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April 5, 2011

What's your walkout theme?

In a weird way, you can tell a lot about someone by their walkout song. Unfortunately, every time someone walks in a room you don't hear a song letting you know just how awesome they are and how much business they mean. I've always felt life would be better with a live soundtrack. Alas, we are not so lucky.

What we do have, however, are the walkout songs for most of the Mississippi State baseball team, thanks to the diligent work of a few unknown graduate assistants in the athletic department. On a team full of freshmen and sophomores, we can take this as an incredibly non-scientific way to get to know some of the Bulldogs.

Michael Wardlaw - yes, THE Michael Wardlaw - and I agreed on what a good walkout song must do, and it is two-fold: get the batter pumped up, and keep the batter focused. In other words, a controlled shot of adrenaline. Baseball is a very mental game, after all.

Below, you'll find some of the players songs - they are split up into hitters and pitchers - along with analysis and a YouTube link for the available songs. After the real ballers, you'll find staff picks from me, Wardlaw, Logan Lowery and Paul Jones, along with a few celebrity picks from around MSU.

Jonathan Ogden Jason Aldean - I Use What I Got
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: As a matter of full disclosure, I'm not a huge country fan, but I like the choice, Mr. Ogden. It's a typical "chip on my shoulder" kind of song, and if this sound gets you going, it's good, though it could use a little more edge. Aldean says, "I use what I got." Well, on the diamond, what I got is a bat, and I'm going to use it to hit a ball. Works for me.

Grade: A-

Daryl Norris Brooks & Dunn - Honky Tonk Stomp (58-1:58)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: There's a really a song called Honky Tonk Stomp? Maybe I need to get out more. Upon listening to the song, I could easily see it being played in a movie over a montage of a minor league team winning a few games. Not my style, but it's pretty high-tempo for country, and not overly so.

Grade: B

Jarrod Parks Justin Moore - Smalltown USA (1:51-end)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: Good song, but, to me at least, it doesn't meet any of the criteria. I guess it makes sense, to a degree, since Parks is a Mississippi kid, but that's about the only redeeming quality. If you're going to go with the Small Town theme, it doesn't get better than John Cougar Mellencamp. Don't fix what ain't broken.

Grade: F

C.T. Bradford Kanye West - Good Life (Radio Clean It 23-1:20)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: In general, I think hip-hop music does a better job of getting the batter both excited and focused. This one fails on both counts. I listen to it, and I feel like I'm slowly strolling down the highway in my old convertible. I'm probably driving into a sunset. I also feel like I might drink a mai-tai and fall asleep within the next hour.

Grade: D-

Jaron Shepherd Wiz Khalifa - Real Estate (Radio Clean Edit 0-35)
Link: (You Tube Video)
(Warning: Clean version unavailable)

Analysis: Ugh. This song makes me dizzy. Which makes me think of that game where people put their forehead on a baseball bat, spin around and then sprint somewhere. That also makes me dizzy. I'm thinking "dizzy" is not an ideal state of mind for swinging at 90mph fastballs.

Grade: D

Nick Vickerson Travis Porter - I Go Bananas (Radio Clean Edit 0-50)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: On pure adrenaline, this song gets an A. On focus, however, this choice fails miserably. Sorry, Nick, but if I had to guess, John Cohen does not want anyone going bananas. Credit to the song writers, though, for making a song about bananas that doesn't just sound ridiculous.

Grade: B-

Cody Freeman Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: Dear Cody: Can we be friends? Please? At this point in the competition, this is the best choice. This is one of the few low-tempo songs that can actually get you pumped. So long as the 30 second clip includes the drums, this is solid. Anything that makes me think of Mike Tyson knocking someone out is probably good.

Grade: A

Ryan Collins Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train (0-33)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: Finally. Thank you, Ryan. This is what we're looking for. It's a got a fantastic intro, wicked guitar solo in the middle and adrenaline-pumping vocals throughout. Classic rock had it right, and props to Ryan for finding good music, even if it came out before he was born.

Grade: A+

C.C. Watson Coolio - Gangster's Paradise (Radio Clean Edit 50-end)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: Yes. A thousand times yes. C.C. is from Heflin, Alabama, which I assume is a Gangster's Paradise.

Grade: A+

Chris Stratton Marvin Gaye - Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: This kid gets it. It's all about the classics. If you don't think this song can get the blood a-pumpin', you obviously haven't seen Remember the Titans. I feel like the love of my life is waiting on me, if I can only hit a home run.

Grade: A

Devin Jones Atreyu - Becoming the Bull (0-2:08)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: Devin comes to the mound with a significant amount of angst, it appears. It makes me feel like a loner, but that fits for a pitcher, stranded by themselves on this small dirt island in the middle of a green field. Anger surely doesn't hurt a fastball, right?

Grade: B

Nick Routt MGMT - Electric Feel
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: As soon as I glanced at his song, I saw a two word title with the first word "electric." I immediately got excited thinking it would be Electric Avenue (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtPk5IUbdH0). I'm sorry, Nick, but you're a victim of expectations. Electric Avenue would've been an automatic A. Apologies, but you never had a chance.

Grade: C-

Kendall Graveman Young Jeezy - I Put On (Radio Clean Edit 0-2:00)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Analysis: When it comes to rap/hip-hop, this is exactly what we're looking for. Impeccable choice, Kendall. You'll recall this song was playing when there was near fight between MSU and Florida on Scott Field back in 2009. For comparison's sake, "I put on for my city" is equivalent to "Grindin' for my State."

Grade: A+

Bob Carskadon The Who - Baba O'Reilly (Teenage Wasteland)
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: If I could use a smoke machine and strobe lights as I exited the dugout, I might go with the intro to Welcome to the Jungle. However, that's not an option, and Teenage Wasteland is as good as it gets. It's the perfect balance of excitement and passion, with clear focus. It's high-tempo, but in a very structured way. The balance of the keyboard, bass, guitar and drums emphasize an important element in any sport - teamwork.

Michael Wardlaw Audioslave - Cochise
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: While there are several viable options for a quality walkout song... I'll go with Cochise by Audioslave. It just isn't possible to listen to the intro to this song and not get "jacked up". Try it...you'll see what I mean.

Analysis: Look at Wardlaw trying to be young and hip.

Paul Jones Don Henley - Boys of Summer
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: My walkout song actually in high school was Boys of Summer by Don Henley. One of my favorite songs of all-time, and naturally, it has the baseball theme to it as well in the title.

Analysis: If you'd have chosen anything recorded after 1985, Paul, I'd have been worried.

Logan Lowery Megadeth - Crush 'em
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: My walkout music back when I was in high school was the chorus to Crush 'Em by Megadeth. I have no idea or either don't remember what made me chose that at the time. If I had it to pick today, it wouldn't be my choice, but I decided to go with that since it was my actual walkout music back in my prime.

Analysis: Back in your "prime." That's cute.

Gregg Ellis, MSU basketball sports information director Queen and David Bowie - Under Pressure
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: Hey, I'm a PR guy. We're always under pressure, but in a calm way that's reflected in the song's tempo.

Analysis: Slam dunk, Gregg. Or home run, in this situation. This selection makes me second-guess my own. A lot of bad music came out of the '80s, but this is a magnificent collaboration. And all you Vanilla Ice haters can just back off. His is dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun, chh. Under Pressure is dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun. It's totally different.

Brad Locke, MSU beat writer, Daily Journal George Strait - Heartland
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: I don't hear enough country walkout songs, but if you walk out to George Strait, people know you ain't foolin' around.

Analysis: If you say so, Brad. Personally, that wouldn't be my first thought. But I'm not here to burst bubbles, just to make fun of you for being out of touch.

David Miller, MSU beat writer, Columbus/Starkville Dispatch Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: As a hitter, the song title speaks for itself. And since it's indie hip-hop, most everyone in the stadium would be introduced to new music.

Analysis: I have to give you points for having the best logic in your reasoning. Also, hard to argue with droppin' knowledge and exposing fans to more culture on a college campus. I find your selection difficult to ridicule.

Brandon Marcello, MSU beat writer, Clarion-Ledger MacGyver Theme Song
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: What other song starts off with a Nintendo NES-like cue at the beginning that quickly kicks into high gear and finds a pulsating beat? Plus, as a pitcher, I'd diffuse any situation like the titular character or, at the plate, put up so many runs the scoreboard would explode (in stereo where available).

Analysis: While the song is acceptable, we need to work on your pop culture references. I'm not sure Nintendo-NES is still hip. However, I like where your head is at, which is a step in the right direction.

Matt Stevens, MSU beat writer, Starkville Daily News Green Day - Know Your Enemy
Link: (You Tube Video)

Why?: While I support sportsmanship at all levels of sports - I do also believe sports is one of the few aspects of our lives in which there are two sides competing and can for a few hours consider themselves enemies for that period of time before going back to being caring, compassionate human beings. What makes the now diluted word of "rivalry" mean something special is when the two teams competing seriously don't like each other. It makes the star players on those teams seem like yes, the enemy.

Analysis: I've always thought Green Day is punk rock for people who aren't really punks. That doesn't apply to anything. But clearly, you're thinking a little too much. That explains why you're a writer, not a player.

Matt also added his warm-up song if he were a closer: "I've never understood why a closer in Major League Baseball has never come out to "Closing Time" by Semisonic. It's clever, catchy and defines your role on the club perfectly. Plus if you get a cult following as that tends to happen with closers on a baseball team, I guarantee your hardcore fans will sing the entire song as you jog from the bullpen and warm up."
(You Tube Video)

Good call, Matt. Good call.

Mississippi State NEWS


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