Sadly, I've been grading the Minnesota Twins' walk-up songs for the better part of a decade, and there's always been one constant: Joe Mauer, noted hometown hero, never wavering in his choice of T.I.'s 2006 banger "What You Know."
T.I., with his swagged-out, Southern-fried flow, and Joe, with his history as a relentlessly polite Kemp's pitchman, made for a seemingly strange pairing, but dammit, it worked for both of 'em. Mauer scored six all-star nods and the 2009 MVP Award over 15 seasons with Minnesota; T.I. has collected three Grammy trophies and industry-wide respect.
My point? I'm using this sacred parcel of internet real estate to proclaim Mauer's lifetime walk-up song grade: A+!
Now on with the show...
Song: "Lo Que Yo Diga" by El Alfa, Jon Z, and Miky Wood
Turns out El Alfa is a massively popular Dominican practitioner of the dembow genre, a harder-charging variation of reggaeton. At almost 72 million YouTube views, "Lo Que Yo Diga" (translation: "What I Say") features Alfa and his pals rapping with gusto over gloomy keys and a bass-quaking beat. It's fine!
Song: "Mi Forma De Ser (Mambo Version)" by Farruko feat. Ala Jaza
The folk-hero status of Willians "La Tortuga" Astudillo just keeps growing -- chuggin' 'round third with his bulldog build, swattin' balls better than Ty Cobb, an "Evening With" T-shirt night. This breezy, bongo-slapped track from Puerto Rican singer Farruko is a fitting soundtrack to the legend of Tortuga.
Songs: "E.I." by Nelly and "Taste" by Tyga
The Sega Dreamcast in Nelly's "E.I." music video hasn't aged well, but the party-rap track still bangs; Tyga's minimalist, laid-back 2018 hit "Taste" grooves sufficiently. More aggro selections might be more apropos for the power-mashing first baseman, but these'll do.
Song: "Return of the Mack" by Mark Morrison
After a scintillating spring, Buxton keeps teasing his sky-high potential, launching three doubles and one single in his first 13 at-bats. Could this silky-smooth '90s R&B jam signal a return to form from the former No. 2 overall 2012 draft pick? Here's hoping.
Song: "Willy Wonka" by Macklemore
Here's the thing about Macklemore: He's bad.
Song: "Till I Collapse" by Eminem
Killer Eminem deep cut. As the YouTube comments demonstrate, the rapping-his-ass-off 2002 track is an ideal motivator, the ultimate end goal of any good walk-up song. Also: Prayers up to Nate Dogg!
Songs: "That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars and "The Way I Live" by Baby Boy Da Prince
Hmm, words like "jammies" and "scampi" won't instill fear in opposing pitchers, disqualifying Bruno's 2017 mega-hit; Baby Boy Da Prince's easy-flowing 2007 song is much more agreeable. Mixed results from the first-year Twin tasked with replacing Mauer.
Song: "Soldado" by Juan Luis Guerra
Fun! Horn-spiked and shuffling, this party-starter from Dominican merengue star Juan Luis Guerra has inspired eye-popping early returns for the veteran free agent: Cruz is smashing .375 through his first 16 at-bats with Minnesota.
Song: "Shining Star" by Earth, Wind and Fire
If Garver, the Twins' 28-year-old reserve catcher, is wishing upon shining stars for more dingers, then it's a little on-the-nose. But we can't fault this strutting 1975 funk classic.
Song: "Dejalo" by Nacho feat. Manuel Turizo
Gotta give props to a singer who picks the stage name Nacho. However: With 38 million YouTube views, the Venezuelan singer's heavily Auto-Tuned "Dejalo" is Bieber light, a sentimental snoozer.
Song: "Yosemite" by Travis Scott
Fine, and the flute presence is novel, but it's one of the more down-tempo tracks from Scott's mega-selling 2018 album Astroworld. I'm on the record as advocating Rammstein for the German outfielder.
Song: "Te Siento En Para" by Liro Shaq, Bulin 47, and Ceky Viciny
Dunno why anyone would hijack the goofy hook to D12's "My Band" in this decade.
Song: "Quien Tu Eres" by Bad Bunny
On "I Like It," Cardi B helped make Puerto Rico's Bad Bunny a star, and now the Twins' biggest star is elevating Bunny's perfectly suitable Latin trap number.
Song: "Butterfly Effect" by Travis Scott
Another woozy Travis Scott single. The new second baseman's pick is a slight improvement over Kepler's.
H/T to Twins PR ace Dustin Morse for tweeting out this year's walk-up tunes.