Posted at 9:55 AM on July 16, 2007
by Steve Rudolph
Almost every time I play the song “Stand Up and Shout” at a Wild or Vikings game, someone is bound to jokingly ask me if Joe Nathan is coming in to pitch.
In such a short period of time, that song became synonymous with Twins closer. Maybe that’s why I found a rant by ESPN.com’s Jim Caple bemoaning the use of rock and metal by baseball’s closers so amusing.
I can’t remember Jeff Reardon, Rick Aguilera or other Twins closers having anything special played when they entered the game, but apparently the use of entrance music by closers goes back to the early 60s when the Met Stadium organist used to play “Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey” when Twins pitcher Bill Dailey entered the game. (If former Twins closer Ron Davis had used a song it either would have been Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” or Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces.”)
From what I can tell, the use of rock songs by baseball’s closers became popular when fictional Cleveland fireballer Ricky Vaughn, from the movie Major League, entered to Joan Jett’s remake of “Wild Thing.” The first real player that I remember having the same sort of impact with his entrance was the Padres’ Trevor Hoffman who strolled in from the pen to AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells.”
Unlike Caple, I think hard rock and metal is really the only choice a closer has. In the same way a boxer looks to intimidate their opponent during the walk to the ring, a major league closer’s intro music needs to exude a bravado that tells the batters, “I’m bringing the heat, hit it if you can.” As inspiring as some of Caple’s classical suggestions are, they don’t have the edge a closer needs and don’t whip up the crowd.
However, the cleverest song selection by a relief pitcher in baseball history had to be the Twins own Mike Trombley back in the late 90s. Could there possibly be a more fitting song for a reliever to come into than Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire?”