The news that Vladimir Guerrero’s entry song will be “Calabria” — a Euro-house dance track by the Danish producer Rune — bodes well for the Orioles’ already-spectacular 2011 season, being celebrated today with the team’s hometown opener against the Tigers.
Conventional musical choices can be a devastating curse for Major League baseball players. Fictional relief pitcher Charlie Sheen (in the 1989 comedy “Major League”) and real relief pitcher Mitch Williams famously shared The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” as their themes. Both of their careers went downhill, perhaps because of it. (If you ever saw Mitch Williams topple off the mound as he released the ball to home plate, you know that like Charlie Sheen, he could not be saved by “Adonis DNA.”)
Orioles fans should remember how, back in the early ’90s, Oriole relief pitcher Gregg Olsen also used “Wild Thing” for his grand entries to Camden Yards. Unlike Sheen and Williams, Olsen’s game relied not on brute speed, but on a surgically-controlled curveball to get batters out. So “Wild Thing” was a terrible fit, and Olsen’s career sadly suffered the same fate as Charlie’s and Mitch’s.
With his unique and classy musical choice, Guerrero is presenting himself in the same iconoclastic tradition as fellow faux-Russian, Baltimore wrestler Nikolai Volkoff. His theme song was “The Great Gate of Kiev” – the last of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”
But, while we’re melding music and sports, we might also compare Baltimore’s Vlad with real Russian, Vladimir Horowitz, who played the piano a lot like Guerrero hits, lunging for the keys with brute passion, rather than studied precision.
I’ve never heard “Pictures at an Exhibition” from him either. Rachmaninoff, yes, Mussorgsky, no.