Taylor Swift and Phish deserve 2016 World Series rings

img_20160625_182844

Taylor Swift’s influence on this year’s historic World Series is well-recognized. First, she cleared the Chicago Cubs’ path through the National League side of the playoff draw by failing to release a new album in an even year for the first time since 2006, thereby removing the true and powerful source of the San Francisco Giants’ even-year magic. Things wobbled a bit when, on the day of game three of the NLDS (in which the Cubs held a 2-0 series lead over the Giants), Swift announced that her first concert in nearly a year would take place later that month and, some thought, hinted at a new album release that would spirit the Giants to another world championship. San Francisco avoided elimination by beating Chicago that night.

Swift performed her concert, but she ultimately declined to release a new album, thereby halting the Giants’ playoff run and allowing the Cubs to advance to the World Series.

As all baseball fans know from the parable of the angels in the outfield, though, a team’s supernatural helper– be it Christopher Lloyd or T-Swizz– only will carry the team so far. In the World Series, the Cubs faltered again. Their offensive power, which had floated them to a regular-season-best 103 wins, suddenly became scarce in the playoffs, and they quickly found themselves in a 3-1 hole against Cleveland in the final round. Backs against the wall, Chicago would have to win three straight games in order to claim the title. To do that, their first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, would have to start hitting.

At twenty-seven years old, Rizzo qualifies as a wise old veteran on this young Cubs team, and he knew a change was necessary for the Cubs to have a shot at winning the series, so he made one. All year and throughout the playoffs, Rizzo had used Swift’s “Bad Blood” as his walkup music, and it had served him well. With one game left at Wrigley Field, the first of three consecutive must-wins, Rizzo hit shuffle on the jukebox, swapping “Bad Blood” for the Rocky theme. It worked. Rizzo hit a key double and scored a run, and the Cubs won 3-2, sending the series back to Cleveland, where they would win twice more, including a dramatic game-seven victory in extra innings. And it’s all thanks to Taylor Swift.

__________________

Almost all of it, anyway. The touring phenomenon that is the band Phish has been making music together since 1983. In the more than thirty years of their existence, they have performed in Chicago numerous times. In fact, prior to this year, they’d played in Chicago twenty-eight times (I’m counting their five appearances in Rosemont), including a 1991 gig at the famous Cubby Bear bar. (For more on that storied venue’s history with music and baseball, enjoy this brief video from 1984.)

Until 2016, though, they never had performed inside the (helping) friendly confines of Wrigley Field. In the 108th year of Chicago’s north-side championship drought, however, Vermont’s finest made their Wrigley Field debut on June 24. We joined them on night two of their two-night Wrigley run, and they were excellent. The second night’s second set, in particular, was sublime.

img_20160625_194601_hdr

I don’t recall any explicit baseball references from the band that evening, but the first set offered some clues:

  • Waiting All Night (a World Series game seven preview)
  • 46 Days (sung as a reference to the days of 1946, the year after the Cubs’ last World Series appearance)
  • I Didn’t Know (You Were That Far Gone – from a World Series championship)
  • Good Times Bad Times (acknowledging that the Cubs and their fans have had their share of both)

__________________

Are there musicians more closely associated with the Chicago Cubs than Taylor Swift and Phish? Probably. Eddie Vedder comes to mind. Michigander and ostensible Detroit Tigers fan Jack White has had his public flirtations. It is clear from the foregoing, however, that no musicians did more to help the Cubs break their various curses and claim a World Series title for the first time in 108 years than Swift and Phish. If Manny Ramirez is getting a World Series ring this year, then so should Taylor, Trey, Jon, Mike, and Page.

_________________________________________________

Related
World Series Game 7 in two tweets
Book review: Chicago Blues: The City & The Music

Feel like they never tell you the story of the Gose?

Last night, the Detroit Tigers’ 2016 season finally got underway in Miami, where the team opened a two-game series against the Marlins. I’m perhaps over-eager to employ this concept, but if Detroit’s 8-7 win in eleven innings wasn’t a microcosm of a Tigers season, I’m not sure what was. This game had pretty much everything:   Continue reading

Detroit Lions Morning-After Jam

gunther-cunningham-drop-kick-o

The overhead view is of me in a maze,
and you see what I’m hunting a few steps away.
And I take a wrong turn and I’m on the wrong path,
and the people all watching enjoy a good laugh.

Embarrassed with failure, I try to reverse
the course that my tread had already traversed.
So doing the trauma engulfing my dream
invaded through what was an unguarded seam.
The torrent of helplessness swept me away
to the cavern of shame and the hall of dismay.
Inside me a voice was repeating this phrase:
“You’ve lost it, you’ll never get out of this maze.”
You’ll never get out of this maze

From the Vault: Phish – Joy

Before making attempts to establish my own online platforms, I took a more parasitic approach, abusing the comment sections of friends’ sites for my own purposes. With Phish returning to Atlanta for two performances this week and news of a new studio album in the works, this seemed like a good time to look back to those days and dig up my review of the band’s last studio recording.

When Phish released Joy late in the summer of 2009, it was the band’s first album in five years. Before March 2009, Phish had not appeared in concert since their two-day farewell in Coventry, Vermont in August 2004. Among other events, that five-year period saw the arrest, serious drug rehabilitation, and newfound sobriety of frontman Trey Anastasio. When Phish made its collective return to recording with Joy, longtime fan Chantyce was not impressed. I had a different reaction, though, and my responsive review from October 14, 2009 is reprinted below.

Super Bowl XLVII Recap: Where do you go when the lights go out?

Everyone saw the game and it was a few days ago, so here are just a few points to put a wrap on this sports year*:

  • On that (historical) topic, I’ve been critical of Beyoncé in the recent past, but I thought her performance at halftime was just right for this setting. A no-holds-barred pop experience by one of the top musical celebrities of the day is what the Super Bowl halftime show should be.
  • (On that note, I finally saw the infamous Janet Jackson performance for the first time this week, and there is no possible way that wasn’t an intentional move by Justin Timberlake. How did he get away with that?!)
  • As for the no-call on the fourth-and-goal pass to Michael Crabtree:
    1. Based on where the ball landed, I think the pass was uncatchable, so the no-call is correct.
    2. For what it’s worth, Mike Pereira agrees with me, though for a different reason.
    3. There’s something sort of ironic about the 49ers complaining about a lack of a pass-interference call on the last play of a playoff game, or at least Falcons fans think so.
    4. If you really want to Zapruder the thing, click here and have your heart contented.
  • Also for Crabtree, he intercepted Colin Kaepernick’s first-half touchdown pass to a wide-open Randy Moss, so he probably should include that play in his analysis of the game.
  • Penalties, early and late in the game, really are what doomed San Francisco.
  • I think it’s fair to ask whether we should’ve seen Alex Smith in the game at some point.
  • Who told you about Frank Gore?
  • Who told you before kickoff the Ravens would win?

Thanks for tuning into our Super Bowl coverage. Onward.

*It really feels like the “sports year” ought to run from Super Bowl to Super Bowl, so we’re going to treat it that way around here. I’m not really sure what we’ll touch on between now and the Daytona 500, but there are a few items in the pipeline, so don’t worry. The slowest sports day of the year doesn’t come until July anyway.

Decoding Hoax Jam

After thirty-six hours like the thirty-six (forty-six?) we’ve just had, so much about the Manti Te’o-Lennay Kekua-Ronaiah Tuiasosopo-Notre Dame story remains unknown. Someone from Te’o’s side finally spoke yesterday, but the picture really isn’t much clearer. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing, because it means we get to go to straight to this Jam:

How could you know that I lived in a desperate world?
How could you dream that we were all made out of stone?
What is the truth, what is the faithful lasting proof?
What is the central theme to this everlasting spoof?

Goin Phishin

Annual Phish summer pilgrimage starts today. After seeing the band in New York, Indiana, and Michigan, it’s time to add Georgia to the list. According to at least one expert, the group has been on a real tear during this second leg of their summer tour, so I have very high hopes.

For live setlist updates and high-quality photos, follow @Phish_FTR. For weakly insightful observations and low-quality photos, you know where to find me.

Wrapping up the 2011 NFL season

With Super Bowl XLVI three days rotten, it’s time to bag and tag the 2011 NFL season. Before tossing it on the heap of sports seasons past, a quick retrospective, weighted heavily toward recent events and the gimmicky.

First, in case you missed the Super Bowl for some reason, here’s the whole thing in ninety seconds:

(HT: It’s Always Sunny in Detroit)

Second, our coverage of the Big Game®:

After the jump, an infographic, a motion graphic, snipers, and more.   Read on…