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Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails

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The Baseball Project

Release Date: 2008

 

Item 1: cd
# Track Title Play
1Past Time

Lyrics

When Campy Campaneris played all nine positions in a game. When Pete Rose demolished Ray Fosse he was never the same. 31 wins and an album on Capitol for Denny McLain. So long ago, so long, Pastime, are you past your prime? The DiMaggios, Shoeless Joe, Minnie Minoso, Yo La Tengo. Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox made the Sox go go. The sideburns of Pepitone and Oscar Gamble's afro. So long ago, so long, Pastime, are you past your prime? One thing you can say about time is that it always passes. One thing you can say about the game is that it's not getting any faster. You can get tangled up in a ball of rubber bands and twine, the cowhide and pine tar, snuff, spit and chalk dust lines. Two round-trippers and a no-hitter, that's Rick Wise (not Bobby Wine). So long ago, so long, Pastime, are you past your prime?


Nostalgia can be deadly, and often delusional. Still, images and feelings from the past flit through the mind unchecked and unedited. Does that mean everything was better, simpler, less tainted, in the distant and not-so-distant past? Not necessarily. "The more things change the more they remain the same" did Yogi Berra say that? Baseball is a circus these days, no doubt about it, but I think the feeling's much the same as it always was, when you first enter a ball park and watch the traces of the traditions and history unfold.

Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
2Ted Fucking Williams

Lyrics

Everyone's so kind and humble
Don't you know that I can see right through it
Keeping all their comments down
You know it ain't a boast if you can do it

And everyone says "Say Hey"
And everyone says "did you see that kid play?"
I've got to give the kid a hand
But there's nothing that he can do better than I can

I'm Ted Fucking Williams!

People say it's hard to like a man
Who doesn't fail and show he's a human
But failure's not a sign of grace
It only means you don't know what you're doing

And everyone says "hey Mick!"¯
Mantle this, Mantle that it makes me sick
It's just so hard to see
Why do they like him better than me

I'm Ted Fucking Williams!

And everyone says "hey Duke!"
Like everything I did was some kind of fluke
I gotta give the Duke a hand
But there's nothing that he can do better than I can

I'm Ted Fucking Williams!



Legend (and Jim Bouton's classic baseball memoir "Ball Four") has it that Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams would take batting practice and shout "I'm Ted Fucking Williams and I'm the greatest hitter in baseball"¯ before every pitch, sometimes adding "Jesus H Christ himself couldn't get me out!"¯ But sometimes greatness just isn't enough and in this song the greatest hitter of all time eschews humility and wonders why the press and the public prefer and offer greater love to lesser players.
Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
3Gratitude (For Curt Flood)

Lyrics

Now everyone's walking like they're rolling in dough
Throwing all their money around just for show
Acting like everything is coming to them
And knowing that more is just around the bend

But I'm the one who paved the way
And laid my body in the road so you can walk on it today
I stood right up when they tried to put me down
You're so high up, you forget to look down?

You call that gratitude!

I'm the well-paid slave and the roads that I paved
Took my career, that's just what I gave.
Five years later they were rolling in clover
But nothing for me, my career was over

If I'd been born just a generation later
I could have settled up with an arbitrator
I'd be wearing fur coats if I were rich
With a bum-bum-bitty-bitty-bum

You call that gratitude!

On the day that I died and they laid me in the ground
Where was everybody? They couldn't be found
I'm gone and they don't know my name
No plaque, no speech, no hall of fame

A-Rod, Zito, Posada, Tejada
Johan, Maddux, Manny, Mussina
Who's the one who paved the way with blood
Go say my name! It's (Flood!) Curt Flood

You call that gratitude!


Curt Flood looks back from beyond the grave and observes the high-living, wealthy modern player and bemoans the lack of attention paid to his costly and lonely battle against the reserve clause, a legal challenge that led directly to the advent of free agency as well as the end of Flood's career. He is not amused.
Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
4Broken Man

Lyrics

We all need to gain the upper hand. An edge to do even better than we can. No one seemed to care when it brought back the fans. It's a broken record, strike up the band for the broken man. A crowd so loud and a son so very proud. The powers that be counting money, handing me a crown. Only now they decide that it's time to take a stand. It's a broken record, strike up the band for the broken man. You can say I cheated; prop me up defeated. Take a swing at me and the others too, if you've got nothing better to do. There's a street not far away that's named after me. But my present and future is a gated community. Leave your past behind if you really want to understand. It's a broken record, strike up the band for the broken man.

Mark McGwire went from "saving baseball"¯ after the strike of 1994 to becoming a Bashed Brother of Steroids, humiliated in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee -- a pariah mentioned only in hushed tones. It's too simple to brand such men cheaters, or to erase them from memory and the record books. Everybody screwed up, everybody knew it and did nothing, now it's time to move on.

Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
5Satchel Paige Said

Lyrics

Satchel Paige said, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."¯ Satchel grew up in a shotgun shack, and he had a pile of shotguns too. He carried so many bags on a pole that he looked just like a satchel tree. Satchel Paige and the Brown Bambino that's an everlasting battery.

And we don't look back. We don't carry on (in society). And we don't sit still or we might rust, but at the same time, we don't run. And we don't look back.
Satchel Paige said "I could never be late. They could hardly start the game without me." Satchel Paige didn't get riled up, though his stomach surely had the miseries. So if you follow these few simple rules, you might have a long productive run. Satchel pitched about a million games. No one ever did what he has done. And we don't look back.


He was probably the best pitcher of his time, and his time lasted twice that of the other greats. But we'll never really know for sure. What we do know is that Leroy "Satchel" Paige liked to play ball, and he had his own ideas of how to do so, and how to live life to the fullest. And while the injustice of his race being barred from the majors irked and frustrated him, he somehow never let bitterness overtake him. Don't look back indeed.

Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
6Fernando

Lyrics

Yo trabajo en Chavez Ravine
Donde mi gente
Perdieron sus casas
vente anos pasado
Y ahora todo el mundo
Me quiere pero nadie sabe
Lo que yo hablo
Despues del partido

Fernando, Fernando
Te necesitamos ahora

Dicen que fue un mania
Fernandomania!
Y por que
Me quiere tanto
Cuando hoy
No le gusta mi gente
Cuando no estan jugando
El juego Americano (ch)

Le gente dicen, "devuelvense"
Y por que cuando
Hemos vivido aqui
Por tantos anos
Pero en ochenta y uno
Me quiere, me quiere
Y ahora que ha cambiado
Quiero saber (ch)


Los Angeles Dodger rookie sensation Fernando Valenzuela considers the citywide love that he felt in 1981, a mere 20 years after the Mexican population of Chavez Ravine lost their homes to make way for Dodger Stadium and 20 years before the fervent anti-immigration movement of the current day.
Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
7Long Before My Time

Lyrics

The summer game has let me down
Standing lonely on the mound
A crossroads only I can see
Between oblivion and destiny

My mind and body say I'm done
But something says I must go on
Conventional wisdom does implore
You give it all and then give some more

Summer slowly turns to fall
It's so hard to walk away from it all
Long before my time

My agent says I need to move
What do I have left to prove?
I falter when I hold my ground
For a couple of bucks you can keep me around

You're only young just once, I know
But history will always show
You pad your best days with the chaff
A tarnished faded photograph (ch)


Dandy Don and Warren Spahn
Tell me that I must go on
I must go on, I can't go on, I must go on, I can't go on (ch)



After winning his third Cy Young Award and cementing his status as the best pitcher in the game, Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers ponders the pros and cons of an early retirement at age 30. With a sore arm riddled with cortisone shots, Sandy did quit the game that season and was voted into the Hall of Fame five years later, the youngest player to ever achieve that honor.
Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
8Jackie's Lament

Lyrics

If I ever get the chance
I'll let them know just how I feel
I'd like to speak my mind
But that just wasn't in the deal

It's never easy being first to walk down any road
I'd trade the glory just to crawl out from this heavy load
You should hear the things they say behind my back
And when I turn the other cheek, they only sharpen their attack (ch)

I run the race but now it seems the race is running me
I try to keep my cool but all this heat won't let me be
No matter how hard or well I played
I can tell you that I never had it made

I only want to play the game
I only want to make my name
For others who never had the chance
Laid out like some sacrificial lamb
A long and lonely road
Until I steal my way back home again (ch)

And here's to you, Mr. Robinson!



Here's to you, Mr. Robinson. Brooklyn Dodger second baseman Jackie Robinson bites his tongue and dreams of the day when he can speak his mind and rail out at the indignities and offenses he endured in 1947 when he became the first black man to play major league baseball. That day came only a few years later but in those first few years Jackie had to hold it in.

Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
9Sometimes I Dream Of Willie Mays

Lyrics

It's 1965. Me and my Dad, Mac. 50 miles to Candlestick in our green VW van. A Giants-Dodgers pennant race. Mays and Koufax face to face. Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays and tell him I was there. Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays, and the sun comes out and the fog lifts and he's there.
Now it's 1973, right across the bay. Playing right field for the Mets, a ball goes through his legs. I cheer the A's to victory, but that was something I never wanted to see. Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays and tell him I was there. Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays, and the wind dies down, and the sun comes out, and the fog lifts, and he's there.
In 1954 I was born into this dream The kind that's always black and white, like an old news reel I've seen. A mile away in the Polo Grounds, he pulls it in and spins himself around. Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays and tell him I was there. Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays, and the wind dies down, and the sun comes out, and the scoreboard works, and the fog lifts, and he's there. And I'm there.


My Dad took me to the game where Juan Marichal cracked his bat over John Roseboro's head. It was a late August battle for first with the game's two best pitchers on the hill. Mays (The Greatest) beat Koufax and the Dodgers with a three-run bomb to center, not far from where we sat. The majors' first Japanese player, Masanori Murakami, got the save. My Dad had locked the keys in the van and smashed the wind-wing out in the parking lot to get in and drive us home. Seemed like the best day ever at the time. Seems even better now.

Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
10The Death Of Big Ed Delahanty

Lyrics

Sometimes, hungover, he might lose a pop fly in the glare of the Washington sun. And yes, he swung at bad pitches, and let the Irish in him sharpen up and boozy-bloat his tongue. Nights on the road he led a bachelor's life, with the bright short blaze of a shooting star. But he soaked some homers yeah, four in one game--when the ball was dead and the fences far. Big Ed don't let them weigh you down. Big Ed don't let us weigh you down.
In July 1903 he was hitting .333; for him that was a little bit under par. On the 2nd he jumped the team and jumped a train from Detroit to New York, went straight for the dining car. He was boozing it up good, they say, making trouble, cursing, shouting, Delahanting in the bar. At Fort Erie, Ontario, he was bumped from the train, wandered out on the bridge but he didn't get too far.
The night watchman said he'd seen a man, ended up wearing his bowler hat; he heard a splash but he didn't see him fall. For a week no one found a clue of him. What good's it do to question death when it makes a bad call? But I don't think he killed himself. I think some strange notion drew him to Niagara Falls, across the curve of day and night, like the perfect arch of a high fly ball.


My brother wrote a poem -I bastardized it and blended it and put a beat to it, and now Big Ed's mysterious death can be discussed, fantasized, danced to. I'm sure he deserves all the above. One thing seems quite certain: the days of the boozing and brawling ballplayers are mostly behind us, no slight to the occasional throwbacks like David Wells, a man mentioned twice elsewhere on this album.

Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
11Harvey Haddix

Lyrics

May 26, 1959 in Milwaukee on the mound
Harvey Haddix of the Pirates was mowing 'em down
27 up, 27 gone
9 innings in the book and not a man had gotten on

Now, in history only 17 have thrown a perfect game
A most exclusive club, a most exalted fame
But after 9, the Pirates hadn't scored
A perfect game and still old Harvey had to pitch some more

David Wells, David Cone
Sandy Koufax, Cy Young
Jim Bunning, Tom Browning
Charlie Robertson
Don Larsen in the series in 1956
Why don't we add old Harvey to that list

10th inning down, 11th inning down, he moved on to the 12th
3 straight outs and the fans were pinching themselves
The best game ever pitched and still a scoreless tie
Poor Harvey had to carry on and give it one more try

13's never lucky so you can guess the rest
Harv gave up a hit and then he lost the whole contest
I wonder how he slept that night knowing how close he came
To a most exclusive club that should include his name

David Well, David Cone
Randy Johnson, Addie Joss
Kenny Rogers, Mike Witt
Dennis Martinez
Don Larsen in the series in 1956
Why don't we add old Harvey to that list

The search for perfection is a funny thing, at least as I've been told
It drives you nuts, it makes you curse and eats away at your soul
Sometimes better ain't better, sometimes justice just ain't served
Sometimes legend isn't laid where it's most deserved

But humanity is flawed as the losers will attest
We're drawn to tragic stories, the ones that suit us best
But for 12 innings on that fateful day, old Harvey was a God
A perfect game if nothing else because perfection's always flawed

David Wells, David Cone
Lee Richmond, Monte Ward
Len Barker against the Jays
And Catfish for the A's
Don Larsen in the series in 1956
Why don't we add old Harvey to that list




A pitcher has thrown a perfect game when he faces the minimum 27 batters in nine innings and doesn't allow a single man to reach first base. It's only happened 17 times in history. This song tells the sad tale of Pittsburgh's Harvey Haddix who threw nine perfect innings in 1956 but had to keep pitching that day because his team had also failed to score. After throwing three more perfect innings he finally lost the game and his chance at immortality in the 13th. Perfection? Flawed? You make the call.
Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
12The Yankee Flipper

Lyrics

He's a friend of the Smithereens, an old pal of Eddie Vedder. For a good few years there weren't any pitchers better. He loved R.E.M. and he played a Rickenbacker guitar, but for a night on the town with Mike Mills you get hit pretty hard.
Mike and I met up with Dennis Diken and Black Jack somewhere. As this was New York City, you may have heard they have a few bars there. Jack loved the Replacements, and we drank enough that we became them. Two guitars, bass and drums--yeah our line-up was the same then.
He was crowned the Yankee Flipper by the foul ball of fame. He gave 50,000 fans the finger, but we'd like to share a little bit of the blame. It was Spike and Mike and Black Jack and me.
I'm told Jack ended up on the cold tiles of the floor, with his mom who was visiting banging on the bathroom door. Next time he took the mound was not a pretty sight, and I've always figured it had a lot to do with that night.
The photos filled every front page of the morning editions. Now he's the poster boy for a grand baseball tradition. Templeton, Tejada, Billy Martin and Albert Belle--from old Hoss Radbourne all the way to David Wells.


Another true story. They're all true, aren't they? Black Jack McDowell should be remembered for his pitching, and for his music as well. When the ever-understanding Yankee Stadium fans booed a rare early exit, Jack reciprocated with a majestic (and much-photographed) raised arm and middle finger. I applauded his gesture, yet at the same time wondered if my pals and I had played some small part in his bad day.

Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
13The Closer

Lyrics

I sit on my ass and watch the game like everybody else
And when it's on the line that's when they pull me down from the shelf
You think this kind of pressure is easy, you're just kidding yourself

My heroes had colorful names and bad attitude
Short-lived fame and an even shorter fuse
Everything to gain and plenty to lose

If you're only in it for a little while you'd better make it count
If you can't stand the heat you're gonna have to get out

I'd pitched 5 days straight, they didn't want to bring me in
My arm was hamburger meat, they didn't want to bring me in
Bases loaded, nobody out, they had to bring me in

Some hot shot rookie (they didn't want to bring me in)
Switch hitting batting champ (they didn't want to let me in)
MVP, strike 3, my work was done again

Ch

If you want to hate my guts, that's all right by me
If you think you've got my number, that's all right by me
But you're gonna have to stand in against me, and then we'll see



It takes a certain amount of guts, arrogance and a bit of insanity to work in only the final minutes of the game when everything is on the line and the margin between winning and losing hinges upon the handful of pitches that you throw. Baseball's closing relief specialists combine these elements and a hunger for pressure to cement their status as the ultimate outlaws in a gentlemen's game.
Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails
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Volume One: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails

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Tour Dates

2014-09-26 Atlanta
2014-09-27 Atlanta
2014-10-07 Cleveland, OH
2014-10-09 Milwaukee, WI
2014-10-10 Chicago, ILL
2014-10-11 Madison, WI
2014-11-15 Brooklyn, NY
2014-11-22 Los Angeles, CA
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