Oakland Athletics and Boston Red Sox opened the 2008 MLB season in the Land of the Rising of Sun this week.
When it was first announced, I was against the trip to Japan because it didn't make sense to have the defending World Series Champion Red Sox play the rebuilding A's. I held the opinion that a Boston versus the Seattle Mariners and Ichiro would be a better match up in the terms of marketing the game.
After Oakland and Boston splitting both games, my opinion about this trip has changed little.
The positives of this series were the games against the Japanese teams and the Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka being a rock star in his homeland. In addition, as an A's fan, Oakland splitting the series, Rich Harden pitching great, and the homers of second baseman Mark Ellis and outfielder Emil Brown were highlights, as well.
The negatives were the 3:00 a.m. start time, ads on uniforms and helmets, the A's being the "home team" even though the stadium played "Sweet Carolina," and the national media's complete focus on the Boston Red Sox.
From the Associated Press to ESPN, it seems like Boston's owner John Henry was writing their checks. On this point, Boston is the defending champs and deserve all hype from their local media and fans, or The Nation.
The national media should be objective in these kinds of events.
Matsuzaka's story was great, but an interesting story would have been about the A's catcher Kurt Suzuki, a Japanese American from Hawaii, experiencing Japan—which a lot of Americans would be able to relate to.
Now, I should get off my soapbox before I say something stupid like Hank Steinbrenner.
The true winners of this series weren't MLB, the United States, or Japan. Instead, the winners were the Dominican Republic and Canada.
The Dominican Republic wins for Manny Ramirez of Red Sox being the MVP of game one—and for winning some gas money and a copier.
Canada gets the win by having their countryman, A's pitcher Rich Harden, pitch a great game, eh!
Overall, my opinion about this trip is still torn from positive to negative, but hopefully the players from both teams can recover quickly from this trip and not affect the regular season.