The 2014 MLB season will reportedly begin on Saturday, March 22nd…in Sydney, Australia. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play on Saturday and Sunday, likely a week or more before the MLB season begins in full, over 7,000 miles from home.
I understand the approach of "growing the game", but it seems silly to me that MLB is continuing the process of two teams playing meaningful baseball before the entire league begins play far from their home stadiums. What's even funnier about this is that after the two teams return to America, they'll likely engage in more Spring Training activities and it'll be like the two games in Australia never happened (even though they did). The Dodgers and Diamonabcks will apparently be in Sydney for six days leading into the games, absolutely destroying any semblance of competition for roster spots for the two teams.
There's also the issue of starting the season on a weekend where the NCAA Tournament is in full swing, successfully killing any casual fan interest in the games. But I'm not sure that matters too much, considering that Sydney is 14 hours ahead of the east coast in time, and that a 7 PM start there would be beginning at 9 AM on the east coast (on a weekend, no less) and 6 AM on the west coast. No one cared about the A's and Mariners starting the season last year in Tokyo, and I doubt if exponentially more people will care next year.
But hey, good for Australia. The Aussies didn't win a game in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and will need to re-qualify heading into the next tournament in 2017. It's not a baseball hotbed, with just four current active MLB players hailing from Down Under. It just seems like an odd choice, and I don't think MLB is barking up the right tree here.