WISHING FOR "BASEBALL DAY" With baseball’s postseason upon us in all its glory, it’s time we revisit one of my pet issues: a national baseball holiday. Tied in with the World Series, this is a day all of America -- especially its kids -- would take pause, fire up the grill, and honor an element of our society that distinguishes us from the rest of the world. Why go to such lengths for a game we play? Two reasons. First, to regain the connection to our national pastime (sit down, football fans). Secondly, and of primary importance, to regain the connection between baseball and its very lifeblood, children. Here’s the plan. Every October, Baseball Day would fall in line with Game 4 of the World Series (typically played on a Wednesday). Government offices shut down. Schools close. Only the most miserly and misbegotten of CEO’s would keep their operation running through such a holiday. Dust off your flags (and your pennants). Make sure you have some hot dogs in the fridge, Cracker Jack in the pantry, and a mitt for every able-bodied person in the household. And if you’re lucky enough to have a copy of John Fogerty’s “Centerfield,” crank it up on the stereo. (For that matter, find a tape of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First?”) Critically for this special day to be what it should, Game 4 between the champions of the National and American leagues would be played, yes true believers, in the afternoon. Under the sunshine. Three o’clock eastern, noon pacific. Every boy and girl from coast to coast can tune in on their TV or radio and enjoy every last inning of what remains this country’s preeminent sporting event. Generations ago, loving parents allowed their children to skip school to see (or hear) Willie, Mickey, or the Duke do his thing in the fall classic. Why not allow a holiday to formally open this window of childhood opportunity? Let the suits and bean counters who own the broadcast rights for the Series whine all they want about lost advertising revenue. It’s one game! Do your country a service, Fox, and give something back to the kids. As things stand now, most World Series contests end well after midnight. Want to know how most children in the Big Apple learned of the homer heroics of Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, and Derek Jeter last fall? In their morning paper, that’s how. Shameful. Baseball is Americana, people. When a football book as wonderful as David Halberstam’s “Summer of ‘49” is written; when a football movie as comically sublime as “Bull Durham” is made; when minor-league football is played everywhere from Burlington, Vermont to Tacoma, Washington . . . only then will I concede that our national pastime has somehow shifted from the diamond to the gridiron. Would you have to watch (or listen) to the ball game on Baseball Day? Of course not. Those Americans who have no interest in baseball -- pray for them -- will get another day on the calendar to do something with the family. Go to the lake, have a picnic in the park, catch a movie you’ve been wanting to see, visit some friends you just haven’t been able to squeeze in on the weekend. Particularly in this post-9/11 world in which we live, it’s crucial that we find every opportunity possible to remind the ones we love just how much we love them. When Baseball Day is finally declared, don’t feel obligated to Game 4 of the Series. Just remember what got you the extra time for family and friends. The way I see it, the timing has never been better for this new holiday to officially reach our calendars. Among our current president’s few redeeming qualities is his affection for baseball. So do the right thing, Dubya. The time now for Baseball Day in America.


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