April 5, 1998
Opening Day '98
The end of the world arrived today (technically April 7th -- see below for explanation) at Dodger Stadium, with Rupert Murdoch himself on hand to get his first first-hand look at his latest acquisition.
It was Opening Day for the Dodgers under their new FOX owners. And you know what? It could have been worse.
Sure, thereís now one of those stupid, stupid rotating advertisement screen things behind home plate. But from where I sit, I canít see it.
Sure, thereís now two new scoreboards, hanging from the loge level, with a set of ads on them. But from where I set, I really donít have a good view of either of them.
And there are some nice changes, too. The outfield wall is now covered with a tasteful mural saluting Dodger history and Hall of Fame players. The outside of the stadium is covered with giant, 50-foot murals of the players. Nice, and not tacky.
There was a substantial amount of Nancy Bea Hefley, the stadium organist. There was very little rock and roll, just a few "classic" R&B hits. (Grr Ö but okay.)
And, the team even won the game, 9-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A couple of Opening Day notes:
I donít understand why Dodger fans felt the need to boo Mike Piazza. Yes, I understand he turned down the clubís offer of a six-year, 80 million dollar contract. Mikeís looking for seven years, at about 100 million. Memo to Dodger fans: Donít boo Mike. We want to make sure we know that heís welcome here. 100 million over seven years sounds like a lot, but believe me, heíll be "underpaid" compared to other stars by the end of that contract, and the FOX group can sure as heck afford it. Heís worth it. Heís the franchise. Letís not boo him anymore, okay?
The "NUTS!" guy was there. Itís official Ė spring has arrived.
I did something Iíve never done before Ė assisted two friends in buying tickets from a, ah-hem, "independent ticket vendor" just after entering the Stadium parking lot. As we completed our transaction, security rushed up to kick the guy out of the park. I sped off, wishing for one of those James Bond-like license plate changers. Ah well, it was worth it.
The Dodgers now offer taquitos at the concession stand. Hmm. Dodger taquitos. I had a feeling the taquitos were probably not cooked within the same hour they were served, so I didnít try any. I promise to check them out, and report back.
Itís always great to see all the Dodger legends assembled for Opening Day. The first pitch today was thrown out by Carl Erskine, who was the pitcher for the Dodgersí first game in Los Angeles, at the Coliseum, against the hated Giants, back in 1958.
As a season ticket holder, I got a copy of this yearís media guide. And for my friend Frank, Iíll put up this little statistic. Since Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, only three opposing players have hit inside-the-park home runs there. Only one of them was a grand slam. I saw it. Tony Gwynn of the hated (but not so hated as the Giants) San Diego Padres did it last year. (June 26, 1997 for those of you keeping score at home.) Strangely, in that same time period, the Dodgers have hit 12 inside-the-park homers at Dodger Stadium.
Ah, baseball. Thanks for indulging. Back with something different next week. (This column, of course, was held back a couple of days to include Opening Day. Thanks for your patience.)