Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Yerrr out. Just say no to a national holiday....for baseball

The very concept of a national holiday for Major League Baseball's Opening Day is a foolish idea wrapped in a PR exec's box of dreams.

While baseball has long enjoyed its perch as America's Pastime, and America's Game, that mantle has been passed over to football, which will probably hold onto this until it totally screws up the concussion issue more than it already has.

So baseball isn't even the national game any longer.  And the ongoing effort to create a false holiday for a Monday in April to memorialize the glory days of the game is an enterprise that should be ignored by Congress.

There are already 11 national holidays. 11. Does that make baseball more deserving of recognition than the causes and individuals around whom holidays have been sought, but not won, for years.

Should baseball come before Cesar Chavez Day? There is no national holiday honoring any Latino. Baseball before our largest minority, and soon to be plurality? Really? Advocates for Chavez Day have long sought March 31 in his honor. How would they react to a day for a game coming a few days after the birthdate for this American.

Should baseball come before a holiday honoring contributions of any number of others, whether that's a President still to be determined, or a hero still to be honored.  Hell, I’m sure there are nuevo-billionaires out in Silicon Valley who envision a holiday for Steve Jobs, or even Mark Zuckerberg. 

Perhaps, instead, we should reduce our national holidays, in order to accommodate baseball. Remember, there are 11. So why not give up MLK Day. That would go over well, given the fights that arose over those intransigent states, particularly Arizona, unwilling to recognize the contributions and efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Or drop Columbus Day. There's already quite a bit of discussion in some communities over dropping a holiday recognizing the exploits of a man widely recognized not only for travelling westward, and proving that the earth was not in fact flat, but for spreading disease, illness, and a host of generational issues upon the indigenous peoples he and his men came across on their expedition. I'm sure the Italian-American community would gladly step aside and allow Columbus Day to be relegated to the dustbin of holiday history.

Or eliminate the day after Thanksgiving. That has become a business holiday, or a holiday intended to spur people on to business, or at least to holiday shopping. What with online shopping, and the move by many US retailers to open on Thanksgiving Day itself, perhaps this holiday no longer has relevance, and it too should be jettisoned, sent back to the Chamber of Commerce for some dusting and repurposing.

In 2007 baseball gave up its long privileged position as a tax-exempt entity.  Since then, revenues have risen to over $8 billion, and estimates point even higher for this coming year. 

Baseball doesn’t need a holiday.  For many fans, attending the game provides a holiday, provides a respite from the goings-on outside the game.  Instead, what baseball should do, is have teams pay for their own facilities, build their own stadiums, and avoid leaning on financially strapped municipalities for resources better placed in education and transportation, among other areas.

Now that would truly be a gift for the American people, and something for which we would all be thankful.

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