The closest to the New York Mets, Edwin Diaz, has established himself not only as one of baseball’s most efficient, but also for having one of the best relief pitcher starter songs of all time.
In 2022, he was nearly untouchable, with a 1.40 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 51.1 innings pitched.
In addition to his excellent performance on the pitch, he also masters the art of stadium entrance music.
Some players can’t pass the backing song, but when a player does, their entry into the game can quickly become one of the best sports experiences.
When Mets fans hear “Narco” from Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet, they know what’s coming: baseball’s most dominant relief pitcher.
A walkout song becomes even more iconic when it becomes synonymous with an individual player. Even nearly a decade after his retirement, baseball fans still think of Mariano Rivera when they hear Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” At some point, Rivera himself became “The Sandman”.
Very few gamers are able to become synonymous with their walkout song. Some choose songs that are almost impossible for them to claim as part of their identity.
San Francisco Giants reliever Brian Wilson opted for House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” which made for a fun experience at Giants games, but not a rare one. If anything, “Jump Around” is synonymous with the Wisconsin Badgers — not the closer former All-Star.
Here’s a look at the seven greatest relief entrance songs.
7) Kenley Jansen: “Californian Love” — Tupac Shakur
Jansen rocked “California Love” for nearly a decade in Southern California. We give him points for choosing a song that 1) is original and 2) relates well to the city and region he’s getting into. I had the privilege of watching a game at Dodger Stadium in 2015, and when ‘California Love’ started playing, we knew exactly who would come out of the bullpen.
Jansen changed his song when he joined the Atlanta Braves in 2022, but stuck to having a song that represents the area. He is now releasing ‘Welcome to Atlanta’ by Jermain Dupri.
6) Jonathan Papelbon: “I ship to Boston” — Dropkick Murphys
Sometime after Best Picture of 2006 The dead arrived at the cinema, Papelbon made the hit song of the Dropkick Murphys his entrance music. If you ever want to see tens of thousands of Bostonians going crazy, listen to this track. Papelbon recently declared that “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” was the best walkout song of all time..
“Everyone wants to talk about Diaz these days”, Papelbon said on “The Bradfo Sho” podcast. “I have to let some of these people know where the release song came from and who is #1 of all time. When you hear “Shipping Up to Boston” you know what’s going on.
“No question, [I’m Shipping Up to Boston] is the best of all time. You have to look at a lot of different things when this comes into play. #1 – the fans. Boston fans went crazy. Yankee Stadium with [Mariano Rivera] was great and all but it didn’t have the same effect.”
5) Trevor Hoffman: The Bells of Hell — ACDC
Hoffman is one of the most iconic San Diego Padres in team history, and every time they hear that song, it should take the San Diegans back to the hot summer nights when their hero would step out of the house. enclosure, ready to close the door. When you heard “Hell’s Bells”, you knew it was “Trevor Time”.
4) Eric Gagné: “Welcome to the Jungle” — Guns ‘n Roses
Something about this song mixed with Gagné’s dominance during the early to mid 2000s makes this track extremely intimidating.
After moving to the bullpen after two years as a starting pitcher, Gagne was closest to the game from 2002 to 2004. In 2003, his 1.20 ERA and 55 saves earned him a Cy Young of the National League, and no reliever has won a Cy Young since.
It’s a great song that sets the tone, “Are you sure you really want to get in the batting box and take on this guy?”
3) Edwin Diaz: ‘Narco’ — Blasterjaxx, Timmy Trumpet
“Narco” is the epitome of a “rough experience”. The drums start beating and you know someone is hiding. Then the trumpet sounds, with Mr. and Mrs. Met pretending to play, and all the Citi Field fans stand up, cheer and probably can’t help but dance along.
We’ll put Diaz third, for now, with the potential to progress in the future. ‘Narco’ is still new. It’s something that fans outside of New York are only coming to understand. As his legend grows, he could very well climb higher on this list.
2) Mariano Rivera: “Enter Sandman” — Metallica
Rivera somehow became “The Sandman,” despite sharing the walkout song with another elite relief pitcher of his own era! Former Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox and Braves lockout Billy Wagner used “Enter Sandman,” compiling 422 career saves with a career 2.31 ERA.
Wagner never outshone Rivera, and to this day, the greatest player of all time’s walkout song remains synonymous with his fabulous major league career.
1) Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn (and Mitch Williams and James Karinchak): ‘Wild Thing’ — X
While the stadium entrance music and backing songs had been used prior to the release of major league, the classic 1989 film popularized the use of walkout songs, which became a trend that quickly swept through Major League Baseball. ‘Wild Thing’ was a trendsetter. Some time after the movie, “Wild Thing” Mitch Williams started running to X’s cover of the classic Troggs song, and the rest is history.
“Wild Thing” is synonymous not only with a Charlie Sheen movie character, but also with one of the best scenes in sports movies. More recently, Cleveland Guardians reliever James Karinchak adopted the walkout song, along with Rick Vaughn’s number 99. It’s not a gimmick either. Karinchak is a real Rick Vaughn. Watch him throw.
I attended an Indians game last summer in Cleveland, and when Karinchak took over in the eighth inning, I felt like I had traveled back in time for 30 years and suddenly become an extra on the culminating stage of the Major League. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I’d be all for it if, after Karinchak’s time is up with Cleveland, there’s a high-leverage Guardians reliever who wears number 99 and comes out at “Wild Thing” at all times. ‘Wild Thing’ has every right to be a Cleveland tradition like ‘Sweet Caroline’ is a Fenway Park tradition.