Thursday, March 27, 2008

Baseball already??


I heard a rumor Tuesday morning.

Sitting at the dining room table, eating some blue corn chips, I opened the sports section to read that it was "Opening Day." Wait ... Opening Day? On the 25th of March?

I continued reading to find out that not only was it opening day, but it was taking place across the world in Japan, and it featured just two major league teams — Boston and Oakland.

The next day, while browsing the paper and eating some Raisin Bran, there was the box score from the Red Sox' win over Oakland — right next to a whole bunch of exhibition linescores. I encountered the same confusion when I opened up today's paper.

And now — another rumor — Boston and Oakland will go back to playing exhibition games with the rest of the teams?

Listen, I love baseball as much as any other 1980s baby. I grew up listening to every Tigers game on the radio — even though the team was terrible. I don't go a year without making it to a few Tigers game even though they're tearing down the stadium they should still occupy.

Without baseball season, I don't know what I'd do all summer.

But baseball in March makes as much sense as sailing in January. Yeah, not a good idea.

Not only did no one care about Opening Day, which was on T.V. at 6 in the morning here, but the actual first game of the season in the U.S. is just that — a single game. Atlanta will play Washington Sunday night in an ESPN national telecast. On the same day, the A's and Red Sox — who are both 1-1 — will play their final exhibition games?

My head is spinning.

Finally, the legitimate Opening Day — as in, where almost every team plays in ballparks across the country — will take place next Monday (March 31). Only problem is, not only will it be anticlimactic, well, the climates in certain places might just be too chilly/snowy to handle baseball.

Detroit. Chicago. Philadelphia. Cleveland. The list goes on...

Does not anyone remember what happened in Cleveland a year ago? If my memory serves me right, the Indians and Mariners were doing snow angels on Jacobs Field (which, apparently — after a scan of the Web site — is now Progressive Field). And then they played a baseball game in Milwaukee! Yet, Bud Selig and his cohorts has this idea that we should start baseball season in March. And if sports weren't such a huge part of my life, I wouldn't pay one bit of attention to the first week of baseball season.

That's because the beginning of baseball season is trying to steal some magic from the end of March Madness. On Final Four Saturday April 5, there will be a plethora of baseball games. Ditto on championship-game Monday.

Now, baseball fans might say that the end of college basketball season is infringing on the beginning of their season. After all, it's "March Madness," not "March-April Madness," right?

But c'mon, people. Isn't baseball season long enough as is? Just this past fall, the World Series was pushed back to reach November. Including spring training, that's eight and a half months of baseball. I love the game — really do — but even that's overkill.

This is an easy solution: Start baseball season the Tuesday after the national title game. This year, that would mean April 8. It would also mean less of a chance of a snow-out, which I can all but guarantee will happen in some northern city next Monday.

Of course, my proposal has no chance of happening. That was so, like, 10 years ago.

Today's sports world is all about globalization and primetime audiences. That means flying the Red Sox and A's 15 to 20 hours across the world for a period of a few days. I don't blame Josh Beckett one bit for not wanting to go, regardless of his injury. I wouldn't.

I wouldn't have had as big of a problem with the teams flying to Japan during the middle of March for a week of exhibition games. That way, the Japanese fans still would get to see some Major League Baseball. They would still get to watch their hero Daisuke Matsuzaka in person. But it wouldn't take away from Opening Day back here.

Now, I couldn't care less about Opening Day I, Opening Day II or Opening Day III. They're all too early for me. My main focus will be on college hoops until "One Shining Moment" a week from Monday.

Even if my Tigers are 6-0 at that point.


Sportsattitude said...

We often find common ground on things in the sports world and this post is much the same. I just got done posting my disgust over "Opening Day" occuring half way around the world. I was hoping for bad sushi to infect all parties involved. I am a total isolationist when it comes to exporting sports outside the U.S. As for when baseball starts and some of the weather issues, they certainly could do a better job admitting its an issue and scheduling accordingly, even if it creates an "unfair" advantage early on for the warm weather/domed franchises. So be it. No point in having to have multiple doubleheaders in August if it can be avoided.

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