Two items caught my eye this morning that make me realize how bad things have gotten with ballplayers and their love of bad music.
First is a post by MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince, detailing the walkup (and walkout) music of the Cleveland Indians. The takeaway: the vast majority of Indians like very bad music. There are a couple of exceptions. Matt LaPorta likes a Tom Petty song, for example, but his list — which also includes Alabama and the Eagels — suggests that he may be 50 years-old.
Shelley Duncan comes out to “The Stroke” by Billy Squier, which is OK, I guess, but I have to scrutinize him pretty closely seeing as though my daughter likes him. Would you let your daughter swoon over a Billy Squier fan? Have you seen the video for “Rock me tonight?”
Finally, why Chris Perez — a relief pitcher — comes out to “Firestarter” suggests that he’s either clueless of has a good sense of irony. I hope it’s the irony.
Then there’s Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. He’s his own sad case. He was at MLB.com’s Fan Cave last week where an intervention was staged by Mike O’Hara and Ryan Wagner. I don’t think it will be a success:
I change my mind about this a lot, but at the moment, my walkup music would rotate between “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles, “Where is my Mind” by the Pixies and “How Soon is Now” by the Smiths. Yeah, that last one is kind of mopey for walkup music, but the intro is pretty sweet.
I’d normally say “don’t judge me” now, but I suppose I pretty much gave up my right to that.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.