Maybe a World Series in our nation's capital will make the difference. Maybe when the Washington Nationals host the Houston Astros in Game 3 of this year's Fall Classic — scheduled for this Friday night — enough power brokers will be in attendance to see what those familiar with this column have known for years: America needs National Baseball Day. Sure, the World Series steals a few headlines from football in late October. But it can do more for our country. As for fans turning their attention to the NBA before baseball's champion is crowned . . . they're a lost cause on this mission. For the believers out there, though, those who remember moments on the diamond when natural shadows were cast, read on.
Here's how National Baseball Day would work. On the day Game 1 of the World Series is played — typically a Tuesday — Americans would get to stay home in honor of the sport that gave us Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and a craving for Cracker Jack. No one plays like we do in the United States. National Baseball Day would bridge the holiday gap between Labor Day and Thanksgiving while celebrating an act of recreation.
The game would start at 3 p.m. Eastern, allowing every child from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, to see every pitch, hit, stolen base, and replay review (ugh) if he or she so chooses. Families split across time zones could connect via smart phone and share in the exploits of the latest October hero. Extra bonding time for friends and families around a baseball game. Imagine that.
If you’re not a baseball fan, stop the eye roll. This holiday is for you, too. Take a hike (literally). Grab your rod and reel. See a movie you’ve been meaning to see, and with the right person. Have a picnic lunch. Enjoy a day of leisure, courtesy of the game of baseball.
Television will resist this movement, of course. Those at Fox or TBS or whoever happens to hold the rights to the Fall Classic will rope themselves to the mast of prime-time ad rates. Instead, they might consider another sporting event that does rather well as a stand-alone happening, begun before prime time, with most families together at home: the Super Bowl. Savvy ad execs will recognize their audience for National Baseball Day.
You wonder why kids aren't wearing Mookie Betts jerseys (outside Boston) or collecting Alex Bregman baseball cards (outside Houston)? It might have something to do with their recent World Series heroics happening after the kids were in bed. One of the most famous moments of the great Derek Jeter's career was a World Series home run he hit after midnight
in New York City. Among baseball's eternal charms is its everyday quality, 162 games played by each team over six months. But its showcase — its primary sales tool for the next generation — must be the World Series.
National Baseball Day is the first answer to baseball's woes. You say a holiday requires an act of Congress? Then this is the year you can make a difference.
Email your congressman and attach this column. Remind them that what they saw at Nationals Park would have been that much better if an entire country was watching (and those in attendance, squinting) together. Better yet, ask your kids (or grandkids) to write their congressman. It's more than a sport we're saving. It's a country.