You were likely sleeping (or perhaps working) when the first pitch was thrown, but the Major League Baseball season began in Japan this morning. While Yankee fans worry about Joba’s ankle, Phillie fans obsess over Utley’s knees and Mets fans deal with the prospect of losing 100 games, the regular season has already begun. The majority of baseball teams have yet to make their final roster cuts and won’t begin games that count until next week, but MLB has decided to join the NFL (London) and the NHL (Sweden) in starting their season overseas.

The first game of the regular season used to be a big deal, and the first pitch was always thrown in Cincinnati. That all changed when ESPN shifted Opening Day into Opening Night for the their Sunday Night Baseball franchise. Now it is done under the cover of night (for most MLB fans in the U.S.), robbing the sport of yet more of its tradition. Is MLB’s desire to sell a few more jerseys and caps in Japan enough of a reason to shift the “special event” status of Opening Day overseas? You can talk about the pastoral roots of the sport, the renewal of the earth at the same time, or just the promise of nicer weather, but there has always been more of an emphasis on baseball’s first game than in other sports. It is a celebration of renewal and has the feel of a holiday in most major league cities. Opening the season overseas at a time when it is impractical for most baseball fans to watch further diminishes the impact and uniqueness of Opening Day. It especially sucks for A’s fans; most of baseball hasn’t even started yet and you’re already in last place.