Opening Day, along with the hope and inevitable despair that await the Rangers this season, is here. It's the real first day of spring and maybe the single best excuse to skip out on work for the afternoon that you'll get in 2019. The Rangers and the Cubs playing their first real baseball game of the season also marks the official return of one of North Texas' safest spaces for conservatives.
As we outlined last year, Globe Life Park might be the best place in DFW to get one's fill of militarized patriotism, complete with thrice-weekly renditions of God Bless America, multiple military and police appreciation nights and even the occasional Army, Air Force or Navy induction ceremony to really get the MAGA blood flowing. Good luck if you want to go to a baseball game to get away from politics, or if militarism has taken on an edge for you in the age of Trump.
The Rangers know their audience, which is why they remained practically untouched by the national anthem protests started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. No one in the organization would even think about sitting or kneeling for the anthem, and sitting one out in the stands never really felt like an option either.
Thursday afternoon, just before Mike Minor throws the first pitch of a long season, the Air National Guard Band of the Southwest will lead the 50,000 or so in attendance in Arlington in Francis Scott Key's grating, racist, 1814 ditty. That's the way it's been — although teams began playing the anthem before games during World War II, not the beginning of time — and the way it will be, but that doesn't mean we can't dream about some songs that might be more appropriate, relevant or more fun to listen to.
Here's a list of 10 songs that are worth pregame top billing.
The still overtly patriotic —
America the Beautiful — Pros: Better lyrically than the Star-Spangled Banner. Better musically than the Star-Spangled Banner. People besides Jose Feliciano, Whitney Houston and Marvin Gaye can sing it without mangling.
Cons: No one will ever do it half as good as Ray Charles.
This Land Is Your Land — Pros: Lyrics to unite a divided America. Might get people more focused on Woody Guthrie and less focused on Arlo Guthrie.
Cons: Not really a big enough song to fill a stadium.
America, Fuck Yeah — Pros: More millennials know the lyrics. Gets rid of pretense. More swearing in public.
Cons: Chance your team plays the censored version and confuses everyone. People who don't get the joke.
Songs that some people think are patriotic, but aren't really. —
America — Pros: Simon and Garfunkel classic has America right there in the title, speaks fondly of the Midwest, the only place real Americans live.
Cons: Used to terrific effect by socialist Bernie Sanders in a campaign ad.
Born in the USA — Pros: Trump-approved, because he's never listened to it all the way through.
Cons: Thinking about the hollowing out of the American dream is sad. "Yellow Man" is an uncool way to describe a Vietnamese person.
Go the baseball route —
Centerfield — Pros: Iconic John Fogerty song about wanting to play one of baseball's most iconic positions. Rangers public address announcer Chuck Morgan often plays it before games anyway.
Cons: Fogerty not nearly as good without the rest of Creedence. Too individually focused.
Or the Texas route —
God Blessed Texas — Pros: Honors Texas first and the United States second, just like we like it. Music video would look amazing on the Jumbotron. Easy chorus with which to sing along.
Cons: Too country. Having to see the music video on the Jumbotron every time but the first one.
International Players Anthem — Pros: Playing it before games might lure Bun B away from the Astros and to the Rangers. It has anthem in the title right there.
Cons: Explaining to your kids what being a "million dollar mack that need a billion dollar bitch" means.
Formation — Pros: It's already the real National Anthem.
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Let everyone spend a little time with Pastor Kendrick Lamar —
Alright — Pros: More than anything, what America needs now is to know that everything's going to be all right.
Cons. Not Beyonce. Being associated with baseball might sully Lamar's impeccable reputation.