Monday, July 4, 2005

What I Love About America

Okay, there are many things I love about America, I have afterall lived here my entire life and have only left the country once...but in the spirit of Independence Day, I thought I would comment on two very important American traditions--1) major league baseball and 2) Arlington National Cemetery.

The names have been announced for the MLB All-Star Game to be held July 12th in Detroit. For those of you who know nothing about baseball (and you're learning as you go mainly because I'm obsessed), the All Star break's main purpose is two-fold; first, to give teams the last minute chance to readjust rosters, make trades, and gear up for post-inner league play and the post-season, and second, the team that wins the All-Star game is given home team advantage in the World Series. As they say, "this one counts."

The two all-star teams are composed by division. National League vs. American League, and the teams (all of them, meaning all of the teams in each division) must be represented. Ballots are cast for the starters, pitchers, and reserves. Not entirely fair, but baseball isn't always fair.

So the names came out and I noticed a few things, both the Washington Nationals (previously the Montreal Expos) and the Chicago White Sox who have had amazing seasons so far were rewarded for their pitching staffs. Noticing also the number of Cardinals and Red Sox players, the all-star game will be a St. Louis/Boston matchup. And...much to my surprise, there were only 3 Yankees selected. YIPPEE!! I hate the Yankees. But also to my disappointment, one of those "damn Yankees" is outfielder Gary Sheffield. I loathe Sheffield. For a Braves fan the only unforgivable sin is trading to the Yankees! My only other disappointment with the all-star announcement was the lack of representation for my Atlanta Braves. John Smoltz and Andruw Jones. That's it, but I guess with Chipper Jones injured and a roster of ten rookies, who else is left? WHO ELSE IS LEFT? How about Marcus Giles? He's by far the most talented second baseman in the entire league. And what about Furcal? He's on fire! Alright, I'll get off my Braves soapbox, the 2005 All-Star lineup is as follows:

American League:
C Jason Veritek, Boston
1B Mark Teixeira, Texas
2B Brian Roberts, Baltimore
3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY
SS Miguel Tejada, Baltimore
LF Manny Ramirez, Boston
CF Johnny Damon, Boston
RF Vladmir Guerrero, LAA
DH David Ortiz, Boston
SP Mark Buehrle, Chicago WS
SP Bartolo Colon, LAA
SP Jon Garland, Chicago WS
SP Roy Halladay, Toronto
SP Kenny Rogers, Texas
SP Johan Santana, Minnesota
RP Danys Baez, Tampa Bay
RP Justin Duchscherer, Oakland
RP Joe Nathan, Minnesota
RP Mariano Rivera, NYY
RP BJ Ryan, Baltimore
RP Bob Wickman, Cleveland
C Ivan Rodriquez, Detroit
1B Shea Hillenbrand, Toronto
1B Paul Konerko, Chicago WS
1B Mike Sweeney, Kansas City
2B Alfonso Soriano, Texas
3B Melvin Mora, Baltimore
SS Michael Young, Texas
OF Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle
OF Garrett Anderson, LAA
OF Gary Sheffield, NYY

National League:
C Mike Piazza, NYM
1B Derrek Lee, Chicago C
2B Jeff Kent, LAD
3B Scott Rolen, St. Louis
ss David Eckstein, St. Louis
LF Carlos Beltran, NYM
RF Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia
SP Chris Carpenter, St. Louis
SP Roger Clemens, Houston
SP Livan Hernandez, Washington
SP Pedro Martinez, NYM
SP Jake Peavy, San Diego
SP John Smoltz, Atlanta
SP Dontrelle Willis, Florida
RP Chad Cordero, Washington
RP Brian Fuentes, Colorado
RP Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis
RP Brad Lidge, Houston
C Paul Lo Duca, Florida
1B Albert Pujols, St. Louis
2B Luis Castillo, Florida
3B Aramis Ramirez, Chicago C
SS Cesar Izturis, LAD
SS Felipe Lopez, Cincinnati
OF Moises Alou, San Francisco
OF Miguel Cabrera, Florida
OF Luis Gonzalez, Arizona
OF Andruw Jones, Atlanta
OF Carlos Lee, Milwaukee

This really could be a novel! The second American tradition and one that I personally admire is the cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Burial at Arlington National cemetery is reserved for the greatest American patriots. It is a beautiful and breathtaking exhibit of patriotism, respect, and honor.

Arlington National cemetery is undergoing construction. It is adding 26,000 graves to the roughly 215,000
already in place.

"The expansion means installing roads and utilities, building a new stone wall as a boundary, landscaping and creating 5,000 cremation niches. The work is necessary to accommodate the large number of veterans from World War II" (AP).

6,400 funerals a year take place at Arlington, but the number is expected to increase as more and more of the WWII generation pass. A hilltop expansion of the cemetery overlooking the Pentagon and the Washington Monument was originally planned for 1990, but was delayed for financial reasons. This expansion, the first in over a decade, is a 12 million dollar project and will expand the cemetery by another forty acres. The expansion will allow the cemetery to accommodate burials until 2030 and two more expansion are being planned to keep the cemetery in service for at least six more decades.

Being the Kennedy nerd that I am, I love Arlington, but I also recognize the historic significance of such a place. There is nothing more humbling that walking to the top of that hill and looking out over generations of fallen soldiers, men and women who have served this country unselfishly, sacrificing everything, with no regret. That is what Independence Day is about.

Happy 4th of July and God Bless America...the land of the free and the home of the Braves!!


Nick Speth said...

What I love about America is large cold fountain drinks, water without carbonation in it, and ample parking. I guess after you've lived overseas, the little things are the things you miss.

I can't comment too much about baseball, as I really haven't followed it this year, but I will comment on Arlington. As one who has visited the cemetary, and was honored to have placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I have a lot of feelings for the place, and I'm glad to see they're expanding the place to accomodate more of out heroes.

Tara A. Rowe said...

I'm with you on the large cold fountain drinks.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is breathtaking. As is the Challenger Memorial. That place makes me get a bit teary eyed and extremely patriotic. The day I went, my heart was racing the entire time.
It was amazing.