Posts Tagged ‘closers’

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

A friend of the blog, let’s call him McIrish, recently enticed our resident drinker to complete what is quickly becoming a yearly tradition in watching Short Circuit 1&2 and thus completing the cycle of the seasons. Now, the first Short Circuit has a pretty epic chase scene set to Bonnie Taylor’s Holding out for a hero.

Let me tell you, that scene is epic. It’s also a very underrated candidate for closer/walkup music. If you’re wondering what that is, closer/walkup music is the stadium music that plays for a specific player. An example of this is Mariano Rivera coming out of the bullpen to Enter Sandman. Walkup music is the music that plays when a batter is walking up to the batter’s box before his at bat. A locally famous example of this is Gordon Beckham walking up to Your Love by the Outfield. Beckham’s song is a joke that stems from his college days in Georgia, but usually walk up music is in the vein of Eminem or Metallica, both some of my personal favorites, but I kinda feel like a lot of that is played out.

So, I started thinking about some fun/off the beaten path closer music I would like to see used in the game. The reason I went with closers and not batters is because walkup music is too short, you don’t get to hear the full flavor of the song. Closer music is allowed to breathe a bit. Now, I’m not exactly a fan of all the music that’s listed here, but I would love to hear them used in a game at some point. This list is purely subjective, and limited due to time constraints. I’ve thought about it, but I’m sure if I thought about it some more I could come up with more. I’m sure you the reader have your own ideas and I would love to hear them. Email’s up top.

Without further delay:

Holding Out For A Hero – Bonnie Taylor

The inspiration for this column. You know this would be awesome. It starts:

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods ?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds ?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed ?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

Are you shitting me? That’s perfect for a damn closer. It’s a song that literally calls out for a hero to save the day. It’s an utterly ridiculous song/video combo, but in the silly world that is baseball, this song fits and should be used. If Todd Jones can come out to Mr. Jones then trust me, someone can use this song.

Closing Time – Semisonic


Holy shit the 90’s…

I’ll admit this song is a guilty pleasure. A really guilty pleasure. I’m saying this pleasure would take a plea deal if it was offered. That guilty. It’s also an under-utilized song for closers. It’s got the last call for alcohol, perfect for someone who pitches after the 7th inning, it’s telling you to move it to the exits because it’s over. Done. Finito. No mas. Nothing to see here, I’m wrapping this shit up.

Closing time
Time for you to go back to the places you will be from.

And see, that’s perfect for a home team shutting down an away team. It just works. Admit it.

Terminator 2 Theme

I think of one thing when I hear this song, a metal machine stepping through fire to kill me. Finishes strong too. I would already be shitting my pants if I had to deal with facing MLB pitching, that stuff is nasty. I would start crying uncontrollably if the pitcher I was forced to face came out to a song that reminds me of Robert Patrick reshaping after a bullet wound and chasing down a cop car.

Fuck. That.

Jefe de Jefes – Tigres del Norte

Alright, this is limited to solely Joakim Soria, the only Mexican closer in existence, but damn this would be awesome.

Soy el Jefe de Jefes señores,
Me respetan a todos niveles,
Y mi nombre y mi fotografia,
Nunca van a mirar en papeles,
Porque a mi el periodista me quiere,
Y si no mi amistad se la pierde.

Which basically means I’m the big boss, everyone respects me. You’ll never see my name or picture in the paper attached to anything nefarious, because the newspaper men love me. If they don’t, they got trouble. That’s some badass work right there. You’re letting your cocky attitude fly with this song.

Promentory

These next two are centered around movie scenes. I’m kind of shocked this isn’t used more. It was already in a Nike commercial. When I hear this song I think of exactly this scene, full of impossible musket technique and badass knife/tomahawk fighting. It would be pretty epic to come charging out of the bullpen on a dead sprint to the mound with this blasting in the background.

Charging ft. Wagner

More understated than the typical 1812 Overture or it’s close cousin, Carmina Buranathis has a nice solid buildup with a really awesome and finishes really strong. It sounds amazing in stereo as well. It’s perfect for a high tension situation.

Fistful of Dollars

Everyone does Ecstasy of Gold. It’s a great song, no doubt, but I think this theme is severely underrated. It’s my favorite western theme, and it screams “bad motherfucker.” I’d love to see a dude from Texas use this song.

White Sox Draft

I was pretty impressed with the White Sox draft attack. Courtney Hawkins fell to them, and instead of taking the easy bait on a college pitcher that could help them soon, they went for the best available player on the board. Kudos, Kenny. Stroman doesn’t profile to have the ceiling that Hawkins does. Hawkins is a big kid, and he lost a lot of weight ahead of the draft. That can mean a few things, the two most prominent thoughts that come to mind when I read that are: “He’s dedicated to his job,” and “He has potential to beef back up in a bad way.” He was at 270 when he was younger, which is crazy. His frame suggests him getting wider and losing the ability to do backflips. If he can develop the power stroke he shows, then it doesn’t matter. He has the arm to play right and he’s fast enough to man the position. Players lose speed, very few maintain it. Don’t expect him to be an athlete, he’s going to end up looking a lot bigger the next time you see him, which will hopefully be in the Cell a few years from now.

Barnum is another power potential prospect that suggest maybe Kenny is looking to keep a few of these guys. His raw power would profile well in Chicago and he’s pretty quick on his feet for a 1B. Both Barnum and Hawkins are really raw prospects that attrition is likely to wash out. They both need to hit their best projections to become ML players, the good news is that their best projections are as impact talent. That’s good, considering the lack of impact talent this draft had. Kenny didn’t play it safe and he selected talent that would make sense at the big league club. It’s encouraging.

I liked the approach both sides of town had with their respective drafts. It seems that the importance of developing talent is gaining a lot of currency in Chicago, and that’s a good thing. The White Sox cupboard is pretty bare, but in my opinion, it should be getting stocked soon.

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: 
mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: MRubio52

Yesterday I took a look at the AL Central and gave a prediction of how I think the teams will finish the year. Today I’ll be looking at a historically weak division, the NL Central. The tempting thing about the NL Central is that it’s attainable. The Cubs are blessed to be in a relatively easy division. The powerhouse teams lost two key contributors in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. The temptation will be there if the Cubs manage to find themselves in contention early in the year to sell off the farm and go for it now. I know a few Cub fans that would fully endorse that strategy, but they should begin to understand that the Cubs aren’t going for it this year. So with that, here’s how I think they stack up.

1. Cincinnati Reds –  Dusty is gonna Dusty. He’s already pushed two young Reds pitchers to the limit and it’s scary to give him control over Mat Latos, a guy who is getting over shoulder trouble. The projected 5 starters for the Reds are Cueto-Latos-Arroyo-Leake-Bailey. Latos is coming over from a park that suppresses offense, but he was a guy that missed bats. Throughout the minors Latos was consistently above 8 with his K/9 rate. His command was spotty last year, and he lost a tick on his fastball, but he still oozes potential. He’s 23 and he has to work on some things to become the elite pitcher he hinted at becoming 2 years ago. I think he delivers on some of his potential but the GABP will mask some of the gains that he’ll make this year. The real reason I have the Reds winning the division is on the back of that offense. VottoRolenBruce is a bitch of a row to get through. Bruce is displaying the power potential that will eventually make him a star. He improved his road splits last year. Votto should be the MVP of the league this year with both Prince and Albert gone from the NL and a slight regression from Matt Kemp. If the Reds can get any production from the SS position they’ll be a historic offense. Zack Cozart is slated to be the starting shortstop. After last year’s shortstop debacle Cozart will have a longer grace period than most to produce, but he’s 25 and you usually know what a player is at that age. The bullpen will be missing Ryan Madson who is out for the year and will undergo Tommy John surgery. Sean Marshall becomes the closer and he should fill in nicely in that role. The rest of the bullpen is shaky, even phenom Aroldis Chapman will have his “Oh God” moments, but it shouldn’t keep them from competing.

2. Milwaukee Brewers – Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke should be battling for Cy Young votes next year. The rotation after those two gets a little bit shaky, but if Marcum keeps the gains he’s made over the past few years, he’ll remain the solid #3 option that the Brewers need to compete for both the division and the extra wildcard spot. Where they fall into trouble will be offense, which is strange to say of this team. They are replacing Prince with Mat Gamel at first, but Fielder’s production will be sorely missing from this lineup. If Corey Hart isn’t healthy (he’s dealing with a knee issue) it further compounds the issue. Fielder was an OPS machine, and the Brewers brought in Aramis Ramirez to help mitigate the effect of his departure. Braun and Ramirez will be productive, but they won’t replace the production that both Prince and Hart brought to the team. The pitching will keep them in contention, and that bullpen is solid. Axford established himself as a reliable closer, and I expect a disgruntled K-Rod to be traded by the deadline this year. The offense needs to figure it out if they want to win the division, as it stands they should win the second Wild Card spot.

3. St. Louis Cardinals – No Albert, limited Carpenter, limited Wainwright and no Magic Pixie Dust from the old man means a slide back for the Cardinals. St. Louis is depending on too many older players for them to win this division. Carlos Beltran has to stay healthy for the offense to be potent enough to compete with the Reds. Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman are a decent 1-2 punch, but the Machine isn’t looming in this lineup anymore. Rather, World Series hero David Freese and Yadier Molina will be their protection in the lineup. The pitching is going to suffer the loss of Carpenter, who is only supposed to miss a month, but older pitchers with shoulder issues aren’t something to be treated lightly. Wainwright will help, and the bullpen will be solid, but the Cards offense will limit their ceiling in 2012. They will be competitive, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them either win the division or make the playoffs, but I don’t see it happening.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates – They don’t have enough to be taken as a serious contender. Andrew McCutchen is a great player, but the front offices inability to surround him with talent is a concern. Their starting 3B, Pedro Alvarez, has lost his way at the plate and he wasn’t very special to begin with defensively. There’s an ugly hitch in his swing now and he tends to have happy feet in the box. Neil Walker is a good player, but the Pirate offense can’t be taken seriously at this point. They don’t have a front line starter, they’re relying on the corpse of Erik Bedard to be productive, and while they have an ok bullpen, there won’t be too many save opportunities. This is another lost year for a lost franchise, and I bet they’ll still finish ahead of the Cubs. Speaking of which…

5. Chicago Cubs – I did an in depth series on their depth. You can read it here. There’s three parts to it, so take you’re time. I’ll wait.

They’re gonna be awful this year, and that’s part of the grandiose plan that TheoCo has drawn up. The next few years are about two things, accumulating good prospects and getting rid of bad contracts. The Cubs have famously shot themselves in the foot when it comes to spending in the hopes that a World Series trophy would render these next few years as a honeymoon period as the team tries to restock and retool. Well, the Cubs choked all that away in 2007 and 2008, fell spectacularly on their face in 2009, had their manager quit on them in 2010 and hired the cryptkeeper for 2011. Then that Boston craziness happened and we somehow ended up with a competent front office that has a concrete plan for building a serious contender for years to come. It doesn’t look like they’ll stray from that plan either, so get ready for a 70 win season folks, because Soriano is the only established offensive threat the Cubs have right now. The division is certainly gettable for the next few years, but the Cubs won’t bite. They’ll wait, and I’m fine with that.

6. Houston Astros – This franchise is awful. The offense rates below average as it will center around an old fat 1B and a young OF prospect with a flat swing plane. Well, that’s not fair to JD Martinez, he is a legit hitter, but his power will be limited because of his swing, and that’s a bit of an issue at The Ballpark Formerly Known as Enron. The opposition will certainly knock the ball out of the park, but the Astros can’t do it on a consistent enough basis to be taken seriously. The starting rotation is headlined by Wandy Rodriguez, but after that it’s a collection of bad. The bullpen is meh and there’s no hope down on the farm. They’re gonna be bad for awhile.