ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball kicks off the MLB regular season every year with the first nationally broadcasted game. It is a coveted time slot reserved for the likes of the Yankees or reigning World Series champions. The teams full of national appeal.
Baseball fans across the nation will tune in to this first regular-season game regardless of fan-hood in order to satisfy their months-long baseball starvation. This year the Dodgers will be put in the spotlight as they take on the San Diego Padres on Sunday, March 30 in San Diego.
That means the Dodgers are opening up the MLB season twice this year. They kick things off on March 22 in Australia against the Diamondbacks, and then will play the first domestic, regular season game on March 30 against the Padres.
Considering the 1AM Pacific game-time of the Australia series, the games against San Diego will probably be the first that fans are able to watch. Since it has been picked up by ESPN, fans also will not have to worry about whether or not their cable provider has SportsNet LA.
There are no merits or awards for being on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, but it shows that the Dodgers are back on top. Stan Kasten and the Guggenheim ownership group said from the beginning that they were going to restore the organization to its former prestige, and this is just another example of it.
A glance at the schedule shows no Opening Day match-ups that a national audience would demand, but it is customary for the World Series champions to kick off the season.
The Boston Red Sox are playing a division rival in the Baltimore Orioles, but the Dodgers still got the nod against the Padres--a team that hardly matters to San Diego, yet alone the rest of the country.
Depending on the team's use of the rotation, the Dodgers could have Clayton Kershaw, the NL Cy Young winner in two of the last three years, on the mound for the national broadcast.
This is just another example of the Dodgers growing popularity, and sky-high expectations they are expected to fulfill in 2014. As always, the series in San Diego will have a healthy showing of Dodger fans in attendance as they make the short road trip to their vacation home, Petco Park.