The Dodgers are set to open their season with a two-game series against the Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia from March 22 and 23. Zack Greinke is tentatively scheduled pitch the second game of the series, but he told Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles today that he’s not looking forward to making the trip:
“I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it,” Greinke told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “There just isn’t any excitement to it. I can’t think of one reason to be excited for it.”
Tell us how you really feel, Zack.
Greinke made sure to point out that he understands the series is “for the greater good of baseball,” but it’s easy to understand why he (and others who won’t go on the record) would be annoyed or inconvenienced by it. Players had to report to spring training earlier than normal and will receive fewer opportunities to play in exhibition games before the start of the season. They’ll also have to deal with some lag time between the end of the series in Australia and the traditional MLB Opening Day. The trip likely won’t have any bearing on how the season plays out for either team, but it’s just a weird way to begin the year. Of course, they are getting paid millions of dollars to play, so sympathies will be hard to come by.
Major League Baseball wants to give the United Kingdom a taste of America’s pastime when the Yankees and Red Sox visit next month. Based on the playing surface they’re going to use, however, they may as well have sent the Blue Jays and the Rays:
Major League Baseball has access to Olympic Stadium for 21 days before the games on June 29 and 30, the sport’s first regular-season contests in Europe, and just five days after to clear out. The league concluded that there was not enough time to install real grass.
Starting June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering protecting West Ham’s grass soccer pitch and the running track that is a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. The artificial turf baseball field, similar to modern surfaces used by a few big league clubs, will be installed atop that.
At least they will not use the old-style sliding pits/turf infield that you used to always see. That’ll all be dirt. There are comments in the article about how it’s a cost savings too since they’re going back next year and won’t have to bulldoze and re-grow grass. Aaron Boone and Xander Bogaerts were asked and they don’t seem to care since it’s similar to the surface they play on in Toronto or down in Florida against the Rays.
Still, this whole deal is not aimed at doing whatever is minimally necessary to pull off a ballgame. It’s supposed to be a showcase on a global stage in a world capital. I have no idea how anyone thinks that doing that on a surface everyone has decided is obsolete for baseball playing purposes unless the ballpark is either outdated or in an arid environment is a good idea.
It’s certainly not baseball putting its best foot forward. Major League Baseball could’ve avoided this by choosing a different venue or even building a temporary one like MLB has done on a few occasions in the past. That, I suppose, would limit the revenue-generation capacity of these games, however, that’s off the table in the Rob Manfred Era.
Yankees and Red Sox on turf. What a decision.