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7/10/2006 05:18:00 PM

8 Great Un(der)sung Sports Songs

Oakland Arena
Adam Sandler, seen here playing basketball with Dwyane Wade, deserves credit for The Lonesome Kicker, his ode to the most unappreciated member of a football team.
Evan Agostini/Getty Images
They're the solid performers who don't get their due. So, we now salute a handful of songs that capture assorted sports, personalities, eras and endeavors with hooks, style and wit. We're interested to know which tunes you'd add to the pile and which ones you think are played out. Anyone had enough of "Enter Sandman" and "YMCA"?

1. Fisticuffs (1997, by Primus) Les Claypool's evocative pean to the glory days of bareknuckle boxing, with a cast of memorable characters such as James (Yankee Sullivan) Ambrose, Hammer Lane, and the Butcherman. "Lilly and McCoy were shy of a hundred and forty pounds/In 1842 they went 118 rounds/They begged McCoy to cash it in, he said that he would not/Got up and fought one more round then died right on the spot..." Ouch.

2. Cricket (1973, The Kinks) A charming allegory about life from the band's obscure gem "Preservation Act I" in which Ray Davies warns of the rude, shrewd Demon Bowler who is out to take your wicket by baffling you with googlies, leg breaks and offspin. And you know that that's not cricket.

3. Hockey Monkey (1999, The Zambonis) It's hard to beat little kids, a pond, and a chimp with a hockey stick on a joyful romp while teachers and the National Guard search high and low for them. From the Connecticut-based hockey nuts who also gave you "Bob Marley and The Hartford Whalers."

4. Basketball Jones (1973, Cheech & Chong) Tyrone Shoelaces exorts the whole stadium to stand while George Harrison wails away on lead axe in a band that also featured the late Billy Preston (before he died) and Carole King. C'mon everybody, sing with Tyrone: "Yes, I am the victim of a Basketball Jones/Ever since I was a little baby, I always be dribblin'/In fac', I was de baddest dribbler in the whole neighborhood..."

5. The Lonesome Kicker (1997, Adam Sandler) A sidesplitting epic about that diminutive sideline outcast who usually gets the blame but not enough of the glory. "But I kick that ball/And I pray it goes straight/If it does, the coach says "Good job, number 8/He doesn't even know my name is Andre Kristacovitchlalinski, Jr./But that's the life I live."

6. Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? (1949, by Buddy Johnson) Joltin' Joe DiMaggio had his anthem in 1941, and Count Basie's version of Johnson's ode to Robinson is cool and smooth like the song's namesake. "Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that ball?/It went zoomin cross the left field wall/Yeah boy, yes, yes/Jackie hit that ball...

7. Basketball (1984, Kurtis Blow) Before Shaquille O'Neal became Shaq Fu, Kurtis Blow struck a union between hoops and music with his catchy anthem, "Basketball." The lyrics are somewhat simple: "Basketball is my favorite sport/I like the way they dribble up and down the court," but any song that references Ralph Sampson, Bill Russell and Daryl Dawkins is okay with us.

8. The Crusher (1995, The Ramones) From the makers of that energetic arena standby "Blitzkrieg Bop" comes a song about a cowardly wrestler who chickens out rather than be torn limb from limb by The Russian Bear.

Got any of your own?
posted by sidotcom | View comments |  


Posted: 12:02 PM, July 12, 2006   by Anonymous
Boxing by Ben Folds Five. A fictional ode from a mournful Muhammad Ali to Howard Cossel on how his age is catching up to him but the ups and downs of what boxing has done for both of them.