Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Monday, April 2, 2012

What's the Big Deal About Opening Day?

I have a confession to make.  I have never ever attended an opening day game.  Call me cheap or what have you, but I never pulled the trigger and actually attended an opening day game.  The one time I landed opening day tickets was to a San Francisco Giants home game.  I promptly sold them for a hefty profit.  It makes me wonder what kind of fan I truly am.
I came close to attending a home opener in 1976.  My brother, friends and I landed Left Field Pavilion seats for April 12, 1976, against the Padres.  It turned out to be the one and only time I was absolutely drenched at Dodger Stadium.  The second time a game at Dodger Stadium was rained out.  We waited for three hours in the rain and finally left just before they called the game.  It was to be a nationally televised and I distinctly remember watching Tommy John get interviewed under an umbrella in front of the center field camera near the warning track.  I think it was Tony Kubek doing the interview, but I could be wrong.
Tommy John
We stood there in the unsheltered Pavilion arguing amongst ourselves whether to stay or go.  The guard at the exit had told us that if the game was played after we left, we’d not be reimbursed for our tickets.  Francis Friedman told me to wait it out, “We never get rained out, just one time in 14 years,” she said.  Half of our group wanted to stay and half wanted to go.  I just remember that my clothes were soaking wet and I was miserable.  We left and they called the game a few minutes later.
I guess if I was living in L.A., I would have definitely attended a home opener by now.  The opportunity just hasn’t occurred.  I mean, if you think about it, it’s just one of 162.  It is 0.061 % of the season.  It is so insignificant that I can’t really remember many meaningful opening day games.  Well, maybe a few come to mind.

                                                           AP Photo, E.J. Flynn
I remember when Kevin Brown faced Randy Johnson on opening day in 1999 and both of them got schalacked and Raul Mondesi had a game winning hit in extra innings.  I remember in 1977 how the excitement of opening day fanfare and pageantry had its air deflated like a popped balloon when Don Sutton gave up a homer to the Giant leadoff hitter, Gary Thomasson on the very first pitch.  As memorable as that was, before I looked it up I thought it was 1978 and that Ed Goodsen was the hitter.
My point is, opening day is really a bunch of hoopla with little significance.  Yes, I know that it is the birth of a new season.  Sometimes it has more of a “wow” factor because a new player acquired in the off-season makes their Dodger debut.  Orlando Hudson made a splash in his one Dodger season on opening day with a cycle.  So what’s so significant about the first cycle in 38 years?  
Orlando Hudson hits for the cycle on opening day, 2008.  (Photo by Jon Soo Hoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)
I’m not backing down from my stance.  Game number 1 is no different than game number 37, or 52, or 112.
There is the periodic new player that cracks the starting lineup that makes opening day a memorable one...like 1981, when Fernando was an emergency starter for the injured Jerry Reuss.  We know the rest, he reeled off eight consecutive wins and five shutouts at the beginning of the season.

Photo by Rob Brown, L.A. Herald Examiner
Yes, opening day has very little significance.  Unless of course a star player emerges with an amazing performance (like Fernando) and a mania develops that he and the fans ride all the way to a World Championship.
Phooey, opening day?  Big deal...
I gotta get me some tickets.


  1. I felt the same way until I attended my first Opening Day four years ago. I've gone every year since and I will continue the tradition this year in San Diego.

    Just being around everyone who's craved baseball for six months feels good. It's the atmosphere I guess. Go to Opening Day next year, I guarantee you'll change your mind.

  2. Evan - is your tongue in your cheek? You should have written this on April 1. You missed it by a day.

    Opening day is just one game, no more important that any other, but just as important as the next 161.

    It does have the potential to be a memorable one. It begins the season with baseball starved fans coming out of a forced hibernation. What happens during that game can set the tone for the season and put those bums back in the seats more often. A young star can emerge that day and captivate the fans. Old friendships, through baseball only, are renewed. It can bring back the memories of exciting times at the ball park with the sights, the aroma of Dodger dogs, the sound of the crack of the bat. It means what is going on in the rest of the world, doesn't matter for those few hours.

    For some fans, it is the first game they have ever attended, and will be unforgettable. Because it's the first in the season, it can be remembered in that context, much easier to recall than game 37, 52, or 112.

    Betcha you will be dying to be there.

    For me, being on the east coast of the continent, opening day is the same as others. With games starting at 11:05 P.M. or so, our time, I learn about it the next day. Nonetheless, I have a nervous excitement on that day knowing that the universe has righted itself once again.

    It is unfortunate we can't always open at home on Day 1 but that's life.

  3. I actually meant for this to be an April Fools Article...but got tied with a number of other issues and put it out a day late.

    I can't deny that I'd love to be present for day 1 of the season...so much so that I will make sure that I will be present for next years Home Opener.

    Thanks for the comments guys!

  4. Looked like an April Fools Article with an element of overkill.