Apparently it’s difficult being a baseball fan and an atheist.

I had another horrible encounter with someone that couldn’t just let me sit through God Bless America at the ballgame tonight. I remarked earlier in the year about my increasing disdain for GBA, and as a person that goes to 45+ live baseball games a year, I knew I was going to have my hands full this summer. Since the encounter I vented about in 2012, I’ve begrudgingly stood (without removing my cap) in an attempt to alleviate those types of interactions.

In short-season A ball, there’s 38 games a season (barring playoffs), so we get our fair share of poor renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner. The performer tonight was especially lousy — he was off-key, and dragged out every syllable of every word — and he came out during the seventh inning stretch to do GBA. For some reason, the ValleyCats have been playing the song multiple times during each homestand this year.

I’ve been taking bathroom breaks during the song this summer, but I didn’t need to go tonight. I figured he was going to be horrendous as a singer, and it’s a song I already dislike, so I’d be extra miserable through it. Thankfully, Punk was with me, and when I noticed she wasn’t getting up for it, I latched on to her inactivity (which I’d now label as courage) and stayed firmly lodged in my seat. The dude lived up to my expectations, singing the long version of GBA and taking his sweet fucking time with it. I sat the entire duration, catching up on my Wordfeud matches.

If I was someone that believed in karma, I’d say that I earned a free pass for standing so many times over the last two years, but since there isn’t karma I didn’t catch a break. During the final refrain, the comments started up from behind me, and for the next two innings we were berated:

“Wow, how rude! Sitting through that!”

“Some people are just so disrespectful, I can’t believe it!”

“What ignorance!”

“I worry about the world as this generation of self-centered assholes takes over.”

“People like that hate the country!”

“You just can’t fix stupid!”

That’s when I made the mocking mouth movement gesticulation, and yelled out, “Yap, yap, yap! Shut up and let us enjoy the game!”

“I bet they sit through the anthem too!”

That was the final straw. The exact problem I pointed out back in April was spit out to me in person. These fucking morons equate GBA to the anthem and it drives me mad. I spun around to make eye-contact and retorted, “no, because that song actually stands for something!”

“Whelp, ya just can’t fix stupid!”

At this point, my sister was getting pissed, and as the dumb broad went back to the “so rude and disrespectful” comment, she spun around and asked how it’s rude that we don’t believe in god and don’t want to stand up for the song.

“It has nothing to do with that! It’s for the troops!”

Excuse me? The song says it’s a prayer, so presumably the person being goaded into standing beside and guiding America is god, right? Maybe I’m missing something? Regardless, we again attempted to focus on the game and move on.

“They deserve each other. What a pair.”

“They should drop dead!”

“You’re a real piece of shit!”

“What a bullshit attitude!”

“Get out of the fucking country if you hate it so much!”

With increasing fervor, I requested that she leave us alone. She didn’t, so we went to the ushers for help. They didn’t do a fucking thing. I’ve had season tickets for four years, and before that my father and I had partial season-tickets. It amounted to absolutely no support, even though they espouse a “no tolerance policy” for profane, sexist, racist, or otherwise abusive remarks.

Guess that doesn’t cover scumbag atheists, huh? Good to know where we stand. This happened around 9:00 pm, I sent an email to the fan relations person at the ValleyCats around 12:30 am, and I’m typing this at 4:00 am. I’m still perturbed by the experience, so I’m going to try and close with a few funny observations.

  1. She kept calling us rude and disrespectful. I guess harassing the living shit out of two other people isn’t rude?
  2. She repeated the, “You can’t fix stupid” line at least fifteen times. Apparently we’re incredibly stupid and beyond repair, but she can’t formulate more than one phrase to keep repeating.
  3. Sitting through GBA is offensive. (How offensive is it?) So offensive that the only suitable punishments are dropping dead or leaving the country.
    1. Whether she likes it or not, the troops are fighting for me and my sister too. It’s the first fucking amendment to the Constitution. Amazing how dudes in the 1700s knew this was going to be a problem and wanted to protect us from it, isn’t it?
  4. My sister and I have matured greatly over the last two years. The remarkable level of restraint we exhibited would have been unprecedented to our younger selves.
  5. I’m leery of another altercation tomorrow. We both have season tickets, so I’m fully expecting a remark shortly before, during, or after the anthem about me rising for that.
  6. The season’s almost over. This asshole has been riding the umpires about every single call she didn’t agree with all season long. We’ve drowned her out with cheering, and never confronted her about how obnoxious she is. With two regular season games left, it finally boiled over. Awesome.

The real tragedy in all of this is that I want to avoid her now. In her mind, that’s saying she’s right and I’m hiding like a dog that just ate cat shit and spilled litter all over the floor.  I was already experiencing consternation regarding the renewal my season tickets before this, and the way I was treated tonight is really pushing me over the edge on skipping out on them next year.

I’ve tried to have a “live and let be” mindset, where you do your thing, and I’ll do mine. People like this make it really fucking hard to not engage with that militant atheist urge.

Fucking hell, man. Seriously. Fucking hell.

Introducing the seventh inning mute.

I’m increasingly annoyed by the playing of God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch at every single Yankees home game. The song is terrible in both message and execution, and I’m just so worn out on hearing it. I’m starting to tag it as the #SeventhInningMute on Twitter, and fully encourage fellow baseball-minded atheists to follow suit.

It’s doubtful we’ll make an impact and get teams to stop playing the folk song. It’s a double-edged sword of being imbued religiously and militarily. We know anything dealing with that subset of the American population is insusceptible and too sacrosanct for a vocal minority of atheists to influence.

I guess we missed our chance as it was suffusing the nation’s ballparks. It’s been a year and a half since I wrote about an annoying experience at the “Joe.” My position back then was to just ignore it and do my best to live with it. My stance has evolved, and the ubiquity of the song this spring (during training and live games) has stoked the change.

When you search out opinions on the song, it appears that every post is complaining about it, rather than touting its effervescent charm. Want to honor the military? How about dropping the Marines’ Hymn on us?

From the halls of Mon-te-zuma, to the shores of Trip-o-li!

Man, now that screams patriotism! You want to get fired up? Play some of the marches from across the branches. Maybe it’s just my experience of playing in marching bands, and really getting into the genre in high school, but these songs are incredible. Regal. Powerful. Elegant. Not hokey and overplayed like GBA.

I want to expose this guise of using GBA as a tribute to our armed forces. Fuck the stupid song and the bullshit reasoning they give behind it. Besides, when we expand out into other marches, we can easily wind up with 81 different songs to play to honor our troops and veterans.

Let’s go for it!