There are hundreds of reasons why the retirement of the great Mariano Rivera will be a time of sadness for Yankees and baseball fans in general, and one of the things of note that will be lost is his iconic entrance music. "Enter Sandman" by Metallica has been echoing off the walls of two Yankee Stadiums as Rivera made his trademark jog from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound thousands of times. And just as Mariano’s number 42 will be retired, the same will most likely be said for his theme song, never to be played again during a game at Yankee Stadium.
As an unabashed lover of Metallica, I was obviously thrilled that the most famous song off of their self-titled album was selected to be the theme for the great closer’s appearances. But the song has always been much more befitting the role (The Sandman putting the other team to "sleep") than the man himself (one of the most soft-spoken players of recent memory). Regardless, the song has certainly stuck, and hearing the opening guitar riff is always sure to make hairs stand on end because of what the chords portend. A "Pavlov’s Dog" experiment for Yankees fans, if you will.
Often imitated but never duplicated, other prolific relievers of the time have had their own hard rock anthems that attempt to rile up the home crown and intimidate the opposition. Trevor Hoffman famously came out to "Hell’s Bells" by AC/DC, which did not have a noticeable effect on Scott Brosius. Billy Wagner even dared to come out to "Enter Sandman" while being across town with the Mets. Considering the extensiveness of Metallica’s catalogue, surely more effort could have been put into that selection. And Rivera’s perceived successor, David Robertson comes out to "Sweet Home Alabama", which may very well be the most overplayed song in history. It also doesn’t offer much in the "intimidation" department (sorry Dave!).
The song itself is perfect for an entrance theme. It’s moody, angry and doesn’t have curses every five seconds, lest the children be sullied. And while I appreciate Travis Hafner coming to the plate with "Sweating Bullets" by Megadeth, a great song that also implies Pronk is insane, the Mariano/Metallica combination will surely never be topped. Like a lot of things regarding Mariano, we’re about to find out that it just can’t be replaced or equaled.
All that being said, what music would you come out to as a closer? And if that question is too similar to our "walkout theme" question from a few weeks ago, what song would you match with a particular pitcher for them to come out to? I think "Crazy Train" would have been a nice fit for Armando Benitez.