I finally made it to my first baseball game of the season last month. I enjoyed myself even as the Oriole bats were silenced by Matt Moore and the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1. The result was a disappointment, but most of the rest of the day went perfectly. The weather cooperated and Natty Boh flowed freely even if the image warns you just how awful it is, with the one-eyed bitter beer face.
Baseball has long been America's pastime and while the NFL might be eclipsing it in popularity, it just does not have the history to fully take that mantle. This is why the inclusion of God Bless America bothers me so. Baseball is American, it does not need additional patriotism to make it more patriotic. Whats more the continued inclusion cheapens my experience by making me feel like I am not being patriotic enough and need to rush out and buy war bonds or some such nonsense.
Baseball, like all sports, is a competitive distraction for fans. The intended desire of fans is to be entertained, to keep their minds off everything else for a few hours. Ideally the home team wins, but so long as the game is competitive fans will feel like they got their money's worth. "Take me out to the ballgame" has been apart of baseball since the Cubs last won the world series. It has been woven into the fabric of the game for generations.
God Bless America was penned in 1918 and is a fine song in its own right, but I just don't see what it has to do with baseball. Teams need to focus on the enjoyable and carefree nature of long games and long seasons. The seventh inning stretch was created to get fans up and moving to cheer on the home team late in the game. For a while it made sense to go with God Bless America, but for most stadiums that time is done. Both songs are patriotic in their own ways. Baseball fans across generations look forward to going to games, hearing vendors hawk their wares, and root root root for the home team. It is time to get back to the seventh inning song that best highlights that, it is time to bring back peanuts and crackerjack.