As far as big days go, my birthday is pretty special. New Years Eve is exciting, and Christmas is pretty great. But nothing touches that feeling I get when Opening Day finally rolls around.
The start of another summer full of ups – and some downs – with my life’s team, the Dodgers, is indescribable. Some kids stay up all night, listening for the sounds of Santa’s reindeer on the roof, but I count the days all winter until the master, Vin Scully, once again takes to the mike.
Opening Day heralds another glorious season of baseball ahead. Defeating the Giants again is just around the corner! It signals balmy evenings and shirt sleeve Sunday afternoons at my summer cathedral in Chavez Ravine. Opening Day is perhaps the top day of the year.
Here are a few predictions for today’s ballgame down south, against the San Diego Padres…
1. Clayton Kershaw will continue his Opening Day dominance over the Padres. He has a lifetime 1.14 ERA on this special day, and he’s looking to improve on it. At times during the latter half of Spring Training the Dodgers looked awful. Kershaw is ready.
2. Speaking of ready, Adrian Gonzalez is poised and ready for a big day at the plate. A-Gon had a great spring in the Cactus League and in World Baseball Classic qualifying games with Team Mexico. Gonzalez first made his mark playing in San Diego, so he’ll definitely feel comfortable today. Add all that to his recent red-hot starts to the season, and look for a 3 RBI day.
3. Yasiel Puig will not arrive by helicopter. He will be disciplined in his first at bat, and chase balls off the plate for the rest of the afternoon.
4. Joc Pederson will walk his first time up, single in his second at bat, and strike out every time afterward.
5. Carl Crawford will misplay at least one ball in the outfield.
7. Petco Park will be 50% blue with Dodger fans all around the stadium. Chants of “Let’s go, Dodgers” will cascade loudly as though the Boys in Blue are playing at home.
8. The venerable Vin Scully will make Dodger fans feel at home as well. He’ll tell Opening Day stories featuring Jackie Robinson, Tommy Lasorda and Ebbets Field – and that’s a good thing.
9. Matt Kemp will strike out and fly out, once each against Kershaw.
10. Dodger fans in Los Angeles will not be deterred by the ridiculous television blackouts and will sling box, pirate and sports bar their way into watching their beloved team break the seal on another Opening Day.