Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Baseball Project: 3rd [Yep Roc, 2014]
Threepeats are hard, and some of these songs are soft. In addition to the flabby "Extra Inning of Love," which I bet is soft two ways, these tend to be about the good guys--Dale Murphy, Bernie Williams, even Babe Ruth, whose personal failings are swallowed up, as the lyric argues, by the size of his myth. Unfortunately, even Henry Aaron's career-long battle with racism doesn't make as good a story here as Lenny Dykstra's hustles or Alex Rodriguez's conceit or Dock Ellis's headhunting or Larry Yount's failure, and when Scott McCaughey croons it only makes things softer. But the songs about fandom--"Stats" and "The Baseball Card Song," the devotional "Box Scores" and encyclopedic "They Played Baseball"--suit a band of also-rans old enough to treasure their own fans' rooting interest. And note that none of the five is an Oakland A's devotee. I'm not either, but Billy Beane was right, and not exactly for the first time, to make their celebration of his franchise the team song. Real fans knew what a great story that team was long before they made a movie out of it. A-