There’s one universal truth about music played at stadiums during professional sports: the songs are either too short or way, way too long.
When a great song starts to blast through the speakers, you’re almost hoping the centres on the ice take a little longer to get to the faceoff dot. Likewise when, say, “Friday” by Rebecca Black comes blaring into the stadium, you’d prefer that the offence get out of that huddle and into formation as fast as possible.
Baseball presents an exception to this in that the home team’s hitters choose the song that accompanies their strut up to the plate.
As Vancouver Canadians fans pack Nat Bailey (sorry, Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium), there’s more to enjoy at the ballpark than just Hey Y’alls, foot-long hot dogs and single-A baseball.
Below is a completely arbitrary but also very accurate ranking of the Canadians’ top ten batters in plate appearances by their walk-up songs.
The categories are musical appropriateness (how much the song’s lyrics and its overall vibe fit with the sport and the art of the walk-up) and impact on pitcher (whether it’s likely to intimidate or distract the pitcher).
10. Deiferson Barreto #5
“Felices Los 4” – Maluma
Musical Appropriateness: Well, it’s melodic. But if you’re going to have a slow start, you’ve got to build into something big for an solid walk-up song.
Impact on pitcher: Best bet is lulling the opposition into sleep.
9. Bryan Lizardo #26
“Rulay” - Secreto El Famoso Biberon
Musical Appropriateness: There’s definitely a “duel” vibe here that sets the stage nicely for a pitcher-batter battle.
Impact on pitcher: It looks like Lizardo has been losing a majority of those skirmishes, as he leads the team in strikeouts and sports a .184 average.
Overall: Lizardo is a switch-hitter, but maybe he just needs a change in his walk-up tune to turn things around.
8. Owen Spiwak #9
“Disco Inferno” - 50 Cent
Musical Appropriateness: Hard not to get pumped for this one. “Show me how you move it,” Spiwak.
Impact on pitcher: 50 used to be real polarizing, but I think we can all agree that he’s somehow settled into “likeable and harmless.”
Overall: Funnily enough, pitcher Donnie Sellers (second best name behind Large) also blasts 50 on his walk-up. That song, “Get Up” has much more walk-up clout, however.
7. Kevin Vicuna #3
“Dema Ga Ge Gi Go Gu” - Bad Bunny x El Alfa El Jefe
Musical Appropriateness: The music is fast and efficient like the player that walks up to it (Vicuna is tied for the lead on the team in stolen bases and has only 17 strikeouts in 104 at-bats).
Impact on pitcher: It starts in with ringing alarm bells and threatening words said in Spanish, followed by gunshots. So, yeah.
Overall: It’s effective stuff, if a little cliché.
6. Brock Lundquist #31
“La Lengua” - El Mayor Clasico
Musical Appropriateness: Lot going on here, much to dissect. But perhaps the rallying cries, random shouts, constant drum beat and intense Spanish rap would get anyone jumping to the plate.
Impact on pitcher: The pitcher would be best advised to grab on to those drums, because they are the only reason in this trip into Spanish abstractionism masquerading as rap pop.
Overall: A lot to digest, for fans and pitchers alike.
5. Riley Adams #17
“All The Small Things” - Blink 182
Musical Appropriateness: No, the lyrics aren’t good. But that drum line is, and millenials suffering from misplaced nostalgia will always sing when it gets to the “Na na na na” part.
Impact on pitcher: We’d normally say not much at all, but Adams has been the C’s most productive regular hitter with a .363 average and a team-leading 20 RBIs. Turn the lights off, carry me home.
Overall: How long until one of Adams’s teammates realizes this trend and opts for some Canadian flavour in Sum 41?
4. Kacy Clemens #44
“Hi Roller” – Lil Uzi Vert
Musical Appropriateness: It’s probably best not to go into the specifics of this one and instead just concede that large swaths of younger C’s fans enjoy it thoroughly. Fair enough, that chorus works.
Impact on pitcher: It’s likely songs like this, popularized by groups like Migos, are all over the minor league baseball circuit. That doesn’t make them less effective though, and Clemens’ status as a “hi roller” is confirmed by his stats against pitchers this year.
Overall: It’s definitely not “Faint” by Linkin Park, or “Rocket Man” by Elton John, two songs that Kacy’s dad, Roger used to walk up to in the major leagues. Do you feel old yet?
3. Cullen Large #6
“Goosebumps” - Travis Scott
Musical Appropriateness: Hard to discount that first verse. “I get those goosebumps every time you come around,” was basically written for a walk-up.
Impact on pitcher: Goosebumps, probably.
Overall: Not only does Cullen Large have the best name on the team, he has a strong walk-up song to boot.
2. Norberto Obeso #10
“El Sinaloense” - Juan Gabriel
Musical Appropriateness: Nothing to take the tension out of a bases loaded situation like a Mexican ensemble. It’s such an untraditional walk-up song, but that’s what makes it work.
Impact on pitcher: Confused. And taken away with the lovely horns section.
Overall: RIP Juan Gabriel.
1. Reggie Pruitt #13
“Bigger Than Me” - Big Sean
Musical Appropriateness: Although he’s from Kennesaw, Georgia, it’s hard not to be endeared by Pruitt walking up to “all I want to do is make this city proud.” Pruitt is often the C’s leadoff hitter and the sentiment is a hard one to top.
Impact on pitcher: Humility is always a better weapon than cockiness.
Overall: There’s about 20 seconds of this song that work for a walk-up. And that’s all that’s needed.
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