Something Missing at Dodgers Home Opener
There was much to celebrate at Dodger Stadium for the home opener, but it wasn’t the same. On the 50th anniversary to the day the first game was played (a 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds), the Dodgers known for squeezing the nostalgia out of a boulder did just that as they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1. But something was missing as the sun shone down on the verdant grass of Dodger Stadium. With the exception of the 1977 Masters, today marked the only other time since 1950 that Vin Scully did not call a Dodger home opener whether it be in Brooklyn or Los Angeles.
The game was fine, one of those retro-nostalgia pitchers’ duel that gets the blood pumping in the old-folks home. Clayton Kershaw gave up a run in seven innings giving up four hits while walking none and striking out seven batters. The Pirates’ starter Kevin Correia went six innings giving up a run on four hits and two walks while striking out three.
To be honest nothing much was happening in the game until another person heading toward relic-dom, Andre Ethier celebrating his 30th birthday, crushed a go-ahead homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to the right centerfield bleachers sending the crowd of 56,000 roaring with such volume not heard in quite some time.
“All these fans showing up and supporting us, them cheering for us and singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me the whole time I’m out there playing in left field, it’s something pretty special,” Ethier said.
For a young closer like Javy Guerra, who admitted that early in his career peripheral things like walk-up music used to throw him off, the pressure doesn’t get to him although it came close.
“I had to slow myself down today,” Guerra admitted. But he retired the side culminating in a double play to record his third save of the young season. “But you’ve got to go out there no matter what. You’ve got to control the situation, and keep it simple.”
With the Beach Boys performing during the pregame ceremonies, the presentation of players from the 1962 team including Peter O’Malley and his sister Terry Seidler who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, the stench of nostalgia polluted the air. Dee Gordon led off the home half of the first inning with a single, stole second base and scored on consecutive groundouts by Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp echoing the exploits of Maury Wills during that first game in 1962. Even Kershaw’s strike-two curveball pitch to Alex Presley in the first inning was a thing of beauty as anyone could have conceived of on this day in 1962.
Not everything followed that first game. First of all, as mentioned above, the Dodgers lost that game. Secondly, the Dodgers didn’t sell out that game bringing in a still-respectable 52,564. For people who bemoan how long games take, Tuesday’s game came only two hours, 26 minutes. In 1962: two hours, 47 minutes.
However one thing was definitely different from 1962: we did not hear that baritone voice from Vin Scully.
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