Which isn’t to say he was a fraud or anything like that. The man who sang “God Bless America” during last night’s game was a Marine and he had permission from the Marines to wear the uniform. And, based on his back story — he’s a former state trooper who served with distinction — he seems like a fine man.
But as Deadspin reports today, he was not a “retired” Marine as that term is typically employed. And, all things being equal, he should not have been permitted to wear his Marine uniform due to the regulations which attach to Marines who have separated from service. It’s an interesting read, so go check it out.
My view: this is the result, I think, of the extreme level of militarism and patriotism to the point of jingoism that has come to characterize Major League Baseball’s big events. It’s become such an imperative in the minds of the league that they — or whoever allowed this — is now willing to risk skirting the normal rules of military decorum in order to have a guy in uniform on the field snapping a salute in dress blues. As if it would be awful to not have a uniformed serviceman sing a song. As Deadspin’s story makes clear, though, the league does so at the cost of ticking off some Marine veterans, and at some point we have to ask ourselves if we’ve gone overboard with this stuff.
Tonight: The Anthem and “America the Beautiful” (which should be the Anthem in my view and is way better than “God Bless America”) will be sung by James Taylor. Let me preempt all of tomorrow’s controversy, though, by getting it out there: though he will likely be described as a “singer/songwriter” tonight, two of his biggest hits were written by Carole King and the Holland, Dozier, Holland songwriting team, respectively.
With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.
Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.
All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.
For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.
But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: