Songwriters sometimes run out of topics to write about. So they scan the newspapers, write something about socio-economic injustice or a sinking ship, pass go and collect their $200. But some songwriters get so desperate they make it to the Sports page. And that's where they find funny names and instant inspiration. Personally, I'm waiting for tributes to Coco Crisp, Milton Bradley and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Bill Lee": Bill Lee was a pitcher who claimed he liked to sprinkle marijuana on his pancakes. They called him the Spaceman because he was so weird. As Zevon put it, "You're supposed to sit on your ass and nod at stupid things, man, that's hard to do." Then again, it depends how much they pay you.
Belle & Sebastian--"Piazza, New York Catcher": Not for one second am I going to believe that this twee Scottish pop group know a thing about baseball. It's logistically impossible. However, Mike Piazza was the catcher for the New York Mets as any Yo La Tengo fan can tell you. How he ended up here is creepy, disturbing and fundamentally wrong.
Soundgarden--"Ty Cobb": Leave it those harbingers of grunge to immortalize one of the creepiest, unrepentant players in the game. The man stole bases! And he didn't give them back. And he liked to spike his opposing players and send them to the hospital where without medical insurance these young ball players were certainly in harm's way. He was also considered not such a nice guy in matters of race, money and progressive taxation.
Catfish": I suppose you could assume this is actually a song about fishing but it isn't. Unlike "Hurricane" or "Joey," Dylan stuck this tribute to Oakland A's and Yankee pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter on his outtake box many years after the man's prime. So any accusations of Dylan jumping on the Catfish bandwagon are misinformed. Just as I'm sure Dylan's "George Jackson" single was not originally to be titled "Reggie Jackson" despite rumors to the contrary.
S. F. Seals--"Dock Ellis": C'mon the guy's name makes up Ellis-D and some say he pitched a no-hitter tripping on the stuff. Perfect. Barbara Manning included the song on her short-lived group's Baseball Trilogy EP. The group's even named after a minor league baseball team. Can't get more conceptual than that! Why would you want to?