Phillies clubhouse music is less country and more Metallica--at least for pitcher Randy Wolf.
On the surface, at least, the musical tastes of the 2004 Philadelphia Phillies appear as diverse as any club in baseball. Bobby Abreu's hobby, it says in the team media guide, is "listening to salsa music." Ricky Ledee's father was a salsa singer with Puerto Rico's La Sonora Ponce�a. Jimmy Rollins is a noted hip-hop aficionado.
David Bell has been friends with Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder since the third baseman's days in Seattle. When Vedder stopped by the Vet last season to shag batting-practice flies, Mike Lieberthal had the grunge-rock icon sign a guitar. In turn, Vedder, a baseball memorabilia collector, asked for a signed catcher's helmet.
Last year the club presented North Carolina-born pitcher Kevin Millwood with an autographed Toby Keith ax in recognition of his no-hitter. And Millwood isn't the only country music fan in the clubhouse.
"Just find the guys with the Southern accents," says pitcher Randy Wolf in the musically silent visitors' clubhouse at New York's Shea Stadium. "Those are the guys listening to country."
Wolf's musical preference is rock. Hard rock. Throw him in with catchers Lieberthal and Todd Pratt in that regard. Curiously, though a lefty, Wolf once donned the catcher's gear in Little League himself.
Maybe catching, like hard rock, is a macho thing--receiving pitches thrown upward of 95 miles an hour, taking foul tips in the cup and off the hands, blocking the plate against 200-plus-pound runners barreling home with the intention of separating your body from the ball, bulked-up guys just begging to blindside you.
"I don't want to do it now," Wolf says.
You don't have to own a copy of the classic film Heavy Metal Parking Lot to know that hard-rock enthusiasts aren't thought of for their intellect first. Though similar stereotypes hover over professional athletes, Randy Wolf was astute enough to leave catching for a position that necessitates his on-field participation only once every five days and little physical contact.
"Metal, to me," Wolf says, "is an honest, kind of angry, frustrated release of feelings. Like early Metallica or Iron Maiden. If you listen to any kind of hard-rock metal band, it goes back to either Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. It's one or the other."
Wolf says he was a huge Metallica fan in junior high school.
"In junior high and high school I was, like, the biggest Metallica fan. "I loved Master of Puppets," he says. "And when I heard Master of Puppets, I really wanted to hear ... And Justice for All. Then I went back, got Kill 'Em All, then Ride the Lightning. Then they took--I can't say it's a bad turn. They sold a lot of albums. But I really like the more complicated albums before--the riffs they used, their style of music."
Wolf says a specific Metallica concert he went to in high school remains his favorite.
"They were with Guns 'N Roses," he recalls, "and we had unbelievable seats. My brother and I went with his friend. It was at the Rose Bowl. And it was right after Montreal, where James Hetfield burned his arm. He couldn't play guitar, but Metallica put on an unbelievable show. It was my first real show. I was only 15 years old."
Rather than be let down by the headlining Guns 'N Roses, Randy Wolf, his brother Jim, and Jim's friend made a decision.
"After Metallica we left."
And what about Some Kind of Monster, Metallica's new movie?
Wolf's not interested.
"I don't need to see them going through rehab," he says.
Modern Baseball finds its sweet spot