April is upon us and that means the return of Major League Baseball. To preview the new season, Billboard.com spoke to a panel of baseball fans from around the music world for a team-by-team preview of their favorite squads. The third day of “Play Ball” features Jimmy Eat World drummer Zach Lind, the son of a former Major League player, and a lifelong fan of the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks.
The musician: Zach Lind has been drumming for Jimmy Eat World since the band’s inception in 1993, seeing them through hit songs like “The Middle” and “Pain,” through last year’s album, “Damage.” He grew up immersed in baseball culture thanks to his dad, Jack Lind, who was a longtime minor league infielder, a Major Leaguer (briefly), and later, a scout and minor league manager.
The team: The D-Backs’ management finds itself in a potential make-or-break year. New manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers guided the squad to an out-of-nowhere National League West title in 2011, but they finished their last two seasons with identical 81-81 records. They sacrificed prospects in offseason trades for a power hitting left fielder in Mark Trumbo and a proven closer in Addison Reed. If the D-Backs have any shot at overtaking the free-spending Dodgers for the N.L. West title, they’re going to need another monster year from first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who turned into a power-hitting superstar last year. Competing with the big boys might be out of the question, though, as number one starting pitcher Patrick Corbin was recently lost for the season with a torn ligament in his throwing elbow.
You got into baseball through your dad, right?
My dad (Jack Lind) played baseball for Arizona State University, here in town. He got drafted out of ASU by the Astros and had a pretty long minor league playing career. He played a little bit in the Major Leagues with the Brewers. And then he also played a year in Japan with the Tokyo Giants. After he finished playing, he started volunteering for ASU and helping out the coaching staff. From there, he got his first professional managing gig in A-ball for the Angels and bounced around through different organizations, managing in the minor leagues. He was also a field coordinator, a position in Major League Baseball organizations. He did some scouting [and] coached third base for the Pirates for a few years. He threaded together this career and just retired as a scout for the Astros.
Previously in this series:
Dropkick Murphys Talk Boston Red Sox
Hold Steady & Baseball Project Talk Minnesota Twins
So I grew up in the Minor Leagues. I always lived in Arizona, but when school got out, we would pack up and drive out to wherever my dad was and spend the summer with the team. I’d go with my dad in the morning and do batting practice. Sometimes i’d go with him on road trips. I was constantly marinated in baseball since I was a baby.
Did you play?
I played up until my senior year. I quit because in my junior year I started dealing with some nagging injuries and I wasn’t having that much fun. And that’s when Jimmy Eat World were getting together and playing. I quit and left the baseball field to practice [with] Jimmy Eat World and haven’t played since. I’ve been [with] Jimmy Eat World for the past 20 years.
Have you been a Diamondbacks fan since their first year (1998)?
Yeah, totally. I always rooted for my dad but it was tough, because he’d be with the Mets, or the Astros, or the Angels, or the Pirates, or the Reds. When the D-Backs arrived, it was like, “I’m gonna root for the D-Backs first.”
They’re a fun team to root for. I like the guys on the team and I like (manager) Kirk Gibson.
Jimmy Eat World poses with Diamondbacks’ outfielder Mark Trumbo (center) this spring.
2001 must have been a pretty awesome year for you: Jimmy Eat World’s platinum-selling “Bleed American” came out and the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Oh yeah, that was a crazy time! We were really busy and traveling around that year playing. Game 7 of the World Series took place when we were touring in Germany… If you’re in Europe and you want to watch a game, it’s difficult because you can’t just go to a bar and they’ll have it on. This was before you could stream it on your laptop. You had to find a place and luckily this guy who worked for our label had this crazy sports cable package at his home, so he got all the U.S. sports. We watched it in the middle of the night and when they finally won we freaked out. We were totally exhausted but so pumped the D-Backs won.
How do you think they will do this year?
I think they’re definitely better after the moves they’ve made. I’m bummed out by Patrick Corbin being out. That’s going to be a big blow. He had a great first half last year and kind of tailed off, but I still thought he could have been a serviceable one or two starter in the rotation. They got Bronson Arroyo, but they’re also waiting for Archie Bradley to come along. He’s starting the year in the minors. It’ll be interesting how that works out, because with Corbin out, they might want to rush him sooner than later.
It’s tough that the Dodgers are stacked and I think the Giants might have a much better year. I think we’d have to surprise some people in order to win the division.
What do you think of all the trades they made in the past few years?
I was totally okay with trading Justin Upton. He is obviously a really talented guy, but he doesn’t really hustle. He’s not good defensively. Even though the numbers don’t match up, I’d rather have a guy like Gerardo Parra playing right field because he’s much better defensively, he hustles and plays hard. I was so sick of watching Upton not run hard to first base or loaf on balls in the outfield and completely misplay them.
If Paul Goldschmidt didn’t have the year he had I think that move would have looked a lot worse. Hopefully with the addition of Mark Trumbo, the lineup will be pretty solid. I don’t envy guys like Kevin Towers (general manager) because you have to look at all these factors. My general opinion of Towers is I think he’s really good and I give him the benefit of the doubt. My dad knows him and respects him. I think he’s a good baseball guy and he knows what he’s doing.
A lot of what I read online and in the press of Towers is really negative. Do you think it’s much more positive in Arizona?
Right now, I think Towers has been given some slack because the previous G.M. and regime were terrible. I think he’s given some credit. It’s tough, man. We’re in a tough division and we’ve been .500 the last two years on the nose. I think this is going to be a big year for him.
What do you think of the fan support in Arizona? They’re always trying to push baseball there because the D-Backs are still a fairly new team.
I’m not sure. I think it’s been good. Last year was an improvement over how it’s been before; Being in thee hunt always helps. Phoenix is a tough town. If you’re not playing for something, people tune out really quickly. It’s certainly not like an east coast town. I think it’s because it’s a newer culture here. I’m 38 and I was born and raised in Phoenix but it’s really rare to meet someone [my age] who was born here. There are a lot of fans of other teams that come here. It becomes this melting pot of sports allegiances.
Visit Billboard.com tomorrow, as our series continues with Yo La Tengo and the So So Glos previewing the New York Mets’ season.