By coincidence or not, it is notable that three of our National Holidays fall within the baseball season. The first of these will be celebrated tomorrow to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and died while in our country’s service. In ballparks across America, ceremonies will take place to honor these men and women.
The first official observance of Memorial Day was May 28, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Following WWI, it was expanded to all veterans who lost their life in service to our nation.
Traditionally, Memorial Day marks the quarter point in the season when both the weather and the pennant races heat up. The leaders, contenders, and wannabes are established by now.
The next marking point is the Fourth Of July. Again baseball shines in its remembrance of our independence struggle and ultimate victory. My article Baseball And The Fourth Of July is one of the most widely read pieces in this blog and celebrates the intermingling of our culture and our National Pastime.
For the baseball season, this day marks the time when teams and individuals are solidifying their hold as true contenders in the competition as baseball moves to the half-way point and the All Star Game break.
From there the season moves though the dog days of summer when aging teams seek a second wind while younger teams cope with the pressure of “being in this thing”. The trade deadline on July 31st looms as General Managers feel the pressure too in being able to fill holes while not giving away the farm. There will be winners and losers as moves are made and it all will become fodder for the Hot Stove season over the winter.
According to MLB.COM, if a team has a lead of 5.5 games at this juncture of the season they have at least a 75% chance of finishing first in their division.
The intrigue of course is that other 25% and baseball has not failed to bring epic pennant races down to the final day of the season and even beyond in one game playoffs to decide everything.
The 1951 Dodgers, 1964 Phillies, 1978 Red Sox, 2007 Mets, and then again in 2008 have proven over and over as Yogi said “It ain’t over til it’s over”……….
And maybe that’s why baseball is so intertwined with our history. Because even as these men and women are honored tomorrow, they may be gone but certainly not forgotten in the same way that (on a different level) The Shot Heard Round The World will never leave our memory………