SportsCenter

That’s my jam! ‘This is SportsCenter’ spot spoofs baseball’s ‘walk-up’ music

It’s a common conversation starter among fans at the ballpark – a batter comes to the plate, swaggering to the tune of his walk-up song when someone asks, “What song would you pick if you played ball?”

It has to be something that perfectly encapsulates someone’s personality.

That’s the topic of the latest “This is SportsCenter” commercial, starring Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig. ESPN anchors Neil Everett, Kenny Mayne and Stan Verrett co-star.

In the ad, Puig prepares to address an office meeting. He walks to the head of the conference table to the sound of his own walk-up tune – for this spot, a song from ESPN Music’s library entitled “Somos Latinos” or “We Are Latinos” was used – causing envy among his colleagues, particularly Verrett.

It’s later revealed that Verrett’s walk-up song – Hanson’s “Mmmbop” – strikes a completely different vibe.

“This spot came together at the last minute – our shoot was scheduled for April [2015] on the third day of the regular season, so we assumed we wouldn’t be able to shoot with any MLB players,” said Welles Wiley, associate marketing manager. “However, our talent director Chantre Camack reached out to Puig’s agent, and surprisingly, he was available in the morning despite having a game later that night.”

Within a few days, Wieden & Kennedy New York, the creative agency behind the campaign, brought up the walk-up concept to ESPN.

“I had a small role in the commercial,” Everett said. “Probably for the best as he [Puig] kept calling me ‘Nick.’ I didn’t have the guts to start calling him Joc [a reference to Puig’s teammate Joc Pederson].”

The “TISC” franchise addressed the walk-up theme last year from another point of view in a spot that showcased Metallica’s struggle to find an athlete who would walk-up to their song following Mariano “Sandman” Rivera’s retirement. The New York Yankees’ legendary closer used Metallica’s classic “Enter Sandman” when he stepped out of the bullpen.

“Walk-up music is such an iconic aspect of the baseball experience,” Wiley said. “Yasiel was great to shoot with, and while we looked at what felt like hundreds of songs for Stan’s walk-up music, we thought ‘Mmmbop’ was the perfect payoff to the joke given how famous that song was in the late 1990s.”

Puig and the Dodgers travel to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates and will be on ESPN Friday night (7 p.m. ET) as well as an appearance on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN/WatchESPN, Aug. 9, 8 p.m.).

ESPN personalities reveal their ideal walk-up songs

In the video above, Stan Verrett and Neil Everett closed the Monday, Aug. 3 SportsCenter with “walk-offs.”

Walk-up songs mean a lot in baseball. Ask recently traded Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, who “had to fight back tears while answering” a question about whether his trademark accompaniment, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” would play when he bats for his new team, the Angels. Front Row asked some ESPN personalities what their walk-up songs would be.

Nicole Briscoe, SportsCenter anchor, MLB reporter
Song: “Fight Song” – Rachel Platten
Reason: I totally love the lyrics: “And I don’t really care if nobody else believes, ‘cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”

John Buccigross, SportsCenter anchor
Song: “That’s The Way It Is” – Celine Dion
Reason: “Don’t surrender ’cause you can win, in this thing called love.”

Linda Cohn, SportsCenter anchor
Song: “I Need a Lover That Won’t Drive Me Crazy” – John Mellencamp
Reason: I think the lyrics speak for itself.

Toni Collins, ESPN Digital anchor who filed an all-access profile of Puig earlier this year
Song: “Vivir Mi Vida” – Marc Anthony
Reason: The song says in a nutshell that you have to live in the moment, we only have one life to live, laugh, enjoy. At my bat I would love this song. . . live in the moment, soak it up and with the salsa beat who wouldn’t get inspired to get a hit a home run?

Doug Glanville, ESPN.com MLB analyst
Song: “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” – Daryl Hall and John Oates
Reason: You can’t beat a song that was number one on both pop and R&B charts in the 1980s!
Actual walk-up songs for Glanville, who played for nine MLB seasons: “Bueno Funk,” by Peter White; “Me and Me,” by Les Nubians; “Feel Me Flow,” by Naughty by Nature; “Improvvisa Luce Ad Est,” by Eros Ramazzotti.

Carolina Guillen, Beisbol Esta Noche co-host
Song: “Si Tú No Estás” – Nicky Jam
Reason: I love the rhythm of the song and it wakes me up every time I listen to it! It is like an instant energy booster!

Darren M. Haynes, SportsCenter anchor
Song: “I Know” – Lecrae
Reason: Because “I Know” I’m about to give a fan a souvenir baseball!

Cassidy Hubbarth, Baseball Tonight host
Song: “I’m a Hustla” – Cassidy
Reason: Obviously the namesake works! I never had natural born athletic talent and it wasn’t always pretty, but no matter what, I was going to hustle hard and give it my all. As the lyrics go, “Ask about me!”

Kenny Mayne, SportsCenter anchor
Song: “I Wish” – Stevie Wonder (the instrumental portion)
Reason: It would get me going although I would then likely strike out. Any team signing me knows I’m coming in for my arm only.

Gianina Thompson, Gabriela Nunez and Andy Hall contributed to this post

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