You know its funny how Major League Baseball scheduling works; especially during the first week or so of the season. This year in particular has been extremely odd. Usually you can bank on the Major League Baseball season opening the first week in April and running through the last week of September. Opening Day always lands on a Monday and in my opinion should be a national holiday celebrated by everyone. But instead of consolidating and concentrating baseball into one enormous holiday that gets the general public enthused, Major League Baseball did quite the opposite in 2008. The season started with the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox travelling to Japan to take on the Oakland Athletics to open the season. While most clubs were just entering their third week of Spring Training the Red Sox and Athletics travelled half-way around the globe for the first two games of a 3-game series. It was really hard to get your hands around an Opening Day game that started at 4 or 5 AM. And how exactly did that affect season ticket holders? As a Diamondbacks season ticket holder I have tickets to 81 regular season games and 2 exhibition games to end Spring Training. I would be livid if MLB came to me and said that the number of games I would be able to attend has been reduced by 2 to allow people in Japan an opportunity to watch Opening Day. There would be a sudden increase in the purchase of Bud Selig voo-doo dolls as fans tried to inflict pain on the commissioner equivalent to what he had just introduced to the American fan.
So after a the first two games of the regular season the Athletics and the Red Sox came back to the United States and resumed Spring Training. The rest of the Major League teams broke camp the final week of March in anticipation of Opening Day. This again was somewhat of a misnomer as the Washington Nationals opened the season with a one-game series against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday March 30. The two teams then departed with the Nationals going to Philadelphia to play on Opening Day the following day while the Braves went to Pittsburgh for Opening Day against the Pirates. The Arizona Diamondbacks played their final exhibition game at Chase Field on Saturday March 29 then flew to Cincinnati where they would take on the Reds on Opening Day on Monday March 31. Arizona played one game then had a day off on Tuesday before resuming play on Wednesday. Was Major League Baseball that worried about the players’ health that they felt it necessary to have a day off after one game? If that trend continues the 2008 regular season should end sometime in 2010. After the three-game, four-day series with the Cincinnati Reds the Diamondbacks travelled to Denver Colorado where they played their NL West rivals the Colorado Rockies for Opening Day. After sweeping the Rockies the Diamondbacks boarded a plane to head back to Phoenix so that they could get ready for tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers which just coincidently is Opening Day. Um, ok so let’s recap. So far during the regular season the Arizona Diamondbacks will have played in 3 Opening Day games after tonight and none of those were the first games played during the season. Confused? Welcome to the world of Commissioner Bud Selig. This is like one of those episodes you had as a kid when you wished that Christmas would come every day. Then after about a week of Christmas; the newness and the magic has disappeared. You’re left confused and apathetic wondering what the true meaning of Opening Day really is. We need to take the commercialization out of Opening Day and make it a simpler holiday so that people can celebrate the religious aspects of this special day.
Tonight’s Opening Day for the Diamondbacks is a sell-out including the 3,000 standing room only tickets that the team made available. Besides the game; tonight will mark the beginning of the tenth anniversary celebration. It will also include two unveilings. The first will be the 2007 National League Western Division Champion banner and the other will be DBTV which is the name the team has given the new $14 million high definition JumboTron. They have built up a lot of anticipation for this new video display; I hope they can live up to the hype. Personally I think it would be hilarious if the new video display showed the in-game scoreboard as one of the old manual boards you see in Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. All that high tech equipment to simulate an old wooden manual scoreboard; it would be the ultimate irony. Instead we’ll probably get something like the flashing/whirling Fox scoreboard that in my opinion takes away from the game. All of these events are definitely worth a trip to the ballpark and I can hardly wait for the gates to open.
On a somewhat unrelated note; with the Arizona Diamondbacks playing an early game yesterday I had an opportunity to watch Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN where the winless Detroit Tigers played the Chicago White Sox. Watching Detroit play so far this season is like watching a freeway accident. No matter how horrible the carnage and destruction you just can’t force yourself to look away. Manning left field for the White Sox was a familiar face. Former Diamondback Carlos Quentin got the start. For the better part of the game he looked good out there. Yeah there was that one play towards the end of the game where he did his best Jose Canseco impression and let a fly ball miss his glove and bean himself in the head but overall he did pretty well. Jason Verlander pitched for the Tigers and hit Carlos Quentin with a pitch. After being plunked 11 times last season in only a partial season for the Diamondbacks he has already been hit once this year bringing his career total to 20 hit by pitch in just over a year of Major League service. I’m still a firm believer that Carlos will obliterate the record for hit by pitch by the time his career is over.