So, what would be your walk-up music?


Record.jpgI’m partial to some nice organ music at the ballpark, but I realize that’s quickly going the way of the dodo. Nowadays you whippersnappers like your bebop and “rock and roll” and all of that noise. In the unlikely event that God and fate keep you from becoming juvenile delinquents as a result of listening to that devil’s music, I suppose it’s well and good.

So these days the ballplayers have their theme music.  This AP story notes that this season a number of guys — including Mark Teahen, Troy Tulowitzki, Nick Johnson and Cameron
Maybin — have gone the ironic route, playing Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus songs as they come to bat.  That’s the kind of thing that’s good for a chuckle at first, but like the “Atari” shirt you wore to that college party back in 1992 and your brief love affair with swing music in 1997, it’s the kind of thing that wears out fast. Such is the nature of irony.

But it has brought the subject of walkup music back to my attention.  It’s always a fun bar conversation: if you were a major league hitter — or a big time closer — what song would you come out to?  It’s a tougher subject than you might think. Sure, Roger Daltry’s yell from “Won’t Get Fooled Again” seems awesome, but when you figure that you’re gonna strikeout or hit a weak dribbler six or seven out of every ten times at bat you can imagine that the fiery inspiration of it all may soon hang like an albatross around your neck.  And that’s before you even get into the “aw, crap, they use it on “CSI” now, so it’s played-out” factor of it all.

Maybe something steady and driving is better than all that catharsis. “Walk the Line” may work, but you risk being called out as a hipster for such an obvious choice.  Maybe something that burns more than rocks like, say, the intro to “Sweet Emotion” or whatever the hell that Alan Parsons Project song was that the Chicago Bulls used to use.  All have their good points, all have their flaws. I’m not decided on what I’d use. I’m kind of partial to the keyboard intro to “What’d I say” by Ray Charles, but my mind changes on this subject quite frequently.  I was particularly inspired by Chris Carter’s use of Hulk Hogan’s old theme, “Real American,” during his debut with the Mets the other night.  Wrestlers always got that stuff right.

I’m gonna throw it open. Tell me in the comments: if you’re a ballplayer what’s your walkup and/or coming out of the bullpen to lock down a save music?  And no, you can’t use “Grab them Cakes.”  I’m reserving the rights to use that one for myself.

Braves and Jim Johnson reunite on a one-year contract

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 17: Jim Johnson #53 of the Atlanta Braves throws a ninth inning pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field on July 17, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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Jim Johnson enjoyed some success out of the Braves’ bullpen in 2015 until a midseason trade to the Dodgers and Mark Bowman of reports that he has returned to Atlanta on a one-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved.

After an awful 2014 between the Athletics and Tigers, Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Braves last winter and bounced back to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and 33/14 K/BB ratio over 48 innings. He also saved nine games. However, things went south for him after a trade to the Dodgers in late July, as he put up an ugly 10.13 ERA in 23 appearances. He was left off the team’s roster for the NLDS against the Mets.

It’s unclear what role the Braves have in mind for Johnson, as Arodys Vizcaino finished the season as the closer, but they have made upgrading their bullpen a priority this winter.

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
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Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts: