The Atlanta Braves are rebuilding with a young team, and while they might not be threatening the National League East this season, their players are talented and exciting. As it turns out, they're also pretty versatile when it comes to their musical tastes.
Going up and down the Braves' lineup when it comes to walk-up tunes reveals a vast variety of influences and inspirations. You'll find new country and Southern hip-hop, which both fit the Hotlanta demographic to a tee, and some surprises, such as Clint Sammons' worldly, jam-friendly choice of Dave Matthews.
MLB.com/Entertainment has been getting to the bottom of the Major League tradition of walk-up music all season long by going from clubhouse to clubhouse and soliciting cutting-edge commentary from the players, the organizational brass, and some of the best music critics in the business. Song choices have changed over the course of the 2008 campaign for various -- and often superstitious -- reasons, but rest assured that we're featuring the songs straight from the players' plate play lists at press time.
Here are the Braves' chants:
Gregor Blanco, OFSong: "Conteo" by Don Omar and Juelz Santana
Blanco: "This is what I hear in my country, Venezuela, and this sort of lets people know where I'm from. That's reggaeton, and when it goes '1,2,3,4,' that's sort of what I'm doing for my team. I'm leading off. It definitely gets me ready."
Critic commentary: "The speedy Venezuelan outfielder keeps it simple with this reggaeton hit from the 'Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift' soundtrack. Omar and Santana count it off -- '1, 2, 3, 4' -- with each verse. Think of it as a 'Sesame Street' counting song that would make your ears bleed and have your little one asking, 'Why is Mr. Omar yelling at me?'" -- Jim Welte, freelance music writer
Kelly Johnson, 2BSong: "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine
Johnson: "I was just going through my iPod and listening to beats and parts of songs that I think would be good. I wanted the type of song that fans would kind of recognize so they could get into it. I think this kind of mixes it up and it's not the same old stuff that you usually hear."
Critic commentary: "Zack de la Rocha spits rap-metal fire as easily as Kelly has been spraying the gaps lately (well, against the Marlins, anyway), with enough mid-'90s, military-industrial complex vitriol to echo the second baseman's likely frustration that the Braves are thisclose to being mathematically eliminated." -- Anne Marie Cruz, Staff Editor, PEOPLE magazine
Greg Norton, OF/IFSong: "Inside the Fire" by Disturbed
Norton: "I listened to it on the radio and liked the intro. I'm not real big on intro songs but I had that 1970s-type rock and it made me feel old. They gave me some other song my first month here because I was just getting settled in. I stopped listening to rap when I got out of college [he's now 36] and I can't say that I've bought a techno or rap CD in five or six years. It's either country or nursery rhymes when I'm in the car with my kids."
Critic commentary: "Disturbed nails the right mix of menace and melody on this one, conveying both anger and excitement as Norton steps to the plate. What happens when he gets in the batter's box isn't terribly menacing, but Norton has been a solid pickup for the Braves." -- Jim Welte, freelance music writer
Jeff Francoeur, OFSongs: "These Are My People" by Rodney Atkins
Francoeur: "These are my people, growing up here. And I liked the song. I like a song that has something symbolic like this one. I'm a country boy."
Critic commentary: "The Atlanta native goes with a quintessential good ol' boy, feel-good song of the summer. It's a good fit. But it'll take much more than a sonic pick-me-up from Rodney Atkins to get Francoeur to get his batting average to where it's been in previous seasons." -- Jim Welte, freelance music writer
Brian McCann, CSongs: "The Boss" by Rick Ross
McCann: "I just like the song. You don't go up to hit to country. Just can't. Ever since high school I've come up to a rap song. I like it."
Critic commentary: "Pure comedy on so many levels. The round rapper, who unveils his rotund physique in the song's video, shows off his lyrical dexterity by repeatedly rhyming the song's title and his last name. McCann is the real boss in Atlanta, and shouldn't need help from a man who reportedly was a correctional officer in Florida in a previous life." -- Jim Welte, freelance music writer
Clint Sammons, CSong: "Too Much" by Dave Matthews Band
Sammons: "I'm just a big Dave fan. I heard it the first couple times coming up and I liked it. I'm not a big hip-hop fan and there's just something about this clubhouse -- we've got too many Southern boys here."
Critic commentary: "Lyrics from this DMB classic -- 'I've got to get it somewhere/I mean, you never know, maybe you're dreaming' -- are much too telling about the catcher's sub-.200 batting average. Or is that hitting below the Mendoza Line?" -- Anne Marie Cruz, Staff Editor, PEOPLE magazine