Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chin Closer Music: Making An Entrance

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity in the baseball world, from Manny Ramirez's positive test for HCG to Jeremy Guthrie grooving a fastball to Alex Rodriguez like he's Chan Ho Park pitching to Cal Ripken Jr. in an All-Star game to Selena Roberts "investigative journalism." Rather than waste more electronic ink on these issues, I'm going to move on to a part of baseball that I have an issue with: closer entrance music. Closer music always seems to fall into one of the following categories: Metallica, AC/DC, Welcome to the Jungle, or something that will make grandma's ears bleed (I'm looking at you Disturbed, Staind et al). Since most of those songs are either played out or well, bad, its time to move on to the next generation of closer entrance music. I'm here to offer up some suggestions.

Often times a song is picked because of its title or the message that its words send to the batters due up in that half inning (like "Welcome to the Jungle" or Nas' "Hate Me Now" which Huston Street uses and is one of the closer songs I don't think are bad choices). Outside of the songs by the screaming types, entrance music tends to start off slow to feed into the anticipation of the crowd. Rather than to serve the purpose of "intimidating" the opposing team, the music actually, more than anything, pumps of the crowd and, maybe just a little bit, the pitcher. Remember, these ballplayers are professionals, they all know the situation they're in, top of the ninth on the road in a tight game, James Hetfield isn't going to make their knees shake any more than ABBA. Similarly, while closers are a rare breed that most teams are lucky enough to stumble across, they too understand the situation the lies before them. Sure music can get your adrenaline going, but it really should already be going if you walking out onto the field in front of forty-thousand people. Now, it's those forty-thousand people that, unfortunately, need the music to get into the game. In some places, namely the northeast, this isn't much of a problem. But in other places fans arrive late, leave early, and don't do much unless a big scoreboard says to.

So now, if I may, here come some suggestions for the next generation of closers, but first a few things to note: 1) the name of the song doesn't matter. It doesn't, song titles (and generally words) don't pump people up, music does. Also, bad words can generally be edited out, as long it doesn't ruin the song. 2) The break between innings is only two minutes long. That means a song can have two glorious minutes and the rest can be terrible, doesn't matter, as long as the music is those good two minutes, even if it's the middle of the song. 3) Some of the lyrics in the following songs are NSFW (The Offspring, Eminem, Jay-Z), plus if you can get away with listening to music at work loud enough for other people to hear it, I applaud you.

First off is a song that morphs the coolness of a sheriff from a spaghetti western with a Custer-era calvary with a futuristic feel of...lasers and electric guitars. Knights of Cydonia by Muse.

Led by three lead guitars, and roughly ten, yes ten, singers is Boston-based band Bang Camaro and "Push, Push (Lady Lightning)." After all, the more singers there are, the more it feels like a kicking party from way back when you were in college. Similarly, beer sales end well before the end of the game so beer-fueled rowdiness tends to dissipate towards the end of games. While everyone's favorite Marxist Che Guevara described liquid courage best when he said "by the time we went on to the village dance, I felt ready to take on the world," fans who've lost their buzz, and closers who, unless they're Kevin Millar, never had one, will feel the courage to take on the world again after this song.

Next up are the instrumentals. Words aren't alway necessary, in fact they generally get in the way of a lot of good songs. Take, for example, the song from Requiem for a Dream. I'm sure you've heard it before. It isn't bad.

There's also an "Fire On High" by E.L.O., which isn't just good because it's an instrumental, but also because you don't have to listen to Jeff Lynne's voice.

In the third category, to counter the guitar heavy riffs from above, we have the drum heavy intros, led by The Offspring's "Americana."

Next is Billy Squier's "The Stroke" (whose words, in my mind, would mock the opposing team, or would at least be good for a bad closer, like Derek Lowe). You may also remember "The Stroke" from Billy Madison's arrival at his first day in high school, which sort of makes it even better.

If words of inspiration really are your thing, rather than the typical go-to, "Lose Yourself" I'd suggest an edited version of Eminem's "'Till I Collapse."

Or better yet, some words of advice on closer humility and work ethic (and really, it's advice everyone can use) from Shawn Carter himself in "My 1st Song."

Now what about the Caribbean coalition of closers? Fernando Rodney uses a song by reggaeton duo Angel y Khriz, while Frankie Rodriguez also goes the route of reggaeton. I think Hispanic closers are a little different in their outlook on a lot of things. Granted, they still want to get hyped, but a lot also just want to relax, and nothing helps that more than some reggaeton, merengue, or even slowing it down with some bachata. The Dominican north coast's finest in Raulin Rodriguez and his combination of country twang and Allman Brothers-sounding smooth guitar in "Parece Mentira" or Eddy Herrera's "Tu Eres Ajena" cover Bachata and Merengue respectively, but to really get maximum effectiveness it's going to need to be reggaeton. The default reggaeton artist? Daddy Jankee.

And finally, what about music for the visiting team's closer? I wouldn't suggest anything that mocks them upon their entrance because of how that could backfire once he strikes out the side in nine pitches. But what if he gets chased from the game? Then I say pour it on with some Benny Hill chase music or with some replacement-emasculating, Andy Bernard-inspiring Swedes (especially if you can get that last video on the video screen).

So there it is, a whole article without using the word steroids (whoops).

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Chris said...

Looks like they will keep with the scream music --

Funbags Fernandez said...

You probably should have also labeled Daddy Yankee's double entendre as NSFW.