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Mariners And A's Schedule Business Trip To Japan

I'm a little late getting to this since I had other things to do, but better late than never! This expression is true sometimes, and not true other times. Anyway, remember that talk about the Mariners and Athletics possibly beginning next season with games in Japan? It's happening! It's happening!

The Mariners and A's will open next season in Japan with a pair of regular-season games in the Tokyo Dome on March 28-29, 2012, Major League Baseball announced Wednesday.

In other words, not only is a Mariners/A's showdown the last scheduled game of the 2011 regular season - a Mariners/A's showdown is the first (and second) scheduled game of 2012. I feel like there's something profound to say here, but I don't know what could possibly say more than that first sentence. Look at it. Read it. Read it again. Read it out loud. Verbally massage every syllable. Yeah, just like that.

There are a few implications. First, these will count as Mariners road games, meaning for the second year in a row the Mariners will get road games in front of crowds (presumably) rooting for the Mariners. Because they're Mariners road games, that makes them A's home games, so good news, year-end Oakland attendance numbers! It would be neat if Oakland re-signed Hideki Matsui, but they won't, because he is bad. They will still have Kurt Suzuki, which could work if Japanese people are as ignorant about themselves as Americans are about them.

Second, because the M's and A's now start in March, two other M's/A's games in Oakland have been removed from the original schedule. Thursday, July 5th is now an off day, which is pretty normal. Sunday, April 8th is also now an off day, which is completely abnormal. We had a Sunday off day this season, but that was only because Cleveland is terrible. It's weird, and I'm looking forward to it, because, stress-free brunch!

Third, and strangest, the M's and A's will now play regular season games, then a few exhibition games, then the rest of their regular season games. March 29th is a Thursday. The Mariners and A's will play Oakland's home opener on Friday, April 6th. In between, we will get a brief and perplexing stretch of Cactus League action. It's like getting out of jail, only to get arrested again a few days later. One wonders about the roster situation, though. Will the Mariners have different active rosters in Japan and Oakland? Will any jobs have to be won prior to March 28th? This is so weird in ways that I'm having trouble explaining. Season! Preseason! Season!

As a handy benefit, the Mariners will be able to start their 2012 season with Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda if they so choose. I don't know if they will, but that's an option. There are worse ways to get going.

I'm looking forward to this. It's peculiar, but it's a break from the routine, and the atmosphere will be completely different from what we're used to. And there's the potential for Ichiro to be at the center of some unbelievable and memorable moments. Turns out all you need for a Mariners/A's series to be compelling is to play the games in a different continent.