Dynasty Baseball

The Soundtrack of 2023: Part One

Growing up, two passions wove the fabric of my memories: baseball and music. Beyond the diamond’s boundaries, melodies resonated, creating a symphony of nostalgia. The melodic chimes of the ice cream truck and John Fogerty’s iconic “Centerfield” echoing over Little League opening days are but a few songs to this soundtrack. I can still envision the slow-motion montage of baseball highlights accompanied by the poignant violins from “Gathering Crowds” that marked the closing moments of This Week in Baseball.

Wrigley Field, too, became a stage for musical memories. The resonant notes of the Lowrey organ, harmonizing barbershop quartets serenading the stands, and the collective voice of 40,000 fans belting “Go, Cubs, Go” post-victory remain etched in my mind. And I’d be remiss not to mention the Mayor of Rush Street, Harry Caray, conducting the seventh-inning stretch with his unmistakable flair.

Hollywood further intertwined these passions, blending music seamlessly into my favorite baseball films. From the “Carmen Overture” underscoring The Bad News Bears to the electrifying crescendo of “The End Title” accompanying Roy Hobbs’ triumphant moment in The Natural. 

The allure of music lies in its interpretative nature, contrasting starkly with baseball’s empirical metrics. This juxtaposition forms a compelling backdrop for my endeavor: capturing the essence of the 2023 MLB season by intertwining its defining narratives with the year’s most resonant songs.

But before diving in, a quick note to all the Swifties out there—I’m sorry, but I had to limit it to two of her songs. I know she ruled the charts last year, but I felt I needed to go with a bit more variety. Hope that won’t stir any “Bad Blood” between us. My apologies, Taylor (@TaylorSwift13). And for my fellow Gurus, fret not—I didn’t limit the number of jokes about the Padres season. My apologies, Taylor (@TCasesLoaded). Please, don’t blame me, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought you’d have such a cruel summer. Even though I knew you were (in) trouble when you sent out this tweet only five games into the 2023 season. 

You need(ed) to calm down but you and your delicate Padres weren’t ready for it. I know it is a story you know all too well. And know there is only a blank space where your heart was but don’t worry the ’23 season is over now and everything has changed. You can begin again in ’24.  Shit. You guys traded Soto? Damn, look what you made me do, Taylors! I did something bad. Eh… Just shake it off

***************

23. “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” by Mariah Carey

Since this song had been implanted into my head for the last two months, I figured I might as well start with it. The song had a stranglehold on the media and every platform you can think of this holiday season. Just like Shohei Ohtani’s free agency story. Spoiler alert – He signed with the Dodgers and in 2034 we will be having an Ohtani day that will make Bobby Bo and Mr. Met blush. Also, not to kick Angels fans further down but I read that Angels owner, Arte Moreno had a chance to match the Dodgers’ offer and Moreno declined. I guess Angels’ fans don’t want much for Christmas next year, all they want is Arte Moreno tied up hanging upside down their fireplace along with a bat so they can hit him like a piñata til his ears bleed like this song does to me every holiday season. Yeah!!! Just Morenoooou baby… 

22. “GREEDY” by Tate McRae

I guess Tate McRae is the Debbie Gibson of my time? For you younger folks, maybe the Brittany Spears of your time? Anyway, I was more interested in the title of the song, “Greedy” because that is a pretty good adjective to describe how the two most valuable MLB franchises (the Yankees and Dodgers) are this off-season. You already know what they have done and all of those who aren’t fans of the teams can only refute their moves by saying that the Mets and Padres tried to do something similar and look at what happened. 

“Is this good or bad for baseball?” We will have to wait and see after the season. Seriously that is what an “analyst” said on the MLB Network when asked that question. No shit… we all will know if it worked out or not after the season happens! Someone get me on the MLB Network… I’ll at least give some rambling hot takes.

21. “ANTI-HERO” by Taylor Swift

I can see why most middle-aged white women rage out to her music. This song is catchy but a bit scary. I didn’t know much about Ms. Swift till this year except for that time Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech during an awards show. By the way, who would have thought that was only the start of Kanye’s plunge into insanity? Hold on! I just looked up the video. That was fourteen years ago? Really? Where did the time go? Do you know who the real “Anti-Hero is? Father Time. This year the “Anti-Hero” reared its ugly head once again with the retirement of a future Hall of Famer, Miguel Cabrera. Oh, Miggy… I’m sure the $90 Napa Valley Cabernet that the A’s gave you will help make retirement a bit easier to deal with. That brings me to something that doesn’t make sense to me. Why do opposing teams have to give an opposing player a retirement gift? Miguel Cabrera’s career numbers against Oakland were .327 with 20 HRs and 68 RBIs. I didn’t give the dude who terrorized me for years in grade school a gift for kicking my ass since he (retired) stopped. 

20. “FLOWERS” by Miley Cyrus

You know what’s bad? When you are the only one at The Dynasty Guru who ranked two starting pitchers outside your top 25 when everyone else ranked them in their top ten and get called out by some of the guys for doing it. You know what’s worse? You defend the rankings just to have one of those pitchers end up winning the Cy Young. You know what’s even worse? When both of those pitchers win the Cy Young. 

I guess I need to apologize to Gerrit Cole and Blake Snell for where I ranked them and say they are washed up. All Cole did was throw 24 quality starts with a sub 1.00 WHIP (0.98) in 209 IP. While Snell went 14-9 with 234 Ks and became the first pitcher to have the best ERA (2.25) but also led the league in walks (99) in a season. You both can buy yourself some well-deserved flowers. I also need to apologize to the guys on TDG whom I bad-mouthed in other pieces and kept sending those Kevin James smirk memes from my various burner Twitter X accounts with different captions like, “This is me each time Blake Snell walks someone” or “This is Gerrit Cole each time he adds Spider Tack to his Amazon cart.” Lucky for me none of those guys read my stuff. You can buy yourself flowers, write me a mean tweet, or write it by hand. Finally, an apology to anyone who took my advice. What were you thinking? But you can buy yourself some flowers, talk to yourself for hours, I’ll keep writing things you don’t understand.  

19. “DIE FOR YOU” (Remix) by The Weeknd & Ariana Grande

“I’m findin’ ways to articulate the feelin’ I’m goin’ through. I just can’t say I don’t love you (yeah)… Cody Bellinger, ‘cause I love you, yeah.” He wasn’t 2019 MVP Belli but there is no denying the bat bounced back and he flashed his plus glove, versatility, and handsomeness this year. I like to take a moment to pat myself on the back for the piece I wrote before the season that seemed to come to fruition. You don’t believe me? Check out the S.C.O.U.T. the S.T.A.T.L.I.N.E. 2023 PREDICTIONS (under the T for Turnaround Category of this piece)

I understand. You didn’t want to click the link since I’m hardly ever right and you thought that link was a way for me to get into your phone to steal your Shiba Inu. I don’t blame you. It did cross my mind.  As for what I wrote, I believed Cody’s nagging injuries were not only the cause of his woes at the plate but also caused him to change his hitting mechanics. And with a clean bill of health in 2023, he’d be able to adjust his hitting mechanics to let the ball travel to him without having to compensate for the laundry list of injuries he had for the last three years. To his credit and that of the Cubs coaching staff Cody also used a new hitting approach to not only hit the ball more on the ground a lot more but also expand his strike zone, especially on two-strike counts. With this change, he was able to get to pitches that opposing pitchers used to either set up or put him away. All in all it seemed to all have come together for him just at the right time for him to get a nice little payday. And yes I did predict this a year before in a prior piece, Bold Predictions – The Dynasty Guru (under the Spicy Nacho section). And I will continue to predict that Cody will do well because how can a man as handsome as him can not be anything but great! Now give me a second to make a late second plea. Please! Cody re-sign with the Cubs! I’m scared that I’ll miss you! See it in my eyes! 

18. “WHAT WAS I MADE FOR?” by Billie Eilish

I didn’t see the movie Barbie so I never heard this song till this very minute. I expected something like that old “Living in a Barbie World” song so I intended this was the spot I’d write about the best player of 2023. Isn’t the movie upbeat, happy, pink, and shit? Well, I already came up with pretty good puns or jokes for all the negative categories of 2023 with other songs so I guess I’m stuck… 

So with that, who was made for 2023? Sorry, no swerve… It is Ronald Acuña Jr., the only player in MLB history to pull off a 40/70 season. Well, except for me who compiled a 60/100 season on the MLB Show. Good luck beating that, El de la Sabana. And yeah, I know there wasn’t much thought or substance put into this choice.

 17. “I REMEMBER EVERYTHING” by Zach Bryan & Kacey Musgraves

Wow, the 2023 music scene was pretty damn sad and discouraging. And there were players, who made fantasy owners feel something similar after not reaching lofty expectations set before or during the first half of the season. But I remember that these players were at one point on top of the fantasy baseball world this year.

    • Marcus Stroman – An All-Star in the first half with a sub 3.00 ERA with hitters hitting a paltry line of .205/.282/.284. Unfortunately for him and all Cubs fans, he suffered a rib injury and wasn’t the same in the second half. Stroman only pitched 24 innings in the second half and hitters hit .327/.388/.527. If only those stats were flipped we’d probably see a bidding frenzy for Stroman right now. 
    • Matt Chapman – The best hitter in baseball for the first month of the season with a .383/.462/.700 line with five home runs. He then proceeded to hit .202 in May, .200 in June, .247 in July, .197 in August, and .167 in September with ten more HRs in 415 at-bats. 
    • Anthony VolpeNew York, New York big city of dreams, And everything in New York ain’t always what it seems. I remember when a 20/20 season (21 HRs and 24 SBs) used to be impressive, especially for a rookie. But in the days of Sabermetrics and Analytics, you can’t have a .174 ISO and .259 BABIP for someone who had as much helium and expectations as Volpe did when he became the starting shortstop out of Spring Training.
    • Elly De La Cruz – Yes, a well-known Guru and Stathead Ross Jensen (@RJensen12) took a lot of heat when he went to Twitter and said he didn’t believe De La Cruz could succeed in the majors with his approach at the plate and lack of plate discipline. After the honeymoon (six weeks) of De La Cruz’s MLB career was over and his performance in the second half. The only thing bigger than Ross’s ego was De La Cruz’s strikeout total. It got pretty bad with 105 strikeouts in 292 PAs which led to a 36.0% K%  and a slash line of .191/.271/.355. 
    • James Outman – Please know this pains me by saying this. Another guy who can be a bit of a free swinger and a lack of discipline is my guy, Outman. Even though he had a 33.0 K% in 109 PAs his 7 HRs and .292/.376/.615/.991 in the first six weeks of the season overshadowed that glaring weakness. That slash line and home run rate made a certain someone start an NL Rookie of the Year campaign. Yeah, that guy was me. Outman’s plate discipline and inability to recognize pitches were magnified more when he hit sub .200 for the next two months before making adjustments to have a bounceback stretch but he ended the season struggling to stay in the lineup. If he doesn’t continue to adjust and work on his plate discipline. I’m going to need Rotgut whiskey to ease my mind.

16. “SNOOZE” by SZA

I’m unsure whether SZA meant to express anger or sadness towards the person who inspired her to write this song. Regardless, for me, it was the breakup anthem of the year. Each time I listened to this song I couldn’t help but be disappointed in myself even though I didn’t do anything wrong. But this past season some players should have hit the “Snooze” button and not woken up till 2024. See what I did there… Some were due to injuries like Jacob deGrom, Garrett Whitlock, and I’m going to give Carlos Rodón the benefit of the doubt and lump him in this group. While guys like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rendon, and Byron Buxton played through injuries but already were showing signs of a downward trajectory. 

How you threatening to leave and I’m the main one crying, ?” 

15. “MONSTERS” by Iam Tongi & James Blunt

I am not ashamed to admit this but I have been a huge fan of the reality show, “American Idol” since it debuted and since I’m talking about it… I love you, Katy Perry!! 

In 2023, the song, “Monsters” brought grown men to tears when they saw American Idol winner, Ian Tongi sing it during his audition. And again in the finale when he sang it with uber-talented James Blunt who wrote the song originally. So I decided to highlight the players who might have been forgotten because their seasons ended in a bed of tears due to an unfortunate ending to the season, but were still fantasy monsters

Bobby Witt Jr. took another step towards fantasy stardom by being the first 30/30 player in Royals history. Matt Olson and his 54 dingers but zero during the postseason, and Kyle Tucker with 29 HRs, 30 SBs, and a slash line of (.284/.369/.507) couples with a .150 AVG while going 6 for 40 in the postseason. 

We also saw breakouts on the North Side by Nico Hoerner (175 hits, 96 runs, and 43 SBs) and Justin Steele (20 QS with 16 wins and a 3.06 ERA) along with a late-season swoon. Chris Bassitt with a 16-8 record and 189 Ks in 209 IPs but didn’t get the nod to pitch take the bump in the Blue Jay’s short postseason run. While fantasy stars from yesteryear such as Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Pablo Lopez, and Justin Turner all bounced back to have stellar fantasy seasons and be top point-getters at each of their positions. 

14. “PAINT THE TOWN RED” by Doja Cat

A story that flew under the radar for most casual fans but can lead to major repercussions was that several teams were possibly being dropped by their regional sports networks for financial reasons and thus not being broadcasted on local television. 

It happened back in June when MLB had to step in after the Diamond Sports Group chose to walk on by and not pay a broadcast rights fee for Padres games after a lengthy stalemate between the two parties on their next rights deal. Because of that missed payment, MLB had to offer a separate streaming package for Padres games. Even though The Diamond Sports Group which operates the Bally’s Sports regional networks filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. They had plenty of liquidity to make these payments but chose to draw a line in the sand with Padres broadcasts because the negotiations were not progressing. Reports are that the Diamond Sports Group plans to shed more contracts that are in the red. The group also owns the rights to the Diamondbacks, Braves, Guardians, Cardinals, Rockies, Tigers, Reds, Royals, Angels, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Rays, and Rangers broadcasts. 

13. “LAY LOW” by Tiesto

“I’m hearin’ voices in my head, There’s no way to escape, Da-da-da-da, they got me.” I imagined A’s fans repeatedly sang this line to themselves while they watched and fornicated at the Oakland Coliseum this past season. Expectations were pretty low for a team with a payroll that was about 26 million dollars less than what Ohtani will make in 2034. Coupled with the uncertainty of the future of the organization and an asshole owning the team. Fans didn’t expect much and the team gladly obliged. The A’s finished with 50 wins while A’s owner John Fisher made about $55 million at the same time. Outside of a few starts from Mason Miller, the emergence of Zack Gelof, possums attacking NY Mets announcer Ron Darling, and a reverse boycott there wasn’t much else to cheer for in Oaktown. Now with the announcement in November of the approval of the franchise move to Vegas, this situation will only get uglier with the team still having one more year under contract to play at the Oakland Coliseum. 

12. “RICH MEN NORTH OF RICHMOND” by Oliver Anthony Music

Some of this song’s popularity was from some political stuff that I could care less about. I could care less about politics because I hate to tell you but either way, we are all screwed. It’s a damn shame. If you aren’t familiar with this song you might have garnered an idea of its message from the title as our nation’s capital is about 100 miles north of Richmond. (Also, if you haven’t heard the song it is worth it. Oliver Anthony has a powerhouse of a voice.) Now how that song pertains to this countdown I want to focus on the team that resides in DC. The Nationals surprisingly performed well this season with 71 wins. (That’s funny…. Isn’t that the same number of wins as the juggernaut known as the St. Louis Cardinals had as well? Sorry I never get to talk shit about the Cardinals so I had to squeeze that in.) Even with their 16-win improvement from a season ago the Nationals still finished in last place and 33 games back of first in the NL East. But the real story for this team was how the players from the trade of a generational talent like Soto trade performed this past season.

  • MacKenzie Gore started 27 games for the Nationals and pitched 136.1 innings with a 4.42 ERA and 151 strikeouts. The team mentioned that Gore had been dealing with blister issues most of the season and his season was cut short due to that ongoing injury.
  • CJ Abrams also played for the big league club in 2023 and he put up decent numbers with 18 HRs and 47 SBs along with a .245/.300/.412/.712 line.
  • Robert Hassell III didn’t live up to his moniker, Bobby Bats, as he had a rough time in Double-A with a 31.9% K rate with a .099 ISO and .225 AVG in 476 PAs. Not the ideal stats you want to see from a contact hitter. 
  • James Wood was who many thought was the centerpiece of this deal with his raw power and speed tools. He spent most of his season in Double-A and finished with 26 HRs, 80 RBIs, and 18 SBs with a .492 SLG in Double-A (.580 SLG in High-A). His K rate was high as expected with the bump in competition. He has lived up to the scouting reports but he still has a ways to go before seeing him north of Richmond.
  • Jarlin Susana was considered the diamond in the rough of the trade package by many analysts or maybe they meant just the rough part. I’m kidding, I thought the same. Susana did have a rough season with 40 walks, four balks, and 9 wild pitches in 63 innings. Combine those numbers with 56 hits and 36 earned runs given up against Single-A hitters and those lofty projections of being at least a top-of-the-rotation starter before the trade sunk to a “possible” late-innings reliever by the end of ‘23. 

Of course, it is way too early to determine if the trade was successful but it will be interesting to compare the players in this package to the one the Padres received from the Yankees for Soto. Of course, the Nationals got the better package because Soto was still two-plus years from free agency at the time. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Padres might have gotten the best player out of everyone that was traded in Drew Thorpe. But what the hell do I know except that the Cardinals finished in last place? But if you like to know more about the players that the Padres got. My guy, Matt (Don’t call me Zack @Matt_E_Morris) Morris from Scout the Statline wrote an excellent piece on their site called, “The Chosen Juan” and here is the link. The Chosen Juan

11. “FAST CAR” by Luke Combs (Tracy Chapman)

The original version of “Fast Car” came out in 1988 by a young woman, Tracy Chapman. At the time, I was a spoiled kid from the suburbs and couldn’t even fathom being in the position that she sang about. But the lyrics combined with the melancholy tone of her voice gave me a sense of empathy that no other song before did. I don’t think this song can ever be duplicated but I am happy that Luke Combs gave his rendition of this classic so another generation can hear the lyrics. Something else that brought me back in time was some of the new rule changes to bring more action on the basepaths. The days of small ball and the stolen base leaders (Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman, and Tim Raines) eclipse the century mark on an annual basis. Well, we might not see stats go to that extreme but it was a welcome sight to see that aspect of the game again. 

The new rules to speed up the game seemed to be a huge hit with fans. I didn’t realize how much of a difference it made til I went to a game at seven and got home before ten. I love watching baseball but don’t forget I’m an old man. The one worry and story moving forward is the pitch clock possibly causing more injuries for pitchers and unfortunately, it will take a few more seasons to get the data needed to determine if that is the case. Now that MLB added even more rule changes to speed up the game in 2024 with less time between innings for pitchers to warm up and a 15-second pitch clock with runners on base as well. If in a few years, the data does prove that these changes cause more arm injuries, MLB and the Players Union will have a major decision to make. 

************************

No, we didn’t light it, but we’re trying to fight it

More war in Afghanistan, Cubs go all the way again.

“We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Fall Out Boy

Wait? Did I miss something? Did the Cubs win in some alternate universe or was it supposed to be scripted that way and someone or better yet something happened?  I need to find a way to break up Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift so she can date one of the Cubs.

Til Part Two of The Soundtrack of the 2023 MLB Season.

The Author

Ryan Felix Fernandes

Ryan Felix Fernandes

I don't know why they let me write here either...

2 Comments

  1. LC
    February 27, 2024 at 8:01 pm

    You’re such a swiftie!

    • February 27, 2024 at 8:11 pm

      She has some catchy stuff. You can’t deny that!

Previous post

TDG'S 2024 TOP 50 CONSENSUS CATCHERS: #21-#40

Next post

TDG'S 2024 TOP 50 CONSENSUS CATCHERS: #11-#20