Grading the 2017 Twins' walk-up songs

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Joe loves T.I. AP/Andy Clayton-King; AP/Kevork Djansezian

A certain Beck song best typified last year’s Minnesota Twins.

Can a winning offensive soundtrack in 2017 help reset our squad’s losing ways? Behind pitching, hitting, and defense, after all, the at-bat playlist is the most important element of any baseball team.

It’s a challenge that rests directly with the players themselves, since unlike NASCAR (which promotes corporate personalities) and the NFL (which promotes the absence of personalities), big-leaguers showcase their individualism via walk-up songs.

Ahead of this week’s season-opening series at Target Field, the Twins supplied City Pages with most of those self-selected tracks, allowing for a rare confluence of baseball and music criticism.

Here’s how Minnesota fared at DJing plate appearances.

Brian Dozier

Song: “The Half” by DJ Snake

Welcome to the big city, Dozier. Our power-hitting second baseman began his career with “Dirt Road Anthem,” an apropos bro-country banger for the export of tiny Fulton, Mississippi. Now an All-Star, he’s pivoted to the EDM clubiness of DJ Snake. “The Half” features Snake’s trademark minimalist bleeps ’n’ bloops, with Young Thug, Jeremih, and Swizz Beatz lending their talents. Fresh off a 42-dinger breakout season, Dozier can pick whatever he damn well pleases, even if this particular track is standard-issue club fodder.

Grade: B

Byron Buxton

Song: “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison

Old-school flair from the rising star. At just 23, Buxton is almost too young to be lured by ’90s-kids listicles. No matter, since he clearly remembers the smooth-flowing soulfulness of British R&B one-hit wonder Mark Morrison. Here’s hoping “Return of the Mack” inspires Buxton to return to his late-season play from 2016: The lightning-fast outfielder posted a .936 OPS in September after struggling through most of the year.

Grade: B-

Joe Mauer

Song: “What You Know” by T.I.

This has been Mauer’s jam for a decade-plus, and the irony can’t be lost him. T.I., the swagged-out king of Southern rap, and Mauer, the washed up king of sideburns and politeness, make for odd bedfellows. Still, I can’t help but love this pick. Injuries may have robbed our hometown hero of his powers, but nobody is stealing his unlikely and increasingly classic hip-hop anthem. The beat bangs; the synths rouse; the former MVP knows what he’s doing.

Grade: A-

Miguel Sanó

Song: “Klok Con Klok” by Ceky Viciny

Sanó, who inked up with Jay Z's Roc Nation management firm last year, could have given a nod to Hov. Instead, the muscle-bound youngster went with someone from his home island. Reggaeton artist Viciny is largely unknown to U.S. audiences, but two Dominican-born Twin players – Sanó and Polanco – seem to be fans. Repetitious and rapid, the hard-charging “Klok Con Klok” should act as an audio upper for Sano, who had more homers (37) and walks (96) through 162 games than any player in MLB history, according to baseball writer Aaron Gleeman.

Grade: B+

Max Kepler

Song: “Doin’ Time” by Sublime

Sublime’s Bradley Nowell and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain are the two dead rockers quoted in every ‘90s high school yearbook, and history has been much kinder to the latter. We’ll not wade into the merits of Sublime’s white-boy stoner attempts at ska and reggae. Instead, let’s focus on the fact “Doin’ Time” is simply too chill for the task at hand: smackin’ the skin off baseballs. Kepler, who enjoyed minor success during his rookie year, would be better served dipping into the rock canon of his native Germany -- Rammstein to terrorize pitchers, or Can to baffle ‘em.

Grade: D+

Danny Santana

Song: “Tamo Burlao” by El Fother

Another Dominican baller representing local music. “Tamo Burlao” has more YouTube views (12 million) than the Dominican Republic has citizens (10.6 million). It’s a blazing, hi-hat-heavy rap blitz solely intended to spur ass-shaking. A tall order to give 20,000 Minnesotans (we don’t even move to dance music we choose to hear), though it should energize the fourth-year utility man.

Grade: C

Jorge Polanco

Song: “Te Siento En Para” by Ceky Viciny

Eminem might have an international lawsuit on his hands – the hook from this Viciny tune sounds pretty damn similar to Em's 2002 single "Without Me." Anyway … turns out Viciny kinda sucks. Should Polanco not suck during his first full year in the bigs, the Twins will have finally solved their longstanding issue at shortstop.

Grade: C-

Eduardo Escobar

Song: “Mi Gente” by Héctor Lavoe

We’re going way back to 1974! “Mi Gente” is the signature hit from Puerto Rican salsa great Héctor Lavoe. After losing his starting shortstop gig to Jorge Polanco, Escobar won’t be hearing the bustling bongo- and horn-spiked fiesta with as much frequency, but it’ll be a summertime treat whenever he does take the plate.

Grade: B+

Chris Gimenez

Song: “Kings of Summer” by Ayokay

Well, at least he didn’t pick “Boys of Summer.” Problem is, the track the veteran catcher did select, from a semi-obscure Detroit electronic artist, is ruddered by a trancey, rinky-dink beat, and the softly delivered, pandering, and teen-oriented vocals (“Jumping off the porch like mom’s not home!”) aren’t pumping up any adults in the stands. Apparently Texas Rangers slugger Ian Desmond uses the same song, so it’s not even original.

Grade: C- 

And here are some quick-hitters for walk-up info we didn't get until Opening Day:

Robbie Grossman

Song: "Believer" by Imagine Dragons 

Even by Imagine Dragons standards, this is obnoxious. 

Grade: D

Jason Castro

Song: "The Buzz" by Hermitude 

Hermitude frame beats like Castro frames pitches ... or something. 

Grade: C+

Eddie Rosario

Song: "Me Acostumbre" by Arcángel

Moody, down-tempo rap with 80 million-plus YouTube views. Like Rosario, Arcángel was raised in Puerto Rico.

Grade: C

 


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