MARLINS SLUGGER WON'T STAND FOR 'GOD BLESS AMERICA'
Carlos Delgado, the newly signed power machine of the Florida Marlins baseball team, played in some small amount of obscurity in Toronto for the first 12 years of his career. There, while clubbing 336 home runs, and in the days since the September 11, 2001 attacks, he would choose to quietly avoid taking his place on the field during mid-seventh inning playing of "God Bless America."
He intends to continue this practice now that he'll be playing 100% of his games in the United States.
Delgado is Puerto Rican, which means he has that same quasi-not-Americanness that lets the island of his birth field a team for the Olympics, but not, say, Louisiana. But as a Puerto Rican, he is an American, and there are many who will be outraged by this behavior now that he won't avoid it for 81 games a year in Canada.
I am not one of them.
You should know that I am not a fan of playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to sports events. I tolerate it, and I certainly am way less opposed to it than I am to teacher-led prayer in public schools, but still and all, playing the national anthem prior to a baseball game demeans the national anthem. Worse, there are times and places it should be played, but isn't. Why not before each showing at the local cinemaplex? Or when the mall opens every day? Those make an equal amount of sense.
But slamming "God Bless America" into the middle of the seventh inning of baseball games frustrates me. First of all, is Vishnu really going to take time out from preserving the universe to worry about a few thousand people watching a ballgame? Is Allah on duty? Are we hoping that Allah will confuse Osama bin Laden by making an Ichiro Suzuki line drive fly over the wall in right field?
Or, there's Delgado's actual objection: That singing the song links Iraq to 9/11, and that by standing on the field while it plays, he's condoning that erroneous assumption.
Really, it doesn't matter. Other than the brief interruption in sales activity at Safeco Field, I don't mind either song being played. I'd rather our national anthem were "America The Beautiful," but that's just another disappointment in life that I must bear. But one thing that does matter is that Carlos Delgado is an American, and he should be able to behave as he feels he must, so long as he doesn't belittle anyone else's beliefs.
Or jump into the stands and beat up the fans.