Their mullets may be long gone, and no longer do their baggy Starter warm-up jackets fit. But the TV analysts at Major League Baseball’s MLB Network are getting a little “1980s nostalgic” and are bringing out the flair if not the hair just ahead of baseball’s final push to the playoffs.
This week, the baseball television network has rolled out its new promo for its show “MLB Tonight,” featuring a REO Speedwagon’s classic Eighties anthem.
Shot with slow-motion photography, the spot titled MLB Tonight “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” features a humorous look at the passion of pennant chase baseball. Featuring MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa, Cliff Floyd, Al Leiter, Kevin Millar, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds and Bill Ripken – former pros with a combined 19 postseason appearances – the video depicts analysts as mere fans losing control of their emotions.
DeRosa, who played 16 MLB seasons with the Atlanta Braves and other teams, weighed in on the nostalgia of it all: “It’s funny, people poke fun at the Eighties, but the music stands the test of time 30 years later. I’m sure every generation says it, but I feel like some of the best songs are from the Eighties.”
DeRosa, who said he appreciates both music and baseball from almost every era, hints that “your older brother’s music” – like the songs of REO Speedwagon, Journey and Styx – also have a place in calling up the good of the past. “First off, I did have that older brother. I shared a room with him and he was six years older than me, my brother Kevin. All we listened to was Eighties, glam, rock and some hair bands, too.”
But for all his fandom and formative years next to a Sears turntable and double stereo speakers, DeRosa laments missing the big in-studio gig.
“I was devastated I wasn’t working the day the band came. REO Speedwagon came in, did some interviews, and did some BP [baseball shorthand for “batting practice”] on the wiffle ball field at our Studio 42. They had a lot of fun with everybody and of course I wasn’t here for that.”
There is perhaps no better time than right now for the Major League Baseball to dream a little bit of the 1980s. Baseball’s newest crop of exciting, up-and-coming stars looks like a throwback to other times. Players such as the New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, and Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant conjure up thoughts of ’80s stars like Dave Winfield, Dwight Evans, and Mike Schmidt. Yet, DeRosa hints that the change of seasons helps make baseball feel even more electric.
“I came up in the Braves organization, and all I ever knew was winning division titles and playing in the postseason. It was about getting through 162 games, staying healthy, and getting to October.” DeRosa says that much of what gets baseball fans excited about the fall, too, is its unpredictable nature.
“For 162 games during the season the most talented are going to shine. Guys like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Manny Machado, over the first 162 – their talent will win out. But in a 12-game sprint or a five game series in the playoffs, anybody can be the hero.”
Buttressing DeRosa’s point is the fact that many times teams that are the darkhorse during the regular season outperform in October. In the last 15 years 10 MLB wildcard teams have appeared in the World Series, and five have won. Meanwhile, the game of baseball continues to transform.
“There are so many good players to watch, and a new wave of thinking,” DeRosa adds. “If you love the game, you love the game. It makes you want to watch and see their stories to be told.”