It’s Cincinnati’s favorite double play: the Reds host their first game of the season while the city celebrates with a parade. This year, however, it’s being broken up by greed. The Reds will debut on Thursday, March 29, the earliest opening day in team history, but the parade won’t arrive until Monday, April 2. It’s a change that’s bound to frustrate Reds fans—though Major League Baseball has been undermining our traditions for a while.
Professional baseball began here in 1869, and the opening-day hoopla is nearly as ancient. In the modern era, the Reds have traditionally played their first game at home on a Monday—often the first game on MLB’s schedule.
But baseball has slowly chipped away at this first-first status. There have been international opening days that come earlier because of travel and Sunday openers to create special TV events. Now every team is starting three days before Easter (Holy Thursday). MLB says an earlier start means more rest for players—though the league never seemed to consider reducing season length. Why would it? Last year, its teams brought in a record $10 billion in revenue by squeezing every dollar out of their ballparks, TV deals, and schedules. The parade is a casualty of capitalism.
The Findlay Market bosses decided to hold the parade after the religious holidays, and you can question that decision. But the real villain in all of this seems to be MLB and its insatiable lust for more.