BY MICHAEL ‘Fich’ FICHMAN Baseball is America’s perpetually redeeming characteristic. I care too much — I’m a harsh critic, a cynic. Sometimes I’ll hate something just on principle. I think too much, can’t relax. I’m always thinking about which 10 things I need to be doing, instead of doing them. But in the spring, I’m mellowed out and ready for baseball.
This is a music column. However, I used to be a sportswriter and hey, a guy can like both pickles and ice cream, sometimes at the same time. I’m gonna throw together some kosher dill pistachio mint for yinz today, just to watch it melt.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, we used to take the starting lineup for the season opener and try to accurately apply each member of the Wu-Tang to a position, transposing nine onto nine. For instance, Brian Giles, known for being the classic dugout “zany guy,” could always count on securing the Dirt McGirt “ohhhhhhhhhh!!” spot on the lineup card. But after a while, the Pirates were just so bad (we haven’t had a winning season in 13 years, so put that misery in your fucking Phillies pipe and smoke it) that we really couldn’t justify degrading any rappers by likening them to Chris Stynes.
I’m not a Phillies fan at all, but the Phillies are what I’ve got. Plus, I came up hating the Mets and Braves something awful, so I suppose I’m a Phillies fan by default. Last season, I found myself pulling for the Phils, inexplicably. Ryan Howard, whom Ian Cohen and I anointed Scrapple Dun Dun (seriously, call him that!), Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and the supporting cast of spousal abusers and underachievers sucked me into their classic Philly last-minute failure of a season. Maybe it’s because I love seeing Philly’s hopes get inflated and ultimately dashed, but it was truly beautiful and exciting baseball.
So, without further ado, your 2007 Philadelphia Phillies… the box set:
1B: Ryan Howard: Nas– Illmatic
The young heavy hitter that came to straight ball on motherfuckers. When Illmatic came out it was like a four hundred foot moon shot with a MAC-11 raised in the air, busting out shots for good measure. Like Escobar, Scrapple Dun Dun showed some early promise (see: Nas on MC Serch’s Back to the Grill) and then came out with the absolutely game changing full-length. I guess this doesn’t bode well for Scrap’s next ten years.
2B: Chase Utley: The Band– The Band
An all-around solid performer, Utley oozes with the stuff that makes even the sharpest critics bow with respect. He’s the baseball zeitgeist, the guy who does it all, keeps a clean shave and has monogamous sex. However, he’s got that strangely left-of-center outsider aesthetic that nobody can bring themselves to criticize, despite the fact that he drives a hybrid car. He’s just too good at what he does.
SS: Jimmy Rollins: Donovan– Catch the Wind
Nobody will ever accuse Jimmy Rollins of being less than an All-Star caliber shortstop, but decades from now, he’ll be all but forgotten relative to his contemporaries. Starting with heavy hitter Cal Ripken Jr., the ’90s and ’00s have seen the shortstop position go from being a haven for good-field, no-hit hangers-on to a position from which one could expect homers, run production and OPS. When you think back on the genesis of the singer-songwriter movement, you usually conjure up names like Dylan (A-Rod), Simon (Tejada), Van Morrison (Jeter) and even Guthrie (Ripken) before them. But neither Donovan nor Miguel Tejada raps for charity, especially not with All-Name Team mainstay Coco Crisp.
3B: Abraham Nunez: Billy Strayhorn– Lush Life- The Billy Strayhorn Songbook
Like Strayhorn, Nunez is but a diminutive, switch-hitting journeyman from Pittsburgh. However, I guarantee that unlike Strayhorn, nobody will remember Nunez in 50 years. Nunez is also rumored to have ghostwritten for Duke Ellington.
LF: Pat Burrell: John Mayer: That one album John Mayer put out
He exploded on the scene in 2001 and was showered with recognition, albeit only speculative. Got a lucrative deal and bought a bunch of nice collared shirts, only to turn in a string of performances that left him showered with expletives and gay jokes. Still a hit in Old City, though.
Paging Aaron Rowand, your face pad is now ready for pickup
CF: Aaron Rowand: M.O.P.– Warriorz
Rough, rugged and raw, Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame will shake you upside down until all your cake comes out your pockets. Rowand is equally rugged, except all his aggression is generally diffused by running face-first into a wall. If you ask me, that was just a ploy to postpone his inevitable booing when he fails to best his career season of .310/24/69. If things aren’t looking up by the All-Star break, maybe it would be in his best interests to execute some more Bukka-buck-bukka-bukka-BLAOWWWW W on his face and soak in the cheers from the dugout.
RF: Shane Victorino: Neko Case– Furnace Room Lullabye
The Flyin’ Hawaiian (what a terrible name) shows flashes of brilliance but can’t seem to hold it together for longer than two songs/games. Early in the 2005 season, Victorino was singing Buffy Sainte-Marie songs and poking hanging curves over the fence with ease. Everybody thinks he could be the next Griffey but then he backslides into the perpetual “he could break out” guy, turning in two good months a year, unable to break into the everyday lineup. Victorino is trying to put together a solid season straight through (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood), but little does he know that shit will really jump off when he’s named “Sexiest Indie-Rocker’s Baseball Analog” by Playboy.
C: Rod Barajas: Barrabas– Wild Safari
Barrabas, Barajas. I got nothing. I can’t believe they signed this guy.
SP: Brett Myers: Ike Turner and Tina Turner and the Ikettes– Come Together
Get it? He’s professionally competent and he’s a batterer! If he wins 15 games, people will probably (and regrettably) forget that he’s a fucking scumbag.[You should probably put in here that he and his wife settled and the charges were dropped, etc etc (check google) so we don’t get sued. Th’Editrix]
RP: Tom Gordon: Fat Joe– All or Nothing
It takes a lot to stay on top of the game for a long time. Flash has been doing this since the ’80s and he’s still an All-Star. Yet he’s kind of fragile at this stage of the game, and his impact is probably somewhat exaggerated. However, by virtue of his titular role in a Stephen King novel he’s guaranteed his relevance, at least for the near future.
In case you’re wondering, the pic at the top is Disco Demolition Night at Chicago’s old Comiskey Park.
By the way, make sure you keep it mega this weekend:
It seems like every DJ in West Philly will be at PhilaFunkLive supporting the recently formed WestWax collective as it throws down Friday, March 30 at PhilaFunkLive, 8 N. Preston St. (between 40th & 41st off Market).
WestWax busts out the big guns from mainstay nights like Bleached Black, Paradise at Key West, Philadelphyinz, Disconnect and Tech Support to showcase its new neighborhood digs at the recently renovated warehouse. The lineup includes:
Kyle Miller (Bleached Black), Apt One (Philadelphyinz), Stepchild (Paradise, Disconnect), Kenny Raw (Tech Support), Operant77 (Paradise), Andrew Gaspar (Bleached Black), Sebastian Petsu (WestWax), JJC (WestWax), HonkeyLips (WestWax)
9PM-all night, $5, BYOB.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fich is the first ordained rabbi in the musical church of Robot James Brown. He owns a lot of records and people pay him to play them. He writes for Just Sayin?.