Major League Baseball's Sad Silence on Labor Day

This season, as has happened for many years now, Major League Baseball marked Independence Day and Memorial Day with special holiday hats. That they were garish and gosh (but don't worry a portion of sales are going to honor the troops!) was beside the point. Observance was made.

Past that, two teams also had plans to wear special caps for Earth Day (the game was rained out) and just about everyone wears green on St. Patrick's Day (Spring Training games, but still) as well as the hints of Susan G. Komen approved pink on Mother's Day. MLB also has a Civil Rights Game and during each All-Star Game there's now a required observance of something (this year it was Stand Up 2 Cancer). Heck, even embarrassingly non-militaristic Canada gets a Canada Day hat for the Jays. We're also bombarded with an array of special patches, ceremonies and flyovers and of course, "God Bless America" just about everywhere, everyday, apparently, forever. I'm increasingly worried that we also need The Pledge of Allegiance to mark the 4th inning, because I've seen people in the stands and I'm worried they're losing focus on the U.S.A. during that long seven inning slog between the Banner and GBA.

Nevertheless, amidst all this observing, 2011 will bring another silent Labor Day from Major League Baseball. Sure, there will be a spate of day games, because oh look everyone has today off wow this is weird oh cool we planned ahead day games! Why the Labor Day silence? It's not like a different design is needed either, since Independence Day and Memorial Day (yes, they are actually different holidays marking different things) share the same hat each year. Although, since we're on the subject, as special design for Labor Day would be... potentially at least... very cool.

The contributions of America's workers deserve to be honored. If how we honor things is with ugly hats, then so be it, I want ugly hats thanking and remembering the efforts made by millions to build this country. If I have to listen to the broadcast crew of every game painfully struggling through their reflections on war/civil rights/Earth Day/cancer then I want the same thing done for workers. You know, basically everyone. Well, the 80% or so who are lucky to have jobs. Not to mention the fact that every single inning of Major League baseball is highly subsidized by taxpayer dollars and tax exemptions. OK, maybe I am mentioning it.

The non-observance of Labor Day says a lot about Bud Selig's MLB empire, but it says just as much about the way we live now. There are more Presidential candidates running on lowering or eliminating the minimum wage than those who want to raise it. Nobody say anything or complain about anything and by God nobody report anything, lest we all get fired.   

Labor Day has been a federal holiday since 1984. No wait, actually, I read that wrong. It's been a federal holiday since 1894. And that was after years of existence beforehand at the state and local level. Labor Day is a venerable statesman on our calendar. In 1894 the United States had a weird looking flag because there were only 44 states. In 1894 the Olympics were still just that thing they had kinda sorta done in ancient Greece. In 1894 Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey were yet to be born and Frederick Douglass was still alive. As Dudley Moore might have said about it in Arthur, we are not talking about a new holiday here.

 

Moreover, unlike, say, Arbor Day, people died fighting for workers' rights. People stood before hooves, took gunfire, were whipped and throttled and imprisoned for things we take for granted. If you need blood to care, there's been blood. Or if those battles are too distant, there's the uncomfortable fact that every year thousands of Americans die at work. And it is at work that, as proud Americans, we will spend most of our lives.

Maybe a Labor Day cap is an empty gesture, but we've got to start somewhere.

Perhaps by 2094 Major League Baseball will be ready to make a small nod of thanks to the people who built the stadiums, the people who staff the stadiums, and the people who fill them. Though, alas, that may be seen as disrespecting the veterans still coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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