Baseball’s weird, man. This has nothing to do with a protest or a political or social message. This is just two dudes being dudes, deviating from the social norms of the sport, competing in a game within a game, and engaging in an unplanned, suspenseful, exhilarating, spur of the moment National Anthem standoff. It’s kinda like a Boom-off, but much more civil.

You never know when one could break out, but you’ve gotta be prepared for one at any moment, and the most important thing is that you’ve gotta commit, and Carlos Estevez and Jose Martinez did just that. You can’t cave to the pressure of the game starting, the leadoff hitter getting in the batter’s box, the umpires complaining to your manager, or later congregating to make an authoritative decision that could impact the outcome of the game that you’re about to play.

I don’t know how to judge the winner of this, though. I suppose the winner is Martinez, because Estevez took his mask off and made the first move back to the dugout. If so, then the Cardinals are establishing a reputation of being the top dog when it comes to National Anthem standoffs.