- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

Anastacia is hoping to learn the words to the national anthem one of these years, which baseball might want to consider the next time it goes before America.

Her ear-hurting rendition of the song before the All-Star Game in Milwaukee should have come with a warning to stick cotton in your ears.

Anastacia seemingly made it up as she went along, either a sign of limited intellect or preparation. Dogs howled in response, the innocent groaned and Bud Selig removed the first of the night's eggs from his face.

This was the lightweight pop diva vs. the national anthem, and it was a fight to the finish. Stopping it would have been an act of mercy.

Anastacia brought a lot of cleavage to the ballpark. She might as well have snuggled up next to one of the foul poles at Miller Park and started dancing. The inappropriateness would have been only in degrees.

Baseball picked a bad time to have a patriotic breakdown. We are at war, after all, in part so airheads with cleavage can have the right to be airheads with cleavage.

A performer of Anastacia's ilk just might find a burqua to be bad for business. How would anyone be fascinated with her widely displayed navel, the most fashionable body part of the new millennium?

Anastacia is sometimes compared to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, perhaps because their navels behave so much alike.

Their navels apparently speak to America in a way that is different from the average navel at the beach.

Their navels say, "Would you buy my latest album?"

To which America says, "As long as we can gaze at your navel."

Anastacia's navel conveys a certain complexity that is helping the sale of her newest album, "Freak of Nature," possibly named in honor of one of her earliest fans, Michael Jackson.

She has overcome the connection to Wacko Jacko. The same can't be said, unequivocally, of the Elephant Man's bones, the chimpanzee and the little children in Wacko Jacko's past.

A good navel, however essential to America's quality of life, is no justification to be caught trying to interpret the national anthem. Roseanne Barr already beat Anastacia to it anyway, and for the record, if it matters, no one ever has confused their navels.

Baseball can't seem to do anything right nowadays, not even the national anthem before what it still would like to believe is a showcase event. Baseball throws a party for itself and comes down with the flu before the first pitch.

They should have called the game because of a lack of interest. That would have been preferable to the soft-minded expressions that followed the 11-inning tie.

Selig claimed he could see "fear" in the eyes of the two managers, Joe Torre and Bob Brenly, so concerned were they with the prospect of injury.

The concern is understandable. Baseball players have a tendency to be sidelined by ingrown hairs and crippling hangnails, if not by the muscle-enhancing juice that has contributed to the game's arena baseball feel.

Yet in the context of the times, when civilians are urged to stop the next blue-haired grandmother from taking down another plane, it is not too much to expect a multimillionaire to risk his well-being or to play through the pain of a paper cut.

It might have been a good time for the managers to urge their players to be tough, to be brave, to dig deep within themselves and stand up to the fear.

Out of pitchers? Put someone on the mound. Anyone. Anastacia qualifies as anyone. She couldn't sing the national anthem, which elicited no objection from baseball. Why object if she has no pitching experience? You never know anyway. She might have been able to get a few hitters out by deploying her attention-diverting navel.

But no, baseball succumbed to the "fear" of it all, electing to be a 98-pound weakling, a wimp.

So the tie went to the inept, fitting in a way.

Anastacia provided the noise, baseball the tears.

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