I’ve been here before, most recently in 2013.
For a baseball fan, the only patriotic song that really matters is “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” for decades a staple of the seventh-inning stretch at ballparks large and small, from California to the New York island.
Unfortunately, the purloining of this sacred tradition commenced shortly after 9-11, reaching a predictable nadir during the annual playoffs and World Series, which prompted an exciting, new activity in my heretical household: Scrambling to be first to thumb the mute button, thus sparing us yet another performance of “God Bless America.”
Delightfully, the Orioles “get it” — not often enough, but we must start somewhere.
Orioles Deliver a Seventh-Inning Message: This Song Is Their Song, by Ben Strauss (New York Times)
BALTIMORE — In the middle of the seventh inning of the Baltimore Orioles’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks two Friday nights ago, the public-address announcer asked the crowd at Camden Yards to stand and celebrate America’s diversity. Three singers then stood on the first-base dugout and did a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land,” the famous folk song written by Woody Guthrie.
By the time the end of the third verse arrived — “All around me a voice was sounding, this land was made for you and me” — fans had joined in.
In a tradition that dates to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001, “God Bless America” is played in major league ballparks around the country, including in Baltimore, during the seventh-inning stretch of Sunday games. The song can also be heard during assorted holiday games, and the Yankees play the song during the seventh inning of every home game.
But Baltimore is the only major league franchise to regularly play “This Land Is Your Land,” which it does at Friday home games. And the song, long considered an anthem of the left because of its populist themes, is meant to be more than a Camden Yards singalong. It is a subtle, yet intentional, message from the Orioles’ management that at the intersection of sports and patriotism, one size does not have to fit all.