Hello. My name is Drew, and I think Bruce Springsteen is just OK. I have never bought one of his albums. I have attended one of his concerts (I was shitfaced), but only one. I used to practice singing "Brilliant Disguise" in the shower when I was in high school so that I could serenade a girl with it. Any girl, really. Anyway, I never went through with this plan, much to everyone's relief. The Boss and I are on cordial terms (we have never met). I like him. I don't love him. If you told me I could never listen to a Springsteen song again for the rest of my life, I think I'd be fine with that.
This makes me an anomaly among people who are paid to write about sports for a living. Sportswriters are fucking INSANE for Bruce Springsteen. Oh, but don't take my word for it. Take Joe Posnanski's word for it…
Springsteen, to so many of us, represents an almost boundless energy. He gets older but he doesn't get old. He still rocks until past curfew.
Or Peter King:
I really want to meet Bruce Springsteen this week. Is that too much to ask?… Come to think of it, if I met him, what would I say? "I love your music?" "The Wrestler is going to be an ESPN instant classic?"… I'd probably just say the same thing to him that I often say to Bailey the golden retriever: "You're so good." Or maybe: "I'm proud to share the same state." Something ridiculously gee-whiz.
Or this guy from the Wall Street Journal:
Or Bill Simmons:
The Wallflowers were flying pretty high at the time (looking back, you could even make the case that they were the most underrated mainstream band from the latter half of the '90s), and it's quite possible that Bruce completely derailed young Jakob.
(Side note: Under no circumstances can you make the case that the Wallflowers were the most underrated mainstream band from the latter half of the '90s.)
Or Gene Wojosdfakjhsfeifhgae;rgijrg'lkr at ESPN:
Full disclosure: I'm a Boss-ophile. Who isn't? I wanted to work construction for the Johnstown Company. I wanted my parents to move to New Jersey because Springsteen lived there. When they ordered me to eat my dinner vegetables, I'd wail, "It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap."
And deposed Browns GM Mike Lombardi:
After the 2012 NFL Draft ended, I took a great deal of time touring the European countryside, listening to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
And Michael Silver:
First, a disclaimer: I love Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and I've seen him many times in concert. An acoustic guitar bearing his signature sits in my living room.
And Don Banks:
I'm in favor of a free Springsteen concert wherever and whenever.
And Wright Thompson, just today!
And Vegas sportswriter Steve Carp, who has attended over 200 shows. Two hundred!
And Globe writer Pete Abraham, who has been to over 114 Springsteen concerts. And Tennesseean reporter Joshua Cooper. And David Lassen. And this guy at FOX. And Orange County Register writer Bill Plunkett, who invited Springsteen to his wedding, even though he did not know him. And Dodgers writer Anthony Jackson. And Padres reporter Barry Bloom, who went to five shows on the last tour alone. And MLB reporter Anthony Castrovince. And ESPN's Seth Wickersham. And, of course, braying man-donkey Chris Russo.
Now obviously, these are all old white guys, and Bruce Springsteen makes music for old white guys, so the link between the two is understandable. But wait! There are also women sportswriters who love this shit! Like Mets writer Caryn Rose. And Liz Clarke at the Washington Post:
For most of my life, Bruce had been the constant. His music had carried me through high school, college and graduate school; through 14 changes of address, five newspaper jobs, boyfriends best forgotten and those who linger still. He became my beacon—the affirmation of all I believed and the object of my devotion—from the moment I got to see him perform live, at the old Palladium in New York City, on Sept. 16, 1978.
And Sherry Ross at the New York Daily News:
Why is Bruce Springsteen like ice hockey? Because he is best appreciated live. As good as his recorded music is - the new "Magic" album is just that - seeing Bruce in person means you never have to explain to anyone why you love rock and roll.
And then there are YOUNG sportswriters who eat up the Bruce as well, like David Just.
Okay, so for real: What the fuck is going on here? How did sportswriters become so utterly homogenous that they all have the exact same favorite musician? Pos even created a Hall of Fame for Springsteen songs (it is not confined to just one post, either). How did this huge HOT TAKE BONER for the Boss come to be?
I'll tell you how: Because Bruce Springsteen is the perfect embodiment of what sportswriters want to see in the athletes they cover. He is the musical David Eckstein. He's tough! He's scrappy! He comes from humble roots and is self-made. He's blue collar. He's the first guy to get to the stadium and the last guy to leave. He runs out his pop flies. He's loyal to his home state of New Jersey, even though he moved to L.A. for a bit and also has a house in Florida. He is every shitty, awful sports-unicorn trope amassed into a single singer-songwriter. And he writes songs that are "rocking" without anywhere being close to threatening. He is the underdog that so many sportswriters want to see in themselves, which is how they end up composing endless paeans to the sax break in "Born to Run."
When a sportswriter professes his devotion to Bruce Springsteen, he's making a statement about himself (or herself!). He's letting you know that he's a good old-fashioned hard-working American fella with strong values, just like you, Mr. and Mrs. Kitchen Table! You can count on your Bruce fanboy columnist to write about the game the RIGHT WAY, with buttloads of class. And you can count on your local columnist to be the sort of insufferable dipshit who looks back longingly on his Golden American youth and then somehow links it to a double play from last night's Reds game.
I don't think it's much to ask one of these guys to like the Smiths or something.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
Image by Sam Woolley.
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