It looks like the Seattle Mariners could be primed to open the 2012 MLB season in Japan. Seattle would take on the Oakland Athletics in a two-game series but seemingly would also play a set of exhibition games as well. It is not clear if those extra games would be against the Athletics or from teams in the Japanese Baseball League, but plans are in the process of being made.
According to the team, Mariners vice president of communications (Randy Adamack) spoke with the team before Wednesday's game about the possibility of opening 2012 in Japan. While it's only in the discussion phase right now, it would make sense if Seattle has one of the most popular Japanese baseball players in Ichiro Suzuki(notes) to do something like this. It would also be the first time that the Mariners have opened a season outside of North America, and, on the surface, it is a worrisome way to start a new campaign.
Adamack stated, "We have been approached by MLB about participating in a season-opening trip to Japan in 2012. We have been advised that if this all comes together, we would play two regular-season games and a couple of exhibition games in Japan. Any other updates and information will come from MLB."
Nothing is definite at this point, because the players have to be on board with doing something like this, and discussions will take place now and during the offseason. This also wouldn't be the first time that a series in Japan was planned, as the Mariners tried to do one in 2003, but it was canceled due to fears of player safety during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Starting off a season like this would be a really tough road trip, especially if the schedule wasn't adjusted to give Seattle a few extra off-days in the first month of the season. Right now, the 2012 schedule has Seattle and Oakland opening on Friday, April 6 with a three-game series. Then Seattle heads to Texas for a four-game road trip from April 9-12. If Seattle has to go from Japan to Texas with no days off, that would certainly be an extreme competitive disadvantage for the Mariners.
While this may seem like an interesting idea on the surface, more details are needed before I am sold. One detail is what time the games will be broadcast back here in the States. It needs to be at a time where fans can actually watch the games.
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*Ryan is a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan who never misses an opportunity to attend a game at Safeco Field. He has been attending games since 1985, and has fond memories of The Kingdome, Edgar Martinez, and the historic 1995 team. Sodo Mojo!
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