Album Flashback: Huey Lewis and the News, “Sports”

sports

When I was in high school, I got my first taste of being commissioner for a computer-based, centralized, fantasy baseball league.

Damn it all, I’m trying to remember which game we used. Whatever it was, at the time it looked amazing, but the actual game engine was completely hosed.

Mark Grace, then a perennial .300 hitter, batted something like .217 in a 60-game season. Guys like Greg Maddux were putting up ERAs in the 5s. It was just nuts.

Part of it was the fact that game used physics modeling, I believe, and each owner in the league was allowed to build their own parks with their own dimensions.

My younger brother helmed a team whose stadium dimensions were something like as shallow as the game would allow you to build in left, center and right and then as deep as possible up the alleys. Essentially his stadium’s outfield wall was a giant capital M when viewed from the sky.

And I think for the sake of balance (I suppose) the walls were as high as allowed at the shorter distances and as low as allowed at the longer distances.

Strange stuff.

Anyhow, there was a guy in the league whose team was “Newsmith”. Why? Because it combined his two favorite bands into one word. Huey Lewis and the News + Aerosmith = Newsmith.

It’s a great album for the era, featuring five singles: “Heart and Soul”, “I Want a New Drug”, “The Heart of Rock & Roll”, “If This Is It” and “Walking on a Thin Line”.

I’ll be honest. I have no recollection of “Walking on a Thin Line” being a single. In fact, the first time I heard it was when I bought the 30th Anniversary Edition release of Sports (I didn’t own it as a kid in the 80s) and I thought “Shit. That’s a solid pop song there.”

Per Wikipedia:

Sports is the third album by American rock band Huey Lewis and the News, released in 1983. It reached number one on the Billboard 200 on June 30, 1984, and catapulted the band to international fame. The album has been certified 7× Platinum by the RIAA. Sports was ranked number 2 on the Billboard year-end album chart for 1984. The album spawned four top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and a fifth went top 20. Sports did very well internationally where most of its singles charted in the top 40 or above in multiple countries.

The album was self-produced and recorded promptly after the modest breakthrough success of the band’s second album, Picture This. However, due to reorganization and internal issues at the band’s label, Chrysalis, the band held back the master tapes, choosing to perform at small venues to showcase the new material while the matters were resolved. Once Chrysalis got their affairs in order and agreement in place by the band’s management, the master tapes were handed over for production. Sports was finally released in September 1983 and proceeded a slow climb up the charts throughout late 1983 and early 1984.

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