The seventh-inning stretch is a tradition that goes way back in baseball history, back to the days when President William Howard Taft was in the Oval Office.
However, in Sunday's game between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field, fans were treated to two seventh-inning stretches, thanks to an unforeseen situation in the top of the inning.
With one outs and the Pirates leading 5-1, it appeared that Pittsburgh's John Jaso grounded into an inning-ending double play. The teams cleared the field and the fans sang "God Bless America."
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However, the Pirates felt the Mets defender missed second base and asked for a replay, which took place during the song. The umpires determined the Pirates were correct, so the inning continued and David Freese hit an RBI single to make it 6-1 Pittsburgh.
Then, the inning actually did end, leading to a second seventh-inning stretch, during which fans sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." After the game, New York infielder Neil Walker said he's never been a part of something like that in his life (via ESPN.com):
"Can't say that I've ever been through that," Walker said. "Very odd. But given the circumstances, you hate to have that be the reason why you have two seventh-inning stretches."
The Mets went on to lose 11-1, so the extra run in the top of the seventh didn't affect the outcome of the game. The Pirates improved to 26-31 with the win, while the Mets dropped to 24-31. Pittsburgh is four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central lead.
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Even the Pirates were confused by what happened, as Freese told reporters he thinks the Mets' stadium crew needs to wait a bit before starting the stretch in the future:
"I was like, there's no way they can overturn this or even allow a challenge with 'God Bless America' going on," said Freese. "We were already trying to challenge, then they started singing so we backed off. It gives you an extra minute to watch. Respectfully, we were already trying. They're going to have to figure that out. If there's a close play like that that can be challenged, the stadium needs to understand we need to wait a little bit before they start singing."
With managerial reviews being a relatively new thing in the game of baseball, it does sound like Freese's plan for a bit of a break before the between-inning festivities is a good idea. Otherwise, incidents like this are sure to happen again in the future.
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