San Francisco has a series of storms coming its way, starting this afternoon, but in between systems I took a series of shots of the Giants’ ballpark from the other side of McCovey Cove. Fans of the G-Men have had many reasons to get excited over the upcoming season, including a 16-10 record in the preseason and a free viewing day on March 31, when San Francisco opens at Arizona. But 2014 has already become a bizarre season.
It already began. In Australia.
Don’t get me wrong; your correspondent strongly supports MLB’s push to establish the sport throughout the world; in fact, I feel this push is well over a half-century overdue, and should have begun as a component of the Marshall Plan. The 2013 World Baseball Classic would have occurred on the 50th anniversary of the first, and 64 nations would have competed in eight regionals, with the best two in each group qualifying for the WBC. Every year, MLB should schedule as many games in countries that participated in the WBC as feasible.
But baseball has not only a tradition but also a belief in the power of that tradition.
You can see it even in, especially in, a modern ballpark like San Francisco’s. You will find statues, engraved bricks, plaques, sculptures and monuments dedicated to the history of the New York Gothams (1883)-New York Giants-San Francisco Giants. Just today, I learned that the first Japanese player in the majors played for SF in 1964, and in 1968 the Giants no-hit the Cardinals in one game and were no-hit by the Cardinals in the next (!).
Opening the season in Australia does not honor that tradition, and I write this as a hard-core Aussie-phile who supports the almighty Footscray Bulldogs (I refuse to call them Western!).
The Cincinnati Reds, the oldest major league baseball club in existence and still the only one with a perfect season (65-0 in 1869), should open every year. I think this used to be a tradition, but don’t take my word on this. If it was, it’s a tradition worth bringing back, and thanks to interleague play, we can improve tradition.
Every year, the first game of the season: the defending World Series Champions at Cincinnati. If the Reds are the defending champs, they host the St. Louis Cardinals, a division rival and one of the greatest franchises in history.
Either way, the game automatically becomes compelling baseball. I mean, how many baseball fans even noticed the Dodgers vs. the D-Backs in Oz (the local nickname for Australia)?
MLB can do much better than this.
Vonn Scott Bair