Vote ‘No’ on Bud’s campaign to make Opening Day a national holiday

Perhaps the greatest fielding shortstop of all time is now pitching for Budweiser.

In the first of a series of three online ads created for Annheuser-Busch, called “The Mission,” we see images of Ozzie Smith’s playing days – performing his acrobatics on the field and sliding into home base – mixed in with images of The Wizard today, wearing a bright red sports jacket, as an over-sized baseball is rolled through the Clydesdale stables.  Across the screen roll these words: “For 138 years, America has celebrated this day.  Opening Day.  A time for rebirth.  A time for rejoicing.  Opening Day has always been an American holiday. Let’s make it official.”

Then Ozzie climbs a ladder to put his signature on the ball, which sits in the carriage of the Clydesdale wagon.

In the final scene, we see Ozzie seated in the wagon, waving at crowds that line the streets, a smile across his face as big as the Gateway Arch.  “Opening Day should be a national holiday,” he says. “All we need is 100,000 signatures. Next stop Washington, D.C.”

Then the words splash across the screen: “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Let’s Join Him.”

It is all part of Budweiser’s effort to declare Major League Baseball Opening Day a national holiday.  The beer giant has gone so far as to create a petition on to make it happen.  If they reach 100,000 signatures by March 26, the Obama administration will have to give an official response.

And it looks like The Wizard and the King of Beers are going to succeed. At least as far as reaching their goal of obtaining 100,000 signatures. As of Friday morning, with five days still to go, they were less than 4,000 signatures shy of the mark.

It’s a wonderful marketing campaign.  Personally, I can’t wait to see the video of Mr. Smith going to Washington and knocking on Obama’s door.

Let’s be perfectly clear. This is not real. It’s an ad campaign. Nothing more. Sure, technically speaking, the 100,000 signatures do require a response from the White House. Don’t think for a moment that it will elicit more than a chuckle from POTUS.  Even if there were 1 million signatures on that petition, MLB’s Opening Day will never be a national holiday.  Here’s the deal. It shouldn’t be.

Call me a spoilsport.  Peg me as a party pooper.  Heck, label me as un-American. But I don’t believe that Opening Day should be a national holiday.

If anyone out there should be rooting for this initiative, it is me. I’m a federal government employee, and would love nothing more than another paid day off of work. Let’s be real. It’s not going to happen.

I look forward to Opening Day, with as much glee as a kid does for Christmas Day.  I’m one of those 22 million Americans that Anheuser-Busch claims admit to playing hooky on Opening Day.

Here’s the reality check. Since Obama took over as president in 2008, his administration has frozen hiring of federal workers and cut back on pay raises and awards.  FOX News will never admit this, but for federal workers, life under George W. Bush was a rose garden compared to working for our current boss. There’s no way that Obama is going to give us another paid holiday.

I, like any other federal employee, would happily take another paid holiday. That doesn’t mean that I believe we deserve it.  I believe we deserve a cost-of-living adjustment to our pay before I would believe that we deserve another paid holiday.

If we were to catch our boss in an unusually good mood, I’d think that he’d be giving out a paid holiday for something for more important than MLB’s Opening Day.  Like Election Day. Or maybe to honor women’s rights.  Or to pay tribute to Native Americans. Not to recognize the start of MLB’s baseball season.

Let’s also be clear. National holidays are a fiction. For constitutional reasons, the United States does not have national holidays in the sense that most other nations do, i.e. days on which all businesses are closed by law and employees have a day off.  Pursuant to the Tenth Amendment, the U.S. federal government only has constitutional jurisdiction to establish holidays for itself, for certain federally chartered and regulated businesses (such as federal banks), and for Washington, D.C.; otherwise, constitutional authority to create public holidays is a power reserved to the states. Most states also allow local jurisdictions (cities, villages, etc.) to establish their own local holidays. As a result, holidays are not governed at the federal level as each state has jurisdiction over its holidays.

To be honest, when I first heard of this petition, my initial reaction was one of unbridled joy. Yes, a day off to watch baseball! I don’t have to burn eight hours of my vacation. But the more I thought of it, the less enthusiastic about it I became. And not just because it had no chance of becoming a reality. The joy of Opening Day, to me, is that feeling that it is an unofficial holiday.  Much like Ditch Day in that senior year of high school, it is special because it is not sanctioned.  If you put an official stamp on it, it just wouldn’t be as much fun.

Applaud Budweiser for another brilliant marketing campaign.  Just don’t buy into it as anything more than what it is: a ploy to sell more beer.  Bringing in The Wizard to stump for them is a piece of baseball magic.  Drink up, baseball fans, this fraud’s for you.


Randy Richardson is the author of CHEESELAND. An all-new edition of his Wrigleyville murder mystery, LOST IN THE IVY, will be released by Eckhartz Press on Opening Day.

Photo: Beer mug flag / St. Murse / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / Alteration: Cropped