It is time for a change of pace, to use an apt baseball expression. Most of my blog postings are on matters that are serious, important, and sometimes controversial. But today I am writing about baseball, which is not so important, not a serious matter, and shouldn’t be controversial (unless there is argument over which team is best).
The first games of the new Major League Baseball season began last week (on March 28-29) in the Tokyo Dome, of all places. The Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners traveled to Japan and split a two-game series that inaugurated the new major league baseball year.
Here in the States, the MLB season opened last night (April 4) with the St. Louis Cardinals playing the Miami Marlins—the new name of the former Florida Marlins. And the game was played in Marlins Park, their new baseball stadium. I enjoyed watching the first inning (on ESPNHD) and the rest of the game on the old TV in my study.
The Cardinals, a team I have rooted for over the last 60+ years, have a new manager and also a new first baseman, as Albert Pujols, their best player from 2001 to 2011, now plays for the Los Angeles Angels. It will be interesting to see how last year’s World Series champions will do without Tony La Russa (b. 1944), their outstanding manager from 1996 to 2011, and Pujols, one of the all-time great baseball players.
At least the Cardinals got off to a good start last night, winning 4-1.
The Kansas City Royals, the other MLB team I have rooted for since their birth in 1969, has its first game of the new season tomorrow night (April 6) out in Los Angeles against the Angels. (So the Royals’ pitcher(s) will have to face Pujols.) It will be interesting to see if the Royals can finally come up with a winning season after so many losing ones. (They have had only one winning season, 2003, since 1994!)
As for Japan, the new baseball season began the day after the second MLB game there. I have been a fan of the professional team in Fukuoka City, where I lived for 36 years, since that team moved there in 1988. Since 2005 the team has been called the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, the name coming from the IT corporation that bought the team that year. They won the Japan Series last year and have already won four of their first six games of the new season.
Professional baseball in Japan may not be quite as good as major league baseball in the States, but it is pretty good. And there are some excellent players. Many of them have come to the States and have done quite well. The Seattle Mariners’ right fielder Ichiro Suzuki is the premier example.
This year a new pitcher from Japan has come to the U.S. to play for the Texas Rangers. He has the unusual name of Yu Darvish (b. 1986); he was born in Japan to a Japanese mother, but his father is Iranian. In recent years he has been one of the very best pitchers in Japan, and it will be interesting to see how he does here. Quite well, I would guess.
Since I have enjoyed baseball so much through the years, I feel a bit sorry for those who don’t feel some thrill or excitement when hearing those magical words, Play ball!