MLB Opening Day 2012: Drawn-Out Start to Season Kills Early Momentum

Last week, the 2012 Major League Baseball season began with the two-game Opening Series in Japan between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics. The rest of the league played as well, albeit in spring training contests.

Last night, the brand-new Marlins Park played host to what was billed as "Opening Night" between the defending World Series Champions the St. Louis Cardinals and the newly re-christened Miami franchise. Meanwhile, exhibition contests still took place at spring training facilities and major-league ballparks around the country.

Thirteen teams will open the 2012 season today and another 13 will start their campaigns Friday. The first full day - in which there are 15 matchups involving all 30 teams - will be Saturday.

If you're completely lost at this point, it's absolutely understandable.

MLB has done a sensational job of confusing fans in years past regarding the start of the season - Opening Day gives way to the Opening Series, which often turns into the Opening Homestand.

However, commissioner Bud Selig and the powers-that-be have really screwed things up this time.

Deadspin's David Roher pointed out in a March 30 piece that MLB.com made passing mention of the first Mariners-Athletics game at the Tokyo Dome on the night after it happened (March 28), failing to be acknowledged at the top story on the website.

That's right - the MLB's own website failed to hype "the first game of the season" as a big deal.

Not only that, live television coverage in the U.S. was scant at best for a 6 a.m. Eastern start. ROOT Sports Northwest, the Mariners' official broadcaster, was the only network to broadcast the game as it happened. MLB Network provided tape-delayed coverage at 9 a.m., while Comcast SportsNet California, home of the Athletics' TV coverage, couldn't be bothered to show it at all.

The start of the 2012 baseball season came at 6 a.m. in the morning and wasn't even shown live to virtually the entire nation.

Fortunately for baseball fans, ESPN covered the Cardinals-Marlins game last night - like the Mariners-Athletics series in the Land of the Rising Sun never happened.

The Worldwide Leader even bothered to make a lengthy video package on the memorable final day of last season (Sept. 28, 2011, when the Red Sox completed their "chicken and beer" collapse and the Rays homered their way into the playoffs) leading into the first pitch.

After the Cards' 4-1 win behind a dominant performance by Kyle Lohse, it felt like baseball was back.

It's too bad it won't truly return until Saturday, when many fans will no doubt be traveling across the country to recognize Easter with their families.

Perhaps MLB could have just started the season a week earlier, opening the season with the Japan series in the morning and allowing a full slate of matinee baseball on March 28.

Better yet, there could be no Tokyo games or "Opening Night" media attraction - allow all 30 teams to start the season April 6.

Right now, there's certainly an allure to the next couple of days of the fanbases of all teams.

On a casual level, however, the buzz is dead in the water.

Not the type of treatment to give to "America's National Pastime."

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