The trending topic within the global music industry this weekend is NOT Taylor Swift dropping a new album. More on that in a moment…
The Philadelphia Phillies were 22-29 on June 3rd when they fired their Manager, Joe Girardi. From September 15 thru October 1st, their record was 4-11 as they raced to the bottom of the National League Wild Card standings. If not for the Milwaukee Brewers working even harder to miss the playoffs, and if not for the fact Major League Baseball granted two Wild Card playoff berths this season, Philadelphia doesn’t make the post-season.
As well, if not for MLB bringing the designated hitter to the NL this year, Bryce Harper wouldn’t have played much baseball in 2022. He hurt his elbow in April. He broke his thumb in late June. Aside from the job interim Manager Rob Thomson did in letting the younger players play and develop more, as well as getting the entire team to just chill out and take one game at a time, I think Harper’s tenacity to overcome his physical issues and get back into the lineup is another reason for the playoff success they are enjoying now. He set a stellar example off-the-field with his work ethic, and raised the bar higher for his teammates to aspire to.
Of course, there is Harper’s pure talent. The joke has always been Bryce dropped out of high school to turn pro because no one would pitch to him. A Sports Illustrated story at that time referred to him as baseball’s youth version of LeBron James. A rising tide lifts all boats, and the Phillies have themselves a generational talent as their centerpiece, willing the team to winning the National League pennant yesterday.
Mind you, this team is still more beer-league bashers than polished diamonds on the diamond. Their defense is beyond atrocious at times. I close my eyes sometimes when an opponent puts the ball into play. If you get to the Philadelphia bullpen on the right day, the other team might never get to three outs.
Still, here we are. We’ll read and hear a bit in the days ahead about how these Phillies should have never qualified for the post-season. Their opponent in the upcoming World Series, the Houston Astros, still have never been sufficiently punished for their technology cheating during the 2017 season, winning a World Series title they’ve never been asked to give back. I suspect we’ll read and hear about that also.
These two franchises did meet in one of the greatest playoff series I’ve ever seen, the 1980 National League Championship. It was an electric, thrilling five game series which the Phils won 3-2. Four of those games went into extra innings, and that playoff series remains the only one in the history of the game to feature that many extra-inning games. I hope for all baseball fans this World Series turns out to be as exciting as that one was.
As improbable as the Phillies being in the 2022 World Series is, they’ve brought with them a playoff anthem I didn’t see coming either.
In April of 2010, Swedish singer-songwriter Robyn released a song called “Dancing On My Own.” It only peaked at #8 on the UK Singles Chart in its time, but in 2021 Rolling Stone claimed it was the 20th greatest song of all time. Calum Scott, who was auditioning for “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2015, offered up an acoustic version of the song. Scott’s version was later remixed and released by a Dutch DJ named Tiesto.
The original Robyn version apparently became one of the top “crying-in-the-club” songs of our time. From Sam Sanders of NPR in 2019…
“Dancing On My Own starts with one of the most visceral, propelling four-to-the-floor beats of the past few decades. The tempo is perfectly situated right around 118 beats per minute, pretty close to what scientists say is the preferred walking tempo for humans. The one-five-four chord progression is immediately familiar, like it’s been around since the beginning of time. Everything about it is meant to make you smile and move and dance. It could easily be a perfect teen pop song, especially considering Robyn got her start making just that.”
“But Dancing On My Own is more than that. When the lyrics start, you realize she’s tricked you, that it’s all one big bait and switch. This is a breakup song.”
A few players on the Boston Red Sox started grooving to the Scott/Tiesto version a couple of years back with one of the players – Kevin Plawecki – even using it as walk-up music. It became a huge hit with the Red Sox on their way to the playoffs, singing it together in the locker room after wins.
Garrett Stubbs, a catcher for the Phillies and designated DJ, put that version on the team’s locker room playlist earlier this year. It has now become such a hit with the Phillies (who also sing it after games) people are playing it all over the Philadelphia region.
Yes, a breakup song is an acceptable anthem for winning baseball clubs.
But…original music aficionados are offended because the Scott/Tiesto version is being featured once more instead of their all-time classic Robyn version.
In order to make amends to the worldwide music community…and especially to Robyn (even though all versions of her tune must be getting more downloads than Swift right now in Philadelphia)…we’ll close with her version.
Go Phillies. Keep. On. Dancing.
Picture Courtesy Major League Baseball