2019 MLB Season Starts In Japan
By Dylan M. Klim
The Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics recently opened the 2019 baseball season in Tokyo, Japan, the second time the two American League teams have played against one another at the Tokyo Dome to open the Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season.
The two clubs played a two-game series on March 20 and 21, with both games counted as home contests for the Oakland Athletics. For the first time, ESPN nationally televised the Japan Opening Series.
“The Oakland Athletics are proud to take part in the Japan Opening Series once again,” said Oakland Athletics president David Kaval. “We are honored to represent [the MLB] during this special event, as Japan has incredible fans.”
This will be the eighth time the MLB played its season opener internationally, having opened previously in Monterrey, Mexico; Tokyo; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Sydney, Australia. In addition, the MLB will renew its All-Star Tour with Nippon Professional Baseball, a stretch of six games played across Japan Nov. 8-15.
The All-Star Tour will include games at the Tokyo Dome, one at Hiroshima and two in Nagoya. The opener will be against the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants, and the remaining games will be played against the Japanese All-Star Team.
The major league players received an extra $60,000 each for the regular season series in Japan and will also earn $100,000 for the post-season.
“It is great to see the game of baseball being played internationally once again,“ said Blake Hatch, junior. “The majority of players in the MLB have an international background, so I do feel that more games should be played outside of the U.S.”
The MLB has opened its season in Tokyo four previous times. Seattle and Oakland each played in 2012, a matchup that saw the teams split the series.
Similar to the National Basketball Association and the National Football League, the MLB hopes to expand in its pursuit of becoming a global sport. In fact, the Cincinnati Reds are set to play the St. Louis Cardinals in Monterrey, Mexico on April 14, the same site for a May 5 showdown between the Los Angeles Angels and the Houston Astros.
“Not only does globalizing the sport bring more revenue to the league, but it also increases the number of people that watch baseball as well.”
The game of baseball may have begun as an American sport, but it is quickly turning into a global sport watched across the world. As more international stars join rosters around the league, the MLB will continue to evolve, and the game will be better for it.