Sunday, March 31, 2002

THE HOME DEPOT PRESENTS : OPENING DAY!
CLEVELAND INDIANS AT ANAHEIM ANGELS
MARCH 31 7 PM LIIVE ON ESPN!
FROM EDISON INTERNATIONAL STADIUM

And Major League Baseball continues to shoot itself in the foot. This time, by trading in one thing that differentiates it from other sports, tradition, for a quick buck. There are so many things wrong with this picture that I don't know where to start, but here's a few!
  • It's March! Major League Baseball started in April for all of our childhood. We looked forward to April when the games would start again. Sure, it's only one day from April, but these things have meaning, and MLB should be in the business of preserving traditions instead of tearing them down so they can squeeze in another round of playoffs. I don't think you'll see the NFL starting its season on August 31 any time soon.
  • It's Easter Sunday! I'm not saying the world should stop just because my religion is celebrating its most holy day, but this is ridiculous. I think it says a lot about this country that we seriously considered stopping a war in an Islamic country for an entire month to respect their observance of Ramadan, yet we'll start our baseball seaon on the holiest day for the majority religion of our country.
  • It's a night game! Is it too much to ask that Opening Day happen in, you know, the daytime!? Yes, I know the sun was still shining is Southern California when the first pitch was thrown, but it just seems wrong that the first game of the season will end after most folks in the country have gone to bed.
    I'm not one of those super-traditionalists who thinks that World Series games should be played on weekday afternoons so kids can sneak listens to it in school in their transistor radios before running home to catch the late innings. But Opening Day!? Is it to much to ask that this happen during the daylight hours?
  • Cleveland at Anaheim? Could they have picked a more "blah" match-up. Whatever happened to MLB's first pitch happening in Cincinnati? Or why couldn't this have happened in a place with more baseball history like Cincinnati, here in St. Louis, Yankee Satdium, or even across town in Dodger Staduim? And these teams have absolutely no history with each other; they don't even play in the same division! Neither are predicted to contend, and neither has an Opeing Day tradition. I guess it could be worse -- we could have Marlins at Expos or some other abomination.
    Wait a minute -- ESPN is broadcasting the game. ESPN is owned by Disney. The Angels are owned by Disney. This is starting to get the unmistakable stench of "corporate synergy"!
  • Edison International Staduim? See above. Hmmm, the other energy company that paid for naming rights for a baseball stduim doesn't seem to be doing so well. Why does a utilty company need to shell out money for naming rights? How exactly was this explained to the shareholders?
    I'm with Jim Caple, let's call these stadiums what we want to call them -- in this case, Anahem Stadium, or "The Big A."
  • The Home Depot? Why exactly does Home Depot need to put that article there? Is this how they want us to refer to them? Why would a company want to make its name more unwieldly? Maked no sense to me.

I'm tired of MLB screwing with traditions like this, just so they can squeeze a few more TV dollars out of ESPN. MLB has the most short-sighted ownership group in sports. See their current labor strategy of trying to get the public to think the players a bunch of jerks. That'll get those turnstiles turning!

What bugs me about this so much is that I desperately want to like baseball, and most other folks do to. And MLB keeps showing how little they care about traditions like Opening Day, first by staging them in Japan and Puerto Rico ("to expand their markets") and now with this crap. So why should I care, again?

I was wondering why I wasn't hearing more people crow about this until I realized that I probably get 90% of my sports commentart from ESPN or its affiliates. ESPN has won the war with Fox for nightly recap shows, and has won the war with SportsLine and others for internet sports content. Slate is on the MSN network with ESPN. I'm not a fan of media consolidation conspiracy theories, but it's strange that I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness crying out against something that most baseball people should abhor.

I sincerely hope that next year's first pitch will be thrown in April. In Cincinnati. On a weekday. With the sun high in the sky. Somehow, I think it's more likely it'll be in the middle of the night in March 20 (or Good Friday) on the other side of the world. If so, I won't be watching.
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