Phil Coke & Tommy Hunter: Beatles and Stones Songbook

Phil Coke and Tommy Hunter know a good song when they hear it. The same can be said of song titles and how they might pertain to baseball. Neither the Detroit Tigers southpaw nor the Baltimore Orioles righty is a huge fan of the Beatles or Rolling Stones — but that didn’t deter them from interpreting “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “19th Nervous Breakdown.”


Phil Coke, Rolling Stones

“Play With Fire”: “We all play with fire, man. We all play with fire, because we’re all out there living on the edge, constantly. But in a good way. We’re living on the edge of controlled fun. That’s the atmosphere. You’ve got everybody living on the edge of their seats in the stands. You’ve got the coaches living on the edge of their seats on the bench. It’s just crazy all the time.”

“19th Nervous Breakdown”: “I’m sure there have been way too many nervous breakdowns during the regular season. Obviously, in the postseason. The end of the season totally dictates how your season is looked upon. You either make it or you don’t. I think those nervous breakdowns mostly happen in the fans’ minds, not in ours.”

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
: “No kidding. That doesn’t just apply to baseball; that applies to life, man. It applies to baseball because there are so many uncontrollable factors. You can throw a pitch that’s right there, down-and-away on the black, and Bam! The umpire doesn’t call it. It’s like aaagh! It totally messes up your outlook on the day, man, especially when you needed it. Instead of striking out the guy, you walked him. It changes the face of that particular at bat, or even the face of the game.”

“Shattered”: “My job is to shatter people’s dreams. Theirs is to shatter mine. My aspirations are to win a championship. It’s always nice to throw the filthiest 3-2 slider of your life and shatter their dreams of crushing yours.”

“Satisfaction”: “When it all comes together. You exceed expectations, personally and otherwise. You can look back and have pure unadulterated satisfaction. My slider [in the American League Championship Series] was satisfying. The last time I had faced Raul Ibanez in a serious situation, he took me deep — 460 off the façade in right-center field at Citizen’s Bank Park. The fact that I punched him out in that situation — another big situation — when he had been hitting everybody, was huge.”

“Waiting on a Friend”: “We can talk about that slider here, too. I was waiting for it to show up, and all of a sudden it was there. Pow! I mean, 3-2 and I was just waiting on that moment, that defining moment to occur, and that’s what happened. It was like waiting for your best friend to show up.”

“Not Fade Away”:
“That would be like going out on a bad note. Certain things will not fade away. An image that is forever burned in my mind is Marco Scutaro slapping that single over the second baseman — into the outfield — just far enough out of anybody’s reach to make a play on it. Brutal. That’s not going to just fade away.”

“Sympathy for the Devil”: “I don’t have any sympathy for the devil.”


Tommy Hunter, Beatles

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”: “The first thought that comes to mind is home runs. It’s crazy how sometimes baseball players think negative first. The ball going into the lights is something you never like to see as a pitcher. And when the ball gets close to those lights, the ball just lights up. Even when you’re sitting out in the bullpen in Camden Yards and a ball is coming toward you, the closer it gets, the brighter it gets.”

“I Should Have Known Better”: “Second-guessing. It’s never a good thing to second-guess yourself. It creates a lot of doubt, creates a lot of ‘What should I do? Should I do this? Should I do that?’ Had I thrown a different pitch, that ball might have fallen 10 feet shorter.”

“Paperback Writer”: “Sometimes the questions you get postgame — usually after a loss — are questions you don’t necessarily… you’re going to have to answer them. You have to try and come up with a nice way of saying things. Some of the questions are just atrocious. They’re just really bad questions. It’s not fun to give up a broken bat single and then a guy comes in and asks what went wrong. Are you kidding me? What went wrong? The guy didn’t hit the ball hard enough. I mean, what do you want me to do? It is what it is. It’s tough. A tough league. Hang with them. Don’t get bitter, get better.”

“I’ve Got a Feeling”: “You wake up every day, you come to the ballpark and you’re usually going to have a good feeling or a bad feeling. You can pretty much wake up and know if you’re going to be good that day. And you can tell yourself, ‘Hey, I’m going to be good today.’ Whether you are or you aren’t, whether you feel good or you don’t. When you warm up, it’s ‘I’ve got a feeling. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be pretty damn good today.’”

“Come Together”: “Camaraderie. Team. It’s what it’s all about. It’s about 25 guys having a common goal. You can gel, or you can fuse apart, but it’s all about having a common goal. Coming together, being a team. If you have enough people believing in the same goal, you have a pretty damn good opportunity.”

“Hello Goodbye”
: “What have you done for me lately? It’s what this game is all about, and if anybody ever tells you anything different, they’re lying. I’m talking about just the everyday life of a baseball player. What has this guy done for me lately? That’s what it’s like, and if he hasn’t done much for you lately, you’ll find somebody else. He’s gone and someone else is coming in.”

“Let It Be”: “Sometimes things are out of your control. That‘s how it is in life and that‘s how it is in baseball. Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.”

“A Day in the Life”: “Wake up, go to the field, play baseball, go home, go to sleep, wake up, do it again. That’s what we do. During the season, it’s baseball, it’s baseball, it’s baseball. Our wives understand it, our girlfriends understand it, our families understand it. It’s just a day in the life, man. It’s baseball.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
midgley's folly
9 years ago

“paint it, black” is pretty solid pitching advice.