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Opening day denied national holiday status

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and Budweiser recently teamed together to create a White House petition to make opening day a recognized national holiday in the United States.

To the surprise of few, the petition surpassed its 100,000 signature goal before the deadline last week and moved on to Washington D.C.. Unfortunately, to the surprise of even fewer, it doesn't look like the campaign will receive serious consideration.

Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, an admitted lifelong fan of the Kansas City Royals, sent out the following e-mail response on Friday to those who signed the petition. In it, Earnest dismisses the movement in the kindest and most gentle manner imaginable.

Thanks for your petition and your participation in We the People.

For more than a century, American presidents have celebrated Opening Day -- from President William Taft's 1910 first pitch from the stands, to President Obama toeing the rubber at Nationals Park in 2010.

Opening Day signals a new beginning, not only for the 30 Major League Baseball teams playing for their shot at a title, but for the millions of fans who will follow the 162-game journey -- from "Play ball!" through the last out. That includes President Obama, who will be rooting for his White Sox to go all the way.

While we are sympathetic to your pitch to make Opening Day a national holiday, it's a little outside our strike zone: creating permanent federal holidays is traditionally the purview of Congress. So, it's up to the men and women on Capitol Hill to decide whether to swing at this pitch.

To celebrate Opening Day, we'll be honoring the 2013 World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, here at the White House on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, I'll spend that day visualizing what it would be like to welcome my 2014 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals to the White House. That is, after all, the best part of Opening Day: every team is tied for first place and poised to make a run at the Fall Classic.

It was a long shot, but it never hurts to try, right? At the very least baseball fans who got behind the movement can say they received an email from the Principal Deputy Press Secretary. That counts for something.

And hey, it's not going to temper our enthusiasm or change how we go about our business on Monday and every season that follows. Opening day is opening day, whether we're skipping work and school on our own accord or we have written permission from Congress.

Long live baseball. And long live the great national tradition of telling our boss we should be feeling much better by Tuesday.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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