Thursday, September 6, 2012

Holidays, attendance and the change of seasons

A couple of tweets from Tuesday evening, on the same topic but apparently independent of each other:

From Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post (@ThomasBoswellWP):

Bad MLB crowds Mon & Tues everywhere (Atl., Cinn, DC, KC, Oak, CWS, Pitt, Sea, Mia, Tor). And all similar crowds. Don't get it.

From Twins president Dave St. Peter (@TwinsPrez):

Lots of small crowds across MLB tonight. The Tuesday after Labor Day is always most challenging date from ticket sales perspective.

The Twins-White Sox game on Tuesday had an announced attendance of 15,698, which does seem small for a first-place team playing the league rival most despised by the fan base. Wednesday afternoon's gate — 17,336 — wasn't much better. Monday's game drew 21,676, also unimpressive.

That attendance slumps with Labor Day makes sense to me. Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, and now we all start getting into the rhythms of autumn. Kids are in or getting ready to start school, prime vacation time is past, the daylight is dwindling ... baseball's a part of summer, and most of us are resigned to moving on to the next stage of the year.

Of course, meteorological summer hasn't passed yet. That won't come until Sept. 22. And it occurs to me that we have several holidays that we use to mark the passage of the seasons -- and they all come three to four weeks ahead of the "real" change of season.

Emotional summer begins with Memorial Day; real summer begins in late June..

Emotional autumn beings with Labor Day; real autumn begins later in September.

Emotional winter begins with Thanksgiving; real winter begins a few days before Christmas.

And emotional spring begins ... when? There's no official holiday in late February/early March that truly matches the appeal and acceptance of the other three. It seems to me, in the vagueness of memory, that Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday were bigger deals in my youth than Presidents' Day or MLK Day are now, but I may be wrong about that.

We probably don't have an early start holiday to start spring because it's difficult to get into the idea when it's still cold and snowy.

The closest I can come to identifying the beginning of emotional spring is no official holiday, and certainly an idiosyncratic choice: the start of spring training. But that's just me; if the rest of the country thought so too, it would be a holiday.

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