There's an old saying in baseball -- "never waste an at-bat."
Everything about the moment is important, from a batter's initial stance to his final swing. Yet, it all starts with the walk-up music, which, as far as we're concerned, is always of the utmost importance.
A batter's walk-up music is self-descriptive -- it's the snippet of a tune played as the batter walks from the on-deck circle to the actual batter's box. The term -- or a variation on it, like "walk-in" or "entrance" -- also is used for the music played when pitchers, usually closers, take to the mound. These songs are frequently chosen by a team's music director (or someone filling that role), often with input from individual players.
Ideally, these songs should say something about the player -- describe his ferocity or ability or background. The most famous walk-up of all might be Mariano Rivera's use of Metallica's "Enter Sandman," which signifies that when this New York Yankees closer takes the mound, it's nighty-night for the opposing team -- and, more often than not, that's the case.
In honor of the World Series opening this week, here's a look at some of the walk-up music used by the two teams battling for the championship -- the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers. (Note, walk-up music is known to change -- so this might not reflect exactly what will be heard at the games.) We'll go by projected batting order:
San Francisco Giants:
1. Angel Pagan (No. 16, CF)
Song: "Blue," Gemini
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is all the rage these days. It's even made it to the realm of the walk-up. This is a hip choice, courtesy of the British DJ known as Gemini.
2. Marco Scutaro (No. 19, 2B)
Song: "Danza Kuduro," Don Omar
This tune, which is also favored by the Tigers' Jhonny Peralta, is a fine reggaeton anthem. But, given Scutaro's performance in the playoffs, maybe R.E.M.'s "Superman" would be a more appropriate choice.
3. Pablo Sandoval (No. 48, 3B)
Song: "The Motto," Drake
This 2011 cut served Drake quite well -- it sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S. alone -- and it certainly works for Pablo's walk-up music.
4. Buster Posey (No. 28, C)
Song: "Me Myself and I," De La Soul
Was Buster even born when this song came out? It's an oldie, a No. 1 R&B hit from the hip-hop band in 1989, but it's certainly a goody. We wish more batters would go old-school with their walk-ups.
5. Hunter Pence (No. 8, RF)
Song: "A Warrior's Call," Volbeat; "Breakn' a Sweat," Skrillex
This Hunter splits his time between heavy metal (Volbeat) and EDM (Skrillex) -- and both are appropriately energized walk-up tunes. Plus, we like what the titles say about Pence -- certainly a warrior who's not afraid to break a sweat.
6. Brandon Belt (No. 9, 1B)
Maybe he prefers to listen to the crowd?
7. Gregor Blanco (No. 7, RF)
Song: "Welcome to Jamrock" -- Damian Marley
One of the best reggae rockers to come along in many a moon, this cut from Bob Marley's son -- Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley -- is a rollicking choice for the walk-up.
8. Brandon Crawford (No. 35, SS)
Song: "Writer's Block," Royce da 5'9
On principle, we are against anything that uses the term "Writer's Block" -- which puts the Fear of Editor into every journalist. Plus, this song features Eminem, a proud Detroit guy. So, maybe, Crawford should get a new walk-up song for this series.
9. Pitcher's spot
Barry Zito (Game One starter) might turn to one of the best rappers on the planet, Nas, for "Doo Rags." We're just glad that he doesn't use one of his own tunes.
1. Austin Jackson (No. 14, CF)
Songs: "Ballin'," Young Jeezy; "Ambition," Wale
Young Jeezy's "Ballin'", featuring Lil Wayne, is a good selection for a leadoff man -- since it's his job to get the party started. And, clearly, it's also his "Ambition" to get on base.
2. Quintin Berry (No. 52, LF)
Song: "Hypnotize," the Notorious B.I.G.
This was one of Biggie's biggest hits -- and it fits as a walk-up song. Berry has many weapons in his arsenal (notably, his speed), but the Giants might be in trouble if hypnosis is one of them.
3. Miguel Cabrera (No. 24, 3B)
Song: "(Expletive) in Paris," Jay-Z and Kanye West
This was arguably the most memorable hit of last year -- a surefire crowd-pleaser from the two kings of hip-hop. It's the perfect choice for the best hitter in baseball -- who this year became the game's first triple-crown winner since 1967.
4. Prince Fielder (No. 28, 1B)
Songs: "Moments in Love," Art of Noise; "Down For My (Expletive)," C-Murder
Art of Noise's experimental electronic love ballad, which moves along at a strikingly glacial pace, is no doubt dramatic -- but it's a weird one for a walk-up. C-Murder's hip-hop blast is a much safer bet.
5. Delmon Young (No. 21, DH in the Tigers' park, LF at AT&T)
Song: "I'm Raw," Lil Wayne
As a designated hitter, Young probably has a lot of time to consider walk-up material. We applaud the choice of Weezy.
6. Jhonny Peralta (No. 27, SS)
Song: "Energia," Alexis Y Fido: "Danza Kuduro," Don Omar
The shortstop gets his game on by turning to a pair of Puerto Rican reggaeton acts.
7. Alex Avila (No. 13, C)
Song: "I Got Mine," the Black Keys
The modern blues-rock duo, which has been compared to the White Stripes, provides the right punch for a walk-up song.
8. Omar Infante (No. 4, 2B)
Song: "Prendelo," El Shick
It's an unusual dance-club ditty, kind of a nightclub shaker with a cutting-edge electro-pop vibe, but it does the trick.
9. Pitcher's spot
Yes, the Tigers will have to hit while they are in San Francisco -- which will be a new thing for these American League cats. Look for Justin Verlander (Game One starter) to go with Eminem's "Till I Collapse" -- and, for a Detroit dude, you can't go wrong with Slim Shady.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.