Grading the 2014 Minnesota Twins' walk-up songs

JAY BOLLER | Updated 4/8/2014

Joe Mauer stays the course, while Josh Willingham almost flunks.

Josh Willingham
Jim Mone, Associated Press

Professional baseball players are constantly scrutinized, whether it's tallying dingers or next-level sabermetrics wonkery. For decades, though, the boys of summer got a free pass in one important area: the quality of their walk-up music selections. No more! Here’s how your 2014 Twins squad fared at DJ’ing at-bats.

 

Brian Dozier, 2B

"Small Town USA" by Justin Moore

Grade: C-

The favorite son of tiny Fulton, Miss. takes pride in his small-town roots. Problem is, he demonstrates that via bro-country star Justin Moore, a trope-spouting country mannequin who visits high school football games, rural churches and elderly fishermen in the video for "Small Town USA." Radio country can be fun, but Moore's light-beer-sipping romanticization of dirt road values comes off like calculated pandering. That said, it was Dozier's pick during his breakout 2013 campaign, so those platitudes stir something in the 26-year-old infielder.

 

Joe Mauer, 1B

"What You Know" by T.I.

Grade: A

Mauer may not know much about loaded .44s, Louie knapsacks and dro buzzes, but he knows not to mess with a good thing. The staggeringly un-trill hometown hero has tabbed T.I.’s banging 2006 single for years, with fantastic results – six All-Star nods, three AL batting champ titles and one AL MVP award. Never change, Joe.

 

Josh Willingham, LF

"Glory Defined" by Building 429

Grade: D-

Willingham slumped mightily last season, posting just 14 home runs after jacking 35 the year prior. Is the Outfield's killer 1985 power-pop track "Your Love" to blame? Willingham seems to think so, as the power-hitting outfielder ditched his secular hit in favor of unlistenable Christian hard-rock band Building 429. "Glory Defined" - with its processed, repetitious guitars and bloated pretense - isn't just bad music; it's bad dinger-blasting music, featuring vaguely proselytizing verses that offer little in terms of getting jacked up.

 

Chris Colabello, DH

"Return of the Mack" by Mark Morrison

Grade: B

A left-field choice from the first baseman/outfielder. There's a soft-grooving appeal to English R&B one-hit wonder Mark Morrison. His super-chill 1996 club hit feels like a random, albeit agreeable, selection for Colabello, who perhaps became smitten with the Clinton-era jam while growing up in Italy. As the hard-hitting second-year Twin nears the plate, "Return of the Mack" could spur understated, zen-like vibes.

 

Oswaldo Arcia, RF 

"La Gringa" by Silvestre Dangond

Grade: B-minus

Vallenato - an age-old form of Colombian folk music - is supposedly experiencing something of a popular revival. Keen to that fact is Arcia, the Twins' fast-rising sophomore slugger from VenezuelaColombian vallenato star Silvestre Dangond is at the forefront of said revival, and his peppy/accordion-spiked "La Gringa" provides a spirited soundtrack to at-bats.

 

Trevor Plouffe, 3B

"Travelling Riverside Blues" by Led Zeppelin

Grade: B-plus

We know this much: Plouffe is all about getting the Led out. For years, he had chosen "When the Levee Breaks," a seven-minute Zeppelin track that didn't translate as a 10-second clip. With "Travelling Riverside Blues," the third baseman goes with a swampy, mid-tempo Zeppelin cover of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. Jimmy Page's distinctive lick helps make this the superior Zep pick.

 

Kurt Suzuki, C

"My Audio" by J-Boog

Grade: C-minus

Remember B2K? Turns out Kurt Suzuki was a fan, as the freshly acquired veteran catcher's choice of "My Audio" comes from J-Boog, a member of the early '00s pop-R&B group. On this song, the Compton, Calif.-reared singer attempts reggae, complete with faux-Jamaican accent. As a walk-up tune, its laid-back poppiness won't inspire much at the plate, so we might be hearing plenty from ascending backup catcher Josmil Pinto.

 

Aaron Hicks, CF

"Creepin' (Solo)" by Chamillionaire

Grade: C

After a disastrous 2013 debut, Hicks needed a change. The former top prospect traded 2Pac for Chamillionaire, an obvious downgrade, and "Creepin'" proves as forgettable as the rest of Chamillionaire's output. The plodding song is somewhat redeemed by the King of the Guest Verse, Ludacris. Hicks, in need of redemption after hitting .192 last year, should be wary of the line "creeping on the low low."

 

Pedro Florimon, SS

"Pa Que Tu Me Saluda" by Don Miguelo feat. El Mayor & Chimbala

Grade: C-

Irritatingly frantic and clubby, Don Miguelo's "Pa Que Tu Me Saluda" isn't much of a song. But if peppy reggaeton-rap manages to inspire something from Florimon at the plate, then the soft-hitting infielder's fast-rapping Dominican countryman will have managed something that's so far avoided the Twins' coaching staff.