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The ceremonial first pitch has, allegedly, been sullied

May 29, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

Snoop Dogg AP

Today in the New York Times, let’s play “spot the traditions that never were”

In a sport that clings to its traditions — from managers wearing uniforms to the playing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch — one time-honored feature at the ballpark has taken an absurd turn, at least for the game’s purists: the ceremonial first pitch. For decades, the honor was extended only a few times a season to a rarefied group that included presidents, mayors and military veterans. These days, it is regarded as a marketing opportunity, a sweetener in sponsorship deals between baseball teams and groups that want a piece of the spotlight.

The real tradition in baseball is managers wearing suits, ties, starched collars and bowler hats and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” has largely been diminished by the “Sweet Carolines” and “God Bless Americas” of the world. Why should the first pitch, then, be so sacrosanct?

And I dunno, maybe I just go to different ballparks than the Times writers do, but ever since I can remember there have been first pitches — often multiple first pitches — by boy scout troops, Grand Poobahs of various lodges and no small amount of car dealers who later use a still shot from the game to PITCH you the best deals. GET IT?!

Maybe, on the whole this is a newer thing. Given that 85% of the people in the ballpark are still trying to buy beer and find their seats when the first pitch comes — and given that on either side of the first pitch are promotional announcements and bad pop music — I’m having a hard time getting worked up about this so-called sacred tradition being sullied.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 29, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Or, in other words, slow news days even exist in New York.

  2. BeEtLjOoZ - May 29, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Reblogged this on #LouisianaMultiverse.

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 29, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Plus it’s illegal in most states to buy what Snoop was marketing there. What a weak argument.

  4. 12strikes - May 29, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Well… reading this story cost me 30 seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

    • quintjs - May 29, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      good to see you double up and waste another 60 with that post.

      • fanofevilempire - May 29, 2013 at 4:19 PM

        nice………. you beat me to it.

      • 12strikes - May 29, 2013 at 4:53 PM

        Would have been shorter, but I used capitalization and proper grammar.

  5. rcali - May 29, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    I’m still trying to figure out what “God Bless America” is doing in the middle of ball games. I believe the National Anthem gets the job done but somebody is enjoying patting themselves on the back for it I guess.

    • jeffa43 - May 29, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      You should never complain about God Bless America. …. Ever!

      In fact, we could use more patriotism all the time.

      God Bless America!

      • fanofevilempire - May 29, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        even if they forget the words?

      • jeffa43 - May 29, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        Wow…. what did I say?

        How sad that God Bless America offends the majority…..

      • manchestermiracle - May 29, 2013 at 6:21 PM

        Singing a song in the middle of a baseball game isn’t my idea of patriotism. Apparently a few others agree with that.

      • alexo0 - May 29, 2013 at 7:19 PM

        I’d personally be in favor of one patriotic song sung between each inning. I’m also a little embarrassed that this blog does not include a picture of the flag in the first post of each day.

    • jeffa43 - May 29, 2013 at 5:57 PM

      RCALI ….

      To answer your question…. As most baseball fans will remember, it was added when we started playing games after 9/11.

      A time to reflect on how lucky we are to live in the USA, and in a time of heartache, we were asking God to bless America as we had just been attacked.

      I would be embarrassed to forget that if I were you.

      • manchestermiracle - May 29, 2013 at 6:30 PM

        The percentage of Americans who don’t identify with a god grows every year. I’m a bit befuddled at your logic in asking your god to bless the country after he apparently allowed nearly 3,000 of your fellow citizens to die in a terrorist attack. Perhaps he was angry you didn’t introduce your sappy paean sooner to the 7th inning stretch.

        It didn’t bother me when the practice was introduced right after the WTC attack, but more than 10 years after it smacks of the red scare of the 50’s that resulted in the motto “In God We Trust” being put on our currency. Another example of a lack of ability to understand the 1st Amendment and a back-handed insult to those who either aren’t religious or prefer to keep religion in the private sphere where it belongs.

      • hojo20 - May 29, 2013 at 6:51 PM

        Yeah I loved an 8pm game for the 01 WS, where the games are so long and then God Bless America is sung and then Fox goes to commercial, making the game even longer. Total waste of time.

      • mrredlegz - May 29, 2013 at 10:18 PM

        Speaking of an inability to understand the 1st Amendment…

        The Constitution of the United States of America grants you the freedom OF religious choice, not a freedom FROM all things religious. Somehow you would like us to believe that a ballpark sing-a-long of God Bless America threatens your religious preference or imposes a perspective that you don’t subscribe to? Give me a break.

        Am I the only one who finds it odd that so many of the Atheist/non-religious types seem to feel greatly threatened by a God they believe doesn’t even exist?

    • misterj167 - May 29, 2013 at 6:01 PM

      Hey I’m waiting for the day when they start dragging out flag-draped coffins and screaming “why can’t you be more like them?” at the fans.

      Even as a veteran (and from a family of veterans) I find this soldier worship a little discomforting.

      • jeffa43 - May 29, 2013 at 6:59 PM


        I understand where you are coming from, and some points I agree with.

        But to reference where you are “befuddled”… In time of tragedy that I say God Bless America.. I will explain it slowly so you can understand my logic. Most people look to something as a God, in the US you are free to decide, So the phrase God Bless them, as in bring them peace.. Help their pain.. Is a common phrase used by most in the USA.

        And to refer to God Bless America as a “sappy Paean” , well then my friend go back across the pond to Manchester and enjoy your futbal.

        I am fine with just the Anthem sung very traditional and loud at the begining, but there are far greater things to worry about then God Bless America in the 7th. For those that read this, and find it as a avenue to vent anger toward this…. Wow…

    • kinggw - May 29, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Amen. At Nationals Park, there is the national anthem before the game. You have to stand and wave your caps for the troops after the 4th inning, and now new tradition of God Bless America after that in the 7th. Its too much.

  6. fanofevilempire - May 29, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    and how about we just sing the anthem in a hart warming simple way
    rather then a BIG production.

  7. bobwsc - May 29, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    and once upon a time, baseball writers weren’t such sanctimonious d-bags.

    • 18thstreet - May 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      Can we get a fact check on this?

  8. alexo0 - May 29, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    This writer is just upset that Rivera blew the game the same day he threw out the first pitch. Gotta blame something.

    • deep64blue - May 30, 2013 at 4:56 AM

      I assumed this is what the story would be about lol

  9. ddmcd1974 - May 29, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    Manchester you pathetic windbag do not worry about what is wrong here while your average day over in that dirty pond of yours people get their heads chopped off while walking the streets. Listen pal and learn ok. God does not pick and choose who why what he saves. We are of free will. That’s the problem here, you’re a bozo who really has no grasp of any religion so you spit out nonsense which you read on your faith bashing reddit page. If you would learn God began life then when he didnt like what was happening he cleaned the earth of all accept the Boat, then many moons later gave us a son since to which we could follow for after life(when were dead) since he was determined to no longer intervene in mans daily life. So as you can see people may believe in some sort of godly intervention here but the reality is the only way you will feel God is once your dead. But it’s ok for people to believe this. It’s actually good for people to do this because it gives people a sense of peace and peace is always better than the alternative.

  10. cubanxsenators - May 29, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Up until 15-20 years ago (in the ballparks I attended) first pitches were for Opening Day, post-season and select other special occasions. Some time around the mid-90s Thorn’s Dodge salesmen started showing up. Before then it was an unusual event you paid attention to; after, of as much relevance as the dot race.

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