BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
When Edwin Diaz races to the mound in the ninth inning at Citi Field, his signature music, “Narco” by Blasterjazz and Timmy Trumpet, blares through the stadium.
The fans get fired up. Mr. and Mrs. Met play the trumpet. Diaz knows what time it is.
Walk-up songs in baseball are as popular as superstition for baseball players. The players feed off the energy of their entrance song when it’s played at home games. There is a reason other teams don’t play the player’s walkup song when he plays for the visiting team.
Fans love this since it brings them together to rally for that player and subsequently, the team.
Witnessing this in the Mets’ 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, it was quite the experience in real time for the first time. It felt like a festival out there.
Diaz’s entrance music is certainly ingrained in everyone’s head. It’s just so good. The melody and rhythm create such a good flow and vibe that can last for five minutes. Enough for Diaz to get a save as he did on Sunday. Yes, he allowed two runners on base (Nathaniel Lowe’s walk and Jonah Heim’s single), but he managed to get out of it by striking out Mitch Garver and having Leody Taveras line out to end the game.
The Mets closer has come a long way when his entrance becomes the best part of the game. It wasn’t a long ago when there would be a feeling of dread when he would come into the game. Shoot, there are some Mets fans who still have long memories of his seven-blown saves in his first season. Now, the chants of “Let’s Go Diaz” in Sunday’s ninth-inning reverberated all over the stadium.
Diaz saved 18 games this season, which is good for fourth in the National League. The Mets are 30-3 when he made appearances this season. Yes, he blew three saves, but in the end, he kept the Mets tied in two of his three blown saves.
He is having an All-Star season, and that’s the bottom line. One can make a case that he is the best closer in baseball. He is just going on a good run this season.
His slider has been electric. His fastball has been hard to hit. It served him well by throwing 63 strikeouts with a 1.95 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.
On the eye test, Diaz aces it when he is out there. Good things tend to happen when he is there. There’s that feeling of assurance that tends to lack with Mets closers in the franchise’s history.
At Mets home games, this is so important. For a Mets closer performing at home, there has to be that good vibe where he feels good about himself out there. Remember when Armando Benitez would be on the mound, there would be a feeling of dread mixed with some boos at Shea Stadium. It affected him more than fans want to admit. He would expect to fail and implode. This is not the case with Diaz this season and even last season when he pitched well.
Part of it is his stuff on the mound. Part of it is the entrance song that can have such a positive effect on everyone. There’s nothing like Mr and Mrs. Met raising the spirit of the fans by trumpeting Diaz’s arrival and then the music blaring out that gets fans at a high pitch. That type of energy can be so contagious for everyone.
There’s something to be said about music is good for the soul. It raises one’s spirit when a person feels down. In Diaz’s case, the music of his entrance song just gets everyone going. In his case, the song provides good juju that relaxes him out there and wants to make him do even better. That song provides so much adrenaline to the fans that it helps him get going, even when he is in a jam as he was on Sunday.
Fans and even players can make so much out of a walkup song, but in Diaz’s case, there seems to be a positive effect. It’s a credit to his music taste that he pick this music as his song. Blasterjazz and Trumpet deserve some fee from Diaz for his success.
Of course, none of this will mean anything if he starts blowing saves. If he struggles in September and October, fans will get back to blaming him for everything that is wrong about the Mets. That’s the nature of the beast with Mets closers. Success is fickle here in New York and in the majors.
Diaz will be a storyline in October if the Mets make the postseason. Everyone will want to know if he has the right stuff to pitch when it really matters. He raises everyone’s curiosity that will either be satisfied or annoyed.
If he does well, he becomes a folk hero to Mets fans who waited a long time for a closer to deliver. His entrance song becomes more of a legend. He becomes a household name that fans will fondly remember forever.
If not, well he and Benitez can share war stories one day at a watering hole wondering why they never had what it takes to be great when it matters and the Mets closer’s entrance song becomes an afterthought.
This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6
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