High and Tight: Rock & Roll Baseball Experts Celebrate Opening Day

From Rolling Stone Magazine:

From Babe Ruth’s one-man brothel soirees to Dock Ellis’s LSD-assisted no-hitter, there’s always been something undeniably “rock & roll” lurking beneath baseball’s strait-laced surface. With Rolling Stone’s High and Tight, we take a weekly look at the game – its history, its characters and its latest news – through the rock & roll lens, with help from our expert panel of musically inclined seamheads. Meet our rock & roll baseball experts here.

What better way to start than with the sweetest, most optimistic pair of words in the English language: “Opening Day.” It’s that blessed annual event when baseball returns to us like Persephone from the Underworld, Jesus from the cave at Golgotha, or Elvis from a barbiturate stupor. Spring has officially arrived, the bunting billows in the breeze, and the first stats of a new season are poised to etch themselves into the record books. It’s time to play ball.

Opening Day is like a blissfully hypnogogic dream where everything and nothing matters; even if your team loses, they’ve still got 161 games left to play. It can be a day of meaningful feats, like Babe Ruth inaugurating Yankee Stadium with its first-ever home run in 1923, Bob Feller pitching the first (and, so far, the last) Opening Day no-hitter in 1940, or Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in 1947. It can be a day of freakish occurrences, like George Bell, Tuffy Rhodes and Dmitri Young leading off the 1988, 1994 and 2005 seasons by hitting three home runs apiece. It can be a day of over-the-top fan exuberance, like the Polo Grounds snowball fight that forced the New York Giants to forfeit their 1907 home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, the drunken melee at Wrigley Field in 1970 that ended with hundreds of wasted Chicago Cubs fans spilling over the right field wall after the final out, or the 1974 Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres home openers where play was repeatedly interrupted by streakers.

But even if nothing remotely out of the ordinary happens, it’s still a beautiful thing to hear the umpires shout “Play Ball!” again, to watch your favorite players take their positions on the field for the first time, and to see the season spreading itself out before you like some gorgeous alluvial plain…even when you know in your heart that it’s really going to be more like Death Valley. Even Bud Selig whoring out the first official games of this season to Japan – via last week’s two-game series between the Mariners and A’s, which few Stateside fans bothered to watch due to the 3 a.m. PST start times – does nothing to diminish the intrinsic magic of your team’s 2012 home opener.

So for this first installment of High and Tight, we figured it’d be only right to ask our esteemed panel of rock and roll baseball freaks: What’s your favorite memory of Opening Day?

Name: Joe Pernice
Band: Pernice Brothers
Position: Vocals, Guitar

Obvious, for sure, but my most memorable was Opening Day 2005. I was definitely still riding the high from the Red Sox World Series win. But what made 2005 Opening Day most memorable was all of the emotions that WERE NOT present: resentment, fear, hope, dread …you know, all the stuff Red Sox fans know so well. The Sox 2004 World Series win was like finally having health insurance after so many years without it: I might break a few bones this year, but so what, I’m covered.

Name: Scott Ian
Band: Anthrax
Position: Guitar

The New York Yankees are 74-36-1. (Yes, there was a tie in 1910 versus the hated Red Sox.) That’s the only Opening Day memory I need.

Name: Greg Dulli
Band: The Twilight Singers, Afghan Whigs
Position: Vocals, Guitar

I usually drop acid on Opening Day, so they’re all pretty memorable.

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