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OPINION: America's Pastime...oh really?

OUT ON A LIMB:  By John Embry

I read it.  And paused.  I read it again.  I really wanted to be sure that I was truly understanding what I was reading.  Here it is: 

“The Tigers held multiple meetings during Summer Camp regarding what to do for the national anthem.  They ultimately decided that each player should do what they choose and they will support each other in whatever they decide.”  

These comments were from a story about how the Detroit Tigers were approaching the apparently-complicated issue of the national anthem.  

The article continued:  “We’ve had meetings a couple different times.  We are united,” said Ron Gardenhire, manager.  “Our baseball team is united here.  Baseball in general is united on what we’re trying to do here and make statements about what’s happening in this country.”  

It gets even better:  “I believe in my guys.  I told them, ‘Take a stand, you do what you have to do.’ I have no problem with that whatsoever.  And I have no problem with those guys on the other side kneeling.  That doesn’t bother me one bit,” added Gardenhire.  


Really?  The national anthem of the country in which you live and make your living is that controversial and a big league manager could care less if his players take a knee in a blatant act of disrespect toward it?  So, this is America’s Pastime?  Is this the sport that saw multiple high-profile players put their careers on hold and in jeopardy by leaving the league during World War II to fight for our country? In fact, around 500 or so Major League Baseball players actually served in the military during that war.  Do the names Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio sound familiar?  Is this also the same league located in that same country that is able to pay its players of all races millions of dollars per year to play a wonderful game that most of us had to give up early in our life in order to get real jobs?  It is.  Only in a land of bountiful opportunity are those things possible.  

But here in 2020 we find ourselves living in some bizarro-world of professional sports where so-called “social justice” advocacy, the unfortunate brand that Black Lives Matter (BLM) is peddling, seems more important than playing the actual game for which these athletes are paid.  This has been more common in the NFL and NBA, the latter of which has even produced a list of approved social messages that its players can put on their jerseys. MLB has been late to this party but they seem intent on catching up in a hurry.  At last night’s season opener, all players and coaches of the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals took a knee and held a black rope (expressing unity I suppose?) prior to the playing of the national anthem.  Apparently taking this action before and not during the anthem was on some level a realization that baseball’s fan base may not look kindly at their version of social activism.  But, maybe not, as the league also plans to have the MLB and BLM monikers stenciled together on the pitcher’s mound.  Apparently league officials either don’t know or don’t care that Black Lives Matter, the organization, isn’t really about makings sure that black lives matter, which they do, but are more interested in pushing a radical political agenda of Marxist ideology that is steeped in divisive race-baiting rhetoric, anti-police policies, and disruption of the traditional family structure.  Bottom line - BLM is intent on destroying the United States as it was founded and as we know it today.  To their credit, they do not deny this.  They own it.  But, MLB and other sports leagues don’t seem to care.  

Now, my question is this:  Do the fans care?  Do they care enough to NOT be complicit in the controversial actions of these professional sports leagues?  I’m not sure.  I am torn.  I love baseball - the Yankees and the Reds particularly.  I loved playing the game as a kid.  I love going to games, watching games, listening to games, and talking about games.  But, I also love my country.  It is a great country.  I love all the good the United States has contributed to the world, the opportunities and freedoms our nation has provided for some many people of all colors from around the world.  I love our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much for so many in the name of freedom.  Unlike Ron Gardenhire, I do have a problem with players taking a knee in front of our flag and our anthem.  Our faults as a country are many, slavery chief among them, but I also love how collectively we have confronted these stains in our past and have made remarkable progress in addressing them as a nation so that we can learn from our shared history.  Few acknowledge this progress as “hating” America has become fashionable.  It’s sad. 

Personally, I am not sure what I am going to do about baseball.  I gave up on the NFL and NBA years ago.  Baseball, America’s Pastime, has a stronger hold on me though.  I yearn for a time where being a sports fan was just about the game and the majesty by which it was played -  as ABC’s Wide World of Sports used to say “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”  It was an escape from the angst of life - politics included.  For now that time is gone.  Can I hold on as a fan?  Can you?  I’m not sure but it’s not looking good.


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