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ALBUM REVIEW

The Baseball Project: “Volume 2: High and Inside’’

By Stuart Munro
March 1, 2011

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Just in time for opening day, Steve Wynn and cohorts Scott McCaughey, Linda Pitmon, and Peter Buck have returned to an endeavor that combines two of America’s favorite pastimes — baseball, and rock ’n’ roll. “Volume 2’’ finds their passionate fandom and astute study at work once again, producing homage and history that ranges across a roster of players past (Mark “the Bird’’ Fidrych) and present (Ichiro Suzuki), famous (Reggie Jackson) and obscure (Carl Mays, the only player in major league history to kill a man with a pitch). The band is augmented by various pinch hitters, notably the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, who brings his typical freneticism to a shout-out to his hometown Twins. And for Red Sox fans, there’s a mournful remembrance of Tony Conigliaro and an alt-country accounting of life after Boston for Roger Clemens (“Twilight of My Career’’). But the real long ball here is “Buckner’s Bolero,’’ an amazing rumination on the ill-fated events of 1986 that strings together a series of contrary-to-fact conditionals in order to raise the following existential query: Would Bill Buckner have been better off had he ended up as a solid, seldom-remembered player rather than with the particular fame that was his lot?

ESSENTIAL “Buckner’s Bolero’’