New Oakland Athletics on the field, new look scoreboards, and what’s this, a new victory theme song? All I can say is, “Oh, my ears! What happened to tradition?”
This might come as a huge shock to Gen X and Millennials, so stop tweeting and Instagraming your emojis for a second, kids, and get prepared for a totally unreal statement. Here it is: Once upon a time, the A’s were awful; 100-loss seasons, game attendance that was even less than a thousand for one game, and a team of never-heard-ofs or used-to-bes.
Then comes 1981 – that’s 34 years for those still stuck doing the Common Core math. Enter feisty Billy Martin in his first full season of Billy Ball with a 22-year-old Rickey Henderson, Gold Glover Dwayne Murphy, and a pitching staff of Mike Norris, Rick Langford, Steve McCatty, Matt Keough and Brian Kingman throwing complete games by the ton that led the team to a 11-0 start, losing once, and then reeling off six more victories to reach 17-1.
It was a glorious, record-setting April, launching a memorable season in A’s history and into the ALCS that year bringing us fans who stuck with the team through the late 70s out of a long slumber of some serious baseball funk.
Also enter Kool & the Gang’s then R&B Pop chartbuster “Celebration” that was played after each A’s victory – and has been played ever since, after each A’s win. That’s right, every one, including years of comebacks, walk-offs, division clinchers, playoff wins and even a few World Series wins. That is, until opening night Monday when a God-awful “Theme for Oakland” by local punk rockers Phenomenauts was blaring from above as players walked off and curious fans were left wondering, “What is this **** (stuff)?”
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From what I understand in a report from Susan Slusser, this infringement on Oakland Athletics’ tradition and lore was defended by A’s VP of broadcasting and communications Ken Pries who said the team decided to move away from Celebration as “a nod to newness – new scoreboards, new season, lots of new players.”
What’s next, Ken, the white shoes? How about ditch the green and gold and go with blues and reds like practically everyone else in MLB?
Kool and the Gang’s Celebration WAS and STILL SHOULD BE Oakland A’s baseball.
This new unnerving song sounds like the beginning to a sequel for the movie The Departed not a victory….wait for it… celebration. There’s no groove, no “Woo-hoo” for all to sing to, no brain worm that keeps playing in your mind during the drive home.
And while the Phenomenauts have massively impressive pipes, a whole lotta them, they can’t rock it for real like the Motown gang. These days, artists are able to get by on looks, publicity and aid from YouTube, Auto-Tune, and anyone’s free podcast.
If there’s one thing you can rely on in baseball, it’s that fans are fiercely loyal to certain beloved traditions. Mess with those traditions at your peril.
So, OK A’s, you tried it, “Theme for Oakland” didn’t work, time to put it back on the shelf and bring back Kool & the Gang.