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Opening Day, Tokyo Style

Spring is here and its time for America's annual rite, baseball's opening day, when the boys of summer take the field to perform the National Pastime for a short, sweet few months.

But as CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen reports, it'll look a little different when baseball begins Wednesday. The first pitch will be thrown out at 5 a.m., New York Time, and the two American teams facing off to start the season— the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs—will take the field in Tokyo.

Major League Baseball's decision to start the season there has rankled fans.

For one thing, the American big leagues came to Japan for big bucks. A Tokyo media company paid some $5 million so the Metsand Cubs would open the U.S. season, for the first time ever, outside of North America.

Originally, it was home run hitter Mark McGwire and his St. Louis Cardinals who were invited. They turned it down, and added insult to snub when McGwire said,
It comes down to how much money they can make.

Baseball officials officially disagreed. "If we wanted to stay home with these two teams, we could have found ways to make the kind of money were getting here," said Bud Selig, baseball's commissioner.

But what the fans at home arent getting is their opening day.

Mets Manager Bobby Valentine says its the breaks.

"We could be on the West coast," said Valentine. "You know, there are a lot of opening days that arent at home."

Japanese fans will get a good show, but not a cheap one: tickets are going for $115 a seat.

But the players are getting a sweet deal: each receives a $25,000 bonus for opening Americas past-time on this side of the world.

Players insist the payoff didn't buy their participation.

"Nobody did it for the money," said Mets catcher Mike Piazza. "Its not even going to buy a year of college for your kids."

They did it, they claim, to make Americas game global.

Tommy Lasorda, vice president and one-time, long-time coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said, "I dont know if it will be in my lifetime, but i say this. that eventually one day there will be a real world series. when we play some team from another country."

And if the world series ever included the Japanese, watch out: in exhibition games with Japanese teams, both the Cubs and the Mets tasted defeat.

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