Just a reminder: posts are still going up regularly at Baseball Prospectus, with recents posts looking at the sad execution of a Negro Leaguer, a fantastic Richard Marx video involving Dennis Eckersley, and a comparison of search results from Google.com and Google.co.uk. There are also, of course, the daily Tater Trot Tracker posts (with the 2012 leaderboard here). This post comes from the Terrific Girlfriend, after the sad news of Adam Yauch's death. Major League Baseball might learn a thing or two from the way the Beastie Boys matured since their debut album.
I was out of sorts this weekend after hearing that Adam Yauch, aka 'MCA', and my favorite Beastie, had passed away. Hearing the news via Twitter instead of Kurt Loder (as I had when Kurt Cobain died) added to this out of sorts feeling. Kurt Loder (to me) was the Vin Scully of the MTV generation. Indeed, it made me feel a little nostalgic for when MTV played real music and was the authority on cool. I had a similar ache of sadness when Joey, DeeDee, Johnny Ramone and Joe Strummer died a few years apart from each other. I thought these guys were too tough to get cancer and die. Twenty years earlier, it was Keith Moon and John Bonham. Mostly the ache comes from the realization that we're all mortal.
The Beastie Boys were always cool because they successfully matured without getting old. I think a lot of people think that growing older means giving up childish pursuits and become absolutely boring. Growing older and maturing mean completely different things. I think you have the choice to fit a mold, let yourself naturally evolve, or force yourself to get to that next level. The Beastuie Boys they did the latter. Enlightenment doesn't have to mean that you also can't be a badass. Part of growing older is accepting the undiscovered country of adulthood and taking advantage of all the benefits.
In applying this thought to baseball, for some odd reason, I started thinking about the Brewers and their uniforms. People love the old ball and glove logo from the 80's. It's a good logo. However, the team was sick of hearing about '1982' when they made it to the World Series. We live in a city that celebrates being 'almost champions'. Anyway, the Beasties (in contrast) used to perform with a giant phallus on stage and dancing girls in cages. In the latter half of their career they didn't even perform 'Fight For Your Right' anymore because that was the 'old' them and they were on a different path. They wanted to shed that frat boy image because they wanted to transcend to that next level of musicianship.
Baseball and music are two industries that prize youth over anything else and are afraid of change. There aren't many (if any) women that call Major League baseball games on t.v or radio. In 1987, Chicagoans gave themselves a nosebleed when Wrigley finally added lights and night games. "That's not how it was when I was a kid!!!" Well guess what, you aren't a kid anymore and really, it isn't about you. It's about other people. Music and baseball are both individual and communal undertakings. In regards to change, the Beasties didn't fight for their right to party so much as fought for their right to be themselves and have their career on their own terms. Same thing with ballplayers. Nostalgia and archaic rules are forced down their throats. For these people, it's a job but it's also an art form. It's an incredibly difficult industry to be in already when you're considered 'old and disposable' before you reach 30.
I think the ultimate lesson is to let it all go and enjoy athletes and musicians for their individual gifts and for maturing into the people that they ultimately become. The creative and athletic processes can be incredibly difficult and the person that taps into and harnesses it and evolves is utterly wonderful. I'm sure people told Robin Yount that he couldn't excel at two positions.
If we look at where baseball is at in terms of Beastie Boys albums I'd say we're at around the 'Ill Communication' phase with the "Paul's Boutique" age being somewhere around the 1960's. Now that I think about it, maybe baseball's "Paul's Boutique" still eludes us because we haven't pushed the boundaries of what baseball can really do. I think ultimately what the Beastie Boys taught us about baseball is that the the past is an important touchstone but it is only a building block of what is yet to come. It's like people who had one amazing year in 1987 and still dress that way because they're afraid to change.