Walk-up Music Rankings 2014: The Starting Rotation

In the spirit of March Madness and NBA Playoffs, I had intended here to create a bracket in which we would pit the Mariners walk-up songs in a gladiatorial, mano-a-mano competition by which we could ultimately determine who has the ultimate taste in walk-up songs. Having subsequently looked at how much effort that would take (read: more than 20 minutes worth), I have decided against it in lieu of a more traditional, “lets rank these motherfuckers like I’m writing for Buzzfeed” style.

Let’s break this down the criteria by which they will be judged.

Fit – The first category here will pertain to the interaction between player and song. This takes a couple of factors into account – is the song emblematic of the player? Does this song somehow provide us with greater insight into the man behind the uniform? Bonus points can be awarded in this category for weirdly inappropriate fits – think something along the lines of Jon Rocker walking up to that John Legend song from Selma, Delmon Young walking up to “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” or Ichiro walking up to a song about having friends.

Inherent Song-ness – Is the song good? Does it suck ass? Does it suck enough aforementioned ass so as to be entertaining? Is there some clear intentionality underlying the choice of the aforementioned but still unnamed ass-sucking song that could make me believe that it was a clever choice rather than simply a shitty one? Does that forgive the player for knowing the ass-suck song well enough to employ it in an ironic capacity, knowing that for it to even come to mind as something they could leverage as a joke they probably had to hear it a few times already anyway? And if they are in fact listening to this song enough to be able to call on it in an ironic way, is there a chance they are basically just doing this as a smokescreen to cover up their miserable tastes like how I laugh furtively when Fall Out Boy comes on via Spotify but do nothing to actually change it?

Baseball-ness – Does the song mention baseball or games or baseball games?

Having concluded the front matter, if you will, here are the starting pitchers for your Seattle Mariners:

5 – J.A. Happ – “Hysteria” by Muse.

JA Happ is the new kid on the block and it remains to be seen whether he maintains the track he was using last year. Let’s assume so because repressive content quotas and making wild assumptions are the bedrock of sports journalism.

Based on the title alone, I am a little disturbed if this song actually “fits” Happ at all. I prefer my pitchers to be sub-hysterical whenever possible. Sans-hysterical if they can pull it off.

As far as inherent song-ness goes, this is an OK song. That being said it is featured prominently in the Twilight soundtrack which takes it down a couple of notches through no fault of its own.

They actually DO play a game of baseball in Twilight (which this song is featured in). In fact, they even have a goddamn music video that features the game. That being said, by looking up this song, realizing it was in the Twilight soundtrack and then subsequently realizing that they played baseball in that movie, I was reminded that I have seen Twilight which is an unpleasant revelation.

Conclusion: Fuck you JA Happ’s walk-up song for reminding me that I have seen probably about 60% of the Twilight series. Last place.

 

4 – Roenis Elias – “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony

Props to Roenis for keeping it real with the random Marc Anthony deep cuts. As a player from Cuba with a pretty fascinating origin story I can certainly get behind the choice as it reflects music that Elias actually listens to. I would prefer if he had chosen “Hero” by Enrique Inglesias but that might be more of a preference on my part than anything else (read: esta noche).

The title to the song itself is “Live my life” in Spanish. This brings up a few interesting questions that we should sort through before we come to any conclusions. Whose life is being lived here? Is this a call to action for the listener to bang Jennifer Lopez and otherwise live the life of Marc Anthony, Latin pop-music sensation? Or is this instead just a call for the listener to identify with the lyricist which would render the title as an urging towards self-actualization and authenticity. Either way it seems kinda gay so I’m going to go ahead and put it in 4th place, narrowly edging Happ since the song has Spanish in it and Robinson Cano speaks Spanish.

 

3 – James Paxton “???” by  “???”

I have no idea what Paxton’s walk-up song is. It wasn’t listed in the first result I saw in the google search, but I am going ahead and putting his song in 3rd because I love James Paxton.

 

2 – Felix Hernandez “All Hail the King” by Avenged Sevenfold

So I primarily know Avenged Sevenfold as a band I am retrospectively embarrassed to have liked in middle school. Regardless, the song chosen here has some pretty clear parallels to Felix’ monarchal moniker which, for me, warranted inclusion in the upper-tier of this list. That being said, there was research to be done.

Having migrated to Wikipedia, I came upon this weirdly existing Gantt chart showing the timelines of the various contributors to the band over the years. Sharing below with no permission:

a7x

Wow those are some fucking names. M. Shadows, Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance have stayed true to the cause for years, resounding the faux-metal bugles heralding our own monarch’s trips to the mound with aplomb. I think the Rev died so that’s a bummer. As to the rest of these clowns, props to Johnny Christ for sticking with the crew after hopping on the ole A7X bandwagon following the untimely maybe-demise of Demon Ash who sounds like a fuckboy.

1 – Hisashi Iwakuma – “Feel this Moment” by Pitbull

Fuckin A.

Nothing says baseball quite like a Japanese pitcher walking to the mound to the overproduced sound of a son of a pair of Cuban expats by way of Miami—that is, Pitbull’s dulcet tones serenading crowds to the collective squelches of corona-lubed panties dropping in a Tuscon night club.

Love in this club. Indeed.

2015 NBA Playoff Preview: Eastern Conference, Round 1

Listen. Listen. Listen. That’s how I’ve been taught to get people’s attention—just repeating the word listen. Are you listening?

It’s been a while since I’ve written basketball things, but, like, it’s NBA basketball season 2.0, the never-ending, highlight-manufacturing, circus show that ends the never-ending, highlight-manufacturing, circus show that is the NBA season in a burning blaze of glory. And I should have plenty in the tank so to speak, since I haven’t exactly availed of the aforementioned idiomatic tank in a veritable long ass time.

Atlanta Hawks (1) v. Brooklyn Nets (8)

Alright, so Kyle Korver narrowly missed being the only dude ever to make the 90-50-50 club (with a paltry 89.8 FT%, 49.2 3PT%, 48.7 FG%), but let’s be honest and admit that back in November, this was what we, the basketball elite, and Hawks fans from Macedonia to Decatur were positive was going to be the most memorable thing the Hawks did this year.

Yet somehow Coach Mike Budenholzer has orchestrated a magical season, turning a watery (pretty muddy water at that) lineup into a fine, 60-win vintage with notes of juniper berry that finish with savory, peppery undertones (read: Coach Bud is Jesus, which makes Greg Popovich God). Four of the starters made the All-Star game, only the seventh time in the history of the NBA. Collectively, they balance the 10th best offense that assists the second highest total in the NBA with the 5th best defense—all without anyone averaging more than 17 points or 33 minutes per game (both: Paul Millsap).

The Hawks have given us shades of the Spurs-East, and at times have been the most entertaining team to watch in the NBA (sorry I’m not sorry, Steve Kerr). This has been in large part due to the revelation Al Horford has been, putting up numbers not unlike The Big Fundamental Tim Duncan, himself.

               Player A: 18.0p, 8.4r, 3.8a, 1.5b, 53.8fg%, 21.4 PER, 8.7 WS

               Player B: 17.3p, 11.4r, 3.7a, 2.4b, 51.2fg%, 22.6 PER, 9.6 WS

Hold the suspense. Horford is Player A. Let’s keep in mind, Horford played only 29 games last season and 11 games two seasons before that.

Lastly, in your NBA playoff bacchanalia that I’ve been assured other people do as well and is a perfectly normal ass thing to do in celebration of the greatest sports event ever, don’t’ forget to pour one out for Thabo.

PREDICTION: Give me the broom. Give me the broom. *sung to Biggie’s “Give Me the Loot.” Hawks sweep.

Toronto Raptors (4) v. Washington Wizards (5)

This will be the second most intriguing matchup in the East. 2 things to watch out for besides the backcourt battle:

  1. Toronto GM Masai Ujiri launching another f-bomb in a pre-playoff game hype train spinning off a geopolitical beef with Paul Pierce that may or may not include POTUS, launch codes, and chants of Buck the FlueJays till infinite.
  2. What banal and innocuous hygiene tool will DRAKE! turn into one of the most brilliant marketing schemes of the year? What could possibly be better than lint rollers? Floss? Toenail clippers (wait, Steve Ballmer, did we just stumble into something together?!)? Hair curlers? Those tiny paper cups that fancy people keep in a dispenser for rinsing mouthwash? Indentured servants? Lest we forget, since DRAKE! officially partnered with the Raptors organization as “Trill Ass Global Skrilla Ambassador” or T.A.G.S.A., they have gone from a 34-win team that hadn’t made the playoffs in 5 years to one of the best teams in the shitty Eastern Conference to get bounced in the first round.

PREDICTION: Toronto will make it to the second round for the first time since 2001 and for only their second time in franchise history. It will take all 7 games, a whole goddamn country’s sheer force of will, and a Jimmy Brooks type effort.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (2) v. Boston Celtics (7)

Kyrie Irving has never played in a playoff game before. Neither has Kevin Love. The Celtics are surging. Brad Stevens is a wiz. All true statements. There’s also this:

Oof, harumph, and bazinga. Lebron James in the playoffs has averaged 28.0p, 6.4a, 8.4r on a crazy 48.2 fg% in an inhuman 42.7 playoff minutes per game. 2013 Finals, Game 6:

2008 First Round, Game 1 (LBJ first career playoff game):

2013 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 7:

2013 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 1:

2009 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 2:

2014 Finals:

He may just eat your babies:

PREDICTION: Cavs in 5.

 

Chicago Bulls (3) v. Milwaukee Bucks (6)

This matchup is super duper fun times for basketball wonks. The Bulls find themselves in a rare position where they’re facing a statistically superior defense come playoff time (although marginally so)—97.4 pts Bucks allowed per game v. 97.8 Bulls allow. Oddly, the Bucks score precisely the amount of points the Bulls allow—97.8. Jason Kidd has turned this band of long-armed avatars into the 8th best defense in the league with the most steals per game (9.6), all while sharing the ball at the 7th best clip with 23.6 assists per game. Unfortunately, the hustle J Kidd has inculcated into his young shapeshifters come at the cost of rebounds. They rank 24th in the rebounds while the Bulls tally the 3rd best rebounding rate in the NBA. Have I mentioned the Bucks height yet though? The starters come in averaging 6’9”, of which they’ll need every inch to corral Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, while staving off a deep and talented Bulls front court. The major storyline for the Bulls: emergence and resurgence.

Pau Gasol playing like it’s 2005, bumping Lil Wayne on his 512 GB iPod Shuffle on the way to a cool 18.5p on an alarming 49.5 fg% and even more alarming 46.2 3pt%—oh yeah, and there’s the career high in rebounding (11.8).

Nikola Mirotic making the case for Rookie of the Year and James (Harden) Beard Award honors averaging 20.8p, 7.6r on 44.1 fg% in just 30.8 mpg in March.

Jimmy Butler emerging as a go to offensive player in addition to the nightly guard-the-best-perimiter-player role he’s so dutifully filled the last few years; in addition to resurging this past month, following a few weeks of a bona fide injury scare.

Taj Gibson also coming back from injury in the last month to put up solid double-double-esque numbers.

Joakim Noah finally moving the floor like the 20something he is, running the floor, getting those assist numbers up from 3.5 in January to 7.2 in March.

Derrick Rose suiting up at all.

PREDICTION: Jason Kidd will find a way to get fined sans spilling drinks (though he’ll undoubtedly think about it), and it’ll be the most entertaining defensive slugfest you’ve ever seen. Bulls in 6

 

Doodads and Knickknacks

 

MVP for Lebron

Lebron James is a phenomenal basketball player and deserves the MVP award.

From a statistical standpoint, he scores more than Steph Curry but less than Harden. He assists more than Harden, but less than Curry. He outrebounds them all. He has the highest field goal percentage on the highest attempts. He is without a doubt the best defender of the group.

Then there’s the how-valuable-is-he-to-the-team wrinkle that gives blowhards like Colin Cowherd the leeway to say stupid shit on airwaves like Russell Westbrook is the second coming of Shaft and White Jesus.

But ultimately, I think it comes down to this: the Cavs we’re looking at now didn’t exist 12 months ago. The coach is new. Two of the three best players are new, and only four players remain from last season’s roster. Whereas the Golden State Warriors are effectively the same team. Even the Houston Rockets’ continued core brain trust of Kevin McHale, James Harden, Dwight Howard and those three other dudes that were also on the roster last season positively impacted this season’s record. If continuity establishes trust, which is the bedrock of the game within the game, the turnover and new environments must be considered. That James could perform comparably to Curry and Harden in brand new (old) conditions, points to his deservingness.

I tried to start this section with something like “Stephen Curry and James Harden have had prodigious years…” I really did try, and they totally have. But fuck that. I get it. Nobody likes to see the same person win everything for forever. But the shear amount of articles I get bombarded with about the closeness of this MVP race that don’t actually go into the argument for Lebron James is an insult. We only get Lebron for like another 5 years. Maybe. He deserves all of it. Everything.

Pitchforks for Michael Jordan

I had the good fortune of stumbling onto the below beauty of a quote from the G.O.A.T., His Royal Airness Michael Jordan. In a 2010 interview with CNBC, Jordan prophesized, “Ultimately, if you can say that I’m a bad owner and we’re winning championships, I can live with that. But if we’re not making the playoffs and we’re spending and losing money, then I have to look in the mirror and say maybe I’m not taking the necessary steps to doing what it takes to run an organization.” If by some miracle, MJ ever happened upon this paragraph (he won’t), I want to maintain a semblance of respect and dignity (a first), so I won’t say the thing I really want to say (also a first). I wouldn’t venture to say eat crow, but maybe the lackluster performance as owner is having disastrous effects on the legacy of MJ? Pish posh and thimbles and stuff. We love you anyway, you gambling, self-aggrandizing, conceited, arrogant, bald, beautiful old-ladykiller, you.

Bitterness and Glee Reign, Man

Last night, Shawn Kemp hosted a party in celebration of the Thunder missing the playoffs. It was amazing. Or at least, I think it was. I have kids and was building a bunk bed from IKEA while everyone was getting turnt at Neumos. Thank god for Twitter:

Open Letter to our Luckswing.com™ Reader

Dear embattled reader,

Since the beginning of time,

From the advent of the written word,

Ever since the dawn of mankind,

When the sun sets, it’s the moon’s time to shine!

We need help. Such is that indeed.

For those of you who check Luckswing.comTM twice or thrice a day (many, almost certainly) to bask in the opining of thought leaders, such as we are, in the respective fields of Mariners baseball, NBA basketball, and profound ponderings like “What is Love?,” you may have noticed a conspicuous absence these past several months.

The truth is, we became too successful.

Hmm, yes.

Such is that indeed.

Like J. Cole riding that wild mixtape hype train to Dollar and a Dream, we had scrapped and hustled our way to the pinnacle of bougie, critically-acclaimed sports writing. That’s right, we were your favorite sports writer’s favorite sports writers.

But just like our man Cole Cole World could tell you and has often reminded us, it’s a cold cold world out there for a pimp who makes a shitty debut album and suddenly owes hella capital to the record label. (Hmm, yes. Such is that indeed.) We—like our favstar Hollywood Cole—had spun our wheels into oblivion writing strictly for the fans. Not the ones we had, but the Sapphic ones;—the ones we wanted;—the ones we lusted after. (Read: we were basically targeting all of our ads at people who read Jezabel and Thought Catalogue)

We gave them what we thought they wanted (read: our big, gargantuan divergent jokes), spurned the trials and tribulations of our origin story (read: Gilgamesh’s prolific procreation), and neglected that essential truth of what had brought us all that hype in the first place (read: THE LOVE OF THE GAME).

We monetized.

We sold out.

We C.R.E.A.M.ed. So hard. (I’ve been wearing black pants for like 6 months – J)

We needed to re-group. For ourselves. For our fan.

In our efforts to monetize, we lost sight of the readermen. Caught as we were in the cycle of universal praise and approbation, we rendered you as an abstract collective – milling in the pit as we shouted from the dais rather than a participant in the dialogue of our mutual passions. We now move to curb our unexamined solipsism, to speak honestly to the bedraggled, content-fiending everyman for which our project began. You, the bluish-white-collar multitude, sitting behind computer screens for 9 hours a day with nary a tab to yourself, your khakis stained in passionate exertion, your collar folded with neglect—this is for you.

We have taken this hiatus to re-strategize, re-positioning the re-Luckswing.comTM firm to be even more re-successful than ever. Like our man Jermaine rising like a fiery bird from the ashes to find new heights of bougie-ness and acclaim (by returning home, that is), we too are resurgent.

Already, we have broken math. As in we can’t even calculate how much more we’ve written with this single post than in over the last two months. Seriously. Try it. You can’t divide by 0. Suck it, Pythagoras! Such is that indeed;—and in deed!

As a symbol of our new brand which symbolizes the rampant symbolism of renewed dedication, clarity of thought, and altitude of vision you will note the new logo.

Red, the blood of our earnest, earnest hearts.

Black, the way our hearts once were, and will never be again.

(Basically a sunburned Cajun salmon filet, if you squint at the screen and have an old-ish monitor).

And if you look under a microscope at the letter U, a portrait of either founders on each end, that if printed with a 3-D printer becomes a micro-bust. Trust us. This year is going to be a kicker!

Sincerely,

Joey Kern & Dujie Tahat