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Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Woodling: ‘YMCA’ belongs at the ‘K’

June 19, 2007

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You may have missed it, but the Kansas City Royals are looking for a signature seventh-inning stretch sing-a-long.

Several other major-league baseball clubs augment the traditional "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with a variety of ditties that capture the fancy of their fans.

Many are of a provincial nature like "Deep in the Heart of Texas" in Houston and "Roll Out the Barrel" in Milwaukee. Red Sox fans - for some misguided reason - love to sing along to "Sweet Caroline," arguably the most insipid of an uninspiring array of Neil Diamond offerings.

Now, you would think Royals' fans would gravitate toward "Kansas City," the Wilbert Harrison song that hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1959, yet that melody seems to lack a true sing-a-long syncopation.

To tell the truth, back in the 1980s when the Royals were winning (yes, kiddies, believe it or not), it seemed to me the most popular tune played at Kauffman Stadium was "Elvira" by the Oak Ridge Boys. Man, you couldn't go to a Royals game without hearing "Elvira."

The Oak Ridge Boys' Richard Sterban, a bass who could blow your sub-woofer to smithereens, made "oom, papa, mau, mau" into the most memorable meaningless words since Frank Sinatra warbled "doobie, doobie, doo" in "Strangers in the Night."

If you go to the Royals' Web site, you'll find several possibilities, including "Dancing Queen" by ABBA (too syrupy, in my opinion), "The Limbo" (too banal), "Cotton Eyed Joe" (too hokey) and "Ring of Fire" (not too bad).

Still, if they're going to do a Johnny Cash song, why not "Goin' to Jackson," the bouncy tune Cash recorded with June Carter? K.C. is located in Jackson County, you know.

I have to admit, though, that my favorite is "YMCA." I'm usually pretty stoic at ballparks, having covered sports for the last 40 years as an impartial observer, but something snaps inside me when the P.A. system, as it often does during baseball games, blares that disco ditty by the eclectic group The Village People.

For some reason, like a slobbering Pavlov dog, I can't listen to "YMCA" without standing up and forming the letters Y, M, C and A with my arms. I mean, I hate the wave. I wouldn't do that in a million years. But "YMCA" : well, I can't explain it.

So that's my choice. Go directly from "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" to "YMCA" during the seventh-inning stretch. And on televised home games, instead of switching to one of those maddeningly repetitive AFLAC commercials, please stay on the air for the seventh-inning stretch so I can do "YMCA" in the privacy of my own home.

Anyone can go to www.royals.com and cast a ballot. You don't have to vote for "YMCA," of course, but please, please, please no Neil Diamond.

Among other songs to avoid, mainly because it would ring hollow amid the Royals' current state of demise, is "We Are the Champions." I suppose we can safely omit references to other teams as well - tunes like "New York, New York," "Chicago, My Hometown," "Rocky Mountain High" and "Maryland, My Maryland."

The top three vote getters will battle in a final vote the week of July 2. The winner then will be played during every seventh-inning stretch following the All-Star break.

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