5 Reasons 2012 MLB Season Opener in Japan Was a Mistake
I understand what Major League Baseball is trying to do.
Goodwill and marketing the business overseas is important and needn’t be stopped.
Unfortunately in 2012, it didn’t work well for five reasons.
Are We Sure This Is Opening Day?
There’s been a lot of confusion over when Opening Day actually is.
MLB dropped the ball when it came to promoting the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners as the season opener.
Personally, I saw zero promos for this game.
Do the Next Games Count?
If you look at the Oakland Athletics' schedule, they play a two-game set against the Seattle Mariners in Japan.
Then they fly home to play the San Francisco Giants in a three-game series. The first and third are at AT&T Park while the middle game is at O.Co Coliseum.
One day later, Oakland plays their Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats.
None of these games count.
To review, the M's and A's "started" the season, then will fly back for four to five exhibition games before playing games that matter.
What was the point of starting the season to put it on temporary hiatus?
Did Anyone Actually Watch?
The Seattle Mariners are a huge draw in Japan.
But did anyone in the States bother waking up at 3AM PST to catch the game?
On the east coast, it was six in the morning.
I'm skeptical there are many Mariners or Oakland Athletics fans on that side of the country who cared about this game at all.
A's Fans Lose Big
I just stated my doubts regarding live viewership.
Worse yet, the Oakland Athletics are listed as the home team for the season opener in Japan.
I'm sure the A's make more money splitting attendance in Japan than they would at home. But for faithful fans, they just missed out on two home games.
Unless, of course, they were there in person.
The franchise is struggling as it is to attract fans to the ballpark.
It Is a Weak Representation
The Seattle Mariners can draw in large Japanese crowds because their biggest superstar since Ken Griffey Jr. is none other than Ichiro Suzuki.
But both teams were abysmal last season.
This season is likely no different.
Fans all over the globe deserved a better opener than this. Then again, no big teams would want to sacrifice a home game.
The lack of publicity shows even the MLB realized the matchup is weak.
How to Fix It
The two-game series should have been played on April 1 and 2.
Both teams could have flown home the next day and rested April 4 as every other team opened. They then would resume on April 5 as normal.
The Seattle Mariners are a fine team to represent MLB in Japan for obvious reasons. But their opponent needed to be bigger.
Say, the Texas Rangers with Yu Darvish on the mound, for example.
This gives fans in Japan the opportunity to see two of their biggest stars and a team who made it to the World Series in back-to-back years.