In Toronto, it feels a little bit like history repeating. In 1985, the Toronto Blue Jays led the Kansas City Royals 3-1 to lose three straight, handing the Royals the American League Championship Series. For Blue Jays fans, there has been some hostility toward their Kansas City counterparts for this blown opportunity.
Jump to this year: The Blue Jays started the series down two to the Royals in this season’s ALCS, before rebounding in Game 3. With Kansas City but one game away from repeating 1985, the Royals are on the brink of their second-straight World Series. However, that one game failed to materialize in Game 5, when the Blue Jays beat the Royals 7-1 on the back of a blown umpire call to force a Game 6.
For two never-say-die teams, this series is evolving to be one of the best pairings in this post-season. The Royals – with their strong bullpen and formidable defense – were considered a favorite in this post-season. The Blue Jays, however, have proven this year that they play best when cornered, defeating the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series after starting the series 0-2.
“We’ve been through a bunch of hurdles all year,” Blue Jays outfielder Chris Colabello told Fox News. “We were 7 1/2 games (back) at the deadlines. … We had to claw back from that. We were down two games back in the division series and we clawed back from that. I’ll tell you what, we’re going to leave everything we have out there.”
The Heartbeat of a Series
As the world tunes in to watch this tug-of-war battle continue in Game 6 in Kansas City, it will be the Royals’ entrance music that frames the fight at Kauffman Stadium. It is easy to overlook how 15 seconds (or less) of music can affect anything, but in reality, the music played while a player moves from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box or from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound can undermine or make that player’s performance.
“The snippet of song you’ve chosen has to make you want to hit a baseball really freaking hard,” wrote Jay Tymkovich in his analysis of what makes a good walk-up song. “Rhythm and sound correlate remarkably well with certain physical actions; some songs make you want to slow dance, just like some songs make you want to jump up and down in a mosh pit. I would hazard a guess that every human being in the world knows a song that burrows deep down into his or her gut, and activates a desire to pick up a club and start smashing.”
For players waiting to take the field, walk-up songs are the only chance to intimidate their opponents, rile up the crowd, or psych themselves up. For the crowd, walk-up songs show a side of the player that the average fan would otherwise not be privy to. For many, their favorite player can just as easily be identified by their walk-up song as by the number on their jersey.
As the Royals conclude their matchup with the Blue Jays, we have compiled a list of the Royals players’ entrance music, including the favorites of the hitting and relief pitching squads.
The Kansas City Beat
In Game 1, when Royals catcher Salvador Perez came out to hit his third home run of the post-season, he was introduced to Plan B’s “Fanatica Sensual.” In Game 2, when relievers Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis capped a five-run seventh inning to secure a come-from-behind win, they entered to Tego Calderón’s “El Abayarde” and Dr. Dre’s “Ackrite,” respectively.
Overwhelmingly, Latin music and hip-hop dominates the Royals’ walk-up playlist. According to MLB.com, Alcides Escobar (Zion y Lennox’s “Pierdo la Cabeza”), Edinson Volquez (Maceo’s “Full de Vacaneria”), Johnny Cueto (El Mayor Clasico ft. Shadow Blow’s “Como Antes” and Vakero ft. Kunin’s “Deja tu Envidia”), and Omar Infante (Daddy Yankee’s “Sígueme y Te Sigo”) all enter to a Latino beat. Likewise, Alex Gordon (G-Eazy’s “I Mean It”), Chris Young (Jay-Z’s “Young Forever”), Christian Colon (Meek Mill ft. Rick Ross’s “Off the Corner”), and Lorenzo Cain (Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen”) all enter to hip-hop.
This differs from the league overall, whose players enter to hip-hop and rock primarily. Of note among the Royals’ current walk-up playlist is Ben Zobrist; he enters to his wife Julianna Zobrist’s song “The Dawn.”
As the Royals continue their epic fight against the Blue Jays for the coveted honor of meeting the New York Mets in the World Series, walk-up music will play more of an essential role than ever. While there is no basis for arguing that a walk-up song improves performance, it does directly affect the player’s mindset, which can mean the difference in such a tightly contested matchup.
“Walk-up songs are the ultimate form of expression – a 10-second sample for tens of thousands of a player’s most devoted fans to hear,” wrote baseball blogger Andrew Erickson. “It’s a pretty amazing thing knowing one song can make even more of an impact than John Cusack with a trench coat and a boombox.”