By Jon Weisman
In a breathtaking experience that traversed Dodger history from Don Newcombe to Clayton Kershaw, Vin Scully received an emotional tribute before the first pitch of his final Opening Day at Dodger Stadium as the team’s broadcaster.
Al Michaels, who was considered by some a possible successor to Scully four decades ago, hosted the tribute that mixed video (including messages from Henry Aaron and Kirk Gibson) with live presentations.
The roll call of Dodgers that took the field went as follows: Newcombe, Maury Wills, Sandy Koufax, Al Downing, Rick Monday, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Bill Russell, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Tommy Lasorda and Kershaw, with Magic Johnson and Peter O’Malley then escorting Scully on to the hallowed stadium grass, before an enormous standing ovation from the crowd.
A baseball autographed by every participant was then passed down the line to Scully, who truly looked moved by the moment and said afterward he was “overwhelmed.”
Watching him from ground level, as the scoreboard camera circled around him for its closeup, I never felt more how much of a living legend we were privileged to know, and to call our own.
By Cary Osborne
Right in front of Ross Stripling’s locker was a bright pink suitcase.
Yes, it’s his.
It’s a bit humbling.
Dodger players were given free suitcases during the Freeway Series. Stripling was the last to grab his and it was the only color that was left.
“I can’t say it’s not easy to notice in the baggage claim,” Stripling said.
Even without the suitcase, Stripling has the humility to realize that his moment on April 8 won’t last forever. His 7 1/3 no-hit innings against the Giants in San Francisco gave him overnight fame.
And the day after, he was removed from the marquee.
“It happened fast,” he said on how long it took him to move forward. “The day after I pitched was Bumgarner-Kershaw, so I feel like I was forgotten about soon, which is good. I’d rather have it that way — get back to the grind, getting into a routine, start prepping for the D’Backs. For me it’s day three now. I’ll get into the video room, get into all that stuff, how I attack them. So that means you forget about the last one. You have to have a short memory, whether it’s good or bad.”
But this memory was so good it had some life.
By Yvonne Carrasco
Who’s ready for a sold-out Opening Day at Dodger Stadium? Ready or not, here comes some helpful information …
By Jon Weisman
Stadium and auto gates will open at 10:10 a.m. Tuesday for Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. Beat the traffic by coming to the game as early as possible, consider the many alternate transportation options and make sure you prepay your parking in advance to save time and money if you do drive.
And also, take note of the following …
The Dodgers and the Los Angeles Police Department are spreading the word that fans should not park on the Avenue of the Palms (Stadium Way) between Scott Road and Academy Road. This street will have a “No Parking” restriction from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition, in order to keep all attendees safe, LAPD officers will be patrolling the area and will enact a zero tolerance policy for drinking in public or in the parks. Tailgating also is not permitted on the Dodger Stadium premises.
The Dodgers and the LAPD wish everyone a safe and fun-filled day of baseball, and ask fans to respect the neighborhood and stay safe.
By Jon Weisman
A historic day for the Dodgers began with something between a hunch and an observation by new manager Dave Roberts.
Chase Utley isn’t the Dodgers’ permanent leadoff hitter. He was simply the kind of hitter, based on his long history in the game, whom Roberts thought might do well batting first against Tyson Ross on Opening Day.
Coming up to start the 2016 season, Utley fell behind 1-2, worked the count to 3-2, and then stroked a simple, solid, sinking drive to left-center at which Jon Jay dove fruitlessly, good for a double.
No. 2 hitter Corey Seager, with almost none of Utley’s past but potentially all of his future and more, then boomed a double off the left-field wall on the fly, and it was on.
How on, we had no idea.
Their 15-0 victory (recapped by MLB.com) was the largest Opening Day shutout by any team in Major League history, according to Elias, breaking a 105-year-old record set by the Pirates at Cincinnati on April 12, 1911, 14-0.
“That first inning really set the tone for us,” Roberts said after the game. “After that, guys kept having good at-bats.”
The dominant performance created this cavalcade of conquest …
By Jon Weisman
Every season, every single season in this glorious era of Clayton Kershaw, it’s impertinent to ask whether he can top himself. How can you demand more of someone who has perched at the summit so long, we’re all losing oxygen?
It seems gauche even to hope Kershaw can match his performance from previous years, during which he led the Majors in ERA for four of the past five seasons and had a 1.99 FIP in the year he didn’t.
And yet out comes Kershaw in San Diego, into the gloaming as he begins what unbelievably is his ninth big-league campaign. And as he has he before, he picks up the thread from the last season like it is one continuous stitch.
In the last meaningful regular-season game he pitched in 2015, he allowed one hit and one walk, pitching the Dodgers to a National League West-clinching victory.
In his seven innings tonight, while the Dodgers built a 15-0 lead, Kershaw allowed one hit and one walk, pitching the Dodgers toward a sixth consecutive Opening Day victory.
By Jon Weisman
With less than an hour to go before first pitch, here are some last-minute Opening Day notes …
- Not that this move needed defending, but Dave Roberts explained his choice to bat Corey Seager second, saying that Seager a) was a good matchup with Padres starter Tyson Ross, b) would give good at-bats and c) had the experience of batting high in the order during last year’s National League Division Series. Roberts also noted that Seager was not up there to bunt.
- As for Chase Utley batting leadoff, Roberts said that he trusted the veteran’s at-bats and believes he can get on base.
- Howie Kendrick is soon moving back to live batting practice and continues to aim for a return to active duty at next week’s home opener.
- The Dodgers are facing five straight right-handed starting pitchers to open the season, but Roberts said right-handed batters Kiké Hernandez, Scott Van Slyke and Trayce Thompson would see action before they presumably start against Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco on Saturday.
- One quirk I liked about this year’s lineup: It’s the first in Los Angeles Dodger history where all four infielders batted before all three outfielders (with the catcher and pitcher finishing things off).
- Do you think of Petco Park as a tough place to play for the Dodgers? Los Angeles has won the majority of games there for five consecutive seasons, going 30-17 (.638) since 2011.
- Here’s a profile of Ross from Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
This next batch of notes is courtesy of the Dodgers’ public relations department …
- The Dodgers are 31-27 on Opening Day since moving to Los Angeles in 1958.
- With five consecutive Opening Day wins, the Dodgers and Orioles have the second-longest active streak in MLB, behind Seattle (nine).
- The Dodgers have an active six-game win streak against the Padres. The last time the Dodgers beat the Padres seven times in a row was when they won 16 in a row over the Padres from September 9, 1973-September 20, 1974.
- Clayton Kershaw’s career Opening Day ERA of 1.14 is the second-lowest in the big leagues for pitchers with at least five season-opening starts since 1920, behind Rick Mahler (0.92).
- Austin Barnes, Louis Coleman (who turns 30 today), Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda, Seager, Thompson and Hernandez will take part in their very first Opening Day.
- Roberts and Padres manager Andy Green form the first Opening Day meeting of two rookie managers since Fredi Gonzalez (Florida) and Manny Acta (Washington) in 2007.
- Pitching matchups for the next two nights: Scott Kazmir vs. James Shields on Tuesday, Kenta Maeda vs. Andrew Cashner on Wednesday.
By Jon Weisman
Watching Madison Bumgarner of the Giants issue a bases-loaded walk in the first inning today grooved me to remember not to invest too deeply in Opening Day.
That RWI was the set-up to a punchline. The next batter hit into an inning-ending double play, and as far as I was concerned, baseball began being baseball right away in 2016.
And we’ve got a lot of baseball ahead of us.
By Jon Weisman
Since 1988, the Dodgers are 8-6 when they’ve opened the season on the road, including their farthest trip, which delivered a 3-1 victory over the designated host Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney on March 22, 2014.
In San Diego, where the Dodgers begin the 2016 season Monday, the Dodgers won season-opening games at San Diego in 2009 (behind Hiroki Kuroda) and 2012, with Josh Lindblom getting the win after illness forced Clayton Kershaw from the game after three innings.
Before that, believe it or not, the only time the Dodgers opened a regular season in San Diego was 1973, when a three-run eighth lifted the Padres over Don Sutton, 4-2.
Sutton got revenge the following year, winning 8-0 at Dodger Stadium over the Padres on Opening Day 1974.
By Jon Weisman
The pieces have been falling together for the past several days, and now, the puzzle is in place. Here’s the Opening Day roster, the first under manager Dave Roberts, for the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers …
Starting pitchers (5): Scott Kazmir, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Alex Wood
Relief pitchers (7): Pedro Baez, Joe Blanton, Louis Coleman, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen
Catchers (2): Austin Barnes, A.J. Ellis
Infielders (6): Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez, Kiké Hernandez, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Chase Utley
Outfielders (5): Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Trayce Thompson, Scott Van Slyke
Disabled list (10): Brett Anderson (60-day), Mike Bolsinger, Andre Ethier, Yasmani Grandal, Alex Guerrero, Howie Kendrick, Brandon McCarthy(60-day), Frankie Montas(60-day), Josh Ravin, Hyun-Jin Ryu