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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

BASIC BIITTNER: Pray ball!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

(Photo)
For those of you missed it, the Major League Baseball season opened Tuesday (March 25). Not Spring Training - not the Grapefruit League or Cactus League. No, the real-live actual Major League Baseball season opener, featuring the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox against the Oakland Athletics. The Bosox won the game, as good old Manny Ramirez hit his second 2-run double of the game to lead Boston to a 6-5 extra inning win.

One reason you may have missed this sporting event - which, by the way, used to be a big deal - the OPENING DAY, for Pete's sake (no. not that Pete) - is that baseball in general continues its long slide towards total fan disinterest - thanks in no small part to all the stories about steroids and HGH.

Another reason that Opening Day slipped by a lot of people is that it was played on MARCH 25, right smack dab in the middle of NCAA "March Madness," and way before the traditional early April Opening Day.

But the third, and probably the MAIN reason that we all missed Opening Day is that it was played , not in Fenway Park or in whatever Oakland's park is called now - but rather in the Tokyo Dome. Tokyo ... as in Japan. The game was on ESPN, of course - with a starting time of 7 a.m. Central Daylght Time.

It is no big secret that the former "America's Pastime" has been becoming more and more international over the last several years. All one has to do is to look at the names of the players on Major League rosters. The projected starting lineup for the 2008 Chicago Cubs, for example, consists of catcher Geovany Soto, first baseman Derek Lee, second baseman Mark DeRosa, shortstop Ryan Theriot, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and outfielders Alfonso Soriano, Felix Pie and Kosuke Fukudome. And that's not an isolated case.

Between Hispanic ballplayers (especially from the Dominican Republic) and Japanese ballplayers, American-born players are fast becoming the minority in "America's Pastime."

No, baseball is becoming international, and Commissioner Bud Selig has been pushing the international presence. I suppose someday, the World Series will actually BE a World Series. Personally, I don't mind if they play a few Spring Training games out of the country, maybe even a few mid-season games - but not games in the heat of the September pennant races, and certainly NOT on Opening Day.

For the rest of the MLB teams, by the way, games will begin this weekend - the REAL Opening Day(s).

P.S. The A's evened the "Tokyo Series" with a 5-1 win early Wednesday morning, so the Yankees are no longer a half-game behind Boston.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner