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Zopf: Walk-up tunes can hit or miss
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What do T.I., Run-DMC and the Steve Miller Band have in common? They can all be heard at a local high school baseball field near you.

In a trend that’s growing faster than you can say "southernplayalisticadillacfunkymusic," high school baseball players are following the lead of the professionals and stepping to the plate to their favorite tune.

It’s called walk-up music and some of you may know it as the reason you hear "Crazy Train" every time Chipper Jones leaves the on-deck circle and heads to home plate. In the five-minute walk that it seems to take major leaguers to get to home plate, walk-up music seems to be understandable. In high school it seems a bit Ludacris.

Now, I completely understand why high school kids would want their own walk-up music. After all, we all wanted to be in the pros at one time or another, and what better way to emulate the pros than with your very own entrance song.

I played high school baseball, but unfortunately this fad arrived much later than my time. And when I played (excuse me if I sound old here) this type of self promotion would have never been tolerated.

Back in the Day, if I were to have asked my high school coach if I could have walk-up music he would have told me I was Crazy. He would have made me run the entire outfield of Linkin Park, and when I asked him for how long, he would say, "Till I Collapse."

But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Every high school ballpark you go to, players have their own entrance music. Some you recognize, some you don’t. And some you just shake your head at. Not Nod Your Head, but shake it, wondering why a young ballplayer would choose that song.

Well let me help you out, because like rocking a rhyme, choosing your walk-up song is Tricky.

While I never was able to have my own walk-up music, I have spent countless hours trying to figure out which one I would select. In My Life, I’ve only had the opportunity to have entrance music twice, when I got married and when I gave my best-man speech at my brother’s wedding. For the latter I chose Eminem’s "Lose Yourself," which would be fitting for any high school baseball player to use as their walk-up song.

That’s because for all intent and purpose, a walk-up song is supposed to be one that gets you focused and gives you an Adrenaline Rush. You want a song that when it comes on it allows you to Lose Yourself in the moment and make you remember how you always wanted to be a Baller that’s put in a position to help your team win.

Think about it, if the bases were loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and "Material Girl," came on over the P.A. system, I’m guessing that a game-winning hit would be less than likely to occur. Now if your song is Kanye West’s "Champion," you’re probably going to fare pretty well in a clutch situation.

Another aspect of walk-up music that must be considered when selecting a song is that the start of the song must be recognizable. And by start, I mean first 15 seconds or less. Because unlike in big league stadiums, the distance from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box is somewhere around 10 feet.

That alone makes the walk-up music in high school a bit absurd. More times than not the player will hear one or two beats from his selected song choice and that’s it. Umpires aren’t going to delay the game just so the first line can be heard, so that means junior’s gotta Take It Slow when he’s Walkin’ It Out toward home plate.

As a fairly young guy, and one who considers himself pretty in touch with the latest trends, I really don’t mind the walk-up music; it takes a bit of the monotony out of baseball and it allows a young player to showcase his personality and have a little fun. But from what I hear in the press box, a lot of fans aren’t in love with the entrance songs.

I assume that’s because a lot of them are hip-hop orientated jams that those crazy young kids always listen to and that playing the songs is taking something away from the purity of the game.

But when you think about it, with all the steroids and human growth hormone that’s in the professional ranks, implementing walk-up music is the least harmful thing a young baseball player can take from the big leagues.

And who knows, one game that walk-up song may allow your team’s best player to deliver in the clutch and win the game.

If that happens, I’m sure you’ll leave the park forgetting about all the loud music and just saying to yourself, Today Was a Good Day.

Jonathan Zopf is a sports writer for The Times. His columns appear Monday.

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