Why, in God's name, is baseball "opening" its season in Japan?
We're trying to grow the sport you say? The Japanese station carrying the game switched to a game show once the game headed into extras, doesn't sound like Japan cares too much.
And if we as a baseball community are trying to grow the game, wouldn't it be in our best interests to have league integrity in Japan. I have seen Bobby Valentine pleading to anyone who will listen that the Red Sox and A's opening series in Japan is obfuscating the begining of the Japanese season. With "real major leaguers", and the A's, in town, why would Japenese fans pay attention to the begining of their national season?
The fact is that this quadrannual foray into the Far East does nothing for anyone, and even hurts the game as a whole. Here in America it is seen as a side show, and no one watches because it's on at 4 AM MT. In Japan, no one watches, and even worse, it creates the perception (whether true or not) that baseball in Japan is second rate.
If Alan H. "Bud" Selig wants to spread to mighty aura of the Red Sox, then why not take Mr. Valentine's advice and have them as Major League Champs take on the Winner of the Japan Series in what could then truely be called a "World Series." While this will probably never happen, it would, in a sense, legitimize baseball in Japan as MLB's equal. Japanese baseball is slowly dying because of a drop in national interest and the exportation of top talent to American shores. An elevation of Japanese baseball in stature would possibly stem this trend, infuse the Japanes game with some well needed revenue, and maintain a vital market for the expansion of the game around the world.
In the late 30's, America "took" baseball away from Japan (albeit after Japan had outlawed it's play) because we felt them unworthy of such a "democratic" game. At the end of WWII we "gave baseball back" to them in order to "foster democratic ideals." In that vein, why not let their league compete on an even playing field? What's democratic about barging in and ursurping their leagues opening month?