Hitting against major league pitching has often been deemed the single most difficult task in all of sports.
When you think about it, even the physics of the situation are terrifying. A five-ounce sphere made of cork, rubber, leather and yarn is hurled at speeds that would render a reckless driving ticket by large individuals with wrist sizes that could snap a Livestrong bracelet in no time.
As a coping mechanism, MLB hitters are left with the walk-up song as a means to either help them relax or amp them up for this potentially traumatic experience.
Walk-up songs are the ultimate form of expression—a ten second sample for tens of thousands of a player’s most devoted fans to hear. It’s a pretty amazing thing knowing one song can make even more of an impact than John Cusack with a trench coat and a boombox.
That having been said, here are some notable walk-up songs from players around the league:
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees: “Stop the Party” by Busta Rhymes
Jeter has always come out to hip-hop songs, even paying homage to Brooklyn’s own Notorious B.I.G. a couple of seasons ago when his song was “Juicy.” A friendly player who is extremely dangerous at the plate with 3,163 career hits, Jeter’s baseball demeanor fits well with the line “I don’t want to hurt nobody but s*** that’s what it’s coming to.”
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: “I Spend It” by 2 Chainz
Currently in the first year of an 8-year, 160 million dollar contract and nursing an injury, it would make sense if Matt Kemp is “spending it.” Widely considered to be an MVP snub last season after batting .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI, there’s no man more deserving of a life of “riding around and gettin’ it” than Kemp.
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays: “Down and Out” by Tantric
In only his fifth MLB season, the three-time All Star and Tampa Bay Rays third baseman is anything but “down and out.” Batting a robust .329 on the young season, the Trop-dwelling former Rookie of the Year is making it clear, “I don’t need no understanding…I don’t need to change a damn thing.”
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: “N***** In Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West
Aside from his offseason DUI arrest in Florida this year, Cabrera is “balling so hard” this season that he can’t be fined. Charting 70 hits and 44 RBI already and hitting middle of a dangerous Tigers lineup that now includes Prince Fielder, pitchers everywhere should be worried now that they let Miguel get into his zone.
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners: Various
Now in his 12th season with the Mariners, the Japanese-born outfielder is putting together a career that will likely render him the first Asian-born player to be enshrined in Cooperstown. Throughout his brief journey to nearly 2,500 hits, Ichiro has bumped everything from the Super Mario Brothers theme song to 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” With an approach at the plate that says, “If you watch how I move, you’ll mistake me for a player or pimp,” he has had pitchers off balance ever since his arrival in Seattle.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies: “Levels” by Avicii
“Oh, sometimes, I get a good feeling, yeah.” Quite the opposite, actually. Coming off a season in which he finished with an impressive .302/30/105 stat line while walking up to Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” Tulowitzki foolishly strayed from the Canadian superstar’s hit song in favor of “Levels,” and is now nursing a groin injury. At the time of the injury, an angry Bieber must’ve been saying, “I thought you’d always be mine, mine.”