Tuesday, March 25, 2008

K Hates Opening Day in Japan

8:05 AM,

On a Tuesday,

In Minneapolis, MN.

It’s March 25th, and the snow on the ground is very visible. I, as I usually do, head into my living room, and turn on the flatscreen before I start work. It’s a Tuesday; a boring, normal Tuesday in Minneapolis. I turn on ESPN2 to hear my third favorite morning “radio but actually on TV” personalities, Mike & Mike. Again, it’s a boring, normal Tuesday in Minneapolis.

This is not a normal morning, however. In the stead of Greenie and Golic in the morning on ESPN2, I find what seems to be an exhibition game, in HD, between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics. It’s in the 10th inning, it’s tied, and the announcers still care.

The questions start flowing out of my head:

  • Why would someone still care about a 10th inning game on a Tuesday morning?
  • Why is Big Papi still in the game? And why is Houston Street pitching to him?

My realization arrives about a second before some anger that this is not an exhibition game. This is not a drill. This is Opening Day. Wait, wait, wait, this is Opening Day? This is the REAL Major League Baseball Opening Day? No way.

Where’s the bunting? Where are the flags? Where’s the President throwing out the first pitch in Cincinnati? Where’s the full-team introduction? Where’s that old lady with the fourty-five Cubs pins on her hat? Where’s that 3rd grader skipping school to go have a catch and a dog with Dad down at the ballyard? Where’s that feeling in the morning of waking up, regardless of your age, and knowing there’s a chance, if only for today, that your team could win the World Series? WHERE IS MY OPENING DAY?

Oh wait, it’s in the Tokyo Dome. The Tokyo Dome, in Tokyo, JAPAN!!! There’s no Wrigley Field ivy, there’s no Green Monster, there’s no Yankee Stadium, there’s no parade in Cincinnati. There are people dancing all over the field like it’s the halftime show of the Super Bowl. Opening Day is in Tokyo! This explains why I’m watching the 10th inning at 8 AM, but I feel no better.

Call me an overzealous American, jingoistic, whatever. I am not familiar with Japanese culture or much of their baseball, so I will not pass judgment on that. What I am familiar with is Opening Day, and this was not it. Maybe I’m not as pissed about this game being a “real” game as I am about the fact that the first game of the season is not in America. Think about it, tradition is what carries baseball in America – peanuts and cracker jack, let’s play two, amphetamines in the coffee, that fat bald dude singing God Bless America EVERY GAME in the Bronx. Without traditions, baseball is not America’s Pastime, and the biggest tradition is Opening Day.

I love how the few Japanese baseball players I've seen play the game; the professionals who’ve come to the bigs have played the game with an emphasis on fundamentals and “the little things” that other Major League players routinely forget (e.g. Emil Brown in the 10th inning getting in a rundown already in scoring position, hence costing the A’s a win – IN A REAL GAME!!!). American baseball players could take a lesson from the Japanese, and we’d have a better game.

Maybe this isn't so bad. Alright, fine, ESPN. You can have Opening Day in Japan. It was actually a nice ending to the game, as the A’s strung together two hits after Brown was taken down in a pickle, but his bonehead move killed the chance for a tie, and the Sawks win 6-5. Papelbon gets a scary save after Street blows one and takes the loss. Simple to say, it was a tough start for closers. Baseball is back, my fantasy team is set; I’m ready for this to start. This boring, normal Tuesday morning in Minneapolis is Opening Day, I think.

But then (THEN!!!), ESPN had the balls to play me a commercial about the joys of the real Opening Day, which is not, allegedly, until next Sunday Night. “These two words – the hope of a new season… Play Ball. Opening Day next Sunday Night and Monday on ESPN and ESPN2.”

Which is it? Kiss. My. Ass.

Oh, well.

It’s still a boring, normal Tuesday morning in Minneapolis, and I just missed Opening Day. Or did I?


Cy said...

I don't understand...I feel like I follow sports in general and baseball in particular a lot more than the average American. How did I not know it was opening day until I got to work and checked out ESPN.com (one of the fifteen sites I check before I start working)? Shouldn't this have been a bigger deal? I might need to start a new site that just complains about ESPN.

crash-dev said...

Cy, I know you were too busy checking out the Suns new offense over on x's and o's...

I gotta say I don't understand how the Cubs are having a home opener in March.

The Tao said...

you guys really didn't know that 1) these games counted, and 2) it's not officially called Opening Day, but Opening Dawn/Series? The Japanese fans I saw this morning might be more American than you.

And the fat guy doesn't sing GBA at every Yankees home game. It's a recording by Kate Smith. She's a little overweight, I grant you, but c'mon, her rendition's also kind of awesome.

Mikey K said...

just did some research on MLB.com, and it's referred to as the Opening Series. this is even worse. good to know i didn't officially miss opening day, but shouldn't the defending champs have a better start to the season besides 5 am in Japan?

this still smells of green to me.

Brian said...

best part about your post is the 'It's Always Sunny in Philidelphia' reference... The CROWD of Socks fans in DC are pretty pissed about their opening game at 6am, but we did postpone class to watch the end of the game this morning so I kind of like I won't complain.

Brian said...

...and you'd think i could type in coherent sentences being in law school and all...

Cy said...

It's the first game of the baseball season. That's opening day. And God Bless America at baseball games is jingoistic pandering.

Tim said...

hey, great blog. I just have a quick question for cy: is that short for something or is it your real name. thanks.

crash-dev said...

While he is short, I don't think Cy's name is short for anything.

Mikey K said...

I once heard it was short for the Cyatollah of Rock'n Rollah.