Thousands line the streets of downtown Cincinnati to watch the annual Opening Day Parade prior to the Cincinnati Reds playing the Chicago Cubs. The Reds won the game 5-4. (Mark Lyons/Getty Images)
The Miami Marlins are going to open their new stadium on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, at 8 p.m. ET. It's the first game of the 2012 season, showcasing a new ballpark and the current champions, and the only game to be played that day.
Then the Marlins were supposed to get an off day before flying to Cincinnati to help the Reds open their season at home at Great American Ball Park on Friday, April 6.
Now, given those facts, you wouldn't think that would be worth a post here at Baseball Nation. And you'd be right. There is, of course, a problem.
The Reds have, for many decades, been given the right by MLB to play the "first" game of the baseball season. The reason for this is that the Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team in 1869. Never mind that the current Reds aren't the same franchise -- the current Reds team dates only from 1890 (1882 if you count its years in the primordial American Association, then a major league); MLB has done it just to be nice, apparently. It hasn't always worked out the Reds' way, particularly in recent years, but the city of Cincinnati takes great pride in this event, even staging an annual parade sponsored by Cincinnati merchants known as the Findlay Market Association.
Ah, there's the rub. April 6 is Good Friday -- apparently a big shopping day for these merchants. Plus it's a religious holiday (never mind that MLB has never taken this into account before). The Reds wanted to play the game on April 5.
The Marlins resisted having to make a late-night flight into Cincinnati for a game that (if history is a guide) would have been played at 1 p.m. You can't blame them for that.
So a compromise was struck. The game has been scheduled for Thursday, April 5 at 4:10 p.m. ET; Reds CEO Bob Castellini issued this statement:
"We want to thank Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and the Reds and Marlins players for agreeing to move Opening Day to Thursday, April 5," Reds CEO Bob Castellini said in a statement. "Opening Day is a long-standing tradition for this team, our fans and the city of Cincinnati and we are pleased that the parade and game will now be on Thursday."
There will probably be a bunch of tired Marlins playing in that late-afternoon affair (not to mention that, early in the season, there are likely to be shadows affecting play). It's not really fair to the Marlins, who are already kind of jerked-around schedule-wise for the first ten days of the 2012 season. (Hope they enjoy their day off on the road on Friday.)
But hey, the merchants in Cincinnati are happy; there will be thousands of people around after the parade and/or game to shop. Reds fans who are observant Catholics can go to church on Good Friday without worrying about missing Opening Day. It's a compromise that can please almost everyone. Would that sports labor negotiations were this easy.