Monday, July 25, 2011

Walk, Don't Run, to Your Nearest Baseball Stadium

The walk is playing an increasingly large role in baseball.

Of course, any fool knows four balls means a free pass to first base--a,k,a, a base on balls, or a walk.

But here's a pair of more modern baseball terms involving the walk.

The snippet of music that accompanies a player to the batters box, music you deem to be droning "rap is short for 'crap'" drivel that only serves to remind you of the great yawning disconnect between you and the modern player, has become known as "walk-up music."

Not all is droning hiphop. A recent visit to Citi Field learned me that young Lucas Duda prefers Hendrix, while Daniel Murphy likes that Celtic reel that may or may not have come from Riverdance.
The Albuquerque Journal looks at some of the more popular choices, including Chipper Jones' "Crazy Train."

And speaking of the Metsies, Angel Pagan clocked a walk off home run last week, while Carlos Beltran is in his walk year (even his walk week)--that singular season when a guy plays out of his spikes because he needs a new contract, and is set to walk to a new team. Two weeks ago, the NY Times analyzed some standout walk year performances.

There is no shortage of cautionary tales of players who posted their finest seasons in their “walk years.” Javier Lopez set the single-season home run record for catchers in 2003 with 43, his last year with Atlanta. Chone Figgins compiled a career-best .395 on-base percentage in 2009 before signing with Seattle and suffering an offensive collapse. Gary Matthews Jr. bested his previous best batting average by 38 points in 2006, his final year with Texas. Adrian Beltre has managed to compile two stellar walk years: he received a $64 million contract after a 2004 campaign that was perhaps the best season by a third baseman in history, then was rewarded with a $96 million deal last winter after a terrific year with Boston.

Speaking of walks, Bob Walk went 105-81 during a long and impressively mediocre career with the Phillies, Braves and Pirates. Walk walked 606 batters during his 14 year career. Not a terrible hitter, Walk hit .145 for his career, with a home run, 48 rib-eye steaks--and 16 walks.

He's the only "Walk" in major league history, though there have been dozens of Walkers, and even a pair of guys named Jim Walkup.

James Elton Walkup and James Huey Walkup played in the Depression era, when walk-up music choices consisted of "The Good Ship Lollipop" and "I'm Wearin' My Green Fedora", and having a strong walk year kept you from working in the stockyards for another year.

No comments: