The All Star Game is one of summer’s time-honoured traditions. You don’t even need to say “Baseball’s” All Star Game, but it’s understood that if you just say All Star Game, you’re talking baseball. Sure, other sports have copied baseball, but baseball was the first sport to offer up such a thing. In 1933. At the Chicago World’s Fair. It was supposed to be just a one time fun thing, but like the wise words of the reverend Dr. P. Denton taught us, “do something twice, and it becomes a tradition” and so it happened every year (except in 1945 due to Nazi infiltration, or something), and people seemed to like it so much baseball actually held two all-star games for a while there in the late ’50s and early ’60s until Kennedy was killed and then a nation, in mourning, went back to the more sensible one game per year model.
But you know what? Many baseball fans, including me, sort of don’t like the all-star game, or the all star break. Sure, it gives the players who are not playing in the game a chance to go to Cabo and hunt Marlin (they are just like us!), and I DO like watching the players come out and get announced, but a whole week without baseball in the middle of summer just feels wrong to me. It makes me uneasy. And who ever thought watching a bunch of guys hit dingers in a competition would be fun? Not me. It’s like watching a bunch of people at a golf driving range hit balls into a field. People don’t do that, do they? AND WE SHOULDN’T, EITHER. And yet, there is a home run derby every year the day before the all star game, and people seem to be really into it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good home run in context as much as the next guy, but if you are going to a baseball game to just see home runs, you are missing out on 90% of what makes baseball interesting.
But, we are told it is for the fans, and so we must let it happen, because it is TRADITION.
I missed the game last night, as it turns out. I had to work, and co-present a talk on a NEARBY NATURE PARK with an EIGHTY NINE YEAR OLD MAN for whom the park was named. It turned out okay, and might even be blog-post worthy on its own, but the upshot is that I didn’t get to see any of the game. I hear the American League won, which I guess means that’s good for our Jays, but other than that it was a pretty run of the mill all-star game, EXCEPT THAT IT WASN’T.
Apparently the “Tenors” sang “O Canada”, but one of them changed the words to “All Lives Matter” and then, just to make sure the ref wasn’t missed, reached into his jacket and pulled out a sign that said, “All Lives Matter”. This was supposedly done by just one of them, without the knowledge of the others, and as a result the hashtag #lonewolftenor is now trending on Twitter.
WTF, man. You don’t go around CHANGING THE WORDS to a national anthem. If you tried that with the Star Spangled Banner, you’d probably be shot, AND WITH GOOD REASON. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for politics in sport, but just sing the damn anthem as written. ALSO, it’s deeply problematic that you would choose to highlight the “All Lives Matter” phrase, which is seen by many as a counter movement to “Black Lives Matter” activism, dismissing and trivializing their concerns. This isn’t your clever “reinterpretation” of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that no one wants to hear. You’re not singing a reworked Ron Sexsmith song for the Queen, this is America. This is baseball. Don’t fuck around.
(And as an aside, I’m not sure if this would make a difference, but would the #alllivesmatter people be happier if the #blacklivesmatter group changed their name to #blacklivesmattertoo? or #blacklivesalsomatteralongwithalltheotherkindsoflives? Bit long, but would that make people happy?)
It seems like the “Tenors” (the rest of them) have really disavowed themselves from this action, going so far as to call it disrespectful and embarrassing. And that the guy who did it (I can’t bother to go look up his name), is “suspended” from the “Tenors” until further notice. I’m not saying that the problem is with Tenors, but let’s just say that if there was a group called “The Canadian Baritones”, or “The Canadian Altos”, or even “The Canadian Sopranos”, this would never have happened.
The best outcome out of this would be if the “Tenors” just went away, all of them. Does the world really need 4 guys who think they are handsome singing in falsetto anymore? I’ve actually seen these guys in concert. (Not by choice). A few years ago, my uncle and aunt had tickets to a symphony pops concert featuring “The Tenors” and they couldn’t go, so they gave them to my wife and I. Now, this probably sounds snobby, but if I am going to go to a symphony concert, I want to hear something a with a little “oomph” to it. I want to hear a full oratorio, or maybe a Beethoven or Mahler symphony, I’d even take a Mozart piano concerto. I tend to shy away from the Pops concerts (unless it is an evening of John Williams’ music, then: yes please!), but the tickets were going to waste otherwise, so we went.
And yeah, you can imagine the result. I mean, it was OKAY, but lord knows we don’t need another version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in the world, and it was all a bit too cheesy for my liking. The highlight of the night was driving home and we came across a car accident. It was just one car, and it had wrapped itself around a lamp-post and looked pretty crumpled. We drove by it slowly and my wife said, “The driver is still in there. What should we do?” We didn’t have a cell phone, but we stopped and got out and walked back to car. It was winter, and the driver seemed stunned, but he was conscious. You always hear of stories of cars catching fire after being in accidents, so I was a little fearful of getting to close, but my wife got right in there, opened the door and assessed the situation. I’m not sure what the story was about the driver. A young guy, (OBVIOUSLY), but we weren’t sure if the car was stolen or what. He seemed motivated to get away from the crash scene. He had a friend in Osborne Village that he felt like he needed to get to, and he stumbled out of the car and started to walk away. Alarmed, I said, “Wait, you could be injured. Maybe we should wait for an ambulance?” but he was not interested. Then, my wife: “We could give you a ride. It’s too cold to walk there.”
And so that’s how it came to pass that we left the scene of an accident with the culprit in the backseat after a “Tenors” concert.
We drove him to a corner in Osborne Village and he hopped out, and made his way into a nearby building and we never saw him again.
We went home.
So I always associate “The Tenors” with a car wreck in my mind, which doesn’t make last night’s musical car wreck seem all that unexpected.