March 24, 2008

Baseball's First Pitch Is Aimed at the Head of Insomniacs

Baseball is a sport with firm roots in tradition. Statistical leaders can be compared across decades and generations, as the rules are pretty much the same as they were more than 100 years ago. There are still three strikes to an out, three outs to an inning, and nine innings to a regulation game. But as the game becomes more of a global sport, not just a North American phenomenon, some traditions are fading into memory, like the once-acceptable spitball, and leaving one's fielders' gloves on the grass instead of taking them back to the dugout.

One such tradition that's passed its time was that the major league baseball season would start every year in Cincinnati, a nod to the Reds' position as the first professional squad, debuting in 1876. Amazingly, this year's season isn't starting in Ohio, or anywhere on the continent at all. Instead, our Oakland Athletics are set to do battle with the reigning World Champion Boston Red Sox in Tokyo, Japan, for a two-game series played when most of the team's fans will be completely asleep.

You see... tonight's game starts not at the familiar times of 1:05, 4:05, or 7:05 p.m., but instead, at 3:05 a.m. Pacific Time and 6:05 a.m. Eastern Time, giving New Englanders some entertainment to go with their morning Dunkin' Donuts. And for those of us on the West Coast, we have the unenviable position of needing to stay up late, wake up early, or just skip Opening Day altogether. Tradition indeed...

While I could simply find the game on TiVo and record it, the true baseball fan in me says that's not right, and that I should be seeing the game live. So, with only six hours separating the off-season with the regular season, we're stocking up on Diet Coke, and preparing for a Tuesday full of fatigue. Hopefully, the A's can make this new tradition one to remember well.