It’s no secret college baseball has a much bigger reputation of drama and showmanship than its professional counterpart. The fans, the culture, the rivalries, the passion — college baseball has the MLB beat in almost every facet of entertainment.
Except for the entrance songs.
Over the past several weeks, New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz has revitalized the closer entrance song by selecting “Narco” by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet as his entry tune. In a season that’s already seen a revitalization of the New York Mets’ fanbase, the ensuing frenzy over Díaz’s entrance song evolved into an online sensation.
The Major Leagues are no strangers to viral walk up songs. Mariano Rivera walked out to “Enter Sandman” by Metallica for years just across town with the Yankees. Out west, former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne entered to “Welcome To The Jungle” by Gun N’ Roses while former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman sauntered out to “Hells Bells” by AC/DC.
The list of legendary pairings of closer and entrance songs goes on and on, but the names are essentially exclusive to the MLB. This begs the question: where is the collegiate Edwin Díaz?
It’s not like collegiate pitchers generally lack personality; in fact, it’s anything but. One of the most heated College World Series games in recent memory occurred in 2019 when then-Louisville Cardinals closer Luke Smith heckled then-Vanderbilt Commodores infielder Julian Infante after striking him out, ultimately sparking a Commodore rally. On March 10, 2022, former Texas State right-hander Tristan Stivors set the college baseball world ablaze by performing the “horns down” gesture after an upset win over the Texas Longhorns.
Another factor that should work in college baseball’s favor is the talent. The fact of the matter is an entrance song won’t hype up the fans or intimidate the opponent if the closer isn’t any good. At the collegiate level, lack of talent is not a problem either. Stivors brought the talent to back up his antics by leading the country in saves last season. Smith, although a relief pitcher, put up a respectable 4.24 ERA in that 2019 season. Generally, collegiate relief pitchers are able to live up to the hype just as well as the pros.
So why doesn’t college baseball boast a bevy of Díaz and “Narco”-esque showings? With the sheer amount of programs compared to MLB and an establishment penchant for greater degrees of drama and showmanship, the college game’s lack of hype-able closers is perplexing.
While the abbreviated season affords less opportunities for save situations for a given team’s closer, this rare deficiency in college baseball is nevertheless disappointing. With MiLB Pack Pros Evan Justice and Chris Villaman, NC State baseball alone boasts its own recent tradition of high-end relievers. The 2023 season will bring a new slew of talent to college baseball and with it another opportunity to capitalize on what college baseball does best: cause a bunch of ruckus.