OPINION: The emotions of the MLB offseason explained by Carly Rae Jepsen songs


At left, Carly Rae Jepsen performs Feb. 15 in Cologne, Germany. At right, Philadelphia Phillies player Bryce Harper adjusts his gloves during a spring training game. Tribune News Service

I must confess, I am the worst type of baseball fan. My superficial appreciation of America’s pastime means I tend to find a steroid cover-up or sign-stealing controversy far more intriguing than a perfectly thrown changeup.

However, Major League Baseball’s disappearance in 2020 has forced me to re-examine our partnership. In the end, it wasn’t the steamy scandals that stoked my love of the game, but rather the fact that it was always there for me.

This is strikingly similar to the career path of Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen who, after taking the world by storm in 2011 with her smash hit “Call Me Maybe,” vanished from Billboard’s Hot 100. As it happens, Jepsen has been constructing an auditory Louvre of priceless art for nearly a decade, making fools of everyone who suddenly decided they were too good for a bubbly summer anthem. 

While rediscovering my adoration of baseball and Jepsen alike, I realized the volatile tension seen throughout the MLB offseason heavily mirrors the rich discography of British Columbia’s most overlooked pop star.

"Let’s Sort The Whole Thing Out"

This track from Jepsen’s 2020 album, “Dedicated Side B,” describes a couple struggling to define its feelings amid unprecedented circumstances. A bouncy, ringing instrumental reflects the certainty MLB owners and players held in late March, insisting an agreement could be reached within weeks. Furthermore, I found the pre-chorus summed up my resurgent affection for baseball to a T. 

“Somebody wants you, somebody cares —for real,”Jepsen sings.

Indeed, following years of mocking the sport, I was stunned to legitimately care about baseball again.

"Call Me Maybe"

I soon grew cold and distant amid the league’s dreary negotiations. But few things reignite passions like a screen lighting up at 1 a.m., and that’s what the Korean Baseball Organization offered with its nocturnal broadcasts on ESPN.

“Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad,” Jepsen belts out, which is especially appropriate given that I was unaware of the KBO’s existence mere days prior to its airing. Some may call it a cheap imitation of the genuine article, but I think the KBO expertly captures the level of energy in an MLB stadium by placing literal cardboard cutouts in the stands.

"The Sound"

“God, you make me so tired. Isn’t this the vision that you wanted?”

Eventually, it felt somewhat contradictory for the athletes to demand a season despite turning down every proposal. Even as they took to social media with the hashtag #WhenandWhere, their eagerness to compete was nonetheless blunted by the desire for a larger paycheck. 

“Love is more than telling me you want it," Jepsen artfully articulates atop a swelling synthesizer. "I don’t need the words, I want the sound.”

Nitty-gritty contractual details aren’t particularly alluring. I yearn instead to hear the crack of the bat, the blaring of the organ and the dulcet tones of Joe Buck providing commentary with all the vigor of a narcoleptic koala bear. 

"Happy Not Knowing"

Eventually, one becomes weary of the constant will they, won’t they. Each time I saw a headline suggesting the Players Association and owners might have metaphorically kissed and made up, I couldn’t help but echo Jepsen's defiant cries: “I’m sure it’s nothing but some heartburn, baby. And I’m happy not knowing.”

With professional basketball only a month away and college football supposedly set to return, baseball just didn’t seem like it was worth my tears any longer. There was nobody to take me out to the ball game, and I honestly didn’t care if I ever came back.

"For Sure"

The opening lyric, “It’s six in the morning, can I hold you?” is relatable to those who have recently finished watching a KBO contest but whose hearts remain unfilled. Alas, unlike the highly contagious virus it was strategically trying to plan around, baseball has been playing hard to get. 

Still, this song’s cautiously optimistic hook, “I was thinking, we were over. I’ve been thinking, got to know for sure,” reminds me that even after all the back-and-forth, I can’t help but hope some spiritual umpire has ruled our relationship safe in the bottom of the ninth.

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