I picked all 13 Sunday home games as part of my 20-game package, because nothing caps off a busy weekend like a sunny, relaxing afternoon at Miller Park. But on several occasions, the outing has come very close to being ruined — ruined! — by the singing of “God Bless America.” I hate this song, and I’m not the only one.
“Wait, what are they doing? Oh, I hate this song! God Bless Deez Nuts!”
It’s not that I don’t like church, or God, or whatever. I do, and I especially like it when the Pope visits baseball stadiums. I just don’t like the song. In recent weeks other fans have gasped “Omg, he’s not standing” or “Omg, he’s going to get a pretzel” in my direction. Whatever — you try to get yourself psyched up to polka after Irving Berlin’s yawn-fest.
But like they teach you in journalism school, if you’re going to bitch in a column, you have to suggest a solution.
I’m sure there are people who like this song, but I’m not the first to point out (Will Leitch went on about in his book) that it’s not the national anthem and I resent being made revere a song that’s not that great.
I love the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and I always stand with my hand over my heart at ballgames, on the rare occasions I’m actually inside the stadium by the start of the game. I especially love our national anthem when played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. I would suggest any American facing a harrowing ordeal should pop in this album, lay on the floor and listen… And I guarantee that by the time the first strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner” cut through the acid fuzz and distortion, you’ll have figured out a plan, set forth with new resolve or at least feel a little better.
My mom always complained about athletes who didn’t sing along with the national anthem after winning an Olympic gold medal (Olympic gold medalist, Ben Sheets!). I disagreed, saying they earned that moment and they deserved to savor it, overcome with emotional or quietly reflecting. Also, the whole point of America is Freedom, that it’s your thing… do what you want to do.
And although the “Banner” has some cool imagery of the Revolution (“… the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air…” “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution”) it is not a godless ditty. The fourth stanza includes these lines: “Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land / Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation / Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just / And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’”
“From the mountains, to the prairies / To the oceans, white with foam” is OK, but it pales in comparison to my suggestion: play “America the Beautiful” instead. “O beautiful for spacious skies / For amber waves of grain / For purple mountain majesties / Above the fruited plain!” It’s also not a godless hymn, to wit: “God shed his grace on thee,” “God mend thine every flaw” and “May God thy gold refine” (Huh? God’s refining our gold? Haha, how about our oil? Am I right, folks?).
If you’re skeptical, just watch this, which the poster describes accurately as “Probably one of the best scenes of any movie ever.” Imagine this scene playing on the Jumbotron at Miller Park — baseball! America! There wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.
I’m going to the game with the fam on Sunday, and I will probably stand and salute during the song — more out of respect for my elders, who probably love the song, especially when Ronan Tynan belts it.
Or I might sneak off to buy a pretzel.