A Baseball Game or a Military Parade?

Opening Day at Fenway Park

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Last Thursday (March 30) was opening day at Fenway Park, where “my” team, the Boston Red Sox, began their 123rd season. I turned on the TV just as a humongous American flag fell across the Green Monster (the wall in left field). Standing before that wall were troops in camouflage uniforms saluting smartly as the National Anthem began. As that anthem reached its conclusion, four combat jets flew over as the crowd cheered.

And I thought to myself: When did opening day in baseball become an excuse for a military parade?

Not to be a killjoy, but I thought we were celebrating a new season of baseball. I can see an over-the-top celebration of all things military on July 4th, perhaps, but on March 30th?

Heaven knows the cost of all this military hoopla. The military doesn’t care, of course, since it has plenty of money to burn. Plus, it’s basically a huge recruitment commercial for a military that is under increasing strain to meet recruitment quotas, so it’s a win-win for the Pentagon.

As I’ve written before, we can’t seem to play ball anymore in America without the military involved in the game. But war is not a game, nor is military service.

Even as the Pentagon and the Red Sox team up to celebrate the military, giving viewers a warm patriotic fuzzy, veterans continue to suffer from the aftereffects of a generational war on terror, notes Andrea Mazzarino at TomDispatch.com. Many of these vets suffer from multiple traumas, yet as Mazzarino succinctly puts it: “America’s veterans need all the help they can get and, as yet, there’s no evidence it’s coming their way.”

As usual, the VA is underfunded even as weapons procurement is awash in funding. There are plenty of people in the VA who care, but they are swamped by the number of veterans in need of care. A good book on this is “Our Veterans: Winners, Losers, Friends, and Enemies on the New Terrain of Veterans Affairs,” by Suzanne Gordon, Steve Early, and Jasper Craven, published last year.

What we need in America are far fewer military celebrations and far more attention paid to the plight of our veterans. Meanwhile, let’s forgo the military trappings in our baseball parks and sports stadiums and let the players do what they do best: play ball.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

40 thoughts on “A Baseball Game or a Military Parade?”

  1. “Heaven knows the cost of all this military hoopla. The military doesn’t care, of course, since it has plenty of money to burn”

    And would clearly prefer to ‘burn’ it rather than take care of their own!

    1. I read a while ago when they used the jets in the Super Bowl that it was part of the military budget, it was around $400 million and considered it a valuable tool for advertising recruitment. I was stunned at how much better you could do with the money like offer incentives to join?

  2. Baseball teams have been wearing military fatigue uniforms for decades on designated days. The NFL has a contract with the Pentagon that provides, among other things, that the players have to be on the field for the National Anthem (they used to be in the locker room at that time). Not to mention the horrible military fly-overs during NFL games.

    Sports used to be a nice escape from all this crap. Now between the military and commercialization, they just remind me of how awful this country is.

    1. Veterans day happens during the NFL season. Or should I say the NFL season happens during veterans day because veterans day is every day. But anyway, the NFL does veterans week.. They want to make sure they get good use out of those camouflaged hats and jackets that everyone on the sidelines is wearing. In baseball, I’m a die hard Cubs fan and they honor a vet at every god damned game. Every baseball game I watch shows someone in uniform during the game and the announcers gush about them keeping us safe. Makes me want to upchuck.

      1. Well, I’m a White Sox fan, so we’ll have to agree to disagree there.

        Professional baseball was created to distract people from real issues, and I have no doubt that the ruling class makes a big effort to use all spectator sports for that purpose. It doesn’t work on some of us, but I’m sure spectator sports serve as a distraction for most people who watch them.

        Now we have military propaganda deeply embedded in spectator sports, and by “now” I mean as of decades ago. Never was like this when I was younger, but you can’t get away from it now. I’m sure that the military and ruling class know that the military is the most “trusted” U.S. government agency, and the military propaganda that we now suffer during spectator sports is just one more way to maintain that brainwashing.

      2. Personally I’m enjoying the quicker game this season and am “free trial” spamming MLB instead of paying them $25 monthly to watch.
        Their 1 week trial actually goes for several weeks before you need to resign up for a new trial (after a MAC address spoof of one’s laptop) using the same virtual credit card ($1 limit which shows it as valid but can’t charged more at the trial’s end) as before (they also need a cookie clear unlike most streamers; annoying ;-)
        You’d be amazed what you can tolerate if you aren’t paying to watch…
        But then there a lot of options (Hulu, HBO, Brit Box Acorn TV, Criterian Chanel plus Deezer, Tidal, Spotify, and Pandora (all the hi-fi versions) are my options that I spam continuously and watch as well when it’s not baseball)…instead of paying the Borg to watch or watching free TV or listening to ad supported tunes.

        1. Like the designated hitter, the pitch clock and restrictions on how often pitchers may throw to bases in order to keep runners close is a major perversion of the game. Anyone who likes this crap doesn’t understand baseball.

          And BTW, the reason the games got longer is almost 100% due to more commercials. There used to be one minute between innings, now there are two. That extra minute of commercials alone accounts for almost the entire time difference between when games averaged 2.5 hours and the current (before this season) 3 hours. This change was driven by the advertisers and the networks, which have been complaining to Major League Baseball for years that games going too long were interfering with their advertising.

          1. It maybe a perversion of the game but I’m regaining close to half an hour per game and that’s because the scratching and other stuff has lessened.
            I do wonder how the quicker pace will effect pitcher’s arms though.
            It is way less disruptive “to the game” then football’s coddling of quarterbacks nowadays; you (almost) can’t even give them stern looks lest you get a flag thrown for roughing.
            Another plus is less announcer babble to fill time; I really don’t care about their latest charity work nor about the Mamma’s new house.

          2. Yeah, the “roughing” stuff is getting out of hand.

            I can’t remember which game it was, but almost certainly a Chiefs game, where a player from the quarterback’s team literally pushed an opposing player INTO the quarterback, and the foul was called. The push didn’t look intentional or anything, but the “fouling” player was very obviously trying NOT to hit the QB. And all of that is compounded by the recent tendency of QBs to run the ball more than they used to, putting defense on hair trigger to tackle if necessary.

            Baseball is really my preferred sport, but I seldom watch it on TV. I like actually going to the games. Haven’t been to one in years. I may have to look up my local AAA franchise’s schedule if I can’t make it down to Tampa when the Royals are visiting.

          3. I can remember when the first time the opposing team threw it was when you got your first penalty for roughing the passer because you hit him as hard you could AFTER the ball was thrown.
            The thinking was his game would be off because he’d worry about another cheap shot.
            Head games do work occasionally so it was a every game thing.
            Our high school football coach might have watched North Dallas 40 too much but it was almost a documentary back in the day …
            Even to those shots to get a guy back in the game and those little white pills.

          4. The late Al Davis said that you have to hit the opposing quarterback hard and early in order to get that result. I’m a Bears fan, and we’ve certainly had our share of quarterback killers, so I expect the opposing quarterback to be hit hard and often.

          5. Last game I went to was in’97. I can only imagine what a beer cost now. Plus, I’m a Cub fan and going to Chicago isn’t on my preferred list of places I want to be.

          6. I probably haven’t been in … oh, 13 years or so. And the beer was outrageous then. I lived in St. Louis at the time, so it was Cardinals games I went to. But my favorite stadium is Kauffman in Kansas City. You can see everything, and all the seats are reasonably good. When I was a kid, Vida Blue came walking out of the bullpen and said hi to me.

          7. Best place I’ve ever watched NFL football was Wrigley Field. Yes, that Wrigley Field, same place the Cubs play. It was very small for a football stadium, and we were so close to the players that we could hear them. A former player told me that the Bears loved it — it was also really loud, we were right on top of the players, and fans were far more intense about the games back then — but the opposing players hated it, which is exactly what you want for home field advantage.

          8. Baseball is by far best watched live, far more so than other sports, because it’s largely about the flow of the game. But you might not like going to games so much now, as they’ve totally ruined that flow with their new pitch clock and restrictions about pitchers holding runners on base. This BS pitch clock and the new rule that pitchers may only throw a limited number of times to bases in order to keep runners close have really perverted the game. This year it looks like a comically sped up game where every pitcher has to pitch like Mark Buehrle. Again, all done because of money (see my response to ZaSu above).

            As to football, “kill the quarterback” was always my favorite play (not literally of course). I grew up in Chicago watching Dick Butkus, Doug Buffone, Ed O’Bradovich, Richie Pettibone, etc., so that explains it. I couldn’t hate the rules outlawing defense any more than I do, and those rules began being implemented in the 1970s (again, see my response to ZaSu above). The rules against touching quarterbacks are just more perversion of the game in order to get more scoring.

          9. I suspect I’d still enjoy a live baseball game, even with the probably insane concession prices. It sounds like the new rules suck, but for me going to a game is more about having a beer and a dog and doing some cheering, and maybe getting a word to/from a player if my seat is good enough to be within hearing distance of the walk from the dugout or whatever.

            I want to go to a game this year — perhaps when the Royals visit Tampa, but we also have 15 minor league teams in Florida and I actually find those games more enjoyable than MLB. So we may go to Jacksonville, which is closer, to see the Jumbo Shrimp play.

          10. Your “beer and a hot dog” comment was what I meant about the flow of the game. Hard to explain in words, I’d have to figure out how to articulate it. Speeding up play just so they can have more commercials is really abhorrent, but Americans are brain-dead sheep and don’t even notice. Just like you can’t watch a baseball or hockey game anymore without being forced to look at advertising. Totally disgusting, but everyone I mention it to says they don’t mind. No wonder Americans all acted like Pavlov’s dogs regarding the war in Ukraine when Russia invaded.

          11. NFL glamorization of “bone crushing hits” era is over and it hasn’t aged well anyway. if u want a sport that retains that dangerous-as-hell swagger switch to pro cycle road races. unbelievable the risks the UCI puts riders thru on dangerous narrow roads full of pinchpoints roundabouts bumpouts road furniture and curbs. it looks like “bone crushing QB hits of the 90s” anachronism taking place in real time.

          12. Football is still very violent, it’s just that the violence can no longer be directed anywhere near as much at quarterbacks. But you clearly don’t really understand what football is about, which is blocking and tackling. If you want to watch constant passing, acrobatic catches, and a lot of scoring, watch arena football. That’s what these a-holes have been turning real football into the past 50 years, and it’s really disgusting. I enjoyed the NFL a lot more before all the lame rule changes that started in the ’70s than I do now, though it’s still a great sport to watch and they haven’t totally ruined it yet.

            As to motorized recreation, are you kidding?! You have to be brain-dead to watch that crap, and it’s very environmentally harmful to boot. Motorized recreation should be outlawed for environmental reasons alone!

          13. I fully agree about football. The perversion of that game started in 1972 with moving the hash marks further from the sidelines, making them virtually meaningless. Then in 1974, the NFL implemented the illegal chuck rule and began allowing offensive players to use their hands when they block. This was the beginning of turning real football into arena football. The NFL falsely claims that it’s the natural evolution of the game, but like the government talking about wars, it’s a big lie.

            In the 1960s, the NFL commissioned a study to find out how to get more people to watch games. The result of that study was that the average fan doesn’t understand the game well enough to appreciate good defense, so they’d have to get more scoring in the game in order to get more people to watch. The rest is history, and we now have a very perverted game of football that’s more like arena ball than real football.

            The rules against touching quarterbacks are basically for the same reason: if a team has to use a backup quarterback, it won’t score anywhere near as much. Owners also look at players as their property, and owners don’t want their most valuable property, quarterbacks, to get injured. Of course the proper solution would be to return to real football by eliminating all the rules against playing defense that began being implemented in the 1970s. Before that, offenses only threw the ball 1/3 of the time. If you throw 1/3 of the time instead of the 2/3 of the time they throw now, quarterback injuries will be less common without perverting the game to disallow tackling quarterbacks.

            While this is just sports entertainment, it’s totally typical of how the rich manipulate facts and lie in order to get what they want.

          14. I was taught how to facemask and hold in JH football.
            When I asked the coach about the refs his reply was, “it ain’t illegal until you get caught”

          15. That’s true, but you can choose whether to be a dirty player. And this is not a good lesson for a kid who’s not even in high school yet. (In sandlot ball you have to play fairly because there are no refs, so no dirty play allowed or accepted there.) I never had a football coach say or teach anything illegal, but one of my hockey coaches was questionable about that kind of stuff (“hockey is a war in ice with sticks as weapons”).

            My late dad told me that when he was playing college football, he was assigned on one play to block a guy who outweighed him by a lot (my dad was a receiver). So my dad ran up to the guy and stepped on his foot hard. I asked him what his coach said, and his response was, “just don’t get caught.”

          16. I got accused of trying to kick someone and I told him I was trying to trip him but missed.
            Even the refs laughed at that one.
            That was High School but back
            in JH there were plays designed around facemasking the center to pull him to one side so a linebacker could quickly stunt in and sack the QB. As coach noted, “they were too new to be good enough to catch you” he was right.
            Coach eventually got caught…..by a shotgun toting father.
            He and his new bride had a 8+ pound premie….
            He definately was a good influence.

          17. I agree completely. I never wanyed to leave when I went to a game. No clock was a feature. And if you can’t play the field, you shouldn’t be in the majors. But what is really mind numbing is a relief pitcher has to face a minimum of 3 batters. What a croc of shit.

          18. All because of money, which ruins everything. Damn the jerk who invented that crap!

        1. Didn’t even follow the link, just read the URL. Exactly what we should expect from these people.

          While I loved playing sports as a kid and I still like watching them (though not as much as they get ever more commercialized and ever more perverted for moneyed interests), I think we can all agree that the worst people in high school were generally the jocks on the football team (jocks, not just the players). I don’t look to athletes for any social, moral, or ethical guidance any more than I would ruling class people or their lackey politicians, and the NFL is the worst of all these.

  3. “Heaven knows the cost of all this military hoopla. The military doesn’t care, of course, since it has plenty of money to burn.”

    They’ve have always said that these are training missions. Afterall, you never know when you might have to strafe a stadium someplace. You know, terrorists play sports too. /s

    1. Or drone a wedding party somewhere in the ME. (By the way, the 2001 AUMF was left in place).

  4. PROPAGANDA. Propaganda to entice young men and women to join up, “be all they can be”, somewhere in the world, stationed on one of our 750 military bases.

  5. God Bless you for telling the truth. I have thought the same thing but most people do not want to hear the truth. Even your most loved ones will call you to negative. I loved the RedSox especially the magic of 1967. I loved the NFL and watched it with my father after Sunday dinner in 1959. But then I notice the greed, steroids, cheating and gambling. Of course with gambling it is just a matter of time that obviously fix games take place. With fans accepting horrible calls and one sided decisions as part of the game. People worshiping thugs and criminals because they are good at playing a Childs game .

    A halftime Stuper Bowl show that has been dragged into the gutter by Satan himself. So why not have a Military parade to honor our home less Vets while illegal criminals pour over our border. Or let us remember the soldiers left behind in Vietnam and Afghanistan. Or the Veterans and victims of Agent Orange and depleted uranium ammunition who were lied to. While we push the same depleted uranium for Ukraine to use against Russia. God forgive us for what we as a country have become.

  6. The people who cheer the loudest for this obscene circus are invariably those who have never served, would never serve, and would never allow their children to serve. But they are all “patriots”, happy to cheer on those who do or may fight, as long as it’s a clean and painless event. Just don’t bother the same enthusiasts when you’ve had your legs blown off, or been horribly burned. They’re “busy”.

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