I was at this game, and was really looking forward to it. Roy Oswalt vs Vicente Padilla. The 2008 version of Padilla, mind you. :) But before I get to any of that, I have to talk about the opening ceremonies. I had heard back on Wednesday what was planned, and I thought it was going to be really cool. But it didn’t quite prepare you for actually witnessing it.
To start off, they had a live feed from Baghdad, Iraq. That was pretty cool. After thinking about it, it was 3AM in Baghdad when the Rangers game was starting. Something I bet most people didn’t take into consideration. Chuck Morgan said the Rangers/Astros game was being broadcast on the Armed Forces Network. I’m sure the soldiers probably didn’t mind being up at 3AM for that, but 3AM is still 3AM – that’s early, eh? Anyway, as they normally do during home openers and on July 4th, they had the four sets of military all present the colors. You know, these guys..
Some soldiers from Ft Hood rolled out a flag on Greene’s Hill, so it was nice to have the local military presence, on top of what was being shown from Iraq. While the local presence was unfolding, they were playing the good old tear jerker of a song, Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to be an American”. That song gets me every time, especially with all the visual cues around regarding the military.
After all the flags were presented, then they had Major General Hammond of the 4th Infantry Division based at Ft. Hood, TX give a two or three minute speech. While I won’t break it completely down, he mentioned folks supporting the troops, gave a quick update on what was going on in Iraq, but made a bigger point about supporting the families of the troops, as they’re wider hit than the troops themselves, if you think about it. After General Hammond had his speech, they brought on a band from Iraq to play the National Anthem. That was pretty cool, too.
But all that stuff was known ahead of time. What wasn’t announced is that they brought on a soldier from Iraq, whose kids were here in the park. They said it was their birthdays (whether they were twins, or just born on similar dates was not disclosed). Anyway, with the game being broadcast in Iraq, I’m sure said solder could SEE what was going on, and they had him on the Jumbotron saying happy birthday to his kids. What I thought was a nice touch was the soldier was positioned in front of the camera to make it look like he was looking out from the Jumbotron directly down at the area in front of the Rangers dugout where his kids were. Said kids then were escorted to the mound (by Tom Hicks & Nolan Ryan) where they both threw out first pitches. The recipients of the pitches were Josh Hamilton & Michael Young.
Since I have a three year old of my own now, these kinds of things hit me way more emotionally than they ever did. I really enjoyed seeing the ceremonies with the kids and their dad from Iraq.
Oh yeah, the game. Padilla was good, even if he ran up his pitch count early. We got to Oswalt for a couple of home runs, then he had to come out of the game. Home runs for Marlon Byrd, Milton Bradley, and Lance Berkman (who has about 500 already this season). Rangers won. We got back to .500, and that was good.
However, the pregame things took up a lot of my thoughts that night, and quite frankly, a lot of professionals who get paid for this kind of thing will write about the baseball events of this night. You can read them. I’m taking a pass on this one, as to be honest, I’m getting a bit emotional just recalling the pregame stuff again.
I really liked it – one of my all time favorite pregame ceremonies ever. I spent the entire time during all the pregame ceremonies with my cap over my heart – never took it off. Sang the national anthem out loud, which is something I usually don’t do in stadium. Also teared up several times.
As I told Chuck Morgan in an email this morning, “Good stuff, my friend”. I really enjoyed that.
UPDATE: I spoke with Chuck this morning about the ceremonies last night, and first off, he said the credit for the idea wasn’t his, it was Nolan Ryan’s. Apparently Nolan came to Chuck and said that this Iraq video feed thing was something they did in Round Rock, and that he thought it would go over well here, too. So thanks to Nolan for that.
Chuck also told me that some people were complaining on online message boards about the game being delayed due to the ceremony. That just made me mad. First off, they couldn’t delay the game, it was advertised as starting at 6:17 or so due to the pregame stuff. If they delayed the game for that, the umpires, starting pitchers, and managers would throw a fit. Chuck also told me some people were complaining about the Lee Greenwood song. Come on guys – have you no heart? Besides, I was told the Army requested that song be played. It all worked, and if all you have to do is sit around and complain on message boards about a very nice military pre-game ceremony, then perhaps should consider giving up your baseball fan title. I cannot believe people ACTUALLY COMPLAINED about the ceremonies. I told Chuck I’ve been doing this online forum and email communication thing now for 22 years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that folks who mouth off online about things like that can be ignored, that their opinions don’t really matter, because they just want to complain.
I’m actually embarrassed that Ranger fans had the audacity to complain about this stuff. Thanks guys. Thanks a lot. :(