Start the movement

Rob Neyer passes along a list from Thomas Boswell proposing ways to speed up baseball games. One of them caught my eye:

Sorry about “God Bless America” at the seventh-inning stretch, but it needs to go. It was a fine idea after 9/11. But it has served its purpose. And it wastes two minutes.

I don’t know how much time it really wastes, especially since they don’t play it at every game, but I didn’t think it was that fine an idea after 9/11.

I’m not out to ever make this blog about politics, so forgive me if I tread a little close to the line here.

I get why parks started playing the song when they did. It was an emotional time, and one when everyone felt the need to do something — anything — to somehow pay homage to the horrifying things that had happened.

But the song itself always seemed like a strange choice. One of the big selling points on the ol’ U.S. of A. is freedom of religion, and “God Bless America,” coming on the heels of attacks closely tied to religious fundamentalism, felt like a reactive and potentially alienating choice.

Plus it’s just not that good of a song. “America the Beautiful” is like 100 times better, especially if it’s being performed by Ray Charles on video.

Also, I’m not sure there’s a more patriotic song than “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

And today, for better or worse, the playing of “God Bless America” at baseball games only serves to remind us of an awful thing that happened eight years ago, and to create situations like this one. If the pursuit of brevity forces its league-wide elimination, then so be it.

22 thoughts on “Start the movement

      • You want it eliminated and you are such a lazy loser you won’t even spend any time to find out how often it is played. You are not only a traitor you are a pathetic excuse for a journalist. Why don’t you try doing your job before you make anti American suggestions on your web site. Pathetic, and disgraceful, are you Berg.

      • I imagine patriotism would be better displayed by sending a care package to a solider not in a basically meaningless jingoistic display.

        I love my country very much, but I find it insulting that people think singing a song at a baseball game is a constructive way to show how much I appreciate the sacrifices that were made so I can enjoy the freedoms this country offers me. It’s insulting to the people who made those sacrifices.

        Actions speak louder than words in a song. If you really want to show your appreciation, do something with real impact like donating your time or money to making these troops lives easier. These kinds of displays are as shallow as the yellow ribbon on the bumper of a car.

  1. How when discussing ideas to speed up the game can these guys leave out the most obvious which thing which is banning players from stepping out of the box after every pitch, simple and would shave a ton of time.

    Also, I’m not a fan of these ideas that actualy change the rules of baseball and alter the game itself, like waving a player to first instead of throwing the pitches, and forcing a RP to face 2 batters.

    Yes those things are annoying but they are part of the strategy of the game, much like commiting fouls at the end of a basketball game drag the last 2 minutes out, but they are part of the strategy and part of thegame. If a team wants to put a guy on, they should have to execute the pitches because anything can happen on those pitches.

  2. “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.” – by Irving Berlin

    Since when is THE foundational principal our founding fathers used a “potentially alienating choice”? This principals allows anyone to worship any way they want to in America.

    This type of thinking has effectively and detrimentally removed God from our public schools, from most of our Government and this progressive way of thinking will eventually turn the United States of America into just another country.
    Personally I think all the verses of the National Anthem should be sung. What do I mean by all verses? Look them up.

    • I’m done with God Bless America, and it always disturbs me that YES forces it down my throat on that rare off-day for the Mets that has me watching YES.

      I’d even go one step further. Baseball’s all about tradition, so why not go back to play the ‘anthem’ as it was considered when baseball first started being played in “My Country ’tis of thee’, instead of The Star Spangled Banner.

  3. Look, God Bless America being played is not just for the attacks on 9/11. Teams are choosing to do this to take time to remember the sacrifice being made by the men and women of our Armed Forces overseas. I think as we get further from the day when America stood still, people are forgetting that our troops are fighting for us. People also seem to forget that when talking about the Wars we are fighting.

    You want to shorten games…limit the amount of Catchers visits to the mound, Coaches visits per game (right now a coach can talk to a pitcher 2X per inning), and batters like Nomar Garciaparra who has to fix every inch of his batting glove during an at-bat.

    Thank you Mets, Yanks, and Nats for reminding people what we are still fighting.

  4. Second time a coach or manager visits the mound in an inning the player is automatically pulled. Thats the rule and its fair.

    Waving the guy to first on an intentional walk makes so much sense.

    Maybe there can be a time limit between pitches like the play clock in football. Give the pitcher a limited amount of time to throw the ball from the time the ump calls the previous play.

    Give the batter 2 step outs per at bat. The third time a batter steps out costs him a strike.

    God Bless America…time to cut it loose.

  5. I’m with Ted. Get rid of it, or mandate that “Flying Spaghetti Monster Praises Highly the United States” also be sung (actually just hummed is ok, since the words are in Esperanto), so that my personal religious preferences be honored.

  6. Speed up things with inspiration from Golden Gloves boxing: make it a three-inning game. That should cut down the time to about an hour and a half (though, Jerry Manuel’s matchups might stretch it to two hours).

    The added benefit of a three-inning game is we wouldn’t have to be subjected to middle relievers like Sean Green and Elmer Dessens.

    BTW I think “Lazy Mary” should be played at all parks instead of God Bless America.

  7. I’m with Ted.
    I also support forcing everyone to play “Lazy Mary”.
    (And if I never again hear that dopey “so good, so good, so good” fill in for Sweet Caroline, it will still be too soon…)

  8. I think your comments are absolutely disgraceful to the thousands of people and their friends and families who lost people on 9/11 as well as to all the men and women who went to Afganistan and Iraq to try to prevent another 9/11 from happening.. You save two minutes. What a loss. Two minutes of your valuable time sitting in front of your TV mindless and uselessly doing nothing for nobody. If SNY doesn’t fire you immediately for your arrogant and disgusting attitude then they are as bad a s you are. Enjoy your two minutes oif fame and gorot in hell for eternity you inconsiderate lowlife..

    • Hey izzy,

      I’m sorry you feel that way, but if you read the above post carefully, you’ll note that at no point did I say anything meant to disrespect the memory of those lost on 9/11 or the troops fighting overseas. I didn’t even say the song should be eliminated for the sake of time — that came from Neyer and Boswell.

      My point of contention was with the song itself, in particular the reference to God in the title and opening line, because I recognize that religious beliefs can be a furiously divisive thing, as demonstrated tragically on Sept. 11.

      Because the tradition began in the very first games after those attacks, it struck me — and still does — as a reactionary choice that could alienate people of different spiritual beliefs. And I would argue that, since the United States was founded on the principle of freedom of religion, expressing that opinion doesn’t make me anti-American at all.

      Actually, since freedom of speech and freedom of the press are the two other main cogs of that very first amendment, I’d go so far as to say the above post is downright pro-American, since it celebrates my ability to put forth a potentially controversial opinion without fear of government censorship or arrest. And in fact, the United States’ tradition of fostering reform without violence, through open dialogue, is probably the thing that makes me feel most patriotic.

      Not that eliminating “God Bless America” at baseball games constitutes social reform. It doesn’t. It just means doing away with a tradition I feel to be rooted partly in isolationism and fear at events I feel should be universal and joyful.

      And mostly, like I said, I just don’t think it’s a very good song, in the musical sense.

      As for my two minutes of fame, I eagerly await them. And should they ever arrive, I promise I will very much savor them, since there’s an eternity of rotting in hell on my horizon. Until then, I’d love to continue discussing this, but I would appreciate it if you could express your views in a less inflammatory matter.

      I look forward to your response.
      Ted

  9. Wow Ted I didnt realize you were another low level thinker that got crazy when the word God is mentioned. Dont you guys have something else to bitch about? Relax id you dont believe in God thats ok, but dont ever pray if something happens to a memeber of your family…OK.

    • Paul, I’m really not certain what you part of that post you’d define as “got crazy,” and please don’t extrapolate beyond what I said above. At no point did I write anything about my own religious beliefs.

  10. God Bless America is silly. The sooner it ends at ballgames the better. And this is from someone who considers himself religious and loves this country.

  11. Does this song really extend the game? It happens in between innings. How exactly does removing the song help expedite the game itself since they’re already breaking for the inning?

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