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Published October 02, 2010, 12:00 AM

Lamb: New Twins anthem the best of the field

Craig Finn knows a thing or two about stadium anthems. As the frontman for The Hold Steady rock band, he’s started it up for the Rolling Stones. Now Finn is singing a new tune, an anthem for his hometown baseball team.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

Craig Finn knows a thing or two about stadium anthems. As the frontman for The Hold Steady rock band, he’s started it up for the Rolling Stones.

Now Finn is singing a new tune, an anthem for his hometown baseball team.

“Don’t Call them Twinkies” was released last week, just as Joe Mauer and the rest of the Minnesota Twins won the Central Division, becoming the first team to advance to the 2010 playoffs.

Good timing, especially since Finn wrote the lyrics in 2009, the year his team had to play an extra game to make it to the post-season.

“Twinkies” is a team effort by a ragtag group of free agents called the Baseball Project. Rotating around Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey (of R.E.M.), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate) and Linda Pitmon (formerly of Minneapolis’ ZuZu’s Petals) the group combines two of America’s favorite pastimes: baseball and rock ’n’ roll.

Pitmon, who, like Finn, is an expatriate Twins fan living in New York, asked The Hold Steady frontman to pen the lyrics to a new Twins tune.

In typical Finn fashion, the singer filled the lyrics with enough reference points to catch even the casual baseball fan, or a lost Minnesota tourist.

On the website for Yep Roc Records, Pitmon gushes about “name-checking no less than eight Minnesota cities, two neighborhoods, two streets, nine Twins players and two coaches in just over four minutes – Craig’s specialty!”

Not to be overlooked, Finn, who often references his Catholic faith, turns the HomerDome into a house of the holy, singing, “I prayed more in the Dome than I ever did in church/Kirby had the smile, Kent Hrbek had the smirk.”

His nasally vocals are an acquired taste, but Twins fans will appreciate how effortlessly he ties together 50 years of the team’s history – he even drops a reference to 1965 American League MVP Zolio Versalles in the first line.

This isn’t Finn’s first foray into fan-grandstanding. In 2007, The Hold Steady recorded a Twins version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” making the seventh inning stretch sound like the end of a boozy show.

And it’s not the first Twins rock anthem.

Slave Raider riffed off AC/DC’s “TNT” for ’87’s headbanging “Win Twins Win.” The song is pretty ridiculous (after all, it is Slave Raider), but it’s so much better than G.B. Leighton’s dreadfully unimaginative country-rock song “Twins Territory,” released earlier this year.

Hopefully the team cozies up to “Don’t Call them Twinkies” and starts using it because something needs to fire the team up as it limps into the post season.

As for the title, there is some historical significance there. After the Twins won their first World Series in 1987, second baseman Steve Lombardozzi said, “We are no longer the Twinkies. We’re the World Champion Minnesota Twins.”

Interesting note: Despite hitting a homer and holding the highest batting average in the series, the Lombo hit Twins fans best recall was the black eye he received from teammate Dan Gladden the following year.

I wonder why Finn didn’t use that.


Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

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