Monday, January 3, 2011

SMALLS TALK: Walk-Out Music

Baseball is the only sport that offers its players the opportunity to pick their own personal soundtrack. All players, pitchers and hitters, get to choose the song that plays over the stadium speakers as they walk to the mound or batter's box - every WWF fan's dream. Before each season, players search iTunes and YouTube for that perfect song, asking themselves: which song best fits me? Which song gets me goin'? Which song will bring the fans to their feet and have the players in the field thinking, "That's a pretty sweet walkout"? These are the thoughts a player runs through before finally deciding on a walkout. It could last all season, it could be changed weekly - it depends on the player - but no walkout is chosen without thorough consideration.

I'm always torn when deciding on a walkout. I do my best to think of a song that's original and has a unique sound: the impossible mission to discover a jam that's never been used before. I usually end up coming up with two or three good candidates, and figure I'll just use one for a month or so and then move on to the next one - or perhaps go the superstitious route and stick with whatever song has me hitting well. But then I think of the legends who have their whole career defined by one song - how cool is it that Mariano Rivera has pretty much monopolized "Enter Sandman," or the fact that no one can hear "Hell's Bells" without picturing Trevor Hoffman jogging out of the pen. It's that song-player recognition. I want that.

The perfect walkout has different characteristics for pitchers and hitters. Pitchers hear their walkout only once - the first time they make their way to the mound - but get to hear the majority of the song because of their long warmup session. They get to choose a classic pump-up song, complete with a chorus and verses, with the understanding that they'll likely hear most, if not all, of their song.

A hitter, on the other hand, has to pack the same amount of punch into a 20 to 30-second window. Hitters look for songs with great intros, or often go the hip-hop route because of the catchy beats that usually backbone a song. The batter will hear this walkout 3 to 5 times a game, so it's important that he chooses a song that not only gets him goin', but does not get old or annoying after a couple plays. It's not uncommon to see guys start a song at a specific point for their walkout, either - anything for that solid 20 second clip.

Over the years, I've heard countless walkouts, always making a note of the ones I like or find original - stashing it away as a possible option for a couple of years until I'm sure no one on my team knows the previous user. There are the staples that you'll hear in almost every stadium: "Still Dre", "Moment of Carity", "All I Do is Win" - but here are a few of the ones that had me nodding in approval in the outfield; originality is king. (Keep in mind, these were mostly hitter walkouts so only the first 20 to 30 seconds would be played.)

"Dont Stop the Rock" by Freestyle
- Every fan in attendance stood and had a choreographed clap, pretty impressive.

"Bring Sally Up" by Moby
- The kid's last name had 'Sal' in it - nickname was "Sally" - definite creativity points.

"Ayo Technology [Instrumental](start at 0:16) by 50-Cent feat. Justin Timberlake
- Extremely catchy and great use of synthesizer or whatever that is, real toe-tapper.

"Extreme Ways" by Moby
- Big Bourne Trilogy fan so this one had me nodding my head a little bit in Right.

"Bullet and a Target" by Citizen Cope (For a Pitcher)

- Good instrumentals yet very low-key, perfect for that laid back kid on the team - clever lyrics.

"Everybody Dance Now" by C&C Music Factory
- Thought it was corny at first, and then 6,000 people stood up and started dancing every time this kid was up - pretty awesome.

There are plenty of good ones I'm leaving out, but rest assured that an original walkout does not go overlooked by many. Walkouts connect players to the fans as much as anything - sometimes fans only know players because of their walkouts. So keep churning out good songs, I hope to have a few new ones to write about once the season starts.

Have a favorite walkout I didn't mention? Leave a comment below.

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  1. Jonathan Broxton and Eric Gagne had a pair of good ones.

  2. Love Papelbon's whole entrance- whether it's "Wild Thing" or "Shipping Up to Boston", the fact that he pounds the cop right outside the bullpen door eveytime is awesome

  3. I thought Derek Jeter's Opening Week 2010 song of Cameo's "Candy" was pretty funny.

  4. Last year a NDFA kid walked out to "All The Above" - It was perfect here is a kid with a very small chance of advancing much beyond rookie ball walking up to :
    Tell me what do you see
    When you looking at me
    On a mission to be
    What I'm destined to be

    I loved his confidence.

    We also had a kid who was from Alabama who walked up to Skynard "Sweet Home Alabama" Being a bama boy myself I kinda liked it too.