When ESPN announced that it would pick up Opening Day against the Giants, some people wondered if this meant that Vin Scully would miss his first home opener since the team came to Los Angeles.
Worry no more. Vin is on board to play a role in the KABC radio broadcast on March 31 and will be in the house. Exact details of what innings he’ll call and any other role he might play in the ceremonies have yet to be determined, but rest assured, he has every intention of being here. And we’re planning a memorable ceremony that we truly hope our fans will enjoy.
For what it’s worth, when we mentioned the idea to Rick Monday and Charley Steiner, both were fully on board. As Rick put it, “It wouldn’t be Opening Day without Vin Scully.”
We couldn’t agree more.
And that’s how we kick off the Inside the Dodgers blog for 2011…
We head to Camelback Ranch in just six weeks and after six more weeks at baseball’s best Spring Training site, we are back here at Dodger Stadium for Opening Day against the Giants.
As you have probably heard, ESPN wanted to get the Dodgers/Giants rivalry as their marquee game on Opening Day, so they asked us to move our home opener, April 1, to the night before so that it could be televised nationally. So, we’ll have three of our first four games on national or regional TV — Thursday and Sunday on ESPN and Friday on FOX. And pretty soon, we’ll be able to give you the whole TV schedule for the season with KCAL and Prime Ticket.
The energy and buzz at the stadium has ramped up significantly since we returned from the holiday break. And as promised, I’m going to work harder to make this blog more exciting, more relevant and with more of your input throughout the year. Please know that your comments about the blog’s commenting functionality are being addressed as we speak. I’m very, very hopeful that the good people at MLBlogs.com will have a solution before Opening Day.
Tonight at the Stadium Club, we’re hosting a private premiere of the ESPN 30 for 30 series “Fernando Nation” which debuts on ESPN Deportes this Sunday night at 6 p.m. PT and on ESPN on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. PT.
Here’s a recap of the film:
“‘The Natural’ is supposed to be a blue-eyed boy who teethed on a 36-ounce Louisville Slugger. He should run like the wind and throw boysenberries through brick. He should come from California.” – Steve Wulf, Sports Illustrated, 1981. So how was it that a pudgy 20-year-old, Mexican, left-handed pitcher from a remote village in the Sonoran desert, unable to speak a word of English, could sell out stadiums across America and become a rock star overnight? In Fernando Nation, Mexican-born and Los Angeles-raised director Cruz Angeles traces the history of a community that was torn apart when Dodger Stadium was built in Chavez Ravine and then revitalized by one of the most captivating pitching phenoms baseball has ever seen. Nicknamed “El Toro” by his fans, Fernando Valenzuela ignited a fire that spread from LA to New York–and beyond. He vaulted himself onto the prime time stage and proved with his signature look to the heavens and killer screwball that the American dream was not reserved for those born on U.S. soil. In this layered look at the myth and the man, Cruz Angeles recalls the euphoria around Fernando’s arrival and probes a phenomenon that transcended baseball for many Mexican-Americans. Fernando Valenzuela himself opens up to share his perspective on this very special time. Three decades later, “Fernandomania” lives.
For three days, the eyes of the baseball world were focused on Chavez Ravine. (I’d say the entire sports world but a little footy contest in South Africa may have drawn some attention as well).
Sure there was Halladay vs. the Jays. Santana vs. the Twins. The North Side vs. the South Side. The battle of the Lone Star State. Even the Red Sox vs. the Giants. But one series stood above the rest this weekend as the World of Dodgertown took on Yankees Universe in a marquee matchup that felt like Opening Day…in October…for three games in a row!
First things first, we lost the series. There’s nothing to say that will change that and nothing can erase the pain of Sunday’s defeat. Our fellow blogger, Alyssa Milano, said it best as she tweeted, “#Yankees, breaking hearts since the early 1900’s.”
The good news? This was not October. In fact, these games meant less in the standings than the three to come in San Francisco. So if I may, I’d like to take a quick step back to remember the last 72 hours before the next series is upon us. They were pretty special.
From the moment the teams began BP on Friday afternoon, it was easy to see that there was something different about the weekend ahead. It was made easy by the traveling band of media that accompany the Yankees from town to town. It was wall-to-wall press on the field as Joe Torre, in his first appearance AGAINST the Yankees since he departed the Bronx, greeted his former players. From Derek Jeter to current Yankees Manager, Joe Girardi, every hand-shake and hug was documented.
In case you missed the ads – we’ve been running them since February – there was also a Rivalry being Renewed at Dodger Stadium and a few men who help define the term were also on hand including Tommy, Garvey, Cey, Russell & pinstriper named Reggie. They all exchanged pleasantries as well, including a feisty ‘discussion’ between Lasorda and Jackson on the air during Saturday’s telecast (all done in jest). One thing was certain, Tommy bleeds Dodger blue.
Opening Night (as it could easily have been dubbed) was kick-started by a rocking National Anthem performance by members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which was immediately followed by a standing-ovation-inducing first pitch by Lakers Center, and World Champion, Pau Gasol. If that wasn’t enough to get the engines started, the Dodgers went up 1-0 in the first inning…of course they would fail to score again. However, despite falling 2-1 in the opener, Vicente Padilla gave the fans plenty of moments to cheer.The tight score gave game one the drama the series deserved and the renewal was underway.
Game two of the series was the first of two to be broadcast across the country and included its own pre-game, made for TV – rather HBO – moments as E, Turtle, Johnny Drama and Vinny Chase threw out the first pitch. The Entourage boys got their fair share of applause, but the ovations would come even more often during the game with the Dodgers loading the bases three times, knocking AJ Burnett out of the game early, and earning a much needed victory despite falling behind 3-0 before an out was recorded.
The series finale had it all. First of all, it was on ESPN with Joe Morgan, Jon Miller and a familiar face, Orel Hershiser, calling the game. Second, the stars of Hollywood came out in droves to experience the rubber match of the rivalry for themselves. There was Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise. Alyssa Milano and Jack. Jake T. Austin and Zac Efron. And those were just the famous faces found by DodgerVision! The celebrities added an air of importance to the game and the Dodgers youngest star took his cue as Clayton Kershaw masterfully shut down the Yankees without allowing a walk for the first time in his career. Of course the drama continued late into the night in a heart-breaking sequence of Broxton, Cano, Mariano, and scene.
As we look ahead to the Giants and D-Backs, followed by the final homestand of the first half, this series will eventually fade in our memories – especially since we ended up on the losing end. However, from the rally towels to the Yankees rally, Dodger fans were treated to a 3-part drama that is typically reserved for the fall. The title, “Christmas in July” is a phrase often used to describe an event that brings about unexpected excitement. I think if we take a step back, we’ll realize that we all just experienced “The World Series in June”. At least in my own estimation. I hope to see you all at the sequel this October.
– Josh Lukin
What an awesome series this has been so far! Fifty-six thousand fans, waving towels and getting into the game the last 48 hours. While some say that it feels like postseason baseball in the stadium, I’m not sure it’s quite reached that level. I’d say it’s more like late September pennant-race baseball. But it’s been a heck of an atmosphere in stadium and the finale is just a few hours away.
We’ve been so busy with the extra media and all that’s going on, somehow we didn’t post anything Friday or Saturday, but you guys have kept the conversation going on Inside the Dodgers. We’ll figure out a tour soon…and it’ll obviously be open to any and all who read these messages.
Should be cool to hear Orel Hershiser break down Clayton Kershaw on tonight’s national telecast. A series win could do a lot to boost the confidence of the team after a tough couple weeks. And with a six-game road trip looming back against the NL West teams the Dodgers seem to play well against (with Billingsley coming off the DL), a win today would be huge.
And by the way, if you come out early today, be sure to stop by Viva Los Dodgers and get an autograph from Steve Yeager, who will be signing out there.
Even without Andre Ethier in the lineup, the Dodgers won their ninth straight last night on his bobblehead night and there was a packed house at Dodger Stadium.
Now, Andre is over at ESPN Los Angeles studios to film a “This is Sportscenter commercial,” which usually means you’re pretty darn big if they’re asking you to do this sort of thing. And even better, you’ll get to see the behind-the-scenes footage of the commercial shoot, as the Dodgers Media Network is here getting some pretty cool stuff. Amazingly, there are like 40 people on the set for a 30-second spot. Pretty crazy.
What’s next for the budding star?
Well, he’s got an upcoming action figure night (July 8), a poster (Aug. 20) and a few other big time media requests we’ve gotten for him. We’re going to try to bang out most of these while he’s hurt because unfortunately, he can’t play at the moment. But, hopefully he’ll be back soon and by then, who knows, maybe the Dodgers will be on a 23-game winning streak…
A chance to move into a first place tonight at the Ravine against the Padres…