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You can be forgiven for not realizing Opening Day for baseball season was here already (yesterday, in fact). Maybe you've been too busy cursing the guy in your NCAA tournament pool that filled out his brackets using the coin-flip method and ended up with Butler in the championship. Maybe you're still amped up over the USA's first ever medals in Nordic Combined. Maybe you just don't give a shit about sports, or you've finally come to terms with the Astros' chances this season. One thing's certain, however: Baseball parks across this great nation will ring out today with earnest renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner." What we still don't know is how any of these performances will rank among the all-time worst.
Roseanne, Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (1990) Man, Rocks Off remembers the righteous indignation following this one, with none other than President George H.W. Bush calling it a "disgraceful" rendition. We guess a comedienne goofing on the anthem is more troublesome to most of us than Major League Baseball's continued coddling of wife-beaters. Bleeding Gums Murphy, Springfield Isotopes vs. Shelbyville Shelbyvillians (1990) An obvious riff on Jose Feliciano's famous interpretation from the 1968 World Series, Murphy's 26-minute version distracts most people from the terribly offensive fact that Maggie doesn't take her damn hat off. Carl Lewis, Chicago Bulls vs. New Jersey Nets (1993) U of H alumnus Lewis remains one of the premiere track and field athletes of all time, with nine Olympic gold medals and almost as many IAAF World Championship golds. Unfortunately, his sprint and long-jump talents don't translate to vocal ability, as you can see in this terrifying performance before a Bulls-Nets game. How bad was it? That's Nets forward Derrick Coleman cowering in his jacket, and if you can embarrass a guy who was once accused of urinating in the middle of a restaurant, you've got a special talent.
R. Kelly, Bernard Hopkins vs. Jermain Taylor (2005) Frankly, we're not so much offended by Kelly's "enhanced" version of the anthem as we are surprised that a guy under indictment for child pornography was asked to perform it in the first place. Kelly, of course, was acquitted in 2008. The system works. Michael Bolton, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (2003 ALCS) You just knew this wasn't going to end well. They were booing the guy before he even started singing, for Christ's sake. Oh, who are we kidding? You were the bomb in "Fool's Game," Mike! Kat DeLuna, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (2008)
Does it make us bad music writers if we admit we've never heard of this particular "pop sensation"? DeLuna may have gone the Christina Aguilera route here and added about ten additional syllables to each word, but at least Aguilera can sing. Dallas fans wisely take a page from their Eagle brethren's playbook and boo the shit out of her. Vanessa Marcil, Canada vs. USA (2007) This poor kid: Singing her non-native national anthem in front of a hostile crowd and in a second language. Rocks Off gives her props for actually making three separate attempts to get it right before slipping on the ice and eventually retreating. The U.S. went on to win, probably because they were pissed that none of those scumbag Canadian players offer to help her up.