By Blake Baxter
Good news, sports fans: The Wizard is back, and this time, you won’t have to follow any yellow brick roads to hear his wisdom.
The aforementioned Wizard, of course, is St. Louis Cardinals legend Ozzie Smith, the only man with the courage to speak up for the future of America’s National Pastime. (For you kids too busy with your Social Medias and your Game Boys to know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to baseball.)
Ozzie Smith is campaigning along with Budweiser (and we’ll come back to this selfless corporation in a moment) to make Major League Baseball’s Opening Day a National Holiday. That’s right, people, that magical man that dazzled you by working so hard, is working so you won’t have to.
It sounds too good to be true, but there’s nothing hiding behind this curtain; this fairytale is real! The word is out, and it’s music to this sports writer’s ears.
When I was a kid, MLB Opening Day was the best day of the year, but now it’s just another day that kids go to school, the adults go to work, the government stays open, and the world goes round. It’s mundane enough to put you to sleep.
But open your eyes for just a minute: what if we let the kids take a break to just go to the ballpark like old times? Seriously, aren’t they at school enough? Let’s be real, kids have school off on weekends, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break, Martin Luther King Day, Easter Break, Spring Break, Columbus Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Casmir Pulaski Day, Teacher Institute Days, and three months of summer, and that’s it. The rest of the time they’re in school!
It’s pretty crazy when you think how much time they spend learning about things like math and science and other stuff they’ll probably never use. What if we gave them one day where they could learn about respect, teamwork and real achievement? Besides, America is already in the top 40 in education in the world, do you really think an extra day of gym class is going to change that?
Baseball is more important.
Now, if you wanted to be a wise guy, you could ask, “What if we just moved Opening Day to Sunday, so kids and adults alike can partake in opening day without having to shut down all of the schools and offices in the country?”
You mean, what if we moved Opening Day from Monday to Sunday? But that’s the way it’s always been! What if we just spit on the flag? What if we just stopped cooking apple pies? I’m an open-minded guy, so I’ll go on a ride with you, but I will not let you crash our country into a tree.
But let’s talk about heart for a minute, and a corporation that’s full of it. Budweiser, produced by Anheuser-Busch – that’s right sports fans, that Busch – is going all in on this enchanted pursuit. In this day and age, corporations, and “big business” in general, seem to get a bad rap. The typical portrait big business is of a faceless corporation that will gladly act against the interest of the people if it benefits them financially. But let’s not paint with too broad of a brush here, Michelangelo. Here’s a company that’s standing up and spreading a message not because it will help them sell more beer, but because it’s what’s right. I, for one, am inspired by their heartfelt selflessness.
Anyway, Ozzie Smith and Budweiser need your help. When they started, they needed 100,000 signatures in thirty days to warrant Administration review and a response from the White House. Now, they only need 43,193 more. Seeing as there’s really nothing else going on in the world right now, I’m sure the White House is eagerly awaiting a chance to make history.
Let’s take a look at the text of this momentous petition and break it down, line by line:
“MLB Opening Day is more than just the beginning of the season.”
You can say that again, Mr. Smith.
“It’s a symbol of rebirth.”
“The coming of spring.”
Well, actually spring starts on March 20, but I know what you mean.
“The return of America’s national pastime.”
And on the right day.
“It’s a state of mind where anything is possible.”
… except moving it to a different day, of course.
“You can feel the electricity in the air.”
Oh, can I ever! It’s atmospheric.
“Opening Day brings with it the promise of a new beginning.”
Oh! This is a reference to the first sentence!
“Every fan is in good spirits.”
Just imagine how good of spirits they’d be in if they didn’t have to be at school or work.
“It’s a day of celebration.”
Celebrate…Holiday. How could you not get it?
“It’s a day of hope.”
Well, unless you’re a Cubs fan, amirite?
“It’s a day that, for generations, has been looked forward to by baseball fans every off-season.”
…only to miss all of the day games. (Dismissive shake of the head.)
“It’s an American tradition, and it deserves to be recognized as an American holiday.”
Indeed it is. I’d also like American Holidays on the day after the Super Bowl, the first two days of the NCAA tournament, the first two days of the Masters (“a tradition unlike any other”) and the entire World Cup. (And Halloween AND St. Patrick’s Day, and maybe even Mardi Gras.) But this is a start.
“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!’”
There you have it, folks.
National Holidays might cost the government $450 million per day, but traditions are priceless. The Wizard had the courage, Budweiser had the heart, if Obama only had a brain he’d get to work and make this happen immediately.
Blake Baxter is a native of Illinois and a 2013 graduate of Eureka College. He currently covers the Carolina Panthers for Football.com, as well as the Chicago Bulls for Yahoo Sports, and previously covered college basketball for ESPN Louisville during the 2012-13 season. He has also written about sports, pop culture and politics for The College Fix, The Wine and Cheese Crowd and an assortment of newspapers. Blake works in the communication and marketing field for Technical Solutions & Services, but aspires to write full-time in the near future.