Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Baseball Project: Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails [Yep Roc, 2008]
All public endeavors have their journeymen, and if Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey aren't obscurities like Ryan Freel and Alfredo Amezaga, they're certainly half flashes like Ty Wigginton and Willie Bloomquist--diligent, productive, enduring, their great moments well gone now and also not all that great. That would be the Dream Syndicate and the Young Fresh Fellows, although this band-in-concept-only is more like McCaughey's shifting Minus Five, complete with retro-alt songcraft and Peter Buck moonlighting away. It turns out that, like folk music before it, the static, jangly retro-alt template makes a dandy setting for topical songs. Just going by tune and lyrical hook, the only dud here is McCaughey's weeper about Mark McGwire, and as an amateur expert in the field I swear several hit the ball on the sweet spot: tributes to Curt Flood, Harvey Haddix, Big Ed Delahanty, and a closer with his arm like hamburger meat. A