Some time during the torrential rains this Sunday, I went to the closet to grab a rag to mop up some of the water. And there in the stack lay the ripped shreds of a t-shirt from one of my earliest Dodger Stadium Opening Days:
Opening Day 2004, the Dodgers ended up getting smoked by the Padres, 8-2. Hideo Nomo lasted only five innings and gave up 7 ER, and the Dodgers were beaten by Brian Lawrence despite a Shawn Green HR. The shirt's logo design is pretty ugly, with its goofy elongated "g" and "y" letters extending the length of their respective words, and a sunset-like color scheme which is completely discordant with a 1pm start time.
But I recall wearing the shirt with pride--until the holes finally rendered it useless for normal wear and it was sacrificed to the rag pile--because it was OPENING DAY. Sure, the Dodgers went on that year to win the division outright, despite getting
swept almost swept in the playoffs (thanks Lima Time). But that wasn't what made it special; playing hooky, on a Monday, just to spend a day out in the sun and enjoying the afternoon in the world's most beautiful outdoor cathedral: now this is living.
I have made the last seven Opening Days at Dodger Stadium without fail, skipping work without reservation, because it is my right as a Dodger fan. It doesn't matter how good or bad the team might be. Opening Day is a day of hope, a day of promise, a day when no player can do all that poorly ("he just had an off-day") but the player stands to gain immortal upside (imagine ending the day with a 1.000 batting average--like Jason Grabowski did in 2004). It's a wonderful, magical time to be at the Stadium.
The bunting alone adorning the periphery of the field is both patriotic and elegant. The lawn has never looked greener. The Dodger Dogs have never tasted better.
The Opening Day experience at Dodger Stadium ROCKS.
And this year, I'm missing out. I have tickets, but I can't go (don't worry, the tickets are spoken for). And though the cause is noble and just, the sacrifice of the streak is sad and disappointing.
I am taking solace in the fact that a 5pm start time won't be the same as a full day at the Stadium, which usually ends with a sun-bleached and dehydrated SoSG Steve Sax coming back home for a huge dinner and barbecue with family and friends. Never mind that beating the Giants on national television would be heroic. I'm trying to tell myself that missing the game won't be that bad. I can pick up the Opening Day shirt for half-price at year's end, right (which I always swear to myself I will do the next year, after seeing the stack of unsold shirts in the offseason; yet in the excitement and pageantry of the actual Opening Day game itself, I always end up paying full-price like an idiot).
So one week from now, for those of you lucky cats who get to attend: have a blast. I'll make it out to the Opening Series. Until then, root, root root for the home team. And have a beer this year for me.