Saturday, March 31, 2007

Weekend Conversation: Where Will You Be Opening Day?

As the famous lyricist Marky Mark Wahlberg once said, “Can you feel it baby? I can, too.”

And if you’re a baseball fan, you too are feeling the good vibrations this weekend, which heralds the long-awaited coming of Opening Day to the 2007 baseball season. No longer do we have to watch hockey (not that you can even findhockey on television anymore), or throw away mostly-unread issues of ESPN the Magazine (jam-packed with feature stories on obscure action sports athletes), or agonize through analysis of spring training box scores as one tries to extract meaningful data from accounts of meaningless games.

With the exception of the NCAA basketball playoffs, there hasn’t been any compelling sports on television in months. Even March Madness itself is almost designed to awaken baseball fans from hibernation, using three straight weekends to start getting us back into shape cheering for the boys in blue.

It’s baseball season. And I can’t wait.

For the last five years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended the Dodgers’ home opener, always with my mom. It’s been our little tradition. Usually the seats aren’t so good, and sometimes, the weather doesn’t even comply (it even rained last year, but luckily our top-row reserve-level seats kept us pretty dry). But each year, not even inclement weather, or even an opening day loss (as I’ve seen the past three years), can dim the excitement of being there for the home opener.

And the Dodgers make a pretty good show of it, with paratroopers flying in to land on the field, stealth bomber flyovers, on-field fireworks as the starting lineups are announced, special memorabilia and giveaways, etc. It’s worth playing hooky from work (but then, any excuse to be at Chavez Ravine drinking beers at 11am is worth missing work). [This year, the Dodgers’ season opener is on the road, at Miller Park in Milwaukee April 2nd.]

This year, I’m taking my wife for the first time, and introducing her to the majesty that is Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. (My mom will be attending the game as well.) The Dodgers square off against the Colorado Rockies. And I can’t wait.

(By the way, I’m throwing out the ceremonial first pitch this year. That’s right—me: Steve Sax!)

The Wall Street Journal had an article yesterday about Opening Day around the country, and how it has become increasingly difficult to get tickets now that teams are securing more and more of them as part of multi-game plans. The Dodgers offered only 14,000 individual tickets for opening day—down from 16,500 last year—using this exact rationale (tickets for opening day sold out in 15 minutes). But other teams were even more stingy—the Brewers sold only 1,000 individual tickets (down from 4,000 the prior year), and the Tigers didn’t sell any individual tickets.

Still, it’s such a worthwhile event that rabid fans celebrate streaks of opening day attendance. Many fans were profiled in the article, but the highlight was 91-year old Nettie Berkson, who will attend her 50th consecutive Dodgers home opener this year. She has followed the team from Brooklyn and now attends with children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Amazing.

So April 9, 1.10pm, you know where I’ll be. Juan Pierre (or Rafael Furcal) will make his way to the plate in the bottom of the first. The crowd will be hollering like mad.

And once again it all comes back to Marky Mark (apologies to the rest of the Funky Bunch). I’ll be right there, field level, behind the Dodgers’ dugout,…

…saying, “Come on, swing it.”

Oh yeah, the weekend conversation: Are you as excited for the Dodgers’ opening day as I am? Will you make it to the Dodgers’ home opener? And if not, where will you be?


Orel said...

I'll be following via Gameday. But I plan to hang bunting around my keyboard.

cigarcow said...

I'm not going to the home opener, but Monday I'm going to Yankee Doodle's in Santa Monica to see Kenny Landreaux! Awesome! I was gonna bring my official autographed Pedro Guerrero bat to have him sign it, too, but then people would make fun of me for having an autographed Pedro Guerrero bat. (And then I'm gonna watch UCLA beat Ohio State in the championship game later that night in Westwood.)

Anonymous said...

Heck yeah! I'm very excited for the new season. As for attending Opening Day... I'd love too... but it's an excruciating 11.5 hour drive one way for me. Yes, I'll be watching it live on MLB Extra Innings! What on Earth would I ever do without DirecTV???

Steve Sax said...

Aha, we have finally revealed "dodger fan in idaho"'s identity...and it's none other than Bud Selig. Nice DirecTV plug!