What's in a song?
Quite a bit, according to several members of this season's Chattanooga Lookouts.
For the first time in the 11-year history of AT&T Field, Lookouts players are stepping up to the plate with walk-up music playing over the loudspeakers. Each player can pick his song snippet, and the selections have included rap, American pop, Latin pop, classic rock and heavy metal.
"I think it's great," second baseman Jaime Pedroza said. "We should turn it up a little bit more, because it's for the fans, and I think it makes the game go by a little better."
When the Lookouts were in a 21-year partnership with the Cincinnati Reds, the Reds requested walk-up music several times but were denied by Lookouts owner Frank Burke. The Los Angeles Dodgers made the request before last season, but Burke and Lookouts general manager John Maedel again had concerns whether it could be done right and how fans would react.
Several weeks before the start of this season, the Dodgers inquired again about the possibility and Lookouts officials acquiesced.
"The Dodgers were persistent," Maedel said. "We prescreen every song, and I think our players have been happy with the situation. As far as our fans, I haven't heard anything, which I guess means that they're good with it."
Lookouts hitting coach John Valentin, who served as manager last season, believes the concept is fine as long as the selections are clean. Though Valentin never had walk-up music during his 10-year stint as a Boston Red Sox infielder, he did have it in 2002 when he played for the New York Mets and believes it can customize a player and how he feels.
Tommy Giles, a Lookouts outfielder for more than a year before being sent down to high Single-A Inland Empire in early June, has a commercial pilot's license and spends each offseason flying his family's Piper Seneca six-seat plane. Since his days at Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce, Fla., Giles has used "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins from the 1986 motion picture "Top Gun" as his walk-up song.
"I have gotten so much garbage from it the last eight years, but it's what I've always had," Giles said. "I don't really listen to a whole lot of music, so I don't really know the 'in' song. It makes the most sense to me, so I play it."
Considering "Top Gun" came out two years before shortstop Dee Gordon was born, Gordon believes Giles' selection is "the most horrible walk-up you could ever have. I hope one day he changes it, because I think that is brutal."
Gordon prefers more current tunes, having begun this season with "All the Way Turned Up" by Travis Porter. The top organizational prospect kept that for about a month before switching to "Turn My Swag On" by Soulja Boy and then "Show Out" by Roscoe Dash.
"Show Out" became his song of choice June 1, when three other Lookouts also made changes.
Gordon also picked the walk-up selection for the musically challenged Scott Van Slyke, who played 65 games for the Lookouts before being sent to Inland Empire last Friday. Van Slyke's song was "Chillin" by Wally (pronounced Wall-AY) featuring Lady Gaga.
When asked about his walk-up music, Van Slyke shrugged his shoulders.
Giving it a try
Gordon now will try to play in the Southern League All-Star Game in Huntsville on July 12, which occurs one day after he is scheduled to compete in the Futures Game in Anaheim, Calif. The 22-year-old entered Wednesday night's doubleheader in Huntsville hitting .284 with two home runs, 24 RBIs and a league-leading 30 stolen bases.
"Ask Dee, because I've never heard of it," Van Slyke said. "Last year, I had Britney Spears, so that tells you how much I care about that. Some guys get into it and change it every two weeks, but I'm not really a music guy. Throughout the season I'll put headphones on about once, as opposed to some of these guys, who listen about five hours a day."
Pedroza is the lone "metal head" on the team, opting for the group Killswitch Engage, but several players admit they could take or leave the concept.
"When we're on the road, we don't have walk-up music," Giles said. "In certain fields, the sound systems aren't good enough to play them anyway. I don't really care either way. A lot of guys really get into it and really like it. In little league, I didn't have a walk-up song. I don't really need one.
"It's good for the fans to give them something to cheer along to and something to associate players with, but other than that I don't really see any significance."