Baseball Toaster Just A Bit Outside
Doing the Denial Twist
2005-12-28 08:11
by Erik Siegrist

I was listening to music on my brand new iPod Nano the other day (I clearly got the right one -- after loading it up, the first thing it played on shuffle was Stonehenge by Spinal Tap) when My Doorbell by the White Stripes began playing, and it occurred to me that while most people believe the song, and Get Behind Me Satan as a whole, are about Jack White's break-up with Renee Zellweger, the song is really about something completely different -- namely, the upcoming Baseball Hall of Fame elections.

Oh sure, you're scoffing now, but before I analyze the lyrics ask yourself this: Is anyone really going to be so broken up by losing Renee Zellweger that they'd write more than a postcard about it?


But here, take a look for yourself:

I'm thinkin' about my doorbell, when you gonna ring it?
When you gonna ring it?
Yeah, I'm thinkin' about my doorbell, when you gonna ring it?
When you gonna ring it?
Yeah, I'm thinkin' about my doorbell, when you gonna ring it?
When you gonna ring it?
Yeah, I been thinkin' about my doorbell
Oh, well

Clearly Jack is singing from the point of view of the Hall itself, as it wonders who the next players to step up and 'ring (its) doorbell' and get inducted are going to be.

Well, women and children need kisses
Not the men in my life, I know

"Women and children" refers to the voting baseball writers, who unlike "the men in my life" (those already inducted) need coddling and approval ("kisses"). This isn't the first shot White fires at the voters.

And I been callin' a Mister a Missus
I respect the art of the show

This seems to be a defense of some recent inductees that have drawn criticism -- Robin Yount (with his ambiguously-gendered first name), and stellar defenders Bill Mazeroski and Ozzie Smith ("the art of the show", or perhaps "the art of the Show.") White is saying that there is room for all types of players inside the Hall.

Take back what you said, little girl
And while you're at it, take yourself back too
'Cause I'm tired of sittin' here, waitin'
Wondering what you're gonna do now, what you're gonna do about it

A stinging indictment of those writers bemoaning the lack of "obvious" candidates on this year's ballot.

After another chorus, we hit the bridge:

You don't seem to come around
Push your finger and make a sound

Here White is referring to how stingy the voting body seems to have become in the last decade or so, although to be fair the writers elected just as many players from 1996-2005 as they did 1986-1995. Still, when players like Ryne Sandberg barely cross the 75% line, and others like Bert Blyleven can't build any momentum, something does seem amiss.

You don't seem to come around
Knock, knock, did you knock it down?

White takes a moment to mourn the loss of all the old ballparks, such as Tiger Stadium in his hometown of Detroit, that have been 'knocked down' and lost to the march of profit... err, progress.

Make a sound, and I'll make you feel right
Right at home, yeah
Yeah, right at home, yeah

White, through the Hall, asks only that the voters "make a sound" (vote) so that the Hall can welcome new, deserving players and make them "feel... right at home."

You know you got me waitin' in pain
But how come it's so easy to you?

Another zinger, directed at those voters who don't seem to take their responsibilities seriously enough.

You don't strike me as the type to be callous
But your words seem so obtuse

The key here is the play on words with 'strike' -- this is clearly a reference to Blyleven, the retired pitcher with the most career strikeouts, and a challenge to those writers who have to jump through so many verbal and logistical hoops to deny Blyleven's obvious qualifications. White isn't saying that these voters are bad ("callous") people, just that they have become too entrenched in their opinions and invested too much of their ego in the argument, and that they need to take a step back.

But then again, I know you feel guilty
And you tell me you want me again
But I don't need any of your pity
I got plenty of my own friends, they're all above me

A reminder not to dwell on the mistaken votes of the past but to move forward, capped by a touching tribute to those Hall of Famers who have passed on.

Back through the chorus to a slightly different bridge:

They don't seem to come around
Push the finger and make a sound

The first of White's predictions: the writers won't "come around", and neither of the big-name closers on the ballot (Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter) will "push the finger" (or rather, push Rollie Fingers) and get elected.

They don't seem to come around
Paint it green, they'll knock it down

Jim Rice, also, will not join the long list of Red Sox sluggers who 'knocked down' the Green Monster with their bat and gained entry to the Hall.

Make a sound, and I'll make you feel right
Right at home
Right at home
I'm thinkin' about my doorbell, when you gonna ring it?
When you gonna ring it?...

So, if the song is correct, none of this year's main candidates -- Blyleven, Rice, Sutter, Gossage, even Dawson (there may be a demo version of the song out there referencing a hawk; it's something worth investigating) -- will get elected by the writers, probably prompting a round of soul-searching among the voting body.

Who knew that Jack White was such a die-hard baseball fan?

2005-12-29 10:20:38
1.   Jon Weisman
Great post!
2005-12-31 01:44:50
2.   Marc Normandin
Jack White loves baseball because I love Jack White. Clearly my logic is flawless. Good job Erik.

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