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Rob Sheffield on Who Rocked Baseball's Opening Day Hardest

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Play ball! Baseball's Opening Day is full of time-honored traditions: the President throws out the first ball, the Cubs' starting pitcher walks away with a 54.00 ERA, the Royals get mathematically eliminated from the pennant race. But the best tradition of all? Music. The 2010 season officially kicked off Sunday night at Fenway Park, as the Red Sox battled the Yankees. It was definitely a memorable game, yet it was the surprise musical guests who got us all excited for a summer of sun, sweat, the crack of the bat, and the crack of whoever did Steven Tyler's hair extensions. So now that the season is fully underway, let's break it down: Who rocked Opening Day hardest?

DR. DRE: What the hell was he doing in a Red Sox uniform? Taking batting practice, to promote the Red Sox version of his popular "Beats By Dre" headphones. He also announced (big drumroll) that he plans on maybe finally releasing something from Detox someday. (Shouldn't you be in the studio, Doctor? The Red Sox have won two World Series since your last album!) Considering how he used to rhyme about the chrome on the side of his White Sox hat, it's odd that he's ditched the ChiSox cap for a town whose most famous rappers were Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. And shouldn't he be rooting for the AL West? You know, "California knows how to party" and all? Whatever happened to "It's all good from Diego to the Bay"? Ah well, Boston's glad to have him. (Throw it up, Dorchester! Shake it, Revere Beach! Where you at, North Quincy?) And it was hilarious to see him watch the whole game with LeBron James in the luxury box, still wearing his Sox uniform.

STEVEN TYLER: A surprise guest for the seventh-inning stretch. He looked great, in his first high-profile public appearance since rehab. Unfortunately, he sang "God Bless America," a turkey no matter who sings it. ("White with foam?" Who wants to hear Tyler sing about anything white with foam?) It was sad when he sang the final words, "Home sweet home," because it sounded like Aerosmith's classic "Last Child," which is not only an infinitely better song about America but a reminder that he needs Joe Perry there at his side.

These two need to patch it up pronto, because it's a fact: Whenever Aerosmith breaks up, the Sox lose. It's kind of uncanny how close their fortunes are linked. Both flourished in the 1970s (the summer of '75 belonged to "Walk This Way" and Freddie Lynn's MVP season). Both crashed after 1978 — the Sox management's decision to let Luis Tiant go was almost as inexplicable as Aerosmith's decision to release Night in the Ruts. Both sucked for most of the Eighties: The Red Sox traded Dennis Eckersley for Bill Buckner right around the time Aerosmith put Stonehenge on an album cover. And both fell apart last summer. Only a true Perry/Tyler reunion can put the Sox back in the saddle.

(Fun fact: The last time I saw Tyler at Fenway, it was when the Stones played there in the summer of 2005. As he got out of his limo, these wizened groupies outside the park screamed "It's Miiiick!" Tyler, always a good sport, waved to them anyway.)

NEIL DIAMOND: The musical winner of the game — he had the crowd right in his pocket. Okay, so maybe "Sweet Caroline" isn't Steel Neil's finest moment. (That would be "I Am. . . I Said" or "If You Know What I Mean" or "Brother Love" or hell, maybe "Crunchy Granola Suite"?) But it beats the living crap out of "God Bless America." Neil's Sox cap, random dancing, and utter disregard for the melody was primo entertainment, demonstrating why the Jewish Elvis has always been popular with New England's drunken Irish masses since long before Fenway Park adopted "Sweet Caroline." And Mr. Brooklyn Roads was rocking a "Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn" jacket. Now *that* is a star. If Neil Diamond is any sign of the future — and he always is — this is going to be the best summer ever.

Also: Scott Schoeneweis, the Red Sox reliever who finished the fifth inning? Kind of looks like the dude from Fleet Foxes. Beardo respect!

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Rob Sheffield

Rob Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes about music, TV and pop culture. He is the author of two books, Talking To Girls About Duran Duran and Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time.

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