Tuesday, October 7, 2014
MISSING MARIANO: THE NEED FOR AN ICONIC CLOSER
During my time in the Big Apple in 2004 my work colleague took me to (Old) Yankee Stadium to catch a game against the Oakland Athletics.
I don’t remember the exact day… it was my first Yankee game and my first time somewhere other than Bank One Ballpark (later Chase Field). Remember, I'm from Arizona...
It was a chilly and windy day in the left field upper level. I can’t tell you much about the game. I know Eric Chavez was playing for the A’s and the Yankees were winning. But one of the most exciting and coolest things I’ve ever seen in sports happened that day. The Yanks had the lead in the top of the 9th and went to the bullpen. A familiar song began to play on the stadium sound system.
One of the most iconic songs in the history of music began to play. That song was “Enter Sandman” by heavy metal God’s Metallica.
A Latino man from Panama would leave the bullpen and make his way to the mound as the James Hetfield growled the words “Say your prayers little one…”
Mariano Rivera and his walkout song were so synonymous that Metallica went to (New) Yankee Stadium last year to play it live for the game’s best closing pitcher ever as he said farewell.
They basically honored Metallica as well. Why did the song get its due and get its lyrics written in baseball lore? Because the song was a BAD ASS song, written by BAD ASSES. When you combine that with Mariano, who was a BAD ASS, it adds up to magic. The song was iconic before he was. Rivera lived up to the song.
Let’s put this in perspective.
MMA/UFC champion Brock Lesnar came out to the same song and it scared people. A 300lb. monster, he could lift someone the size of Bartolo Colon with ease. Lesnar could have become synonymous with the song as well but after he got knocked out, had some medical issues and made a tentative comeback to fighting, he didn’t use the song.
It didn’t have the same meaning. Had Mariano been awful, the song would have been a joke. I miss that song and Mariano. But they should retire that song league-wide for Mariano like they retired Jackie Robinson’s number. It wouldn’t feel right with anyone else.
The Right Tune
While we wait for someone to be the next Rivera, which no one can predict, the only thing we can do is pick a couple of songs that could hold up for the closer, the next Mr. Automatic. My good friend, (name drop) Dan Soder, a successful stand-up comic who’s been on Conan among other things, would discuss this topic with me on occasion.
Here’s what he emailed me the other day:
“I think if I were a bad ass closer I would want to walk out to Semisonic's 'Closing Time.' Why you ask? Because if you were a really bad ass pitcher people would laugh at you coming out to such a soft song but then when you threw 9 straight strikes and retired the side people would start thinking it was bad ass.”
Not bad Mr. Soder, not bad. But no Eve 6! I on the other hand have different ideas.
If I went the Soder route I’d pick Annie Lennox’s “Why.” Why you ask? Because the next shut-it-down closer may ask himself… "Why do I have to bother with these jamokes?"
Motörhead needs a place in baseball. The game is in hand; you call in your closer… BLAM! Overkill plays. This guy is so good that it’s overkill. It’s just not fair and it’s so metal.
Last but not least… you’ll have to hear me out on this one. The Yankees are up 1-0 in the top of the 9th. Joe Girardi calls for his closer. It’s a cool evening and the sultry voice of Sade says…
Tweet me your BAD ASS closer song. I'm at @WVBunt.
Wolfgang Von Bunt
BYB Staff Writer
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