The Rally Monkey, the “Steal Third” kid’s run, and light-up beer glasses. To Southern Californians, these items are the signatures of the Big A, Angels Stadium of Anaheim. Certainly there are countless other hallmarks of the stadium, but they all share one thing: Tradition. Some newer than others, but all are considered calling cards of the Angels’ home turf. Some, like the Rally Monkey are here to stay, but other budding traditions are on more tenuous ground.
Namely, the 7th inning singing of The Foundations song “Build Me Up Buttercup”.
It may come as a surprise to some, but apparently there those who don’t enjoy late-60's soul-pop with their seventh inning stretch. If last year’s team performance was any indication, the soundtrack between innings is the least of management’s concerns. However, it has been said a team thrives off of the energy from the fans. So in the interest of increasing fan enjoyment, let’s consider other songs in place of Buttercup.
A main complaint in the anti-Buttercup camp is that the song has nothing to do with baseball (lookin at you, Boston. “Sweet Caroline”? ...Yeah). Our task then, is to find a song with a link to baseball. The party classic “Tequila” by The Champs was prominently featured in the baseball cinema classic “The Sandlot”, but since no alcohol is served after the 7th, maybe it’s better we don’t stick the notion in people’s heads to have a shot before getting on the road. If we wish to go with an older classic, Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” was used in the Charlie Sheen feature “Major League”, and could bring a certain level of class to the ballpark. Unfortunately, unless there’s a new earl grey tea vendor in the venue this season, orchestra arrangements might not be so a great for a ballgame.
If the baseball link can’t be addressed, then maybe we can solve other Buttercup-related concerns. A secondary issue brought to the table is that Buttercup is a sad song. Upon examination of the lyrics, there is a very sad state of affairs afoot in the track. A young man sings of a woman he loves, but she won’t be tied down to him and he refuses let go of his feelings. Indeed, the smooth, soulful pop sound belies a generally crappy mood. A more up tempo, happier song may be the ticket here. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” is the obvious (if a bit clichéd) choice. The hit anthem is definitely a pick-me-up, but anyone who has visited a karaoke bar will tell you: About 1 out of 13 people can truly sing it well. In a stadium with a capacity of over 50,000 people, there are more than 46,153 ways that situation can go badly. Moving forward, The Beach Boys “California Girls” would be a nice nod to the home state, but it’s only a matter of time before the porcine drunks in attendance find a sort of humor in strutting body parts that nobody wants to see. Think of a slow motion horror show, similar to watching replays of Kendrys Morales breaking his leg hopping on home plate.
Traditions don’t come into their own overnight. Sure, at first people would turn their heads and say “Why are they playing Build Me Up Buttercup every game?” but now it has become expected. Whether it grows to be a part of ballpark lore, or becomes part of a story that starts with “Hey, do you remember how stupid that song was?” is ultimately up to chance. Perhaps there is just enough twisted charm in the song to make it an Anaheim crown jewel, just like Del Taco after the game, or seeing “Monster Jam” truck shows in the off-season.
As long as fans don’t traditionalize the Macarena or the Cha-Cha Slide, we should be okay.
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