What I just saw on TV was something incredibly cool; I wish I could have been there in person for it.
The Rangers and Astros are about to meet at The Ballpark. But the opening festivities were like no other: The National Anthem was played by an Army brass ensemble (from the 4th Infrantry Division, operating out of Fort Hood here in Texas), beamed live via satellite from Iraq. (The Division's Major General Jeffery Hammond addressed the fans right before the Anthem.) And following that was a truly special moment: Another soldier stationed in Iraq, Bobby Ochoa, sent out live birthday greetings to his two sons, who then (after announcer extraordinaire Chuck Morgan got the crowd to sing "Happy Birthday" to them), went to the pitcher's mound (accompanied by team president Nolan Ryan and owner Tom Hicks) and threw out the ceremonial first pitches. It was quite a moment to behold.
I've said before that baseball embodies many of the best qualities of America, and what just happened at The Ballpark reinforced that belief. If video of this ceremony goes up on the Net, I'll be sure to post a link.
(There are more special things going on during the Lone Star Series; see a schedule, and read more about tonight's ceremonies, here.)
UPDATE: A picture of Maj. Gen. Hammond addressing the crowd can be found here.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: I still can't find any footage of yesterday's ceremony, but I was rather taken aback when a blog called the Newburg Report (which claims to "cover the Texas Rangers from top to bottom") slammed the ceremony, calling it "Ranger Jingoist Fest '08." Announcer Chuck Morgan, who's being honored today (Sunday) for doing 2,000 straight games or something like that, chimes in during the rash of comments that follow.