You Decide Which Fantasy Expert has the Best Walk-Up Music!
Venezuelan native Wilmer Flores was drafted at age 16 by the New York Mets. While in the minors, the lonely Flores binge-watched “Friends” to pass the time, but also to learn English. In 2016, he changed his walk-up song to “I’ll Be There For You” by the Rembrandts, which, of course, is the famous theme song for the famous 90s sitcom (which debuted when Flores was three).
Every walk-up song has a story. And (virtually) every baseball fan has thought about what his or her walk-up song would be if they ever faced a major league pitcher. During spring training, you rely on the opinions of literally hundreds of fantasy experts. This is a group that suffers from the stereotype of pasty loners hunched over a computer in their mom’s basement sorting through Swinging Strike percentages, trends in BABIP, and whatever SIERA is. And all the while, you support us, which is very much appreciated, believe me.
But I wanted these hard-working men and women to demonstrate they knew more than numbers; we understand the game from a psychological, tactical, and a musical angle. I surveyed many of my colleagues, asking them just one question: What would your walk-up song be?
Here’s what I discovered:
- Fantasy experts can answer this question faster than if you asked them “What’s your mother’s maiden name;”
- A portion of experts that is too high to be healthy have watched entirely too much professional wrestling;
- I used to think Flores’ choice of the “Friends” theme, however heart-warming, was unusual. I had not seen unusual yet.
- Virtually everyone has unique tastes. Only two touts selected a song that had already been taken;
- None of the experts selected a song that was in the Top 10 walk-up songs of the 2017 season (hey, man, I researched the hell out of this).
Now you get to decide which of us has the best walk-up song. Spring training, fantasy baseball and March Madness come together in the Great Walk-Up Song Bracket. 64 songs, thousands of fans, and ultimately, one winner.
Here’s how it will work. The bracket and each of the 32 first-round match-ups are below. The match-ups include the song title and artist, why the expert chose it, a link to the song on YouTube, and the appropriate snippet that would be played as the hitter approaches the plate. If you don’t know the song, click to the link to listen to it. Voting without checking out the song is the equivalent of drafting a player based only on last year’s stats. We wouldn’t let you do it and you have to pay us back by giving all of us a fair shot.
There are, of course, four regions of 16 teams. I reserved one region (The Brandon Funston region) for the team at RotoExperts/FNTSY Network – kind of a home field advantage, and we are guaranteed a Final Four spot. The other brackets contain the choices of other fantasy experts from top companies and sites. Some notes on how I assembled the brackets:
- The 1 seed in the RotoExperts bracket was reserved for Scott “The King” Engel. Two of the other three top seeds were given to the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Famers Lenny Melnick and Brad Evans. The final top seed was given to Fantasy Zenmaster Lawr Michaels. He’s had a Hall-of-Fame career as it is and if any us knuckleheads know about music AND baseball, it’s that guy. (If he survives his first round, he will face a song with the word “Peace” in the title. I’m clever like that.)
- There were three pro-wrestling theme songs chosen. Hell, there could be 50 of them; I wouldn’t know. But three were presented because they were, at least in part, the themes of Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Hulk Hogan. They are each a 6 seed in the non-RotoExperts regions.
- The regions are each named for a Fantasy baseball pioneer. None of us touts would be able to do what we do without their leadership and vision.
- There are several ways to intimidate or confuse a pitcher. You’ll read about all of them in the matchups.
- We named the regions after legendary figures in Fantasy history
- Two voters per round will win FREE 2018 RotoExperts Xclusive Edge Fantasy Baseball Packages.
One final note: After you vote for all the matchups, you will be asked for your name and email address. Only one vote per email address is permitted and we WILL NOT sell your email address to anyone. We will let you know when each new round begins. But if you tweet about the bracket on The Twitter, your choices will be registered twice instead of once, as a bonus. Please use the hashtag #MyWalkUpSong on social media. If you have any questions email us at “walkupsong2018 (at) gmail (dot) com. After every round (second round starts March 8) one email address will be selected at random to win a RotoExperts draft package. We will also publish some of your best comments and tweets in upcoming bracket articles.
Introducing The Experts 64
The Brandon Funston Region (RotoExperts/FNTSY Network)
:There are literally hundreds of fantasy sports properties today — from blogs to podcasts to websites to radio shows — where fans can get their fantasy fix and advice. Brandon Funston essentially built and helped lead the first team of fantasy contributors for ESPN, some 20-plus years ago. He showed a generation of writers and editors how they can help millions of people play this game a little smarter. Then he went on to become a similar leading voice at Yahoo Sports for an extensive tenure.
For this region, I reached out to my colleagues and collected 15 entries before the deadline to get the contest started. So I included Adam Ronis as he returned to the FNTSY Sports Network with his Scout.com show, which sets up the best first-round matchup: a Ronis-Engel showdown. Corey Parson also lurks in the region, looking to establish The Fantasy Executive’s authority.
#1 “New York Groove” by Ace Frehley (Scott “The King” Engel) vs. “Dare Devil” by Papoose (Adam Ronis). Anyone who’s ever spoken to The King knows he loves Kiss more than he loves his own family, and New York is such a part of his groove, making his choice a no-brainer. Kiss was groundbreaking when they allowed band members to record solo albums blah blah blah….. As for Mr. Ronis, Papoose is his favorite rapper, and as a great lyricist, “his words fire me up.” The segment from 2:58-3:15 is the snippet Ronis would play. My Prediction: Fans are too scared to disagree with The King, voting for Frehley in a landslide.
#2 “Hocus Pocus” by Focus (Tim McCullough) vs. #15 “Walk It Talk It” by Migos (Corey Parson). McCullough, winner of the FSWA Baseball Article of the Year in Print and my editor, gets the second seed because, well he’s my editor. But he’s also a guitarist in a band. The snippet from 3:45 to 4:05 in Hocus Pocus is the solo he takes when his band plays the song. Parson chose his song simply because “it’s the jam.” My Prediction: McCullough, a magician of an editor, pulls Hocus Pocus into round 2.
#3 “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty (Tom McFeeley) vs. #14 “That’s All She Wrote” by TI (Gregg Sussman). I would actually prefer “I Will Not Go Quietly” by Don Henley; it’s got Axl Rose on background vocals, it’s got nice guitar work, the lyrics talk about turning this thing around, smashing it up, etc., but I picked the only song I can’t find on the Internet. His official video has been hijacked by some right-wing American imperialist nut-job telling the world America will never go quietly…..so there’s that. I Won’t Back Down is the same sentiment and, hey, Petty just died, so show him some goddamn respect!! As for the unfortunate Sussman who will lose in the first round, he said “I would say it would have to deal with me dominating the pitcher. I like the song and beat too and it’s just an awesome warmup song!” You decide, but remember I’ll have all your e-mail addresses and I know Russians! Prediction: Gregg is a very nice guy; I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but rather wish him luck.
#4 “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine (Jake Ciely) vs. #13 “Come A Little Bit Closer” by Jay and the Americans (Cam Giangrande). Much like Jake, this song gets you “All In.” As for the segment from: 30 to: 43, Ciely says “it’s impossible not to start headbanging and getting hyped. Just get hyped!” Giangrande picked “Come a Little Bit Closer,” which he’d play from: 35 to: 50, because of a key moment in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. “It’s when the character Yandu, who was overtaken by a mutiny, escaped and absolutely kicked a** walking through the ship killing everybody. This song was playing in the background…fantastic!” I also thought it would be funny to match Ciely, who was named the most accurate fantasy baseball forecaster, with a song called “Come A Little Bit Closer,” which I’m sure is only funny to me. Prediction: Giangrande comes a little bit closer to Ciely, who then kills him in the name of something.
#5 “Take Me Home” by Phil Collins (George Kurtz) vs. #12 “Monkey Wrench” by The Foo Fighters (Mike Blewitt). Kurtz likes any 15 seconds of drum work in the song’s final minute and the obvious baseball connotations of “Take Me Home” earned his choice a five seed. Blewitt says “It rocks out and it implies that I’m going to be the wrench in your plans.” He’d play the chorus for his walk-up. My prediction: We always look for that 12/5 upset and I’m calling this one for Mr. Blewitt.
#6 “X Gonna Give It To Ya” by DMX (Nando DiFino) vs. #11 “YMCA” by the Village People (Tony Cincotta). For many songs on this list we are overlooking the “adult” language in the songs – hey, every team can make their own choices as far as that goes. This first round matchup pits the rap stylings of DMX versus the 70s “whatever you call it” by the Village People. Random Tom McFeeley trivia: I have actually seen “YMCA” performed by the Village People, and they report we do it all wrong. Of his song, DiFino says “Before Deadpool stole it for the final battle warmup, I loved it. I don’t think any song pumps you up more for anything. Just the start, when it goes from the slow buildup to the chaotic beat. It’s great.” The incomparable Cincotta justifies YMCA this way: “I would love to capture the spirit of the men’s Olympic Skating euphoria. When I think about Major League Baseball , I think of 18 men with their favorite piece of lumber dangling from their waist in the On Deck circle and I scream out YMCA. The YMCA celebrates men loving men from the Native American, Police Officer to the Construction Worker. We have love for everyone!” Prediction: Everyone’s a little tired of YMCA and Cincotta’s reasoning will scare all the others off. DiFino advances.
#7 “The Spins” by Mac Miller (Michael Florio) vs. #10 “Happy” by Pharrell Williams (Paul Shapiro). Florio says that The Spins was his favorite song in college and always gets him happy and pumped. He would play the song from the top in his walk-up. Shapiro chose the chorus of “Happy” as his walk-up because he’s “Shappy” (get it?) Prediction: A true toss-up, but because of the familiarity of “Happy” I think Paul will be “extra Shappy” after the first round.
#8 “Ivan Drago Theme” in Rocky IV (Brandon Williams) vs. #9 “Stranger Things Theme” by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (Frank Stampfl). I love the 8/9 matchups because not only are they essentially equal, but you can have a little bit of fun with them before they face slaughter by the #1 seed. So I put two themes together. Of Ivan Drago’s theme, his entrance song, Williams calls it “pure intimidation” which would be best used by top sluggers like Aaron Judge and Nolan Arenado. “Imagine the hapless reliever who has to hear that echoing over the ballpark in the bottom of the eighth in a 8-8 slugfest and deals with a slugger that already has a pair of bombs and five RBIs on the night.” Stampfl said he loves the Stranger Themes thing “and it might throw the pitcher off because it’s a bit eerie.” Prediction: Brandon Williams and Ivan Drago advance. I like that Williams used the word “hapless” and excellent word choice deserves to be rewarded.
Ron Shandler Region
For over 30 years, Ron Shandler has been ignoring Fantasy categories and teaching us to “draft skills, not stats.” He is the founder of BaseballHQ, which uses a sabermetric look at the skills of every player. In the late 1990, he created the LIMA Plan (Low Investment Mound Aces), a strategy familiar (by one name or another) by a vast majority of Fantasy baseball owners. He gave us the Mayberry Method and is now going with a girl named BABS. “Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster” just printed its 32nd edition. Shandler has made us all better fantasy players and he taught a generation of Mets fans that there IS actually a reason to watch baseball after June.
The region bearing Shandler’s name is so last century. Actually, it’s so 19th century, as one of the most recognizable walk-up songs dates from the 1800s. There are two Latin titles (not Latin American – actual Latin), and I urge you to click the links of these foreign-named songs because you’ll recognize them when you hear them.
We also have another banner matchup in our 1/16 game.
#1 “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles (Lenny Melnick of Lenny Melnick Fantasy Baseball) vs. #16 “Seventeen Years” by Ratatatat (Eno Sarris/The Athletic). Sarris, who recently left FanGraphs and “The Sleeper and the Bust” podcast to write analytics for The Athletic, is technically NOT a fantasy expert anymore. But we’ll give him a grandfather clause, and a 16 seed against the Hall-of-Famer. Melnick describes himself as a nowhere man because he wakes at 4 a.m. and devotes 16 hours a day to fantasy baseball, including reading 30 online newspapers for baseball news, a daily podcast and radio show. Of “Seventeen Years,” Sarris says “I prefer opening licks without words and I think Ratatat has awesome, pump you up openers like this one. Gives you a bit of that 80s hair band feel, but modernized.” Prediction: Both experts have huge respect and followings in the fantasy world, but I give Melnick a slight edge in a close contest.
#2 “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult (Todd Zola/Mastersball and Rotowire) vs. #15 “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park (Joe Pisapia/The Fantasy Baseball Black Book). Pisapia got a short straw here, drawing both Godzilla and a legend in Zola, the FSWA 2018 Baseball Writer of the Year winner. Zola on Godzilla: “The crowd may not get into it as much as Ricky Vaughn/Wild Thing, but it has a sing-along element to it.” Pisapia on Bleed It Out: “Strong intro, great breakdown, and I bleed for this industry.” Prediction: Zola advances and Pisapia starts a draft of The Walk-Up Song Black Book.
#3 “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys (Mike Podhorzer/FanGraphs) vs. #14 “O Fortuna – Camina Burana” Carl Orff composer (Shelly Veroughstraete/Prospects1500.com). You’ve seen The Hunt for Red October, right? Glory? Natural Born Killers? Even Jackass: The Movie? Then you know O Fortuna (click the link and give it a listen). Veroughstraete would play 1:37-1:47: “I would use it because the Latin sounds bad-ass and you cannot help but pay attention to whoever walks up to it.” Despite the Latin, and the attention it might draw, the music will have a tough matchup versus the popular Dropkick Murphys song. Podhorzer describes it as “energetic and exciting”. Two well known pieces of music, but who will prevail? Prediction: The extra step of clicking the link might be a deterrent, and Irish people can’t resist anything with “Boston” or “Murphys” associated with it. Podhorzer dropkicks into the second round to face Pisapia or Zola.
#4 “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers (Ray Murphy/BaseballHQ) vs. #13 “Down With the Sickness” by Disturbed (Doug Shain/Beeline Sports). Confession: I hate The Killers, but if I loved them I might have picked their recent single “The Man” for a walk-up. But I’m not nearly as smart as BaseballHQ GM Murphy. (Full disclosure: I contribute to HQ during those times I’m feeling intellectually heightened by my math, analytical and writing skills at the same time. In other words, very rarely). But the song is recognizable which makes it a threat in any contest. I’ll admit to not being an aficionado of Disturbed, but I have to say I love this song as a walk-up choice. Shain would play it from the top until they sing what sounds like a combo of a monkey squawking and a DJ spinning a record. Again, this matchup might come down to how many click the link and do the research. Prediction: BaseballHQ benefits, for once, from fans who don’t do the research and move The Killers into the next round to face the 5/12 winner.
#5 “Carini” by Phish (Howard Bender/Fantasy Alarm) vs. #12 “Beautiful Music” by Action Bronson (Vlad Sedler/RotoWire If you paid attention to the FSWA awards, you’ll know RotoWire is the Patriots of the Fantasy Writing industry. We’re all kind of sick of seeing them win, while acknowledging who great they are. They have six teams in this bracket so they’ll have a chance at more glory. Bender, who admits to what he calls significant “draft prep” with Lawr Michaels, picked Carini because (and I need to let him explain): “I had a dream that I was playing for the Yankees, but it was my head on the body of a vintage juiced up Jason Giambi. Bob Sheppard called my name and I came lurching out of the dugout dragging my bat behind me like a Neanderthal and ‘Carini’ was playing.” If this was a bracket contest for baseball dreams, this would be a top seed. Sedler calls Action Bronson a smart, creative rapper and he’d play from 2:01 to 2:15 in the song, which features references to Derek Jeter, Tim Salmon and Dennis Eckersley. Prediction: Once Phish fans hear the band is in some obscure competition, it’s fans will rush to to vote and possibly crash the site. RotoWire takes a rare loss.
#6 “Also Sprach Zarathustra – Op. 30” by Richard Strauss (Jeff Ratcliffe/ProFootball Focus) vs. #11 “Dies Irae” by Epica (Brad Johnson/FanGraphs). There are a lot of things happening in this matchup, most of them needing translation. 1. We see our first football guy enter the fray. 2. We see our first pro-wrestling theme. 3. Ratcliffe’s choice is actually described as a “tone poem” and is inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical novel of the same name. 4. There’s a sci-fi element, as Ratcliffe’s choice is famous from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ratcliffe will use the opening, technically referred to as “Sunrise.” You’ll know it. I quote Wikipedia because my knowledge of music barely exceeds “Springsteen kicks ass in concert.” “One of the major compositional themes of the piece is the contrast between the keys of B major, representing humanity, and C major, representing the universe. Because B and C are adjacent notes, these keys are tonally dissimilar: B major uses five sharps, while C major has none.” It’s also Ric Flair’s theme song. As for Johnson’s choice, he said “I know it won’t win, but it should. It’s pretty goddamned epic.” Give it a listen – it would be a great walk-up song. Whatever they’re singing. Prediction: WWE posts it’s first win, and Ratcliffe lives to see another round.
Lil Kim and 50 cent performed this song one time together sad cause it such a big hit pic.twitter.com/wfx0xLZLiF
— LilkimTeam (@xploveslilkim) February 6, 2018
#7 “Magic Stick” by Lil’ Kim and 50 Cent (Sammy Reid/RotoGrinders) vs. #10 “Jump” by Van Halen (Ray Kuhn/RotoProfessor and Fantasy Friends with Benefits podcast). Magic Stick earns the better seed through its obvious baseball reference (at least in this case) but like all 7/10 matchups, victory will be difficult, facing an absolute classic. Prediction: Van Halen continues 50 Cent’s baseball slump and moves on.
#8 “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica (Seth Klein/TheFantasyFix) vs. #9 “Hypnotize” by The Notorious BIG – (Andrew Laird/RotoWire). A fun matchup that should be close. Laird thinks “Hypnotize” will have the opposite effect and will raise the enthusiasm in the stadium and pump up the fans for his plate appearance. Klein says the song “Is badass. In olden times the bells ringing signified a funeral and I will use this to strike fear into my opponent and let them know their time is coming.” The choice is also a nod to Mariano Rivera, who also famously entered games to Metallica music. The winner here goes on to face either Melnick or Sarris. Prediction: The Bell will toll for Klein in a close vote.
That is the left side of our experts walk-up song bracket. Please preview the other 16 matchups here before you vote.