Big League Stew - MLB

Stew lieutenant David Brown is visiting Arizona and his swing took him to an unusual forum on Thursday night — a concert performed by several desert-dwelling ballplayers

Greetings rock fans! 

When a reporter asked Barry Zito(notes) on Thursday night about what it's like being famous, the richest San Francisco Giant somehow delivered a believable answer without conceit.

"People think I'm cool, people want to hang out with me," Zito said.

Yes, but is that because he's a major leaguer or a budding John Mayer?

Maybe the answer is both.

Instead of organizing a celebrity golf outing, Chicago White Sox righty Jake Peavy(notes) chose to  put on a charity benefit concert in Scottsdale with major leaguers as the performers.

Peavy called it "Woodjock" and it featured himself, Zito, Bernie Williams(notes), Bronson Arroyo(notes) (above) and others who are ballplayers first and musicians second. Usually.

I headed over to the event not only because of the unintentional comedy alerts or for such offenses such as Gordon Beckham(notes) singing my favorite song by the Eagles ("Take It Easy") and Aubrey Huff(notes) channeling Johnny Cash for his own purposes ("Ring of Fire").

I also went because, to paraphrase John Candy's "Blues Brothers" character, "I wanna hear if these boys can sing." Perhaps surprisingly, I found, for the most part, that yes, they can.

And they can play, too.

Here are some photo highlights (with a promise of video to come): 

Brandon Medders(notes), a reliever for the San Francisco Giants, stole the show by playing the opening to "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns N' Roses with his guitar behind his head. As you can see in the photo above, the dude can pick an ax. "I've been practicing a lot," he told us and it was readily apparent. 

• Bernie Williams, as you might know, is a classically trained guitarist. Not only did he sit in on most of the sets, he went solo for his reharmonization of "Take Me Out To the Ball Game."

• Former major leaguer Ben Broussard(notes) played "Deep," an original tune that's at least good enough for the college radio station in your town. It's really good, actually. And, surprisingly, he can spit out a beat box that would make the Fat Boys do one of those "Fat Boys doubletakes."

• Peavy sang with an Alabama twang and played guitar with country fried joy on two original tunes. One mentioned his new team and another proclaimed he loved all mankind — including "black people, Muslims and gays."

• Peavy and Beckham also went Simon and Garfunkel for "Take It Easy" which, on Beckham's musical scale, sounded like success at the karaoke bar. "I'm a shower singer," Beckham said. "Been practicing a lot. Taking a lot of showers. Also doing a lot of driving." He admitted being from Georgia helped him find the right pitch.

• Arroyo probably was the most polished singer. He just looks and sounds like a rock star — and he brought groupies. Or maybe they brought themselves, I'm not sure. Arroyo also took me back to my college days by crooning "If You Could Only See (The Way She Loves Me)" by Tonic. C'mon, Bronson. You know you're above that crap.

• Huff, who took the stage with a bottle of Coors as his "instrument" (above) was spot on as Johnny Cash. He even had a good stage presence that included that "point at the audience" that rock stars do. Learn from this man, Beckham.

• The Giants' Tim Flannery, who might be the coolest coach in the majors, played a couple of tunes backed by his Lunatic Fringe band. Scott Linebrink(notes) of the White Sox, who wore the most country dress shirt of the evening, also played a set.

• And Zito, who caught some unwanted attention when a demo of his original work "A Man's Gotta Do" slipped past the goalie and onto the Internet, aptly played the drums and sang backup.

What, no solo for "A Man's Gotta," B.Z.?

"That's an old song. That’s about six years old," Zito said. "I've written some songs since then, but I'm going to hold off on the original stuff tonight."


Zito says he has written about eight years — years! — worth of material. Enough for a deluxe box set and a semi-repetitive retrospective. Yet, there's no sign of even a single album on the iTunes. What gives?

"It's a work in progress," Zito said. "It's just something that, when it hits, I want it to be right and I want it to be good. It's going to take a minute."

Actually, eight years takes up about 4 million minutes. 

The show raised funds for several charities It also gave Zito a chance to bring 25 wounded Marines to the stage to be recognized for their service to county —  a moment that truly put a lump in your throat.

No matter how low Zito's ERA goes and or high his salary might seem, Strikeouts for Troops should be his legacy. But he's solid on the drums, too.

* * *

Dave's tour of spring training in Arizona continues. Follow him on Twitter — @answerdave.

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