It's October, and that means it's time for the Major League Baseball playoffs! of my favorite times of the year. So tonight, a playlist inspired by some of the towns, teams, and plays you'll be seeing highlights of this postseason -- and likely, for years to come.
  1. John Fogerty, "Centerfield"
    The quintessential '80s baseball song, though it doesn't mention any contemporary stars. But it does join "Mrs. Robinson" in its gratuitous name-drop of Joe DiMaggio, so there's that.
  2. Starship, "We Built This City"
    Frequently at or near the top of the list of "worst songs of all time," this abstract tribute to San Francisco serves as our representation for Madison Bumgarner and the Giants, though I could have gone with Michael Bolton's version of "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay," the Grateful Dead's "Touch Of Grey," or really anything by Journey.
  3. The Manhattan Transfer, "The Boy From New York City"
    The Mets have already been unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs (by Bumgarner et al.), but let's throw in this fun cover of the 1960s Lieber-Stoller-penned hit for the Ad Libs.
  4. Baltimora, "Tarzan Boy"
    So it's one letter off from the city in Maryland that houses the Orioles (also already eliminated in the wild card round), but, close enough. Couldn't find anything tangible for Toronto or the Blue Jays name, by the way. Blame Canada!
  5. Night Ranger, "Sister Christian"
    Night Ranger, Lone Ranger...Walker, Texas Ranger. Even Chuck Norris would approve of this power ballad to match up with the best team in the AL this season, which plays at some corporate-named stadium that used to be known as The Ballpark in Arlington. (As Starship said above, "Who cares, they're always changing corporation names.")
  6. Missing Persons, "Walking In L.A."
    The Dodgers use Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." as their de facto theme song, and have for years, but in truth it's a bit tongue-in-cheek, hiding its true meaning (with Newman, are you surprised?) So instead we have this. I've never been to Los Angeles, but I hear the characterization in this song is accurate.
  7. The Bangles, "Walk Like An Egyptian"
    Speaking of walking, it's one of the few baseball terms that shows up in numerous '80s song titles. This massive #1 hit was the most popular song in America the year I was born, but I'll let you look it up and figure out what year that was.
  8. Van Halen, "Love Walks In"
    More Van Hagar for you (told you my feelings about 5150)...a terrific power ballad that counteracted the album's two other huge singles, "Why Can't This Be Love" and "Dreams." Some of my favorite Alex Van Halen drum work in this one.
  9. Tom Petty, "Runnin' Down A Dream"
    Of many iconic guitar riffs by longtime Petty sideman Mike Campbell, this might be the most recognizable. And if you can figure out the reason for the appearance of that weird, chime-like synthesizer on the fadeout, you know a lot more about music than I think I do. ESPN actually used this as an alternate theme for its baseball coverage about 10 years ago.
  10. The Rolling Stones, "One Hit (To The Body)"
    Legendary rock critic/curmudgeon Robert Christgau and I seem to be the only two people who think the Dirty Work album is worth anything, and this was the biggest original hit to come from the boys' 1986 effort (their cover of "Harlem Shuffle" hit #5 on this side of the Atlantic). Bumgarner gave up more than one hit to the Mets last night, but it doesn't feel that way.
  11. Double, "The Captain Of Her Heart"
    So the group's name isn't pronounced like the two-base hit -- rather doo-BLAY -- but the soothing piano of this 1986 hit, along with Kurt Maloo's detached vocals, always makes for a crowd-pleaser. Addendum: the Mets' David Wright is the only current captain of an MLB team.
  12. Pat Benatar, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"
    There probably is no more iconic song in Benatar's repertoire than this one, and I'm always amazed that it packs so much action into less than three minutes. Another "hit" song; it was not put on this list in error.
  13. Supertramp, "Take The Long Way Home"
    Edwin Encarnacion and Conor Gillaspie have both done what the title says with their game-winning home runs in the wild card games. George Carlin: "In baseball, the object of the game is to go home! And be safe!"
  14. Eddie Money feat. Ronnie Spector, "Take Me Home Tonight/Be My Baby"
    Runners at second and third base will hope to be "taken home tonight" (just like Ronnie sang, in case you'd forgotten) by one of the big RBI men left in the playoffs, like Encarnacion, David Ortiz or Kris Bryant.
  15. Elton John, "Ball And Chain"
    So it doesn't quite fit in as easily as some of the others, but this album track from Elton's 1982 Jump Up! record is the only one in my whole database with the word "ball" in the title. This was the album on which John reunited, in part, with classic-era lyricist Bernie Taupin, though this song in particular was co-written by Gary Osborne (the lyricist on the hits "Little Jeannie" and "Blue Eyes," among others).
  16. Boston, "Amanda"
    You might wish we had one of Boston's more uptempo tracks to be the Red Sox representative on this list...well, sorry! You'll have to deal with this #1 hit ballad, a comeback of sorts from 1986. Still a good song, but it's no "Don't Look Back"...
  17. Grover Washington Jr. feat. Bill Withers, "Just The Two Of Us"
    I've included the full album version here for your listening pleasure. In the Washington Nationals' previous incarnation, the Montreal Expos, they never made the playoffs in a full season. They were NL East co-champions in the strike-shortened 1981 split season, and of course had the best record in the majors in 1994 when another strike wiped out the rest of the year, including the playoffs and World Series.
  18. Chicago, "You're The Inspiration"
    Similarly...much rather would have had "Saturday In The Park" or "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is" for the Cubs -- the best team in MLB this year deserves it -- but, and I hate to admit it, this is what the '80s gave us.
  19. The Outfield, "Your Love"
    This British band's strange fascination with America's national pastime was readily apparent not only in the group's name, but the title of the album from which this came, Play Deep. The similar-sounding "All The Love In The World" was another hit from that LP, but not much was heard from The Outfield after that.
  20. Queen, "Play The Game"
    Last week you heard "Another One Bites The Dust," probably the most impactful single from Queen's 1980 The Game LP (although, of course, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" hit #1 too). But this song is also good.
  21. Santana, "Winning"
    Coming off a massively successful decade, the single "Winning" (I mean, #winning) actually turned into the biggest chart hit for Santana in the 1980s. Unfortunately, it came in just the second year of the decade. The band would not make a major dent for another 18 years, not until "Smooth" ruled your radios in the summer of 1999.
  22. Genesis, "Throwing It All Away"
    I didn't mean to call out Lucas Duda here, but sometimes you literally throw away your best chance at winning a baseball game, like in Game 5 of last year's World Series. As Genesis morphed into a pure pop band in the mid-80s, this was one of their singles with the most grit.
  23. The Cure, "Boys Don't Cry"
    There's no crying in baseball! But there's plenty of crying in alternative new wave/goth rock. Robert Smith may try to tell you differently, but don't believe a word.
  24. ABBA, "The Winner Takes It All"
    Another group coming off an incredibly fruitful decade, ABBA included this ballad on their 1980 Super Trouper album. It, too, would start the '80s on a promising note just like with Santana, but not really lead anywhere. One of the girls went on to do some solo work in collaboration with Phil Collins; the guys co-wrote the musical Chess with Tim Rice.
  25. Kool & the Gang, "Celebration"
    To the winner go the spoils...and this 1980 #1 hit. Who will win the World Series? We'll be waiting and watching all month to find out.