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What’s up with the walk-up music? Pittsburgh Pirates players explain

Bucs Vlog: Opening Day is days away for Pirates

Spring training in Bradenton for the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates is winding down, and Opening Day of the regular season is days away -- March 29 in Detroit. The final home game for the spring at LECOM Park is Monday, March 26, against the Philadelphia
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Spring training in Bradenton for the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates is winding down, and Opening Day of the regular season is days away -- March 29 in Detroit. The final home game for the spring at LECOM Park is Monday, March 26, against the Philadelphia

From the songs blaring through the speakers during early spring workouts at Pirate City to the songs heard throughout Grapefruit League games at LECOM Park, music is unavoidable in baseball.

For the players, music in the game comes in the form of a walk-up song for a batter or for a relief pitcher exiting the bullpen.

But exactly how does a player choose one song over another and does a hot or cold streak keep or change the walk-up song?

Well, it depends on the player.

“(It’s) why baseball is so good, it brings together so many personalities,” Pirates outfielder Bryce Brentz said. “You see what people like and what they don’t. And most of the time all the guys have heard all the songs before, so we all listen to one big melting pot.”

That can range from country to Latin, rap, hip-hop, alternative rock, heavy metal and everything else.

Brentz said he usually picks a country song, though he hasn’t figured out one for the 2018 season yet.

First baseman Josh Bell also said this year’s walk-up song is up in the air.

Last year, Dr. Dre’s “Keep Their Heads Ringin’” served as Bell’s musical choice upon strolling to the batter’s box.

“It kind of stuck, so I kept that for awhile,” Bell said. “I might start off with this year.”

With part of the chorus in the song going “Ring ding dong” coupled with Bell’s last name, it was a perfect match.

Meanwhile, second baseman Josh Harrison has, arguably, the most unique walk-up music each year of his MLB career.

Harrison enlists his family, namely brother Shaun and a cousin, rapper Oski Isaiah, to come up with his walk-up song.

“I’m big on family,” Harrison said. “They’re my biggest supporters. Our family growing up was always close-knit. Anytime I can have family represent me, I’m going to take them with me.”

Shaun’s song, “I’m the Man,” accompanied Josh through his minor league career and became a hit with Pittsburgh fans once he received his big league promotion.

But position players aren’t the only ones that have music signaling their arrival to the field.

Relief pitchers leaving the bullpen have their own walk-up songs.

Probably the most identifiable one was Mariano Rivera. The former star closer for the New York Yankees had Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as his closer anthem.

“They had a ceremony for Mariano in New York and the Giants, we, happened to be there,” said reliever George Kontos, who joined the Pirates last August after clearing waivers from the San Francisco Giants. “So Metallica played in center field as Mariano walked in to ‘Enter Sandman’ live from the bullpen. The night before that, (Metallica) played a Sirius XM-radio free concert at the Apollo Theater. And I’ve ended up becoming pretty good friends with one of their band managers over the years out in the Bay area. He left us tickets. We sat second row and it was 550 people in this place. It was insane. I couldn’t hear straight for three days. It was incredible.”

Kontos is a big Metallica fan, and said he’s seen them six or seven times in concert.

Up until this season, Kontos has had three songs play for his arrival from the bullpen.

The first one was Eminem’s “Till I Collapse,” followed by Metallica’s “Harvester of Sorrow,” and “Master of Puppets.”

Each one lasted two years.

Kontos said Eminem is his favorite rapper and Metallica is his favorite band.

He also said he thinks “Master of Puppets” will stick.

Regardless of what the song choice is, baseball and music are intertwined now and the foreseeable future.

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