POLITICS: PennAve

White House: Opening Day holiday 'outside our strike zone'

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Politics,Sports,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,PennAve,Holidays,Baseball

Sorry, baseball fans. Looks like you won't get a paid day off to watch Opening Day anytime soon.

Responding to an online petition to make Opening Day a national holiday, the White House on Monday said President Obama didn't have the authority to give baseball diehards what they wanted.

“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,” said White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest. “So, it's up to the men and women on Capitol Hill to decide whether to swing at this pitch.”

No word yet on whether lawmakers will rally behind a cause of such national importance — at least to a select few.

Baseball kicked off a full slate of Opening Day games Monday. Technically the season started earlier this month, when the Los Angeles Dodgers twice bested the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia.

Earnest, a fan of the Kansas City Royals, said he hoped the perennial loser would visit the White House as World Series champions in the near future. And Obama would surely like to welcome his beloved Chicago White Sox.

Though it didn’t grant the national holiday, the White House paid tribute to the importance of Opening Day for millions of Americans — and the role that presidents have played in honoring the event.

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

“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,” Earnest added.

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