Opening Weekend Comebacks At The Dude, As Witnessed From The Outfield

In the farthest right corner of the Left Field Lounge – just a few feet away from the right field foul pole, an area that would be called a Right Field Lounge anywhere else in the world – there is a space not containing any of the rigs that surround the rest of the outfield wall at Dudy Noble Field. It’s a public area free to be used by whomever, and for the last several years, one specific group has taken ownership of a piece of that deck sitting next to the visitor’s bullpen.

unnamed-1On Sunday afternoon, the crew made up largely of locals and others working in Starkville was surrounded by the usual portable patio furniture, meat-and-drink-stuffed coolers and charcoal-burning grills. Tables were lined with tenderloin, chicken wings and beef kabobs, trays of hot meat tucked in between bags of jalapeno, BBQ and sour cream and onion chips. It’s a world where Fritos and Pringles are considered vegetables. And hey, they’re made from corn and potatoes. It counts.

Smoke fills either your lungs or your line of sight, depending if you’re sitting upwind or down from the grill. It’s hard to tell when the hecklers switch from yelling at the opposing team to cracking jokes on each other along the fence, and whatever is being said over the public address is reduced to background noise barely audible over the impressively loud music coming from the small speaker connected to a phone.

And that’s where the story began on Sunday. Understandably lethargic after the first game of Mississippi State’s doubleheader went four-and-a-half hours long, the revelry and general rabble-rousing in this corner of The Lounge had been reduced to short comments on the quality of the kabobs – excellent, unsurprisingly – and speculation as to what may happen in the game.

In the first inning, the Bulldogs quickly found themselves down 4-0 to visiting Texas Tech, the No. 15 team in the country. As tired as the Loungers seemed to be after a marathon game one, the team felt the same. As a playlist of ‘80s pop music filled the dead air, ‘I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight’ ringing out over the group, the mood in the outfield matched the pace of play on the other side of the fence.

Finally, the gentleman manning the grill had had enough.

“Look,” he said, “I do not like ‘80s music.”

After a brief discussion, the decision was made to switch to a ‘90s hip-hop station on Pandora as the game hit the middle of the third inning.

“Tag Team back again,

Check its records let’s begin,

Party on party people let me hear some noise,

DC’s in the house jump, jump rejoice

There’s a party over here,

A party over there,

Wave your hands in the air,

Shake your derriere.”

unnamedThe energy in the lounge picked up immediately as the children of the ‘90s all sang along, and likewise, so did the action on the field. As DC The Brain Supreme and his man Steve Roll’n worked their way through the verses, MSU’s bats sparked into life, catching fire as soon as the inning began and ending up hotter than the coals in the outfield by the time the inning was finished.

The hits of both baseball and musical variety cycled through, ‘Regulate’ followed by a double, ‘Forgot About Dre’ leading to an RBI single, ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’ only causing problems for the visiting Red Raiders.

“That’s it,” the grillmaster announced. “We have to stick with ‘90s hip-hop for the rest of the season.”

By the end of the inning, MSU had tied the game at 4-4, and then in the top of the fourth, TTU’s batters were set down in a quick and orderly fashion.

“I’m taking it back to the old school,

‘Cause I’m an old fool who’s so cool.

If you want to get down,

I’m gonna show you the way, whoomp there it is

Let me hear you say,”

The chorus in right field sang out for the entire stadium to hear as MSU took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with another two runs.


shak a laka shak a laka shak a laka shak a


shak a laka shak a laka shak a laka shak a


shak a laka shak a laka shak a laka shak a


As the fifth inning drew near with Outkast blaring for all to hear, the catcher in Tech’s bullpen yelled over the noise to ask what all the whoomping had been about during the last inning. It was about riding the momentum of the music, they replied. They were doin’ it for the Dawgs.

Despite the fact the stadium had been slowly emptying after a long day and many areas of the lounge had grown bare, the energy from right field seemed to overflow into the bleachers, the grandstands and right into the home dugout. The swagger with which they sang was displayed at the plate by Cody Brown who dropped the fiercest and most impressive of bat flips – after being walked.

The classic of hip-hop ‘I Got Five On It’ popped up in the rotation in, appropriately, the fifth inning. As the chorus shouted from the tiny speaker on the table, No. 5 for MSU, Brant Blaylock, squared his shoulders, planted his front foot and swung his hips as he jacked a home run over the outfield wall.

“Number five just hit a home run in the fifth inning with I Got Five On It playing!” someone shouted.

Five, it turned out, was definitely on it. The whole team was, as MSU went on to beat Texas Tech 8-5 on Sunday, securing a 3-1 record on opening weekend and an undefeated Sunday at The Dude.

“Awesome day, man,” first-year head coach Andy Cannizaro said in his first words to reporters after the game. “Awesome. What a full day out at the ballpark.”

All because of ‘90s hip-hop in the outfield. Or, maybe not. Who’s to say? Surely, the two events aren’t connected, not by most rules of logic. But it’s hard to ignore the coincidence.

“All I know,” one Lounger observed as the game drew to a close, Snoop Dogg in the background explaining his laid back state by means of rhyming verse, “is there’s nowhere you can have as much fun at a baseball game as Mississippi State.”

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