My Starting 9

My dad once told me two kinds of days exist on the Vineyard: Beach days and garbage. On Thursday, by the grace of God, we finally received the former. Not to spoil the world's worst kept secret; New England weather leaves an MIT meteorologist dumbfounded. Living in the northeast my whole life, one trusts their-own forecast. We gauge the weather from the get-go, vehemently rejecting the witchcraft seen on The Weather Channel. Waking up no longer needing a blanket, my eyelids struggled to combat a light no longer radiating from my bedside lamp. My internal barometer triumphantly celebrated the arrival of a long-lost friend: the sun. Gifted with clear skies after what felt like an eternity of overcast, I clocked out of work on Thursday knowing nothing stood between the beach and me.

Stopping at Our Market by the Oak Bluffs Harbor, I grabbed a few groceries before running up the street to pick up my younger brother Max. Stewarts soda, Cape Cod chips, a few Slim Jims and a Sports Illustrated - whatever it takes to eat up the limited space in the family's 6''x8'' cooler. After wasting a half-hour finding a football and towels, Max and I started the Volvo setting the destination for Lambert's Cove in West Tisbury. We cruised up-island with the windows down, digging through the static of the radio for any station to cut the edge of Vineyard Haven's excruciating traffic at the death wish of a five-way intersection.

Passing by the Black Dog Café, our efforts remained futile. Novelty shops faded into farmland as the static whispered louder and louder. By the time Max spotted the first cow, I concluded one thing: Vineyard radio sucks.

No Jamin' 94.5
No Kiss 108.
No Country 102.5.
Literally Nothing.

The only station we found: Christian rock. Really? The island has more ice cream cones sold than bibles. Sure, nothing turns up a crowd quite like God is the Gas in my Go-Cart or Our God is Greater. But for those of us not joining a monastery in the next few six months, a different genre fits the bill.

Eventually I stumble upon an old companion--98.5 the Sports Hub. My obsession with baseball naturally fluctuates with respect to football season. The inverse relation appears simple enough. As 'X' number of months increase past bowl season and the Super Bowl, 'X' number of innings watched on NESN exponentially rises. Simple science, right? Now, considering Tom Brady faces a four game suspension and Deflategate nonsense ruins my AM Sportscenter hit, I need as much Red Sox coverage as possible.

By the time we arrive at Lambert's Cove, Max and I banter back and forth over the radio problem and how a $200-million-plus payroll produces a line-up incompetent enough to hit off Clay Buchholz... post-baby-sleeping-on-his-shoulder Buchholz that is. By some divine intervention, the conversation took an absolute u-turn while walking through the forestry hiding the beach's mouth. Promising to create the next great summer car playlist "fire-enough" to scare Chief Keef, Max and I revealed our starting lineup of summer jams:

1.) Batting Lead Off: Leave the Night On by Sam Hunt. No better way to start the day off. A sure-fire bet to reach base, this jam survived the doldrums of winter and spring only to resuscitate the summer. Granted this song arrived nearly a year ago but nonetheless it remains a perennial jam. Randy Houser's Runnin' Outta Moonlight finished a close second, providing a great pitch-hitter or base-runner.

2.) The Two Hole: Copperline by James Taylor. Capable of singing a phone book and making it go platinum, James Taylor possesses that unique midas touch.

3.) In the three-hole: No Hurry by Zac Brown Band. Scratch that: Literally any Zac Brown Band song. ANY. These guys churn out hits like it's nobody's business. Haymakers left and right. Homegrown, Knee Deep, Jump Right In, Day That I Die. Name a single one of their songs, other than Colder Weather or Highway 20 Ride, not focused on leaving work and starting the weekend early. I dare you.

4.) Batting clean-up: Drunk on You by Luke Bryan. Producing arguably one of the greatest country lines of all time in "If you ain't a ten, you a 9.9," this song has just enough power to wave runners around third-base. With easy enough lyrics for anyone to scream along to, Bryan's crowd pleaser slows the day down just enough to embrace the summer-state of mind before calling it quits at the beach.

5.) Summer by Calvin Harris. Just when you thought all the runners crossed home, Summer adds another man on base to extend the inning. The EDM, electric tune pumps a person up with a perfect blend of lyrical nostalgia and reminds us of summers fleeting nature.

6.) Sunny and 75 by Joe Nichols. Max really fought hard against this one. While Nichols' old-fashion country droll proves too obnoxious at times, the lyrics to Sunny and 75 fit the summer perfectly. Use this as an example: "You and me on a beach chair, yeah I'm so there" or even "I can taste it, I swear, Take me somewhere, sunny and 75." Plain and simple the song proves too heavy of a bat to leave out of the line-up.

7.) Talladega by Eric Church

Followed by

8.) Black Balloon by the Goo Goo Dolls. Not a lot of power but these veteran songs have the potential to spark a much-needed late game boost.

9.) Rounding out the order: Billy Joel's Downeaster Alexa. Nothing bids adieu to the day quite like the beat of Billy Joel's lost-at-sea tune. End the perfect day watching the sunset at Menemsha Harbor right by Larsan's Fish Market. Sitting on a bed of splinters, Lobster roll in hand while watching the sun fade into the depths of the Vineyard Sound, reflect on your day with the smooth echoes of a legend.