Though you might disagree if you're a diehard Red Sox, Cubs or Astros fan (there are diehard Astros fans, right?), this has been one hell of an entertaining baseball season.
As of this writing, two days before the end of the regular season, we've witnessed three perfect games – two by some of the best hurlers of this era (Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez), and one by a no-name guy (Philip Humber) who finished the season demoted to the bullpen with a 6.44 ERA – and four other no-hitters, including a six-man job by the Seattle Mariners and the first-ever no-no in Mets history. (Take a bow, Johan Santana, if your inflamed lower back will let you.)
We saw Doug Fister break the AL consecutive strikeout mark, comeback kid Kris Medlen start a record 23 straight games in which his team emerged victorious, 49-year-old hurler Jamie Moyer become the oldest player to win a MLB game and record an RBI, and R.A. Dickey singlehandedly repopularize the knuckleball while becoming the first such pitcher since 1980 to win 20 games. Andy Pettitte came out of retirement and pitched surprisingly well, while his old 'roids buddy Roger Clemens threatened to return to the majors but ultimately only pitched in a couple of massively-hyped minor league games.
Miguel Cabrera chased the Triple Crown; rookie Mike Trout came on like the reincarnation of Mickey Mantle; Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and David Ortiz all reached the 400-homer plateau; Josh Hamilton hit four homers in a single game; Bryce Harper became the first teenager not named Mel Ott or Ken Griffey, Jr. to have two 2-homer games in the same season; and Aaron Hill became the first player since 1883 to hit for the cycle twice in the same month.
There were plenty of feel-good stories, too, like the Nationals, A's and Orioles all making the playoffs, and the victory lap of Chipper Jones' final season. Hell, even some of the "feel-bad" stories were pretty amusing, like Bobby Valentine's weekly meltdowns, or Melky Cabrera hilariously compounding the shame of his PED suspension with a bogus supplement website designed to prove his "innocence."
And then there were the memorably oddball moments of 2012, like Adam Morse's "invisible grand slam" this past weekend, where he mimed swinging a bat and then ran the bases after umpires ruled that his long drive to right – which originally resulted in Morse getting tagged out in a run-down – had actually been a home run. Or my personal favorite (mostly because I witnessed it in person): the controversial triple play that the Dodgers turned on April 15th against the Padres, wherein a bunt and a confusing reaction by the home plate umpire resulted in the first catcher-started triple play to go around all four bases since 1882.
This week, we ask our esteemed panel of rock & roll seamheads to look back at this season and tell us about their coolest baseball-related memory of 2012.
Name: Steve Earle
Position: Vocals, Guitar
Sitting in the second row behind home plate when Ichiro Suzuki hit his first home run in pinstripes.
Name: Tom Morello
Band: The Nightwatchman, Street Sweeper Social Club, Rage Against the Machine
Position: Guitar, Vocals
The coolest baseball-related experience I had this season was playing two shows with Bruce Springsteen at Wrigley Field. The Cubs' season has been so dreary, there hasn't been too much to focus on. But a Springsteen concert at Wrigley may be the closest the Cubs ever get to winning a World Series.
Name: Pete Yorn
Position: Vocals, Guitar
Watching the Giants on June 13th, when Matt Cain pitched the 22nd MLB perfect game. I'm glad I was able to watch it, and I wish Matt was a Yankee.
Name: Joshua Epstein
Band: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Position: Vocals, Keyboards
I've watched more baseball games this season than I ever have before. Just being able to take a break from recording our new record and walk to a place where we can get a bite and watch a game has been amazing. Daniel and I bond over the Tigers. It's America's pastime.
Name: Handsome Dick Manitoba
Going to a Yankee game with my dear brother E Factor, his treat, and sitting next to the Yankee dugout, 15 feet away from the on-deck circle ... so close I could feel the AC coming from the dugout. I could go "backstage" and eat all the amazing cuisine I wanted, but of course, I washed it all down with a "dirty water" dog. If Norman Rockwell would have been at the game, he would have drawn me and E Factor!
Name: Vinnie Paul
Band: Hellyeah, Pantera
Seeing Joe Nathan come on the field in a full Tony Romo Cowboys football uniform (complete with helmet) after losing a bet to Mike Adams when the Cowboys beat the hated Giants! Being a betting man, I enjoyed seeing the payoff. Hellyeah!
Name: George Thorogood
Band: George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Position: Vocals, Guitar
Well, re-hooking up with my homeboy Davey Johnson and meeting the first-place Washington Nationals was very groovy. It was right up there with meeting the all-American hero Kirk Gibson and his henchman, Don "Groove" Baylor. Wow – now that was "Bad to the Bone"!
Name: Alice Cooper
We had a show in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this year, and I went down to the Charleston Riverdogs game to throw out the first pitch. The Riverdogs are partly owned by Bill Murray. Now, I've been to pretty much all of the major league parks, and I've thrown out the first pitch at more than a few. We walked into the place, and believe me, it's a great park! Very family friendly, lots of kids running around. It's a real ballpark. These guys were so good to us, and so gracious. They set our whole crew up. Unfortunately it started to rain a bit, so they had to stop the game. But while we were waiting for the rain to stop we see Bill running the bases and then slide into home head first, ruining his Hawaiian shirt. Then he shows up in our box wearing sunglasses with a little black mustache hanging from them. Classic Bill Murray! He hung out and we talked baseball and movies for a bit, and he of course had us all laughing. It was definitely the best day of baseball I've had in a long time.
Name: Scott Ian
We were out on the Rockstar Mayhem tour this summer, and a whole crew of us went to Fenway for a Red Sox game. Yes, I can hear my fellow Yankee fans saying, "Why would you set foot in that shithole?" Because I respect the history of the building, that's why. Oldest stadium in baseball, and a great place to see a game. We got the whole tour, and even got to go on the field for batting practice. It was there that I placed another curse on the Sox that will last longer than the any of the previous ones. You're welcome.
Dan Epstein's book, Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s, is now available in paperback.