Album Page

High And Inside

The Baseball Project

Release Date: 2011
Album Notes:

What happens when your band's debut album is a run-scoring hit with both music and baseball fans? If you're The Baseball Project, you grab some friends to fill out your bench, take batting practice by writing songs for ESPN and deliver a strikeout pitch with Volume Two: High and Inside. The new album from Steve Wynn, Scott McCaughey, Linda Pitmon and Peter Buck is another winning collection of songs about the game's greats that will be pleasing to those who love America's pastime -- and fans of intelligent, melodic and fun rock.

When the first Baseball Project album, Volume One: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails, was released in 2008 Wynn, McCaughey, Pitmon and Buck had yet to play one note as a unit in front of an audience. But after playing throughout the U.S. in 2009 the quartet were -- as McCaughey jokes -- "a well-oiled touring machine," which allowed the band to complete the basics for this new album in just two days. Wynn adds, "We definitely knew how to play as a band when we went in this time and I think you can hear that chemistry on the record."

High and Inside is a collection that sees the quartet deftly mix witty lyrics about baseball players past and present with a sharp melodic sensibility and engaging choruses. Opener "1976" is one of the catchiest songs to ever be written about anything from Detroit. (In this case, it's Tigers phenom pitcher Mark "The Bird" Fidrych.) "Ichiro Goes to the Moon" is a manic punk-pop track that marvels at the Seattle Mariners outfielder's ability to eat, build rockets, and yes, play baseball. High and Inside also explores more musical avenues than the first Baseball Project outing. "Pete Rose Way" is a slice of alt-country that echoes one of McCaughey's and Buck's other projects, Tired Pony. And closer "Here Lies Carl Mays" takes the story of the only pitcher to throw a ball that killed another player and turns it into a haunting ballad sung from beyond the grave.

"Fair Weather Fans" describes the band's widespread allegiances to the Giants, A's and Mariners for McCaughey, the Dodgers and Yankees for Wynn, and the Twins and Yankees for Pitmon. Yet the team most represented on High and Inside is none of those -- it's the Yankees' rivals the Boston Red Sox. McCaughey imagines a world where Bill Buckner's legacy wasn't tarnished by a groundball in "Buckner's Bolero." Wynn sings of a different tarnished legacy in "Twilight of My Career," which explores the glorious but sordid post-Sox career of Cy Young award-winning pitcher Roger Clemens. And "Tony (Boston's Chosen Son)" is a violin-driven piece that recalls Bob Dylan's Desire as it honors late beloved Boston player and announcer Tony Conigliaro. Wynn admits, "It's weird that a Yankee fan like me would end up writing more about the Red Sox, but tragedy just makes for better songs and stories than a litany of successes."

The quartet invited a lot of their friends to help out on Volume 2. Wynn explains, "We had wanted to include some like-minded baseball rocker pals on the first record but there just wasn't time so we were able to open the door this time around." Into that open door came contributions from Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard (who adds backing vocals to "Ichiro Goes to the Moon"), Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, The Decemberists' Chris Funk and John Moen, Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan and The Hold Steady's Craig Finn, who supplies lyrics and the lead vocal on the Minnesota Twins anthem "Please Don't Call Them Twinkies." Twins fan Pitmon had bonded with Finn over the team when the Minnesota natives reconnected in New York. And Pitmon says she was thrilled when Finn accepted the job of writing lyrics about their favorite team. She explains, "I think Craig perfectly captured the feelings that a lot of us Twins fans have for our team of humble, hardworking guys that seem to beat the odds more often than not, and Steve really nailed the mood of the lyrics when he wrote the anthemic tune we set it to." Finn says, "The Twins don't win every year, or even every decade. They don't normally compete in the off-season arms race – they develop talent. Thus, when they do win I get to feel elation and bliss, and not just relief. In some way, it's like music; many of my all-time favorite bands aren't that great every night, but when it comes together it feels even sweeter."

The success and critical acclaim of Volume One opened up new opportunities that these veteran musicians never imagined. McCaughey is still amazed they appeared on the long-running weekly Major League Baseball program This Week in Baseball. "I can't say I ever thought I'd hear or see myself on TWIB -- that was awesome," McCaughey exclaims. "As a kid I dreamed of it, but I would have been making a diving catch in the outfield instead of bashing on an electric guitar." The band also struck up a relationship with ESPN that saw them launch The Broadside Ballads series. Wynn and McCaughey took it upon themselves to write and record a song per month for the 2010 season that were available as free downloads at Wynn says, "It's very exhilarating and also exhausting to come up with tunes based on the calendar rather than the muse, especially since we were all busy and on the move with our own projects throughout 2010 but that made it even more fun. I loved that songs would begin in Virginia, for example, get shuttled off to Berlin, back to New York and then over to Portland all within a few weeks."

The Baseball Project was born out of McCaughey and Wynn discussing their love of the game over dinner and drinks a few years ago. "It finally took flight at the R.E.M. pre-Hall of Fame induction party in New York," Wynn remembers. "Everyone was happy. The wine was flowing, the food was incredible and spring training had just started. Scott and I talked baseball until most of the party guests had cleared out. And we actually remembered it the next day."

Both Wynn and McCaughey's love of baseball and its legendary players made its way sporadically into songs during their distinguished careers. The Young Fresh Fellows named-checked Seattle Mariners slugger Gorman Thomas on "Aurora Bridge" from 1986's Refreshments, while Wynn tipped his cap to Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial in his 1990 solo hit "Kerosene Man."

So with another Volume down, the question needs to be asked -- will there be a Volume 3? McCaughey says it's a certainty, since he still wants to write tunes about "Ted Kubiak, Butch Huskey, Don McMahon, Don Moss, Kris "Iron Man" Benson and Wilton "Peanuts" Guerrero." Wynn adds, "Just open the Baseball Encyclopedia or the 2011 MLB press guide to any page. There are still plenty of tales to tell."

Item 1: cd
# Track Title Play
11976 1976
2Panda And The Freak Panda And The Freak
3Fair Weather Fans Fair Weather Fans
1Don't Call Them Twinkies Don't Call Them Twinkies
5High And Inside High And Inside
6Buckner's Bolero Buckner's Bolero
7Tony (Boston's Chosen Son) Tony (Boston's Chosen Son)
8Ichiro Goes To The Moon Ichiro Goes To The Moon
9The Straw That Stirs The Drink The Straw That Stirs The Drink
10Look Out Mom Look Out Mom
11Pete Rose Way Pete Rose Way
12Twilight Of My Career Twilight Of My Career

High And Inside


    On paper, the idea sounds questionable: four rock vets with more than 100 years of tenure among them knocking out original power-pop songs about baseball. But the Baseball Project works. “You......more>
  • AOL Music

    Click link above for Video interview with Steve and Scott
  • Detroit Free Press

    Mark Fidrych is being celebrated in the nostalgic new song "1976," which recounts the former Tigers pitcher's fabled rookie year -- the song's title -- and his death in 2009. The......more>
  • Santa Barbara Independent

    There is a band so talented it can shunt a guitarist as good as Peter Buck (yes, of REM) to bass, not unlike the Yankees moving A-Rod to third because......more>
  • The Oregonian

    Maybe it'd be better if everyone was buttoned up and as pure of motive and character as baseball's stodgiest gatekeepers would prefer. Oh who are we kidding? It wouldn't be......more>
  • USA Today

    THE PLAYLIST USA TODAY music critic Jerry Shriver highlights 10 intriguing tracks found during the week's listening. Here Lies Carl Mays, The Baseball Project: The national pastime offers hope every spring — and you'll need it after hearing this account of a great tragedy.
  • NPR Music

    Opening-day fever will grip the nation's baseball fans this week — and one band's got the perfect soundtrack in store. The Baseball Project is made up of four baseball-loving musicians, who......more>
  • Phoenix New Times

    In a recent interview with Cowbell Magazine, Mountain Goats songwriter John Darnielle says, "I grew up a geek, so I wasn't good at sports. A lot of us maintain those......more>
  • Examiner

    To say the Star Bar is small would be an understatement, but then that is most of its charm. This past Friday night, March 11th, The Baseball Project and Kevn......more>
  • Seattle Times

    Looking for some music to put you in the mood for baseball season? You could do worse than The Baseball Project's new CD, "Vol. 2: High and Inside" (Yep Roc). Following......more>
  • Paste

    We’re still deep in the throes of winter here in the Midwest. Spring seems like an impossible dream. But for the members of The Baseball Project—major-league sports nerds from better-known......more>
  • Magnet

    Having read Ball Four, pitcher Jim Bouton’s seminal diary of his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and, later, the Houston Astros, probably seven or eight times—first in high school,......more>
  • Atlanta Music Guide

    Every spring, many of us look forward to the possibility of new love in bloom, enjoy basking in the slowly warming temperatures, or dread the re-emergence of all those pesky......more>
  • Spinner

    There have been baseball songs before, but the Baseball Project are the only indie-rock supergroup that writes songs exclusively about America's pasttime. Hatched during a boozy night in New York,......more>
  • AZ Central

    The Baseball Project, a band with members from R.E.M., the Dream Syndicate and Golden Smog, will play 90-minute acoustic sets at five baseball stadiums in the Valley for six spring......more>
  • Winnipeg Free Press

    The Baseball Project, "Vol. 2: High and Inside" (Yep Roc) Vol. 2 from The Baseball Project is much like Vol. 1: hit and miss. The lineup of Steve Wynn, Scott McCaughey, Peter......more>
  • ESPN

    Opening Day is more than a month away, but baseball fans should be doubly excited because The Baseball Project's second album, "Volume 2: High and Inside" will be released March......more>
  • Glide

    Figuring out a way to combine baseball and rock and roll while getting paid for it has surely been a dream of countless Americans over the years.  After all, there......more>
  • Spin

    The Baseball Project is a band featuring R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, Young Fresh Fellows' Scott McCaughey, the Dream Syndicate's Steve Wynn, and his wife, drummer Linda Pitmon, who geek out about......more>
  • City Beat

    In September of last year, The Baseball Project — an all-star band featuring Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate) and Wynn’s wife, drummer Linda......more>
  • Globe and Mail

    Tim Lincecum, the longhaired and lithe little guy with a knack for tossing hardballs with astonishing verve and velocity, apparently has been immortalized in song. During its broadcast of the......more>
  • The Bulletin

    With the 2011 Major League Baseball season kicking off this week and temperatures warming up in Bend, this is an ideal time to talk about The Baseball Project, a pop-rock......more>
  • Napster Music Blog

    Throw on the hot dogs, roll out the barrel, and call your boss to let him or her know you might be starting to come down with something… Tomorrow is......more>
  • City's Best Los Angeles

    Baseball season's opening day is March 31. But if you won't celebrating at Dodger Stadium, you might want to head to the Echo for a rare West Coast appearance from......more>
  • Chart Attack

    Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5), Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate, Gutterball), Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Linda Pitmon (Zuzu's Petals, Golden Smog) return for another album full of......more>
  • Press Citizen

    With spring training cranking up in Florida and Arizona, here comes the second collection of diamond-studded rockers by The Baseball Project, a crew of ringers featuring Steve Wynn (of The......more>
  • Jambase

    You may have heard it in AT&T park already this season, but on the heels of the Giants’ commanding seizure of game 1 of the 2010 World Series last night,......more>
  • Made Loud

    You don’t have to be a baseball fanatic to dig The Baseball Project, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The alt-rock supergroup, composed of Peter Buck (REM), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh......more>
  • When you motor away

    Baseball and rock'n'roll go extremely well together. Going to the ballpark to see your team is like going to your favorite club to see a great local band. You get......more>
  • Athens Music Junkie

    Last time I talked to Scott McCaughey, we were battling poor cell reception in North Fricken Dakota, a lack of sleep (Scott), and a lack of voice (me). Yet we......more>