For just the seventh time in league history, Major League Baseball is reportedly set to hold its season opener outside the United States and Canada.
The Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners will open the 2019 season at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday. It will mark the fifth time the Tokyo Dome has hosted an MLB season opener, and the third time the Athletics season will open in Japan. They split two-game series against the Boston Red Sox in 2008 and Seattle in 2012.
Though MLB has yet to confirm the report, it seems the A’s are well aware and even on board with the possibility of traveling to Japan and getting a head start on the 2019 season.
“If we’re in the running, I’d be 100 percent all for it,” manager Bob Melvin said on Wednesday. “Not only did we have a great time, it’s a life lesson as much as anything, but it significantly helped our team come together in 2012.”
Added new A’s player Brandon Moss, who played against them with the Red Sox in 2008:
“I hit my first major-league home run (in Japan), it was awesome!” Moss said. “I love Tokyo, I love Japan, I loved everything about it. I would go back in a heartbeat even without baseball.”
Due to the travel and logistics involved, previous openers in Japan were played one week ahead of the traditional opening day. That often causes issues that MLB teams aren’t always thrilled to deal with. As when the Dodgers-Diamondbacks opened the 2014 season in Australia, it forces teams to open up camp a little earlier and to figure how to fill the days between their return and the traditional start of the season.
As Slusser notes, the A’s were able to overcome that awkwardness in 2012. Though sluggish initially, losing six of their first regular season games back home, they rebounded to win 94 games and a surprising division title.
On a side note, it might be a little surprising that MLB hasn’t pegged the Angels and their new superstar Shohei Ohtani for this season-opening trip to Tokyo. Chances are that’s because the bulk of these discussions and plans predated his MLB signing. It’s definitely a possibility for the league to consider moving forward, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that happen sooner than later.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – – –