The Red Sox return to Fenway Park following the All-Star break, opening up a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals tonight. The players return to the comforts of home, including their favorite tunes accompanying them to the plate.
Just recently, I became aware that San Francisco’s Michael Morse employs seminal 80’s hit “Take on Me,” by A-ha in his approach to the dish for his third plate appearance of the night at AT&T Park. He’s actually been using it for several years, as this Deadspin piece points out. How did I miss this? Is this my punishment for fighting the system and giving up cable when I lived in a 375 square foot box in the South End? Missing the 2012 NLCS apparently meant missing out on the magic.
Look at that: 40,000 plus in unison, fighting back the onset of winter in their crimson jackets and hoodies, belting out A-ha as the home team fights to stay alive. Unfortunately for Morse and the Nats, “I’ll be gone in a day or twoooo” proved prescient, as the Cardinals bounced the D.C. nine in five games.
Such is the beauty of 21st century baseball with its walk-up music. It can be jarring (thanks, Lil’ Jon). It can be mistakenly profane (thanks, Manny). Like it or not, it’s part of the stadium experience, like when a professional wrestler heads to the ring. Heck, WWE fan and Oakland A’s outfielder Josh Reddick even used a pro wrestler’s entrance theme. And this.
In recent seasons, Red Sox fans have held sing-alongs to Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” for Shane Victorino’s approach, and we can’t forget the fan reaction to Kevin Youkilis with Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” (Oh baby Yooouuuk!) And closers do it, too.
For years, Jonathan Papelbon used The Dropkick Murphys’ “Shipping Up To Boston” (with a fist-bump for the bullpen cop on the way out), popularizing the song as a playoff anthem, Riverdance meme and Sam Adams commercial accompaniment. But for my money, the best closer entrance was Keith Foulke, using “Mother” by Danzig. The guitar riff was a death knell for opposing batters in 2004, and even though Foulke faltered in the second half of his Sox career, he still had the most bad-ass entrance music in the game.
The current Sox display an investment in classic hip-hop. Dustin Pedroia, he of the West Coast roots, generally opts for some California rap like “Still D.R.E.” David Ortiz takes it way back with KRS-One’s “Step Into a World (Rapture’s Delight).” And catcher David Ross goes even further back, with old school dance floor anthems like “Funky Cold Medina” and “It Takes Two.”