To be honest, I’m sick of spring training. Sure it’s great, in the middle of winter, to get those first photos and videos of the players out in the sunshine... but it’s sort of like watching a singer practice scales or something: interesting enough for a little while, but pretty soon, you just want the show to start. I've therefore been tuning out most of the desultory news from Tampa and, instead, thinking about the really meaningful things. Things like entrance music.
You know you’ve thought about it: if you were a baseball player, what would your at-bat song be?
Originally I was going to write this post about my own ideal selections. (You know, assuming I were good at baseball. And a guy). But every time I sat down to write, I got hopelessly bogged down in iTunes. This is not a simple question. Because first of all, what kind of imaginary baseball player are you? A home run hitter, or a speedy on-base guy? Are you slumping, or on a hot streak? These things matter. Then, of course, it has to be a song that can hold its own in a stadium – Radiohead may be a great band, but nothing from The Bends is going to fire up a crowd of 55,000.
I finally had to admit defeat for the time being, though I did manage to narrow it down to a list of 47 possible songs. (...And just think, my editors wonder why I have trouble making deadlines). So I'm taking the more general approach here, and hoping to get a good discussion going.
Just like some songs will always remind you of a certain phase of your life, or a romance, or a particular movie, some are forever connected in my brain to baseball. First you’ve got the obvious ones, Yankee Stadium songs like “New York, New York,” or “The Boys are Back in Town,” or, God help me, “YMCA.” Children seem to like it, and I suppose that’s why they do it (“you know, for kids!”) -- but the grounds crew dance got old fast, and I’m praying that when the team moves into the new building, they can leave this behind. Also: did anyone ever point out to the organization what that song’s actually about? Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely fine with lyrics about guys cruising for casual gay sex at the Y… I’m just a little surprised that the Steinbrenners are so cool about it. I have to assume that someone, at some point, must have said something; the song’s been out for thirty years, and it isn't exactly subtle to begin with.
Then there’s “Enter Sandman,” of course. I doubt I’ll ever think about anything besides Mariano Rivera when I hear it, even if I live to be 90 -- despite the fact that Mo himself doesn't much care for "that kind of music." Meanwhile, one of the many reasons I was madly in love with Paul O’Neill in my younger days is that he'd come to the plate accompanied by various Bruce Springsteen tracks, and by The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” making him one of the surprisingly few ballplayers with good taste in music.
Unfortunately, song quality doesn't seem to matter when determining what'll stay with you. “Who Let the Dogs Out,” for instance, is tragically seared into my memory, thanks to the Mets' inexplicable and enthusiastic embrace of it during the 2000 World Series. In fact, whenever that Series is mentioned, my mind flashes immediately to Clemens throwing the shard of bat at Piazza, Luis Sojo's Game 5 bloop single, and the damn Baja Men, in that order.
Sometimes a less than great song is still the perfect choice for a certain player: who can forget Gary Sheffield’s flawless Yankee Stadium selection of Ludacris’s “Move, Bitch?” (or, as it was played at the Stadium: “Move, ....., get out the way/ Get out the way, ....., get out the way”). In the midst of his fielding meltdown, Chuck Knoblauch switched his music to Eminem’s bitter “The Way I Am,” and I still think of those painful throws to first whenever I hear it. “This is Why I’m Hot” features some of the silliest lyrics in recent memory, but it was completely appropriate for Alex Rodriguez’s insane 2007 season. And Kyle Farnsworth warms up to some godawful shrieking nu metal thing I can't identify, which, I'm afraid, feels about right.
On the whole, far too few players take advantage of the opportunity for comedy here, but there are always a few standouts. Giambi used to use a WCW Wrestling theme song -- the Wolfpack, I believe. And Mike Myers came out to the “Halloween” theme, which was cool, although it would’ve been much cooler had he pitched well. Cliff Floyd, formerly of the Mets, played the theme from “Sanford and Son.” Personally I’ve always thought it would be great for some aggressive power hitter type, ideally Sheffield, to step into the box with a Tori Amos song blaring one day, just to see the reaction.
So, to get things started, I've got two questions for you guys. First, what’s your at-bat song?
And second, can the Banter community please put its many heads together and, for the love of god, think of a better entrance song for Joba Chamberlain than Tim McGraw’s deeply awful “Indian Outlaw”? Seriously, look at those lyrics. If this kid’s going to be around as long as everyone hopes he will, this could be vitally important.