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Saturday, May 23, 2015

WaPo: Aaron Barrett wins epic post-anthem standoff

Aaron Barrett proudly displays his Star-Spangledtude.

The game hardly mattered by the time it began. A mere baseball game, especially one played in May between the charging Nationals and the sputtering Phillies, could not possibly carry the emotional weight of the test of human spirit, of will and of hope, that preceded it. The Nationals won Friday night’s game, 2-1, and that was good, of course. But first, Aaron Barrett won one of the longest post-anthem standoffs in recent memory — one the baseball world will little note, but one those who witnessed it will long remember.

As with many of baseball’s inexplicable but time-honored traditions, the origins of the post-anthem standoff are obscured by the blur of numbers on jerseys, of bored players, of long pregame ceremonies and long baseball seasons. It sums to this: “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays to a reverent crowd, and both teams line up, hats off, held over their hearts. The song ends, the crowd cheers, and the players disperse. Most of them, anyway.

One hearty soul on one side stays. Someone on the other side notices, considers consequences of surrendering without standing up for himself, then engages. The standoff ensues. Barrett said later he did not want a fight Friday night. The challenge came, and he did not back down.

Barrett has a decorated history with such things. Umpires nearly threw him and Rockies’ outfielder Brandon Barnes out of a game in Colorado last season when they refused to leave the field before the first pitch. Like that July staredown, Friday’s showdown was the stuff of which legends are written, the stuff about which novels are scratched out by candlelight. Had he been following on Twitter, exhausted at Marathon, Pheidippides himself would likely have thrown an olive wreath Barrett’s way to honor of his endurance.

JE (Jason) Posted: May 23, 2015 at 11:20 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: contests, nationals, nats, silly, star spangled banner



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