Baseball season is here, and with it comes the familiar sounds of the ballpark: The crack of the bat, the bark of the roaming cotton-candy vendor, a 15-second clip of every player’s chosen walk-up song. Why is it, exactly, that ballplayers received the type of musical introduction usually reserved for heads of state or professional wrestlers? In the context of a game, walk-up songs have the ability to rev up or deflate the crowd, to make you think your favorite player is a curatorial genius or a cultural mouth-breather. But mainly, they offer a short break from the routine, unspectacular plays that fill the typical nine innings. Let us consider these brief rainbow sprinkles on the vanilla ice cream of the 162-game season: Here’s how some of 2014’s best, worst and weirdest walk-up selections rate.
Ike Davis, New York Mets: Rolling Stones, “Start Me Up”
The music: On its face, this is a strong choice—the iconic Richards riff, lyrics that read like baseball-smashing affirmations—and yet, it’s also the tune that will be forever associated with Windows 95. A robust operating system perhaps, but not something that will strike fear in the hearts of opponents (or help Ike lock-in as the team’s first basemen of the future).
Trevor Cahill, Arizona Diamondbacks: Mortal Kombat Theme Song
The music: A bold selection—the fighting game series is legendary for its over the top gore and violence. But the energy veers too far into the red. It’s not a lead-in that helps you lay down a sac bunt.
Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers: Mozart “Requiem”
The music: As someone who already carries a royal honorific (and is something of baseball nobility anyway), the bombastic, ominous dirge works quite well. If only they could play more than 15 seconds of it.
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees: Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, “Derek Jeter at Bat song”
The music: A little bit flashy and over the top? Sure. But when you take an entire year to quit your job those things are probably not at the top of your concerns. Plus, it’d be rude if he didn’t use the tune, created by the Roots at a recent Tonight Show visit, at least for a bit. The soulful vibe echoes Jeter’s 2013 song, the Jay-Z and Kanye track “Otis.”
Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox: Metallica, “Harvester Of Sorrow”
The music: Metallica is already one of the most overused bands for this type of thing, and a player should count the probability of topping Mariano Rivera’s “Enter Sandman” as nil. Factor in that the lumbering Paul Konerko, power goatee and all, is arguably one of the scariest dudes on the field, and it makes some sense.
Howard Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels: Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
The music: I knew a college freshman who was forced to use the Harry Potter theme song as walk-up music. That would have been preferable to “Radioactive,” Howie.
Nyjer Morgan, Cleveland Indians: E-40, “Function”
The music: Morgan, flexing some music knowledge and hometown love, doesn’t so much walk as strut up to the grimy hip-hop single by fellow Bay Area native. You can consider this Tony Plush’s walk up music as well.
Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays: Nelly, “Batter Up”
The music: On one hand, I see what you did here, Brett. On the other, Nelly.
Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants: Justin Moore, “Beer Time”
The music: Hunter is a man of the people, and as such he recognizes that baseball games are essentially three-hour-long excuses to drink watery beer in the open air while someone else does all the work. Mainly it’s just disappointing he didn’t go with Sixpence None the Richer.
R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays: Game of Thrones theme
The music: With the Rogers Centre as their Castle Back, Dickey and the Jays keep guard against the frozen, hockey-loving north.