- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

 “We the People,” the White House’s public petition outreach, draws motley interest groups with myriad causes. And now the cause is baseball, beer, opening day revels and official blessings.

“On opening day, every team is in contention to win the World Series. Nothing can top that optimism, with the excitement felt at every level of play - from the players to the most casual of baseball fans. Now let’s make it an official holiday,” declares Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, who is among those determined to wrest some official recognition.

Yes, he supports a petition for the cause at the White House website, organized by none other than Budweiser, the “Official Beer of Major League Baseball,” which is aggressively marketing a sign-up drive, complete with video pitches, a link directly to WhiteHouse.gov and multiple ads buys on ESPN.com. The beer behemoth hopes the petition will garner 100,000 signatures by opening day on March 31, thus drawing an official White House response.

It’s a cinch they’ll likely make it. The brief plea, which was filed online Monday, drew more than 47,000 signatures in its first 48 hours. There’s some push-back though. Critical messages left at the Budweiser Facebook page reveal that some people feel other pivotal dates - September 11 or December 7, for example - better deserve the honor.

“Millions of baseball fans already consider opening day to be an unofficial national holiday,” reasons Tim Brosnan, the league’s executive vice president for business. And the stats he cites: 22 million people admit to playing “hooky” from work to attend or watch an opener.

“Opening day brings with it the promise of a new beginning,” states the actual petition. “Every fan is in good spirits. It’s a day of celebration… Join us in our quest to make sure every American can exercise their inalienable right to celebrate the day those two magical words are uttered for the first time: ‘Play ball!’ “