You can feel it in the air: the sweet echo of lazy afternoons, the crackle of a brighter future — the long-awaited return of America’s pastime. This is where I reveal that I’m not only referring to baseball, but also to Taylor Swift — ha ha, I know, they teach us that one at Joke School — because as a matter of fact, they’re both back. Taylor Swift and baseball! T. Swift! Tee-ball! T(e)-bow!
Anyway, you clicked on a link about Taylor Swift and baseball, so you probably know why we’re here: Swift, mother of kittens, assembler of squads, the Many-Bobbed God herself, is once again manipulating the winds of fate to decide the winner of the World Series. On Thursday, Ed Sheeran suggested in an interview with the BBC that Swift’s long-overdue and longer-rumored sixth album will finally be released this year, probably in December. Is this report dubious? Totally. Can Ed Sheeran be trusted? Not really. But we’re going to roll with it, and it is my duty to inform you that today, one whole month before the 2017 baseball season officially begins, Taylor Swift has anointed a new victor: the Houston Astros. They are going to win the World Series.
OK. It’s been a minute, maybe, since you thought about Taylor — we’re on a first-name basis, right? — and her influence on the destiny of Major League Baseball teams. So let’s review some recent history:
- Swift, who was born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania, was ostensibly a Phillies fan in her youth. But back in 2008, when Swift performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Game 3 of the 2008 World Series, she represented herself as a denizen of Nashville, Tennessee, where she’d moved as a teenager in service of her blooming country-music career. As The Ringer’s Michael Baumann recounted last September, on that fateful day, as Swift held a bedazzled guitar and stood on the field at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies had the nerve to call bullshit on her Tennessee bona fides, introducing her on national TV as “one of Pennsylvania’s own.” She visibly twitched — and just like that, her allegiance to the Phanatic was gone. The Phillies won the World Series that year, but they fell in the Fall Classic to the Yankees the next year. They haven’t been back since, and haven’t won more than 73 games in a season since 2012.
- Beginning in 2010 — when the Giants knocked the Phillies out of the NLCS, a feat that surely pleased Swift, a noted wound-salter — the fate of the Giants was tied inextricably to Swift’s recording schedule. In the autumns of 2010, 2012, and 2014 she released new albums — Speak Now, Red, and 1989, respectively — and in 2010, 2012, and 2014, the Giants won the World Series just weeks later, their only championships since moving to San Francisco in 1958. This became known as Even-Year Magic.
- Last year was an even year. Taylor Swift, after strongly hinting that she might release an album, did not. The Giants did not win the World Series.
OK — everybody on the same page? Good. Great.
It’s been a rough year for Tay. She made the very bad mistake of either lying or grossly exaggerating the extent of her knowledge of the lyrics to Kanye West’s song “Famous,” in which he raps, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” before it was released; then, in the face of her continued denial/feigned outrage over the song, Kim Kardashian unleashed the Receipstoning (the name works, don’t worry about it). Then came the Please Exclude Me From This Narrative narrative; then there was a lot of pointing and snickering and “I told you she was disingenuous”-ing; then there was the whole Hiddleswift fiasco, which, the poor guy is still not OK; and then Nicki Minaj went and passed T. Swift on the all-time Hot 100 singles list, where Taylor now sits at no. 3 — with 70 Hot 100 entries — just three songs shy of tying Aretha Franklin for first among female artists.
Just three songs shy. You know, like an album’s worth of hits. Like maybe less than an album’s worth, when that album is released by Taylor Alison Swift and unleashed into the hands of long-starved fans, who are ready for her to come out of her post-Kimye seclusion and maybe, just maybe, are prepared to help her top Aretha. Her detractors’ complaints, in short, can be boiled down to goes on too many dates, got nothing in her brain, and haters gonna hate — almost as if our girl is capable of seeing into and possibly steering the future.
What I’m trying to say is: Taylor comin’. And with Taylor comes baseball destiny. I do not make the rules.
So: the baseball. You could make the argument that Swift is not necessarily done with the Giants — that we were wrong to call it Even-Year Magic, when really it was Swift Album Magic all along. (Sorry, what’s that? But Claire, this is dumb, baseball teams win because of their players’ skill, not the machinations of a pop star! Please. I watched Travis Ishikawa’s walk-off NLCS home run with my own eyeballs. This is real.) She didn’t release an album in 2016, so of course the Giants didn’t win! It had nothing at all to do with the Cubs or a historically heartbreaking bullpeeehhhhhhwwwwoooooooooo — who let all that dust in here just now?
Anyway. It is my firm belief that in light of Kim and Kanye’s decisive coup in July, Swift came to loathe the Giants’ AT&T Park, where the pair got engaged in October 2013. Consider that Kardashian posted her damning recording of Swift on July 17, three days after the the 2016 All-Star break. Consider that the Giants went 57–33 through the first half of the season, the best record in baseball, before losing eight of nine games to open the second half, including July 17’s matchup with the San Diego Padres. Consider that as Swift lay low and nursed her wounds, the Giants went a dismal 30–42 to close out the campaign, just barely earning a wild-card berth before falling to the Cubs in the NLDS and putting an end to Even-Year Magic for good. Never mind that Kardashian lives in Los Angeles and roots for the Dodgers, sworn rivals of San Francisco. The Giants were on a tear before Kardashian’s video; afterward, they were doomed.
So what did Swift do next? Why, she got paid. On October 4 — two days after the Giants’ season ended — she signed an exclusive deal with AT&T. You might think she’d moved on to the other AT&T sporting arena, the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Dallas, home to AT&T, and is now rooting for the Rangers in nearby Arlington. It makes some sense: Swift returning to her country roots to win back the hearts and minds of the nation. And it seemed for a time that she might have blessed all of Dallas’s sports teams: The improbable run of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott led the Cowboys to a 13–3 record, and a believer — you’re still here, we’re all believers, let’s get chips — might have seen the hand of Swift. But then the Cowboys fell in the divisional round, and that was that.
The truth is that Swift has slowly been plotting her turn toward another Texas city for years. Back in December 2014, the Houston Astros caused a stir by tweeting that the following October’s scheduled Swift concert at Minute Maid Park — on the 13th of that month, no less — would be moved if the then-perennially-awful Astros made the postseason. They did, and she ended up playing a month earlier — after which the team mysteriously collapsed into a skid.
But the times have changed. As we all know, “astro” comes from “astrum,” the Latin word for “star” — so where better for a pop star fond of numerology to remake herself? And — take a deep breath — the name “Houston Astros” is 13 letters long.
Swift planned one — one — show for all of 2017: a pre–Super Bowl performance in Houston, where she told the audience, “You’re the crowd that I’m gonna see in my most recent daydreams.” And in case we needed more evidence of the longevity of her intentions — she brought her cats to the show.
Then we have the following behind-the-scenes footage from the music video for 2014’s “Bad Blood.” Please watch what happens at the 11-second mark. Watch it again. Watch it 13 times.
The club is ready: Outfielder Preston Tucker, who boasts of having a Taylor Swift radio station on his phone, walks up to the plate blasting “I Knew You Were Trouble.” The go-to karaoke song of shortstop Carlos Correa — who just so happens to be 22 this year — is “Shake It Off.”
So enjoy the Commissioner’s Trophy, Houston. You deserve it.
This post was updated after publication to include crucial evidence found in behind-the-scenes footage from the video “Bad Blood.”