Baseball players are often thought of as robotic, personality-starved figures who exist only on the field for a few hours each night. Despite MLB’s unwillingness to market its stars, walk-up music gives us a brief moment of personal expression from every player who steps on the field.
As someone who reluctantly pads John Henry’s pockets, attending 25-40 games a season and seeing countless player introductions every year, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the topic. Whenever I go to a game with someone for the first time, I like to ask what their song would be (My answer is the Home Depot Theme music). I’ve been to most of the games at Fenway so far this season and have paid close attention to the walk-in music. Here’s a look at the best and worst on the Red Sox roster.
You can go a few different ways with intro music. You can choose something to get you hyped, something that people can sing along with, or something with meaningful lyrics, among other things. Justin Turner went the lyrics route. It remains to be seen if he’ll stick with his choice for the full season, but so far he’s been stepping up to the plate with the chorus from Augustana’s “Boston”.
She said, “I think I’m goin’ to Boston
I think I’ll start a new life
I think I’ll start it over
Where no one knows my name
I’ll get out of California
I like the thought process here for Turner, but you could argue it’s offensive to Red Sox fans. “Where no one knows my name?” Is Turner questioning the intelligence of the average Red Sox fan? You’ve been in the league for 15 years - a lot of people know your name. Jokes aside, it’s a solid choice from Turner, at least while he’s still new to the team.
One element of great walk-up music is how it fits the player. Anybody can choose any song across any genre and it could work, but the song should still match the style of play. John Schreiber is a certified psychopath, screaming after strikeouts and beating his chest as he walks off the mound. For that reason, “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath is a perfect choice. The song starts on the tamer side with about 20 seconds of lyrics but gives way to an instrumental that brings the energy. If anybody on the roster can choose a heavy metal song, it’s John Schreiber; he’s a certified lunatic on the mound.
On the other side of the “fit” discussion is Kaleb Ort. Ort enters the game from the bullpen to “100 Black Coffins” by Rick Ross. The song choice itself is great, but not for Kaleb Ort. The song has an intro that creates some hype and stays energetic all the way through and could work great for a closer in a tight game. The issue is, Ort isn’t that good. If you’re the guy coming into the game when your team is already down five, you have to tone it down. You can also take one look at Ort and know he isn’t that guy. The long, blonde hair doesn’t scream Rick Ross to me. Now, if Ort shaves his head and evolves into a John Schreiber type who loses his mind on the mound after a big out, it’s the perfect song. But for as long as he’s the sixth man out of the bullpen, he should choose something a little more subdued.
I love Kutter Crawford and really think he can become a quality major-league pitcher with the right coaching and a little luck. It helps that he really nailed his song choice. Crawford takes the mound to “Cut It” by O.T. Genasis. It’s a strong vibe, people can get going to it, and it plays in perfectly with his unique name. When in doubt, Kut it.
Yu Chang has had limited success at the plate this year, but he completely hit this one out of the park. Every time Chang walks up the plate, “Crank That” by Soulja Boy takes over the stadium. It’s nearly impossible to not belt out “YUUUUUUU” in unison with the music. It’s the perfect song: singable, catchy, and fun. Yu Chang easily takes home the prize for best music.
I actually don’t know what song McGuire has been using as his introduction. I’m typically not 100% locked in when McGuire comes to the plate and he hasn’t played consistently enough for me to notice. I do know that it isn’t “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, and that seems like a miss to me.
Walk-up music has suffered a bit with the addition of the pitch clock, but it’s still a great tradition that can be a lot of fun when done correctly. There are certain players who have become synonymous with songs because of how great they fit. You can’t talk about Shane Victorino without mentioning “Three Little Birds”. Go ahead and leave a comment with a song suggestion or critique, if we put our heads together we might be able to figure out the Kaleb Ort situation.