Thanks to the events of September 11th, 2001 we have to remove our shoes and belts, and allow our genitalia to be viewed by airport security. I would gladly walk through the metal detector naked and submit to a full cavity search if it meant the end of the playing of God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch at baseball games.
One of the great things about attending a ball game is the visceral experience it provides of being transported to ones youth. You never forget what it felt like to be a little kid with your Dad at a ballgame. The organ music between innings, the hotdogs, and the look and sound of batting practice are engrained in my senses.
One of my few acts of enthusiastic crowd participation is to sing along with the crowd during the 7th inning stretch. It’s one of those times where I don’t mind being a little bit frivolous. Somewhere along the way, however, and I blame the Yankees for this, it became de rigueur to play God Bless America in the middle of the 7th inning, either before, or instead of Take Me Out to the Ballgame. At first it was only Yankee Stadium that foisted this dark reminder upon the fans, but lately more and more stadiums have taken up this practice.
Whose idea was it to remind us of the worst day in New York City’s history during the middle of a damn ballgame? We attend a game to escape the pressures and tension of real life, not to be whipped into a jingoistic state. There is no greater buzz-kill than this morbid trip down memory lane.
What’s worse is that Major League Baseball and the FOX network have codified this nouveau tradition on their telecasts by not breaking away during the playing of GBA during the 7th inning stretch. Are they out of their minds? How does this enhance our viewing pleasure? I’d rather watch Cialis commercials than endure this contrived minute of patriotism.
I have nothing against the song. It’s not a bad little melody, actually — I like it more than the Star Spangled Banner — and I would have no problem putting it at the beginning of the game. Here’s a thought: Why not play God Bless America instead of the National Anthem? It wouldn’t have to be every day. How about Sundays, since God is so prominently featured in the title and lyric. It’s just a game — why not let it breathe?