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Many music lovers ponder choosing a theme song for their lives. But Major League Baseball players are in the select group that actually get their song played every day when they show up to work — or at least every time they step up to the plate.
The man who makes the music play for the Cardinals is Damon Oliver, who describes himself as the go-to guy for all things music-related at Busch Stadium. As Oliver tells it, that means choosing songs for players who couldn't care less — and coordinating selections with the much bigger group of guys who do.
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And he changes them often. Last season alone, Oliver estimates Wainwright went through somewhere between fifteen to twenty songs.
Oliver recalls being in the scoreboard room and getting a phone call for the first time from "Adam," requesting a new selection for the team's second baseman.
"'Adam who?" Oliver asked.
Told it was Adam Wainwright on the line, Oliver didn't even hesitate. "No it isn't," he replied. "Shut up. Hang up the phone."
The person on the other end called back.
"Really, this is Adam Wainwright," the caller insisted. And, as it turns out, he was telling the truth.
"I was a little embarrassed," Oliver admits.
As far as Oliver can tell, there isn't a science to how Wainwright makes his pick. It often depends on whether Schumaker's slumping, but it could also be Waino's whim on any particular day.
When Schumaker first came up from AAA, his chosen song was the one they'd played for him in Memphis.
"He left it alone for the better part of his first season, and then the Wainwright thing started," said Oliver. "It probably began as a joke, but Adam has never given him anything that I would consider a 'haze.'"
Other Cards players, however, are certainly familiar with getting hazed through their at-bat music. Just ask Colby Rasmus.
"Usually, the rookies will have their music picked for them by the veteran players. If you listen to Rasmus' music last year, it was the players goofing on him," Oliver says. "They really messed with him hard." Some of the songs: "D.A.N.C.E." by Justice and Beck's "Burro."
In that vein, the RFT would like to suggest at-bat music for this year's roster. We're not necessarily saying we know better than Adam Wainwright — but we can certainly come up with something better than "Burro."
Here are our top musical picks for the Cards' top players, along with our reason for each choice.
The Player: Adam Wainwright
The Song: "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
Our Reasoning: February 23 was a sad day indeed for Cardinal Nation — the perfect day to listen to "Everybody Hurts" on repeat. Ace Adam Wainwright flew back to St. Louis from Florida to have his right elbow examined. No one sugarcoated it. Instead, people panicked — and rightfully so. The result was a devastating blow to the Cards' post-season prospects, the enthusiasm that surrounds spring training and Waino's chances at the 2011 Cy Young Award after two near-miss seasons. Wainwright underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery February 28.
The Player: Yadier Molina
The Song: "Mama Said Knock You Out" by LL Cool J
Our Reasoning: Yadi has a big heart and the balls to match. Big enough, at least, to defend his team's integrity in the bench-clearing brawl against the Cincinnati Reds on August 10. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips began the series publicly dissing the Cards, and it didn't take long for Molina to respond. In the first inning of the first game of the series, when Phillips tapped Molina's shin with a bat, Yadi fired back with what appeared to be a few choice words. After that, all hell broke loose. Tempers flared; punches were thrown. The result was an 8-4 Cards victory, with the team regaining the lead in the NL Central. As for Yadi, fans honored him with a standing ovation when the Cards returned to Busch Stadium.
Alternate tune: "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers
The Player: Albert Pujols
The Song: "Paper Planes" by M.I.A.
Our Reasoning: Remember the days leading up to the dreaded Pujols negotiations deadline? All anyone in St. Louis could think about was the proceedings — or lack thereof. So skip the catchy first verse of the song. Just listen to the chorus, in which the British rapper announces, "All I wanna do is" — cue gunshots and the ching of a cash register — "and take your money!" Folks at Busch may frown at the gunshot sound effect (or feel more at home?), but if all Pujols really wants to do is take our money, there are plenty of St. Louisans willing to oblige.
Alternate tune: "Money" by Pink Floyd
The Player: Skip Schumaker
The Song: "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred
Our Reasoning: Say what you will about his defensive skills, but a large number of women would be more than happy to give Schumaker a shot at second base any day. And we're pretty sure Wainwright hasn't used this song for him already.