Back in January, during the bleakest and shortest days of baseball non-season, the writer Tina Rowley started a trending topic that changed the...actually, that would be an overstatement. Whatever I were to claim that #UnderusedAtBatSongs changed would be false, but it did improve my early evening at the very least. If Twitter is for anything, and I don't believe we've at all proved that it is, it is for having comparative strangers crack you up with the image of Lance Berkman shuffling to the plate while Meredith Brooks's "Bitch" booms over the speakers. Or Wily Mo Pena taking a few vicious practice cuts while Julee Cruise's "Twin Peaks" theme pumps through the tannoy and makes everyone feel weird. Or whatever you like. You can see how this works, and probably why it works.
Rowley and I exchanged some emails about it at the time, but while she was able to pin down the idea's genesis—"Some friends and I started batting it around at a Mariners game many years ago," she told me. "The first and best offering was 'Scarborough Fair,' which you really can't beat."—it was harder to figure out why she and everyone else who participated in it decided to do so during the pre-dinner hours on one of the shorter days of the year. At least the still-roaring #WorstAtBatMusic topic, started earlier today by our friends at Low Times, comes during baseball season.
By and large, the two trending topics produced unsurprisingly similar results. Of course, there is always going to be some jokesmith who throws out John Cage's "4'33" or Metal Machine Musicor "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," all of which have been mentioned multiple times already in #WorstAtBatMusic. But said jokesmiths will do so because those are actually pretty decent jokes. If the essential test of a good entry is whether it's funny to think of a given song playing, very loudly, as Russell Branyan scratches his nuts and takes some practice uppercuts, then those three pass. So does JoJo's "Leave (Get Out)" and so does Khia's "My Neck My Back" and so do a great many others, if you are inclined towards being amused by this sort of thing.
Figuring out what makes all this funny isn't difficult, or really much more worthwhile than the usual here-let-me-break-down-this-joke-for-you gambit, which is a pretty crappy gambit. The fact that most at-bat music in baseball is appallingly shitty—just an endless loop of manic mambo, the "Boom Here Comes The Boom" song, saltpeter-y Christian rock and, if I had to guess going forward, heavily redacted edits of "Niggas in Paris"—clearly elevates the comedic stakes somewhat; pretty much everything outside of a dozen or so songs is comically incongruous, mostly because of how boring baseball players' iPods seem to be.
But the bigger reason why this joke keeps coming up, I think—besides the obvious "because it would be funny if this really somehow happened and Scott Rolen came to bat to Ghostface's 'Clyde Smith' skit" component—is the same reason why it seems like such an excellent use of Twitter. For all the Atlantic Ideas Festival bullshit about Twitter becoming a force for global political change—which is such a weird fantasy anyway: "So great is the power of American innovation," it goes, "that our magical paradigm-exploding technology can help un-fuck what our politicians have fucked up and will continue to fuck up"—this particular technology does work pretty well at approximating the presence of other people in a way that most other social networking technologies don't.
That this translates to Twitter being used most and probably best in the service of nonsense and amusement isn't surprising, and it certainly isn't a knock on Twitter—amusing nonsese is a lot of what our actual friends provide, for one thing, and contra the puckery Jonathan Franzen types there isn't really an actual conflict between 138 goofy characters and 1,380 well-considered words or 380 well-written pages; we will not see Twitter replace the novel, or whatever, at least among people who might actually read a novel. Twitter feels like, and is made of, people. This can be why it's unbearable, when it's unbearable. It is also why it can be great. People are like that, after all.
I am off topic, maybe, given that the topic in question is "Luke Scott should totally come up to Johnny Rebel songs, right?" But my point is that this is what Twitter looks like when it works, and that I think it's great, and that I think Luke Scott totally would come to bat to some awful, racist Johnny Rebel song, if he thought that Barack Obama or The Liberal Media would somehow hear about it, and be mad. I don't know if that's a point, actually.
Anyway, in conclusion, if I were a situational middle reliever—which has been my dream job
ever since even the most basic sense of ambition died in me for some time—I would come in to this Chavez song.
I'm not joking, if that matters. I am aware that even thinking about this sort of thing is kind of a joke. But a nice one, I think. I guess that was my point.