by Gary Sterling
Kate Smith’s rendition of God Bless America was played by the New York Yankees for nearly 2 decades before they recently decided to pull the plug. This was done after a fan, a FAN, alerted the organization about racist lyrics that were in songs she recorded. Cool, I’m ok with the pulling of the song for several reasons which I will get to. But first, how come in 2019, in a time of social media, with everyone and their brother searching through everyone’s tweets, retweets, and likes, did multiple professional sports organizations not vet this? How?!? Whose ass is/was on the line where this could happen?
Years ago, when Chuck Finley took the mound to pitch against the Chicago White Sox, the PA person played Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’. Finley was going through a divorce with Tawny Kitaen at the time, who starred in the video for that song. It was a bad, nasty divorce. No harm no foul, right? Nope! The White Sox fired the PA person. Did they deserve this firing? Not for me to say. I find these actions silly and outrageous, but not a fireable offense. What I’m getting at is that they were fired immediately. The Yankees have been playing this rendition for almost 2 damned decades! No one knew anything about Kate Smith until a fan told them? Hell, I know nothing about her either, but after a quick Google search, I could write a term paper about her.
Now on to my feelings about the song in the first place…….
- MLB didn’t start playing this song until after 9/11.
- Most, if not all, teams only play this on Sundays, Opening Day, National Holidays, and Nationally televised games. See the hypocrisy here?
- Most fans don’t know the etiquette in regards to the song. No need to stand, no need to take off a hat, no need to put a hand over your heart. Most do it because they’re instructed to do so by the PA guy.
God Bless America served its purpose 2 decades ago when this country needed to come together and heal. Now the song is used for some talented person on a random Sunday/Holiday to show off his/her pipes. All the while, confused fans fumble with hand motions over their hearts or sheepishly wonder if they should remove their hats. In the past few days, in some places and across some platforms, it is dividing the very nation that it brought together.
The 7th inning already has the 7th inning stretch. At least everyone knows that they’re supposed to do during that!