A Suggestion for Mr. Papelbon

Dear Johnno–

It’s come to my attention that your search for a new entrance song isn’t going as well as you thought. I can appreciate that. The choice of entrance music is supremely important for a player’s image. Choose it well and it becomes part of your identity. Choose poorly and you look like a jackass, or a wimp, or worse. For a closer, picking the right song is even more important. A position player can just pick whatever’s on his mind, or a song that relaxes him before the most intense part of the game. But closers don’t have it so easy. Ideally, a closer’s song is intimidating and energizing. Trevor Hoffman had that nasty changeup, but he also had AC/DC. Or how about Mariano Rivera–a quiet, polite, reserved, religious man by all accounts–augmenting his cutter with one of Metallica’s most ominous hits. You need to pick an entrance song on that level, and I’m here to help you.

A good closer intro needs to be aggressive and foreboding, and failing that, needs to incite a capacity crowd into a mob mentality. By the time the closer is on the mound, if he chooses his music well, violence will ensue. You had it kind of easy in Boston. Red Sox fans love their city, and they get on board with anything remotely Irish. But you even though Dropkick Murphys frontman Ken Casey came off like kind of a dick when he announced you couldn’t use “Shipping Up to Boston,” you had to know that a song with Boston in the title wouldn’t play in Philly. And neither Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia” nor Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” really cuts the mustard as a harbinger of bad things. Though to Casey’s credit, the offer to write you a new song was quite generous, but any bespoke entrance music comes off as kind of gimmicky.

And “Man in the Box” was a nice try–it’s got the aggressive, repetitive, foreboding electric guitar, and it was clever of you to work in the “Won’t you come and save me” angle. But the anger in “Man in the Box” is more suicidal than homicidal, and we want you to be more directly menacing than full of indiscriminate anger. The best available song on the shelf is Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” which absolutely conjures up images of a man in a black leather jacket and aviators, face covered in soot, a sawed-off shotgun in his hand, walking toward the camera in slow-motion as the landscape behind him goes up in a napalm explosion and burns until there’s nothing left. If that’s not the ideal projection for a closer’s song, I don’t know what is. Unfortunately, Chase Utley‘s already called shotgun on that song, and he uses it well. Time to look for something original.

My first inclination was John Murphy’s “Adagio in D Minor.” It’s a beautiful bit of composition, very storm-on-the-horizon, and while it lacks the in-your-face aggressiveness of “Hell’s Bells,” it’s every bit as capable of inspiring dread. It’s got one of the most intense and beautiful crescendos I can recall, a crescendo that doesn’t beat you to death with a lead pipe the way Metallica does, but instead toys with you for a while, then vaporizes you. It leaves you there to think about the terrible thing that’s going to happen. It’s no accident that Hans Zimmer wrote something eerily similar to close out Inception. In Sunshine, the movie where “Adagio in D Minor” made its debut, the theme symbolizes the inexorable destructive power of the Sun. Badass. Just what a closer wants.

The problem is that “Adagio in D Minor” starts out quietly and lasts more than four minutes. And because of the crescendo, it’s not like you can cut it up like a rock song. But lucky for us–Murphy’s theme was remixed and truncated for the strobe light fight scene in Kick-Ass. This version gets to the point in about a minute and a half. And I love it, but the problem is you can’t sing along. If you’re getting 45,000 people up and at ’em, you need the song to be faster (and even the remix with its driving guitars doesn’t quite cut it) and have an identifiable melody and/or lyrics.

Which brings us to a song you need to try at least once this season, a song to warm the hearts of nations.

That’s right: “Ebolarama” by Every Time I Die. I really don’t like hardcore or screamo, and I don’t know enough about them to tell you which one this is, but “Ebolarama” checks all the boxes. First of all, having a different song for each outing is obnoxious. And this song is nothing if not obnoxious.

But in all seriousness, you want to rile up the crowd? Child, please. You know what people do to this song? They jump around and flail their limbs like imbeciles and scream at the top of their lungs. They run into each other on purpose. Two minutes into “Ebolarama,” Citizens Bank Park would be the scariest place in Pennsylvania. Try to hit in the clutch now, Jose Reyes. We’re going to eat your brains and gain your knowledge.

And perhaps more importantly, I want to direct you to the breakdown and final verse. In the span of four lines, you get these lyrics:

Run like hell
Run like hell
Run like hell
This is a rock and roll takeover

What image do you want to project to the crowd, and more importantly, to the batter, Jonathan Papelbon? I think the image of a rock and roll takeover is as good as any. Just thinking about those lyrics makes me want to beat a stranger to a bloody pulp with a golf club–I’d be shocked if using “Ebolarama” as your entrance song didn’t add at least four miles an hour to your fastball. This song is airborne adrenaline.

Mariano Rivera, by using “Enter Sandman” is saying to the hitter: “You know, I’m probably going to get you out.” You, Mr. Papelbon, by entering to “Ebolarama” say to the hitter: “HIT THIS, I DARE YOU! I DOUBLE DARE YOU!” Every Time I Die makes Metallica look like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Don’t bring that weak stuff, Johnno. Bring the truth, the unrefined, 195-proof filth. Be R-rated. Be in-your-face. Expose Rivera and Hoffman for the poseurs they are. Save 55 games. And thank me when all is said and done.

This has been a rock and roll takeover.

Love always,

-Michael Baumann
Crashburn Alley



Mets-Phillies Game Thread 4/14/12

The Phillies dipped back below .500 last night with a 5-2 loss in the series opener against the New York Mets. Aside from allowing a home run to Freddy Galvis, R.A. Dickey was able to work around nine hits allowed, while Cliff Lee surrendered four runs in seven innings, including two long home runs to Jason Bay and Scott Hairston. This afternoon’s game will pit two up-and-coming arms against each other: lefty Jon Niese and right-hander Vance Worley. David Wright makes a return to the lineup today as he was dealing with a broken pinkie.