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January 28, 2013

Pebble Hunting

The Fantabulous Rap Extravaganza

by Sam Miller

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There aren't a ton of rap lyrics about baseball. This is because baseball is the lamest sport in the world and you and I are the only people who like it. Skimming Rap Genius, I can find more than 100 rap lyrics about LeBron James, but there is literally not a single one that mentions Justin Verlander

So when a rapper does mention a baseball player, it must mean something, and we'd be fools to ignore whatever it means. So here are three of the most important questions in baseball today, as resolved by rappers:
 
1. Who is the hottest young star in baseball? 
2. Who is the hottest star on the New York Yankees in baseball? 
3. Who is the hottest old white man in baseball? 
 
NOTE: Because of the nature of this exercise, all videos should be assumed to have profanity and/or material you might consider offensive. This warning should not be overlooked. I really mean it. Sexist, violent, lurid, homophobic, drug stuff, etc. Really offensive!
 
Query 1: Mike Trout or Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg or somebody else? 
Trying to figure out the hottest young star requires a definition for “young,” as three quarters of the league seems young to me because I am old. Buster Posey is certainly youngish, and Cali Elem raps that he’s “tryna be a rookie with a ring like Posey did.” But the bar for young should be lower, so this is going to be limited to players who aren’t yet 25. 
 
Bryce Harper, for instance, has two rap references, including one by the well regarded Wale, whose Wikipedia profile is 2,700 words long: 
W’s on my mind, peep what I’m getting at
Attire proper, Bryce Harper though slightly darker
and a rapper named LeGit (no Wikipedia profile) also compares himself to Harper: 
I guaranteed knock it out the park, Bryce Harper…
A few lines later, LeGit compares himself to Hitler, so clearly LeGit isn't making a character reference so much as a "knocking it out of the park" reference. Per LeGit, Harper knocks it out of the park.
 
Wale's line is more nuanced. "W's on my mind" likely has a double-meaning: Both men are single-mindedly focused on winning, and both wear a cap with a W on it. "Attire proper" might mean that Harper, who plays for Wale's hometown team, is playing for the right side, the good guys. "Slightly darker," with the emphasis on slightly, suggests that Wale considers Harper to be, though Caucasian, a relatable person. Wale is vouching for Harper. (The two have broken bread together.) Between Wale and LeGit, we can conclude that Harper has abilities and realness.

Strasburg also gets a Wale reference, along with mentions by Game (5,019-word Wikipedia profile), Skyzoo (903 words), and GR Lynch (no profile). Game’s line name-drops Strasburg without actually naming him: 
San Diego Aztec, number one prospect
while Skyzoo uses Strasburg for a pretty simple pun that I don’t quite get: 
Stephen Strasburg your curve/ Let a base load
And Wale boasts that he will “throw around game, Strasburg pitching.”  I assume it’s “throw around game,” at least, and not “throw a round game” as it appears on various lyrics sites. "Throw a round game" isn't a phrase that seems to exist. Wale seems to say he has game and distributes it widely with great ability. 
 
There are no Mike Trout references in the genre. If any rappers are members of the BBWAA, they likely voted for Miguel Cabrera for MVP, but there are probably no rappers who are members of the BBWAA. There are also no references to Giancarlo (or Mike) Stanton, to Jurickson Profar or Manny Machado or Oscar Taveras or even Justin Upton
 
Rap battle winner: While Strasburg has the most references, his name seems to be invoked more out of convenience. Harper’s references feel more personalized. Bryce Harper wins the rap battle!
 
Both players show up often. Rodriguez is mentioned in about 20 songs, his surname rhymed with “Adidas” and “road to riches” and his nickname rhymed with “day job,” “based God,” “AWOL,” “game all,” “stay hot,” “applaud” and “they not.” Lil Wayne matches “ARodding” and “headlining” in an internal rhyme, because of course he does.  
 
 
Jeter is named in around 30 songs, rhymed with 
  • Millimeter 
  • bleedin' 
  • tweeter 
  • skeeter-skeeter
  • cheaters 
  • see a
  • fecal 
  • G'd up 
  • sneaker 
  • heater 
  • feeder 
  • meet her 
  • Aretha
  • beat her 
  • demeanor 
  • ringleader 
  • parking meter 
  • FIFA
But while each player is mentioned a lot, each player is also mentioned in a particular way. Rodriguez is noted for his money, his dating history, his scandals. Rappers treat him as a celebrity, basically, a famous tabloid figure with public excesses. “My material girls give 'em A-Rod moneyyy,” says Wale in one song, and “wanna see Ross get the A-Rod loot” in another. Lil B (574-word Wikipedia profile) mentions A-Rod’s money, though he undersells it by referring to Rodriguez’s “10 mil contract.” Chris Webby (no profile) complains that A-Rod is overpaid:  
But I put out more hits than A-Rod
And gotta work a seven-dollar an hour day job
“You my stand-in Cameron, let me be your A-Rod,” says Childish Gambino (2,118 words). Common (3,462 words) brings the two themes, the money and the starlets, together: 
Whatever you want, you could quit your day job
You could be my Kate, I could be your A-Rod
And his steroid use comes up, too. Money Making Jam Boys (no profile, but a side project of the Roots’ Black Thought) invokes A-Rod to rhyme “Balco buddy” with “Kid Cudi.” And Slaughterhouse (768 words) zings him. Zings him real good.
This fiscal year I'mma stay hot buzzin
With dudes that help me shoot like A-Rod cousin
Jeter seems to get more respect. As a rap protagonist he is defined by his role on the Yankees more than his role in the tabloids. From Ghostface Killah, for instance, 
Ringleader set it off, rap Derek Jeter
a line that paints Jeter as a winner. Diggy Simmons specifically compares his role in rap to Jeter’s role on the Yankees: 
I'm the lead-off like Derek Jeter
while Cam’ron (among other rappers) notes that Jeter plays the crucial position on the diamond: 
I'm Derek Jeter, cause I'm in between the base my mane
And thats on Lennox, 7 for 8th ace of kings
While ballplayer accomplishments are often used for non-specific pun-based boasts (“I hit hos like Derek Jeter”—Dougie D), Jeter’s accomplishments are actually named specifically. His 3,000th hit, in particular, got rap recognition. Jadakiss:
I could do it 1,000 times.
Mattera fact I could do it 3,000 times.
Call me Mr 3000
Jada Jeter.
Shoot, Skillz (665 words) likes Jeter so much he gives him credit for the all-time home run record: 
Three thousand home runs, Jeter's the dude
There are two extra bits that make this an easy victory for Jeter. One is that he is a New York icon to New York icons: Method Man (3,450 words) and Ghostface Killah (1,712) both rap about him, as do notable New Yorkers Cam’ron (2,430) and Foxy Brown (2,233), Russell Simmons’ son Diggy Simmons (1,014), and former Notorious B.I.G. protege Jadakiss (1,681). Among New York heavyweights, Rodriguez can claim only Jay-Z (6,051 words), whose bar about Rodriguez actually came when Rodriguez was still a Texas Ranger. Rodriguez might have the wealth and status to get rappers’ attention, but Jeter is the one New Yorkers actually love. 
 
The other is the J. Cole song that mentions both in the same line:
 
 
and clearly positions Jeter ahead of A-Rod: “Is that your girl? Well, I just G'd her, no A-Rod.” From Rap Genius: 
To “G” someone’s girl is to take the girl away from them, gangsta style (G stands for gangsta)
Derek Jeter (sounds like “g’d her”) is a teammate of Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez on the New York Yankees
He is also referring to when A-Rod was traded to the Yankees he did not take Jeter’s position as the Short Stop. (Since both Jeter and A-Rod originally play the same position). He’s inferring that no matter how good you are, you aren’t taking his spot.
Derek Jeter wins the rap battle!
 
Query 3: Bobby Cox or Tommy Lasorda 
If you are discouraged because you have never been mentioned in a rap song, take heart: neither has Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge! In fact, unsurprisingly, the default for managers is no mentions: Bruce Bochy, Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog, Mike Scioscia, Jim Leyland, Davey Johnson, Earl Weaver, Terry Francona, Clint Hurdle, etc. are all shut out of hip hop. A New York connection helps, and Joe Torre, Joe Girardi, and Don Mattingly each get a mention or two, but everything in New York gets brought up in a rap lyric at least once. There are three managers who got rappers’ attention without being in New York. 
 
Bobby Cox is known for getting ejected. The Rapper H (no profile):  
Bobby Cox I throw that base and now the majors popping off
Sophisticated wordplay, b****, add a homophone
Among the countless base/base or base/bass punchlines in rap lyrics, this is probably the best. It’s a much more convincing nod to Cox than Cyhi Da Prince’s (348 words) more generic line: 
I'm shy as hell, no Lupe
I'm Bobby Cox, too Brave
Tony La Russa gets the highest-profile mentions, by Jay-Z and Fabolous (1,605 words). Both lyrics are more about the St. Louis nine’s club name than about La Russa’s particular attributes: 
They say its celestial, its all in the stars
Like Tony LaRussa on how you play your Cards
And
But I ain't into coaching birds like Tony LaRussa
 
Lasorda, meanwhile, is named in no fewer than seven songs. Sure, most of the lyrics take advantage of his name—what else rhymes with “Michael Rappaport,” Dom PaChino (393 words) must have wondered for most of an afternoon—or the action-verb qualities of his team name: 
Huh, yo Tommy Lasorda
Dodge bullets, dive into the water
But seven rap mentions is seven rap mentions, and establishes Lasorda as the old white manager with, by far, the most rap credibility. Tommy Lasorda wins the rap battle! Wale, rap’s biggest baseball fan, gets the final say: 
I'm sort of a genius, nothing short of a legend
Sort of Tommy Lasorda
The way I'm sorting these pitchers
Pictures whatever.
So now that’s done. 
 
Lyrics/explanation of lyrics mostly possible thanks to rapgenius.com

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

Related Content:  Rap

25 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Dodger300

No surprise that Lasorda is the man.

So how much rap do you listen to, Sam?

Jan 28, 2013 07:23 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Enough, but I'm a thousand years old so just like your grandpa I don't listen to anything new anymore.

Jan 28, 2013 08:18 AM
 
km9000

He busts the new school stats
And dusts the old school raps.
Don't waste your outs buntin'
When you're out pebble huntin'.

He's cool like Moe Dee
When he writes for BP.
He's boss like Danza
With the rap extravaganza.

He does the disco breakout, like the fish that saved Pittsburgh.
And his mic will cut out, when he rocks with Ben Lindbergh.

He ain't a commie, and he ain't a fascist.
Everybody wants him like he was Jeff Mathis.
When his blog's runnin' hot, yours is just mild.
When he trusts his stuff, he's effectively wild.

Jan 28, 2013 14:52 PM
rating: 12
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

At first when I saw that you'd written a rap I was like oh nooooo but then I was like yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Jan 28, 2013 15:23 PM
 
gdragon1977

You definitely don't need to say "I don't listen to anything new" like it's a bad thing...

Jan 28, 2013 21:22 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Wojciechowski
BP staff

Beginning and ending with Del isn't a bad way to live, exactly.

Jan 28, 2013 21:30 PM
 
gandriole

Epic.

Jan 28, 2013 07:47 AM
rating: 0
 
Jivas
(649)

Rodriguez was with the *Rangers* when Jay-Z bragged of making "A-Rod numbers"? Man, I'm getting old.

Fun article, Sam. If you haven't already, I recommend checking out the Rap Genius podcast; they've done some very cool interviews.

Jan 28, 2013 07:53 AM
rating: 0
 
Lindemann
(852)

Wale is always going to skew things towards D.C. athletes. Who else would have a lyrical reference to a guy who left the Maryland men's basketball team in ignominy ("Home of the Terrapins, beware of the [John] Gilchrist")? As a D.C. suburbs resident and sports fan, I love this to no end.

Jan 28, 2013 08:40 AM
rating: 0
 
SaxonB

I'd like to bring something to the rap/baseball table. Mr. Albert Pujols, who once bought out a jazz station to replace it with Christian programming...is a popular name to drop in rap songs.

Example 1: The epic Wale track featuring Rick Ross and Fabulous titled"Albert Pujols":

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCZE7aECSe8

Lyrics: "I'm trying to knock that out of the park/Albert Pujols"

Example 2: Black Milk and Danny Brown collab.

Track: "LOL"

Lyrics: "Brown like Pujols and always hittin'"

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxkC_7iqxnM

Example 3: Jay-Z's Grammy family freestyle

Lyrics: "But the new improved Hov hit like Albert Pujols

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mE7HuHB5V0M

Notes: DC rapper Shy Glizzy's new "Fxck Rap" mixtape features him on the cover in a Strasburg jersey.

Don't listen to any of these tracks but "LOL"...

Jan 28, 2013 08:59 AM
rating: 0
 
lmarighi

Loved the Deltron 3030 reference. Clicked on it entirely because of that, and wasn't disappointed.

Jan 28, 2013 09:26 AM
rating: 0
 
wilymo

instupicuous

Jan 28, 2013 10:08 AM
rating: 0
 
jdeich

Sam brings it with 900 Newtons, crush you like croutons.

Jan 29, 2013 21:10 PM
rating: 1
 
Danny Baseball

A Funny Kinda Writer (An Original Song)
by Changeup

He gets on with life as a writer,
He's a funny kinda chap.
He likes watching baseball and writing.
He likes to contemplate baseball.
But when he starts to daydream,
His mind turns straight to rap.

Oh oh oh!

Does he love rap more than baseball?
Does he love rap more than baseball?

He likes to use words like 'Elle' and 'Bee.'
He likes to use words about baseball.
But when he stops his talking,
His mind turns straight to rap.

Oh oh oh!

Does he love rap more than baseball?
Does he love rap more than baseball?

He likes to hang out with Sam and Miller.
But when left alone,
His mind turns straight to rap.

Oh oh oh!

Does he love rap more than baseball?
Does he love rap more than baseball?

He hates turf and rainouts.
But he just thinks back to rap,
And he's happy once again.

Oh oh oh!

Jan 28, 2013 09:35 AM
rating: 0
 
max.jensen10

I hate to disagree, but I think Dave Niehaus wins it at. Macklemore (the guy who sings Thrift Shop) has a song all about Niehaus. It references guys like Griffey and Joey Cora, and you can tell Macklemore is a big time M's fan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvNQWQSwmow

Jan 28, 2013 10:20 AM
rating: 3
 
gweedoh565

Sam, I really think that for the A-Rod v. Jeter battle you should have normalized by PA's as a Yankee. Jeter has >6000 more PA than A-Rod to accumulate accolades.

Responsible research methods, b****, add an n-value

Jan 28, 2013 12:35 PM
rating: 9
 
D1Johnson

I must be old. I feel like I'm suffering whiplash having gone from Christina Kahrl on Friday to this on Monday.

Jan 28, 2013 12:39 PM
rating: 2
 
gdragon1977

The best baseball reference in rap is still probably Main Source from a little over 20 years ago

Jan 28, 2013 13:23 PM
rating: 1
 
gdragon1977

And if Black Thought wasn't already awesome enough "Money Making Jam Boys" is such a hilarious and clever name. Tell 'em about Fort Knox! Knox!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1WFA0liN1o

Jan 28, 2013 13:38 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member PQuadrino
BP staff

There's a group out of Detroit called The Wisemen that frequently mentions baseball players. The leader of the group, Bronze Nazareth, had a whole bunch of baseball references on his last album School for the Blindman:

"You a Phil Nierko/ you an old pitcher
on ya grind past ya prime/ I'm a spring chicken"

That's from a song featuring The Rza. They're pretty underground (not big Wikipedia stars at least) but they're good for a baseball reference every song or three.

"Cabrera on the pump/ I spit for the cycle"

Jan 28, 2013 13:46 PM
 
km9000

I just recently came across an excellent Sesame Street dub of the Beastie Boys song Sure Shot, which contains the boast,

"I got more action than my man John Woo
And I got mad hits like I was Rod Carew."

http://vimeo.com/m/27009580

Granted, the song is almost 20 years old. They also did one in Hey Ladies, which is even older:

"There's more to me than you'll ever know
And I got more hits than Sadaharu Oh. "

Jan 28, 2013 14:11 PM
rating: 0
 
mblthd

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPOIS5taqA8


He's Scott Brosius
And he knows just what it
Takes to make Scott Brosis

Jan 28, 2013 15:10 PM
rating: 0
 
gdragon1977

The first lyric that came to my mind when thinking of baseball was
"OK if knowledge is the key then just show me the lock
Got the scrawny legs but I move just like Lou Brock"

Jan 28, 2013 16:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Lindemann
(852)

Or "Beepers going off like Don Trump gets checks
Keep my bases loaded like the New York Mets"

Jan 29, 2013 03:03 AM
rating: 0
 
drmorris

Special award to the ballplayer with the most rap songs bearing his name as the full song title: Barry Bonds, with three, including cuts by Kanye and Drake.

Jan 28, 2013 23:44 PM
rating: 1
 
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