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Tuesday, April 23, 2002
Updated: April 25, 12:51 PM ET
Who let the prudes out?

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Last week at Comiskey Park, the White Sox played the Whitesnake song, "Here I Go Again," when Chuck Finley and his Cleveland teammates took the field before a game. This was a subtle dig at Finley, who is in the middle of a divorce from his wife, Tawny Kitaen, the "actress" best known for having appeared in Whitesnake videos.

Chuck Finley
A subtle musical poke at Chuck Finley cost a Comiskey Park music director his job.
This so offended some sensitive souls that the White Sox felt the need to apologize profusely to Finley and fire the music director, Joe Stephen, responsible for playing the song. Which is amazing on two counts. One, that anyone would take the situation so seriously. And two, that anyone with the White Sox could even recognize a Whitesnake song when it played.

The White Sox grossly overreacted. Rather than cause for apology, taking musical digs at an opponent is a well-established part of sports tradition. I remember when Minnesota-native Jack Morris made his return to the Metrodome after signing a three-year contract with the Blue Jays immediately after he had fulfilled his "lifelong dream" by winning the 1991 World Series with his hometown Twins. As Morris warmed up on the mound, the stadium guy played, "I Want to Be Rich."

Sure, the Finley dig took things to a more personal, questionable level after Kitaen's recently alleged kicking attack on Finley, but to fire a guy over it? Hey, lighten up.

And how would you like to be this guy, Stephen, pounding the pavement in search of another job? He may have been the world's leading talent at selecting ballpark music, but that isn't a job skill that exactly translates well into a lot of other fields.

  Rather than cause for apology, taking musical digs at an opponent is a well-established part of sports tradition. I remember when Minnesota-native Jack Morris made his return to the Metrodome after signing a three-year contract with the Blue Jays immediately after he had fulfilled his "lifelong dream" by winning the 1991 World Series with his hometown Twins. As Morris warmed up on the mound, the stadium guy played, "I Want to Be Rich."  
   

Other job-hungry applicants are representing that they've spent "Seven years rigging energy futures at Enron" and "Fourteen years cooking the books at Arthur Andersen" and "Thirty-six years training altar boys for Catholic archdiocese of Boston." And the best this man can put down is: "Music director, Chicago White Sox: Came up with the idea of playing 'Hurts Go Good' for Frank Thomas when he bats."

I suppose he could be the music director for the White House and be the guy in charge of playing "Hail to the Chief" when the president walks in. Or he could conduct "The Tonight Show" orchestra and play the appropriate theme music when a celebrity drops by the set. (And wouldn't the world be a more entertaining place if we all had our own theme songs that would play whenever we walked into a room, the way someone always played "Thanks for the Memories" for Bob Hope, "Love in Bloom" for Jack Benny and "Hooray for Capt. Spaulding" for Groucho Marx?)

Failing those two jobs, Stephen probably should apply for a gig with the Arkansas Travelers, who clearly have the right attitude about such things.

Last week, Arkansas organist Rich Pharris played "I've Been Working on the Railroad" when Tulsa's Trent Durrington batted, driving the hitter to such distraction that he twice tried to call timeout. Pharris played the railroad song because Durrington, an Australian, begged him to stop playing "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" saying he could play anything else. Then when Tulsa manager Tim Ireland complained too much about the music, the umpire ejected him and Pharris played "Happy Trails" as he left the game.

Ray Lewis
"Why should she believe me when I told her it wasn't me."
Now, that's the team for Stephen. Pair him with Pharris, and they would come up with so many inappropriate songs that they would need to expand to sports beyond baseball:

  • Phil Mickelson: The theme to "Never on Sunday" (the one that goes, "But never, ever on a Sunday, a Sunday, the one day I need a little rest ...")

  • Ruben Rivera: the theme from "Raiders of the Lost Ark"

  • Ray Lewis: Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me"

  • Darryl Strawberry: Eric Clapton's "Cocaine"

  • John Daly: Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville"

  • Kobe Bryant/Sergei Fedorov: Maurice Chevalier's "Thank Heaven for Little Girls"

  • Rickey Henderson: Carly Simon's "You're So Vain"

  • Bud Selig: the Eurthymics, "Would I Lie to You?"

    Shawn Kemp
    "People always told me be careful of what you do ..."
  • Apolo Anton Ohno: Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away"

  • Shawn Kemp: Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean (Is Not My Lover)"

  • Ray Allen: The theme from the "X-Files"

  • Chuck Knoblauch: Britney Spears' "Oops (I Did it Again)"

  • David Wells: the Budweiser Clydesdale jingle

    And finally, of course, Roger Clemens: The theme from "Psycho"

    Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.