In case you missed it — and it’s very possible you did — the 2012 MLB season began on March 28 in Japan. Really. Of course, if you did hear about it, it’s probably because you heard people complaining about it — or at least read them complain about it on the Internet. People were first upset the game was being played, then upset it wasn’t on national TV at 6 a.m. and then, around here, they were just upset it wasn’t being playing in Cincinnati.
I understand that once upon a time the baseball season always began in Cincinnati, home of professional baseball. It was an awesome tradition, even when I was an outsider I enjoyed it and respected it. It’s just how it was. Of course, there was also a time when gas cost less than a dollar a gallon. That’s not coming back, nor is the first pitch of every season taking place in the Queen City.
This is hardly a new phenomenon — last year the team played on the first day of big-league action, but that was the first time since 1999. Since 1999 when ESPN televised an “Opening Night” game between the Padres and Rockies, the first pitch of the Major League Baseball season has happened somewhere else. In 2000, that happened in Japan, as it has every four years since then, including 2012. I know the old Mark Twain quote can be seen as cliché around here, but based on the grousing I heard last week, he can be proven correct regarding our reaction to change.
In fact, the last time the Reds had Opening Day to themselves was 1994, and before that it was 1981 — two seasons marred by strikes.
Opening Day is still going to be special — we’ll still have a parade, we’ll still have a sold-out crowd and we’ll still have baseball, despite the fact the A’s and Mariners have already played two games.
In fact, Cincinnati should count itself lucky, we get every Opening Day here in our city — a consideration no other team gets. (With one exception: The Reds started the 1990 season on the road — and it hardly ruined that season of baseball in town.)
Baseball is different than other sports. Opening Day isn’t when all the games start. No, when you say Opening Day, it’s the day your team starts — whether it’s in Japan, at home, on the road, before everyone else or after everyone else. There’s no reason to complain about the particulars of Opening Day, let’s just celebrate the fact that it’s here.
Thinking Out Loud
There have been plenty of people upset with the Bengals’ lack of big moves in free agency, but I’m not one of them. It’s tough to judge those moves until after the draft. NFL free agency seems to be more about overpaying than any other sport, probably because the peak for a football player is so much shorter. And by the time an NFL player (non-quarterback) attains free agency, he’s already on his way down. ... Of course, the same people who were complaining about no moves then complained about the contract given to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis isn’t the most exciting running back out there, but he fits what the Bengals have seemed to favor at the position — big, dependable and solid with the football. Green-Ellis has never fumbled in his 510 NFL carries over his four years in the league. Cedric Benson had lost just one fumble in his first two years in Cincinnati, before losing seven during the last two seasons, including five in 2010. That said, Green-Ellis has never carried anywhere near the load the Bengals placed on Benson. His career-high for carries in a season was 229 in 2010. Benson had more than that in all but his first year in Cincinnati, when he only appeared in 12 games. In 2010, Benson had 321 carries. ... Meanwhile, the Bengals may have given Green-Ellis a little more than his market worth ($9 million over three years), but it’s not going to have an impact on the Bengals’ salary cap, since they’re well below it and are one of the most frugal teams in the league. ... That said, the recent news that the team hired two more scouts from the outside could be one of those little moves that means a lot — scouts are the lifeblood of talent acquisition and the addition is a sign that the team may be changing for the better. ... The college basketball coaching carousel is pretty quiet ’round these parts, but there are plenty of familiar faces in the mess. One of the biggest moves so far was former UC assistant Frank Martin leaving his job as Kansas State’s head coach to take the same position at South Carolina. Meanwhile, former UC athletic director Mike Thomas hired former Xavier assistant John Groce at Illinois. Groce led Ohio U to the Sweet Sixteen. ... Since I often watch batting practice, I’m sad to see Juan Francisco go to Atlanta in a trade, but he was out of options and the Reds were out of patience with him when he showed up to the biggest spring training of his career out of shape.
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