In the wee hours of Wednesday morning (3:00 A.M. for those of us in Yakima) the National Pastime will get underway halfway around the world when the first pitch of the 2012 Major League Baseball season is tossed out...  in Japan!

It's no secret that I am what some would call a "seamhead."  A dyed-in-the-wool fan of the great American game of baseball, which is why I refer to Opening Day as New Year's Day - as in, a new year starts today for us  long-suffering fans of the Seattle Mariners. 

You can stop snickering at anytime now. 

On to bigger questions, like:  Should I simply DVR the game and watch later - all the while trying to avoid learning the outcome, or just call in sick (I was, after all, bitten by the baseball 'bug' at a young age!) and set my alarm for 3:00 A.M.?

The M's will christen the 162-game marathon tomorrow morning (3 A.M. Pacific) with the first of two games against the Oakland Athletics being played in the Tokyo Dome.

While the Mariners have suffered mightily the last few seasons and, frankly, for the majority of their 35 year history, hope always springs eternal in the hearts of baseball fans.  In fact, if every day were Opening Day, the M's could have a shot at making the newly expanded playoffs this season as their all-time record in season openers is 20-15, which includes a five-game winning streak dating back to 2007.

Can Japan's favorite baseball playing son Ichiro Suzuki give his fellow countrymen something to cheer for?  Can the M's ride the right arm of flame-throwing "King" Felix Hernandez and a stable of young pitchers to a surprise turn-around year in 2012?

Time will tell, but until then, when the 'ol hickory meets the hide for the first time tomorrow morning, this Mariners fan's heart is full of optimism that my beloved Seamen can FINALLY win it all!