Don’t look now, but it’s Opening Day. Not the real Opening Day — that’s next week. This morning is Opening Day in Japan. The real Opening Day is all bunting, ceremony, and playing hooky; Opening Day in Japan is all morning breath, making coffee, and squinting at the game through your rheum-encrusted eyelids.
As I got into bed last night and thought about waking up to watch this morning’s A’s/Mariners game, the memory of the previous three Opening Days in Japan drifted though my mind:
2000 (Mets/Cubs): Baseball in the morning — sounds fun! I figure I’ll spend the night at my girlfriend Alleen’s place (she’s a big Mets fan, same as me) and we’ll go to bed early-ish so we can wake up at 5:30am for the pregame show on the radio. She has a little TV in her bedroom, so we can lounge around naked in bed and watch the game, maybe fool around a little when the Mets hit a home run — what could be better? Except it turns out that baseball is significantly less charming (not to mention less sexy) at 6am. Despite having a very attractive naked woman next to me and baseball in front of me — arguably my two favorite visual stimuli — I keep nodding off during the game. It doesn’t help that Mike Hampton gives up five walks plus a hit batsman over the first three frames. (He will eventually walk nine over five innings.) At some point Alleen pokes me awake and says, “I have to get ready to go to work now.” I’m a freelancer, so I stay in bed and fall back asleep. I wake up in time to see Piazza park one in the bottom of the 8th, but by that time Alleen is long gone. Sigh.
2004 (Yanks/Rays): Yeah, like I’m really gonna wake up early to watch the Yankees. Fuck that. I sleep extra-late, just out of spite.
2008 (A’s/Bosox): I don’t really give a shit about either team, but I wake up early anyway because my ESPN pal Mike Philbrick — a very funny man — is live-blogging the game. His big theme for the game is “Who’s more scrappy: Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury?” The answer — and my reward for getting up early — comes in the bottom of the 8th, when Ellsbury makes a leaping catch in center, leading Philbrick to dub him “the scrappiest scrapper that ever scrapped a scrap.” I laugh. Then I go back to bed.
That brings us up to today. The cats woke me shortly before 7am (I figured I could miss the first few innings), and now, in an odd bit of jéjà vu, I’m watching the A’s and M’s while lying around naked in bed. Unfortunately, there is no attractive naked woman lying next to me, but I’m feeling more awake and alert than I was on that morning 12 years ago, so I’m better able to enjoy the ballgame. Not having to watch Mike Hampton walk the fucking ballpark helps, too. And since I’m watching the game on my laptop instead of on a TV, it’s super-easy to make screen shots. In fact, I’ve made about five of them just during the course of writing this paragraph.
The main reason I’m making screen shots, of course, is to document the shameful uniform ads that the two teams are wearing (a Boeing sleeve patch for the M’s; the Gloops logo on the A’s sleeves and on both teams’ batting helmets). These ads, which have been a staple of all previous MLB games in Japan, are among the worst blank marks on Bud Selig’s tenure. Here’s how this year’s look:
Two other uni notes from this game:
• Both teams are wearing the Japan Series logo (similar to the Opening Day logo) as a cap patch.
• In yesterday’s ESPN column, I predicted that the umps would start wearing some sort of memorial to Marty Springstead and Harry Wendelstedt once the regular season started. Turns out I was half right. Not sure why they’d memorialize Springstead but not Wendelstedt (especially since Wendelstedt’s son Hunter is a current MLB ump). Odd.
But the most uni-notable moment of past 24 hours didn’t happen in Japan. It happened at a Cactus League game between the Rockies and Dbacks, where Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin botched a fly ball in a truly unique way: He got his glove snagged on a button of his jersey. You’ve gotta see it to disbelieve it:
This incident is just the latest confirmation of something I’ve been saying for years, namely that pullovers make more sense than button-fronts. And that’s precisely why we should stick with button-fronts: They aren’t just more aesthetically pleasing, they’re also far, far more entertaining.
I could say, “I’m going back to bed now,” but I’m already in bed. So I’m just gonna click “Publish,” close the laptop, and try to go back to sleep.
ESPN reminder and more: In case you missed it yesterday, my annual MLB season-preview column is available here. And as a bonus — a bonus I wish I’d been aware of prior to that column being published — a bunch of special MLB caps for the coming season are shown here. As you can see, we’d known about many of these but not all of them. Good stuff.
Contest reminder: Phil is currently running a contest to redesign and rename the Indians and Redskins. Full details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Holy freakin’ moly, look at the cover of the current issue of Philadelphia magazine. Very nice. … UNC baseball doesn’t normally wear stirrups. But the whole team wore them the other day (from Blake Pass). … New Era apparently has no problem showcasing its new NFL caps on its UK web site. … This photo is supposedly from the Raiders/Texans exhibition game on Aug. 1, 1960. Look at the official! Is that a different kind of jersey? A sweater? Anyone ever seen this design before? (Great find by Rocky Lum.) … “Not sure the trainer should be moving this guy, but it made for a great shot,” says Robert Marshall. “The hats, jacket, mud, socks, puffy pantaloons, and the ref asking the player what year it is. Priceless.” And don’t forget the button cuffs on the zebra’s jersey! … Brian Codagnone, associate curator at the Sports Museum in Boston, is looking for Buffalo Bisons sweaters from 1943 and/or ’44. Photos from those seasons would also be helpful. If you have the goods, contact Brian here. … Beach volleyballers can now wear shorts and sleeves at the Olympics. … New 75th-anniversary mascot for Spam (thanks, RyCo). … New logo system for NFL Communications. Mostly downgrades, except for the Red Zone, but whatever — if I see any of those logos three times in the next year, it’ll be a lot. … Michael Princip has added a bunch of David Grove illustrations to the artists’ listings on his Illustrated NFL site. … Love this shot of Mickey Mantle in a Yoo-Hoo T-shirt (from Paul Letlow). … Some good photos and related graphics from the Washington Capitals’ inaugural game (from John Muir). … Good spot by Peter Fahey, who spotted one of the linesmen in last night’s Bruins/Lightning game wearing a numberless jersey with the old narrow striping. … No collar laces for Brian Boyle last night (from Alan Kreit). … More teasers on Missouri’s new football uniforms (from Leo Thornton). … Here’s an assessment of those UK Olympics uniforms (from Casey Common). … This is odd: How did Noah Snydergard of the Blue Jays end up with a BP jersey made by Rawlings? (As noted by Marc Bauche.) … Just when you thought you’d seen everything, here’s a hockey player skating around with a stick stuck in his jersey (from HHH):