Take a moment and think about what makes these 2013 Red Sox so great. Sure, they had the best offense in the majors, the best record in the American League, and the most walk-off wins of any team in baseball, but that’s not what has endeared them in the hearts and minds of Red Sox fans. The team’s personality, both collective and individual, has come to redefine the team’s identity and beloved status.
Everyone knows about the beards: each team member has one, though no two are the same. What would have the late George Steinbrenner turning over in his grave has helped turn the Red Sox into legitimate World Series contenders. What most fans don’t know, though, is the influence music has on the club.
Think of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, and a plethora of applicable words and phrases come to mind: gritty, dirt dog, poise, tough, All-Star, etc. The list could fill an entire column and sing the 30-year-old’s praises. While most fans would follow suit in finding words and phrases relating to the “dirt dog” category, something most wouldn’t come up with, but is one of Pedroia’s defining characteristics may come as a surprise: West Coast hip hop.
In an interview with Fuse TV, Red Sox DJ TJ Connelly revealed the music genre, synonymous with artists like NWA, Tupac, and Ice Cube, is the only thing the heart and soul of the Red Sox listens to. Upon closer review, it’s only fitting.
Take Pedroia’s walk-up song, for example: “Gettin’ It” by Too $hort. The rapper, who has collaborated with some of rap music’s heavy weights like The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac himself, is one of the pioneers of West Coast hip hop.
While Pedroia certainly isn’t the pioneer of hard-nosed hustle, he may well be the game’s best advocate for it today. His win-at-all-costs attitude makes him a natural leader, so the lyrics to the song he chooses to represent himself when he comes to bat epitomize the general character the entire team has come to embrace.
“You should be gettin’ it/ Get it while the gettin is good, get it while you can,” the chorus rings. If anyone knows about “gettin’ it while the gettin’ is good,” it’s this team, that has been absent from the postseason the past three seasons. It’s followed up by some appropriate verses in the second stanza.
“The first thing you need to do is set yourself some goals/ Think positive, everything else is old/ And work hard, never stop hustling.
“He said meet me at the White House and I was there/ Cause I’m one in a million…”
You could practically touch the positivity oozing out of this club Sunday, as its never-say-die attitude led to a six-run rally and a Game 2 victory over the Tigers. Of course, seven more wins means the Red Sox will be visiting the White House themselves, but who’s counting?
So what else did Connelly have to offer? Well, unsurprisingly, he says designated hitter David Ortiz “likes anything he can nod his head to.” That the sound of the ball flying off his bat is music to Fenway’s ears is something fans all nod their heads in agreement to, especially when that sound leads to a game-tying postseason grand slam.
In addition, he reveals the players aren’t the only ones in baseball with superstition. When asked if he makes any changes for the postseason, the answer was deliberate.
“I try to do some variety throughout the season and as we were chasing the AL East I said, ‘My apologies for all of you who have been here, but I’m perfectly willing to spend 70 games trying out new things,’” Connelly said. “‘But now that we’re at the end, let’s use the things that got us here.’”
Finally, Connelly talks about Sweet Caroline, which traditionally plays between the top and bottom halves of the eighth inning at every Red Sox home game. When the team was losing, there was buzz about the organization ending the tradition.
“I love it at Fenway,” he said. “Any song that you play that makes 40,000 people sing along to is awesome by definition. Being part of that experience is completely fantastic.
“We had a real conversation in the organization about whether to get rid of it or not and most people were like, ‘No, it’s part of the experience and people love it.’”
The decision couldn’t have come at a better time, seeing as good times never seemed so good on Yawkey Way.