Why sportswriters love Bruce Springsteen

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If you spend any amount of time following sportswriters — especially baseball writers — on Twitter or Facebook, you know that they love, love, love Bruce Springsteen. It’s just a thing they do, almost uniformly. I’ve suspected it’s largely a demographic thing. If you’re a white dude in your 40s and 50s like so many of these guys are, you came of age between “Born to Run” and “Born in the U.S.A.”

Yes, you also came of age between the Ramones’ first record and The Replacements’ “Let it Be,” but today’s sportswriters tended not to be the kinds of people who were into that stuff. The cool popular kids of the time liked Foreigner or Boston and crap like that. The picked-on or marginalized subcultures were more into the punk stuff. The people smart enough to like thoughtful, blue collar storytelling but weren’t edgy enough to get into the Clash were more likely to gravitate to The Boss.

Drew Magary has a deeper explanation of it today over at The Concourse. It involves David Eckstein:

Bruce Springsteen is the perfect embodiment of what sportswriters want to see in the athletes they cover. He is the musical David Eckstein. He’s tough! He’s scrappy! He comes from humble roots and is self-made. He’s blue collar. He’s the first guy to get to the stadium and the last guy to leave. He runs out his pop flies. He’s loyal to his home state of New Jersey, even though he moved to L.A. for a bit and also has a house in Florida. He is every shitty, awful sports-unicorn trope amassed into a single singer-songwriter. And he writes songs that are “rocking” without anywhere being close to threatening. He is the underdog that so many sportswriters want to see in themselves, which is how they end up composing endless paeans to the sax break in “Born to Run.”

That’s all possible, I suppose. It does a better job of explaining it than anything else.

Not that I care. I like Springsteen just fine. He’s not my favorite, but he’s cool. I wouldn’t pay what it costs to go to one of his shows, but I own a couple of albums. I don’t seek his music out when I’m looking for something to listen to, but I don’t change the channel if he comes on the radio. While the level of love some have for Springsteen baffles me, I would think you’ve got to reach really damn hard in order to actually dislike him or his music.

But man, I do hate it when people are Springsteen evangelicals. When they act like they have to hip you to him or his music as if you’ve never heard of it before. Dudes: he was one of the the biggest freakin’ stars around for a couple of decades. Don’t act like telling me to listen to “Thunder Road” is like handing me a map to some hidden, forbidden kingdom.

Anyway, next up: why sportswriters like Dockers so much.

 

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.