Some managers have more rules than others. Bobby Valentine, we recently learned, won't tolerate alcohol in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse. Conversely, other managers prefer to let major-league players police themselves. Ozzie Guillen of the Miami Marlins would be one of those who tends to be hands-off — with one exception: Everybody better be on the top step of the dugout for "The Star-Spangled Banner." That's it, that's the list.
The song lasts from 90 seconds to two minutes, Guillen says. If you can't handle standing still for it, the Sun-Sentinel reports, prepare to feel the Wrath of Oz:
"A lot of people have been killed trying to make this country free for us," Guillen said. "You should be there for at least two minutes. Respect that, especially if you come from another country. You should be there an hour before. I think it looks good for baseball if you're in the stands and you look at the team respecting the flag and the National Anthem…Kids can see that, the respect."
It's the same singular rule Guillen had when he managed the Chicago White Sox from 2004 through most of 2011. Guillen always has shown respect for what it means to be an American; he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2006. For all of his silliness, he's very earnest and serious about this topic.
Playing the national anthem before every single, solitary baseball game (from Little League through spring training games in the pros) is a curious thing. We (in America) have done it with regularity since World War II, when any large gathering of people seemed like a good time to have a patriotic moment. And so, over the past 70 years or so, it's become baseball tradition. If you look at it from that sense, it's cool.
In baseball, patriotism can be (and has been) exploited, and it can be overdone (and has been) to the point of making it meaningless sometimes. But the national anthem is an organic part of the major-league experience. It's a nice time to be still, to be quiet and reflect (or sing along). It can even rev up your emotions for the upcoming game. This ought to be one of the most agreeable things Ozzie can say. Nobody ought to have a problem with it.
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