Yesterday, Major League Baseball announced that next season will open with two games in Japan on March 28th and 29th, 2012, pitting the Seattle Mariners (who are owned by Nintendo of America) against the Oakland Athletics.
Of course, Japanese baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki still plays for the Mariners. Fellow star Hideki Matsui is a member of the Athletics this season, but it is unclear at this point if he will be-re-signed by the team. If he is signed, though, that means this matchup of American League West foes will take on an added cultural flavor, putting competitors Suzuki and Matsui against each other in their homeland. That would obviously be of great interest to the country.
As MLB.com’s news piece details, The two-game series in Japan will be dedicated to assisting in the rebuilding efforts across that nation. Japan continues a long recovery from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami last March.
This will be the first MLB season opener in Japan since the A’s took on the Boston Red Sox in 2008 at the Tokyo Dome. As the MLB.com piece points out, since 1999, 10 clubs (Rockies, Padres, Mets, Cubs, Rangers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and A’s) have participated in international openers.
It will surely be an exciting series for Japanese sports fans, especially if the A’s retain Matsui in the off-season.