Dammit, I had visions of Clayton Kershaw being locked in irons, sitting in bilge water and having nothing to eat but hard tack (I'm not sure exactly what that is, but then, my knowledge in the area is pretty much limited to a school viewing of Mutiny on the Bounty) for three months on a cutter to Botany Bay. My dreams of seeing Miguel Montero in a three-corner hat have also been sadly dashed. However, it's an amusing coincidence that MLB's first foray into our former penal colony comes in the wake of the biggest "blue", as I believe our Antipodean friends call it, in franchise history.
The report comes from Sydney's Daily Telegraph and has not, been officially confirmed, but is fairly definite in its conclusion and backs a similar report which we covered last October. At that time, MLB's senior vice president of public relations Pat Courtney told AP, "We are not currently exploring the possibility with the Dodgers or any team to play in Australia." However, there's confirmation from the LA Times: "The season-opening games are to be played on March 22 and 23 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, according to a person familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the event hasn’t yet been announced by Major League Baseball."
It will be the sixth time that the season opener has taken place outside America. It has recently become semi-common for two teams to start in Japan, but the very first time it happened was all the way back in 1999, when the Rockies and Padres played their first contest in Monterrey, Mexico. Australia would, of course, be an entirely new frontier for modern baseball. I stress "modern", as the same park played host to exhibition games between the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants in 1914, as part of a round-the-world tour by the two sides. Next year would mark the centenary of that event.
The two days mentioned are a Saturday and Sunday, and I would imagine that means something like a noon start there, which would convert to a perfectly-civilized 6pm Pacific (and Arizona), and 9pm Eastern. That would seem to work out a good deal better for American fans than the games in Japan, which translated to the middle of the night here. It's nice for the Diamondbacks to be part of baseball history, and I've always been a big fan of baseball expanding its reach into other countries, so this looks set to be a memorable event. Maybe I'll start a Kickstarter campaign for a pair of plane tickets. :)
I just hope, at this point, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks take separate flights, or it could get very ugly....