MLB: Give “God Bless America” It’s Unconditional Release

This is another updated version of an essay I first published on Online Journal on December 13, 2003 and again on this blog on August 8, 2005. Unfortunately, as I said in August, it’s still relevant.

I was very pleased to not hear God Bless America when I attended the final game of the 2003 American League Division Series in Oakland between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics. When we got through the 7th inning stretch without the narrow religious and political slant of God Bless America, I thought, "Finally! Major League Baseball has stopped this patriotic drivel that has insinuated itself into the 7th inning stretch since 9-11." I always felt that singing God Bless America at the ballpark was a completely inappropriate way to remember the victims of 9-11. Citizens of over 30 nations died in the attacks, most of them workers and visitors at the World Trade Center. How quickly we’ve forgotten that.

I think people who believe in divinity—and I do; in fact, I’m a polytheist—should want the Divine Essence to bless all humanity.

My relief was short-lived. God Bless America turned up again later in the post season. I turned down the volume every time. When I edited this essay on August 7, 2005, I turned down the volume again. The folks at Ameriquest Stadium in Arlington, Texas have decided to "honor America and the men and women in the armed forces" by having someone sing God Bless America. The Baltimore broadcast to which I was listening picked it up.

Want to honor our men and women in the armed forces, MLB? Have MLB Productions create a glitzy PSA calling for an end to the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Let’s have our troops home, reunited with their families and enjoying days at the ballpark. Offer admission discounts to members of the military. But give God Bless America its unconditional release.

America’s pastime has become an international sport. Major League Baseball has a team in Canada; there are several minor league teams there as well. MLB seasons have been opened in Japan. MLB.com follows winter ball’s Caribbean Cup. MLB is now highly touting a World Baseball Classic. (That something can be called a "classic" even before the first time it’s ever done is another issue althogether). I wonder what international players and fans really think when they hear the game interrupted for someone else’s patriotic hymn? I was born in New York City and I know what I think: "I’d rather hear a beer commercial." And I don’t even like beer!

The Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series. They are skippered by Ozzie Guillen, a proud Venezuelan who took the Championship Trophy to Venezuela, so that his countrymen and women could see it. The White Sox pitcher who started the clinching game of the Series was another Venezuelan, Freddie Garcia. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez congratulated Guillen on the team’s victory. But a few weeks prior to the World Series, Pat Robertson, alleged man of the cloth, was calling for Chavez’ assassination. Why should any Venezuelan in baseball, or any American, or anyone else whose morality says calling for assassinations is wrong, want to "honor America" by standing up for, removing one’s cap for, singing or even listening to this political jingoism at a ballgame? I am so glad we don’t do it in Oakland, and if I ever visit a stadium where it is done, I’ll make sure to go the bathroom during the 7th inning stretch, even if Nature isn’t calling.

Our politicians have promised us for years that there will be other terrorist attacks on our soil. The "assurance," if you can call it that, that there will be another terrorist attack on US soil was issued by the members of the former 9/11 Commission, now the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, on Dec. 5, 2005. If another attack occurs, will MLB invent a 4th inning stretch to sing My Country ‘Tis of Thee? (That’s the melody to God Save the Queen, by the way). How about not letting anyone leave the ballpark at the end of the game until we’ve sung America the Beautiful? Ludicrous, right? Singing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch is ludicrous, too.

Let’s not sing anything in the 7th inning and move Take Me Out to the Ball Game to its logical place: just before the game. Then, let’s drop the national anthem and just play ball. The anthem came in during WW II, which means baseball had many great seasons without it.

I wonder how many "ballpark patriots" do something patriotic when it takes a bit more effort than going along with the herd at the park. Just to name one patriotic act, election figures would suggest that well fewer than half the eligible citizens in any stadium on any given day are registered to vote and actually do vote. So let’s ditch the cheap, "emotions-on-the sleeve" flag-waving and focus on the game. The only flag I want to see waving at the stadium is a pennant.

And while you are at it, MLB, please change the format of the Futures Game to something other than U.S. vs. the World. A lot of the current problems on the planet can be tied to the attitude of U.S. vs. the World.

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA

3 Comments

Somehow you found a way to tie your wacko and crazy ideas of what you think is America, into baseball and this blog. If you want to post a politcal blog, there are many other sites for that. But this, imposing your views on people who read these, is no worse than what baseball does in the 7th inning stretch. I am glad you got it published with a left wing journal, congrats, you are awesome. No flags at the ballparks? No national anthem? You should tell Canada the same. Instead of trying to blame America for everything that is bad in life or in your life particulary, please look at yourself first and realize that you live in the greatest country in the world. It is no suprise you work at the Berk, who would of known that you were a lefty? Just remember, these players that come from other countries, wouldn’t have the luxuries that they have in life if it wasn’t for America and the MLB, they should be happy to stand and listen to our anthem and God Bless America, and all of them are happy to do so. Also, your anti-americanism is sickening quite honestly…those 30 citizens from other countries are not forgotten only in your mind do others “forget”.(America will never forget you sheeple)…For it to be so easy for you to trash America for 9/11 is breath taking. The attack happened in America, don’t forget that. Keep pounding down your fast food and other fattening foods and criticize America for being the leaders of the World. Because we all know you would rather have Hug a Terrorist Day to be more “diverse” and “understanding”. You Californians are all the same. “Illegal invasions” please, I guess it was people like you that held America back from being in WWII until ’42. When leaders genocide their own people, that is right in your mind? That should still go on? In 20 years after you will learn just how wrong you were, if in fact you are alive. You have no idea of culture and life outside of North America, try travelling sometimes, try travelling to the Middle East, travel to Asia, travel to Russia, do you know anything about life outside of Baseball and America?(the answer is apparently no) My brothers served in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghan and they said at least 25 people a day came up to them to thank them, you know nothing about this war, leave the politics to the professionals, and keep believing that Eric Byrnes is a good baseball player.

Nick,

I am not going to answer you here because I don’t want to start a full blown political discussion on what is essentially a baseball blog. But what I put here is here because MLB has intruded politics into baseball with GBA.

And by the way, I do think the Canadians should drop their anthem from their ballgames as well.

I am a lifetime New Yorker who was 9 blocks away when the Towers came down. I certainly do not feel comforted nor safer by the superficial acts of patriotism that became fashionable after 9/11, including GBA during the 7th inning stretch. And I resent being cast as “unpatriotic” because I do not wish to participate in trite, jingoistic rituals. Samuel Johnson wrote, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” and that is as true today as it was in 1775.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: