It’s been a somewhat stressful week or so for Rockies fans, between watching the rotation get uprooted before the season even starts after injuries to Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Matzek and the surprise release of Jhoulys Chacin. There is lots of dissecting to happen in the final week before Opening Day, but it’s important to keep some levity too. Let’s take a step back from the endless season previews and constantly evolving questions, and talk about the important but all-too-often unaddressed issue of walkup music.
Choosing what song players want to blare over the speakers of Coors Field when they step up the plate is one of the most crucial decisions our guys will have to make all year. Part of a player’s identity for fans comes from their at-bat music, for better or worse.
There is a great article Noisey put together of walkups across baseball in 2014. Then there is mlbPlateMusic, a whole website devoted to the Major League walkup. You can find what most players in baseball used in 2014 there. Moving to 2015 the best option for a walkup for a player this year is ‘Know Yourself’ by Drake. About 1:45 into the song Drake exclaims “I was runnin’ through The Six with my woes! You know how that should go.” The Six is Toronto and for Russell Martin who is returning to his hometown to play for the Blue Jays, I am nailing this down as best option for a player to use as a walkup.
The Rockies have a pretty good history in this department. Ryan Spilborghs was notorious for his music choices, from ‘Wolfpack Theme‘ to ‘Thriller‘ to ‘Sweet Escape‘. Charlie Blackmon‘s choice of ‘Your Love‘ last season was a big hit at the park, and Justin Morneau always rocks some AC/DC Even though he should probably use something more Canadian like Rush. Of course, we have our fair amount of the overused Jay Z and country, too, and there’s never any telling what Troy Tulowitzki is going to do but it’s usually…well, it’s not the best part of his game.
For some players a lot more goes into the walkup than just picking a song they like; it’s important to get the walkup song right, as it sets the tone for an at bat. At the High School baseball level, this is often the player’s identity and you remember each batter by his walkup. In anticipation of the annual selection of walkup songs, here is a humble list of suggestions for our starting lineup, picked for the application of each song to the player it is listed for.
The Song: “Centerfield” – John Fogerty
There are a lot of parallels between Ryan Spilborghs and Charlie Blackmon: the number, the facial hair, the vibrant personality. They also have picked some of the most popular and crowd-pleasing at-bat songs. Blackmon’s choice of “Your Love” left a chorus reverberating through LoDo last season, but the art is being able to keep up the success without repeats.
“Centerfield” fits Blackmon, who will be platooning the position with Drew Stubbs this season. Blackmon may not always be the name we see in the lineup card, but he has a long-documented love for his spot in center field. Plus, “Centerfield” is a well-known crowd-pleaser, sure to get fans clapping and singing along in the same way his choice last year did.
The Song: “Actin’ Crazy” – Action Bronson
Stubbs has used a plethora of walk-ups recently ranging from Kendrick Lamar, to Jason Aldean, to Skrillex, to Calvin Harris. Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees” was easily the best. He used it starting from the lyric “And I been hustlin’ all day, this a way, that a way, Through canals and alleyways, just to say, Money trees is the perfect place for shade and that’s just how I feel, now, now.” Every time I went down to Coors that got me hype as could be. Maybe it’s just because I love Kendrick Lamar and good kid, m.A.A.d city is one of the greatest records of all time, but Money Trees was still a creative and an effective choice for a walkup.
The one thing Stubbs’ walkups have in common is they are all popular music from the last year or two. Action Bronson, who has taken the hip hop genre by storm the last three years, just released a new album titled “Mr. Wonderful.” “Actin Crazy” the third track off of the album is the most walkup-worthy hip hop song of 2015 so far. It also seems to fit Stubbs’ taste in music. And the lyric that ‘Actin Crazy’ leads in with is “Opportunity be knockin, better let a [REDACTED] in.” which is perfect for Stubbs who seems to make the most of his opportunities.
The Song: “Back in the Saddle” – Aerosmith
Alternate Suggestion: “Octopus Garden”
To be fair, a song revolving around overcoming injury setbacks could apply to most of the roster. Todd Helton rocked to this song back in 2009, coming off of his back surgery, and Carlos Gonzalez is the perfect person to bring it back.
Last year’s knee surgery put CarGo on the shelf, but one can argue that the true CarGo never really made an appearance, batting a cringe-worthy .238/.292/.431 before being shut down. A lot of that was due to persistent pain in his knee, never allowing his swing to really get right. Plus, he was dealing with family concerns for much of the season, as well as the infamous squid tumor. Overall, it was just a weird year for CarGo. But he can now put all that behind him. Hopefully, 2015 will mark the return of the All-Star Carlos Gonzalez, who has been one of the top players in the National League when healthy.
The Song: ”Elastic Heart” – Sia
This one fit’s all of Tulo’s bills.
Pop song? Check.
Artist everyone knows? Check.
Lyrics that fit 100% perfectly?
“You did not break me
I’m still fighting for peace
Well, I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade,it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
Yeah, I may snap and I move fast
But you won’t see me fall apart
‘Cause I’ve got an elastic heart’”
Also, the start of this song is pretty scintillating.
The Song: “Rockers East Vancouver” – Japandroids
Do you know where Morneau is from? Canada. But where in Canada? New Westminster. Okay so where is New Westminster? East Vancouver. How do I know this? Google.
The Japandroids are a band you have probably never heard of even though you should know who they are. They are an indie garage rock duo from Vancouver. They’re probably most famous for playing the lead in music for the Vancouver Canucks as they hit the ice at Rogers Arena. Many of their songs make great walkup music, but Rockers East Vancouver is perfect for Morneau since it’s where he’s from and it has got a fantastic guitar lead in, AKA good walkup material.
Basically this is the most fitting song anyone on the Rockies can choose in 2015. And Morneau is a fan of this genre of music since he has picked ACDC in the past as a walkup. I got news for you all of you, I’d take Japandroids over ACDC anyday of the week. Call me a hipster, I don’t care.
The Song: “I’m Waiting For My Man” – The Velvet Underground / “Gorgeous” – Kanye West
These two songs are both uniquely classic in their own right. Just like Nolan who is soon to accompany Kanye West, and Lou Reed as timeless hits.
Nolan is the man, okay maybe he’s just “the dude“, either way Golden Nolan is a heartbreaker. Whether it’s double-robbing-diving-stop or a walk off shot, he’s the man that makes everything look so gracefully gorgeous.
The Song: “Started From the Bottom” – Drake
Granted, they would need to use the “clean” version to play at the park, but if anyone knows about rising from the “bottom”, it’s Dickerson. Coming up through the minors, he was often a mid-ranked prospect, even left off of the Top 30 Rockies prospects list in 2012 by Baseball America. Though the scouts were always lukewarm on Dickerson, he performed well in Tulsa in 2012 (.274/.322/.504) and in Colorado Springs (.371/.414/.632) before his call up in mid-June of 2013.
Those days of questions and doubt are now long gone, and he has secured his spot in left field. Dickerson really emerged last season, batting .312/.364/.576 with a killer .308 batting average and 24 home runs against righties. Eyes are on Dickerson again this season, but with fewer questions about his abilities and instead curiosity about what he will do entering the season as an undisputed starter.
The Song: “When The Levee Breaks” – Led Zeppelin
Hundley’s walkup last year was good as could be. Shine by Collective Soul. Nick’s WAR (walkups above replacement) should be the highest considering he has enough taste to chose 90’s grunge rock. Nick, I think I speak for you when I say this, TAKE BACK MTV!
From one catcher to another, Nick I bestow upon you the best possible walkup. Off of Led Zeppelin IV, When the Levee breaks. This song has a wild west feel to it even though it was no on “How The West Was Won,” and Hundley is making his return to the wild west in 2015.
The Song: “Top Down” – Main – Swizz Beatz & Nas
His walkup was so bad last year let’s not even revisit it. I started him off with a basic, but good walkup. Swizz Beatz like Timberland is a forgotten artist from the 2000s that’s more producer than rapper but still can spit successfully. Mckenry is sometimes a forgotten guy whoâs more catcher than hitter but he really can do both, slashing .315/.398/.512 in 2014.
The Song: “Simple Man” – Lynard Skynard
DJ LeMahieu is a man who quietly and efficiently does his job. Troy Renck even wrote a piece likening LeMahieu to vanilla ice cream and tan slacks. He may be a ‘boring’ player and have a weak bat, but his Gold Glove shows how much of an asset he is to the team at second, a position that has long been a black hole for the Rockies.
His walkup choice, “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons fits pretty well with his persona — a popular top hit song guaranteed to receive a fairly neutral reaction from the crowd. But may we suggest a classic with some Skynard for DJ. Another popular artist describing what well could be DJ himself, just a simple man out to do his best.
The Song: “Scenario” – A Tribe Called Quest
Rosario will be the Rockies de facto pinch hitter this year coming up in all different types of scenarios. And you can’t go wrong with Tribe.
The Song: “What You Know” – T.I
So many puns, to be made with the word “know.” It just so happens there are so many songs that have the word “know” in their title. For instance, “Do I Wanna Know?” – Arctic Monkeys, “I Know Places” – Taylor Swift, “What You Know” – Two Door Cinema Club, “She Knows” – J. Cole, “I Should Have Known It” – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, “You Already Know” – Arcade Fire, “Say I Wanna Know” – Nick Waterhouse, “Know Yourself” – Drake, Know Your Enemy – Green Day, Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye, and many more. So many more, in fact that I’m leaving off Grammy winners.
If Ynoa was in Russell Martin’s situation, Toronto born returning to play for his hometown Jays he would totality have to pick Know Yourself by Drake since he emphatically proclaims He’s “runnin through The Six with” his “wows.” But since he is not I went with a classic T.I. song, that has been long forgotten.
Song: “When The Lights Go Out” – The Black Keys
Relief pitchers don’t have walkups, they have walkins, the best one on the Rockies in recent years was Huston Street‘s, “Hate Me Now“ by Nas. LaTroy in his final year has a chance to go away from whatever bad Drake song (#NoDrake) he used last year and go to something unique and cool. LaTroy is as cool as they come, and when he’s on his game, he’s a lights out closer.
A song that’s as cool as LaTroy is off of The Black Keys second album Rubber Factory from 2004. Considering Hawk, Patrick Carney, and Dan Auerbach are all midwesterners it just fits. It’s also perfect because the opposing team’s lights are about to go out as Hawk makes the jog in from right center.
The Song: “Dark Horse” – Katy Perry
I can respect a man who chooses Avenged Sevenfold as a walkup as he did in 2014, but he needs to change things up in 2015. First thing first for Rex, getting back to the big club then he has to get fans back on his side. Everyone loves Katy Perry, she was very good at the Super Bowl this year, (Left Shark > Dinger) plus the song gets me pumped up. This song accomplishes a lot for Rex.
The Song: “Doo Wop (That Thing)” – Lauryn Hill
Doo Wop is one of the top ten greatest hip hop songs of all time if not any genre. This song pumps me up and is grossly underrated and overlooked when people talk about best songs from NYC area rappers. Ms. Lauryn Hill like Ottavino is from the NYC area, leading to many great choices for Ottavino if he wanted to go the rap route for his walkin, but only Doo Wop talks about “That thing” which might as well be Ottavino’s slider.
There are some other questions out there that are probably more pressing, like the question of who will fill the slots in the rotation left empty due to injuries. But the right walkup songs make the game experience that much better for the fans, whether it involves a classic or a crowd-pleasing chorus. Not to impugn our guy’s musical tastes, but we think our choices will deliver. At the very least, we can all agree that anything that keeps Tulo away from Miley Cyrus or “The Man” is a good thing.