The Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners will begin their regular season schedules playing each other for two games in Japan. The games will occur nearly a full week before anyone else is playing regular season baseball. Why is that? Do people really like this idea? After the two games are played, the two teams will not have any more regular season baseball until a week later. Does that make any sense? This is all about Bud Selig's world view and taking baseball's popularity around the world. But is it necessary?
Perhaps this writer is being a bit of a curmudgeon. Things are supposed to be linear, at least in this mind. Everyone is supposed to start the season at the same time. Opening Day should be one grand event where all thirty teams are in action and we can all celebrate together. Instead, we'll have an odd standings for a week where two teams will have a record and the rest of the teams won't. And then when the regular season opens on April 4, two teams won't be heard from until April 6.
The first question is whether baseball needs this. It is easy to see that Japan is already extremely big on baseball. Since the sport was introduced over there in the early Twentieth Century, the passion for the sport has been transforming. As such, there is already much interest in Japan for all baseball--their own and in the majors. Many of Japan's biggest stars have signed in the majors and media interest has been through the roof over there. So it is not that these games will pique that interest any higher. It will be nice for the Japanese fans to see Ichiro Suzuki in action again. But still. What is to be gained by the exercise?
Is this a bone that Selig has thrown the Japanese for the hundreds of millions of dollars the fans there spend on MLB merchandise? What about the Mariners' season ticket holders? They lose two home games plus the Mariners lose those gate receipts and all that goes with it. The venders and parking garages lose two games of income. Since the A's struggle with attendance anyway, why not at least have made these two games Athletic home games? ***Update. The schedule was looked at incorrectly. The A's are considered the home team. But still...
And how does the exercise affect the two teams that have to go over there to play? It has to disrupt the springs of those two teams as their pitchers can't get their full spring reps to get ready for the season. It has to affect the young and fringe players who needed a full spring schedule to make their cases to make the big club. Sure, there will be some exhibitions over there and that will help. But it's not like facing big league pitching here.
It all just seems kind of pointless. Plus, it makes the start of the season messy. This may make Bud Selig all squishy inside, but the feelings here just fall kind of flat. Not a Fan of ball in Japan. Not a Fan at all.