- Editor's note: This story originally appeared on NBC New York.
Shortly after the trumpets sounded on Sunday, New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz pulled up YouTube on his phone.
A tweet showing his entrance from the bullpen to the mound as the trumpet line of the song “Narco” blared from the Citi Field speakers had just gone viral, drawing comparisons to Mariano Rivera’s iconic entrance to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
After seeing the debate on social media, Diaz said he pulled up YouTube and typed “Mariano Rivera’s walk-up” into the search field to rewatch an entrance he had seen many times before.
And which entrance is better, Edwin?
“I know my walk-up song is really good, but him and ‘Sandman’ was really special," Diaz told NBC before Tuesday's game between the Mets and Reds. "He had like 650 saves with that song.”
Mets starter Max Scherzer has been in the building for Diaz’s entrance and Rivera’s entrance. Perhaps he can pick a favorite?
“They’re each great,” Scherzer said. “I hope [Diaz] can keep this song going for the rest of his career and everybody loves it. Cause when you hear ‘Enter Sandman,’ even today, you think of Mariano Rivera. When you hear ‘Hells Bells,’ you think of Trevor Hoffman. So, hopefully he keeps this going, and when you hear the trumpet, you think of Edwin Diaz.”
That certainly is the case of late. The entrance gained increased attention Sunday after SNY filmed and tweeted a theatrical version of the walk-up, following Diaz to the mound as the crowd cheered and the trumpets played.
The high-energy instrumental by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet has become the top hit on the Citi Field soundtrack, electrifying crowds like the signature closing song at a concert.
“It’s really popular right now,” Diaz said. “Everybody likes it here in New York, especially. All over the place I saw on social media the last couple of days, everybody is talking about the walk-up song. So, that’s nice.”
For the Mets and their fans, with Diaz establishing himself as the most dependable closer in the league this season with 26 saves and a 1.39 ERA, it has become the anthem for a near-certain victory.
That impending sense of doom for the opposition generated by the sound of a few musical cords led to the comparisons to Rivera’s “Enter Sandman” entrance, which has long been atop the charts for baseball walk-up songs given Rivera’s Hall of Fame career and postseason success. No song has ever been more synonymous with an athlete, although Rivera was not the one who picked “Enter Sandman.”
Diaz chose his walk-up song while with the Seattle Mariners, saying he selected it from a few songs the team suggested.
“They said, ‘Do you like this song? This song?’ I picked that one, the trumpets,” Diaz said. “It’s unique, something different than everybody.”
Diaz went on to become an All-Star in 2018 while recording a league-best 57 saves. He was traded to the Mets after the season and switched his entrance song to “No Hay Limite” by Puerto Rican rapper Miky Woodz. Diaz went on to have the worst season of his career, posting a 5.59 ERA and seven blown saves.
He then followed the advice of his wife and switched back to the trumpets.
“I made a change because my wife told me, ‘You should use the trumpet again. You pitched really good with them. I think you can do better again in New York with the trumpet,’” Diaz said. “The year of the pandemic I put it again before the season started. The pandemic came and we played with no fans here, but I kept using it. Last year, I used it and this year everybody loves it.”
That includes Mr. and Mrs. Met, who break out their own trumpets when Diaz enters.
Hitters typically have the option to select a playlist of songs for their walk-up music ahead of their at-bats, approaching the plate to four or five different songs during a home game, though most Mets use just one song. That song shuffle, along with the fact that a hitter’s music is played in the midst of the game during a much shorter walk from the on-deck circle to the plate, does not create the same familiarity or theatrics.
When the Citi Field bullpen gate opens and the first note of Diaz’s music hits, fans rise to their feet as if they were at WrestleMania and the sound of shattering glass meant Stone Cold Steve Austin was about to make his way to the ring.
Or like Rivera emerging from the gate at Yankee Stadium.
Diaz enters with a similarly confident strut as the trumpets sound. He has shown similar dominance so far this season and now owns the league’s most electric entrance song. But even with the popularity of the trumpets, Diaz refuses to toot his own horn when being compared to Mariano Rivera.
“He’s the best reliever ever,” Diaz said. “Maybe the song, people will say maybe my song is better than his. Other people will say his song is better than mine. I can’t compare myself with him.”
When did pitchers start using entrance music?
While Mariano Rivera might have baseball’s most iconic entrance music, the trend began with another Yankees reliever.
Yankee Stadium in need of a spark? Enter Sparky Lyle.
That was the thinking when Lyle, who pitched for the Yankees from 1972 to 1978, became the first MLB pitcher to use custom entrance music. That was back in 1972 when a bullpen car was used to drive relief pitchers to the mound, and the only music that blared from the stadium’s speakers was courtesy of the in-house organist. Then Yankees employee Marty Appel, who went on to become the team’s public relations director, thought Lyle’s entrances were “theatrical” and should be accompanied by song.
"The confidence, the body language, the whole thing had a bit of drama to it,” Appel said.
Appel didn’t believe the Yankees organization was ready for rock music. So, he asked for the advice of a musician, who recommended “Pomp and Circumstance.” The graduation march became Lyle’s entrance music.
Whenever Lyle was set to enter the game, Appel would call Yankee Stadium organist Toby Wright, who played his rendition of the song.
"As soon as the car pulled through the gate, the place started to get it," Appel said. "It worked almost from day one."
For everyone except Lyle, who didn’t request entrance music and after the 1973 season asked that it no longer be played because he was uncomfortable with the pressure it added.
"What if people are coming to their first baseball game, and there's all this fanfare for me?" Lyle told Deadspin in 2012 (link includes NSFW language). “What if I get my ass kicked? What are they gonna think?”
Which pitchers have the best entrance music?
Entrance themes didn’t become ubiquitous in baseball until the 1990’s when pitchers began selecting their own music.
Although, Rivera did not select “Enter Sandman” and said after his career was over that he doesn’t listen to Metallica’s genre of music. Rivera told “The Dan Patrick Show” in 2019 that if he picked his own song it would have been “Patria” by Panamanian artist Ruben Blades.
“Enter Sandman” was selected for Rivera after the Yankees played San Diego in the 1998 World Series and became enamored with the entrance of Padres closer Trevor Hoffman to ACDC’s “Hell’s Bells.”
The team nearly settled on “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses for Rivera before stadium technician Michael Luzzi flipped through his CD case, saw a Metallica album and offered another suggestion.
“It was the old CD case where everything was in sleeves,” Luzzi told Newsday in 2014. “I was flipping through the pages and I’m like, ‘Oh, try this.’”
In 2013, after Rivera announced that he would soon retire, MLB.com ranked the top-10 closer entrance songs of all-time. “Enter Sandman” took the top spot, though an updated version of this list would likely include Diaz’s entrance.
10. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers, Steel Dragon's "Stand up and Shout"
9. John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves, ABBA's "Dancing Queen"
8. Al Hrabosky, St. Louis Cardinals, Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" to go along with his "Mad Hungarian" nickname.
7. Dennis Eckersley with the Oakland A's and Goose Gossage with the San Diego Padres, George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone"
6. Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants, House of Pain's "Jump Around"
5. Mitch Williams, multiple teams, The Troggs' "Wild Thing" to match his nickname
4. Eric Gagne, Los Angeles Dodgers, Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle"
3. Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox, Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston"
2. Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres, AC/DC's "Hells Bells"
1. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees, Metallica's "Enter Sandman"
Check out which songs current baseball players are using with MLB.com's walk-up music tracker.
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