The Rotation: Walk-Up Songs for Each All-Star Starter
Welcome to The Rotation! This is a weekly column, written by yours truly, that talks about the wonderful blended worlds of baseball and music. These two have been staples of Americana for centuries and are as big a part of our culture as apple pie and Chevrolet. My goal is to pick a different topic between the beautiful, unified world of baseball and music and write about it each week.
This week’s column will focus all on walk-up songs—particularly those by our newest group of All-Star starters, as selected by the fans and announced Thursday evening.
A Look at the Walk-Up Songs for the All-Star Starters
Late Thursday night, ESPN announced the fan-voted starters for the 2019 All-Star Game. Let’s take a look at the walk-up song choice for each of those 17 players, starting with the National League:
NL Catcher: Willson Contreras (Dura – Daddy Yankee)
The first of many Spanish songs, this jam by Daddy Yankee came out in 2018 and won a Latin Grammy for Best Urban Song. With a fun, reggae-style beat, it’s easy to see why.
NL First Baseman: Freddie Freeman (Let the Drummer Kick – Citizen Cope)
I still think of this 2002 post-grunge song from the 2006 movie Accepted, although it was apparently also in the Samuel L. Jackson movie Coach Carter. It doesn’t strike me as a great walk-up song, but I won’t question anything Freeman is doing this year—or ever, really.
NL Second Baseman: Ketel Marte (Bye Bye – Mozart La Para)
Since Mozart La Para is of the most famous rappers in the Dominican Republic, it’s no surprise that Marte decided to rep him with a walk-up song this year. The song also sounds like Marte saying goodbye to the ball off the bat, which has left the yard a whopping 20 times in the first half of the season—a career-high for the middle infielder.
NL Shortstop: Javy Baez (Chambea – Bad Bunny)
Bad Bunny is a Puerto Rican trap/reggaeton musician who got discovered while working as a grocery bagger and releasing songs onto Soundcloud. Baez’s rags-to-riches story isn’t quite as compelling, but it is easy to see the comparison.
NL Third Baseman: Nolan Arenado (Wow Free Style – Jay Rock)
This song also features Kendrick Lamar, surprisingly the only All-Star starter using something from Lamar this year. Jay Rock is no slouch himself, having won a Grammy this past year for the song King’s Dead. I’m curious what part of the song Arenado uses, because it doesn’t go longer than about five seconds without swearing.
NL Outfield: Christian Yelich (Jungle – Andre Nickatina)
I brought up Andre Nickatina a few weeks ago when talking about his very obscure reference to former Angels center fielder Gary Pettis, so I’m in love with the fact that Yelich uses a Nickatina song. Jungle is much more well-known than most Nickatina songs, but it’s still a fun one for a guy like Yelich to use.
“Rock it like a baby cradle /
Call me Doctor J if you a baller and it’s getting fatal”
That’s one of my favorite lyrics out of any of these songs, so I think Yelich wins.
NL Outfield: Ronald Acuna Jr. (LA Player – Zion and Lennox)
Another Spanish-only song, LA Player was released in 2018 by Puerto Rican duo Zion y Lennox. The reggaeton vibe works well for walk-up songs, in my opinion, and I’m always a fan of players picking songs that pay tribute to their roots.
NL Outfield: Cody Bellinger (Hotel California – The Eagles)
Speaking of going back to your roots, Cody Bellinger is very aware of where he is playing by picking this Eagles classic. The haunting guitar opener and powerful chorus make this an iconic—if unoriginal—walk-up tune.
AL Catcher: Gary Sanchez (Nadie Se Meta – Ala Jaza)
This song has a big of a slow start, but it gets going about a minute in. Hopefully Sanchez picks a fun part of the song to walk up to, although he should keep doing whatever he is doing this year.
AL First Baseman: Carlos Santana (Ven Meneate – El Mayor Clasico)
Unlike Sanchez’s song, Carlos Santana’s song is fast-paced and bumping. A perfect walk-up song for a veteran having a career year.
AL Second Baseman: DJ LeMahieu (Speed It Up – Gunna)
You do you, DJ LeMahieu
AL Shortstop: Jorge Polanco
I could not find a walk-up song for Jorge Polanco—nowhere online that I looked had it listed. Even if he walks up in silence, he should keep doing what he’s doing this season.
AL Third Baseman: Alex Bregman (Old Town Road – Lil Nas X)
If you told me one All-Star starter walked out to Old Town Road, I think I could have guessed Bregman purely for the fun factor. Bregman has never been afraid to be himself and speak his mind, and somehow this song seems to fit quite well.
AL Outfield: Mike Trout (Sicko Mode – Travis Scott)
WHO SAYS THIS MAN DOESN’T HAVE PERSONALITY? Trout walking out to Travis Scott’s Sicko Mode is dope, even though it seems very out of character for the superstar. I’m about it.
AL Outfield: George Springer (Butterfly Effect – Travis Scott)
Trout isn’t the only AL outfielder walking out to Travis Scott, as George Springer picked Butterfly Effect for this year. Perhaps that’s the secret to success in a crowded OF picture in the AL.
AL Outfield: Michael Brantley (Walk Thru – Rich Homie Quan)
All right, Michael Brantley. “I’m the alphabet boy ’cause I keep an L on me” is a great line, so he gets points for that.
AL Designated Hitter: Hunter Pence (Thunder – Imagine Dragons)
Dammit, Hunter Pence. The modern-day Nickelback, Imagine Dragons’ Thunder is a unique choice, but Pence has never done things traditionally, so good for him. I guess.
I was hoping Daniel Vogelbach and his epic Chain Hang Low walk-up tune would be a starter, but I suppose he’ll have to settle for a reserve role.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)