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Friday, May 31, 2013

Now Batting for the Rangers...

It's been some week, Ranger fans. First of all, it feels like we're playing the flippin' World Series against the Diamondbacks...a day/night doubleheader (which we both lost, one in walk-off fashion) on Monday, an off day, a rainout at home against those same D-backs, and FINALLY a win early today against them.

Soooo, all of this down time (and a goofy poll on the FSSW broadcast) got me thinking about another idiosyncrasy of this great sport they call baseball that we all (hopefully) love so much...the much celebrated 'walk-up' music in the modern era of baseball.

Wait. What? Downtime and music in baseball? That immediately makes you think about a live baseball game where you have the requisite organ with obligatory audience participation. (Lets go Rangers! clap, clap, clap, clap, clap). The organ or whatever music they want can dictate any chant! (Here we go Rangers! Here we go! clap, clap). Not to mention:

Bases loaded at any ballpark (I think)...

A base on balls at the Ballpark is almost always followed (which is really cool) by:

So are we all in agreement that music is important at a baseball game? I mean, we all sing the National Anthem, 'God Bless America', and of course 'Take Me out To the Ballgame'.

Well, if you're a 'recent fan' by baseball standards (20 years or so) like I am, you LOVE walk-up music. It more or less defines everything about you. It sets the tone for your presence, your at-bat, AND your entrance as a pitcher. No other sport has this quality aside from pre-game festivities and endless fanfare in football, basketball and hockey. You'd think basketball would have figured out a way to work this into a game by now....I know what you're thinking, now there's a game that's dying for more 'look-at-me' antics (haha).

Anyway, it really just got me thinking about baseball purists and what their actual thoughts are about the walk-up music element and its ubiquitous nature in the game now. We are, after all, talking about a 200+ year old game here.

If you're familiar with my posts, by now, you know that I'm a history/statistics junkie and you also know that I'm going to pose essential/necessary questions such as, is there a history here to speak of? Is walk-up music important? Is it relevant? Will it endure? Lets examine...

Well, if you're like me, when you think of walk-up music you begin to think that maybe it's a product of Sports Entertainment, i.e. Pro Wrestling. As a youth, like many young kids, I was an admitted lover of Pro Wrestling (as phony and inane as it always has been), and if it gave us nothing else but walk up music I'm proud to say I was a fan (haha). However, walk up music is TOO important in wrestling...

Haha. I digress. Back to actual sports. According the always reliable (sarcasm) Wikipedia, walk-up music (in baseball anyway) began as such...

The practice of using a heavy metal theme song to signal the entrance of a relief pitcher began at Qualcomm Stadium in 1998, when the San Diego Padres started playing "Hells Bells" by AC/DC to accompany Trevor Hoffman's taking the mound. San Jose Mercury News and wrote that the song should be honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The use of rock and roll for entrance music emerged from the 1989 film, Major League, in which relief pitcher Rick Vaughn entered the game to a cover of "Wild Thing" performed by X. In addition, batters will often select a song to play as they come to the plate in home games.

So, then that's pretty cool if you think about it. If you love baseball, you love baseball movies (a future 162+ post). If you love baseball movies then you inevitably love Major League. So it only makes sense. It's life imitating art imitating life. Oh and by 'batters will often select a song to play as they come to the plate' they mean ALWAYS. 

Can we pretend this is all we remember Charlie Sheen for?

If we delve a little deeper and do more research we find that 65-year-old Nancy Faust is largely responsible for baseball walk-up music as we know it today. She was the Chicago White Sox organist for 41 years before she retired in 2010.

per a 2012 article by:
Kate Kilpatrick
When Faust was hired in 1970 she got a list of each player and his hometown. Since she knew all the state songs, she’d play the appropriate one as the player walked up to the plate or mound...Faust got more creative and cheeky with her organ over the years. If fans told her a certain player was dating Madonna, she'd play the Material Girl. If a rookie player stepped up to the plate, he might hear "Who Are You?" by The Who.

So, it logically it follows, then, that the player himself would dictate the music. I mean, wouldn't you? Who wants to hear "Loser" from Beck when they come up to bat, ya know? Haha...

Now when you're at a home game you might hear your favorite hitter's walk-up song a good 3-5 times. Does it really get him pumped every single time? With some hitters, I actually think it might. Many times it gets YOU pumped up. Take our dear departed Micheal Young, he would always get me pumped with choice cuts over his tenure like, "XXXplosive" by Dr. Dre., "Encore" by Jay-Z, "So Whatcha Want" by Beastie Boys, "Down" by 311. MY was the man. You already know that...

His only real competition is Ian Kinsler with his always awesome...

Pay attention next time you're at the Ballpark and you'll hear Elvis with his "Suit and Tie" by Justin Timberlake or "Locked out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars. No disrespect to Elvis or those songs but, way back when there was this one power hitter for the Rangers. You knew he was the baddest son of a bitch on the block. When I was a teenager, he was larger than life. I mean, he was our Sammy Sosa/Mark a good AND bad way.

What was HIS walk-up music?

It really does NOT get much better than that.

So since we know it began as closer phenomenon started by Trevor Hoffman we have to admit it became especially famous with Mariano Rivera with "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. Which brings us to Joe Nathan! He comes into the game with his patented tune, "Stand up:" by Steel Dragon. "Stand up and Shout" says the lyrics even though all we want do is sit down and pray, even if we aren't relgious haha.

So there you have it. I think about walk up music constantly. I listen for it. The Rangers will even spell out the hitter's songs for you so you can buy them via Itunes...

Here's a worthless website I found during research:

I know you're thinking of  your song right now, too. Twist my arm. I would come out to...

Whats your song?

Do you love walk-up music yet?

52 down

110 to go....

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