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The Tortured MLB Department: Is There Power in a Taylor Swift Walk-Up Song?


Taylor Swift sings the National Anthem before Game 3 of the baseball World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies. / Courtesy of John G. Mabanglo


In 2023, global superstar Taylor Swift broke one of many milestones for her career: having ten number one singles on the Billboard charts. Since then, she’s added two more singles to her number one repertoire including "Is It Over Now?" and "Fortnight.” In short, she’s made an incredible mark on listeners everywhere.  


Clearly, Swift can sell out stadiums across the United States. But her hits have also rocked baseball stadiums as memorable walk-up songs. Here’s some major leaguers who have stepped up to the plate to Swift’s greatest hits—and how her music affected their stats:


Anthony Rizzo

The New York Yankees first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, has always been an unabashed Taylor Swift fan. Before his career in New York, Rizzo frequently walked up to “Bad Blood” during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. In a 2016 game against the Pirates, Rizzo used the song and received backlash from angry baseball fans on Twitter. One post (that has since been deleted) wrote that Rizzo lost his “man card” for using the song. After winning 8-2, with the help of Rizzo’s bat, the Cubs replied:


In 2023, Rizzo’s allegiance to Taylor Swift continued to pay off. After 45 consecutive games without a home run and batting .142, Rizzo found a solution. On July 23, against the Kansas City Royals, Rizzo changed his walk-up song to Swift’s “Ready For It?” and went 4-for-4, breaking his 45 game home run drought. 


Rizzo has yet to debut a Swift song this season, but it’s not an impossibility.


Jeff McNeil

To kick off the 2024 season at Citi Field, the New York Mets second baseman walked-up to Swift’s “Welcome to New York.” Previously, McNeil walked-up to “Rock of Ages” for the entirety of his career. Though the crowd loved his choice, the song had no effect on the ensuing game. 


Later in the game, McNeil had a run-in with the Minnesota Twins’s Rhys Hoskins, who was sliding into second base. Hoskins’ late slide knocked McNeil off his feet. Outraged, both benches emptied as teammates took up arms. Though no fight ensued, McNeil played the rest of the game tense, and he remarked post-game that the slide was “definitely not okay,”despite being ruled legal by the umpires.



McNeil doesn’t shake that one off. / Courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Josh Collmenter

On June 5, 2015, the Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher walked up to Swift’s “Blank Space.” The team went on to beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6. Although Collmenter held the Braves scoreless for six innings, he gave up three of their 6 runs in the sixth with two outs. Collmenter only saw the plate once—enough to debut some Taylor Swift—and was walked to load the bases. 


In the post-game interview, Collmenter remarked that he picked the song “to be funny,” elaborating,  "It's a little unconventional for a baseball player and I don't really particularly care one way or the other, so I figured I'd do it.”


In MLB.com’s The Cut, Collmenter’s pick of “Blank Space” made the season’s top ten walk-up songs list.  


T-Swift Or Not T-Swift?

A Taylor Swift soundtrack has made great games for players like Anthony Rizzo but made little effect in the case of the unfortunate Jeff McNeil. In either circumstance, crowds reacted triumphantly to the sound of a beloved song. Swift’s music puts players and viewers in the headspace to win, and it’s no surprise. 


But to the disgruntled anti-Swifts, take some advice from LA Dodger Clayton Kershaw. On MLB Network's Intentional Talk, he told listeners, “By the way, if you don't like Taylor Swift, you're just lying to yourself. If you're a dude and you think you're too cool to like her, just get over yourself, really."


 

Edited by Hadlea Lindstrom

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