It's Opening Day 2008, Oakland A's style. We're within the 24-hour window of the A's season debut against the Boston Red Sox in Tokyo. Yes, that Tokyo.
First pitch is 3:05 a.m. (PDT) Tuesday morning. Or, as we like to call it, one hour after closing time at the local tavern on a late Monday night binge.
File your complaints elsewhere. This screwy scenario is perfect. A 3 a.m. wakeup call tests the true allegiance of A's fans, and this season will be full of challenges for those who support Team Green (and Gold and White).
You will see a rebuilding franchise, courtesy of another Billy Beane winter, this one featuring the exits of Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay, Marco Scutaro, Mike Piazza, etc.
Besides missing out on an Opening Day at McAfee Coliseum, you also won't be spending your prime summer holidays there. The A's also aren't hosting games on Memorial Day (May 26), Independence Day (July 4) and Labor Day (Sept. 1).
Your in-season highlight might be waddling up to the upper deck for the $35 all-you-can-eat buffet, featuring hot dogs, nachos and all the soda-pop injections you can handle from Jose Canseco.
Maybe they should name that zone: "Wait Watchers." A's fans will be asked to exercise patience during this franchise's reconstruction, to wait and see if/when a new bastion of stars emerge.
So why not start watching tonight (or is it tomorrow morning)?
Set the alarm clock, not the TiVo. Grab the remote, not the sleeping pills. Open your eyes as the A's open their season.
It's not every day you can spy into international territory and find meaningful sporting events (e.g.: Tiger Woods golfing in Dubai or Andy Roddick serving in the Australian Open).
And it's not every Opening Day your team debuts 53 time zones away from home. (For those scoring at home, neither the Raiders nor 49ers returned home victorious from Japan after playing exhibitions there. The Raiders lost in 1991, and the 49ers fell in 1989, 1995 and 2002.)
The A's did win their two exhibition games Saturday against Japanese teams, as you surely watched live on mlb.com. If you missed that, no worries, here are some highlights from the nightcap win over the Hanshin (Don't Call Us Detroit) Tigers:
There will be more of an American feel for the A's two-game set against the defending champion Red Sox. ESPN is handling the television broadcast.
Or, we should say, ESPN2. Apparently ESPN's morning schedule is already booked with continuous replays of Monday night's "SportsCenter."
An ESPN spokesman explained that programming move as: "Fans identify with 'SportsCenter' being on ESPN at that time, and ESPN2 is more frequently recognized as an early morning sports destination for live event programming."
Frequently recognized? Early morning? Sounds more like the back of our eyelids.
Now, if you're already disheartened an hour into the A's opener (or Wednesday's second game, also a 3:05 a.m. start), don't fall back asleep.
Instead turn to ESPN Classic at 4 a.m. for "Kiana's Flex Appeal." Our favorite fitness babe will get your blood flowing again, well ahead of any seventh-inning stretch.
Or you could put another shrimp on the hibachi, as our favorite Australians might be doing at St. Mary's now that their basketball season has ended.
Yes, plenty of diversions could be needed this season for A's fans. At some point, maybe you can go check out that freshly stocked A's farm system. Do that and win an "I Love The I-5" bumper sticker.
Sorry, we're getting ahead of ourselves.
A new season is upon us, even if it requires all diehard A's fans to get up so very early. Or to stay up past closing time. Late-night escapades are allowed -- and encouraged -- during spring break.
Tune in Tokyo, indeed.
Contact Cam Inman at email@example.com.