The Major League Baseball regular season will kick off in Australia with a two game series between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in Australia starting March 22. However, the first game played in the United States will take place in America's Finest City. Today it was announced that ESPN's traditional Sunday Night baseball Opening Night game will feature the Padres and the Dodgers. The game will start approximately around 5:00 pm Pacific Time on March 30. The Padres were originally scheduled to play their opening game on Monday March 31, but that will now be an off day. The series will continue on April 1 and April 2.
This is the first time in a long time that the Padres have played on ESPN's Sunday Night baseball. The last time was September 6, 2009 also against the Dodgers. For much of the 2000s (2000-2009) the Padres had at least one Sunday night game, but have been shut out this decade. The last time the Friars played on the Opening Night game was April 4, 1999 when they played the Colorado Rockies in Monterrey, Mexico.
The exact reason the Padres were chosen for this primetime game is unknown. One can speculate that it has much to do with our neighbors to the north. One would assume that 2 time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw would be making the start for the Dodgers and the team is full of flash and pizazz and will be a favorite to return to the playoffs. Add in that the Padres and Dodgers have a little spice to their rivalry after last season and it seems a little more enticing that Red Sox-Orioles or Athletics-Indians.
The Padres also announced that normal Opening Day festivities will occur on April 1. There were no details about what the difference will be. I would expect Opening Day style fanfare for the teams' lineups on both days, but perhaps the block party on J Street will be on April 1. If anyone else recalls anything else the club typically does special for opening day, please leave a comment about it.
One could also speculate that there would be a Jerry Coleman tribute tie-in, but ESPN is not yet promoting this as such. Coleman's passing has already gotten a fair amount of national media attention, but a tribute during this game would help his fans around the country say goodbye again using his favorite pastime as a vehicle for his remembrance. We shall see.
Don't ask me to explain it: @padres say they will play opener on Sunday night 3/30 but won't hold Opening Day festivities until Tuesday 4/1.— Jay Posner (@sdutPosner) January 9, 2014