09/30/2008 11:47 AM ET
@-bat music: Tampa Bay Rays
Young upstarts have fresh-sounding songs behind them
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
They are the underdog darlings of Major League Baseball this season, the team that finished with the worst record in the game last year but just clinched the American League East title ahead of the Red Sox and Yankees. Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays are for real, and they're riding a momentum surge that just might get them all the way through October.
The Rays glean plenty of inspiration from their unique ballpark called Tropicana Field, and the music the hitters hear when they walk up to the plate is just part of the St. Petersburg experience. Maybe it's another facet of manager Joe Maddon that's rubbed off on these young Rays. Maddon, after all, has one of the more eclectic CD collections of any big-league skipper.
MLB.com/Entertainment has been getting to the bottom of the Major League tradition of walk-up music all season long by going from clubhouse to clubhouse and soliciting cutting-edge commentary from the players, the organizational brass, and some of the best music critics in the business. Song choices have changed over the course of the 2008 campaign for various -- and often superstitious -- reasons, but rest assured that we've featured the songs straight from the players' plate play lists at press time.
Here are the Rays' rhythms:
B.J. Upton, CF
Song: "Rider Part 2" by G Unit; "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne featuring Static Major; "That's Gangsta" by Bun B featuring Sean Kingston
Upton: "I don't know, man. I just like good beats and they all have good beats. It doesn't fire me up but it gets me into a little bit of a rhythm."
Akinori Iwamura, 2B
Song: "Hurricane" by Eikichi Yazawa
Iwamura: "I used this music when I was in Japan for four years, but there, I used the Japanese version. This is the English version. Basically, he's the rock 'n' roll king of Japan, and it's the kind of music that gets me pumped up and into a good rhythm."
Critic commentary: "He's a very popular rock singer. This is just a classic rock tune. Maybe Iwamura likes the intensity of it. It worked for Ichiro, who used it last year." -- Keizo Konishi, Kyodo News
Carlos Pena, 1B
Song: "Como Yo" by Juan Luis Guerra
Pena: "It's got a good vibe to it. It reminds me of the Dominican Republic and its true essence. And Guerra's the best out there by far, I believe."
Critic commentary: "An utter anomaly among the riff rock, hip-hop, and country that dominates at-bat songs. Pena even eschews the reggaeton vibe of many of his fellow Latinos, going with a fellow Dominican who makes interesting popular music based around the Bachata rhythm of his native country. Pena doesn't need sonic swagger as he heads to the plate during this stellar season." -- Jim Welte, freelance music writer, Paste, Crawdaddy and Jambase
Evan Longoria, 3B
Song: "Disturbia" by Rihanna; "Down and Out" by Tantric
Longoria: "I change them up from time to time. The Rihanna song is kind of a joke between me and GS. We were actually laughing about it at the All-Star Game. I like the beginning of the Tantric song."
Cliff Floyd, DH
Song: "Put On" by Young Jeezy featuring Kanye West
Floyd: "I just like the beat, how it flows. It's got a nice little flair to it. Nothing crazy."
Critic commentary: "The latest hip-hop track du jour for MLB hitters, with the likes of A-Rod and Mike Cameron going with the Jeezy hit. It's not a terrible song, and it allows the hitter to rep his respective city with the chorus, 'I put on for my city,' though the rapper with a checkered past might have a different definition of 'rep' than most of us." -- Jim Welte, freelance music writer, Paste, Crawdaddy and Jambase
Dioner Navarro, C
Song: "The Anthem" by Pitbull featuring Lil Jon; "Ahora Es" by Wisin Y Yandel; "El Tra" by Tito El Bambino
Navarro: "I like the beats. I like the way it sounds when I go to the plate. I feel the beat, and with the team doing well, people are responding to the songs."
Eric Hinske, LF
Song: "Walk" by Pantera
Hinske: "It's the kind of music I like -- hard rock. I hear it while it's playing, but whatever. It doesn't really matter."
Critic commentary: "Despite the title, Hinske is clearly not hunting for a base on balls. This is a heavy metal classic and a five-minute ode to uninhibited aggression. Phil Anselmo blurts lines like, 'I'm one step from lashing out at you,' and borrows, 'You talkin' to me?' from 'Taxi Driver''s Travis Bickle. This has, 'I'm about to rip this pitch into the seats' written all over it." -- Jim Welte, freelance music writer, Paste, Crawdaddy and Jambase
Carl Crawford, OF (DL)
Song: "A Million" by Lil Wayne; "Certified" by Glasses Malone featuring Akon
Crawford: "I like those songs. It gets the blood flowing a little bit when I get to the plate. And maybe it gets the pitcher thinking about something besides getting me out."
Ben Zobrist, IF
Song: "Ignition" by tobyMac
Zobrist: "He's a Christian artist, which I like. I knew it was going to be clean, and it's got a great beat. It's just the beginning of song that people hear, but it's a good beginning."
Critic commentary: "Zobrist, a devout Christian, keeps it in the theological family with a riff-heavy track from Christian rap-rocker tobyMac. Fittingly, the song includes metaphors for at-bats ('A grip of hope in our hands') and power-hitting ('Come on, come on and turn on the ignition'), and plenty of adrenaline. Zobrist's wife, Juliana, also is a Christian rock singer but apparently was no match for tobyMac." -- Jim Welte, freelance music writer, Paste, Crawdaddy and Jambase
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.