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Down the Dirt Road

Where America’s favorite pastime and music genre collide.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Since all of you readers somehow stumbled across this article, I’m going to have to assume that you are all Mariners fans. If not, you’re in the wrong place. If so, you’re probably itching for pitchers and catchers to finally report and for spring training to get underway. You definitely can’t wait to see how all the Mariners’ new toys perform in spring training. You’d probably give your left little toe for opening day to come tomorrow. It’s the time of year where anticipation ceases to be fun and becomes downright inconvenient.

What I don’t know about you, the reader, is how you feel about country music. I personally cannot fathom a baseball season without it. That’s like spreading butter on non-toasted bread or playing pickup basketball with complete strangers without wearing a shooting sleeve to show you mean business. Seriously though, how can you fully enjoy America’s favorite pastime without a music genre that is mostly unique to this country?

The sad thing is you might have no idea how badly you need country music during the baseball season. It has literally all the feels necessary to brave a season as a Mariners fan. Fortunately for you, I took it upon myself to construct a guide to country music for the baseball season. Peruse it, ignore it, do as you please; just be warned that giving this genre of music a chance is dangerous, as it could lead to spontaneous assembly of new and exciting playlists.

Walk-Up Songs

Fun Fact: Apparently, the 1993 Mariners were the first team to routinely play walk-up songs for batters.

Runnin’ Outta Moonlight by Randy Houser

I vividly remember Kyle Seager walking up to this song a couple years back, permanently fusing the chorus to his face, at least in my brain. “Come on baby, let me take you on a night ride” in the context of the song probably means that Randy Houser wants to take his love interest for a cruise in his truck. Nonetheless, when I hear those words I imagine Kyle Seager taking a fastball for a night ride towards the right-centerfield bleachers in July.

We Went by Randy Houser

Chris Iannetta and Kyle Seager must have similar taste in music, because the 33-year old catcher also chose a Randy Houser song to usher him to the plate. This number - aside from the part about running from the cops - has the perfect vibe for a walk up song. A sort of reckless vibe welcomes excitement for the upcoming at bat.

Night’s on Fire by David Nail

If we talk about what Seager used to walk up to, we might as well include his current song of choice. I got to see David Nail live last year at Watershed, which was sweet because I didn't get to watch any baseball that weekend, so at least this song reminded me of the Mariners. This number has a very upbeat, fun feel to it, making it the perfect fit for Kyle Seager because I get overwhelmingly excited when he steps up to the plate.

Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Before Dustin Ackley walked up to the plate to “Fortunate Son” (easily the best walk-up song ever), his song of choice was “Simple Man.” When I hear the words “be a simple kind of man, oh be something you can love and understand,” I think of Dustin Ackley. I will always love Dustin Ackley, though I’m not sure I will every understand why he can grow such a great beard and I can’t. When the chorus plays, I think of the bearded lefty robbing Travis d’Arnaud of a home run and not smiling after. There was no need to change his expression; his highlight play was enough, plain and simple.

Homeboy by Eric Church

My favorite Mariner of all time, Justin Smoak, used this song as his walk-up music. Whenever I hear it I shed a single tear, which I wipe with my signed Smoak jersey, remembering what used to be. When the chorus ends with “come home, boy,” there’s nothing I would rather do than utter that phrase to the current Blue Jay. Come home, Justin. I miss you. (ED. NOTE: The opinions of Intern Luke do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Lookout Landing, as most of us prefer balls that go over the fence rather than those caught at the warning track.)

Just Gettin’ Started by Jason Aldean

This number, which Mike Zunino walked up to a couple seasons back, hopefully holds some symbolism for his career. Grant asserted the importance of this year for the Golden Spikes Award winner, who struggled down the stretch in 2016. We’re already having the time of our life watching him play great defense behind the plate; if he starts to piece it together offensively then “we’re just getting started tonight.”

Hillbilly Deluxe by Brooks and Dunn

Russell Branyan, a deluxe man who hit deluxe dingers, walked up to “Hillbilly Deluxe” when he was a Mariner. This is the kind of song that affirms every country music stereotype there is, which I think is awesome. Embrace it.

Chattahoochee by Alan Jackson

If there’s one thing that beats country music it’s a sweet mustache. Jeff Nelson enjoyed the perks of both. The tall reliever took the mound to “Chattahoochee” and boasted some enviable facial hair.

Early Season Vibes

Mean to Me by Brett Eldridge

I’ve been playing this a lot lately because it’s a sappy love song, thus describing how I feel about the Mariners in an accurate manner. I would encourage you to play this song after a series sweep or an important win. More importantly, I suggest listening to it as much as you can now, because even with a pretty rosy outlook on the upcoming season, it’s never bad to capitalize on all the positive emotions while they’re a given.

Beat of the Music by Brett Eldridge

Let’s say you head on down to Arizona in the middle of March to enjoy some spring training and warm weather. During your vacation, you fall in love with a player that you know won’t make the Opening Day roster. Saddened by this realization, you decide that you’re going to extend your trip as long as possible to enjoy watching this player live while you can. You might even shout “let that plane fly away,” just like Brett Eldridge does in the chorus of this hit.

I’m Coming Over by Chris Young

What Chris Young did here was he decided to take what it means to be a Mariners fan and put it to lyrics. Experiencing heartbreak year after year for as long as any of us can remember, we keep coming back with high hopes and big dreams. I was at the second to last game of last year, when playoff hopes were still alive, but the Mariners lost in extras and were eliminated from postseason contention. Nevertheless, here we are in February and there’s nothing I would like more than to be at Safeco Field.

An Ode to Felix

Springsteen by Eric Church

This is a personal favorite mine and has been for years, kind of like how Felix has been a fan favorite for over a decade. That’s kind of a stretch comparison, but the chorus of this song makes for a perfect anthem preparing for any Felix day. “When I think about you I think about 17, I think about my old jeep, think about the stars in the sky. Funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like the soundtrack to a July Saturday night.” When I think about Felix, I think about the 19-year-old kid that made his Mariners debut in the summer of 2005 and all the great memories that have come since. The King can be my soundtrack to any July Saturday night.

Midseason Grind

Hard to Love by Lee Brice

A guy I live with, whose name I shall not share, likes to give dedicated Mariners fans a hard time. He doesn't understand why we devote 162 games worth of time and energy to our fandom. I think the next time he messes with me about my love for the Mariners, I’m going to play him this song. Sometimes they’re hard to love and don’t make it easy, but there will never be a summer that I won't need them in my life.

Lights Come On by Jason Aldean

Speaking of Toronto, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a game or two against the Blue Jays in each of the past two seasons. That’s without a doubt my favorite series of the year. “Lights Come On” perfectly characterizes the buzz inside Safeco Field when our nasty lovely neighbors from the north try to out-pride our nationalism. When the lights come on and the Blue Jays roll into town, our city of coffee drinking, hard working Seattleites become ravenous fanatics with an insatiable appetite for mayhem. It’s beautiful.

That Don’t Sound Like You by Lee Brice

Lee Brice perfectly articulates the grief we all experience when our favorite players experience prolonged slumps. Going hit-less in 30 at bats just doesn't sound like (insert favorite player’s name) anymore. One issue I’ve had with “That Don’t Sound Like You” is that the chorus begins with “you always sounded like truck tires on a gravel road.” I mean, doesn't that just sound awful? Call me crazy, but I don't think I would hang out with someone that sounds like truck tires on a gravel road. That said, such onomatopoeia, if you really think about it, matches well with the mashing of dingers. A 430-foot roundtripper would probably make a loud, crunchy noise, wouldn't it?

Drinking Class by Lee Brice

Imagine the Mariners in a mid-September matchup with the Rangers, playing a game with huge postseason implications. A pitcher’s duel is headed to extra innings; Felix Hernandez looks as good as he ever has, the defense is playing flawlessly, but the bats haven’t gotten the job done up to this point. Come the bottom of the eleventh, a moonshot from Nelson Cruz launches Seattle to victory. Indulge yourself in this hit from Lee Brice, which characterizes perfectly the feeling after such an important win. A song that tells a story of grit, pride, and passion is the perfect anthem to a successful season.

Should it all go wrong...

A Little More Summertime by Jason Aldean

Here’s a new song that Mariners fans have needed for the past 15 years or so, but hopefully won’t need this time around. I thought I would include it, however, because the feeling is so familiar in Seattle. “If that sun would have just held up in that sky just a little bit - yeah - just a little bit longer.” This is your go-to tune for mourning a season that fell short of expectations. Not that we’ll need it this year, right?

An “oh my gosh we made the playoffs” type song

It’s a Great Day to Be Alive by Travis Tritt

I had the pleasure of witnessing Travis Tritt perform live at Watershed last year; the man is a performer. That’s all I’ll say about that. I thought I’d end this list with a great AL West title winner celebration song. “It’s a great day to be alive” is something I imagine myself shouting if the Mariners clinched the AL West title. That said, there’s plenty more to this song that makes it relevant for a Seattle celebration of postseason. One line says “it’s been 15 years since I left my house.” Coincidentally, the Mariners have fallen short of the playoffs for 15 straight seasons. The song also mentions not having shaved in three days. Playoff beards anyone? Travis Tritt was up to something when he wrote this song. Maybe he knew 2017 would be Seattle’s year. I hope you’re right, Travis.

They say give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Unfortunately, I can’t teach you to like country music. But I’ve given you a solid list of country songs to get you started. Now go onward and listen to some good tunes.