The Reds Play the Hits

Why Reds players put time into choosing their 'walk-up music' at Great American Ballpark

Reds outfielder Jonny Gomes’ entrance to the plate at Great American Ballpark is much like you’d expect: hard guitars, harder drums and completely lacking in subtlety or artistry. “Burn It to the Ground” by Nickelback plays as he walks to the plate and, sure, Nickelback sucks, but they put butts in seats and so do home runs.

“Most of the Reds’ music guys want me to come out to something hardcore, head-banging crap, but that’s not my gig, but that’s how they perceive me,” Gomes says. “So I just let them go with it most of the time.”

While Gomes, who’s known to sport a mohawk and swing from his heels, is happy to let the Reds staffers pick his music for him, others aren’t so low-key about the snippets of music that play when they walk up to bat or come in to pitch.

Gomes’ fellow outfielder Chris Dickerson says he spent plenty of time in the offseason picking out his walk-up music, which can last anywhere from 20 seconds to a full minute if there’s a meeting at the mound or some other delay.

Dickerson compiled a playlist on his iPhone and sent it to teammates Jay Bruce and Joey Votto as well as the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun for advice and approval. Then one day in Spring Training he and Bruce spent a half hour paring it down to get just the perfect mix for when the season started.

“I put a lot of thought into it,” Dickerson says. “I don’t want it to be where I get fired up. I used to have songs that were getting ready, but I can’t hit like that. I have to be really mellow, so I find something that chills me out but is exciting enough to get a little bounce going.”

His final mix? A little Led Zeppelin for the purists, Santigold for those on the cutting edge and Outkast for crossover appeal.

Like many things in Spring Training, that playlist turned out to be just an experiment and adjustments have to be made once the regular season begins. Dickerson started the season hitting just .205 without a home run and is currently on the disabled list after suffering a broken bone in his right hand. So when he comes back in late June or July, he says his playlist will be all new.

Catcher Ryan Hanigan has used two songs by the Foo Fighters (“The Pretender” and “Best of You”) since last season. Less than two full months into this season, he’s already eclipsed his career-high for RBIs and is hitting well into the .300s in batting average, so he’s not messing with a good thing.

Still, Hanigan says he doesn’t even hear the music when he’s going up to bat because he’s too focused on what he’s doing.

Brandon Phillips, on the other hand, says he’s aware of his music choices as he strolls to the plate.

“There’s a Jay-Z song that makes me want to dance and takes my mind away from the game and helps me swing the bat,” the second baseman says, adding that he has as many as five songs at any one time and changes them nearly every month.

“He’s real passionate about music, real specific about what the lyrics and beats are,” says David Storm, the Reds’ media production manager. “That’s fun for me.”

Some of Storm’s all-time favorites were Ken Griffey Jr. using the “Soul Glo” jingle from the movie Coming to America and Adam Dunn’s “Sister Christian.”

“If anyone could get fired up to Night Ranger, you know something special’s going on,” Storm says.

Reliever Daniel Ray Herrera doesn’t bat much, but he does get a song when he’s brought into the game to pitch. The left-hander likes his fair share of metal, pumping himself up to Slayer, Bleeding Through, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and White Denim.

But when it comes time to enter the field, Herrera doesn’t want something that will pump up his adrenaline and make him feel like he can throw 100 mph, because he can’t — at 5-foot-6, he relies more on finesse, deception and guile than pure muscle. In college he used War’s “Low Rider” as a joke, but since he made the big leagues he’s used “Rumble” by Link Wray & the Wraymen, a classic from 1958.

“It’s an overall feel,” Herrera says. “I don’t really like a song with a whole lot of anger or anything else. I have to be pretty calm going into a game, and that tune is pretty basic and pretty legendary. I definitely like a whole lot of metal and other stuff that gets me ready to play, but right before I go in if I hear that strum I’m right where I need to be.”

Here are the current choices among Reds players for at-bat music, as provided by Great American Ballpark DJs Scott Justice and Aaron Sharpe:

Homer Bailey: pitching, “Fred Bear” (Ted Nugent); hitting, “Stranglehold” (Ted Nugent)
Jay Bruce: “How Low” (Ludacris)
Orlando Cabrera: “Already Home” (Jay-Z)
Francisco Cordero: “Enter Sandman” (Metallica)
Johnny Cueto: “N.S.B.” (Fungus)
Chris Dickerson: “When the Levee Breaks” (Led Zeppelin), “Starstruck” (Santogold), “Chonkyfire” (Outkast)
Jonny Gomes: “Burn It to the Ground” (Nickleback), “Johnny B. Good” (Chuck Berry)
Ryan Hanigan: “The Pretender” and “Best of You” (Foo Fighters)
Aaron Harang: “Can’t Stop” (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Ramon Hernandez: “Hasta Abajo” (Daddy Yankee featuring Don Omar), “Que Me Lo Den En Vida” (El Gran Cambo)
Daniel Ray Herrera: “Rumble” (Link Wray & the Wraymen)
Paul Janish: “Ain’t Going Down” (Garth Brooks)
Mike Leake: pitching, “Instrumental Metal” (Metallica); batting, “Break” (Three Days Grace) or “Bad Company” (Five Finger Death Punch)
Mike Lincoln: “Rock Star” (R. Kelly/Kid Rock/Ludacris)
Laynce Nix: “Mr. Jones” (Mike Jones), “Always Strapped” (Birdman featuring Lil Wayne)
Brandon Phillips: “On to the Next One” (Jay-Z), “O Let’s Do It” (Waka Flocka Flame)
Scott Rolen: “Viva La Vida” (Coldplay), “Breathe” (U2)
Drew Stubbs: “Hysteria” (Muse), “All the Way Turnt Up” (Roscoe Dash)
Joey Votto: “Drop It Low” (Ester Dean)

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