Individualism is a trait not often encouraged in team sports. Players wear identical uniforms, fight for a common goal, and are inculcated early on with the lesson that there's no "i" in "team." In baseball, it's especially difficult to get a sense of a player's unique personality when all the quotes in the media are hackneyed, Bull Durham–esque "one-day-at-a-time" truisms.
But there is one place where the facade breaks down and ballplayers offer a rare glimpse into who they really are underneath all those carefully crafted sound bites. It's in their theme song, the music they choose to blare over the stadium PA to get them pumped up for their next at-bat or stint on the pitching mound.
Herewith, a psychological analysis of what each Giants player's anthem says about what's really going on inside his black-and-orange-capped noggin, along with our suggested replacement tunes.
"15 Step" by Radiohead
Analysis: Give Zito points for eschewing ballplayer clichés at every turn: first by being one of the earliest players to admit to practicing yoga, then by opting for the thinking man's rock band over, say, the Nuge. And with lyrics like "How come I end up where I went wrong?/Won't take my eyes off the ball again," we're guessing this song was chosen especially to keep Zito in the zone. Only one problem: It ain't workin'. At press time, the guy was 2-10 with an ERA of 5.88.
Might we suggest: Something off the Yoga Moods compilation to help the lefty get centered enough to throw strikes. If that fails: Loverboy's "Strike Zone."
"Paranoid"(remix) by Linkin Park
Analysis: Poor Lincecum. Despite being arguably the best starter in the rotation, and a probable All-Star candidate to boot, the second-year pitcher clearly has major self-doubt. Just check out the lyrics to the song he chose as the soundtrack to his weekly strut to the mound: "Everybody has a face that they hold inside/A face that laughs every time they fall/... It's like I'm paranoid lookin' over my back/It's like a whirlwind inside of my head/It's like I can't stop what I'm hearing within." Yikes.
Might we suggest: No use changing anything as long as Lincecum keeps doing what he's doing. But come November, we might recommend Stuart Smalley's Daily Affirmations books on tape and a Thorazine prescription.
"No Sleep Till Brooklyn"by the Beastie Boys
Analysis: Props for being the only player besides Zito to pick a track we might voluntarily put on our iPod. But, Richie, your theme song is a paean to the city that spawned your supposed archrivals, the Dodgers. We'll give you a break since you were born there, but where's the team loyalty?
Might we suggest: "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" by Tony Bennett. Sure, it's a little sissy, but at least it'll keep fans from questioning your allegiance. Or take a hint from teammate Fred Lewis, who bats to Young Jeezy's "My Hood." At least when Freddie comes to the plate, we know that "Every time he do it, he do it for his hood."
"Stranglehold"by Ted Nugent
Analysis: It's pretty ballsy to enter a game to music written by a guy who told Barack Obama to suck on his machine gun — especially when you have an ERA that's not exactly threatening. But "Stranglehold" is a mildly clever choice for a middle reliever — y'know, the guy whose job it is to hold on tight to the lead? Get it?
Might we suggest: A kinder, gentler "hold" song more befitting the less-than-formidable hurler ... say, "Hold Me Now" by the Thompson Twins?
"Can't Be Touched"by Roy Jones Jr.
Analysis: "Can't be touched, can't be stopped"? Really, Bengie? We beg to differ: The Slowest Man in Baseball can be touched, and stopped, and outrun by just about anyone, including your average tortoise or sloth. Clearly, there are delusions of grandeur at work here.
Might we suggest: Foghat's "Slow Ride," a more appropriate serenade.
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