MLB Band List, Part II - American League

Following up on last week's story, here's Part II of the MLB Band List:

(Also, go check out the baseball/band videos at Fanhouse TV for a different take on the whole affair...)

American League

AL East

Baltimore Orioles are The Doors: Best known for their work in the 60s and 70s, they experienced a brief resurgence in the 90s thanks to a wealthy, powerful control freak (Peter Angelos; Oliver Stone). Featured a number of talented performers, but overwhelmingly identified with possibly the least talented one (Cal Ripken, Jr.; Jim Morrison). Countless American twenty-somethings are left with tons of related paraphernalia purchased in their teen years when it was "cool" to like them. Depend on nostalgia (Camden Yards) to keep fans coming back.

Boston Red Sox are U2: Strong Irish cultural identification. Began as plucky, spirited upstarts who strongly advocated for (and were advocated by) the oppressed, eventually became the 800 pound gorilla of the sport/industry. Incredibly wealthy, spending tons of money to perform for fans, but creating high-grade psychic dissonance vis-à-vis their past and present advocacy for the poor. Resented for their popularity and perceived pretentiousness, especially by those who were fans "before they got famous." Ridiculous hair.

New York Yankees are Led Zeppelin: Loved and hated in nearly equal measure. Bombastic cultural touchstone, definitive in the genre despite a sizeable portion of their work being appropriated from other sources (Kansas City A’s / free agency; Robert Johnson / J.R.R. Tolkien). Wore the same clothing for decades. Personality clashes defined and seemingly enhanced the quality of their performance. Much of their cachet derived from metaphysical sources (the occult; "mystique and aura").

Tampa Bay Rays are New Kids on the Block: Young kids thrown together to perform, we’ve watched them for years and seen them age without ever seeming to improve in any cognizable way. Latter-era name change (Rays; NKOTB) seen as desperate attempt to confer legitimacy on the whole sad enterprise.

Toronto Blue Jays are Rush: Canadian. Fully distinct from their pastoral origins, they engage in a sterile, technically exacting exhibition greatly appreciated by a few, almost completely ignored by most. Talents of individual members (Neal Peart; Vernon Wells) ceaselessly touted by enthusiasts, but the group as a whole sputters. 

AL Central

Chicago White Sox are Warren Zevon: With a smaller, devoted fan-base, toiled for years in relative obscurity compared to their contemporaries (Cubs; Jackson Browne). Sordid pasts (Black Sox; drugs). Briefly moved to the forefront of cultural landscape with 1980s sports films (Field of Dreams / Eight Men Out; The Color of Money). Ultimately had the last laugh (2005 World Series; The Wind).

Cleveland Indians are Parliament-Funkadelic: Despite a rotating cast of players, they maintain an unusually high level of performance for a relatively un-moneyed organization. While they likely won’t recapture their glory years, they should remain really good for the time being. Represented by cartoon(ish) front men (Chief Wahoo; George Clinton / Bootsy Collins).

Detroit Tigers are Johnny Cash: Industry mainstays who were brought back from the brink by a cult figure with entertaining facial hair (Jim Leyland; Rick Rubin) who conferred instant credibility on a once down-and-out entity. An often dark past (Ty Cobb, Denny McLain / drug abuse) combined with a close alignment with religious individuals (Tom Monaghan; June Carter Cash).

Kansas City Royals are Pat Boone: Peaked decades ago and now largely irrelevant. Succeeded in the past in large part by exploiting the work of talented African-Americans. Brief surge in 1990s didn’t really fool anyone (the heavy metal album; signing David Cone). Now only really enjoyed by people in small pockets of Missouri (Branson; K.C. metro area).

Minnesota Twins are Prince: The Minnesota association is obvious. Both enterprises run by wealthy eccentrics whose relations with others in the industry are strained at best. Greatest period of success in the mid 80s through early 90s. Gigantic, idiosyncratic home base (Metrodome; Paisley Park).

AL West

Los Angeles Angels are Jefferson Airplane / Starship: Frequent, senseless, and largely mocked name changes. Originated in 1960s California. Impressive groups of talent overshadowed by years of shocking collapses and sadness (1986 ALCS, September 1995; break-ups, relationship disasters, deaths). Latter-era surge in success attributed to silly things (Rally Monkeys; the Mannequin soundtrack).

Oakland A’s are The Velvet Underground: Pretty much unimpeachably cool to be a fan. Hero worship and derision of the group mastermind are rampant in almost equal measure (Andy Warhol; Billy Beane). They have served as inspiration for countless imitators, even if their own commercial success largely eluded them.

Seattle Mariners are The Yardbirds: Numerous members went on to greater success and fame elsewhere (Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson / Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton) despite being extremely talented and accomplished in their own right. The sum was less than the whole of the parts as applied to record sales / postseason victories; it’s hard to comprehend, years later, how those original lineups failed to become the BIGGEST THING EVER in light of the talent on hand.

Texas Rangers are The Commodores: Accomplished if not outstanding for a number of years, began to suffer as a functioning unit when a milquetoast frontman took over (you know who… for both). Said frontman proceeded to leave the group and prove, despite great personal and commercial success, that he’s a lame-o and nobody likes him. The original group has yet to recover from its draining and fleeting but profound association with that turd.

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