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A nice photo of now-former Dodger Matt Kemp – who is now a San Diego Padre (still SoCal) – and reigning American League Most Valuable Player Mike Trout 

 

AN ODE TO WHAT, IN MY OPINION, IS STILL AMERICA’S NATIONAL PASTIME   AND THE GREATEST SPORT AROUND (sorry, football)

Having been a dedicated follower of baseball for nearly all of my life – being involved with the game as a player, coach, manager and even an umpire (predominantly at the youth level with a couple of brief stints on the coaching staffs of high school softball teams), Opening Day is a day that I have always looked forward to.

As I write this, I’m listening to AM 570 on my old Walkman radio cassette player – yes, I freely admit that I’m very outdated as far as technology – anticipating the team I’ve been a fan of since I was ten years old, watching Reggie Jackson become “Mr. October” in the 1977 World Series – the Los Angeles Dodgers, breaking the seal on the 2015 season.

And lamenting the fact that for the second year in a row, 70% of people in Southern California will be unable to watch L.A.’s original major league team and the greatest sports broadcaster of all time, Vin Scully, on television.

But it’s not my intention to rail against the Dodger organization or Time Warner Cable for the incredibly bad deal that has prevented the bulk of the fans from seeing the National League’s iconic “Boys In Blue”.

Nor do I wish to provide a detailed preview of them or their red-clad American League counterparts who play their home games thirty miles to the south in Orange County, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as there are many websites and newspapers that one can get such previews from.

Except for, of course, this brief opinion that like more or less everyone else, I expect both those Dodgers and Angels to have stellar seasons and be strong contenders for the postseason in their respective divisions.

The operative word being expect, as in a game like baseball where so many games are played, one really cannot project which team will be throwing a World Series championship parade/celebration in late October.

Putting it another way, I dare anyone – at least anyone outside of Kansas City – to say that they expected the Royals to win the American League pennant and come to within ninety feet of winning their second world championship at this time last year.

 

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Angels first baseman Albert Pujols playing in front of the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier

 

Anyhow…

Like every other baseball fan, I’ve always considered Opening Day the real New Year’s Day because – at the risk of sounding a bit pompous and sappy – it signals a new beginning after feeling cooped up in a box watching basketball and hockey for months.

I’ve always felt cooped up watching those two indoor sports even on TV, as the fact that (except in Tampa Bay and Toronto) baseball is played outdoors gives off a feeling of openness and “free” that simply can’t be duplicated watching Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, or Anze Kopitar.

Even though I’m unfortunately unable to see his face, listening to Vin Scully right now gives me a comfortable, satisfying feeling.

Which I’m sure every sports fan in the greater Los Angeles area agrees with me on.

As I listen to Vinny – who incidentally is the number one reason why I remain a Dodger fan regardless of their fortunes on the field – memories of my baseball and softball playing and coaching days are swimming in my head, including my own opening days as a little league player and coach over the years.

Without providing any details as it would take too long, like most people’s childhood recollections I remember those days with fondness, eagerly anticipating the first pitch, the first hit, the first run, and all those other firsts.

And even though they get paid millions of dollars, with the minimum wage of a major leaguer being over $500,000 (plenty of money to live quite comfortably anywhere!), I’m sure those big-time athletes eagerly anticipate Opening Day with at least an inner excitement, as they have ever since they began playing Tee Ball at five and six years old.

To get everyone pumped for the next six months – 162 games over the next 180 days to be precise – I am featuring some highlight videos of the two players considered to be the faces of baseball, who in a tremendous fortune for all of us happen to ply their trade in the SoCal area.

I trust that these clips will be enjoyable and exciting for all who watch them, thanks to YouTube…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, although this should go without saying, I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway as I can’t conclude an article such as this without these two little words:

PLAY BALL!

 

 

 

 

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