Wednesday, April 15, 2009

At the Old Ballgame

NEW YORK (AP) — A baseball fan who says he was ejected from Yankee Stadium by police after he left his seat to use the bathroom during the playing of "God Bless America" sued the New York Yankees and the city on Wednesday.

Bradford Campeau-Laurion says in his federal lawsuit his rights were violated at an Aug. 26 game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox when he tried to pass a police officer.

The lawsuit said the officer did not let him take a step before grabbing his right arm and twisting it behind him. It said two officers marched him down several ramps to the stadium's exit, where he was pushed out as one officer told him to leave the country if he didn't like it.
The problem isn't that the song is played during the 7th Inning Stretch prior to the tradtional "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Some parks do, some don't. The problem is that Yankee management thinks their ball club is our designated national team & behaves accordingly toward fans - who pay big bucks for the privilege of witnessing Chien-Ming Wang & Hideki Matsui. So hurrying to take a piss or buy a slice of pizza during the prolonged stretch break is as nasty as burning an American flag outside the gates of Fort Bragg. Outside the Fort, the civilian authorities can arrest you for a number of reasons, but not specifically for burning an American flag. What happens in the stands at the Stadium is thuggery.

The issue is who ultimately controls the property & what rights this does or does not confer upon management. But what is permitted the Yankees is not necessarily what is permitted the City of New York. The Yankees claim their lease allows them to bum rush those they deem insufficiently patriotic. If the court sides with the Yankees, there isn't much anyone can do. Then the Stadium is no different than a right a restaurant has to insist patrons stand up & recite the Pledge of Allegiance between the salad course & the entree, & leave the premises if they refuse.

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I am uncomfortable with the addition of singing of "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch. It is so, so, not baseball.
I've been more annoyed by the practice of opening classical music concerts with the national anthem. I don't know how common it is with major orchestras, but it's a regular thing now with regional & amateur groups. Classical music to me is like good religion - it has no national borders. I suppose the Brits always play "God Save the Queen.'
I hate "God Bless America" only because the Philadelphia Flyers use an old Kate Smith recording of the song to start their games.
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