Monday, October 20, 2014

National Baseball Day

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 8:47 AM

click to enlarge baseball-hotdog-and-applepie.jpg

My 5-year-old nephew, Tyler, is a lucky boy, blessed on two fronts this time of year. First of all, he loves baseball. Has his own glove and favorite player (Robinson Cano). Just as important, he lives in Seattle, firmly in the Pacific Time Zone. As the World Series unfolds this week, Tyler will be able to watch just about every inning. His 8:30 bedtime may need to be stretched slightly if a game is tight, but with the TV on at dinnertime, he should enjoy the moments that make every Fall Classic memorable.

Now, if Tyler lived in Memphis? Or, worse, in the Eastern Time Zone? He’d be in bed long before the seventh-inning stretch. Any late-game heroics would have to be reported to him the next day, video recordings of history that, for a 5-year-old, may as well have happened in 1988. World Series games, you see start after 8 p.m. on the east coast, after 7 p.m. here in the Central Time Zone. A child’s game — on its biggest, brightest stage — will be played almost entirely for the viewing pleasure of adults. Car-buying, beer-drinking adults.

This must change. And the solution is National Baseball Day. (Longtime readers, bless you for sticking with me on this.) Here’s how it would work:

On the day Game 1 of the World Series is played (Tuesday this year), America enjoys a national holiday. All government offices and schools closed. This actually solves two problems before the first pitch is thrown: (1) we’d have a holiday between Labor Day and Thanksgiving that would feel distinctly American and (2) we’d finally have a holiday created in honor of a sport, recreation, playing. No one plays like Americans. How do we not have a holiday — and not on a Sunday in February — that allows an extra day of playing?

The game would begin at 3 p.m. Eastern, allowing every child from Myrtle Beach to Venice Beach to see every pitch, hit, stolen base, and putout if he or she so chooses. Using modern technology, families split across time zones could fire up their computers or smart phones and share in the exploits of the latest Mr. October. Families and friends would have some extra bonding time built around a baseball game. Imagine that.

Not a baseball fan? This holiday is for you, too. No viewing required. Enjoy a picnic with your family. Catch a movie you haven’t had time to see. (Better, open that thick book you were given last Christmas.) The idea is to relish a day of leisure, courtesy of our national pastime. Just remember baseball got you there.

FOX will generate upwards of $200 million in ad revenue, depending on how long the World Series goes. And FOX executives would tell you these are 200 million reasons a matinee Series game is not worthwhile. This is the same shallow, boxed-in thinking that’s allowed pay channels like HBO to take over much of the television-viewing market. If a daytime World Series game is played, might there not be fresh eyes on every commercial, a broader demographic to reach (if but for a day)? I think the folks at Budweiser are smart enough to craft their ads beyond the 25-55 male set. (Have you seen the one where the Clydesdale reunites with its trainer?)

Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith has recently campaigned informally for a holiday to coincide with baseball’s Opening Day. The Wizard has the right idea, if the wrong time of year. I barely made it home from school in time to see his game-winning home run in the 1985 NLCS (“Go crazy, folks!”). That happened to be a day game. Kids on the west coast were sitting in chemistry class or the school cafeteria. And that’s criminal.

Baseball’s new commissioner, Rob Manfred, takes over on January 25, 2015. He should draft a letter to Congress on January 26th, advocating National Baseball Day.

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