Baseball to open the season in Japan again

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Major League Baseball just announced that it will open the 2012 regular season in Japan. It will be a two-game set between the Mariners and the Athletics, scheduled for March 28 and 29 in the Tokyo Dome.

Baseball has opened in Japan four times, but not since 2008.  You’ll no doubt remember that it was the 2008 series between the A’s and the Red Sox in which the phrase “And That Happened” was born. Here was the first-ever ATH post.  As you can see, the first ever joke I made in ATH — about a manager’s winning percentage being awesome after having one game under his belt — is the same damn joke I used about Don Cooper this morning. I’m also ragging on the Giants offense and the futility of Barry Zito. I have not progressed one iota, and I’m pretty OK with that.

The series in Japan was also the subject of a brief wildcat strike by the Red Sox over the issue of stipends paid — or not paid — to team staffers.  It was pretty darn eventful!

Hopefully this time we can avoid meme-creation and labor strife.

53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro homers in independent league ball

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It was announced earlier this month that 53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro signed a contract with the Cleburne Railroaders of the independent American Association, joining his son, former minor leaguer Patrick Palmeiro. The four-time All-Star went 0-for-8 to begin his stint with the club before launching a solo homer in the fifth inning last night. Check it out below.

If we’re being technical here, that was his first home run since July 30, 2005. He hit the homer off 28-year-old Trey McNutt, former prospect with the Cubs and Padres. Palmeiro made his major league debut in 1986, three years before McNutt was born.

Palmeiro told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic last December that he was thinking about a comeback, but he understandably didn’t garner any serious consideration from MLB teams. This comeback attempt might not lead anywhere, but hey, he gets to show that he can still mash while hitting in the same lineup with his son. Palmeiro did that once before with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2015, though it was just a one-game thing. As for the Railroaders, the national media attention can only help them.

Palmeiro is one of just six players in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, but he’s been a disgraced figure in the game since a failed drug test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2005. He dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot in 2014.