Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Deconstructing Norworth

It's been 99 years since Jack Norworth, an established vaudeville performer and songwriter during the heyday of Tin Pan Alley, first penned the lyrics to Take Me Out to the Ballgame while riding on a train to Manhattan. But it was only recently that the good folks at FireJoeMorgan.com got around to giving their unique take on the unofficial anthem of baseball:

Take me out to the ball game…
Well, duh. We’re baseball fans. We’re the people you wrote the song about. We like baseball. Of course we want to go to the ball game. What better way is there to spend time on a fine summer’s day, unless it’s flinging vitriol at baseball writers and announcers who use every day as a new opportunity to display their ignorance of the game they actually get paid to write and talk about. Seriously, a dead person could come up with a more original opening lyric than this. Oh, that’s right; Norworth is a dead person. Never mind.

Take me out with the crowd.
We’re not the only baseball fans in this city or this country, you know. They’ve been playing this game for several generations now, since back before the Civil War, and there are rumors going around that it just might become very popular some day, sort of a National Pastime even. Of course, that could be one of those urban myths like albino alligators in the New York City sewers or Dice-K’s gyroball. So unless the game’s being played in Washington, D.C. or Kansas City, we would pretty much expect to be there with a crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…
Cripes, how many times do we have to cover this same ground? We’ve said it a bazillion times before. There are already peanuts in Cracker Jack. You don’t need to buy peanuts and Cracker Jack – BECAUSE CRACKER JACK ALREADY HAS PEANUTS IN IT! Give the vendors a break, already. They work hard schlepping up and down those steps for minimum wage so you can stuff your face with fatty overpriced junk that clogs your arteries and dimples your butt like a golf ball. And it wouldn’t hurt to carry a little spare change of your own when you head to the ballpark, you know. Self-reliance is a really endearing trait.

I don't care if I never get back.
Maybe you don’t care, but some of us do. We have lives and families. We have responsibilities. We work for insurance companies and whatnot. We have to find new ways to screw people out of their claims and raise premiums without drawing the attention of regulatory agencies or we don’t get paid. But instead we have to listen to you going on and on about you. Because just like Manny and Barry, it’s always all about you, isn’t it? On second thought, we don’t care if you never get back, either.

Let me root, root, root for the home team...
Oh, I see. Because the home team is the only team with good baseball players. Right. Have you checked the PECOTA rankings of the visiting team’s outfield this year? Or the Range Factors of their middle infielders? How about the WHIP of their starting pitchers or the FIP of their bullpen? The OPS, Isolated Power, and Win Shares of the 3-7 hitters? Because maybe there might be some players on the other teams worth rooting for just because they happen to be very good baseball players, even if they work for teams in different zip codes. We always expected rank homerism from Phil Rizzuto, but as intelligent, thoughtful baseball aficionados we should be well past that ourselves by now, shouldn’t we?

If they don't win it's a shame.
Look, this really isn’t prefrontal lobe surgery here. Even the best teams lose 50 games or more every year, and about half of those are at home. Sure, it’s a shame, but sabermetrics clearly show that no team has ever won all of its home games, even the Yankees, even in a strike-shortened season, and the probabilities against it happening are astronomical. They’re roughly the same as Sidney Ponson pitching a perfect game. Never happened, never will. Some days you get the bear and some days, well, the bear gets you. Get over it.

For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out…
Unless they’ve completely rewritten the rules of baseball in the last century-and-a-half, three strikes always equal an out, unless the catcher drops the ball on strike three with first base open, in which case the batter must be put out by a fielder in possession of the ball tagging him before he achieves first base or by a fielder possessing the ball tagging first base before the batter achieves it in order to record an out. Man, this just gets so damn old after a while. Did this clown ever actually play the game of baseball? Did he ever actually watch a game of baseball? Because this stuff should be as obvious as the ignorance that spews from the mouth of Joe Morgan like Linda Blair pea soup vomit on a nightly basis.

At the old ball game.
Yes, we get it. They’ve been playing baseball for many, many years. It’s a game with a lot of tradition and a long history. It’s a game that has stood the test of time. We get it, we really do. It’s a game that can even survive the soul-killing, endless repetition of a trite, hackneyed song like this one for nearly a century and be none the worse for wear. In fact, people don’t even sing this whole song because they don’t know the rest of the lyrics, just that God-awful refrain that they keep bleating over and over again like sheep in the slaughterhouse chutes. The rest of it is so bad that brain synapses melt down when you try to sing it. If this song were really any good, why did Norworth rewrite the lyrics nineteen years after it was first published? Why did he change the protagonist’s name from Katie Casey to Nelly Kelly? That’s pretty radical revisionism. I mean, the People’s Republic of China could learn a thing or two from this guy. Hey, Norworth! We’ve got your old ball game right here, you pitiful vaudeville hack.

This entry posted by Twayn, who can be bothered at twayn77@yahoo.com.


TBird41 said...

At least it's not "God Bless the USA".

Anonymous said...

True. I actually enjoy Take Me Out to the Ballgame and sing along during the stretch. I just wanted to try giving the FJM.com treatment to something in a satirical way to see how it turned out.