Happy Opening Day (III of IV)

Welcome to opening day, that magical day when 30 hopeful fanbases celebrate the end of winter and the return of baseball for everyone. Except for those games in Australia last week. And the teams that played last night. And the teams that don't play until tomorrow.

Welcome to the third and penultimate opening day, and it's hard to argue that MLB hasn't shot itself in the foot by dragging out what used to be a collective and simultaneous celebration of the sport into an 11-day slog spanning the completion of three full rounds of the NCAA tournament, among other events of import. In trying to grab shares of multiple spotlights, baseball loses out on all of them. (Check the front-page splash of your favorite sports site today. There's no baseball to be found. ESPN.com, which broadcast Dodgers-Padres, still gives the real estate to college hoops.)

This is what happens when you water down an event—it ceases to become an Event. Anheuser-Busch led a campaign to petition the White House to make opening day a federal holiday. It did not, and was presumably unable to, specify which of the four opening days should get the honor.

Baseball used to be this country's most popular sport. Balkanizing its biggest day beyond recognition isn't a cause, but it sure as hell isn't a cure.

The games and starters of Opening Day III (all times Eastern):

1:00 Chicago Cubs (Samardzija) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Liriano)

1:08 Kansas City Royals (Shields) at Detroit Tigers (Verlander)

1:10 Washington Nationals (Strasburg) at New York Mets (Gee)

2:05 Philadelphia Phillies (Lee) at Texas Rangers (Scheppers)

2:10 Atlanta Braves (Teheran) at Milwaukee Brewers (Gallardo)

3:00 Boston Red Sox (Lester) at Baltimore Orioles (Tillman)

4:00 St. Louis Cardinals (Wainwright) at Cincinnati Reds (Cueto)

4:10 Minnesota Twins (Nolasco) at Chicago White Sox (Sale)

4:10 Toronto Blue Jays (Dickey) at Tampa Bay Rays (Price)

7:00 Colorado Rockies (De La Rosa) at Miami Marlins (Fernandez)

9:40 San Francisco Giants (Bumgarner) at Arizona Diamondbacks (McCarthy)

10:00 Seattle Mariners (Hernandez) at Los Angeles Angels (Weaver)

10:05 Cleveland Indians (Masterson) at Oakland A's (Gray)