By John Clayton
My recent resolution to not open columns with dissertations on the weather has lasted about two weeks, or more precisely, since my last column, but the atmospheric conditions, most unfavorable of late, provide an irresistible impulse. The fact is I cannot help but note that it’s snowing furiously, again, with appreciable accumulation, and there is a list of scheduled baseball games in the morning paper. Spring training, perhaps, but there is hope for spring.
Coincidentally, there is a Budweiser advertising-fueled effort to make baseball’s opening day a national holiday. Perhaps you have heard this on the radio, or seen it online, or been Tweeted, or it showed up on Facebook, or, God forbid, you read it in a newspaper, but it is indeed in the news. The movement is in the form of a petition, online of course. Apparently, and this is a totally unverified fact with a whiff of urban legend to it, if 100,000 people sign such a petition, then the White House has to do something about it . Now I have no idea what “Do something about it” means. It may be that the president discusses it with his good pal the Speaker of the House and they craft legislation and it goes to committee, etc. (you know the deal); or it may be that the president walks down his driveway in the snow in his bathrobe and slippers to get his newspaper and tells the waiting White House Press Corps, “You gotta be kidding me!” and that’s the end of that. Either way works for me, quite frankly.
Few things annoy me more than a clamor for a national holiday. I like national holidays, especially the big ones that everyone gets, like Independence Day and Christmas, and the ones everyone used to get, like Thanksgiving, but the rest of them are rather selective. The government gets off, so there’s no mail delivery, and school kids get off, and school employees get off, and people in unions (same thing) get off, and the rest of us work. I’m not feeling the thrill of another holiday, even for baseball opening day. Why does opening day need the imprimatur of a government holiday? It doesn’t.
I might be a little touchy on the opening day/taking time off from work thing. Many, many years ago, decades ago, 1992 to be exact, my wife scored tickets to opening day for the Baltimore Orioles which was also opening day for Orioles Park at Camden Yards, as their field was compromisingly named. This was back when otherwise sane Washington fans were Orioles fans. My boss, and his boss the CEO, were not particularly fond of people taking days off and returning the next day without evidence of medical problems, so when I knew we had the tickets, I waited for a good-mood moment and sprang it on him. “Sure, no problem, as long as you’ve got everything in your area under control.” I put the first clause in the bank. Unfortunately, I had also been assigned to close out a bad project, coincidentally in Baltimore, and, of course, our walk-out day was the same day. I did the tactical, if not the responsible, thing and carefully did not remind him of my upcoming absence.
Opening day at Camden Yards was glorious. George H.W. Bush fired (yes, fired) out the first pitch and everything was wonderful. It was sunny. I have no memory of who won. Checking my office voicemail, I think I had seventeen messages, all from the same person, all with the same theme, “Where are you?”
My administrative assistant, a tough Tennessean, covered for me as best as she could without lying. My boss was stomping around her desk outside my office, saying, “Where is he? Does he know what today is?” Her response being, “Well, I’m pretty sure he’s in Baltimore.”
Yes, I was dragged into the CEO’s office the next day and thoroughly wire brushed—but not fired. The wounds healed; the memory of that opening day has not faded. Non, je ne regrette rien, as Edith Piaf would have sung.
So if you want to go to opening day, deal with it. Take a chance. Let’s just not make it another holiday.