As I type this, the Mariners and A’s are tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning in their season opener in Tokyo, Japan which means the 2012 MLB season is officially underway. I like the idea of having one series outside of the US/Canada at the start of the season, which MLB has done in Japan, Mexico, and Puerto Rico in recent years. However, the Japan games necessitate a very early start to the season for the two teams involved, so that they can get in three games, get back to the US, adjust to the time change, and make final preparations for the real start of the season. It sort of throws everything out of whack. It is still weird to me that two teams will have played three regular season games five days before any other teams will have played one. It doesn’t help that MLB has staggered the season openers even more than usual this year. ESPN has dibs on airing the North American season opener in primetime. This worked well in the past when ESPN would air the season opener as part of their “Sunday Night Baseball” series and then all the other teams would open up on Monday (with a few games on Tuesday). Last year’s, MLB shifted the start of the season to Friday in order to have the regular season end in September, which I am generally for. This year they kept the Friday start date, but for some reason pushed the start of the season back a week. So the season starts on Friday again, but regular season games will still be played in October which kind of defeats the original purpose.
Anyway, ESPN still wants to air the first game of the season (at least the first game on US soil) and will do so with the Cardinals/Marlins game on Wednesday the 4th. It is a marquee game in that ESPN gets the prior year’s World Series champions at the Marlin’s new stadium. That’s all well and good except for one thing – for some reason, the game is just a standalone game. Both the Marlins and St. Louis will go onto play a weekend series against other teams following the Wednesday opener. I am guessing the reasoning is that the game needed to be on Wednesday so it would be played before any other game was played in North America, but if the Marlins and Cardinals were to have a series, you would have to schedule a four game series with a day off Thursday which apparently MLB didn’t want to do. I don’t think that would have been a big deal. Instead, the Marlins play the Cardinals on Wednesday, open a new series on Thursday, have a rare Friday off day, then resume the series on Saturday & Sunday. That is pretty odd scheduling.
Eleven teams (plus the Marlins) open their seasons on Thursday, April 5th. The other teams, including the O’s, open on Friday. At the end of the day, Major League Baseball’s 2012 season openers will be spread across four days in a ten day period. Not to go all “back in my day” on you (especially since we are still in “my day”) but I can remember when 90% of the teams opened on the first Monday of the season and ESPN aired games all day long. That was always fun, especially in college when I could work my schedule around seeing all the games I wanted to see. Opening Day felt like a big event and a true kickoff. Now with this staggered scheduling of openers, some of that feeling is gone. The start of the season is still great, but that’s just it – it is now the “start of the season is great” rather than “opening day is great” because Opening Day has become “The Opening 10 Days”.
Enough complaining though – it is nice to have regular season baseball back even with the screwy schedule. I am already finding myself following this A’s/Mariners game as if it is Game 7 of the World Series (they have just entered the 11th inning still tied at 1).
In other news –
- The Orioles announced this morning that Mike Mussina will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame this season. That honor is well deserved. Mussina isn’t a lock for baseball’s Hall of Fame, though he definitely should get in. If he does, he will most likely go in as a Yankee despite the fact that he had more wins and a higher winning percentage as a member of the Orioles. Regardless, Mussina was the best O’s pitcher of the past 30 years and if nothing else, is very deserving of being in the team’s Hall of Fame.
- For whatever it is worth (which isn’t very much), the National Weather Service lists the weather for Baltimore on April 6th as sunny and 68 degrees. AccuWeather, who I consider the better of the two main weather sources, says 60 degrees and sunny. Regardless, this is a step in the right direction from the rain that AccuWeather had previously been forecasting for Opening Day. I am sure both forecasts will change a billion times over the next ten days, but so far so good. Although you just knew that despite having several weeks of 70+ degree weather, as soon as we got to the baseball season temperatures would dip down to more normal levels which appears to be the case.
The Mariners just took a 2-1 lead in the 11th. It’s great to have baseball back.