By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
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It looked like the whitest Bloods posse in America. Last Monday's Cardinals rally under the Arch drew red-shirted folks from all over the nation, and beyond: A Cards fan from Iceland won a pair of tickets to Tuesday's game for, well, being from Iceland. But like the Gooniesat the bottom of the well, it's our time, it's our time down here. St. Louis is in a state of jubilation right now, and every party needs a soundtrack. The music of the playoffs is sometimes cheesy, sometimes fun and sometimes needs to be turned down.
When Cowboy Mouth took the stage at Monday's rally, it was reminiscent of this summer's River Splash concerts. Except, you know, replacing Lyle Lovett and Los Lobos with Cowboy Mouth. With all the great local bands in town, it would have been nice to have found someone here to root for the home team. But Cowboy Mouth's sheer energy did a lot to win me over. Lead singer Fred LeBlanc pounded his drums like he didn't want to work, while he demanded that the crowd get pumped. It worked, but the crowd was so excited, Peter, Paul & Mary probably could have gotten them jumping.
The intersection of music and sports can be a little confusing at times. It's odd, in a fun sort of way, that homophobia prevents there being any openly gay major leaguers, but at the same time four beer-bellied men will get onstage at a Cards rally, don sailor hats and fireman's helmets and lip-synch to the Village People's "Y.M.C.A.," a song about cruising for men. It's a small irony, but I like it.
There's a little more irony involved in the Bull (93.7 FM) using the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started" as the blueprint for its new Redbird ode "Cardinals This Year." For one thing, the Bull is a country station, so its appropriation of a hip-hop song is a bit of a surprise. But much, much better is that the Peas' hit currently being used to sell everything on the planet is called, in its album form, "Let's Get Retarded." Perhaps the Bull's chief song architect, Craig Cornett, didn't know this when he picked the song. I hope he did. Either way, "Cardinals This Year" works well, thanks to the decidedly unretarded beats lifted from the Peas and some pretty good raps from local MC Sylk Smoov. (You can buy the song, plus other Cardinals tunes, from thebullrocks.com.)
Murphy Lee's quickly thrown-together single "Cardinals Walk" is a little less successful, mainly thanks to a chorus that doesn't really get off the ground. The raps are fun, though, particularly the line "Got my first autograph from Jose Oquendo/Always pick the Cardinals when I play Nintendo."
When Murph hit the stage at the Cards rally on Monday, a bit of a lagging chorus didn't hold him back at all. A gray-haired lady sitting at the top of the riverfront steps clutched at her heart and said, "He's just a baby, but I love him." Surprised that the older woman would be a fan, I asked her about what she thought about rap music. "Oh, those are our boys down there," she said, motioning to Murph onstage. "Just like the Cardinals are our boys."
"Go Cardinals!" she yelled in my ear, which seemed unnecessary.
At Thursday night's game against the Dodgers, neither of the new odes was broadcast in the stadium, which seems a shame. But there's still plenty of music at the ballpark, from AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" when the Cards come to bat to "If You're Happy and You Know It" after everyone's drunk.
My theory at the game was simple, if unscientific: Every player's batting success ought to be directly related to how good his warm-up music is. It started out seeming like it was going to work, when Tony Womack, who comes on to some tired Ying-Yang Twins tune, popped out. Well, crunk is so regular-season, Tony.
Second up, Larry Walker strode to the plate to the wicked opening riffs of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," a cock-of-the-rock swagger song with few rivals. If my theory held up, Walker was going to belt one through the "O" of the KMOX sign in center field. And he thwacked the hell out of the ball, and I was seeing the big bucks that I was going to be able to make as the first music critic/professional gambler. But the ball didn't have the distance, and Walker was retired, "Crazy Train" or no.
After that the theory pretty much fell apart. For instance, if the quality of song really determined what happened at the plate, then the first pitch thrown to Scott Rolen would have struck his head, giving him a concussion from which he would never recover. Scott's use of Limp Bizkit's "Rollin'" is understandable, but come on: That song was listed at No. 4 on VH1's 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs. It beat "Ice Ice Baby." It stinks. May I suggest, Scott, that for the World Series, you bring in a reliever? How about a snatch of Ike & Tina Turner's version of "Proud Mary"? (If anyone else has a suggestion, e-mail it to me quick, so I can get the message to the Redbirds before it's too late.)
So the music didn't really affect the play too much. And while the crowd will crest to the right song (the Black Eyed Peas again), it really doesn't matter that much. Sometimes it's just nice to let the tunes fade to the background and watch some serious baseball. Which, in the end, is what I did.