So why does Opening Day for America's pastime seem like an afterthought? If baseball is a business, MLB is not being very business-like in promoting one of the crown jewels of its season.
Enter the 2012 season, rife with big signings (Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Joey Votto, Matt Cain). Japanese phenom Yu Darvish enters the league, and the Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes makes his way into Billy Beane's heart, for better or for worse.
Perhaps the same could be said for any sport, but baseball fans love players with long careers. On that note, 2012 features the return of aging veterans like Omar Vizquel and Jamie Moyer, who, on April 17th, became the oldest pitcher in MLB to earn a win (49). Chipper Jones (39) has announced he'll retire after this season, but he's already hit two home runs and knocked in seven. We'll see.
Other exciting things to watch in 2012 include Ozzie Guillen's move to Miami (which coincidentally only lasted a week before his inflammatory remarks about Fidel Castro landed him a five-game suspension), Justin Verlander's ability to maintain MVP and Cy Young status, how Pujols fares in Anaheim and whether after a 50-game suspension, Oakland will be a good landing place for "Manny being Manny."
Suffice it to say, 2012 is going to be an exciting year in baseball, as the first two weeks have already shown, but there is something fundamentally wrong with the way this year and many years past have begun.
Enter silence, dead air, empty stadiums. MLB's opening day started in Japan with two of the league's most unexciting clubs battling it out in...wait for it...Tokyo.
MLB's opening day was in Tokyo. No fanfare, no media buzz, no excitement. Those lucky enough to have MLB.tv or live in either the Seattle or Oakland viewing markets enjoyed three boring games where Sapporo-soaked fans seemed to cheer when the wind changed direction.
Major League Baseball has a valuable asset: the fact that Americans still refer to it as "America's pastime." This is something MLB should stop taking for granted. NFL vies closely for that coveted title, and some entertain the idea that it has indeed surpassed MLB as America's most beloved sport.
With this type of Opening Day disaster, it won't be long before the NFL indeed overtakes MLB as America's pastime. All it takes is a few good years of fan neglect, poor planning and overall lack of concentration for something like this to happen.