Last year I gave each team's upcoming season a theme song from the legendary Cheap Trick. This year each team is getting another theme song, only it'll be from another one of my favorite bands, the legendary Ramones. Let's dive into the punk rock archive.
Arizona Diamondbacks: "Bop 'Til You Drop," Halfway to Sanity, 1987. Thanks to their hitter-friendly ballpark, Diamondback bats will be sending a lot of balls out of the field of play. Unfortunately, this team has little else going for it, so the hitters had better swing for the fences as much as possible.
Colorado Rockies: "It's Gonna Be Alright," Mondo Bizarro, 1992. The Rockies are rarely awful, even in years when they aren't contending. The inverse is true as well: when they contend they're never outstanding. If we know nothing else, we know the Rockies at the very least will be so-so.
Los Angeles Dodgers: "Love Kills," Animal Boy, 1986. Frank and Jamie McCourt surely loved each other at one time, if they no longer still do on some level. Unfortunately, all that's left of their beautiful romance is public feuding and a messy financial situation for the team they co-owned. Right now Dodger fans are more likely to quote the Ramones' view of love than Tennyson's.
San Diego Padres: "I Don't Care," Rocket to Russia, 1977. The Padres were in first place for most of 2010, and they still had trouble drawing spectators. Now Adrian Gonzalez is gone and the Padres are banking on the future again, so another apathetic baseball season appears to be in store for San Diego.
San Francisco Giants: "All the Way," End of the Century, 1980. After over a half-century in the City by the Bay, the Giants finally won a World Series last year. When you're on top the only thing you can strive for is to stay there, so the Giants are starting their course toward a hopeful repeat.
Chicago Cubs: "The Job That Ate My Brain," Mondo Bizarro, 1992. It was clear that managing the Cubs had taken a toll on Lou Piniella's mental acuity when he moved Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen last year. Mike Quade handled the job well at the end of the season, but can he last a full one without losing his marbles?
Cincinnati Reds: "This Ain't Havana," End of the Century, 1980. Just two years ago Aroldis Chapman was an obscure amateur pitching in Cuba; today he's a first-class talent occupying a spot on a Major League roster. By the end of this season the Reds' young hurler could be a full-blown superstar.
Houston Astros: "It's a Long Way Back," Road to Ruin, 1978. It was only six seasons ago the Astros won the NL pennant. Today they find themselves a threat to finish in last place with a bare minor league cupboard. They have quite the uphill battle to climb if they want to reach the heights of the last decade.
Milwaukee Brewers: "I Can't Make it on Time," End of the Century, 1980. The Brewers have inspired a lot of optimism with their beefed-up starting rotation, but with several key players starting the season on the DL (Zack Greinke chief among them) they might be too far behind in the race by the time their roster is at full strength.
Pittsburgh Pirates: "Got Alot to Say," ¡Adios Amigos!, 1995. John Russell was a man of few words during his three years as Pirate skipper. With the vocal Clint Hurdle now at the reins, the Pirate clubhouse is going to have a much different feel to it.
St. Louis Cardinals: "Don't Go," Pleasant Dreams, 1981. With a top-heavy roster and Adam Wainwright lost to Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals' season is pretty much a lost cause. In St. Louis they won't be talking about how the team is playing, they'll be talking about their chances of keeping Albert Pujols.
Atlanta Braves: "I Remember You," Leave Home, 1977. "Hey, you look familiar! Aren't you that guy who used to be the Braves' third base coach?" "You bet I am, and after three and half years in Florida the Braves have brought me back as Bobby Cox's successor!"
Florida Marlins: "Garden of Serenity," Halfway to Sanity, 1987. For the last five years the Marlins have been the National League's worst draw. If you're looking for peace and quiet in southern Florida, you can always go to a Marlins game and enjoy the tranquility!
New York Mets: "We're a Happy Family," Rocket to Russia, 1977. With the Minaya administration no longer heading the Mets, the organization is starting to bear some resemblance to a functional unit of persons.
Philadelphia Phillies: "Come Back, Baby," Brain Drain, 1989. Philly fans never wanted Cliff Lee to be traded, and frankly, neither did he. That left only one remedy to the situation: the Phillies offered him a huge free agent deal and he accepted it! Baby.
Washington Nationals: "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement," Ramones, 1976. The Nationals have settled into a customary last-place position over the last few years, but it won't stay that way if Mike Rizzo has something to say about it. The Nats' GM signed Jayson Werth to a massive seven-year deal, along with veterans like Adam LaRoche and Rick Ankiel. If all goes well, a losing culture will be nipped in the bud.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: "I Lost My Mind," Halfway to Sanity, 1987. Tony Reagins had to be frustrated after missing out on free agents like Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre. Even so, a sense of desperation is no excuse for taking on Vernon Wells' grossly-overpriced contract. Could it have been a mental health issue of some sort? If Reagins wants to be forgiven, he might do well to claim it was.
Oakland Athletics: "You Should Never Have Opened That Door," Leave Home, 1977. Moneyball was a good book, and in September we'll know whether it makes a good motion picture. Looking back though, it might've been better if Billy Beane had never given Michael Lewis a peek inside his organization. To this day he has a target on his back, and many people still judge the legitimacy of Sabermetrics by his successes and failures. Oh well. Despite creating a vehemently anti-Sabermetrics segment of baseball fandom, it's possible the book did more good than harm.
Seattle Mariners: "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You," Ramones, 1976. Mariner pitching allowed the second-fewest walks last season while Mariner hitting drew the second-fewest walks. Safe to say, the base on balls ain't very popular over Seattle way.
Texas Rangers: "I Don't Want You," Road to Ruin, 1978. Michael Young may be the highest-paid Ranger, but with the addition of Adrian Beltre he's little more than a rich man's utility infielder. Relations between Young and the front office have been strained all offseason, and his level of happiness with the defending AL Champs will be a topic of constant discussion.
Chicago White Sox: "I Wanted Everything," Road to Ruin, 1978. Jerry Reinsdorf knows he's getting up in years, and he's sent a clear message to his organization: we're going for broke. The Sox's 2011 slogan, "All In," sums it up perfectly.
Cleveland Indians: "Don't Come Close," Road to Ruin, 1978. The Indians are clearly playing for the future, not the present. There are some promising youngsters in the organization, but the big club won't be anywhere in the vicinity of contention this season.
Detroit Tigers: "Babysitter," B-Side, 1977. What do you do when you have a talented but troubled young star? Hire a guy to keep an eye on him, of course! Former Major Leaguer Raul Gonzalez is being paid to supervise Miguel Cabrera, and for Cabrera's sake as both a person and a ballplayer, let's hope he can conquer his demons.
Kansas City Royals: "Something to Believe In," Animal Boy, 1986. The bad news is that it's going to be another lousy year in Kansas City; the good news is that the Royals' system is packed to the gills with top prospects. That hope for a brighter future should make it easier for fans to tolerate the current ineptitude.
Minnesota Twins: "In the Park," Subterranean Jungle, 1983. Target Field allowed the fewest homers in baseball last season. There'll be a lot of balls hit into play in 2011, but a sizable portion of the ones hit in Minnesota will remain within the grassy confines.
Baltimore Orioles: "7-11," Pleasant Dreams, 1981. Let's be frank: The Orioles simply aren't good enough to contend in the AL East. On the bright side, they have a plethora of veteran trade chips for the deadline, which should allow them to stock up for the future. Yes sir, July 2011 will be a month to watch in Baltimore.
Boston Red Sox: "High Risk Insurance," End of the Century, 1980. The 2010 Red Sox were a talented team hit hard by injuries. When you have a budget like Boston's, that's a signal to add more depth. With Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford now in the fold, these Red Sox have to believe they can absorb losses of last season's magnitude.
New York Yankees: "Too Tough to Die," Too Tough to Die, 1984. Yes, there are questions about their pitching staff, but come on. These are the Yankees we're talking about. Your team will have to fight them to the end like always.
Tampa Bay Rays: "Strength to Endure," Mondo Bizarro, 1992. Most teams on a micro-budget wouldn't be able to withstand the losses of three starting position players and most of their bullpen. The Rays, however, with their smart GM and knack for minor league development, still look like a possible contender in baseball's toughest division. This is an organization to be admired.
Toronto Blue Jays: "Glad to See You Go," Leave Home, 1977. With Vernon Wells' cumbersome contract off the books, the Jays can start preparing for the future with even more flexibility than they'd imagined. Nothing personal against a nice guy like Wells, of course, but he was such a financial burden that any team would've dumped him in a heartbeat.
It's been a long winter, but spring is finally here, and the world's greatest game is ready to be played! Let's kick back and enjoy every thrill the 2011 season has in store!