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August 1, 2012

Punk Hits

Bauer Pop

by Ian Miller

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Coming into the 2012 season, Trevor Bauer was one of the most talked-about pitching prospects in baseball. He decimated records and hitters throughout his college career at UCLA, and won just about every conceivable award, including the Golden Spikes in 2011. After being selected third overall by the Diamondbacks, he signed a major-league deal and was in Double-A before the year was out. In the 2012 BP annual, we called him “a viable 21-year-old candidate for Arizona’s Opening Day rotation.”

Bauer was called up to the big club in June of this year and, instead of continuing to dominate hitters the way he has his entire life (I’m assuming), he, well, kinda sucked. Over four starts, his line looks like this:



That was enough to get him sent back to Triple-A Reno for more seasoning, where he made one start before he was diagnosed with “arm fatigue” and was forced to skip a start or two. It’s easy to blame Bauer’s famously crazy-ass warm-up routine for his arm troubles, but I submit that the only thing keeping him from reaching his ceiling is his terrible, terrible taste in music.

The Problem, and the Solution
Trevor Bauer is not shy. He has gained notoriety (and no small amount of criticism) for posting videos  of his pitching mechanics and his candor on Twitter, as well as for his burgeoning career as a rapper. But what concerns me most for Bauer’s long-term performance is his penchant for listening to awful metalcore as part of his game-day preparations.

Just weeks before his first big-league call-up, ESPN posted a story called “D-backs phenom Bauer needs his metal,” which included the playlist for the music that accompanies his unconventional warm-up routine. Anyone with a passing familiarity with modern metal will see at first glance that this list is terrible, and clearly, warming up to these songs will prevent you from reaching your full potential.

Today we’re going to take a close look at his playlist and use advanced sports musicology to improve Bauer’s performance. Let’s get started.

1. "Lose Yourself" by Eminem



I’m not gonna front, this song rules. I’ve thrown this on many a workout playlist myself. The sparse hardcore beat meshes perfectly with Eminem’s inspirational message. Perfect for getting one’s swole on. Even 10 years later, Em’s flow is refreshing. Chalk one up for Bauer.

Suggested replacement song: none

2. “Confined” by As I Lay Dying



The first major misstep, and it’s a friggin’ doozy. As I Lay Dying are classic “T-shirt metal” -- one of the hundreds of interchangeable bands you see on suburban kids’ T-shirts. The song and video demonstrate T-shirt metal perfectly: black-clad band in the rain, indoors (??), pinch harmonics, the incredibly played-out screamy guy vs. singing guy, mindless lyrics, the gridded-up, triggered double-kick... pretty much everything cheesy and played out about modern metal. I guess this song is from 2008, so maybe I’m being unduly harsh on them, but a brief perusal of the rest of the AILD catalog suggests that the rest of the stuff is similarly cheesy.

Suggested replacement song: The second song should match the intensity of “Lose Yourself” but also act as a bridge between the hip-hop and hardcore worlds. Sick of It All’s gritty anthem, “Step Down,” does just that.

3. “Two Weeks” by All That Remains

More classic T-shirt metal: a long string of meaningless words concatenated into a band name, video shot on the same set as the As I Lay Dying video above, same cheeseball metal tropes. The singer in this one is really puzzling, though: did no one tell him they were shooting a video that day? He looks like he was on his way to go hunting, or maybe to his shift at the gas station, when they called him into the shoot. The only thing more embarrassing than his outfit is his little “rap” in the pre-chorus.

Suggested replacement song: We’re 8 or so minutes into the routine now, nice and loose, and ready to put the hammer down. That calls for something completely unrelenting, like “No Heroes” by Converge. 

4. "The Diary of Jane" by Breaking Benjamin



Wikipedia informs me that these guys have sold 5 million records in the U.S. alone, and yet I’ve never heard of them before. How is that even possible? Music is weird.

Anyway, this isn’t terrible in the way that the two previous songs were, it’s just kind of mediocre. Like Evanescence with a guy singer or something. It sure as hell doesn’t get me pumped up, though -- it kinda makes me want to write really shitty poetry in my high school yearbook.

Suggested replacement song: Ladies and gentlemen: the action is go. “Evil Eye” by Fu Manchu.

5. “Self Revolution” by Killswitch Engage



I’m not gonna front, I kinda liked this record when it came out. Not nearly the worst song on the list, but it has NOT aged well. Screamy guy vs. singy guy again, with duelling pinch harmonics. Played. Out.

Suggested replacement song: Keep the Western Mass vibe with “You’re False” by Deep Wound.

6. "Smoke 'em If You Got 'Em" by Parkway Drive



As cheesy as the bulk of this song is, the breakdown at 1:50 is pretty brootal, at least until they do the wheedley guitar thing at 2:38.

Also, no one told the bass player he was supposed to wear a black T-shirt. Embarrassing! I can remember when Epitaph was a punk label -- I guess that makes me really old. Sigh.

Suggested replacement song: The Storm” by Judge. This is the standard by which all brootal breakdowns must be judged.

7. "March to The Shore" by In Flames



In Flames used to be pretty good melodic death metal, but by this point the “melodic” had way outpaced the “death metal,” so this sounds like some B-side from an Yngwie Malmsteen album.

Suggested replacement song: You want real death metal? Go straight to the source. “Death Metal” by Possessed.

8. “Till I Collapse” by Eminem (ft. Nate Dogg)



I love some Nate Dogg, but let’s be honest, this isn’t his finest moment. It sounds like he’s literally phoning it in. Also, you don’t need two Eminem tracks on your playlist.

Suggested replacement song: I think we can all agree that this, in fact, IS Nate Dogg’s finest moment: “Regulate” by Warren G. (feat. Nate Dogg). RIP, Nate.

9. "Asylum" by Disturbed



This is the band who did that “Down with the Sickness” song, which makes them instantly hilarious. Uhhh WAH AHH AHH AHH!

But this song isn’t inherently terrible. If you lost the silly sing-songy vocals, I could see getting pumped up by this track. If I were a 21-year-old jock. But mostly I can’t believe that bands are still making music like this (it came out in 2011), or that people are still buying it.

Suggested replacement song: Quicksand perfected the post-hardcore groove-metal genre pioneered by Helmet, so let’s go with their song “Fazer.”

10. "Stitches” by Haste The Day



This one takes the screamy guy vs. singy guy to new lows. It starts out all ballad-y, and then comes in with the heavy part. Guess what, guys? The Pixies pretty much nailed the quiet-loud thing in 1989, and it’s yet to be improved on.

Suggested replacement song: Gouge Away” by the Pixies. 

11. "Warrior" by Disturbed



Two Disturbed tracks in the space of three songs? Nah, that’s weak.

Suggested replacement song: When you want something truly epic, about gods and war and steel and shit, there’s one place you go, and that place is Manowar. “Sign of the Hammer” by Manowar.

12. "Wherever Thorns May Grow" by Soil Work

This is a band I would never listen to, based solely on their awful name. The song title plus the band name make it sound like something from a gardening show, not something you’d listen to to get fired up.

Oh, good, another screamy/singy collab. MAKE IT STOP.

Suggested replacement song: “43% Burnt” by Dillinger Escape Plan, because there’s no singing and no pretty parts, just four minutes of pure hostility.

13. "Aerials" by System of A Down



I don’t necessarily dislike this band -- in fact, I appreciate their willingness to stray from convention and just be completely weird. Unfortunately, this song doesn’t do much for me. Not a huge fan of the guy’s voice, which is a problem. Also, this is the second-to-last song on the playlist, so it seems to me you’d want to kick the intensity up a notch, not dial it back.

Suggested replacement song: Bleed” by Meshuggah. If there’s a more intense song in existence, I’d like to hear about it.

14. "War of The Gods" by Amon Amarth



This is incredibly epic and cheesy, but I kinda love it. They’re melodic death metal, but they keep the “melodic” part in check with appropriate amounts of “death metal.” This cut is grand enough to take the field to, and kinda makes me want to go into a berserker rage, which is what the last cut should do. Good choice, Trevor.

Suggested replacement song: none

Conclusion
Our data suggest that if Bauer retools his playlist with even half the tracks we’ve suggested, he can improve his focus and command and ultimately reach his vast potential as an elite starting pitcher. But it’s imperative that he abandon the mediocre modern metal to which he has become accustomed. His future, and possibly that of the Diamondbacks, depends on it.

Ian Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ian's other articles. You can contact Ian by clicking here

Related Content:  Trevor Bauer,  Metalcore

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