Mariners-A’s Play For Real

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While most of us remain in our winter hibernation mode like grizzly bears, the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics are playing baseball for real, as in games that count in the standings. Bud Selig, that wild and crazy guy who is commissioner of Major League Baseball, sent them off to Japan to start the season.

Peanuts and popcorn and sushi doesn’t sound like the standard ballpark fare mix, but we live in an international age and baseball opening its season overseas is just one of those things to get used to as the world shrinks. Depending upon where you live in the country, however, it’s hard to remind oneself that the 2012 season is actually a couple of days old. At this moment (could be changing as I speak) the teams are 1-1.

So as the Mariners and A’s play games that do matter, the rest of baseball is still playing exhibitions. That’s why it feels as if those two American League West teams are competing in games as part of a time warp that isn’t quite real. They are, though. After the first day of the 2012 season Ichiro Suzuki was on top of the batting world again (just like old times) since he went four-for-five. However, he went hitless his next game.

Now this is me, not the average baseball fan, but it so happened that as the Mariners and A’s were opening the season in Tokyo I was embarking on a trip that took 26 hours to complete, from wake-up call to unpacking the suitcase on the other end. So I was on the move between four time zones while the teams were starting the season across the international date line (I think). So pardon any confusion about what day it is.

People used to joke about the phrase “made for TV.” These games weren’t made for TV, but they are perfect for the Internet. They are not for prime-time consumption by the average American fan on the TV screen, but are just right for signing on and looking at the box score at some weird time of the day or night via your computer hookup.

I think it is cool that baseball has gone this route. Everything in life is more internationally oriented these days and when it comes to playing overseas there is no better place for MLB to alight than Japan given the U.S.’s steadily strengthening relationship with that island nation over recent years and the steady stream of Japanese players making their way onto Major League rosters.

I know that if I was a Japanese baseball fan it would be a big deal to see Ichiro come home to play a series. It’s just that with my jet-lagged body and jet-lagged mind of the moment I can’t quite get my arms around this being regular-season baseball. It’s me that’s not ready, not Japanese fans.

Play ball! (And if my keyboard would allow it, I would write it in Japanese.)

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