Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Baseball gives military vocal performers some visibility; an odd experience to go to a game on the day of the MLB suspensions

Okay, a Major League Baseball game is hardly a Broadway Play, unless you think it’s fixed.   No, but I did make time to get out to see the struggling Washington Nationals play the division leading Atlanta Braves Monday night, in order to see Stephen Strasburg pitch.

There was a little bit of military show:  a detachment from the United States Coast Guard embellished the “first pitch”, and a female officer named Christ sang the National Anthem a cappella, and then sang Ronald Reagan’s favorite “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch.  What followed was some disco music that you would be more likely to hear upstairs at the Town DC.

Some people, when they join the military, do get to perform music publicly – beyond the reach of the bands in each branch of service (who often perform on the Capitol Fourth).  The service academies have choirs, and Naval Academy midshipman Joseph Steffan sang the National Anthem at an Army-Navy game in Philadelphia in the 1980’s, before being denied the ability to graduate in 1987 for “admitting” he was gay late in his senior year (book “Honor Bound”, books blog, Oct. 10, 2007. 

I’ve always thought that “The Star Spangled Banner” could use some “recomposition” (by you know who), and maybe some polytonality, or at least more chromatics.  The first stanza is repeated literally.  And the chord under the word “Free” in the last line (“land of the Free”) should be harmonized on on a chord other than the tonic B-flat major. 

I hate to admit it, but the Soviet Union had one of the most interesting national anthems, a played during the 1982 movie “Reds”. 

The Nationals lost, 3-2, but missed several chances and did not execute particularly well last night.
There was another element on people’s minds, though; it was yesterday (that is, the day I chose to go to a game) that MLB announced its suspensions of a number of players for using performance enhancing drugs.  Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez was one of two players cleared.  But during the evening, people could see news on their smartphones that the Yankee’s Alex Rodriquez had appealed the almost career-ending suspension and was back in the Yankee lineup in Chicago  Practically everyone thought that the Yankees’s allowing him to return during the appeal was inappropriate.

The doping, as we note, is all part of what David Callahan calls “The Cheating Culture” in his 2004 book (as in Books blog, March 28, 2006). It makes one wonder how valid is the “eusociality” of rooting for home town sports teams.  

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