The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team's 2015 season has been full of improbable events.
The team, which was below .500 nearly two-thirds of the way through their schedule, made a series of trades that propelled them into top spot in their division and into the Major League Baseball playoffs for the first time in over 20 years.
With the subsequent Jays fever sweeping both the city of Toronto and the whole of Canada, another unlikely side story emerged but three weeks ago.
B.Rich a.k.a. Brendan Richmond and Steve Corn a.k.a. Eli Abrams, better known to the world as the hick-hop hosers behind the 8.65 million-view viral video "Out For A Rip" unleashed a new song dedicated to the Jays called "Home Run Anthem." They also enlisted former Blue Jays star and unusual candidate for a rap video Kelly Gruber to appear in the song's clip.
How they hooked up with Gruber, as they'll explain, is a rather incredulous tale. What's far more real, however, is the tangible benefit a number of kids will receive thanks to "Home Run Anthem." That's because B and Steve are giving a portion of the proceeds from "Home Run Anthem" to the Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Blue Jays dedicated to community outreach.
Samaritanmag spoke to B and Steve when they journeyed from their home in Kingston, Ontario down to the big city in search of rare and coveted Jays playoff tickets. Along the way we also talked to them about toilet paper tributes to past Jays teams, what it's like seeing Gruber in a b-boy stance and which current Jays player they'd most like to go out for a rip with.
What inspired you guys to write "Home Run Anthem"?
Steve: The Jays were doing so well it really kind of wrote itself. There's lots to choose from when you're following a winning team. It's not like writing about the [Toronto Maple] Leafs.
You guys are from Kingston, Ontario, which isn't exactly close to Toronto. Does Jays fever reach that far?
Steve: For sure.
B: Every game in the last while leading up to the playoffs, and even before that, all the bars are like, Jays game on, sound on, people are really into it.
Steve: I play a lot of shows with a rock band and if the Jays game is on you've got to wait 'til the game's over until you can start your set.
Was there an exact moment this season, a turning point, when you got serious about paying attention to the Blue Jays?
B: I don't remember it down to a specific game or play, but there was a time period probably post-trade. I watch a lot of sports with my dad, I go and hang out and watch the Leafs or the Jays game. Well, he started calling me more and the time in the conversation when we were talking about the Blue Jays was getting longer and longer. He was giving me the play-by-play if I didn't make it over for the game and it was like, "Man, pops is really friggin' excited about this." Then, "Yeah, yeah, I'm getting it, I'm getting the fever," too.
How did you guys get involved with Jays Care?
B: I guess that was just a decision to do that after we did the video and the big launch for it. It seemed like a no-brainer.
Steve: It was good to have some sort of involvement in being able to give back.
On the surface it seems a little improbable that the "Out For A Rip" guys are doing a baseball song with the proceeds going to charity.
Steve: We both got started in music and sports at a young age, so you realize the value in taking that to the next level.
B: And I know in my case I was very fortunate along the way, like I had a great upbringing and had everything I needed, but I was also provided a lot of encouragement by outside people, whether it was family or friends, people who saw that I was getting into something like music. There were there a lot of people who were like, "Hey here's an opportunity, do this..." loaning me equipment and things like that, so I think it makes a lot of sense to us to help out.
One of Jays Care's big things is making sure kids have opportunities to participate in baseball. Have you guys ever been part of something similar?
B: I was in the project I was working on right until "Out For A Rip," a complete 180 style-wise, but it was actually a hip-hop group for children. So it was a live band, two MCs and it was for kids aged two to six. We were doing a lot of local charity events and playing in schools and playing in parks and all that stuff. Love kids, love the energy that they give off and it seemed kind of like a no-brainer for us.
S: I do a lot of outreach programs with a band I used to play with, my cousins called The Abrams Brothers, and we used to do a lot of the school tours. So say we were playing a theater in smalltown X, we'd go to the school and do a fun event for the kids who couldn't come out to the event in the evening. Stuff like that, trying to get people involved. I know it's not sports related, but music has a similar effect on children.
Watch B.Rich and Steve's special Jays Care message (story continues after the video):
What was the response from the Jays Care people when you approached them with, "Hey, we made a song and we want to give you some money from it."
B: They were very happy about it, definitely. I think they're probably glad to get all the help they can.
So there was no concern, "Oh no, it's those 'Out For A Rip' guys. We can't do this..." feeling?
Steve: They might have breezed past that one.
B: Maybe they haven't seen that yet. I mean, I feel like a helping hand is a helping hand, right? Even if a guy swears a lot.
Do you guys remember the last time the Jays were in the playoffs, when they won the World Series in 1992 and 93?
Steve: I was three.
B: It's pretty distinct. I remember '92 specifically, I remember being in Newburgh, just outside of Tamworth, with a buddy of mine. We were glued to the whole series and everything and the final game, the home run when they took it all his parents were out and we were having our 10-year-old party when they won the game, just jumping on the couch. We actually grabbed all the toilet paper we could find in the house and ran down the dirt road toilet papering road signs. There were only about three of them. And we were stretching toilet paper across the road so cars would have to drive through it. So yeah, fond memories of '92-'93.
On the topic of parties, have you had the opportunity to take Kelly Gruber out for a rip?
Steve: We're yet to. He promised that we were going to hang out. He gave me a shoulder massage, a two-hander.
B: There's been rumour of him popping up in the coming playoff days so we're just hoping and banking on being able to take him out for a rip.
How'd you guys get hooked up with Gruber?
Steve: B and I were doing some yardwork and digging around in the backyard, fence holes for our new fence, and when we were digging we came across a lamp. It was all dirty and stuff and we start rubbing it and out pops Genie frickin' Gruber. And he says (affects southern drawl), "Boys, you found me and I'll grant you three wishes, won't I?" And I said, "Well Mr. Gruber, we're just gonna need the one and that's for you to be in our rap video." He said sure. In hindsight, though, I re