I guess there can't really be a better way to spend my evening on the 3rd of July than at a baseball game, eating hot dogs and peanuts (and unfortunately no cracker jacks, but I'm not complaining). It was a great game, one of the more exciting baseball games I've been to, though this might be due in part to my being much older now and much closer to the field than usual (somehow, even the furthest back seats in a small stadium are great seats).
I've grown up with baseball. I won't say for sure this is an American thing, except maybe it is. My physics professor freshman year was endlessly using baseball analogies to explain things, which, in turn, would only confuse our Chinese student further. My family doesn't do sports, so I don't really understand much about the rest of them: football is lost on me, I can hardly follow soccer, and I honestly don't think I've ever watched a basketball game. But somehow I've reached adulthood understanding baseball, with its overly complex rules and unimaginable intricacies. (This line here? If the ball crosses it, that counts as swinging and missing, but only twice...)
The thing that really struck me while I was there, and I'm not sure if it was because it was baseball or the day before the Fourth of July or both, was the level of patriotism involved. Singing the national anthem at the beginning is normal. Singing "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch (of all crazy terms) has been standard for the past ten years (though I'm not sure I've been to a game where they sang it, which dates how long its been). Maybe the team mascot comes out on the dugout in a shiny red and blue shirt at every game here. I think they do fireworks after every game at this stadium, but I was wondering about the music. They started with classic fireworks music (ie Katy Perry's "Firework"), and moved on through a bunch of patriotic songs. Do they do that every time?
Anyways, I was reminiscing about the patriotic songs unit in junior year Humanities. We looked at the lyrics of popular "patriotic" songs and wondered: why are these considered patriotic? Take Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" for example. Classic "I'm proud to live in this country" song, but has the most depressing lyrics ever. He talks about having a hard life, being sent to Vietnam "to go and kill the yellow man" and coming back and having nothing left to live for, basically. Is this why we're proud to be Americans?
Maybe it is. Sometime later, they played "It's America" by Rodney Atkins, whose music I generally like. This wasn't an exception by any means. I felt it captured our country surprisingly well, Springsteen and all... everything but the fireworks.
And what could beat fireworks after an adrenaline filled win in a chilly outdoor stadium by a minor league team with some players playing their second game in the league.
Perhaps... the team mascot in a Snuggie?