Monday, October 25, 2010

National Baseball Day: The Campaign Continues

Posted By on Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Somebody’s listening. After nearly a decade of campaigning for National Baseball Day, I have quantifiable evidence that baseball’s powers that be are finally on the right track. Earlier this month, Major League Baseball announced that Game 3 of the World Series — to be played this Saturday in Arlington, Texas — will start before 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Yes, after more than 20 years without sunshine over the Fall Classic, the first pitch for Game 3 this year will be hurled ... at 6:57 ET. An hour earlier than all other Series games.

click to enlarge baseball.jpg

So it goes. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the path to National Baseball Day — a new holiday centered around this country’s original national pastime — surely begins with sixty extra minutes for kids to watch this Saturday night. And if little Tommy or baby Sue can’t stay up for all nine innings, the seventh-inning stretch seems reasonable. So brush up on the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

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., 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 National Baseball Day.

Americans love sports. And we love holidays. How is it that no holiday — one where schools and government offices close — has been created to honor recreation, the nurturing of our bodies that today especially should be among our highest priorities? 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. Government offices closed, schools closed. Heck, the New York Stock Exchange could use another day off. 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 schedule a colonoscopy than endure nine innings of baseball. For this holiday, instead of a doctor’s appointment, schedule a picnic at a nearby park with your family, or a visit to a museum (if open) that you’ve been meaning to make. 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.

Despite the progress in start time this Saturday, there’s a long way to go, and television decision-makers will do all they can to prevent this holiday from happening. The Fox network will turn away from prime-time ad revenue the day Glenn Beck turns away from a Sarah Palin speech. And the allegiance is just as 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? (Have you seen 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: to see the final out of a World Series game live with my children, before they’re too old to sit in my lap.

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