Reflecting on 10 years of Modern Baseball’s Sports

It’s 2012 and you’re tagging along with your friends to a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) show in Philadelphia, PA. Although unconventional, basement shows have become a staple for the emo and pop-punk DIY scene in Philly, serving as a central hub for bands like Tigers Jaw, Thin Lips, MewithoutYou, and Cayetana.

Once you reach the door, it’s a pay what-you-can type of admission. They also accept pictures of Michael Jordan to cover the entry fee, hence the name of the venue, “Michael Jordan House.” Upon walking the stairs and reaching the stage, you hear a simple, melodic guitar pattern while someone sings, “I want to start from the top, maybe like a do-over…”

Those are the first words you’ll hear from Modern Baseball’s debut studio album, Sports, released by Lame-O Records on Nov. 27, 2012. This was the Philadelphia-based emo band’s first full length album that followed their 2012 split EP with another local band, Marietta, called Couples Therapy and Modern Baseball’s 2011 EP, The Nameless Ranger.

Modern Baseball, also referred to as MoBo by fans, is made up of childhood friends Brendon Lukens and Jake Ewald, who attended Chestnut Hill and Drexel respectively, fellow Philly-based drummer Sean Huber (Steady Hands) of the alternative indie band, and Drexel University student and band bassist Ian Farmer.

Sports was recorded over a period of two weeks at Studio A, a campus recording studio located at Drexel University. Before Lukens and Ewald fronted the band together, Ewald played all the drum parts and wrote only three songs on Sports. His tracks include “Tears Over Beers,” “Cooke,” and “Coals,” while his counterpart Brendon Lukens took the lead as the main creative, putting together the rest of the tracks prior to formation of the full four-piece band.

Throughout the tracks on the album, Lukens and Ewald trade lines back and forth such as in the opening track while Lukens sings, “But is it enough,” Ewald calls out “oh no, it’s not enough.”

Ian Farmer produced and engineered the album before becoming the band’s bassist, while Zakk Cervini mastered it. Cervini has now built quite the portfolio from working with established musicians like Blink-182, Limp Bizkit, and Avicii since mastering Sports for fellow college friend Ewald on his laptop for $200.

With the album being nearly 30 minutes long and Lukens and Ewald being twenty years old at the time, they sing songs about subjects familiar to most twenty-something-year-olds, such as friendship, girls, relationships, melancholy, and insecurities.

“Tears Over Beers,” is their second track on the album that racked 34,665,706 listeners on Spotify. Their popularity doesn’t stop there, though. The band began to draw crowds in between the time after the release of Sports and the release of their 2014 second full-length album, You’re Gonna Miss It All.

Their popularity is in part credited to music blogs like PropertyOfZack founded by Drexel alum Zack Zarrillo. His blog boosted stream numbers, expanding the breadth of reblogged tracks by readers which would sometimes led to bands to signing record deals. AbsolutePunk, now re-branded as Chorus.fm, was a blog to find news, album reviews, articles, features, videos, music streams, and exclusives and featured Modern Baseball content at the time.

With the boosted interest in MoBo’s music through sudden exposure, Lame-O had sold out of 300 Sports records. The album was also reissued once by both Lame-O and the label that signed them after, Run For Cover.

With the band inactive as of an indefinite hiatus since 2017, Sports serves as a memory of a pivotal album that launched Modern Baseball to the light, giving us more of a reason to blast the record a little extra loud today. Look no further for a pleasant introduction to midwest emo than Sports.