The Art of the Walkup Song

There’s an intimate relationship between a baseball player and their walkup song — it simultaneously puts the player in a zone of focus while providing fans with the slightest insight into their musical preferences. Walkup songs can be really good and clever, or they can seem uninspired and boring.

Having gone to Giants games for the last two decades, I’ve heard both sides of the spectrum. On one hand you have Michael Morse strutting to the plate as “Take on Me,” blares through the PA system, turning AT&T into an 80s dance party for ten seconds (save for an abundance of cocaine ). On the other hand, you’ve got Buster Posey walking dopily towards the box as “Hell on Wheels” by Brantley Gilbert pierces the ears of all those in attendance, as it’s seemingly done every home game for the last four years.

A young Giants fan listening to Buster Posey’s walkup song.

While there have been plenty of phenomenal walkup songs, there’s been one in particular that has stood out and it belongs to rookie relief pitcher Derek Law, first of his name. There’s a lot of layers to its genius, so bare with me as I explain what makes it so exceptional. The song is “I Fought the Law,” the 70s hit by The Clash, and here’s why it’s a poetically perfect introduction for Derek Law, first of his name:

  1. It’s a great song (as all walkup songs should be.)
  2. It’s a pun of his name (I fought the law, and Derek Law — get it?)
  3. It’s a direct boast of confidence (“I fought the law, and the law won” implies Derek Law will ‘win’ his fight against the batters he is about to face.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if Derek Law, first of his name, didn’t even know about The Clash and had originally requested a different song to serve as his introduction before the old timer in charge of walkup songs had a divine moment of clarity and said “I don’t give a fuck about this Drake bullshit, this is too perfect to not happen.” I guess we’ll never know. Anyway, regardless of if Mr. Law requested the song or not, he’s in unprecedented waters of having his walkup song check off all 3 of the aforementioned criteria. While not everyone can have a good song that’s a pun on their name and pridefully display a sense of confidence, everyone should have a walkup song that’s electrically awesome in some way or another.

It’s safe to say no one will ever match the genius of Law’s intro, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. Here are a few suggestions of walkup songs for MLB players, divided into 3 different categories based on how likely the player is to choose said song.

Category 1 — Relatively Likely

Carlos Correa — ‘Smooth’ by Carlos Santana

If you watch Carlos Correa play baseball and the word ‘smooth’ doesn’t immediately come to your mind I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re either blind, dumb or both. The man plays the game with an effortless elegance that makes ballet look like sumo wrestling and Carlos Santana’s electric guitar paired with Rob Thomas’ silky voice is a perfect auditory representation of this.

Giancarlo Stanton — ‘Hercules’ by Young Thug

I can’t think of a better way to introduce a man who looks like he was chiseled from Zeus himself than to have Young Thug squeal “Hercu, Herculeeeees!” 504 foot homeruns and broken bat doubles may actually emasculate Hercules, but until a stronger divine hero comes along (and Young Thug releases a tribute song for him) we’ll have to live with what we’ve got.

Chris Carter — ‘This is the Carter’ by Lil Wayne

This would allow the Milwaukee PA announcer to take a break when Carter steps to the plate as Manny Fresh would rhythmically inform fans that “This is the Carter”. It’s truly a flawless introduction right up until Manny says “so hold on to your teenage daughter.” It might not help Mr. Carter’s brand much with parents, but at least more people will know his name.

Bartolo Colon — ‘Real 1’ by YG

Bartolo looks like the uncle at Thanksgiving dinner who shamelessly takes both of the turkey breasts, and spills half of bottle of wine onto his untucked shirt. Yet, somehow, he is still playing professional baseball at an All-Star level. On top of that, he recorded the slowest home run trot in recent history after going yard for the first time in his career at the tender age of 43. Sure sounds like a “Real 1” to me.

Only a real one would take a swing like this.

Category 2 — Highly Unlikely

Matt Kemp — ‘Glory Days’ by Bruce Springsteen

Remember the glory days of Matt Kemp back when people thought his God given talent would override his “I don’t give a shit” demeanor? Back when he looked poised for an MVP season before suffering multiple hamstring injuries? Back when he at least pretended to care about getting walked? Back before he was banished to San Diego and then banished a second time to Atlanta? Bruce Springsteen remembers.

Matt Kemp, most likely after a strikeout.

Chris Sale — ‘Cut it’ by OG Genesis

“You need to cut it!” must have been what was going through Sale’s mind when he had a meltdown about the White Sox throwback uniforms. Taking a knife to other people’s clothing would be appalling for a deranged Vietnam vet to do if he saw someone walking down the street in camouflage pants. Now, a Major League pitcher doing it to his own team’s jerseys? Truly psychotic.

Carlos Gomez — ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles

It seems like only yesterday that Gomez was an All-Star centerfielder who was putting up big numbers in Milwaukee. The Astros paid a hefty price to land him at the trade deadline in 2015, and since then he’s looked like a AAA bench player, to put it mildly. After doing his best Jose Canseco impersonation in the outfield last week in Minnesota, the once promising centerfielder was designated for assignment. His troubles now look like they’re here to stay.

Edwin Jackson — ‘On the Road Again’ by Willie Nelson

When he’s not getting shelled in the middle of a blowout or getting booed by his home fans, Jackson enjoys spending time traveling to whichever sorry franchise is in need of an extra arm. He’s played for 11 major league teams, and has left all of them wondering why they wasted their time with a pitcher who has as good of an idea of the strike zone as Donald Trump does about Russia’s presence in Ukraine.

Category 3 — No Way in Hell

Yordano Ventura — ‘The Percocet & Stripper Joint’ by Future

Back in 2014, Ventura, along with teammate Bruce Chen, was called out by a stripper on Twitter for being a cheap tipper. While there was no mention of percocets in the strippers story, Ventura could probably use a prescription if he keeps inciting bench clearing brawls that result in him getting punched.

CC Sabathia — ‘I Ain’t Drunk’ by Albert Collins

Yes this is a reference to Sabathia’s public admittance to alcoholism last season. Although he probably doesn’t want to draw any more attention to the dark chapter in his life, the old blues song would serve as a useful reminder to fans that the he is in fact sober while he’s pitching, no matter what his statline might indicate.

Pablo Sandoval — ‘Money for Nothing’ by Dire Straits

The former World Series hero’s lucrative contract with the Red Sox is looking to be a worse financial decision than Brazil hosting the World Cup and Olympics in a two-year span. The Sox are quite literally giving Sandoval money for nothing this year, as the hefty third baseman is earning $17 million despite not recording a single base hit in 6 at bats before undergoing season ending shoulder surgery.

The $17 million man.

Jon Lester — ‘Chicken Fried’ by Zac Brown Band

Back when Jon Lester was on the Red Sox there was a bit of a debacle when it came out that manager Terry Francona allowed starting pitchers to drink beer, order fried chicken and play video games in the clubhouse during games when they weren’t scheduled to pitch. The Zac Brown Band song revolves around having “a cold beer on a Friday night… and a little bit of chicken fried,” or, in other words, two-thirds of Lester’s apparently ideal evening.