGreevy.
3. “Marlins Will Soar” – Scott Stapp
Team: Miami Marlins (formerly Florida Marlins, upon song’s release)
Brief history: Former Marlins owner Jeff Loria needed a franchise anthem. One of immortality. A song that will transcend generations of Marlins fans. He yearned for a battle cry, that would make the tens of fans at (then) Hard Rock Stadium, rock hard. The logical move was to hire Orlando native and golden rock god, Scott Stapp. As the tale is told, Loria met Stapp in an airport and asked him to write the song. Stapp complied, and the rest is history. An anthem was born.
Lingering thoughts: “Marlins Will Soar” is dubbed over Stapp’s original song he wrote entitled, wait for it, “You Will Soar” from 2009. Stapp presumably wrote the lyrics following a quick Wikipedia search of popular baseball terminology and a viewing of The Natural. It’s piecemealed together with low probability baseball occurrences, and I can’t get enough of it. “A perfect game, a triple play, another play of praise.” Stapp longs for the Marlins to make fans proud as he belts, “Cooome on mah-lins may-ke us proud!” Rest assured, you’ve made all of us proud, Scott. Despite the Marlins’ dogshit season thus far.
2. “Orioles Magic (Feel it Happen)” – Walt Woodward
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Brief history: In 1979, the Baltimore Orioles won 102 games and took the Pittsburgh Pirates seven games in the World Series. Truly, a magnificent year. Following the season, the Orioles’ front office executive Al Harazin contacted jingle writer Walt Woodward, a Cleveland native, in hopes to create a song that would encapsulate the magic that was occuring in Baltimore. The Orioles were a special team on a tear, and fans needed to feel that magic during those warm, summer nights. In 1980, Woodward wrote and composed “Orioles Magic (Feel it Happen), thus giving birth to an iconic ballpark jingle.
In 2014, the Orioles’ Vice President of Communications and Marketing, Greg Bader, praised the track saying, “’Orioles Magic’ is that link to every generation, every moment, every memory. It’s still [as] appropriate today as it was 35 years ago.” Orioles Magic boasts what every team anthem yearns for: longevity.
Lingering thoughts: This song gets better every ten seconds. It builds and builds with intensity, all the while adding instruments along the way. It starts out with some dude tuning his trombone, then segues into what sounds like the Cheers theme. After that, you can feel the magic happening with every stanza. They even spell out “Orioles” cheerleader style a la Bay City Rollers. “Orioles baseball, feel it happen!” That’s what fans want in a stadium anthem. They want to feel the magical atmosphere in the ballpark. Of all sports, baseball is truly the only magical one. There is a rich history and sentimentality attached to it, that gives it more meaning. I mean, arguably the greatest sports movie ever was based around the magicalness of baseball. “Orioles Magic” captures that spirit.
1. “Go Cubs Go” – Steve Goodman
Team: Chicago Cubs
Brief history: No song captured the euphoric thrill of victory quite like “Go Cubs Go” at Wrigley Field during the 2016 World Series. What has been the post game tradition for Cubs fans for over thirty years, actually began with a bittersweet story. Before making “Go Cubs Go,” Steve Goodman, an avid Cubs fan suffering from leukemia for twenty years, wrote “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request.” Goodman trashed the franchise, calling them the “National League doormat” and roasts them for not having won the NL pennant since the U.S. dropped the bomb on Japan.
Shortly after his request, Goodman composed the much more positive, upbeat tune, “Go Cubs Go” in late September of 1984. Sadly, six months later, Goodman passed away. Goodman may be gone, but his song is just as important to Wrigley Field as flying the W and Harray Caray. No doubt Goodman could hear Cubs fans belting his song in 2016.
Lingering thoughts: The first time I heard this song was on a bus ride home from Mandan, North Dakota. My baseball coach was a die-hard Cubs fan and longtime sufferer (at the time). We played poorly in the double header (despite my going 4-5 solely off drag bunts, but I digress), so he made us listen to “Go Cubs Go” on repeat for 90 minutes down the barren North Dakota interstate. This is the same strategy used with “Enter Sandman” and prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Since then, that song has been ingrained in my conscious. Funny thing, is it’s actually a great tune. It’s a fun, catchy, upbeat Eighties pop song. It plays well at games, as it allows for multiple chanting opportunities. It’s solid all around, and most importantly, it’s the number one MLB anthem on this blog’s top ten list.