June 23, 2024

Creed was a punchline.

The band’s music was grunge lite.

Its songs were cheesy.

Its singer was an Eddie Vedder wannabe.

The band members are way past their prime.

Not exactly the band you’d expect to be getting shout-outs from athletes in 2023. Or a band whose music would be blaring through the speakers at a Major League Baseball playoff game, inspiring an non ironic singalong among the home crowd.

But that’s where we are.

“In the locker room pregame, I took a [page] from the Texas Rangers and made sure Creed got played before we went out on the field,” Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said Sunday after his team’s 19-13 win over the Chicago Bears. “And I felt like that may have made the difference.”

Creed was one of the biggest selling music acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Its first three albums were multiplatinum blockbusters that spawned anthemic hit singles like “Higher” and the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “With Arms Wide Open.”

But the band broke up in 2004, and its music didn’t seem to be remembered too fondly over the years. A 2008 Times article reported that the group’s name was the top result in a Google search for “worst band in the world.” In 2013, Creed beat out Nickelback and Limp Bizkit to earn the title of worst band of the ‘90s in a Rolling Stone magazine readers poll.

Then came the 2023 Texas Rangers, who started listening to Creed’s music in the locker room and the bus. The players say it helped them break out of a slump during the second half of the season and has kept them rolling into the American League Championship Series, where they hold a 1-0 series advantage over the Houston Astros.

“It’s kind of just a random thing that everybody started singing to one day, and it’s kind of built on itself,” Rangers shortstop and former Dodger Corey Seager said last week. “It’s something to bond over.”

No one knows exactly how it happened. Manager Bruce Bochy suspects catcher Austin Hedges, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline, might have had something to do with it.

But the band’s music has quickly become part of the team’s culture. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal said during the TV broadcast of Game 3 of the NL Division Series that 21-year-old outfielder Evan Carter told him the players have special handshakes to go along with the band’s songs.

Rangers play-by-play broadcaster Jared Sandler posted on X before that game that pitcher Andrew Heaney told him that if “Higher” were to be played at Globe Life Field and the fans sang along, it would fire the team up. And that’s exactly what happened — during the series-clinching 7-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Creed is based in Tallahassee, Fla., and lead singer Scott Stapp recorded the song “Marlins Will Soar” as an anthem for Miami’s MLB team in 2010. Representatives for Creed did not immediately respond to a request for comments for this story, but the band appears to be embracing its newfound love from deep in the heart of Texas

“Let’s go Rangers, let’s go!” read an X post from Creed’s official account that also linked to an article about the phenomenon.

And now that love appears to be spreading up North. Cousins told reporters Sunday that the music is a bit of a departure from the tunes that are usually “banging on the box” in the Vikings’ locker room, but “it was well-received.”

He added that more Creed could be in his teammates’ future.

“They have quite a catalog,” the quarterback said of the band that is reuniting for the first time in more than a decade for a pair of concert cruises early next year. “We started with ‘Higher’ this week, we didn’t wanna overstep our bounds. So we just went ‘Higher’ and then next week maybe we can see what we go to from there.”

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