While doing radio for yesterday's tilt between the Yankees and Indians, color commentator Suzyn Waldman prefaced her reciting of the out-of-town scoreboard by bemoaning the sad state of the schedule. See, yesterday was a special holiday in these United States: Memorial Day. It's a chance for all Americans to honor the war dead by eating ground and grilled meat products, drinking Belgian beer, and sitting in traffic while cursing at foreign drivers. For Ms. Waldman, however, Memorial Day needs to be a day for baseball.
Suzyn's problems with the day's schedule? Only ten of fourteen American League teams were in action and one of those games was taking place in Toronto, which isn't even in America! She and her partner John Sterling cited the halcyon days of the 1950s, as they are prone to do when reciting showtune lyrics, and remembered that every team used to play doubleheaders on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
Whether or not their sense of recollection was accurate, John and Suzy have a point: these three days are national holidays and deserve to have a full afternoon schedule of baseball action. These are days that most baseball fans are free from the shackles of quotidian work and sit far enough outside the indoctrinated weekend to make the idea of a day at the ballpark seem like Christmas in May.
Here, taste these cherry-picked numbers:
- Atlanta drew 42,543 yesterday against a season average of 28,891
- Pittsburgh drew 20,235 against 17,264
- Houston drew 34,704 against 26,403
- Kansas City drew 24,651 against 19,898
- San Fran drew 42,625 against 35,709
- St Louis drew 40,782 against 39,516
- Los Angeles drew 45,325 against 43,779
Sure, some places that hate America had a dip in attendance yesterday, and sure, our summer season that will increase attendance league-wide is just getting underway. Get ready for crowded loge levels, people! But the fact remains: folks like to come to the ballpark on holidays. Wouldn't the idle Chicago White Sox have benefited from a day game yesterday?
I remember making a habit of going to Yankee Stadium in the late 90s each Fourth of July to see the Bombers beat the Orioles. It was a rite of summertime! Granted, the opportunity to simply walk up to the Stadium and buy tickets on gameday has disappeared from the Bronx now, but there are at least 25 other parks where that chance still exists.
So do the right thing, Katy Feeney, and focus on holiday baseball in 2011. Singleheaders, doubleheaders, what have you; schedule the games and the people will show up.