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Baseballs to the Wall

If you’ve ever attended a Major League baseball game, you might have noticed most of the music is terrible. Most players enter the game to bad rap, jock metal, butt rock, or country. In an average game, a crowd will be exposed to more than 75 snippets of modern music. The shoddy music is tolerable because it blends into the fabric of the game. Given enough time, Five Finger Death Punch fades into Lil’ Jon … which fades into Toby Keith … and you get Five Finger Lil’ Toby Keith.

However, there is one time during a baseball game when a player’s entrance/introductory music matters. When a closer takes the mound, it’s one of the most exciting moments in a Major League baseball game. As the closer leaves the bullpen and jogs toward the mound, if he’s at his home stadium, the PA begins to blare his entrance song. The music helps to pump up the crowd and the pitcher – or at least that’s the theory. Over time, the closer’s song becomes indelibly linked to the closer himself.

Given metal’s characteristics, it shouldn’t be surprising that a number of closers have used songs from metal or related genres. Mariano Rivera, for instance, famously jogged out to “Enter Sandman” for years. The song fit him perfectly: his signature cut fastball put fear into batters’ hearts, and then it put them back on the bench. My current favorite closer/music combo is John Axford of the Brewers. Axford enters the game to the Refused’s “New Noise,” which means he Wins The Internet.

Here are a few other metal/hardcore/punk songs used by closers:

AC/DC – “Hell’s Bells”
Killswitch Engage – “The End of Heartache”
Guns N’ Roses – “Welcome to the Jungle”
Deep Purple – “Smoke on the Water”
Nine Inch Nails – “Hurt” (also not metal, but seriously, NIN! In a baseball game!)
Rage Against the Machine – “Killing in the Name”
Dropkick Murphys – “Shipping Up to Boston” (appropriately, it’s used by the Boston Red Sox’s former closer)

Alright, here’s the deal: In 2012, at least a dozen teams have lost or replaced a closer due to injury or ineffectiveness. Numerous new closers will jog to the mound this year, and they each need songs. If you could choose a closer’s entrance music, what song would he use?

Oh, and don’t forget, your song will be played on sunny summer Sundays in front of thousands of ballpark attendees and hundreds of thousands of television viewers. I once went to a baseball game with a coworker and his son. The son asked who Thor was, and my coworker answered, “A comic book character”. He didn’t want his son to have any inkling that another culture worshipped Thor as a god.

Keep that guy in mind when you choose your song. If you offend him, he doesn’t show up, and if he doesn’t show up, your team doesn’t get paid. That means no cussing, no gore, and no sex. Dirty/harsh vocals are fine, but only up to a point. Demilich and Ashdautas are out of the question.

Here are my top five choices:

. . .

Kataklysm – “The Ambassador of Pain” from Serenity in Fire

. . .

The music’s a mix of blasting to get our closer and the crowd pumped, and groove to help our closer establish his rhythm. It’s perfect for a loose cannon. The song says, “I throw 100 mph and I don’t know where it’s going, but I can still drill you in the fucking ribs anytime I want to.”

. . .

Hollenthon – “Woe to the Defeated” from With Vilest of Worms to Dwell

. . .

I’d only use the first 1:45 or so of “Woe”, which features male choirs chanting. It’s big, bold, bombastic, and energizing. It’s also perfect for warming up: it starts with a stately, methodical bounce, and then the guitars drop in and things get fast and exciting. Also, how awesome is it to tell your opponent that you feel woe for them before you defeat them?

. . .

Iron Maiden – “Sun and Steel” from Piece of Mind

. . .

First, this song is stupidly catchy. Second, I think there’s a parallel between the song’s subject, Yukio Mishima, and a MLB pitcher. Both are freaks of nature trained to near-perfection, and both live on the razor’s edge between success and total failure. Both make their legends via a series of duels. I can see an elite closer running to the mound to “Sun and Steel,” the sun on his back, a twinge in his elbow, knowing that today could be his last.

. . .

Pharaoh – “I am the Hammer” from The Longest Night

. . .

Yup, some power metal. What’d you expect from me? Anyway, the curve ball has many nicknames, the best of which is The Hammer. Closers are hammers, nailing down the end of the game. Calling yourself The Hammer sounds awesome. Need I go on? Here are the opening lyrics: “Forged in fire, but cold as ice / I will spare no sacrifice / You’ll pay with tears shed in mortal fright / All shall fear the hammer’s strike.”

. . .

Penderecki – “Polymorphy”

. . .

This piece is fucking terrifying. Terrifying is one of Penderecki’s calling cards, along with discomfiting, noisy, ominous, and evil. Use the parts from 7:00 to the end, and the stadium will feel like Death just ran His finger down every spine in attendance. Make sure your closer’s not intimidated, too. The major chord swell at the end just fucks with people’s heads.

Now it’s your turn. What songs would your closer use? Will he have an intimidating piece with swagger? Music that is raw rage? “O Fortuna”? Let us know in the comments!

. . .

At this point, some of our foreign readers are probably flummoxed. I can’t explain baseball to you. Here’s a throwaway alternative: When your football or ice hockey team goes to a sudden death shootout or penalty kick/shot, they play a song for the shooter. Choose the song.

— Richard Street-Jammer

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