I was going to write about what I call The Wait this week on Life as a Major League Baseball Season Ticket Holder and I did actually. I had an entire column prepared. While I was waiting on the internet connection to stop going in and out up here in the beautiful mountains of Pioneer, CA (they aren’t so beautiful when you can’t connect to the outside world, however), I thought of something a little more interesting to write about that ties in with my theme of the The Wait.
What’s The Wait? It’s what I always name the week before Opening Day. Even if your team doesn’t open at home, which is always best, seeing your team play a meaningful game for the first time in six months is the best feeling in the world for any baseball fan. For me the next seven days represent the most agonizing week of the entire year. It moves by at an absolute snail’s pace. It’s like being a kid waiting for Christmas morning or (insert your favorite holiday here).
Holiday, hmmm, that’s a good word to use to describe what Opening Day is to baseball fans. Holiday is the perfect word actually. Other people agree apparently many other people! Making Opening Day a holiday is exactly what former Cardinals shortstop and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who is partnered on this with Budwiser (if you have to have a sponsor what better than a good old American beer company, right?), is attempting to do. They are working together to have President Obama declare MLB’s Opening Day a National Holiday!
Each year there are teams that open early, like the Dodgers and Diamondbacks just did in Sydney this past weekend. There is usually a Sunday night feature game as there is again this year as the Dodgers face the Padres but there is ALWAYS one day that MLB declares its OFFICIAL Opening Day. This year that day is next Monday, March 31st.
To declare the day a National holiday has been an ongoing campaign promoted all throughout spring training. One hundred thousand signatures were needed to take the petition to the White House. It was announced Monday that the number of signatures on the petition have exceeded 100,000 a few days before the petition’s deadline of March 26th. One hundred thousand is a number that hardly represents the number of people who will attend or watch their team’s first official game of the season next Monday. According to Gabrielle Levy at UPI.com Smith told the press,
“There’s no denying the passion that baseball fans have for America’s national pastime. The more than 100,000 people who signed the petition are just a fraction of the 1.3 million who will attend Opening Day games this year. The day is already an unofficial holiday, but now it’s time to make it official.”
Here a highlighted part of the official petition talks about the role of baseball in America and how it, oh so importantly, brings people together:
MLB Opening Day is more than just the beginning of the season. It’s a symbol of rebirth. The coming of spring. The return of America’s national pastime. It’s a state of mind where anything is possible. You can feel the electricity in the air. Opening Day brings with it the promise of a new beginning. Every fan is in good spirits. It’s a day of celebration. It’s a day of hope. It’s a day that, for generations, has been looked forward to by baseball fans every off-season. It’s an American tradition, and it deserves to be recognized as an American holiday. Join us in our quest to make sure every American can exercise their inalienable right to celebrate the day those two magical words are uttered for the first time: “PLAY BALL!”
The White House officially has 60 days to respond to any petition that eclipses the 100,000 signature mark but Tom Kraus, the director Budweiser Brand Marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev, said that it is already in the works to get the petition approved before March 31st. Kraus, like Smith, also made a statement,
“No doubt everybody would love to have a day off,” Kraus said. “But the real goal is having the White House recognize this effort and proclaim it a national day of observance. That really just recognizes how powerful Opening Day itself is across the country. That’s the ultimate win.”
I couldn’t agree with that statement more. Sure people want a day off but that is not what this is about. Baseball IS America’s past time and it should be observed as such. A change of this magnitude would do much more than give people a day off of work. For example, it would make Opening Day games actually take place during the day! Currently, out of the 13 games that will be played next Monday, only five games will actually take place during the day. The rest start after 3:00 PM ET. The games, being on a weekday, now have to be scheduled around a regular person’s work schedule.
Many baseball fans take the day off as it is anyway, especially if they are lucky enough to have a team that has a day game. The rest of us are left out in the cold March weather. Yes, it even gets cold here in Northern California. I’ve already heard of people making beanies and scarves for the night game. One year I remember having at least three shirts, a jacket, a blanket and a scarf on. My teeth were still chattering. It made, what was still a fabulously fun day, a little more miserable than it needed to be.
Days, on the other hand, at this point in the year are in most places gorgeous. Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy Opening Day in the sun? Whether you are watching your team’s away game on tv at home with a cold beer, barbecuing or sitting at the ballpark with surrounded by friends and family – you would be able to soak up not only the excitement of Opening Day but the actual daytime and sun as well. Wow, an actual day game on Opening Day! That would be a dream come true for many fans.
We all know President Obama loves basketball and sports in general. Let’s just hope he has a spot in his heart for baseball because I, for one, would LOVE to be sitting in the warm NorCal sun this time next week!
The Wait may still be on, but the possibility of making Opening Day a Nationally recognized holiday certainly brightens the week for me this year. It might not start this year, it may not happen at all. Yet, I like the feeling of hope I am getting this year. It is certainly making my most agonizing week a bit easier to swallow. It would be a dream come true to be sitting in the sunny Coliseum this time next week! Keep your fingers crossed for me, even if that dream must wait to come to fruition until next season.
Thanks for reading this week and smile because as slow as the week may go, there are only seven more days until it is officially baseball season! ~ xx Jen