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In Da Batter’s Box
The walk-up song. Also known as “at-bat music,” it is the beat played as a batter approaches the plate, a tiny glimpse into the personality of each player. Some guys pick a classic—if not boring—song at the beginning of their career and stuck with it forever. Others like to adapt their choice to today’s musical stylings. A few jokesters like to find a tune fans will find ironically humorous. (This approach was successfully used by former Pittsburgh Pirate Adam LaRoche when he chose this ditty. I know this because it was the only thing of value he brought to the team.) Among the various walk-up categories, there is also the pump-up rap/rock music, the homage to the heritage tune, and the easily recognizable song that fans can sing along with.
Choosing which category and which song best encapsulates each player is something of an art form. You have to know the exact point to enter a song. Any really good walk-up song begins with a brief riff leading up to the point where the beat drops, cueing the approach to the plate. It has to be SFW, as well (you know, for the kids), though some editing is allowed—credibility not withstanding.
The final result is a song that tells a lot (okay, more like a very small bit) about a player. Here is what each walk-up song says about the corresponding Reds hitter. I went with an average starting lineup, taking a few liberties when it came to left field. You’ll see why.
(Note: Some links contain bad words.)
1. Shin-Soo Choo—CF
“N***** in Paris” by Jay-Z & Kanye West
What it says: “Like me, please.” He’s on a new team and in a new city, so there’s no need to ruffle any feathers with a lame walk-up song. Choosing one of the most popular (and slightly overplayed) songs of the past few years is a solid Choo-ice.
2. Zach Cozart—SS
“The Only Way I know” by Jason Aldean
What is says: “I just want to play me some baseball.” Cozart is a Southern boy. He was born in Tennessee and went to school at Ole Miss. Choosing a country song is hardly a choice, and taking the refrain from Aldean’s song harkens back to his aw shucks days of playing pickle in a cornfield.
3. Joey Votto—1B
“Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones
What is says: “Go ahead. Try me.” The throwback tune is perfect for a hitter that could have thrived in any era. The initial beats also have a sort of mysterious sound befitting of the enigmatic first baseman. Plus, the ominous opening adds a little bit of an intimidation factor. (He may be a lethal line-drive machine, but he’s still Canadian. He could use some help.)
4. Brandon Phillips—2B
“Bugatti” by Ace Hood
What it says: “I’m gonna get me mine.” Not surprisingly, Phillips has more walk-up options than anyone else on the team, so I went with his best song. “Bugatti” has the perfect drop note and it has the energy to wake anyone up that was lulled to sleep by another Votto base-on-balls.
5. Jay Bruce—RF
“Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
What it says: “I am one cool bro.” Jay Bruce did not go to college. Had he chosen the path of higher education, I envision him in front of a frat house, wearing a goofy cowboy hat and throwing back Solo cups filled with Budweiser while playing this song on the front porch. (This is assuming, of course, that this song is in fact popular in college.) Well, Bruce doesn’t have a frat pad front porch. He has a ballpark. That’ll suffice for now.
6. Todd Frazier—3B
“You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra
What it says: “I don’t need no stinkin’ music to get excited.” Frazier’s choice is highly unorthodox—an old school, crooner jam that has just about nothing to do with anything related to baseball. (If Frazier was Jamie Moyer’s age, then we could file this under the ironically chosen category.) But it’s not like I would criticize anyone for selecting Ol’ Blue Eyes.
7. Xavier Paul—LF
“Tha Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
What it says: “I’m awesome.” Xavier Paul wins. Why? Because Bone Thugs always wins.
8. Devin Mesoraco—C
“Right Where I Need to Be” by Gary Allan
What it says: “I enjoy country music. I do not enjoy energizing crowds.” Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the most boring song goes to the last position player in the lineup. I mean, I know he is from Central Pennsylvania, and having spent many a summer evening in rural PA, I can appreciate that more than most. But it’s is no excuse for choosing a crappy country love song. You’re better than that, Mes.
9. Cesar Izturis—PH
“Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G.
What it says: “I may be small, but I can play.” Cesar Isturis is listed generously at 5-9 and 180-pounds. What better way to combat any sort of Napoleon complex than by choosing a track recorded by a mountain of a man? I would have gone with a different Biggie number, probably “Mo Money Mo Problems” or “Juicy”, but “Hypnotize” is a solid crowd pleaser.
I know—now you’re wondering what my walk-up song would be. Well, I wrestled with the idea for a long time. I always thought I’d go the ironic route and choose something like “Ignition Remix” by R. Kelly for no particular reason. Then I purchased the Django Unchained soundtrack and found the song I had been searching for: “Unchained” by Tupac and James Brown.
As for what it says about me, I’ll leave it up to you.
(Thank you to the Better Off Red blog for some help with a few of the songs.)
Coming soon – Pitchers’ walk-out songs