Judging by the U.S. government’s recent 16-day practice run, we must surely be a step closer to a shutdown that would actually do the American people some good. If it’s late October, you know where I’m going with this: National Baseball Day. One day on the calendar when we gather as families, friends, teams, or rivals and enjoy what remains the finest sporting event in North America. Remember R.P. McMurphy’s impassioned plea to Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: “But it’s the World Series!” That’s my plea for an entire country.
The last time natural shadows could have been seen during the World Series was Game 6 between the St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins in 1987, a contest that started at 4 p.m. eastern, but under the roof of the abominable Metrodome. That cruel coincidence gave birth to an era of baseball’s signature event being decided long after the boys and girls who make it popular are put to bed. The solution is a holiday centered on this country’s national pastime. (For NFL fans now smirking, 74.8 million people bought tickets to MLB games in 2012, compared with 16.5 million that saw NFL games — in a stadium — in 2011. The sheer number of games makes baseball a seven-month American cultural phenomenon.)
Americans love sports. And we love holidays. How is it that no holiday has been created to honor recreation, the nurturing of our bodies that today especially should be among our highest priorities? A holiday where not just government offices and national parks lock their doors, but schools too. Furthermore, how is it that American workers haven’t found an excuse to break from the office between Labor Day and Thanksgiving? National Baseball Day is the answer.
The new holiday would fall on a Wednesday, coinciding with Game 1 of the World Series. The baseball game would begin at 3:00 Eastern, allowing every child from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, to watch every last pitch before bedtime if he or she so chooses.
And choice is an important part of National Baseball Day. There are Americans who’d rather stare at C-Span (where, to them, more action takes place) than endure nine innings of baseball. For this fall holiday, instead of the mundane, schedule a picnic at a nearby park with your family, or visit an art gallery (if open). Go see a movie you otherwise wouldn’t, or start a book — that thick one — you’ve been meaning to read. However you choose to invest the leisure time, just remember it was baseball that got you there.
TV rights-holders will do all they can to prevent National Baseball Day from happening. The networks worship at the altar of prime-time ad revenue. But the allegiance can be blind. Consider the expanded demographic a national telecast — on a holiday, remember — would reach. Think there might not be a few advertisers who would reconsider a World Series spot if they knew entire families would be watching? (Remember any Super Bowl commercials?) The game would be talked about at least the next two days at work, and those sponsored messages would be part of the discussion.
I’ve already written Congress on this matter. Do the same, if the concept strikes your fancy. The aim is a good one: Let millions of children see the final out of a World Series game live. Memories will be made. Best of all, they’ll be memories made — through our national bond of baseball — alongside those you hold dearest. So let’s shut down . . . and play ball.