September 11th has become a big day for America and baseball is a big part of it. Any thoughts?
Over the past few days I’ve talked to a lot of non-American friends and we’ve shared stories about where we were when we heard the news on September 11, 2001. Everyone can recall exactly where they were, exactly what they were doing. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few times that 9/11 is the one day when the entire world remembers where they were when they heard about the attack.
The thing about September 11th is that although it happened in New York, it wasn’t just an American event. The people in the World Trade Center came from all over the world to work in New York. 9/11 wasn’t an attack on America. It was an attack on an open, liberal way of life enjoyed in many parts of the world and epitomized by the US that happened to take place in the New York.
That’s why I have a problem with what MLB has done in remembrance of 9/11. I still remember the first time I heard “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch instead of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I sat there wondering what was going on. First off, what place does religion have at the ballpark? And secondly, in remembrance of an event that affected the entire world and redefined that world in the blink of an eye, why a song that disregards the rest of the world?
“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. “
God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.
Let’s face it, a healthy percentage of the major leagues is made up of people who aren’t necessarily US citizens. Baseball has also actively sought to increase its allure outside of the US. So why would they replace “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” a song that celebrates the sport, with a nationalistic song that borders on jingoism? Yes, I know that baseball is America’s pastime. And I know that “God Bless America” is no longer sung during every game at every stadium. But that’s not the point.
September 11th profoundly affected the American national psyche. It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed because the wound still hasn’t healed and sometimes feels as fresh as it did that day. We should never forget what happened but we should also realize that the whole world felt that pain and continues to feel its effects. MLB needs to realize that, too, and if they can’t find a song more inclusive than “God Bless America,” maybe it’s time they went back to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
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Goals keep you focused. For instance, Jamie Moyer didn’t just walk out on day one of his MLB career and say, “Hey, I want to give up at least 500 home runs over the next couple decades.” No, he set manageable goals like, “Today I’m going to give up two homers and in my next start, only one.” That’s how records get broken.
Sometimes goals give you purpose. Like when Bill Clinton gets a little contemplative and starts talking about what keeps him going. Sure, he may have been President of the United States, the greatest country in the history of the world, but he’s also just a regular guy who wants to climb Mount Kilimanjaro before he dies. And see his grandchildren. Oh, and run a marathon.
Now, I’m a big fan of Clinton. But the guy is starting to look old. If you noticed him tottering around at the World Cup, he looked like an old man wearing a young man’s clothes. I hope he makes it to Kilimanjaro and I certainly hope he gets to see his grandchildren. But, it might also be time to realize that those two things could be mutually exclusive.
More than that, I worry about Bill for another reason. He said The Bucket List was one of his favorite movies. Ok, that’s cute and all but really? You’re a Rhodes Scholar and a past his prime Jack Nicholson running around diving out of airplanes is what does it for you?
At the same time, if I can still run around at 63 like Clinton does, I’ll feel pretty good. I mean, even if he doesn’t look quite as vibrant, the guy still knows where to be and how to do it. Who knows, maybe the way he does it is by having goals. Hey, it worked for Jamie Moyer.
Once again, all is right with the world. Well, at least half a world away it is. Japan proved again last night that the only way to win consistently is the small-ball way. And they have some pretty good credentials to back it up now. Two for two in the World Baseball Classic? Yep, I’d say that tells us all we need to know.
But to go back a little, the game between the US and Japanese teams the other night felt kind of familiar. A scrappy team with only a couple household names beats the longball launching representatives of the American heartland. Is this 2006 all over again? And with Adam Dunn manning first base as if he took fielding instructions from tape of the Tigers’ 2006 World Series pitchers, it hit a little too close to home. Why is it that the teams I support field like Nadya Suleyman’s doctor?
The thing is, this should be a happy time. Baseball is back and after a couple week hiatus the regular season officially begins. We no longer have to worry about a potentially disturbing summer at the Jersey Shore and even my beloved and much maligned home state is slowly coming to grips with reality. As if that wasn’t enough, dreams come true next year when for only $194k, you can have your own flying car!
But it just doesn’t feel quite right when the country that invented baseball can’t win at baseball. It’s a good thing there are pole-dancing bears out there or I’d have no reason to ever get out of bed again.
As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad, once the laundry list of abominable possibilities finally settles in, we US Americans could be in big trouble.
Nevermind the impeccable team consciousness so calculated and so perfected by Team Japan during international competition. Nevermind Team Japan’s quiet gamesmanship deftly defining and defending their world-class status. Nevermind Dice-K and Darvish. There is much more to fear… for example:
Rape! Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got nuthin’ on the Japanese. Don’t believe me? Know this: from December 1937 to February 1938, the Japanese raped an entire city! The then southern stronghold of China, Nanjing (aka Nanking), was completely decimated by the Japanese in a not-so-quiet storm of raging pillage quite akin to the stomping Chris Brown gave Rihanna not too long ago.
If that isn’t reason enough to fear the Japanese, how about this?
Not only do they combine situational hitting with speed, they are also known to make sure the opposite clubhouse spread is spiked with magic mushrooms, leaving the competition confused in a burst of beguiling blur.
Yet nothing should invoke more fear in the hearts of Americans than the Japanese group mind. To illustrate, here’s a clip of Team Japan’s batting practice:
They may not be a hit on Broadway (yet), but the Japanese sure do know how to rhythmically scare the bejesus out of any and all opponents willing to scrap.
US Americans, let us unite! Persevere! And conquer!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
P.S. Dear readers, if you haven’t already, make sure you purchase the Prince of New York Paul Lebowitz’s 2009 Baseball Guide. You can get it *here* and you should get it soon. It is your one-stop shop for all things 2009 MLB and it has magical powers (and by “magical powers” I mean “table of contents”). Believe me, this dude knows what he’s talking about. He’s the clean, charming, polite version of Jose Canseco.
On the real.
(Ichiro blur photo courtesy of Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Though I cannot necessarily prove this theory in conventional form, as an honest human being with an affinity for disclosure, I assure you that I have good reason to believe both Republican juggernauts Ann “She-Devil” Coulter and Rush “Just Call Me Jabba” Limbaugh were hunched over their television sets last night vehemently rooting against Team USA, praying to their hypocritical conservative god that Team Puerto Rico would find a way to quell the dreams and aspirations of US Americans worldwide.
It didn’t work.
Jimmy Rollins and David Wright became the baseball versions of Barack Obama and Joe Biden — once bitter rivals who put aside their differences, bridged the gap and brought home a win when it mattered the most.
Get over it.
That goes for my colleague, Mr. Allen Krause as well. Because we all know that Mr. Krause would rather see Rollins and Wright duke out that “choke-fest” moniker on the field — the last man standing to be crowned the argument’s winner; but if we US Americans are really about anything, we are about coming together in times of need, when it matters most.
Unless you are a Republican, of course.
And though Obama has done a fine job of staying the course early on in his presidency, it appears he finally gave in and enlightened the snickering skeptics and delinquent ditto-heads by unintentionally posing as a Tusken Raider for the cameras:
This unfortunate photographic gaffe comes on the heels of an equally embarrassing egregious error regarding the double-talk surrounding those suspiciously infuriating AIG bonuses paid out to the very individuals responsible for schmucking the company’s total worth in the first place.
Are the Dems backpedaling on their original outcries?
Does this reflect poorly on the majority administration?
More harm than good, I would say.
Should we blindly follow the GOP sideshow leaders and trust that malcontent dissension is the social bonding agent of the future?
Rollins and Wright. Braun and Lilly. Jeter and Youk.
There is a time and place to battle it out, folks. But when enemy minds come through together in the clutch? That, my friends, is what makes the United States of America the greatest country on earth.
Ah… If only politics would mirror baseball.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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me ‘cuz I’m right.
A loaded topic like this can really only take us in one direction: The weirdness that is the World Baseball Classic. Pedroia and Jeter trotting off the field together after a put-out at second base? That just doesn’t look right. Wright and Rollins manning the left side of the infield? Did I miss something?
Now, I realize that this weirdness can also happen during the All-Star Game but that’s a once a year freak-fest where the players wear odd uniforms and the outcome has taken on a disproportionate level of importance.
This is the World Baseball Classic, the World Cup of Baseball. I want drama. I want to watch MLB teammates like Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez whip themselves up into a nationalistic fervor so intense that they come to blows and then both demand trades. I want Jeter to talk about the toxic environment created by the presence of Red Sox players and former Yankees. I want David Wright and Jimmy Rollins to use this forum as an excuse to decide the NL East crown in the most logical fashion possible, pistols at dawn on the pitcher’s mound.
But no. Instead we get stories like this, where injured players are sticking around and other players are happy to sit the bench or take limited playing time just for the honor of being part of this team. Where’s a T.O. or a Latrell Sprewell when you really need them? Can we really allow this love fest to continue unabated?
However, there is still hope for the Scrooges among us. So far the US team has made congeniality easy by eking out a win over Canada and then pounding Venezeula. But what happens when they are faced with real challenges by way of Puerto Rico or Japan? Only then will we see what these players are really made of and what happens when vexing developments explode inside cramped locker-room havens.
But until that time I’m going to swallow my bile and cheer like a pre-pubescent girl at an early 90’s New Kids on the Block concert as the announcers rattle off the Pedroia to Jeter to Youkilis inning ending double-play. USA! USA! USA!