Brandon Nimmo of the New York Mets watches fireworks after a 7-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 04, 2022. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
MEDIA

MLB Needs to Own July 4

America’s Pastime seems to be a natural fit for America’s birthday. It’s time Major League Baseball realized that and put its best foot forward on July 4.

The NFL has Thanksgiving. The NBA has Christmas Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. College football has Labor Day weekend and New Year’s Day, the latter of which it shares with the NHL, to an extent.

What about Major League Baseball? What day on the calendar can we say it really owns? It makes a big deal out of Opening Day, sure, but that’s not a consistent date on the calendar and not every team starts on the same day.

How about this: Why doesn’t a league that calls itself America’s Pastime do everything in its power to make America’s birthday its premier showcase day to promote and highlight the sport?

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Unlike the other major American sports, every MLB team should play on July 4, giving cities across the U.S. a taste of baseball on the most American of holidays. But MLB is wasting an enormous opportunity to put marquee matchups on national television all day on FOX, TBS, ESPN, MLB Network, Peacock, and Apple TV+. Competitive eating shouldn’t be doing a better job of promoting itself on July 4 than freaking baseball.

The New York Yankees, the most popular (and most hated) team in the league and arguably the most famous sports brand on Earth, had a scheduled off-day on the 4th of July. How do you let that happen?

The NBA does an amazing job of putting the best teams and players on the biggest stage on Christmas Day, and MLB should learn from it. Give us the Yankees against the Houston Astros or the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Atlanta Braves. Let us see Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Pete Alonso, and Yordan Alvarez.

Market your stars! Show off your City Connect jerseys! Help us care about baseball! It’s not so hard!

There will always be excuses not to do something. People are busy at barbecues or at the beach or with their families, with July 4 more of an outdoor holiday than Thanksgiving or Christmas. But give yourself a chance here. Plenty of people spend their Christmases opening presents and spending time with their families, but the NBA still thrives. Plenty of people sit around a table and make up reasons they’re thankful on Thanksgiving, but still make time for the NFL.

Plenty of people would watch a FOX MLB marquee matchup in primetime. Not everyone is into fireworks. Just ask dog owners.

MLB makes its schedule further in advance than any other league, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent. July 4 should be important enough to put what you think will be the most compelling matchups on that day to make it your biggest regular season day of the year, right at the season’s midway point.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Peacock already wants to dominate that early window, so give them an 11 a.m. ET game featuring baseball’s bright young stars.
  • Give both MLB Network and Apple TV+ flex 1:30 p.m. games for the best matchups not already booked in the national window.
  • Give TBS a 4 p.m. national window and put a marquee matchup on there.
  • Then FOX gets the best game in the 7:30 window, with ESPN getting a West Coast banger at 10:30 or 11 p.m. to get MLB After Dark trending.

If MLB wants to increase its popularity among younger audiences, give them a reason to watch. The WNBA had a primetime ESPN game on July 4, already doing more to grow its game than baseball on America’s birthday. It’s time for MLB to step up to the plate and knock this batting practice fastball out of the park. Take ownership of July 4 and do something to make baseball cool and relevant again.

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