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More on MLB’s New Sock Deal with Stance

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As you may have heard yesterday, MLB now has an official sock provider: Stance, the same company that supplies socks for the NBA. My ESPN colleague Darren Rovell broke the basics of the deal yesterday morning, and then I followed up with my own ESPN piece — an FAQ-style explainer breaking down down what the deal will (and won’t) mean for MLB’s on-field look. I suggest reading both pieces — especially mine, which addresses most of the questions you’re likely to have — before going further or commenting.

A few things that I didn’t mention in my ESPN piece:

•  The appearance of the Stance logo on the company’s new socks will constitute the first officially sanctioned logo creep on MLB hosiery. But there has been unsanctioned logo creep in the past. Most notably, back in 2008 and ’09, several players wore Phitan-branded socks, including Miguel Cabrera (here’s another view), Torii Hunter, and Martin Prado (hard to see, but it’s there). Also in 2008, Ronnie Belliard wore socks with Nike logo creep. I’m sure there are other examples.

• While we’re at it, Stance logo creep has already appeared in the bigs this season, as worn by Khris Davis and a few others.

•  This seems like a pretty obvious attempt by MLB to overlap its on-field program with the retail/fashion world. That’s annoying, but at least nobody’s required to wear the new socks. The whole thing feels like mostly a wash to me.

•  •  •  •  •

Oh say can you see their lips moving?: One of the odder stories to emerge this past weekend came out of San Diego, where the Padres had arranged for the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus to sing the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game. Unbeknownst to most fans in attendance, the singers were only going to lip-synch to one of their recordings — a common practice for the Padres, as it turns out. But when their cue came, the stadium’s staff mistakenly played a recording of a young woman singing the anthem, leaving fans confused and the chorus members humiliated.

I’m not going to get into the issue of the staff’s incompetence and the steps taken by the team to address the issue (you can read about that here and here, among many other places). Instead, I want to pose a simple question: Why are the Padres using lip-synchers for the national anthem?

Yes, I realize lip-synching to a prerecorded soundtrack offers more control over the audio outcome (well, except when some staffer plays the wrong recording). But that’s part of why live performance is exciting and worthwhile in the first place — because something can go wrong, because you have to nail it, because you’re up there without a net. If you’re going to play a recording, why bother to have the singers there in the first place?

If you’re as old as I am, you may recall that there was a mini-scandal when Toni Tenille (of the Captain and Tenille) sang the anthem at the 1980 MLB All-Star Game, and the words were coming through the P.A. system a second or so before she sang them (instead of a second or so after, which was standard). That’s how the world learned that she was lip-synching, which everyone at the time agreed was a bogus move. Three and a half decades later, it still seems plenty bogus to me.

It’s not like I’d demand my money back. But much like our recent discussion of MLB game recaps erroneously reporting the number of tickets sold instead of the actual number of fans in attendance, the lip-synching thing seems like an attempt to substitute fantasy for reality, which I find both distasteful and troubling. If you’re gonna have singers, let them sing. And if you insist on having them lip-synch, then don’t put a message on the scoreboard that says, “The national anthem is being performed today by [whomever]” — be honest enough to admit that you’re presenting a lip-synched recording. Just gimme some truth, not truthiness.

Two questions:

1. If anyone out there works in stadium/arena operations, can you tell us whether this Padres policy is more the rule or the exception? Is lip-synching common for anthem singers at pro sporting events?

2. For you musicians out there, how would would you feel about being asked to do the anthem at your favorite team’s venue but then being told that you’d have to lip-synch? Would that be problematic for you, or would you not care?

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Check out this Schaefer Stadium/Patriots sticker. That was Foxboro Stadium’s original name. Until this very moment, I didn’t know “Schaefer” stood for a beer. (I don’t drink, that might be part of the reason.) This brings up an interesting point: Stadium naming rights are now the accepted practice, but back in the early 1970s, not so much. I also didn’t know that Rich Stadium (Buffalo) was named for a local food company. It took awhile for me to know that Ericsson Stadium was named for a cell phone (late 1990s, cell phones in their infancy), or that the Staples Center referred to the office supply chain. We know the huge marketing monoliths like AT&T Park and Stadium, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, or MetLife in New Jersey. But when the naming sponsor advertiser is more regional, it can get confusing. How many of you would know what Lucas Oil Stadium was named for if they just called it Lucas Stadium? There’s no Lucas Oil in San Francisco, I can tell you that! (Insert obvious Lucas/Lukas joke here. ”” PL)

OK, on to the rest of this week’s stuff:

•  From reader Jimmy Lonetti, we have the first vintage jai alai jersey ever seen on Collector’s Corner. “Great colors, cool patch,” he notes.

•  Featured these before: You simply cannot find cooler hockey graphics than on this this 1970s Montreal Canadiens poster. The seller has several other teams available, too.

•  Learn your football facts on this 1970s Manwich “Time Out For Football” plastic tumbler.

•  Look how simple these 1970s NFL player Pizza Hut glasses are — just the faces of the players, Hornung and Nitschke, and their signatures. Discreet Pizza Hut and NFLPA logos on the sides, too.

•  From glasses to mugs: Here’s a 1970s Padres thermal mug from 7-Up.

•  Terrific artwork on this 1960s-1970s Baltimore Orioles popcorn holder/megaphone.

•  Here’s a nice-looking 1970s Broncos helmet radio. The seller says, “It works but doesn’t pick up a signal.” Er, if it doesn’t pick up a signal, how can it work?

•  Speaking of radios: Oh my goodness, check out this Sears ad. Some amazing vintage NFL stuff is here.

•  “Yea, team!” That’s the concept behind the wild-eyed New York (football) Giants player on this button (done in the “1950s style,” don’t you know).

•  If the Falcons have any good sense, they’ll go back to the 1970s red helmets, like the one shown on this plaque, full-time.

• • • • •

Party reminder: Uni Watch party tomorrow, May 25, 7pm, in the backyard of the Fourth Avenue Pub in Brooklyn, with special guest Chris Creamer of Chris is inviting his readers to join us, so maybe we’ll have some sort of smackdown between his crew and my crew — come out and make me proud, people!

And while we’re at it: The following night — Thursday, May 26, 7pm — I’ll be a featured guest at this live “Talk Show” event, where the host will be interviewing me on the finer points of what it’s like to be a uniform reporter. It’s free — you should come.

Thursday is also the 17th anniversary of the first Uni Watch column being published in The Village Voice. Happy almost-birthday to Uni Watch!

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Lake Elsinore Storm will wear green digital camo jerseys for Sunday home games. … Mets OF Yoenis Céspedes has “714” written on the inside of his batting helmet. Not clear if it’s his headwear size (7-1/4), a Babe Ruth reference, or something else (from @vemonator). … The Lafayette Aviators, a summer collegiate team, revealed what they would wear for their upcoming inaugural season. The Aviators are still taking suggestions for their mascot’s name (from @BLRMKRdave). … The Brewers’ wives held a softball game with some clever jerseys in 1975 (from Matthew Prigge). … One of Iowa’s baseball logos shows Herky the Hawk wearing one stirrup correctly and one backwards (from Noah Wolf). … A bunch of fans at Saturday’s Yankees-A’s game dressed up as old-timey base ball players. … The Giants and Padres wore red ribbons last night for the Giants’ annual “Until There’s a Cure” Night, a promotion to help find a cure for AIDS.

Pro Football News: Lots of people sent this in: The Dolphins announced their home uniform schedule. Miami will wear white at home four times, mono-aqua twice, and 1966 throwbacks twice. Also, the Dolphins will reportedly wear all-orange Color Rash jerseys in Cincinnati in Week 4. … Cam Newton is a fashionable fella, at least in the eye of the beholder. … New uniforms for Tubaroes do Cerrado, an American football team in Brazil (from Rafael Nakamura). … John Vogrin found these artistic NFL masks and mini-boards in Cancún, Mexico. … The Raiders played the 49ers in basketball over the weekend. More photos can be seen towards the bottom of this post. The teams held a Battle of the Bay hoops game in 2014, too (from Mako Mameli). … The sites for Super Bowls LIII, LIV, and LV will be awarded today. This season’s Super Bowl LI will be in Houston and Super Bowl LII will be held at the Vikings’ new stadium in Minneapolis.

Hockey News: This weekend a video surfaced showing an American hockey fan apparently urinating in Russian C/F Pavel Datsyuk’s skate. Some research shows that the video was probably a fake (from Ted Arnold). … A men’s league player installed a GoPro into his helmet. … Patrick Walsh‘s buddy saw this customized jersey at last night’s Sharks/Blues Western Conference Finals game. “Hopefully he gets the chance to swap that 3 for a 4!” he says.

Basketball News: Here are a dozen of the most notable NBA sneakers this year (from Brinke). … Not uniform-related, but Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp and Colonel Sanders celebrated radio station WJMM’s first anniversary in 1974, resulting in this great photo (from @KYPhotoArchive, via Josh Claywell). … Nice collection of NBA player portraits.

Soccer News: New home jerseys for Newcastle (from Patrick Thomas). … After winning the Euro 96 tournament, Germany players wore T-shirts with “Thanks everyone for a great tournament” on the front. “The Germans are so polite,” says Lucas Stoller. … The Premier League will not change number fonts next year (from Tim Cross). … Here’s Arsenal’s new keeper kit.

Grab Bag: Fashion designer Paul Smith is infatuated with cycling jerseys, and its easy to see why (from Rob Walker). … New logo for Portland State athletics. … This blog examines the correct “I” logo for the University of Illinois. … The Coast Guard is celebrating 100 years of aviation with throwback livery on some of its aircraft. … “I was watching some of the shows from last year’s Drum Corps finals to amp up for the upcoming season and noticed something during the Cadets’ show,” says Dustin Semore. “The finals took place at Lucas Oil Stadium, and they converted all of the yard-line markers to ’10.’ It matched their show theme, ‘The Power of Ten.’ They even retained the gold for the midfield 10.” … As we all know, Paul doesn’t like purple. He feels it’s tacky, and has said, “Like, seriously, have you ever seen a purple car? A total nightmare.” Well, my brother, this weekend I saw the purple car to end all purple cars. It’s brash, but I’m not opposed to it.

Comments (133)

    The Cadets had a white “1” for the 50 during prelims.. George wasn’t aware that the NFL was doing the gold 50’s last year.. Had he read this fine online publication, he would have..

    I recognize several of the uniforms in that A’s game link. The group appears to be members of various Bay Area vintage base ball teams. And vintage base ball umpires wear civilian clothes, which would explain the guy in the suit and top hat.

    I’ve worn my vintage base ball uniform to ballgames before, but only when my team was participating in pre-game activities. A group outing to a game in uniform seems like a great idea for putting the vintage game out there.

    I’ve some bad gigs and even some bad cable TV shows, but have never been asked to lip sync (or drum sync in my case). Depending on the gig/venue I think it may still be an honor to “perform”, but to play someone else’s music is unforgivable. I hope the Padres make a sizable donation to the SDGMC in restitution, and have them back as well.

    Until now I’ve never really thought about why they trot someone out to “sing” the national anthem. The *could* just play a nice, standard version of it and get on with the game. I, for one, certainly don’t to hear Christina Aguillera(sp?), Rosanne, Steven Tyler or anyone else murder it or any more.

    (or as some would prefer, just not have the anthem at all)

    Until now I’ve never really thought about why they trot someone out to “sing” the national anthem. The *could* just play a nice, standard version of it and get on with the game.

    That used to be pretty common at many (most?) sporting events. But sometime in the past 15 years or so it became more of a thing to always have a live rendition. I’m not opposed to that per se — it can be a nice way to involve musicians from the local community — although I also see nothing wrong with using a recording.

    But if you’re going to present the appearance of a live performance, it should really BE a live performance, not lip-synching.

    My childhood recollection is that the Twins used to play an instrumental track of the anthem and display the lyrics (and a crappy animated flag) on the old black-and-white scoreboard. To me, the point isn’t to listen to a performance of the anthem; the point is for the crowd to join together in singing the anthem.


    That’s what it should be. It’s not a concert…

    Thanks for making this point. Honestly, for me, I often get tired of the National Anthem because of the concert-like feel of it. It’s no longer about the Nation, it’s about the performer. Not how it should be.

    The reason could just be that its easier than getting Mics for live sound down to the field. In college I played in the Finale of Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Parade, and we had to prerecord the drum parts, and the play live synced to the recording coming from a PA system. It was determined that doing the advanced recording in a studio would be easier for the TV broadcast than micing us live

    One of my elementary school’s music teachers was married to a bigwig at a music publishing company. One year, they had us do a promo video for some of their songs for elementary school choirs where they pulled us out of school for two days, took us to a very brightly lit theater and filmed us doing songs and choreography all day. We were in sixth grade and between 11-13.

    At one point, they asked me to stop singing and just lip sync because my voice had already dropped and they wanted a “kid” sound, not a “grown up” sound. I was shattered. Another teacher had to find me and kind of issue a “pick me up” conversation to let me know that’s just how showbiz works and that I was still important to the show.

    Eventually, when we watched the video, I noticed it sounded like a whole different choir with a seemingly even-younger sound had basically been dubbed over us. So yeah.

    I never felt good about that whole thing. Kid-exploiting jerks.

    It was frustrating in that it was a situation that put us out of our element. It wasn’t that bad though, because the reasoning made sense, and you can’t really “Lip sync” on a drum, so we were still playing for the live crowd, just the viewers at home didn’t hear it.

    Also, I checked with my Wife, who sang the anthem at a Phillies game while in College, and she said the Phillies do it live, no recordings.

    In the early ’90s, before she became famous, young Christina Aguilera regularly sang the anthem at Penguin games.

    I think a reason for the Padres playing a recording is that they want to make sure there is no repeat of the time Roseanne sang the national anthem at Jack Murphy Stadium. It was horrible, and the resulting bad press went on for a long time. However, the chorus is a legitimate organization and should have been allowed to sing live. Instead, the Padres organization has egg on their face once again.

    This is a good & interesting point and warrants further investigation. I can see how Roseanne’s anthem would have resulted in a “policy change” as that was legendarily awful in terms of putting the Padres in an bad light.

    26 years ago. If you’re that risk-averse regarding live performance, don’t put people on the field and pretend that they’re singing. Just play a tape and be done with it.

    That long ago yes, but it’s occasionally stunning how little turnover there is in internal positions with teams. I don’t know the internal nature of the Padres, obviously, but I would not at all be stunned if the current Director of Fan Experience was a 30-year employee who once fielded call after call in the bowels of Jack Murphy about Roseanne and is still on edge about anthems. Or that person’s boss. Or whoever. Around here, it’s an occasional frustration of mine just how much continuity there is in game ops positions. No one ever leaves, so no one new (like me) who’s worked at it can get a chance to move to that level, and when someone does leave, they often have a son or family friend who’s job-shadowed a bunch of times who just slots right in.

    As I jog my memory about Padres game ops, I remember they had a problem with their PA announcer tryouts in 2014, which ran into the regular season and produced iffy results. link. I’m part of a PA announcers forum on Facebook and I remember them talking about how it was a total joke. It’s possible, too, they’re just not very good in that department.

    I’m a little surprised they even went with the Gay Men’s Chorus, given the way our country is on edge about social issues right now. There are sensitivities when you have a group like that up there because, unfortunately, there are people out there that are more than willing to make the experience miserable for a group like that if something goes wrong. The fact the Padres didn’t go out of their way to make sure that went right doesn’t speak well of the team at all, even if it was (as it likely was) simply an honest mistake or even just a matter of mics not working.

    You can certainly believe they’ll be even more risk-averse now and either have a live singer sing live or yeah, just pick one very standard version, like the San Diego Symphony or something, and that will be it from here forward. Having different groups and singers come in does increase “team engagement with the community,” but only if you can pull it off successfully.

    I think it’s artistically insulting to everyone involved to have a lip synced anthem. It’s a devaluing of the performer, a disregard for the performance, and an insult to the audience, “They don’t care, so let’s fake ’em out.” As a musician myself, there are PLENTY of musicians that 1. are capable pf performing a lovely National Anthem and 2. Could use a fulfilling gig. Things are unstable, I get it, and people can be risky (Roseanne), but I cannot help but think that’s a minority. Why essentially lie when there is a million dollar soundsystem and perfectly good recordings? That is less distasteful to all involved.

    AND IT WAS A GROUP OF SINGERS. Of the Padres organization is worried they’d pull a stunt while singing, lip syncing won’t stop that, it’ll just be visual. OR maybe don’t let them on the field?

    Sorry, but the devaluing of performers and their art is infuriating to me.I see it as of the game was pre-played, then re-enacted for the fans.

    China has made it illegal to lip synch and the singers get fined a pretty hefty amount if they do.


    Of course, that is not to say it still doesn’t happen:


    I was going to bring up the Roseanne thing, but more in a joking manner. I blame the entire Roseanne debacle on Tom Werner, who has shown himself to be a classless douche at every opportunity. I’m sure he thought it’d be a laugh riot.

    I’m appalled by lip synching. I can’t overstate how much I hate it. But I’m also an old fart. I’ve had the lip synching conversation with many young people, and, from my experience, it seems like most people under 30 don’t have a problem with it. I don’t think it’s that big a deal nowadays for whatever reason.

    I’m appalled by lip synching. I can’t overstate how much I hate it. But I’m also an old fart. I’ve had the lip synching conversation with many young people, and, from my experience, it seems like most people under 30 don’t have a problem with it.

    Recalling a piece link, why do you self-marginalize by calling yourself “an old fart” while presenting the younger people’s opinions in a straightforward, non-marginalizing manner? Or to put it another way, why do you think your opinion is less valid simply because you’re older than people with the opposing opinion?

    I don’t think my opinion is any less valid than anyone else’s. I take pride in being an old fart. I’m just pointing out that this issue seems to be widely divided according to age groups. Like bat flipping or taking an eternity to round the bases after a home run.

    I’m just pointing out that this issue seems to be widely divided according to age groups.

    Right. But you only tagged one of those age groups with a stereotyped term of derision. Like, if you had said, “Kids these days,” then you would have been an equal-opportunity marginalizer. But you didn’t do that. Like I wrote a few weeks ago, this plays to the unfortunate cultural trend of treating older people’s opinions as less valid, less worthy, just less.

    I don’t think a smidge of self deprecating humor constitutes marginalization. I don’t take myself that seriously.

    Re: Stadium naming rights- I remember seeing the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena. Not having the Fifth Third Bank where I lived, I had no idea what it meant and why an improper fraction was being used at a university! I still don’t really get why an improper fraction is used as the name of a bank, but that’s alright. I also just looked it up- wow- there are a LOT of places the 5/3 owns the naming rights to.

    I lived in Cincinnati for 27 years and I still don’t know what 5/3 stands for. And I know that Riverfront was renamed to Cinergy after about 25 years, and NO ONE called it Cinergy.

    It’s not an improper fraction. It’s not called Five Thirds Bank. The origin of the Fifth Third Bank name is the merger of Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank. Even though Third National Bank was the senior entity in the merger, it was not called Third Fifth Bank because of the veiled reference to alcohol, which was deemed to be unsavory during the early 20th century.

    My thoughts about baseball’s sock deal:

    -More logo creep, sanctioned or not, is never a good thing.

    -If Stance wants to provide their recognizable styles (like the All-Star socks in the lead photo), that’s bad.

    I really like Stance socks. I have a couple of pair of over-the-calf thermal socks from Stance, and they’re terrific for cold-weather activity. But boy howdy do I dislike the MLB deal. The ASG is a clown festival, uni-wise, so Stance is doing no harm there. But the announcement strongly suggests to me that 2017 is going to see a bevy of “special” socks. And maybe MLB or teams won’t require players to wear the crazy “fashion” socks. But maybe they will. They’re not going to telegraph that intention now. Even if they’re not officially mandatory, I’m confident there will be some degree of marketing pressure from teams and the league, and possibly even stronger peer pressure among younger players, to wear the new crazy-pattern socks in 2017 and after. Socks are about to become a non-uniform fashion item for baseball players, and it’s going to be ugly.

    My information is that there will be no formal requirement to wear Stance, or to go high-cuffed.

    “Marketing pressure”? Yeah, probably. But players can be pretty superstitious and set in their ways regarding things like socks. We shall see.

    I trust that your sources are not lying to you. But if league officials or team execs have only a vague idea that they might in future “encourage” players to wear and show Stance socks in some instances, they’re not likely to tell you that in a straightforward way right now. More to the point, any such move to “encourage” Stance wearing likely isn’t a formed intention right now, so they honestly have no intentions to report to you. But count on it: At some point in 2017, at least one team will have some sort of “special” Stance socks, most likely tied to a charity or a patriotic display, and the team’s marketing folks will broadcast the fact that players will be wearing these special socks on such-and-such a day. Then no matter how superstitious any player is, he’ll be the asshole if he doesn’t go along with the sock display, so most players will.

    I think Arr is on to something here. There may not be a “mandate” to wear the socks, but I fear this is going to open the door to a host of hideous hosiery.

    I don’t even care much for the over sized A’s logo on the sock, and I predict that will be about the most tame design they roll out. These socks are going to be aimed directly at the demo of players who think neon is a fashion choice and popularized going to school/out in public in their gym shorts and t-shirts. The more garish they are, the more likely some of them will be to wear them.

    Hideous hosiery will be better than the pajama look any day IMO. I may be wrong but I like this new deal!

    I really dig Stance’s socks too…I have a bit of an addiction, in fact…I habitually hit my local Ross stores weekly looking to see what’s new for a deep discount. So at first I was excited about the MLB deal. But then I trotted over to their site, saw link, and immediately began rethinking that position.

    Ugh. It hasn’t even “started” and its already started. This ain’t gonna be pretty.

    Egads! What’s the fast from introduction to straight douchiness? That corporate camo pirate sock looks the toilet paper I wiped my ass with this morning.

    Paul, I think you need to reach out to your colleague and clarify the difference between sponsorship and advertising.

    “It’s the first time the league has sold the sponsorship category.”

    I interned for an MLB team many years ago and I was always under the impression that lip synching at a stadium for the anthem was relatively standard. When singing live at a large stadium, there is a second or two delay between the time the sound leaves and the time it can be heard over the sound system in the stadium. The delay can be extremely disconcerting to the singer, especially for those not used to singing in a venue as large as a baseball stadium. Assuming everyone does their job correctly, there’s actually less risk involved.

    Assuming everyone does their job correctly, there’s actually less risk involved.

    It depends on the kind of “risk” you’re referring to. The risk of misrepresenting a fantasy as reality, for example, or of lying to your audience by saying someone is “singing” when they are actually lip-synching, is quite high.

    I thought Great American Ballpark was just a phony-sounding attempt at a cutesy nostagia-evoking name until I found out it was an insurance company. And I don’t think I knew the Delta Center in Salt Lake City was named for the airline until they renamed it after the rights expired.

    Yeah, Great American is a company owned by the Cincinnati family the Lindners- huge bucks, own (or did own) Chiquita among many other things- including the Reds, and the company I worked for was called Great American Broadcasting, after they bought it from the Taft family.

    Two years ago my daughter (a high school senior at the time) sang the anthem at a Reading Fightin’ Phils game. No lip synching. She had done this previously many times in school, so they didn’t have to take our word for it that she could sing. There was YouTube evidence of her ability. The staff were great and it was a very positive experience. Since she had done this before, she was not bothered by the delay.

    I just read that UCLA has just signed a deal with Under Armour. Here is the link to the LA Times article.


    I like Stance socks as well, and there might even be some teams who take some bold chances with the team hosiery in the near future, but what scares me is that the stars and stripes holidays and the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day uniforms are now going to be a complete shitshow.

    That will almost certainly be the case, yes. But really, those holidays are already unwatchable, thanks to the miserable caps and jerseys. Adding socks to the mix can’t make things much worse than they already are.

    But again: There is no requirement for players to go high-cuffed. This Stance deal could actually be historic, if only because it could get me rooting for more pajama pants….

    Haha. I was just thinking I’d rather see ugly socks than pajama pants. One of these days, you and I are going to agree on something, Paul. I just know it! :)

    Since baseball players have notoriously awful taste in general (ie facial hair, walk-up music, etc…), as soon as Stance starts unleashing their “bold new eye-catching styles”, you know there are going to be players taking them up on the socks.

    It’s going to be a disaster.


    My bar is pretty damn low. All I ask is that the socks match the color scheme of the uni. No Cespedes neon, please.

    The Cardinals use school groups [little kids when I’ve been there] to sing the Anthem for most games. Definitely not lip-synced. Wonderfully off-key often–much better than someone who sounded like they were auditioning for American idol and ‘making it their own’. Lip syncing should not be allowed. Play a recording of an instrumental version [which college games mostly do], or have it sung live.

    Good Grief I’m hanging out with the Band Camp!

    So that’s where they all wound up. Allrighty…

    I can recall late in the last millennium, working as a “sanitation engineer – graveyard shift” for the big mouse.

    One night whilst cleaning out the old SF Robinson tree house – The park audio system started blaring, I mean really blaring, like nuclear attack warning levels, my elementary school education kicked in and I immediately assumed the position. I ducked and covered under a wooden table because in my panicked state, I still could recall that our school desks prevented nuclear heat and radiation from melting our brains. The noise slowly changed into music or what I was told to be music and I then I heard drum beats from a marching band slowly growing louder.

    I found out later that they were performing a full blown dress rehearsal of a new park parade including costumes and characters on floats singing along to a pre-recorded music track coming in on the main Park audio system.

    The singers on the floats were singing live and technicians were working on adjusting their loudspeakers, setting sound levels embedded in the floats themselves.

    During our lunch break – I asked one of the sound techies how hard it was to adjust the characters microphones so that they could be heard over the Main Park music track.

    He said that was easy, the hard part was adjusting the sound levels of wireless FM speakers hidden on the floats so the characters could hear themselves sing along. Apparently without headphones it can be hard to stay on beat and tone in large outdoor settings.

    I nodded my head as if I actually had a clue about what he was talking about. To this day I have never asked anyone if this was true or if he was just pulling my lanyard.

    So if any of you Band Camper musicianly types have an answer – as we used to say in the mouse house – I’m all ears.

    If you have had to deal with a bad/long echo/delay, it only takes a couple of times to “get over it” and sing/play. It *can* screw with your brain for a few seconds, but you just do it.

    I’ll tell you what is 100x worse– trying to ignore a crowd that is clapping “along” with the music!! (don’t get me started)


    Now that IS interesting… that would explain alot about their constant rehearsing, I know that all of the big mouse parades INSIST on clapping, I mean audience participation, from the crowds.

    I do recall that the sound engineer mentioned something about “crowd noise” as being the other big reason for the on board speakers. Now after all these years, it is starting to make sense.

    So crowd clapping along really causes that much drama for a singer?

    I do a lot of PA/music/play-by-play for smaller & mid-sized teams, and study how the big boys do it in the hope of reaching that level someday.

    Generally speaking, the anthems at the large stadiums I generally go to (Miller Park, the BMO Harris Bradley Center and Lambeau Field) are truly live, at least as far as I can tell.

    The Brewers make a point in their Fan A-to-Z guide to list how potential singers can submit audition materials and generally use a small number of established, reliable singers on a rotation. I think one or two team staffers or ushers are their “last resort” options.

    Because the Packers sometimes have to time their anthem to a flyover, I think they prefer live because the singer can then speed up or slow down as needed.

    I do PA & music for many of Marquette’s non-revenue sports, and they use many of the same anthem singers as the Bradley Center. The singers sound no different when I know there’s no recording (i.e. I’m running the sound) than they do when I’m just observing. Their rotation usually has one or two kids in the age range of four to eight, and there are always nervous moments about their singing, much less their ability to look like they’re not lip-syncing. (For the record, though, the kids have always been great.)

    The baseball team I do games for prefers live anthems with varying degrees of quality — we’ve had some doozy bad ones. Marquette also prefers live, but uses a recording of my choice fairly often. The D3 school I do a lot of games for only goes live for special occasions. I have both an orchestral and organ anthem that have three key elements: They’re good, they lack words (so I don’t have to cite a vocalist and make people ask, “Why did he pick him/her?”) and they’re fast.

    I’ve never been asked to take a singer’s recording and have them lip sync an anthem. I’m occasionally asked to play a rhythm or backing track, but that’s it. I’ve also had the occasional diva-ish request from the singer to “turn the sound system down” to avoid the echo — you know, because what the singer hears is more important than the 1,500 paying customers hearing the song.

    A bad anthem makes the operation look bad, but a good anthem not only makes your hair stand on end but can bring a tear to your eye. It’s such simple, perfect Americana when done right. I really like my organ version, and the rare occasions when a good, barbershop-esque group can do a well-harmonized, traditional version in B-flat. These guys look a little cheesy, but if every anthem sounded like this one, I’d always be happy. link

    To answer your second question about the lip-synching, yes. As a musician I would have a huge problem with being asked to “sing” with a pre-recorded track. Part of what you get with a live performance of anything is the raw emotion of that moment. No, not all performances have that emotion but you take out that possibility altogether when you play a recording.

    It’s obvious that the Captain and Tenille are pawns in a larger MLB conspiracy.

    Prediction: LIII – Atlanta, LIV – LA, LV – Miami

    Dallas guaranteed to go at least 10 years without a Super Bowl.

    Other cities I consider eligible: Houston, Indianapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Tampa, Santa Clara, Phoenix.

    Nine current NFC venues but only three AFC.

    San Diego and Las Vegas also possibilities in next five years.

    I wonder if the seating issues at XLV make the NFL a little hesitant to go back to Dallas. Granted, I can’t recall whether that was more the NFL or JerryWorld’s fault, not to mention they’ve held other events there (College Football Championship, NBA All-Star Game, Final Four) and haven’t had issues.

    Notable omissions from your list:

    – Jacksonville: Hosted it once. I agree with the omission, though. Stadium seems to be an issue, as does lodging. I think the one they had there wasn’t well-liked.

    – East Rutherford: Yes, relatively recent, but I think the NFL would love to do it again relatively soon. Maybe not before some other places get their turn, but I think they absolutely love having all that media attention in New York City.

    – Kansas City: Now that they’ve done a cold-weather Super Bowl, I do think they’d like to honor Lamar Hunt at some point and put it there. When is another story, and maybe they’ll wait for a new stadium there to do it.

    – London: Admit it, you know the NFL wants to.

    the Jaguar stadium is the nicest of the 3 NFL stadiums in Florida. i think the issue is the city of Jacksonville isn’t Miami.. there’s not much to do downtown.

    Guys on our local sports radio have said that Jacksonville is the absolute worst football city to travel to.

    Went to the Cleveland/White Sox game last night where Lindor and R. Davis were both in stirrups. But their sanitary socks had a design on the back — more disruptive to the look than the Stance dot.


    I’ve always been partial to the stadium organist playing the anthem. How many ballparks even have one anymore?

    I’m kind of a ballpark organ music aficionado and the answer is more than you think.

    After ballpark organ music largely died in the 80’s, it made a resurgence with the return of retro-styled ballparks. This article outlines at least 12 MLB teams that have an organist. link

    The team I work for does not have a live organist, but I make sure to incorporate plenty of recorded organ stings into my production, including organ versions of the anthem & “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

    Thanks Dan. Interesting stuff. In my opinion there’s no substitute for a good organist. I remember sitting at the old Comiskey Park, when the Sox unsuccessfully attempted a suicide squeeze. Without missing a beat, Nancy Faust launches ito the theme from M*A*S*H. Brilliant.

    “Suicide is Painless.” Awesome.

    In fairness, Nancy Faust still stands as one of the best. Maybe a notch below longtime Dodgers organist Helen Dell from the recordings I’ve heard, but not far off.

    Chicagoans have been very lucky in the organ realm. You also got Frank Pellico and had the mighty Barton that shook the Madhouse on Madison for so many years. We have an organ-hall pizza place near us that I really enjoy visiting once in a while. Given how that organ fills the room, I can only imagine what the Barton was like when it rattled the windows in Chicago. Wrigley still uses a lot of organ music, too, which at least helps keep some of the old charm that was largely destroyed by the video board additions.

    Here’s Dell’s version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” which I love, particularly for the ritardando ending at the end. Beautiful enough to bring tears to my eyes. This is how baseball should sound. link

    Just because, here’s a great version of both the Canadian & American anthems on organ: link

    And, a very clean version of Meet The Mets: link

    All good stuff.

    I can’t even begin to express how much lip-synching bothers me. But, there definitely is a segment of our population, sadly, that does not feel the same way. I remember reading, a few months ago, a huge article (I think it was on espn) talking about the allegedly wonderful and legendary “performance” of the anthem that Whitney Houston gave at the Super Bowl back during the first Gulf War. I had always believed that she had lip-synched, and the article, much to my satisfaction, confirmed it. It was a fucking pre-recorded piece . . . and the whole damn world went nuts as if she had given the most amazing anthem performance ever. The sad part, was the article kind of pooh-poohed it like it was no big deal.

    Honestly, if you don’t have the chops to sing that song, don’t try. Period. Leave that to the people who actually CAN sing live to do it.

    And if an organization would rather just play a pre-recorded track, that’s fine. But don’t throw a person out there as if they are performing when they aren’t.

    I remember a few years ago, Billy Joel got into a bit of a dust-up with the Super Bowl people because they wanted him to pre-record it. He told them something to the effect of “I don’t lip-synch . . if you want me to do that, get someone else.”

    When the Red Hot Chili Peppers were told they would need to pre-record the music at the SB – they decided to unplug their guitars and do the whole thing air guitar style instead of trying to fool the audience.

    I like to think that Céspedes is a highly conscientious and responsible fellow, and that 714 is his credit score.

    Re: Stadium naming rights. When the Anheiser Busch brewery bought the Cardinals and then Sportsmans Park they wanted to rename it Budweiser Park but the commissioner put a stop to it. They went on to rename Sportmans Park “after the family name” To Busch Stadium, which carried over to next stadium and even the next which is the one they play in now. A few weeks after Busch Stadium I got its new name Anheiser Busch came out with a new German inspired lager, Busch Beer which got around the commissioners ban and is still made today.

    Lip-syncing is nothing new; watch any musician or band’s appearance on any TV variety show of the ’70s or ’80s (other than SNL) and you’ll hear the album/45/radio recording of the song on the soundtrack while the artist and/or band pretends to sing and play. I don’t know if this was a production issue or something the artists preferred, or a combination of both.

    Many, many years ago, I was directing a production of The Lion King at summer camp, wherein my co-director had convinced and cajoled the camp’s athletic director into playing Mufasa. Suffice to say that the man was not much of a singer or actor, and he confided in me that he was susceptible to stage fright and didn’t want to sing live on stage (inter alia, he was worried he might forget the lyrics). So, rather than give the part to someone else I had him record his song (a reprise of “Circle of Life”) in advance, and lip-sync himself on stage during the actual performance. He was fine with that, and it worked out fine.

    It would be interesting to find out if the lip-syncing was something the choir itself requested, or if the stadium folks requested or required it.

    Nobody claimed that lip-synching was new. But (a) a live performance at a ballpark is supposed to be, you know, LIVE, as opposed to a pre-taped version on teevee, and (b) everyone knew those variety shows were just canned bullshit anyway. Often the electric guitars didn’t even have cords going from the instruments to the amps! (Yes, I know, there are cordless instruments today, but there weren’t back then.) The whole point of a band appearing on that type of show was to promote a record, not to give an actual live performance, and the shows were in the business of presenting packaged fantasy, not reality.

    The point here is not that lip-synching is a new phenomenon; it’s that there are certain places were it doesn’t belong (or should at least be acknowledged for what it is instead of being presented as something it isn’t). A ballpark is one of those places. A ballpark is where we go to see LIVE athletes actually playing, where we go to see a LIVE person throwing out the first pitch (with all the inherent risks of fucking it up), and, yes, where we go to see a LIVE performance of the anthem (at least if it’s presented as such). If you’re gonna play a recording, be honest enough to say so.

    Oh, I don’t disagree. All I’m saying is that it might be the performer’s choice/preference.

    But why should it be their choice? The job is to sing the anthem — if you can’t do the job, don’t do it. Or if you must lip-synch, do it with the knowledge that the audience will be told, explicitly, that you’re lip-synching — not to shame you, but as a simple matter of truth in labeling.

    But why should it be their choice?

    Well, whose choice should it be? Shouldn’t the performer be allowed to decide how to perform? I think you mean, Why should they have that option? To which one might reply, Why not? If the technology exists, and the performer(s) prefer(s) to use it, why take it away from them, or deny them the opportunity to perform altogether?

    The job is to sing the anthem – if you can’t do the job, don’t do it.

    As a general matter I have no problem with that last remark, but again, if the singer prefers to record himself in advance or feels more comfortable doing that, that’s not not doing the job, it’s just doing it a different way. In camp, I didn’t tell the A.D. that if he couldn’t sing live I’d give the part to someone else; I figured out a way for him to play the part. He “did the job” just fine, albeit unconventionally. I don’t think anyone was disappointed.

    Or if you must lip-synch, do it with the knowledge that the audience will be told, explicitly, that you’re lip-synching – not to shame you, but as a simple matter of truth in labeling.

    Again, I see your point, but is this really something that is so terribly important that “truth in labeling” principles should apply? Do ballpark/Anthem audiences really care that much? Do they really feel cheated, duped, exploited, ripped-off, abused and/or outraged when they discover or deduce that Anthem singers recorded themselves in advance and lip-synced their own recordings? In other words, wouldn’t an explicit announcement that the Anthem singer(s) is/are lip-syncing have the primary, if not sole, effect of shaming him/her/them?

    If we were talking about a rock concert or a Broadway show I think the point would be stronger. Concert- and theatregoers expect, have good reason to expect, and have specifically paid to see, a live performance of the music/play, and if it turned out a performer was lip-syncing it might constitute a scandal. (It also might be scandalous if a singer was lip-syncing someone else’s voice.) But for a song that’s about a minute-15-seconds long in a large stadium where a lot of performers aren’t accustomed to performing and the fans are there to see something else, I think pre-recording and lip-syncing one’s own voice is an extremely minor breach of the public trust. As I said, it’s just another way of doing the job.

    I’ve done the Anthem a few times, although never at a major sporting event (I did it at a few Hofstra, NY Saints lacrosse, and LI Ducks games years ago), and I play music gigs fairly regularly; I love performing and have never considered pre-recording and lip-syncing myself. But I don’t see anything wrong with a singer having, let alone exercising, that option in the ballpark/Anthem context.

    is this really something that is so terribly important that “truth in labeling” principles should apply?

    Yes. We live in a society where public figures, including but not limited to our political leaders, routinely lie to us. So do corporations and other institutions (“There is no evidence that football causes concussions”). This has led to a toxic cynicism through much of our culture, with a growing portion of the populace so alienated from the concept of “truth” that they now distrust, disparage, or ignore data-driven facts and embrace conspiracy theories. In short, we have a growing societal problem of people substituting fantasy for reality.

    We don’t need to be adding to that problem by presenting dishonest descriptions of national anthem performances. If you must present a lip-synched recording (which is bad enough), be honest enough to say that’s what you’re doing. Why is that so hard? What is wrong with stating the truth? If you think people would react badly to it, isn’t that a sign that you shouldn’t be presenting a lip-synched recording in the first place?

    We don’t need to be adding to that problem by presenting dishonest descriptions of national anthem performances.

    Well, that’s precisely the point, isn’t it; Who is “presenting” these “descriptions”? Who, exactly, is “descri[bing]” the National Anthem performance at a ballgame as “live and not pre-recorded/lip-synced?” Who is “present[ing]” that “description” to the public, or to the ticket-holding crowd, and by what means or medium?

    In order to have truth in labeling you first have to have labeling, and in this case there is no labeling. There may be an assumption, or even an expectation, on the part of the audience or of certain audience members, but that’s not labeling. No one is actually “presenting dishonest descriptions of national anthem performances.” If there is a genuine, legitimate, affirmative expectation on the part of ticketholders that the Anthem will be performed live and not pre-recorded, that’s one thing, but no one is telling them, promising them, guaranteeing or even implying that it will be.

    Who is “presenting” these “descriptions”? Who, exactly, is “descri[bing]” the National Anthem performance at a ballgame as “live and not pre-recorded/lip-synced?” Who is “present[ing]” that “description” to the public, or to the ticket-holding crowd, and by what means or medium?

    In order to have truth in labeling you first have to have labeling, and in this case there is no labeling.

    What are you talking about? There’s ALWAYS labeling. At every single game, they say who’s singing the anthem. That is the labeling. It’s easy enough to be honest about it. Why lie about it? What, exactly, is the advantage of lying? (If your answer is, “People might not like the honest description,” that’s a sign that you’re doing something wrong in the first place.)

    Waiting for someone to bring up the faked orgasm analogy….

    At every single game, they say who’s singing the anthem. That is the labeling.

    Yes, that is the labeling, and that is the only labeling; viz., “who’s singing the Anthem.” Not how. There is no “label” anywhere indicating that the singer is or will be singing live into the microphone on the field in real time; that is, at best, an assumption that some in the audience might make. At the absolute most, some in the audience may be expecting a live, not-pre-recorded-and-lip-synced, performance, but that expectation would be derived from their own assumptions, not any actual affirmative representations made to them by the club, the ballpark, or the performer(s).

    Unless the person performing the Anthem is not the person named as the Anthem performer, there is no “lie” and no one is “lying.”

    Most of the other readers don’t know this, but I know you are an attorney, and you are approaching this very much like an attorney would — applying a standard akin to the letter of the law.

    I’m more interested in a standard akin to the spirit of the law (I say “akin to” in both cases because I’m not suggesting there are any actual legal issues here — just ethical ones), or maybe just common sense. To me this is a very simple and straightforward case of intellectual dishonesty, a dodge to avoid the full truth. Can one contort and bend certain definitions in order to fit this situational peg into a truth-shaped hole? Sure. But come on — deep down, we all know it’s bullshit. If it’s a recording, just be honest and say it’s a recording.

    Every year when I’m forced to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade, I enjoy spotting people “playing” guitars in sub freezing temperatures while wearing winter gloves.

    At least they have a reason to lip synch it – the elements could potentially make it impossible to perform very well live.

    Precisely my point. It’d be impossible to play with those gloves, to say nothing of keeping the instrument in tune in such extreme temperatures. Everyone watching knows it’s complete bullshit, but no one seems to care.

    You see “lip synching” at Olympic Opening/Closing ceremonies all the time. Alex Lifeson of Rush once said that the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee approached the band to perform at the Closing Ceremonies (as part of the “things stereotypically Canadian” theme). They wanted a pre-recorded performance. The band appreciated their reasons for wanting a pre-recorded performance, but insisted on playing live. The Organizing Committee appreciated that, and offered to allow the band to record a “live” version of their set, which the band would “mime” to. The band still declined.

    That’s why Nickelback was in the Closing Ceremony.

    For a group, singing the national anthem in a stadium is an honor and a terror. It can be incredibly difficult–approaching impossible–for a large group to stay together, given delays in feedback from stadium speakers. Sometimes there’s NO immediate feedback at all, and you find your voice just silently sucked out of your head, then echoed back to you a half second later from speakers a quarter mile away. BTW: A group singing live would never stand in a long, straight line like that. You have to bunch as closely together as possible to be able to hear each other.

    Being offered the chance to pre-record is tempting, as it takes the anxiety away, allows you to focus on visuals, and then you just sing along gaily with your microphones turned off, enjoying the exposure. If the staff actually plays the right tape, you merrily walk off the field to the cheers of the crowd, proud at least of your recording–instead of slinking away, horrified at the mangled cluster you just spewed forth in this monstrous venue with garbage accoustics, knowing that you’ve just destroyed your group’s reputation in front of 30,000 people and maybe a nationwide audience.

    Being offered the chance to pre-record is tempting, as it takes the anxiety away, allows you to focus on visuals, and then you just sing along gaily with your microphones turned off, enjoying the exposure.

    Translation: It eliminates everything that’s endemic to live performance and substitutes fantasy for reality.

    And that’s exactly why it shouldn’t be done (or at least should be honestly identified as what it is, instead of dishonestly presented as what it isn’t).

    “It eliminates everything that’s endemic to live performance and substitutes fantasy for reality.”

    The gay men’s chorus holds concerts year round in churches and theatres. You’re free to go hear them. But you don’t. You didn’t know who they are and you don’t care. Let them struggle with their audiences of 20 people.

    The biggest exposure any group can get is to sing the national anthem for a sporting event. It’s a social convention bigger than the gay men’s chorus. They don’t get to dictate terms and refuse to appear live, asking the Padres if, “hey maybe just play one of our tapes for the crowd! They’ll love it!”

    No, they show up and participate in the convention because they want/need exposure. If you, as a crowd member, like what you hear, maybe you go to one of their performances. If they suck, obviously you don’t.

    SPOILER: Singing live in a god-forsaken baseball stadium without hours of set-up to fashion workable feedback, they will suck. Like SUCK. Forced, strained, out of tune, out of sync. A mess. And you will clap at those cute little gay men and their shitty chorus, satisfied that your requirements for authenticity were met. But you won’t go to their concert, and neither will anyone else at that stadium.

    So, to appease the purists, (1) the gay men’s chorus does not deign to appear for exposure at sporting events, (2) they go all diva and futilely demand that the Padres give them hours of setup and sound checks, or (3) they fall on their sword and SUCK for the amusement of the purist and the derision of the common ball park attendee.

    Snark aside, what you’re asking for is that ballparks either don’t invite groups to sing the national anthem, or give them the equipment, expertise and time they need to prepare for a live performance in an accoustical hell-hole.

    The gay men’s chorus holds concerts year round in churches and theatres. You’re free to go hear them. But you don’t. You didn’t know who they are and you don’t care. Let them struggle with their audiences of 20 people.

    That’s a false choice. If you want to honor or recognize them at the ballpark, there are all sorts of ways to do that (play a video from one of their concerts, e.g., or present them with a plaque at home plate before the game, etc.). The notion that the the only choices are lip-synching or obscurity is nonsense.

    And if you insist on having them lip-synch, be honest enough to say that’s what you’re doing instead of substituting fantasy for reality. That’s a big part of my gripe here — not the lip-synching per se (although I’m not nuts about that) but the DISHONESTY of it. Just be honest and tell the fans — either on the scoreboard or via a p.a. announcement — that what they’ll be hearing is a recording. That’s not to shame the performers; that’s simple truth in labeling.

    Yes, very admirable, Holden. But who said anything about honoring or recognizing choirs? MLB teams don’t honor and recognize local choirs, except incidentally. They solicit national anthem singers. They want a rousing not-embarrassing anthem, on-and-off the field in five minutes. Support a local group? Bonus.

    Now, in real life: Live choir performance, Quick and easy setup, Good choir performance — Pick any two.

    So you either have to openly sacrifice one of those things or embrace the fantasy. And at the ballpark, unlike you, they’re not in the business of authenticity at the expense of easy enjoyability. People want it all, and are willing to pretend that they’re not fantasizing.

    No, I get it. Be honest. But that’s a sea-change that would in short order be the end of the honorary national-anthem singers.

    This guy. Who’s he directing? And when?


    They want a rousing not-embarrassing anthem, on-and-off the field in five minutes.

    Simple: Play a recording. No need to put anyone on the field at all. Done and done. And it’s honest.

    As I touched on in my previous, still-in-moderation comment, it’s not “dishonest” unless there is some explicit representation or guarantee by the singer or venue, and/or some strong, legitimate, affirmative expectation on the part of the audience, that the Anthem will be performed live and not pre-recorded/lip-synced. Obviously, no team or ballpark makes any explicit guarantee like that, to the public or to ticketholders, so the question really is whether there’s a strong, legitimate, affirmative expectation that the Anthem at a ballgame or similar event will be performed live.

    I would argue that there isn’t. I think most people understand that live outdoor one-shot performances like these are sometimes pre-recorded and that the one they’re seeing might be pre-recorded. They paid to see a baseball game, not to hear a minute-15-second song performed live on the field. No one is going out of their way to tell them, let alone convince them, let alone guarantee them, that the Anthem will be sung live and not pre-recorded/lip-synced; it’s not “dishonest” to break a promise you never made in the first place.

    To the extent anyone at a ballgame does expect a live performance of the Anthem and feels duped or cheated when that expectation is not met, I’d hope that they can get over it. I don’t think the purported deception is a significant enough breach of the public trust to warrant the application of “truth-in-labeling” principles.

    it’s not “dishonest” unless there is some explicit representation or guarantee by the singer or venue

    When they say, “Singing the anthem tonight is…” or even “Performing the anthem tonight is…,” that is, by any reasonable definition, akin to saying, “These people are about to sing for you.” If those people are not going to sing for you, the statement is a falsehood, and therefore dishonest.

    I know, I know — “perform” could include lip-syching. But get real — that’s a dodge. It’s like the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. If they have to resort to slippery language or definitions stretched to the breaking point, that’s an implicit ackowledgment that they’re doing something wrong. If they’re afraid to state the reality (“They will be lip-synching to a recording”), that too is an implicit acknowledgment that they’re doing something wrong.

    Honesty, truth — so simple. Why fight it?

    When they say, “Singing the anthem tonight is…” or even “Performing the anthem tonight is…,” that is, by any reasonable definition, akin to saying, “These people are about to sing for you.” If those people are not going to sing for you, the statement is a falsehood, and therefore dishonest.

    No, it’s not. If the performer performing the Anthem has already recorded it, and is on the field to lip-sync his/her own recording, that’s still that person performing/singing the Anthem. “Performing the National Anthem tonight is [X]” is not an affirmative representation that [X] will be singing live into the microphone on the field in real time; only that [X] is the performer.

    If they’re afraid to state the reality (“They will be lip-synching to a recording”), that too is an implicit acknowledgment that they’re doing something wrong.

    No, not at all. The only reason they’d be “afraid,” let alone think “that they’re doing something wrong,” is if (a.) they had previously made an affirmative representation that the Anthem would be performed live and not pre-recorded/lip-synced, or (b.) the audience has a legitimate expectation that it will be, and they know that. If neither of these is true, then they’re doing nothing “wrong,” they have no reason to think that they are and thus have no reason to be “afraid” of anything, let alone to act or forbear on such fear.

    Which brings us back to the main issue, which is whether ballpark audiences have a legitimate, affirmative expectation that the Anthem will be performed live on the field and not pre-recorded/lip-synced — which I don’t think they do. And I don’t think ballpark staff or performers have reason to think they do.

    When they say, “Singing the anthem tonight is…” or even “Performing the anthem tonight is…,” that is, by any reasonable definition, akin to saying, “These people are about to sing for you.” If those people are not going to sing for you, the statement is a falsehood, and therefore dishonest.

    No, it’s not. If the performer performing the Anthem has already recorded it, and is on the field to lip-sync his/her own recording, that’s still that person performing/singing the Anthem.

    We have now reached an unbridgeable impasse. My position and yours, as stated above, are simply not reconcilable. I see black, you see white, and I don’t see any way to get to grey. Let’s agree to disagree and move on. Thanks for the good back-and-forth.

    Imagine how great a nice big, white glop of bird poop would look on that purple corvette.

    I’ll be playing the National Anthem on electric guitar for the Durham Bulls and Holly Springs Salamanders this summer.

    I realize that is not even close to the level of the San Diego Padres, but I can promise you that I won’t be lip-synching!

    1. If anyone out there works in stadium/arena operations, can you tell us whether this Padres policy is more the rule or the exception? Is lip-synching common for anthem singers at pro sporting events?

    While doing game presentation for the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2009, our popular and well-known anthem singer Jim Cornelison forgot that an NBC nationally televised game between the rival Red Wings and Blackhawks got moved from a 4pm to a 1pm puck drop… With 5 minutes before he was to begin singing, we were alerted he was still 15 minutes away on Kennedy expressway (WTF?) so we had to make some lightning quick decisions…

    Do we ask the fans to sing?
    Ugh, they scream over the anthem even now… NO.

    Do we run an MP3 audio clip (thank goodness we had a back-up of him singing…) but seemed cheesy and would feel like Jim was missing or blowing off the game… NO.

    What we did have was a video of him singing the anthem in full tuxedo so we quickly cue’d up the video, had our PA announcer Gene Honda tweak the introduction to Jim and we removed the carpets and members of the military (normally on the ice with Jim) and simply let the video play on the main scoreboard.

    It went off without a hitch, the fans still tried to drown out Jim like the tradition calls for and no one really ever complained about Jim not being there live on message boards.


    Much of this faith was the realization that the Broad Street Bullies used to have a tape of Kate Smith singing God Bless America at their Flyers games back in the mid-’70’s… which always brought the Spectrum down.


    Regarding the national anthem … I go to several Orioles game each year (twice so far this season), and can’t remember an instrumental performance of the anthem – all have been sung. Because of O’s fans yelling “O!” at the the beginning of the last stanza (‘O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave …’), most of the singers/groups pause before the ‘O’ to let the crowd do its thing. I’ve wondered if the Orioles’ staff warns/cautions/recommends to performers to do exactly that – “After you’ve sung ‘that our flag is still there,’ let the crowd yell ‘O!’, then continue.”

    Bottom line, I seriously doubt anthems at Camden Yards are even lip-synched.

    I am a musician, and a clasically-trained vocalist. I am not in favor of lip-synching the National Anthem. If a performer doesn’t have the chops to perform in front of a large audience, they shouldn’t be on the field. Playing a recording of a performance is fine, just don’t have the performer/s on the field faking it.

    Off-topic I suppose, but I attended a Bridgeport Sound Tigers AHL game a few winters ago, and the anthem singer’s mic didn’t work, nor did the 2nd one they gave her (there was no prerecorded background music either, it was just going to be her voice). After about a minute of this, the whole crowd took it up and started singing the anthem together. The whole thing. It was the best anthem ever.

    As a musician I would have no problem lip-synching. The acoustics are ridiculous in a big stadium and the anthem is really hard to sing. Many good singers have a big problem with it. Just me talking but I would leave up to what the powers that be wanted far as singing live or not.

    Yes, Brinke, Shaffers is a beer. One we drank to excess when I was in college in the 80’s. You could get a case of it for about 8 bucks.

    Couple different things (other than lip-synching).

    1. As a kid I went to several games at Schaefer Stadium, I may even have the ticket stubs around somewhere. I remember, though my memory could be clouded with age, that it was still called Schaefer for several years after they stopped making the beer. Then it was Sullivan Stadium, yes after then owner.

    2. I am really hoping that the Coast Guard keeps CG6003 painted in the yellow paint scheme after this year. I wasn’t too keen on it when I read they were going to do it but it does look fantastic. Then again I wasn’t too keen on seeing the MH65’s come back from overhaul being painted in orange after dealing with them in the white over orange scheme for so long.

    IIRC, when the deal with Schaefer expired, Anheuser-Busch bought the naming rights and chose to call it “Sullivan Stadium” after the team’s owner, although Budweiser signage became prominent.

    I used to work stadium operations at Red Bull Arena. For MLS matches the singer was always live, and we’d even have them do a test run about an hour before gates opened. Any international matches we did a prerecording that the national team personally selects to prevent any controversies

    Re: Brinke asking about stadium/arena names

    Growing up in Southern California I watched the Los Angeles Lakers broadcasts whenever possible. I can’t count how many times I heard Chick Hearn say, “Coming to you live from the Great Western Forum…”

    What I did not know until I was much older was that the venue was named after a local bank chain. I just thought it was a great semi-generic name for place to play basketball (and hockey).

    Personally, I don’t care whether the people singing at a ballpark are actually singing or lip-synching to a recording of themselves. All I ask is that they don’t do that obnoxious “land of the freeeee-EEEEE” crap.

    I have two pet peeves when it comes to the Anthem.

    One is that the age of the performer is always inversely proportional to the length of the rendition.

    Two is the pronunciation of the word “perilous.” When sung it should be pronounced just as it’s spelled: PEH-RILL-LUSS. But too many Anthem singers pronounce it, PEH-RULL-LISS. I hate that.

    I also used to despise the note-for-note, tone-for-tone, inflection-for-inflection carbon-copycatting of the Whitney Houston Super Bowl XXV rendition (see also: One), but thankfully that doesn’t happen much anymore.

    I have a connection with a youth choir that has performed the anthem at 3 MLB ballparks (Braves, Tigers, & Rangers) in the last 10 years. At each of them, the choir performed live on the field.

    I initially put this comment on yesterday’s page, not that anybody cares. In watching the Kentucky Derby on TV I noticed the trumpeter’s fingers not moving on the valves while playing the call to post. Obviously pre-recorded.

    “Call to the Post” is a bugle call – bugles were originally valveless, so anyone playing a bugle call on a valved trumpet wouldn’t need to use the valves.

    I’ve worked for 3 different sports teams (all minor league) and not a single one had a performer lip-sync. The only time they used a recorded version was when they couldn’t book a performer and even then it was just instrumental. Curiously enough, two of those three teams were hockey clubs and I’ve only heard one person perform Oh Canada. It was in the ECHL and he sang it the handful of times that we booked him even though the away team wasn’t from Canada

    I’m surprised no one has brought up Whitney Houston’s 1991 Super Bowl anthem.

    Sorry I don’t remember the specifics, but several years ago, there was a pivotal shot shown on a major golf tournament telecast. Later, it was revealed that it wasn’t shown live and the network did not mention it was recorded. Several reporters wrote that it was a journalistic outrage.
    Oh, the humanity!

    If you scroll back up, you’ll see that someone did bring up Whitney Houston and the ’91 Super Bowl.

    Are you suggesting that a TV network presenting something as live when it was actually recorded is OK? It may not seem like it’s OK when it’s a golf tournament (although I don’t think even that’s OK), but that opens the door to non-golf situations. Slippery slope, etc. What exactly is so hard about putting “Prerecorded” in the corner of the screen?

    As a journalist, I’m in the facts business, the truth business, the reality business. I would hope other journalists feel similarly. If they don’t, they have the wrong job.


    I used to work game operations for an NFL team for 5 years, and then an MLB team for 2. The NFL anthems were almost exclusively pre-recorded and then lip-synched by the performer. There were two main reasons for this: 1) as mentioned above, in a giant stadium that was often 1/3 full (We were an awful team that did not draw well), the feedback was terrible and would throw even seasoned performers off. 2) the NFL has tyrannical time rules so that the anthem is finished by the end of the commercial break and the game start exactly on time. The team is subject to a fine if the game starts even a minute late, so no chancing a singer getting too creative with the anthem and doing a few extended run-ons.

    The MLB team I worked for used live singers. The feedback wasn’t as bad as the football stadium, and there weren’t all of the worries about timing.

    I personally liked the live versions much better, as the recorded anthems seemed to lose a lot of the “soul” (for lack of a better term) of the artist. Plus, there is something kind of fun in seeing a professional entertainer stumble (hey! I’m not the only person who screws up at my job!).

    Been a long-time reader and love the site. Thanks for all you do.

    Summer collegiate is the highest level played locally, so I don’t know if many would care, but I don’t know anyone that calls their stadium Tbaytel Park. Can’t see it catching on any more than the previous Subway Field (at Port Arthur Stadium?). I have never heard a member of the public call it anything other than Port Arthur Stadium (it’s been around since 1951).

    Here’s an old news release:

    Don’t think any anthems are lip synced here. I just wish they would do away with both anthems for the ball games as well as anthem(s) for other sports. I suppose if you want to keep it just for playoffs that wouldn’t be too bad, but expecting anyone to subscribe to “less is more” these days is asking a lot.

    Spitballing here, but could the “714” in Céspedes be some sort of shout-out to friends/family back in California? 714 is apparently an area code for “northern Orange County, a portion of Los Angeles County, and the Sleepy Hollow and Carbon Canyon areas of Chino Hills in San Bernardino County,” according to Wikipedia.

    Céspedes also won his second HR derby on July 14, 2014, but that’d be a pretty weird thing to commemorate on a helmet.

    I have a buddy who worked for stage lighting company in a pretty big city that saw lots of big music acts come through at a variety of venues. He’s worked in multiple areas of the music industry in addition to holding a degree from a noted music school. Long story short, I trust him when it comes to music performance.

    He said most people would be floored with how many singers lip sync most or all of their songs at concerts.

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