Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dedicated to You: Tom Sawyer

It comes as no surprise that it is now standard practice at ballparks across the land to bombard fans with music at every opportunity (I blame basketball and MTV), and this includes the moment a player is introduced before an at bat. Typically, players on the home team enjoy the pleasure of hearing music they themselves have chosen. I imagine that once the team arrives up north from spring training, the stadium sound guy or a team representative goes around and polls the players. Usually you hear the same song for a given player all year long, every at bat, April to September, and in many cases the choices are fairly predictable. Latin players are largely smitten with Latin music, while Americans, both black and white, tend to favour hip hop, with the occasional nod to metal for some of the white boys (Metallica is a favourite, perhaps inspired by the near-nightly sight of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera charging onto the field to the strains of “Enter Sandman”). There are exceptions of course, but they are few and far between.

That’s why I appreciate Ottawa Lynx first baseman Gary Burnham – besides his ability to knock in runs, his no nonsense, head-down style (he’s a throwback, like Jim Thome with fewer homeruns), I appreciate Burnham’s leftfield taste in music. All this season, Ottawa’s first year as the highest team in the Philadelphia Phillies chain, and probably their last season in Ottawa (read about that here), I have enjoyed the moment Burnham comes to bat, usually with runners on, and usually with the sense that he will deliver them home. Because as Burnham’s name is called, and he knocks the ring-weights off his bat, then strides toward the plate from the on-deck circle, swinging his great bat, looking at the head of it, loosening and tightening his grip, eyeing the pitcher, the music blaring over the stadium loudspeakers, music presumably chosen by him, is “Tom Sawyer” by Rush. I love that. So I'm dedicating "Tom Sawyer" to Burnham and every other guy who didn't get the September call-up.

A secondary joy, beyond getting a feel for your favourite players’ taste in music (or glaring lack thereof), is the fun the sound guys have with visiting players, who do not enjoy the luxury of their own theme music. Favourite recent example: when Syracuse’s John Schneider came to the plate, the music? The theme from the Dukes of Hazzard, of course.

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