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Sports Authority

Zwiller: Give Le Batard, Stugotz and Co. a Grammy

| Wednesday, March 23, 2022

I am generally not a music person; I prefer Zach Lowe to LOW, the ’90s indie rock band.

But sometimes, a piece of music comes along and changes the musical landscape. And I found that music through my love of podcasting. 

The Dan Le Batard show — the upstart pirate ship that left ESPN — recently released their album “The Big Game” to Apple iTunes, which quickly shot up the charts. It even was able to surpass “Encanto” for the number one overall album. 

Though the album has since fallen from the top spot, I genuinely am in love with the project. So what I would like to do today is review the musical and encourage you to give it a listen. Since high school, I have been a “Leba” fan, and seldom am I disappointed by the crew. 

Oh wait, can I not talk about music in a Sports Authority? Even if it is about a sports podcast?

Um, OK. Since the Colts got more assets for Carson Wentz than they gave away to acquire Matt Ryan, they get an A- or maybe a B+. 

Ryan is certainly not a long-term solution; he is already 37. But his contract is about as team-friendly as Carson Wentz’ was, and I honestly think Ryan can be better with a good team than Wentz was last season. Except for Watson and Wilson, I doubt the Colts could have done much better (Baker, possibly). 

Unfortunately for the Colts, I do not think this move makes them a serious contender for the AFC Championship, let alone the Super Bowl. The AFC is just so deep; you can make a case for pretty much the entire AFC West, three of the AFC North teams and half of the AFC East. At the very least, the move should make the Colts the favorite to win the AFC South.

Enough sports? Good. Back to music. 

The musical opens with “Introduccion” (by John Skipper), providing the frame for the musical: COVID and how football must continue. 

On my first listen, I was thrilled because I instantly knew that the musical would meet the high standard I have come to expect from the Le Batard show. The musical would be funny and joyful, but at the same time nuanced, as it looks at the morals of the sport America loves.

Sure enough, the first actual song is “Nothing Stops Football” (by Dan Le Batard). Once a traditional orchestral opening concludes, the first words sung by Dan are “Racism. Greed. Trauma, to brain and spine. And yet, I cannot look away.” It was a powerful way to open the musical, reminding the audience that the game we love has major flaws. It was precisely the song I would expect Dan to sing, who never shies away from the complex subject matter.

Just as I expected Dan to focus on football’s flaws, I expected the Shipping Container to cheer up the musical. The next song, “All In” (Billy Gil), does just that. 

“All In” is a fun, upbeat song that gets the listener excited. It focuses more on football itself, serving as a juxtaposition to Dan’s nuanced portrayal of the NFL and a transition to the rest of the musical. 

In Discordant Harmony #2 (In B#), Stugotz, a Jets fan, wonders aloud what being “All-in” can even mean for someone whose franchise is the laughing stock of the NFL. I found this song to be a perfect fit for Stugotz, a character on the main show who is a lazy but lovable shady host. It was just 90 seconds of Stu singing “THE JETS” at the top of his voice, representing both his fandom and utter lack of effort.

To console Stugotz is the indispensable Greg Cote to perform “Back in My Day,” a popular segment Cote performs irregularly on the show. As you can imagine, the song reflects on “the glory days” when things were better than they are now. The song feels like an older song, in both the lyrics where Greg declares, “it’s the wishbone I wish for!” and the background music that calls back to an older era of music. 

The following section, “New America Pathos” by Juju Gotti, is a transition toward the story part of the musical. I do enjoy the interesting historical tidbits, but I think this is where the musical drags the most. But as Juju says, musicals sometimes need “occasional exposition to advance the story.”

After “Pathos” comes “The Playoffs” (by Mike Ryan). This might be my favorite song that is not themed after one of the show’s characters. It is a fun, upbeat song that quickly summarizes the playoffs and gets the musical closer to the Super Bowl. 

However, nothing football-related would be complete without mentioning Tom Brady. “GOAT” (by Chris Cote) captures the mixed emotions of seeing Tom Brady retire. Stugotz ever the Jets fan sings, “he played the Jets, twice a year and always ripped out their souls..” Later Roy Bellamy later sings, “And just like that, he left us all wanting more.” With Brady unretired, the crew may have to release an updated version. He could win another Super Bowl or two.

“Take Me There,” a duet by Jessica Smetana and Chris Wittyngham, is an upbeat song exploring how fans who do not have a team in the Super Bowl can still enjoy the big game. 

“LA” (by Mike Ryan) is the penultimate song talking about the party surrounding the Super Bowl and sets up the big finale. 

“The Big Game/Reprise” (by Ron Magill and Chris Wittyngham) is another song built around one of the starts of the Le Batard show in Ron Magill, the communications director at Zoo Miami. 

Magill tells the Super Bowl from the perspective of a fight between an actual ram and a tiger. Wittyngham (a professional broadcaster) expertly recreates moments from the Super Bowl to match what Ron has described. 

As Ron declares the Rams champions and Wittyngham describes the Super Bowl “as one of the games historic moments,” the musical’s reprise kicks in, revisiting all of the significant moments in some of the songs. 

The musical, which is just 30 minutes, gets a 10/10 from me and a must-listen status for everyone. I am not joking when I say the musical deserves a Grammy. How the musical is able to talk about football, as well as capture the unique personality of the show is more than astounding. To me, it is Bo Burnham-esque. 

Even if the musical ends up without a Grammy, I will enjoy the music for years to come. JT Daly and Mike Ryan, the two creative minds behind the show, crafted an incredible work of art with both limited resources and time.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Thomas Zwiller

Thomas is a sophomore currently in attendance at Holy Cross College, studying Business and Theology He is from Saint Joseph MI, and went to high school at Saint Joe SB, playing both varsity football and hockey. Feel free to contact him about all things NFL and NBA.

Contact Thomas