As of this writing, the Houston Astros have not yet advanced to the American League Championship Series, but c’mon. I know written prognostication of any kind is done at the risk of snarky (and trite!) retorts of “this aged poorly.” But since those snappy comebacks aren’t sticks, stones or baseball bats, I’ll forge ahead and predict the ‘Stros reach the ALCS for a seventh straight season.
When (okay, if) that happens, the Texas Rangers will be waiting for them, having already earned a berth to the World Series springboard matchup. And then, the Houston Astros will be in trouble. Not because the ‘Stros aren’t better than the Arlingtons, but because music history says the Rangers are destined to win Major League Baseball’s title this year. As is frequently the case, a lot in life hinges upon music and it would seem the Rangers have music on their side this year.
And, like a Framber Valdez curveball, the worse the music, the better the team’s chance to succeed. It’s a bigger momentum push than a locker room speech or the proverbial bulletin board material. Bad music is going to be good for the Texas Rangers. If I was a betting man, I’d plunk a wad of cash on it in Vegas.
The backstory is that the team apparently digs the ‘90s rock band Creed. According to a New York Post piece, they love the band so much they unironically listen to “With Arms Wide Open” and “My Sacrifice” on the team bus and have “special handshakes to go along with the songs.” Yes, you read that right.
As they do, fans have attached to this team quirk as witnessed when Globe Lifers sang Creed’s 1999 hit “Higher” in unison during the Rangers’ league division series win. You can bet the song will ring out during every remaining postseason game played in Arlington.
Music fans with no dog in the fight have long considered the band “derivative blowhards with a self-righteous Christian agenda,” per a long-ago Slate article which actually advocated on Creed’s behalf. They groaned at lead singer Scott Stapp’s unsubtle Eddie Vedder impersonation. A Rolling Stone article once blasted Creed by saying its “utter lack of either humor or self-awareness is the band’s most distinctive trait.”
As with Nickelback, some fans derided the music while others pushed it to the top of the Billboard charts. It’s those fans who were singing “Higher” at Globe Life Field this week, breathing fresh life into a 25 year-old song which had more or less been relegated to karaoke bars and church camps.
History says if your baseball team adopts a terrible song, you’re going to win the World Series. And your odds increase if your World Series opponent is the Houston Astros. It happened in 2005 when the ‘Stros’ Series opponent, the Chicago White Sox, made Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” their theme song. The good guys were swept in four games while Chicagoans sang about “shadows searchin’ in the night.” (Disclaimer: I actually kind of like the song, but I liked it a hell of a lot less when it was used like a weapon against my favorite baseball team. So, save your defenses of the song, it is a classic. Carry on).
It got even worse in 2019 when the Washington Nationals defeated Houston in a seven-game series. The Nats also had a team theme song that its fans went bonkers over, one they pushed into the sportsball and music dialogue, right up there with Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” and Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” The song which propelled Washington to baseball glory was “Baby Shark.” In case you’ve somehow forgotten how the song goes, click the link to the embedded video and give it a listen. Then you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. You can thank me later.
Is ”Higher” going to be the third bad song to curse the Astros World Series hopes? Not sure yet. But what we do know already is that some music and baseball fans hate this trend from Arlington. From the comments threads, there’s “I’ve never disliked the Rangers any more than right now;” “When you think Texas can’t be any worse they gotta one up themselves;” “Hell on Earth at that ball game at that moment;” “I hope they never win another game!;” and, of course, “I blame Greg Abbott.”
These commenters may dislike the song and the band and the team and the state, but it doesn’t mean it’ll slow the Rangers’ chances to MLB dominance. In fact, it pretty much guarantees it. The team and its fans are inspired by a song and, more than that, a feeling the song expresses, something that defines their moment together in this space and time, how special it is to them all. When that happens, there’s little to slow the mo’. That’s how music works, people.
I’m a lifetime Houstonian and Astros fan so it pains me to suggest this is where we’re headed. I don’t want the Rangers or Creed to be showcased in ESPN’s highlight reels. Our only hope may be to adopt a song even worse than Creed’s “Higher.” I’m sure there's something out there, if we search hard enough. Maybe the Nationals will let us borrow “Baby Shark” for a week or two? Otherwise, “Higher” might be the hymn to the fulfillment of a baseball prophecy.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.