Well, that’s the way it used to be.
For 114 seasons, from 1876-1989, the Cincinnati Reds were granted the privilege of playing the first game of each season, always starting their Opening Day game earlier than any other team. Being the first nationally recognized franchise in professional baseball, it certainly made sense and also made for a great time-honored tradition.
However, that tradition was broken in 1990, and since that time, MLB has used a variety of marketing promotions to honor Opening Day, including the newer tradition of opening the season in Japan.
In 2012, MLB essentially has four Opening Days. What, four you say? Yes, four. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s already have two games in the books due to their two-game opening series in Tokyo in late March. On Wednesday, the new-look Miami Marlins opened up their spiffy new ballpark with a rare one-game series against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals and then travel to Cincinnati to help the Reds open their season on Thursday.
Today, seven games are on tap for the third version of Opening Day, with the rest of the teams participating in the fourth and final Opening Day slate of games on Friday.
Sound confusing? Well, it is.
For a sport that has always been about honoring its traditions, this year’s opening act falls far short. It’s time for MLB commissioner Bud Selig to stop the madness and get back to what was the standard for 114 seasons—Opening Day in Cincinnati, the way it should be.
While the idea of marketing MLB to other parts of the globe is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, it makes absolutely no sense for two teams to travel halfway across the globe to start the season when the other 28 teams are still actively involved in spring training. Both Oakland and Seattle were forced to completely alter their normal spring training routines in order to accommodate MLB, and in spite of opening the season with two regular-season contests, they came back to the states only to play more exhibition games before resuming their regular season again.
From my view, that just seems ass-backwards, so to speak.
If Selig is really concerned about setting his legacy, he should revert back to tradition. For a sport that consistently honors its traditions, it’s the right thing to do.