Ahh, springtime. Love is supposedly in the air, but more importantly, so is baseball.
The Major League Baseball season kicked off today in Japan, with a match-up between the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics. Over 44,000 people saw the game, which went ten innings, at the Tokyo Dome.
Fittingly, the Japanese presence was strong in the first of two games between the American League teams. Daisuke Matsuzaka started the game for the Red Sox but only lasted five innings after Oakland took an early lead. But Boston, buoyed by Manny Ramirez’s two-run double in the tenth inning, ended up winning the game 6-5.
Another Japanese import, Hideki Okajima got the win for the Red while local product Kurt Suzuki hit a pair of singles for Oakland.
Although the contest was well-received by Japanese fans, not every one was pleased with the timing of the game. Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine, who is featured in our current issue, said that it was “ludicrous” for Japan to allow the Red Sox and A’s to play at the same time as the game between the Marines and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
Here’s what Valentine had to say in this article in the International Herald Tribune:
“I hope the Red Sox and A’s have a great time here and I’m sure everyone will enjoy it but it’s ludicrous that our games will be going on at the same time,” Valentine said. “The timing is a mistake and I guess that’s something that slipped through the cracks when they were planning the schedules.”