This month, following a 12-game losing streak that saw them plummet from the top of their division, the Los Angeles Angels dumped Joe Maddon, their manager of three seasons. The team has since lost two more games, including a 1-0 contest with the Boston Red Sox last night.
But there is reason to be optimistic. Rookie pitcher Reid Detmers, who kept the Sox in check for five innings, said: “We’re moving in the right direction. Clubhouse is good.” More importantly, however, the Angels’ batters are now walking to the plate to the strains of Nickelback.
The Canadian band — which gets a lot of undue hate — is just what the great American pastime calls for, especially with a team fighting to emerge from a record-breaking slump. Nickelback brings the pathos. The drama. The yearning. Most walk-up songs you’ll hear in a baseball stadium are infused with a predictable dudely swagger: monster metal riffs or hard-driving hip-hop. “Photograph,” meanwhile, is a soaring ballad about how you’ll never regain the innocence of childhood in a small town, but have to grow up and move on in life. Damn.
Interim manager Phil Nevin, while not taking responsibility for the decision, approved. “I like Nickelback,” he said. “The entire game, I got the songs in my head, I can’t stop singing, and the next guy comes up. … I don’t know who it was [who had the idea], but it was neat, for a while.”
And while you might be a butt-rock skeptic, you have to admit this was an improvement over some of the regular tunes. ESPN reporter Alden González noted that the Angels have been blasting the dreadfully corny band Train for more than decade. Star player Shohei Ohtani, for his part, had previously approached home plate to “The Greatest Show,” from the musical The Greatest Showman, about the life of P.T. Barnum. The title may provide a nice pun on the name Shoehei, but the number itself is a deeply unpleasant, discordant, clattering affair that sounds like a collab between Imagine Dragons and the orchestra from Hamilton. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I’d rather listen to three hours of Nickelback than three minutes of this shit.
True, Nickelback didn’t turn things around last night, but greatness takes a little patience. This isn’t a sport of speed alone — you also have to get a feel for the slow burn. Which is Nickelback’s secret weapon. Keep the upbeat music off the program; let everyone soak in their melancholia and regret. Don’t hide from emotion. The only way out is through. When pain turns to rage, the catharsis of those chunky guitar chords will finally click, and the Angels’ bats will come roaring to life. Before long, it’ll be part of home field advantage, with opposing pitchers shaken by the glittering menace of “If Today Was Your Last Day” and the sneering taunt of “What Are You Waiting For?”
Hey, if Nickelback can withstand the haters, there’s hope for us all.