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Orioles 2011 entrance songs

All ballplayers have one.

Mark McGwire had "Welcome to the Jungle," Chipper Jones famously uses "Crazy Train" and Mariano Rivera still enters Yankee Stadium to Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

Entrance songs can be mellow, combative, sometimes inspiring. During those 10 seconds when batters are walking to home the plate or pitchers are making the minute-long stroll to the mound, this is the song that'll blast from the speakers to motivate and pump them up.

At Monday's home opener, the Orioles will be announced to a fanfare of hip-hop, country, even Scandinavian house music.

They won't be random selections by the house DJ, at least not at Oriole Park, where the majority of players pick their own songs, says team spokeswoman Monica Barlow.

When the players step out up to face the Detroit Tigers, their choices will reflect their personalities, and perhaps even their states of mind or their feelings about the team's prospects this season.

By looking at a few of their choices this year, it seems the O's are in as upbeat a mood as the rest of the city. Just look at relief pitcher Jason Berken's selection, Van Halen's "Right Now."

"It has a sense of urgency. It's a top-down, 'let's pick up the pace and feel the breeze as we go along' song," said Stash, a DJ at 98 Rock who also comments on sports for WBAL Radio. "It's hopeful."

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when the tradition of playing a personally selected entrance song — as opposed to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," or some generic anthem — started. Some say it was popularized by Charlie Sheen's character Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the movie "Major League." Barlow didn't know for how long the Orioles have been doing it.

Stash, who's been watching the Orioles since the 1960s, when he was growing up in Crofton, doesn't ever remember hearing them. He said he'd never noticed.

"They have entrance songs? Like wrestlers?" he said, incredulous when first asked.

That's because the song usually plays for a few seconds — too short for most fans to notice. For batters, it plays as they're walking to home plate; pitchers hear it as they're warming up, and relievers are introduced by their song as they enter the game from the bullpen. Some players become forever linked to their songs.

When Jones retired "Crazy Train" in 2002 because he'd grown tired of hearing it, fans protested so strongly that he was forced to bring it back.

Some players don't care what song is played when they enter the stadium, but others do — strongly. Barlow said center fielder Adam Jones is very involved in the music selection. That's because those choices can determine how fans see them.

Fans might think very differently of Adam Jones if he came out to Miley Cyrus instead of T.I., his choice this year. But Barlow also said the songs are small windows into the players' personality.

"It's a reflection of much of their taste and what motivates them," she said. "For a lot of guys, it's a sort of a signature. It says something about their personality."

Chris Myers, the musician who wrote "How 'Bout Them O's" three years ago, a homegrown tribute song that used to be played at Oriole Park every now and then, said what a player chooses as his entrance music says a lot about his personality.

"It shows how seriously they take themselves," he said. "You want to see them take themselves less seriously."

It's no secret that right fielder Nick Markakis likes country-western music. He used to be introduced by Alan Jackson's "Country Boy," and this year, he'll use Bubba Sparxxx's country-rap hybrid, "Deliverance."

It does not surprise Myers to hear that Adam Jones will be introduced with "I'm Illy," where the rapper T.I. boasts, "ain't no one ahead of me."

"He needs all eyes to be on him," Myers said.

He said it also makes sense that larger-than-life designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero will be introduced with "Calabria," the song whose 'Whoop Whoop' chorus was ubiquitous in 2007.

"He needs a song that nobody else has," Myers said. "I'm sure no other ballplayer is walking out to a Scandinavian track."

On a subtler level, the players' song selections might even suggest something about their states of mind.

Fans should have been wary about starting pitcher Brian Matusz's prospects when he picked Johnny Cash's lugubrious "God's Gonna Cut You Down" last year.

Their song selections can be windows into players' outlooks, and if this year's selections are any indication, it seems the Orioles are in a fighting mood.

In "Deliverance," Sparxxx powerfully raps of seeking the right path after a time of disappointment and loss, a message that will surely resonate with the Orioles.

Myers said it makes sense for Berken to choose "Right Now." "He's a middle reliever, he's gotta be in the moment," he said.

Stash said utility infielder Robert Andino's choice of Rick Ross' "Dirty Money" suggests "the fight is on" and that Adams Jones' "I'm Illy" selection sends an "I'm gonna tear it up" message.

In the end, the entrance song is a modest tradition, more likely to inspire the player than the fans, for whom it's one more random fact of trivia they know from obsessively watching the team. For them, a song isn't going to add anything to the deep well of optimism they already have about the team.

"This is a team that, when they look at each other, they see they can make a difference," Stash said. "I think they can make a run at it. Nobody knows what's going to happen. That's the beauty of Opening Day. That's where the hope comes from."

Said Myers, "It's something fun, something to hear in the back of your head. Mostly, we just care about how they play."

Myers' goal would be for one of the players to pick the song he has written to replace the popular "How 'Bout Them 'O's," which is called "Oh Oh Orioles."

It has a message that the team and fans can appreciate.

"From 33rd to Camden Street, Get up, get out of your seat / Come flying along with the Birds straight through the World Series."

Barlow said the team is already in talks with Myers' band to air the song at future games.

erik.maza@baltsun.com

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