flag at braves game by Lauri Independent Journal Review

Image Credit: Independent Journal Review

We’ve certainly seen a lot of politics in sports recently.

Colin Kaepernick made a statement about police shootings by taking a knee at San Francisco 49ers games.

A group of then-St. Louis Rams made a political statement by holding up their hands up to mimic the “hands up, don’t shoot” move inaccurately attributed to Michael Brown who attacked a police officer and was shot to death in nearby Ferguson.

The Miami Heat donned hoodies to show that “we are all Trayvon Martin” after the shooting of the teen in self defense by George Zimmerman.

But an NBC sports reporter exploded heads on Twitter Sunday with his observation that seeing an American flag unfurled on the field was just too "political.”

NBC baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra said the sight of a huge American flag at the Braves game showed that politics has invaded the diamond and he’d like it to stop, please:

The day the blogger tweeted out the photo, Easter Sunday, was “Kids Day” at the new Atlanta Braves ballpark.

The day featured the Boy Scouts unfurling a huge American flag and saluting our country. The “moving scene,” as one fan put it, was followed up by a nine-year-old wunderkind belting out the “Star Spangled Banner.” There were probably more than a few misty eyes in the crowd.

The Braves saluted two hometown military heroes:

The Easter Bunny was given a shout out:

And then people saw Calcaterra’s tweet and just let him have it.

He later wrote that the whole thing was a joke; that he saw a friend’s photo of the flag and decided to use the photo to ironically troll people who insist that politics be kept out of sports:

Against that backdrop, I looked at the photo my friend posted on my Facebook timeline, and I tweeted out a little joke, poking at those who claim that sports and politics never go together. I did so by sarcastically adopting the voice of one of the many “stick to sports” people we’ve mocked around here many, many times ...

But very few people took his scare quotes around his observation as “a little joke” and let him know what they thought on Twitter.

First out of the chute was “Louiswu” who made a simple observation:

To which the sports reporter responded by explaining why he believed that:

But:

But Calcaterra countered that the flag is just a piece of fabric:

“Louiswu” thought he should point out something to the sports blogger:

As Newsbusters pointed out, Calcaterra seemed to have a real problem with the flag:

“How is the flag political? Matthew Weymar Tweeted to Calcaterra. The NBC writer responded that maybe a flag “in and of itself isn’t always political. A two-acre flag with a military flyover is saying something very specific, however.” Chris McAllister asked Calcaterra what an American flag for Democrats looks like?” Touche!

Rick Krahn commented, “I think there was a time when love for country wasn’t considered political. And a lot of people would like to return to that time.”

Calcaterra said it’s not so easy doing that: “Getting there requires people to accept that those who question our leaders and do not support all military ventures can still be patriots.”

With every tweet, the NBC reporter just dug himself a little deeper with patriotic baseball fans:

“CW” took it a step further:

Calcaterra responded, but the torrent had begun:

They kept coming:

Eventually, actors James Wood and Adam Baldwin weighed in:

Baldwin responded:

Calcaterra responded:

Baldwin came back with “God Bless America!"

James Woods administered the coups de grace:

While he was thrusting and parrying with flag lovers, Calcaterra decided to take a swipe at Christians on Easter:

Then he complained that his supposed “trolling” resulted in ... trolling:

In his later post, Calcaterra said he was just kidding around, but he seemed to reverse himself in a way that was Keith Olbermann-worthy:

But let us not pretend for one second that displays of conspicuous patriotism haven’t spiked dramatically in our country over the past 16 years.

Let us not pretend for one second that they persist for all of the same reasons that initially inspired them.

Let us not pretend that, over more than a decade and a half of it, many have not learned how effective it is to leverage patriotism to aid their political careers, their images, or their marketability and the marketability of their brands.

Patriotism is a feeling and an ideal, and like any other feeling or ideal, it can be twisted to any number of other ends, good, bad or neutral.

Even in baseball.

When he re-loaded, he took off after the boo birds on his Twitter time line.

When asked if he hated apple pie too, he responded that cherry was his favorite.

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