My career focuses on the NBA. My sports passion is the NFL. But nothing gets me fired up more than opening day at Dodger Stadium.
It’s been a long time since the Dodgers were really good, since they were as good as us lifelong Angelenos expect them to be. 25 years to be exact. Having grown up in the days of Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey, Yeager, Smith and Baker, I’m just programmed to expect the Dodgers to face the Yankees in the World Series each fall. Like Charlie Brown and the football, every opening day feels like THIS will be the year it will all click again. THIS will be the roster that comes together as a mighty unit. THIS will be the Dodgers year.
So I say this with a word of caution: I fully recognize that I’m a sucker for opening day.
That said, yesterday somehow did feel different. Stadium is polished up. Roster is stacked with guys who seem legit. Stability in the manager’s spot and in the front office. More importantly, the Dodgers are finally fully embracing their heritage. I thought it was great when Magic was about to throw the first pitch, but when Mattingly waived him off to bring in Sandy Koufax (with Vinny making the call), I almost lost it. It felt like years of wishing the Dodgers got back to their old ways were finally over. A bow to the past, and a bright future ahead.
(Good thing opening day wasn’t a day earlier. Sunday was Passover, and we know Sandy would have politely declined.)
And what a sight it was to see Sandy, Orel and Clayton all standing together! Koufax and Hershiser passed the baton right in front of us all, as if to say “alright kid, you are next in line. You better be ready.” Kershaw responded with a home run and a complete game shut out. The kid is ready.
The kid in me is ready too. Nothing ignites the kid in me like opening day. Memories of my childhood, going to games with my dad, my step-dad, my friends all come rushing back. The beauty of the mountains in the outfield, the crispness of the grass on the field, the taste of a Dodger dog. The hope that this is gonna be THEIR YEAR. I’m a kid again.
Who knows how it will all come together. One thing’s for sure. Today, the Dodgers are undefeated and in first place. The team looks very solid. The owners seem committed to winning. Vinny is in the booth. And the stadium is beautiful. It’s time for Dodger baseball.