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Muscle Sport Magazine

MLB Opening Day (Well, Sort Of)

For a sport that prides itself on tradition, Major League Baseball has practiced anything but. The 2014 regular season actually opened last week in Australia with a two-game series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, with both teams resuming their exhibition schedule upon returning to the states. So Monday, March 31 is Opening Day 1.0, if you will. For decades, the Cincinnati Reds – the first professional team formed and then known as the Red Stockings – always played the first game of the new campaign at home and the rest of the teams waited a day. It was a nice touch by MLB, but that is long forgotten.

 

Trying to force the National Pastime down the throats of the international community has taken the place of the Reds throwing the first pitch of each season. Mexico (1999), Japan (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) and Puerto Rico (2001) have previously hosted season openers.

Beginning in 1876, Cincinnati was the only place to be if you wanted to see Game 1 on the season and that lasted until 1989. (There were two occasions – 1877 and 1966 – in which the Reds’ home opener was rained out and they opened on the road.)

 

At the expense of sounding old fashioned, baseball always seemed like the sport that could survive the test of time doing things their way – regardless of what was going around it. Expanding the postseason in 1969 was the first big step in changing the old standing tradition of winning the pennant and then facing the other league’s representative in the World Series. Later on a wild card entrant was granted access to the postseason and going from two to three divisions in each league opened the door even wider. But we digress…

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Now there are multiple ‘Opening Days,’ per say, with half the teams kicking things off on Monday and the rest of them a day later. It kind of takes the celebratory nature of it down a few notches. But let’s enjoy it – we mean them – anyway.

 

Play ball!

 Photo by Bill Menzel

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