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Grading the 2020 Minnesota Twins' walk-up songs

No, Byron Buxton: The blurb about "Return of the Mack" is down there!

No, Byron Buxton: The blurb about "Return of the Mack" is down there! Star Tribune

Baseball has mercifully returned to distract from the plague.

Should 30 teams, all with considerable operations staff, be traveling around the country amid a pandemic? Probably not, but shut up, we’re trying to enjoy something for the first time in five months. And, setting aside the homers, strikeouts, acrobatic catches, double plays, stolen bases, gamesmanship, and stats, what’s more enjoyable than walk-up music?

Each year, players get to DJ their own at-bats, choosing snippets of their favorite songs to blast through the P.A. as they approach the plate. When applied through the insufferable lens of music criticism, the results vary considerably. Here’s how your 2020 Minnesota Twins fared at curating walk-up tunes for this abridged, fan-less, extremely weird but very welcome season.

Byron Buxton, CF
Song: “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison (1996)
Grade: A-

This silky-smooth ‘90s R&B banger might have unintentional connotations, as the oft-injured Buxton seems to always be returning from the IL. But, for the athletic marvel who just named his son Blaze Jett Buxton, the swag levels are appropriately high.

Jorge Polanco, SS
Song: “Te Siento en Para” by Liro Shaq ft. Ceky Viciny (2017)

Grade: C-

Is this a reggaeton cover of the 2002 Eminem single “Without Me”? No, goofball Dominican rapper Liro Shaq El Sofoke simply hijacked the beat, giving Polanco a turned-up track that’ll briefly trick most American millennials.

Josh Donaldson, 3B
Song: “Shoota” by Playboi Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert (2018)

Grade: B-

The Twins’ power-hitting free agency prize could have gone with something brawnier, though we won’t fault his pick from Playboi Carti, a young mumble-rap superstar who’s all over TikTok. Fans who viewed the ‘87 and ‘91 squads IRL will likely find that last sentence quite confusing.  

Max Kepler, RF
Song: “All In” by Lil Baby (2020)
Grade: B

Lil Baby raps his lil’ butt off on this poppy trap bop. It’s nice tempo-setter from Kepler, who pissed off the internet for minute by wearing an All Lives Matter mask (“Didn't know what the blue line stood for," the emerging German-born slugger responded via Twitter).

Nelson Cruz, DH
Song: “Soldado” by Juan Luis Guerra (2004)
Grade: B-

A breezy, danceable intro for the Twins' ageless, dinger-mashing star. Cruz's Dominican countryman, Guerra has racked up 21 Latin Grammys plus three standard Grammys, a hardware haul that mirrors the Boomstick's during his 2019 Twins debut: All-Star and All-MLB nods plus Silver Slugger and Edgar Martínez awards. 

Eddie Rosario, LF
Song: “Bendiciones” by Bad Bunny (2020)
Grade: B

Rosario shows some Puerto Rican pride with this bass-thundering jam from Bad Bunny, the Latin trap phenom who exploded after appearing on Cardi B’s 2018 hit “I Like It.” A year earlier, things clicked for Rosario at the plate, where he’s been a consistent middle-lineup force ever since.

Miguel Sano, 1B
Song: "Vengo de la Pobreza" by Rochy RD and Ceky Viciny
Grade: C+

A propulsive Dominican come-up anthem that translates to "I Come From Poverty." Anyone who saw the 2011 doc Ballplayer: Pelotero knows that was certainly Sano's story before the Twins signed the elite teen prospect from the Dominican Republic. Last season, after years of conditioning woes and off-field issues, Sano finally broke out as the powerhouse hitter he's always been capable of being. He's already beat COVID-19, so add "antibodies" to his 2020 scouting report. 

Luis Arraez, 2B
Song: “Temblor” by Causa, Farruko & El Alfa (2020)
Grade: D+

A cartoonish club throwaway, "Temblor" features a uniquely annoying "dooga-dooga-dooga-dooga" refrain. It's worth checking out the animated "concept" video, which is mostly just clips of fans twerking on TikTok. 

Mitch Garver, C
Song: “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind, and Fire (1975)
Grade: B+

Garver was one of several breakout stars on last year's Bomba Sqad, and who the hell could fault his choice of this iconic funk classic? "A pimpmobile time machine brought me here," YouTube user Buick Bubba rightly points out. 

Honorable mention: We didn’t include picks from pitchers, but it’s essential to note that Randy Dobnak - the hardcore dad-vibing Uber driver turned pitcher - selected “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver, a masterfully on-brand song.