In a sport that values tradition and teamwork above all else, it can be hard for MLB players to show fans their unique quirks and personalities. There are little things they can do like grow a beard or get tattoos or wear a necklace, but the best way a player can show fans what he’s all about is through his walk-up song.
Once you have your MLB tickets and get to see the game live, you enter the world of walk-up music. A walk-up song (or at-bat music) is what MLB players choose to listen to while they “walk up” to the plate (or the pitchers mound). Though Major League Baseball instituted a new rule this season that limited walk-up songs for hitters to 15 seconds (instead of 20), players still manage to use that time wisely. Whether they’re trying to send a message, get pumped up, focus, or just make the fans laugh, hearing a player’s choice for walk-up song has become a fun part of the game.
This season, fans have heard radio’s most popular hits, including Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” Pittbull’s “International Love,” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop.” Choosing a popular walk-up song is so easy though. Instead, we wanted to take a look at the outliers. These walk-up songs are the standout surprises of the 2014 season.
Most Literal Interpretation: Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays, “Batter Up,” Nelly
It is exactly what it says it is.
Most Literal Interpretation…Gone Slightly Wrong: Gordon Beckham, White Sox, Your Love, The Outfield
We see what he’s trying to do here, but not only are the lyrics t0 “Your Love” an over-the-top plea to “not lose (your love)” which seems a little, um… desperate, Beckham is an infielder. Great song though, for what it’s worth.
Most “OMG, That’s So Two Years Ago”: Drew Hutchinson, Toronto Blue Jays, Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen
There’s just no excuse for using 2012’s summer song in 2014. Sorry, Drew.
Best Example of Nepotism: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays, “The Tree,” Juliana Zobrist
Ben Zobrist’s wife is a Christian recording artist who gets a little free promotion every time her husbands walks up to the plate.
Most Meta: Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals, The Official Theme Song for Rafael Soriano
The was written for Soriano and is about Soriano, was written for and features lyrics (in Spanish) like “Pitch it, Soriano, pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano, strike him out, Soriano!”.
Best (and Also Worse) to Listen to Fans Sing Along To: Michael Morse, San Francisco Giants, Take on Me, A-Ha
Morse loves 80s one-hit wonders and Giants’ fans love trying to hit the falsetto high notes while they sing along.
Most Popular with Kids (Least Popular with Parents): Tony Sanchez, Pittsburg Pirates, Let It Go, Frozen Soundtrack
Some guys choose rap, some choose country. Tony Sanchez just “couldn’t keep it in.” He wanted to “test the limits and break through” and so he chose the most over-played Disney song of the year. Don’t like it? Sorry. “Let it go,” as it were.
Most Epic Troll Job: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, The Sign, Ace of Base
When a San Francisco Giants broadcaster wondered aloud if Tulo’s batting average was benefiting from “sign-stealing,” Tulo did the only thing he could: he used Ace of Base as his walk-up song to send a very appropriate and very sarcastic message.
Creepiest: AJ Burnett, Philadelphia Phillies, The Walking Dead (Main Title Theme)
AJ Burnett is such a fan of the popular zombie show that when the Diamondback’s partnered with AMC to host Zombie Night, he put aside the competition for a few minutes to visit the face painting station and have his make up done like the living dead.
Best Use of Intimidation: R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays, Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme), Star Wars
Pitcher R.A. Dickey is self-proclaimed “Star Wars nerd” who dresses up like Darth Vader in his free time. Basically, there’s no other song to which he could make his entrance.
Most Depressing: Mike Carp, Boston Red Sox, Heartache Tonight, The Eagles
“There’s gonna be a heartache tonight, a heartache tonight, I know.” Sure, maybe he’s talking about the other team’s heartache, but this one is just too defeatist and needs to be retired.
Best Inside Joke / Most Political: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers, Black or White, Michael Jackson
Matt Kemp’s ethnic background got dragged into the Donald Sterling controversy when the audio recording revealed V. Stiviano saying she thought Kemp was “OK” because he’s “mixed.” Instead of getting angry, Kemp laughed it off, walking out to Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” later that day.
Most Likely to Please the Grandparents: Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers, Requiem in D Minor, Mozart
Fielder says his choice was inspired by the fact that (former teammate) Torii Hunter listened to classical music before games. Unfortunately, Fielder had neck surgery at the end of May and is expected to miss the rest of the season, so fans will have to get their Mozart fix elsewhere.
Best All-Around: Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics, Careless Whisper, George Michael/Wham!
In a sport where the most popular walk-up songs are either rap or country, Josh Reddick’s, shall we say, courageous choice is a popular one with fans, who’ve taken to slow dancing to the saxopohone-laced tune as Reddick makes his way into the batter’s box.
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Tags: AJ Burnett Ben Zobrist Boston Red Sox Chicago White Sox Colorado Rockies Gordon Beckham Josh Reddick Matt Kemp Mike Carp MLB Oakland Athletics Philadelphia Phillies Pittsburgh Pirates Prince Fielder R.A. Dickey San Francisco Giants Tampa Bay Rays Texas Rangers Toronto Blue Jays Troy Tulowitzki Washington Nationals