It is not often that organizations as prominent or as influential as Major League Baseball, the Chicago White Sox, or the New York Yankees make a mistake solely because they missed the obvious. Unfortunately, this is what has happened. Major League Baseball, the Chicago White Sox, and the New York Yankees all decided to honor former players on Memorial Day weekend. Paul Konerko of the White Sox and Bernie Williams of the Yankees are both deserving of having their numbers retired by their former teams, however the timing of this honor goes beyond poor taste.
Memorial Day has become synonymous with the start of summer, big retail sales, and get aways to the beach or the lake. In baseball, school is out so more families start to come to the ballpark and the season really comes alive. However, Memorial Day is actually for remembering those who have given their lives in defense of our nation. Memorial Day, and its predecessors, dates back to 1868 just after the Civil War. Memorial Day is a time for reflection and gratitude for those who gave everything they could to safeguard our nation and the freedoms we enjoy. Memorial Day is when we as a nation honor the sacrifices of the men and women we have lost during times of war, and the wives, husbands, children, siblings, parents they have left behind.
The decision to honor former players on this, or any Memorial Day weekend, is in poor taste. Baseball is ultimately nothing more than a distraction from the important things in life. While the game is an important part of the American experience, it is and will always be just a game. Making critical decisions on the baseball field can alter the outcome of a game, a season, or the success of a franchise. Making critical decisions on the battlefield can alter lives regarding winning a battle, ending a war, and returning soldiers safely home. The importance of baseball is not in the same hemisphere as that of the military.
The players are not to blame for this mistake; rather it is the decision makers higher up in the individual teams and in Major League Baseball. The Commissioner’s Office, and Commissioner Rob Manfred, should have stepped in and strongly suggested the White Sox and the Yankees select a different weekend to honor their former players. Retiring a player’s number is a big draw for a team, so why would you try to combine it with Memorial Day. Baseball is a business, so it suits a team’s interest to not double down on events. Both teams would have benefited from separating Memorial Day and the retirement of their former players’ numbers. The Yankees, the White Sox, and Major League Baseball all individually and collectively made both poor business decisions and a poor decision regarding the honoring of those who have given their lives to protect the United States.
Memorial Day weekend is about remembering those who have given their lives for something far greater than themselves. Let us all remember these brave men and women, and not forget what this weekend is truly about.