At least not the opening of it.
The Reds had traditionally played the first game of the season in honor of their status as the oldest major league team. That tradition has broken down in recent years, with prime time games taking over as the real opener and even some other teams having their first pitch go off before the Reds’ on the first day with a slate of afternoon starts. But 2012 totally subordinates the Reds and makes life difficult for the events that usually surround the game.
The Reds don’t start until Friday, a full two days after the Marlins’ opener. More significantly, that’s Good Friday. Which, while not an ideal start for any team (there has been controversy about this before) is particularly tough for the Reds because Opening Day for them is usually accompanied by a big parade, the opening of a downtown market and other festivities. One who cares a lot about Good Friday can probably make room for a baseball game, but a whole day of whoopin’ it up is a bit much, it is feared.
The Reds are said to be petitioning Major League Baseball for a change here. Given that they start the season against the Marlins, however, and that since the Marlins open on Wednesday night against the Cardinals they can’t play a game on Thursday due to weird rules about one-game series, I can’t really see what baseball can do about it.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.