The Cleveland Indians game experience is great but they need to fix “God Bless America”

Family With Onion

My kids had a good time meeting Onion even if they were slightly “wary” of getting too close to her.

The Cleveland Indians do an amazing job with in-game entertainment. I want to say that first and foremost so that my one criticism of their “God Bless America” doesn’t get overblown. Before we get to the one negative, I want to talk about how great it has been to attend Indians games this season because of all the things they do right. It’s especially important to me now because I’m taking my son to more games and it takes more than just pure baseball to keep a 3-year-old engaged. So far so good as the Indians do and it’s great because it makes it easier for me to justify getting to experience baseball live and in-person more times per year.

So let’s get the one negative out of the way. The version of “God Bless America” that the Indians play is wrong. I mean musically it is jarring and incorrect. The song is going along just fine until the end when they inexplicably splice in an upward key change that is missing any kind of setup. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this YouTube video that catalogs some of the most famous utilizations of key change in music history including “Penny Lane” by the Beatles. The key change that takes place at Progressive Field occurs inexplicably before the last “God bless America” and I’m guessing they took a longer version of the song which included a key change that was properly set up, spliced them together and thought it worked. As a musician, I’m telling you it doesn’t. But that’s easily fixed and not what I want to dwell on.

I’ve been to three Indians games in the last two weeks, including both Sundays with my kids. We spent pregame in the kids area on July 7th where we ran into Jungle Terry and his giant 12-foot Burmese python named “Stretchy.” It was crawling around on a carpeted floor of an elevator lobby next to the kids area with kids touching and otherwise handling the giant snake. I, of course was hesitant to get near the snake, but that wasn’t all that was happening.

There was a table set up behind that and kids were getting in line to meet and get autographs from two Cleveland Indians players. The day that we went through the line, I was really impressed to see Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles sitting there signing autographs, interacting with the kids and taking pictures. I don’t think I’m insulting anyone when I say that my 3-year-old had absolutely no idea who either player was, but their presence wasn’t lost on any of the parents or the kids aged about six or older.

The actual kids area itself was perfectly staffed with some of the friendliest ballpark employees I’ve ever seen. They were helping to get toys for my 9 month old and had perma-smiles on their faces as kids darted all over the place. I can’t imagine that it is easy to commit to this level of friendliness, but to also maintain it over the course of a long season is pretty remarkable.

I could go on and on about the hotdog races and other things too. I always thought the hotdog races were a little dumb, but they’ve kept it going and managed to make it an integral part of the ballpark experience. And let me tell you, I almost lost my standing as a father yesterday when I suggested making a bathroom run when the hotdogs were starting to run. You should have seen the desperate look on my son’s face. Maybe someday we’ll say the same thing about the wiener dog races at FirstEnergy stadium. Who knows?

Take my word for it that the Indians are making sure that bringing your family to the park isn’t an impediment to going and they’ve set the bar pretty high for themselves. And they seem very comfortable with that too.

Now, please fix “God Bless America” so I have almost nothing left to complain about.

  • WayneEmbrysKids

    Get rid of it altogether. God Bless America has absolutely nothing to do with baseball. It’s nice to be patriotic and all, but we’re already singing the national anthem, which covers that issue.

  • Joe

    Any truth to the Indians and their ticket scams (only making available the more expensive seats on their site)?

    http://www.clevelandthing.com/2013/06/wahoo-bucks-how-cleveland-indians-are.html?m=1

    Can’t believe everything you read online, and I’m hoping this isn’t true.

  • JHop

    But, but … ‘Murrica

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    No. No truth to any “scam” as we researched and reported earlier last month: http://waitingfornextyear.com/2013/06/times-they-are-a-changing-tribe-ticket-prices-become-a-hot-topic/

  • thenoclist

    Speaking of which, why are sporting events the events that we sing the National Anthem before? Is that really what Francis Scott Key envisioned? I feel like it should come before political events or official government activities or something, not sports. There is nothing inherently American about sports.

    As for God Bless America, it was added to the 7th inning stretch post 9/11. I think we’re probably far enough removed from that tragedy to discontinue it.

  • Kevin Huyghe

    I believe they only do it on Sundays and patriotic holidays now, which I’m fine with.

  • Kevin Huyghe

    I would like to add that they should rid the playlist of The YMCA and Hang on Sloopy… as well as impose a lifetime ban on anyone who is caught attempting to start the wave.

  • JNeids

    Unfortunately once you do something patriotic, it is unpatriotic to stop doing it…ever.

  • Joe

    Thanks for the info – never saw that post.

  • Garry_Owen

    What do we want? Separation of sports and state! When do we want it? Now!

  • Brian R.

    I was at Fenway for the first game after the marathon bombing suspect was caught. After the impromptu crowd singing of the Anthem at the Bruins playoff game, the PA announcer said something along the lines that everyone had to sing to continue this new tradition. That rubbed me the wrong way. I hate any idea of not giving an appropriate response to an event. I am a veteran and during the anthem I face the flag and stand at attention. To the uninformed it probably appears that I am not displaying my patriotism enough.
    That kinda rambled but I think you get my point.

  • Natedawg86

    I don’t know, went to a minor leage game on the 4th of July with my 2 and 4 year old boys and they were amazed by the wave. Why has no one invented The O-H-I-O to replace the YMCA?

  • Chris McLafferty

    I made a last minute decision to go (an hour before) to the game Sunday and I got bleacher tickets (which are great seats by the way, the view of the field I think gives you everything) for only $20. There were higher up bleacher seats for only $12 available as well. The concessions and merchandise was reasonably to cheap priced as well. Overall I think this is best value for any sporting event in Cleveland, maybe Ohio.

  • Chris McLafferty

    Getting rid of Hang on Sloppy is an Ohio crime, punishable by extraction to the horrible state of Michigan.

  • Jay

    Rid the playlist of Hang On Sloopy?!? Madness I say!!!

  • WayneEmbrysKids

    They’d rock the house if they played This Land Is My Land instead.

  • enjoymoreradio

    Why would you want to eliminate the Official Rock Song of the State of Ohio from the playlist? I’m going to report you to the House Un-Ohioan Activities Committee.

    Although those who try to start the wave deserve a special circle of hell.

  • Steve

    The author misses a huge detail. Those aren’t the cheapest seats in the park. Bleacher seats can be had for $10. As such, the rest of his argument is moot.

  • Joe

    Yeah I thought so too – I haven’t lived in Cleveland for about 2 years now so I’m not as familiar with how the prices fluctuated but I always loved the bleachers and their prices were hard to beat.

  • Kevin Huyghe

    Alright alright I’m sorry I spoke ill of Hang On Sloopy.. it just seems forced sometimes just because we are in Ohio.

    Thank you for agreeing on the wave. I get that kids might love it (Natedawg86 comment)… and there IS POTENTIALLY a time and place for it… however it always seems like people want to start the wave in the 8th or 9th inning during a close game. WATCH THE DAMN GAME!!!

    Last week the bleachers were trying to start the wave IN THE TOP OF THE 9TH WITH CP ON THE HILL FOR A SAVE. Are you that disinterested in such a dramatic moment of a game?! GET OUT.

  • Garry_Owen

    What they need to do is start playing J.P. Sousa, so we can all “human tuba” along to “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

    Oompah, oompah . . .

  • Kevin Huyghe

    Yeah the bleachers continue to be the best value in terms of just getting in the door (not a bad view either, but I like to see the jumbotron).. and they get sold out first out of any sections. That’s what happens.

  • woofersus

    +10,000 on the wave. It always feels like something that should stop seeming so cool once you turn 14. My wife accuses me of being curmudgeonly for not wanting to participate. (and I’m only 33) Maybe it’s not so bad in the 2nd or 3rd inning, but even then why would you do it with 2 out and runners in scoring position with our pitcher trying to get one more out to end the inning? The unfortunate fact is that a lot of people barely pay attention until they hear the crack.

    I’ll be the first to say an evening at the ballpark is fun for reasons other than a great game, but stop pressuring me into missing one!

  • mgbode

    do ba de doo, i’ve got a perfect puzzle for you

  • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

    The Indians could easily fix the God Bless America problem by simply stop playing it. It’s a contrived and unnecessary addition to the ballpark experience. This is a baseball game, not a military event, playing the song doesn’t add anything and is just another example of teams falling into an “look at us too, we’re patriotic.”

    At least they don’t force people to stand and remain at their seats the way the Yankees, do.