Top six walk-up songs in baseball: Pitching, hitting and music

I was watching my Cincinnati Reds in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years in 2010. They had had a magical season, constantly battling back to win games after trailing in the late innings.

The team had a perfect combination of young players and veterans, power and speed, pitching and hitting. They had an MVP and a several Gold Glove winners. They seemed destined to win a pennant, or at the very least advance to play for the NL Championship.

That first playoff game in Philadelphia stunned most of us Reds fans, even though we should have seen it coming. In fact, we should have heard it coming as well. The Reds batters went hitless for the entire game, the first team to ever have that happen to them in a playoff game.

The Phillies had cooled us off during the last series before the All-Star break, as our bats were quieted by the impressive arms in the Philadelphia rotation. We were so dominated that we even lost a game after our young left-hander Travis Wood(notes) had pitched a perfect game into the ninth inning.

For Reds fans, there was little to see, but perhaps we should have used our ears instead of our eyes. Then we would have heard part of the reason the Phillies arms are so dominant.

Visually they come at you with classic hard stuff, and musically they come at you with classic hard stuff.

Here are the pitchers and their songs:

1. Cole Hamels(notes)
The 2007 Cy Young Award contender comes up with ACDC's "Thunderstruck" playing over the speakers at Citizens Bank Park. The track from the band's 1990 album The Razor's Edge could have a different title for Hamels' opponents, who he often leaves "Thunderlack."

2. Roy Halladay(notes)
The former AL Cy Young winner, who hurled that no-hitter against my Reds last October, also brings heavy stuff to both the eyes and the ears of opposing batters. Halladay comes in with Led Zeppelin songs, either "Moby Dick" or "Good Times, Bad Times."

The bat probably feels like the Captain Ahab's wooden leg when the hitter tries to make contact with Halladay's pitches, when the song named after the novel plays. The other Zeppelin song seems appropriate, too, the "Good Times" referring to Halladay and the "Bad Times" resulting for the batter.

3. Cliff Lee(notes)
Lee, another former Cy Young winner, signed by Philadelphia as a free agent over the winter, has similar pitching stats as well as musical tastes as his fellow hurlers. Lee enters the game to rocker Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold," the title track to his 1975 album. It's an appropriate choice for Lee, who frequently leaves opposing batters feeling strangled.

The hitters too often use weaker walk-up songs to aid them in battle against opposing pitchers. Here is a sampling of those:

4. Torii Hunter(notes)
The Angels' Gold Glove outfielder prefers Lil Wayne's "Dinnertime," which actually mentions his game in the lyrics: "They say I couldn't play baseball at all, And now every day of my life I ball." In spite of the relevant lyric, hitters should not want the adjective "lil" associated with their batting prowess.

5. Troy Tulowitzki(notes)
The Rockies shortstop recently changed his walk-up song to Justin Bieber's "Baby." Not only did it please legions of female teens in Coors Field, but the song helped Tulowitzki break out of an 0-for-8 slump. Still, I doubt if the sound of the young Bieber could put up much a fight against the hard rock choices of the Phillies staff.

6. Lance Berkman(notes)
Not even the rugged choice of the Cardinals outfielder, "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by country legend Johnny Cash, can compete with the hard stuff. After all, even great hitters like Berkman get cut down 70 percent of the time.

I hereby encourage Reds hitters to give more thought to their walk-up songs when we meet Philadelphia in the 2011 playoffs. Perhaps they should borrow the classic rock song currently used by Tim Lincecum(notes). The Giants hurler comes up to the tune of "Light My Fire" by Jim Morrison and the Doors, and perhaps Cincinnati could light up Phillies pitchers for a change.

Other submissions by this writer:
Great Songs for Gretzky's 50th Birthday
Baseball Players Who Have Worn Their Initials on Their Caps
A Hall of Fame Lineup of MLB Stars Whose Last Names Start with M

Sources:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/joe_lemire/01/31
www.denverpost.com/
mlb.com/Phillies

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Updated Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011