As a Yankee's fan in the modern era you get used to a lot of things. A Steinbrenner in the executive suite. Captain Derek Jeter. The Playoffs. But one thing undoubtably changes every season: the sound of the game.
The playlist below contains most of the music you'll hear the first time each Yankee comes to the plate for his first swing of a game in 2012 (given availability on Spotify). There's one extra addition from the past. Two of the last three songs are for the closers. The final song has a special place in the hearts and minds of every Yankees fan, but we'll get to that.
To sum it all up and start things off, you'll notice that this is possibly the most eclectic playlist you could imagine, from the funk of Cameo, to the gritty rock of Pearl Jam, to Ice Cube's lyrical stylings, to the timeless sound of Frank Sinatra. No two songs are exactly alike, and each covers a little bit of something the others don't.
But it's not a random playlist, it's a biographical compilation.
One binding thing about these songs is that they're no joke. Some might be looser than others, but there's nothing comical about Granderson walking out to Busta Rhymes, or Raul Ibanez squaring up as Eddie Vedder belts the start of "Alive." Even Nick Swisher, arguably the team's current clown, brings more attitude than laughter to the batter's box, asking whoever happens to be throwing him a fastball to "Check Yo Self." (You can probably guess whose is whose after that - do it in the comments section, it'll be fun! I promise! If you Google the answers you're no better than a Red Sox fan.)
These are serious men, seriously talented men. Each different in his own way, but serious about winning each and every game. Yet still, that doesn't mean they're without swagger, or attitude.
In 2011 A-Rod pissed a lot of people off by walking out to "This Is Why I'm Hot." But wait a second, isn't he? There are arguments to be made about him as a person (and to be honest, even anecdotes to that effect), but as far as his play, few can say that's not an accurate representation. Can anyone argue he doesn't deserve his swagger? In 2009, he walked out to Jay-Z's "Already Home" a song clearly throwing his success in the face of his haters ("They want me me to fall, they want me to stop," leads off the chorus).
No man owns "Enter The Sandman" like Mariano Rivera. Not James Hetfield, not Lars Ulrich. To take a song as powerful as that and make it your own, well I'll be damned if that isn't truly special. They're likely to induct that song with him into the Hall of Fame, if he ever retires. It renders stats (608 saves , 2.21 lifetime ERA, 15 seasons with at least 25 saves) needless.
Now with Mo out for the season we're missing that sound. But it will be back. In the meantime, David Robertson, though currently also on the DL (but only for 15 days and possibly back for the Subway Series), is picking it up in a different way, doing his own thing. "Sweet Home Alabama" isn't Metallica, but it is Robertson, an Alabama native, and brings its own special flair to what should be a quick end of any game.
The final piece of this puzzle, and ultimately why no New Yorker should ever neglect the Yankees, is a tune more associated with victory than anything else.
"New York, New York" the final song on the list, is the only one that isn't associated with any one player. But it is a tune the Yankees and their fans have heard time and time again. Well, at least 27 times. Namely after the ninth inning. After walk-off home runs. After the confetti starts flying.
Now Yankees fans aren't obsessed enough to take Sinatra's song for themselves and themselves alone. We understand it's integral to the five boroughs' collection of races and ethnicities from across the globe, all concentrated in the greatest city on earth. But isn't that what the Yankees are? An assembly of the best ball-players on earth, all working for the greatest, winningest team in the history of sports?
The Mets and their music don't lack diversity themselves. In fact, the game of baseball becomes a more global game every day, and surely there's music across the MLB to prove that. But does the team from Queens embody that sentiment quite like the Yanks? I doubt it.
I don't know if I've changed your mind, but I hope this at least made you think about it. About the history of a team assembled from men of all walks of life, brought together around the same idea. To win. And well, maybe make a boatload of money in the process.