MLB Tradition Takes a Beating

Posted: March 29, 2012 in MLB
Tags: , , , ,

You might have missed it, but the Major League Baseball season opened Wednesday morning. And it opened in Japan of all places.

What in the hanging curveball is going on here?

It is, of course, about money. Baseball already is big Japan, which has sent dozens of players to the big leagues. MLB wants to enhance its already growing popularity throughout Asia. It’s good for the sale of jerseys and other MLB logoed items. Who knows? Maybe there’ll be a MLB team in Tokyo one day.

It wasn’t pot luck which MLB teams made the trip for the season-opening, two-game series. The Seattle Mariners feature the maybe the greatest Japanese player ever in Ichiro Suzuki. Most Mariners games have been televised throughout Japan since Ichiro made his MLB debut more than a decade ago. The opponent was the Oakland Athletics. Who outside of Oakland could care where the A’s open their season? Come to think of it, not many people in Oakland care.

The shame, of course, is that Opening Day in baseball used to be one of the biggest days on our sports calendar. It’s still a big deal, but it pales in comparison to the opening of the NFL season.

Tinkering with Opening Day has been going on for years. After decades of always having the Cincinnati Reds, MLB’s oldest franchise, play in the first game, MLB bowed to the demands of television and paired two of the league’s most popular and successful teams for opener. At least those teams played “America’s Game” in the good ol’ US of A.

And we knew the game was being played. And millions of us watched it on TV.

Opening the season in Japan barely caused a ripple of excitement in this country. Imagine the waves created by throwing a rock in the ocean. Even most ardent MLB fans probably greeted the news with a yawn – if they even knew about it.

Okay, it was probably a clever marketing ploy. I’ll give MLB that. But baseball prides itself on tradition. Or, at least, it did.

But we all realize in this day and time it isn’t a fair fight when Money takes on Tradition.



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