Sunday, May 29, 2005

Freedom From Religion

I was taught that our Constitution not only allows us freedom of religion, it also allows us freedom from religion. So, I'm exercising my patriotic duty by calling for an end to playing God Bless America at Major League ballgames.

The recent practice of playing this song started in New York after 9/11. It was played in every ballpark at every game, for the rest of the 2001 season. Now, most, if not all, MLB teams play the song on Sundays in the middle of the 7th inning. The Yankees (and Mets?) present the song every freakin' game.

Even a cursory review of the lyrics reveals this song to be not a patriotic song, but a religious one. And, as is typical of much of religious sentiment, this Irving Berlin-penned tune implies that America deserves to be "blessed," as if it isn't already. In the post-9/11 context, it's obvious that's meant at the exclusion, if not the expense, of other countries. If you believe in the concept of any "god," and all that religion purportedly stands for, why wouldn't you want to "bless" every country on the planet?

We already hear The Star Spangled Banner, and often America The Beautiful before baseball games. That's more than enough "patriotism" at a sporting event. If you want to hear and sing religious songs, you're free to do so at the church of your choice. Stop forcing it on baseball fans!

Let's give the 7th inning back to the stretch. If you want to hear a song about god and America, I could live with a sing-along of Bob Dylan's With God On Our Side.

© 2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Segregation Now!

MLB is patting itself on the back for what they perceive as the success of this past weekend's interleague play. Their official release and supporting story brag about the attendance in the series pitting New York vs. New York, the Angels vs. Dodgers, the A's vs. Giants, and the Cubs vs. White Sox. They also noted that Fenway Park was sold out for the Red Sox series with the Braves.

First, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are always sold out. Second, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you play a game between two teams in close proximity in a huge market, you'll draw fans of both teams. New York, Chicago, LA and the Bay Area are among the biggest metropolitan areas in the country.

Baseball's "natural rivals" are really artificial rivals -- they're manufactured, because a gullible public allows it. Real rivalries develop over time and circumstances: Red Sox / Yankees, Cubs / Cardinals, Giants / Dodgers.

Baseball was much more interesting when the leagues were separate: Separate league presidents (those positions no longer exist), separate umpiring crews, and no interleague play. As a purist, I appreciate the historical precedence of no cross-pollination. As a romantic, I appreciate the mystique created when the leagues only intermingled at the All-Star Game and the World Series.

MLB is fond of crowing that "the fans love it." Well, I'm a fan, and I loathe it. As I'm fond of crowing, just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good. McDonalds is the most successful restaurant concept in the history of the world, but the food is crappy, and it's not good for you, either. I boycotted interleague play for the first several years until my friend Greg insisted on treating me to a Phillies game in Fenway Park. I haven't eaten at McDonalds in over 10 years.

The most frequent justification from "fans" for interleague play is, "I like seeing Team X come to town." If you really want to see a team, put the remote down, get off your fat ass, and go somewhere. From Denver, the AL is as close as 600 miles -- a one-day drive. Only Seattle is farther away from an MLB city in the opposite league.

I'm hardly affluent, yet I've traveled to 44 MLB parks. If I can do it, you can too.

© 2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Monday, May 2, 2005

O, Baby!

Wednesday nights at Coors Field this season are Ladies Nights, sponsored by Big O Tires.

Insert your own joke here.

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor