Pitch Imperfect

For the ground rules of walk-up songs—or walk-out songs when it comes to pitchers—check out my previous post on hitters’ walk-up songs.

It’s essentially the same deal for pitchers. They’re looking for a song that can pump them up and reflect their personality a little bit. Some choose the more serious approach; others find ironic songs, while others may not choose their own song at all. But each time a pitcher takes the mound with a certain song, it says something about them. (Note: some of these songs may be at-bat music, but the walk-up/at-bat musical databases, while informative, are not the most organized in the world.)

Also, some links may contain bad words.

1. Bronson Arroyo

Forty Five” by Shinedown

What is says: “There’s some pain behind these eyes.” Maybe it’s unfair to hold Bronson Arroyo to a higher musical standard than any of his teammates, but when you’re as musically inclined as Arroyo is, you have to pick a better song than some melodramatic, depressing song about staring down the barrel of a gun. I mean, this is the same guy who has covered the Goo Goo Dolls, Stone Temple Pilots, and performed with BLESSID UNION OF FREAKIN’ SOULS. (What’s that? You’re not a fan of “I Believe”? Right then, carry on.)

So Arroyo’s demonstrated that he has a firm grasp of the wonder that is ‘90s music. Why then would he choose a crappy copy of a ‘90s tune by a lame band? Makes no sense to me. I would’ve thought something from a reputable and respected band like Foo Fighters would be much more logical. (Though I will point out that his at-bat music is Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop.”)

But we get it, Bronson. You’re a tortured musical artist posing as a veteran pitcher. Now please pick a different song.

2. Homer Bailey

Fred Bear” by Ted Nugent

What it says: “I’m a Texan, and proud of it dammit!” Yes, I know Ted Nugent is the pride of Detroit. But you know what else he is the pride of? The NRA. (Well, he and Tom Selleck.) Now I didn’t want to assume Homer Bailey was an avid hunter, so I conducted a thorough Google image search. My suspicions were confirmed.

From a musical standpoint, though, it’s a solid choice. I’ve only known Ted Nugent as a bizarre, goateed, arms aficionado, but the man can lay down a strong guitar line.

3. Johnny Cueto

Siguelo” by Wisin & Yandel

What it says: “I respect my roots.” The song itself is not particularly good. It has a bit of an erratic, half-techno, half-Latin beat. But this song is more of a shoutout to Cueto’s native Puerto Rico. Wikipedia tells me that Wisin & Yandel are pretty popular in Puerto Rico, and seeing as I had never heard of them until now, I can surmise they have yet to crossover into the mainstream U.S. scene. They are authentic Puerto Ricans.

4. Mat Latos

“A trio of Dubstep nonsense” by some Dubstep people
Look, I understand that somewhere in the world, there is a man with a giant mouse head that is referred to as deadmau5. (For the uninitiated, of which I consider myself, it’s pronounced Dead Mouse, not Dead Mow Five.) I know this man plays loud noises. I also know there in an entity called Skrillex. He (they?) also play loud noises, and I also understand that certain people enjoy this music. I, however, find it to be an assault on every fiber of my auditory canal. I will say that if my body did not reject dubstep, then I could understand how this music gets someone pumped to pitch.

(The actual songs listed for Latos: “Typhoon” by Foreign Beggars, “Cinema” by Skrillex, and “Set Fire to the Rain” Ember Waves Dubstep remix by (very loosely) Adele.

5. Mike Leake 

Intro” by the xx and “Some Nights” by fun.

This is one enigmatic pitcher. Leake has two songs listed that could not be more different. One is a crowd pleasing hit that has been ruined by never-ending Southwest commercials. Another is a song that has been turned into a seemingly never-ending instrumental loop. Are you the hip, youthful soul or some mysterious hipster lyric boycotter? PICK A SIDE, LEAKE.

6. Jonathan Broxton

Iron Man” by Black Sabbath

What it says: “I just can’t let go.” Broxton began using this song, I assume, when he was a closer for the Dodgers. But since signing with Cincinnati, he has been reduced to the set-up man for Aroldis Chapman. Using Iron Man is a way of recapturing the glory associated with the closer. Also, it has a tremendous opening, ripe for either running out of the bullpen or flying around in a mechanized suit of armor.

7. Aroldis Chapman

Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine

What it says: “I am not worried about what my walk up song is.” While I don’t believe that Chapman had a whole lot to do with choosing this song (unless Rage Against the Machine is secretly popular in Cuba), it does have a solid 30-second riff that fits the role of a closer. As I’ve pointed out before, the key in finding a good walk-out song is not necessarily the entire song. It’s about finding that 30-second clip. So props to whatever team manager chose this song, even if it in no way reflects Chapman’s personality. (Something like this, however, definitely does.)

And the winner for best pitching music is…
UPSET ALERT: Manny Parra!
The lesson as always: don’t mess with House of Pain.


(Thanks to the folks at Designated Hits and Jamie Ramsey at Better Off Red for some of the musical information.)

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