When is Opening Day? Did you know it already happened? This week, the Mariners and Athletics split a two-game series in the Tokyo Dome. Kids in Oakland and Seattle rushed home from school to watch them from 2 to 5 a.m.
Those games count in the standings. Meanwhile, the other 28 teams all played baseball in either Florida or Arizona. Those games don't count. The next game that counts will be in Florida too, but there will be other teams playing in Florida on the same date, with their starting lineups, and those other games won't count.
Opening Day was circling the drain, but this year Bud Selig dropped an upper-decker. The Japan Series received almost no press in the States. Nearly all of my friends that I talked to had no idea the regular season had started, and you're not even allowed to be my friend if you don't really really like baseball. Even MLB couldn't come to grips with it. On the night after the first A's-Mariners game, the opening game of the 2012 regular season, here's what MLB's front page looked like:
The top left corner of the screen sort of did indicate that it was Opening Day. But the graphic was confusing: They often put a "Countdown to Opening Day" or "Pitchers and Catchers" box in the same space. Also, only one out of 15 games being played counted for the regular season.
The Top Story that you needed to pay to WATCH LIVE was the Rangers-Royals exhibition game: "A matchup of Cactus League coinhabitants." Out of the 11 slides in the center slideshow, only one mentioned that it was Opening Day. Of the pieces of news on the right, only one mentioned that it was Opening Day. Yet there were four separate mentions that MLB.TV Premium is now available on the Xbox 360. Do they have the Internet on computers now? Is this what you're gonna do for the All-Star Game too? THIS TIME IT COUNTS BUT WE FORGOT WHO WON SO YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT ON YOUR ELLIPTICAL MACHINE AND TELL US.
When does the baseball season begin? If you haven't stopped caring, all you have to do is go to MLB.com, mouse over "SCHEDULE" in the top center of the screen, and click the picture of a calendar that says "IMPORTANT DATES." There, you can find that Opening Night is April 4, Opening Day is April 5, and "the first date that a player placed on the 15-day disabled list during Spring Training may be reinstated (if placed on or backdated to March 26)" is April 10.
For most teams, the first game of the year is really on April 6, unlisted and uncelebrated. MLB didn't bother to tell their broadcast partners, either: as of this writing, "Regular Season" baseball scores have top billing on ESPN.com's ticker, even though every single one of them is actually a spring training game.
If the commissioner's office cares so little about its product, why is it even there?
Photo via Getty.