Wandy Rodriguez is Rocks Off's new favorite Astro.
Not because the Domincan southpaw has actually posted decent numbers for Houston's hometown cellar-dwellers this year (3-3 W-L, 3.41 ERA, 53 strikeouts), but because Rodriguez has one of the few pieces of "walkup music" - the snippet of a song that plays on the Minute Maid Park PA as a player strolls to the plate - Rocks Off can actually stomach: AC/DC's "TNT." Of course, as a pitcher, Wandy only bats every fourth or fifth day, and then two or maybe three times a game, tops. Now, if only his fastball were that explosive...
Laying to rest what she called a "constant source of intrigue" for Astros fans, Wednesday the team's Senior Director of Social Media, Alyson Footer, posted a list of players' walkup music she compiled with assistant scoreboard operator Nunee Oakes on her MLB.com blog.
Incredibly, the team's taste in music is even worse than its play on the field.
Long gone are the days when Craig Biggio would come up to bat to a different U2 song each time, and headbangin' Jeff Bagwell would psych himself up to hit one out with a little Metallica. Speaking of the Black Album boys, no 'Stros fan could ever forget how juiced the Juice Box would get whenever closer Billy Wagner would stride out of the bullpen to "Enter Sandman."
Today's team, on the other hand, prefers a mix of blingy Autotune rap and the bastard children of Crazy Town, with reggaeton and honky-tonk accents. A few selections from Footer's list:
Clint Barmes (SS): Nonpoint, "In The Air Tonight" Michael Bourn (CF): Birdman & Lil Wayne, "Get Your Shine On" Chris Johnson (3B): Rick Ross, "Blowin' Money Fast" Jason Michaels (OF): Hollywood Undead, "Hear Me Now; Five Finger Death Punch, "The Bleeding" J.R. Towles (C): Stoney LaRue, "Down in Flames" Carlos Lee (LF): Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina, "Stereo Love"; Fuego, "Que Buena Tu Ta" Bud Norris (P): Sick Puppies, "You're Going Down" Hunter Pence (RF): Slipknot , "Before I Forget; Korn, "Coming Undone"
Ouch. Coming undone all right. Rocks Off will give props to injured closer Brandon Lyon for choosing Rob Zombie's "Dragula" and Matt Downs for Lil Troy et. al.'s H-Town classic "Wanna Be a Baller," even though we had no idea who Downs even was until we looked him up on the team's home page. (He's a reserve infielder currently batting .249.)
Rocks Off consulted the head of our Rap Bureau, Shea Serrano, for an assessment of the 'Stros' hip-hop choices, and the results were mixed. Jason Bourgeoise, an outfielder currently on the 15-day disabled list, scored some points for choosing underground Houston rapper Propain's "Say I Won't," although another of his choices, Bun B and T-Pain's "Trillionaire," Serrano says, "stinks."
T.I., also a favorite of Bourgeoise and first baseman Brett Wallace, is "proper... generally a safe bet for that sort of thing," Serrano tells us, though Bourne's choice of "Get Your Shine On," is "forgettable in its predictability." Shea's highest marks went to Johnson - "Blowin' Money Fast," he says, was one of the best songs of 2010: "It seems a good fit for intro music."
As we studied the list, especially the dreads-and-piercings tunes preferred by Barmes, Michaels, Norris, Pence and pitcher Brett Myers (who chose a different Nonpoint song and Kid Rock's "Forever"), Rocks Off couldn't help but wonder if the Astros' tin ears might have something to do with their dismal showing in the standings thus far this year - 19-31 after taking two of three from the Dodgers, still last in the National League.
So we emailed Ms. Footer to find out.
"I doubt their poor performance is music-related, but last year they did mix things up during a particularly bad losing stretch," she says. "They swapped out their music for the cheesiest tunes they could come up with - Katy Perry's 'California Gurls' and such. It was a lot better, to be honest."
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Come to think of it, the Astros did put together one of their patented second-half surges last year, which didn't quite get the team to the playoffs or even .500, but did at least get them out of the cellar. Could similar things be in store for this season?
"I did hear country music permeating from the clubhouse this morning before the game, so there is hope for these guys yet," Footer says.