A note on walk-up music

I have been blasting an old Pearl Jam tape while driving around in my car lately.  My IPod broke a few months ago, I don’t have a CD player, and I get tired of listening to the radio after so long, as good as the selection generally is in the Bay Area.  Thus, I wind up listening to old tapes, like the Pearl Jam album, Vs., which I got when I was about 10.  For some reason, it has had phenomenal replay value for me, and if I were a baseball player, I think my walk-up music might be the album’s song, “Dissident.”

Walk-up music is the song that’s played during the six or eight seconds a player is striding to the plate, stepping in, and taking a few practice hacks.  I’ll listen to a song and find myself wondering if it would make good walk-up music.  The trick is to find something that starts right away, no “Funeral for a Friend” by Elton John, with its meandering, three-and-a-half-minute intro (though one of the stations around here likes to play that song in all its 11-minute glory.)

It’s good to find something intense, something incendiary, something that could play during that scene in Braveheart where Mel Gibson rides up in blue face paint and rallies the Scottish to kick the shit out of the British.  The song is all about helping a player get pumped up.  If it sounds like something that could be played in a biker bar or during an arm wrestling competition, or both, it’s probably good.

Some players find something funny, like former Giants catcher Steve Decker who I once heard use the “Winkie Chant” from The Wizard of Oz at a Sacramento River Cats game (that’s the one that sounds like “Oh e oh, e oh oh.”)  There’s also the unintentionally funny, like former major league outfielder Tony Tarasco who once had an explicit song by Jay-Z played.

Closers probably have it best.  Their songs get played while they walk in from the bullpen and warm up.  All the best closers have songs that define them: “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC for Eric Gagne, when he was in his prime with the Dodgers; “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys for Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon; “Wild Thing” by The Troggs for Mitch Williams (though that sadly became all too true when his lack of control derailed his big league career.)

I can picture “Dissident” booming over some stadium’s loudspeakers while I warm up.  “Womack’s really bringing it tonight,” the coaches would tell each other while my fast balls sizzled in, smoke rising from the catcher’s glove, Eddie Vedder’s crooning and the pounding bass notes in the background (it goes without saying, I quit Little League when I was 11 and my fastball topped out at 40 miles per hour.)

What’s your walk-up song?

Three other posts worth reading:

10 baseball players who didn’t do steroids

Got $1000? Jose Canseco will spend a day with you

A former baseball owner dies at 100 and leaves a warehouse of old memorabilia