I am very likely the only human being who associates The Cranberries with computer simulations of Major League Baseball. But the untimely death Monday of the band’s lead singer Dolores O’Riordan – just 46, my god – sent me right back to my freshman year of high school, where memories of the group’s debut album are inextricably linked to arguably my favorite videogame of all time.
I cover baseball for a living now. And music remains one of the great passions of my life. They intersect in so many ways, but perhaps no way more visceral than Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? and Tony La Russa Baseball II.
Both the record and the computer game were released in March of 1993 and, for a time, they were my two favorite things in the world. I’ve written about TLRBII for Unwinnable before, but to sum up: I never actually played the game. I simply created phony players, inputted phony stats and names and positions, created phony teams and imagined phony backstories for my favorite ones. And then I clicked “Simulate Full Season” or whatever that button was, and I’d see how various combinations of rosters, injuries, trades, you name it, would change fake baseball history forever. What would happen if I made an entire team of players who’d only had one career at-bat? What if they’d homered in that one at-bat? Or what if I just took typical stats and tweaked them ever so slightly, or shipped one star player – or two – to another team? I became so engrossed in the possibilities that I kept a three-ring binder of statistical printouts.
And I did all this – playing God on my PC – while, without exception, The Cranberries’ first CD played in the background. On repeat.
I don’t listen to “Everybody Else It Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” much anymore, let alone on repeat and I never much enjoyed the band’s later work. But every now and again, when the mood is just right – or it slips on at random – I let it play and I fall in love with it again. And soon I’m right back there, playing silly baseball games without any real cares in the world.
It’s a memory where baseball and music are worth more than the sum of their parts. And I have Dolores O’Riordan’s magical Irish voice to thank for it.