Commentary

'The Way It's Gonna Be' in the playoffs

Updated: October 5, 2010, 12:41 AM ET
By Jim Wilkie | ESPN.com

Whether you like the results or not, the major league postseason matchups are set.

Or in the words of The Baseball Project, that's "The Way It's Gonna Be."

That's also the title of the band's latest single in its seasonlong Broadside Ballads series, and it's available for all to hear in the box at right and here for a free download.

The music and lyrics were co-written by Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey, and the fluctuating playoff picture created a need for some late tweaks to get the song and it's postseason predictions ready for today.

"The lyrics were the hard part -- not because we were stuck for inspiration and rhyme schemes but rather because we wrote the song in mid-September and had to allow for picking teams that might not even make the postseason," Wynn said via e-mail Saturday night before all the National League playoff teams were nailed down Sunday. "I went the easy route by picking two teams that were pretty much a sure bet. Scott took the more nail-biting route by going with the Giants."

McCaughey also happens to be a huge San Francisco Giants fan, adding an emotional element to the creative process.

"What's nerve-wracking is watching the Giants, who had it all but locked up, make me dangle in the wind each day by falling to the Padres. ARRRGGGH! This is wreaking havoc on me both because of allegiance and because of the song," he said in an e-mail Saturday.

Like his bandmate, Wynn said the games have caused more anxiety. Wynn grew up in Los Angeles as a Dodgers fan, and after living in New York for many years, he's a die-hard Yankees fan.

"Finishing the song was a breeze," Wynn said. "It's been much more nerve-wracking to watch the Yankees and wonder if they can come up with a No. 2 starter. Oh, and then there was the nervousness of wondering if San Francisco would even make the playoffs. I found myself rooting for the Giants, merely for the sake of the song. And rooting for the Giants is a weird feeling for a native Los Angeleno."

Toss in bassist Peter Buck's Athens, Ga., roots and drummer Linda Pitmon's Minnesota connection and The Baseball Project's teams are well represented in these playoffs.

Pitmon and Wynn are married, so the Yankees-Twins divisional series could become the source of some friction in their household.

"It's going to be war. Like it is every year," Wynn said. "But then the Yankees prevail and after a short period of mourning (and definitely no gloating -- do I look like a fool?), Linda comes back to the Yankees. But this year might be different. The Yankees are certainly backing into the playoffs."

Ironically, The Baseball Project has a song called "Don't Call Them Twinkies" on the band's second album due out early next year. Wynn wrote the music and Craig Finn of The Hold Steady wrote the lyrics. Together they have performed it at Target Field and "Don't Call Them Twinkies" is apparently getting strong play in the Twin Cities.

"And this leads to an interesting conundrum: Do I root for my team, the Yankees, or for the Twins, the team whose postseason success means a longer life for our new song?" Wynn said. "Hmm … that's a tough one."

For the record, the way it's gonna be, according to Wynn, is the Yankees beat the Phillies for the second year in a row while McCaughey predicts, "Jim Thome gets his ring" when the Twins beat the Giants.

"If I was being honest, I'd probably just have picked the Phillies and the Yanks too," McCaughey admitted. "But that would have made for a boring song!"

Although The Baseball Project has had some infamous "predictions" during Broadside Ballads this season -- "Cubs 2010" eyeing a title at the start of the season, "30 Doc" sensing Roy Halladay's chances of winning 30 games and "Phenom" celebrating Nationals rookie Stephen Strasburg before his season-ending injury -- McCaughey insisted he wasn't trying to jinx the Twins.

"I just remember 1962 and 1989 (that one hardly counted though) and 2002 and I guess I am not confident that the Giants won't fall short again," he said. "And I do like the Twins, I'd love to see them make the Series. Although seriously, none of the AL teams seem to have much playoff-worthy pitching right now."


Jim Wilkie is the editor of The Life and can be reached at espnpucks@comcast.net.