It is hard to believe that Opening Day is a little more than four months away. For the Arizona Diamondbacks, it starts a week before everyone else with their two game series in Australia against the Los Angeles Dodgers. While most baseball fans and certainly MLB is excited playing ball Down Under, I am a little bit more tepid in my enthusiasm about this trip. I suppose other D’backs’ fans and even Dodgers’ fans may feel the same way.
My fear is that because of how the schedule plays out because of the trip, Arizona could get off to a sluggish April. They play two regular season games, followed by two exhibition games after five days off and then it’s back to regular season play after another day off. Meanwhile, all other teams have a normal Spring Training and start to the regular season. The D’backs will have gotten into a routine, have it disturbed, get into another one while in Australia and then have it disrupted again before finally settling down. If East Coast teams have problems adjusting to West Coast time zones early in a road trip, what kind of havoc will the Snakes deal with on their trip?
I looked at three series that opened in Japan to compare to this trip. In 2000, the Mets and Cubs squared off in Tokyo. The Mets had a strong April finishing 15-9 while the Cubs were 9-16. The 2004 Yankees had their worst month, 11-10 in April on their way to a 101 win season while the Rays were a miserable 6-13 in the month. Both the Red Sox and A’s were 16-11 in April to begin the 2008 season.
Clearly, history shows the results from these trips are a mixed bag. Still, any slow start can doom the D’backs because of the tight National League West. I would rather they start even like everyone else. Regular season baseball in Australia is cool…..except when it is your team making the trip.