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.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
1 Comment

According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.