Thursday, April 16, 2009

Absurdity at the Old Ball Game

You may recall that I haven't had much interest in Major League Baseball since the 1994 strike (yes, I can hold a grudge for at least 15 years). I pay a scant bit of attention to the Washington Nationals sometimes (since they're 0-7 right now, there's very little incentive to keep track of their doings), but that's mostly because they're local and I need to know a little bit about them to keep up with conversations at work. Overall, though, I have very little interest in the world of professional baseball (a far cry from my childhood in which the Yankees dominated many of my thoughts and fantasies).

There are a lot of absurdities in the Major Leagues these days, but I think I came across the most ludicrous one tonight. A baseball fan is suing the New York Police Department and the Yankee Partnership because he was thrown out of Yankee Stadium during a game last year. Why are both of these entities being sued, you ask? Well, the police are being sued because they wouldn't let the guy go to the bathroom during the 7th inning stretch. To be more precise, they wouldn't let him go during the playing of the 7th inning stretch music - a performance of "God Bless America." The guy tried to keep walking and the police helped him walk right out of the stadium. The reason they wouldn't let him use the washroom during that hallowed moment brings us to why the Yankee Partnership is being sued: the group has "a policy that restricts fan movement during the playing of "God Bless America.""

They have got to be kidding! The man was not at a church service, nor was he at a classical musical recital - he was at a baseball game, a privilege for which he paid hard-earned money to purchase a ticket. The time between innings is when people traditionally stretch, buy refreshments and use the washrooms. The partnership's policy is ridiculous and the police behaved boorishly. I hope the guy wins a significant settlement. Religio-patriotism has reached absurd heights when people have to time their potty breaks not to coincide with the sacred 7th inning stretch.


Dave said...

I hope some judge takes teh Yankees to task on this one.

Barbara said...

I would like to say "only in America would someone sue for not being able to go to the bathroom", but I'm sure it would happen anywhere. Personally, all three sides are off their rockers!

Josh said...

Hey, the Nats aren't win-less anymore! They're 1-7!

Evie said...

The point of the lawsuit is not about not being able to go to the bathroom, it's about a ridiculous restriction of one's freedom of movement. The USA is supposed to be the land of the free. Is it now the land of the free, except when God Bless America is being performed? Frankly, I would have thought, "I'll go to the bathroom now, while everyone else is singing, listening to the song, etc." To insist that one must stand respectfully during the song is idiotic. No one would have expected him to stand still for Take Me Out to the Ballgame. That's where he was - a ballgame - not a worship service.

Evie said...
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Evie said...

I was pretty sure they wouldn't go 0-162. I'm glad they finally got that first win.

Barbara said...

Hi Evie. I totally get what the violation was and agree with that it is absurd. I just don't see a lawsuit.

Evie said...

Ordinarily, I would agree with you about the lawsuit. The US courts have been flooded with lots of stupid, frivolous cases in the past couple of decades. Most of them make me shudder. In this case, though, a lawsuit may be the only way to make two things happen.

First, it may be the only way to get the attention of the Yankees and the NYPD. Hit them in their wallets, where they will feel the hurt. The Yankees' policy is a stupid hyper-patriotic, quasi-religious gesture that should disappear. If they are sufficiently embarrassed and the lawsuit is sufficiently costly, they may rescind the policy.

And, unfortunately, even though most members of the NYPD are good cops and good people, American police departments, including the NYPD (and law enforcement agencies around the world, for that matter), are known for being overzealous and hyper-authoritarian in the performance of their duties. It only takes a few jerks in positions of authority to wreck relations between the public and the police. A lawsuit may force the NYPD to examine and correct, yet again, these tendencies.

Second, it may aid in bringing about a serious examination (and, one can only hope, the abolition) of the American Civic Religion, which is unofficial but very real. I'm referring, of course, to that saccharine-flavored hyper-patriotism that usually drives non-Americans bonkers. There's nothing wrong with loving one's country, but that love is not best expressed with superficial sentimentality, nor is it best expressed by compelling others to join one in expressing it in a particular way - invite, yes; compel, no. Moreover, it goes against the grain of religious freedom to compel people to share and/or express particular religious sentiments with oneself or one's organization. Again, invite, yes; compel, no. People don't go to ballgames to participate in religious rituals and they should not be compelled to do so.

Barbara said...

it's unfortunate that a lawsuit is the only way to get their attention and to have change happen.