Those who know me know how important I think the seventh-inning stretch is. There are exactly and only two things one does during the seventh-inning stretch: stand, and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with its true lyrics (“root, root, root for the Cubbies”). One time through, with no Baptist half-step-up modulation (I’m looking at you, Dodger Stadium), and sung well (or at least to the best of one’s ability after a few beers ;-) ).
This is one of the main reasons I dislike Bud Selig – he’s instituted this MLB-wide rule, in the wake of 9/11 and an apparent dearth of displays of patriotism at baseball games, that on Sundays and holidays, “God Bless America” should be sung during the stretch. Now not only is “GBA” an insipid song with schmaltzy lyrics that should take its place with “Shine Jesus Shine” on the Banished Songs List, but during the seventh-inning stretch of all times, the Eucharist of the game of baseball, it’s absolutely inexcusable.
Nevertheless, that’s not the purpose of today’s rant. Today’s rant is focused on none other than Mr. T. Now, let’s get a few things straight: Mr. T is, in most things, awesome. He stands as a shining symbol of things like ass-kicking, staying in school, drinking one’s milk, treating one’s mother right, and crappy made-for-Christian-TV movies. But one of the things Mr. T is not… is a singer.
Ever since Harry Caray died (rest in peace, which backwards is “ecaep ni tser”) the Cubs organization has been bringing in anyone with even a tangential relationship to Chicago, or any celebrity they can get their hands on, to lead the seventh-inning stretch that was popularized by Caray – who not only led the stretch well every time he stood up to do it, but was also, from what I’m told, generally rather drunk while doing it. This has led to some famously tragic renditions of baseball’s anthem – most notably that of Ozzy Osbourne:
Now, I’ve been tolerant of the tradition thus far, but this has to end. Just have Ronny Santo do it every time. He’s not that great a singer, but he is a Cub through and through (not to mention he also happens to know all the words). The revolving door just results in things like Mr. T’s rather painful rendition, or Ozzy Osbourne’s comical incomprehensibility. At the very least, there has to be some kind of vetting process, including at least two questions: (1) please recite the lyrics to the chorus of “Take Me Out”, and (2) can you actually carry a tune halfway decently? (I might also add a third question for people like Jeff Gordon: “Do you know where you are?”)