It begins quietly, and on this day you probably won't be able to hear it.
Once A.J. Burnett leaves the dugout, the sellout crowd at PNC Park will roar. The chords won't poke through until he reaches the mound. The familiar cadence, repeated on a loop, da-dun-dun-dun-dun, da-dun-dun-dun-dun.
Burnett has taken the mound to Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" since he was a Florida Marlin. Monday, though, he'll hear the song for the first time as an opening-day starter, the advice of his two sons ringing in his ears.
"Kick some [butt], dad," they tell him before each start.
"I'll try," he responds.
Burnett's affection for Marilyn Manson was prevalent enough to make Baseball America's 359-word write-up of Burnett in 1999, when he was the Marlins' No. 1 prospect. Fourteen years, 345 games and three organizations later, the music exists for the beat.
"I don't listen much anymore," Burnett said. "I'm too old for that."
We ask the question every fan is asking: How will the Pirates avoid a repeat of 2012?
The 36-year-old Burnett has changed during his major league career. With the Pirates, he adopted the role of clubhouse elder, along with Jason Grilli and Clint Barmes. Their 34 combined years of major league service grant them the cachet to impact the clubhouse. Their success ensures that the rest of the players listen.
"He is unafraid."
Those were the final words of the "Strengths" paragraph in that Baseball America write-up. Burnett's lack of fear remains. Last September, when Brandon Phillips and Jared Hughes exchanged pleasantries after a hit-by-pitch, Burnett left the dugout and walked halfway to the baseline, alone, as backup.
He tempered his personality over 14 major league seasons. As a younger pitcher, he hadn't. He'd yell at teammates after errors, according to reports at the time. He was asked to leave the Marlins in late 2005 after criticizing his coaches and teammates.
"A.J. Burnett is a flame-throwing freak show who has no plans for the next pitch or the next day," read a portion of an ESPN the Magazine story about Burnett during his Marlins days.
Not only does Burnett now have a plan for the next day, it starts at sunrise. "You get here at 6:30 and A.J.'s here already," Jeff Karstens said. James McDonald is often by his side. It's probably no coincidence. After leaving the Marlins, Burnett signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, bringing him into the orbit of the king of early mornings, Roy Halladay.
"I think being around Halladay helped a lot, as far as what my purpose is," Burnett said. "It's not just to go out and pitch the best I can, but just my all-around purpose in this game.
"It took a while for me to figure that out. If I'd have been like this 10 years ago, who knows what would have happened?"
Burnett's purpose with the Pirates is more than retiring batters, eating innings, winning games. He holds sway over the clubhouse. He's not the sole source of wisdom. Barmes and Grilli play a role, as do Andrew McCutchen and others.
"To pinpoint one or two guys, I don't think that's accurate," Neil Walker said. "But I don't think it's far off either."
Part of the reason the veterans earned that power so quickly was the absence of such people before their arrival.