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"Dodgers Down Under." Sounds like the title of a silly straight-to-video movie sequel that plays on Disney Channel.
That is a phrase being used concerning the Dodgers impending trip to Australia to open the 2014 MLB season. They will be facing the Arizona Diamondbacks at the famous Sydney Cricket Grounds March 22-23 as part of the MLB's annual push to globalize the league.
Sounds like a fun idea for fans and the team, right? Well, the league is not getting quite the "rah-rah" response it might wish from the stars in Los Angeles.
On Saturday as the Dodgers opened up Spring Training, Clayton Kershaw voiced his opinions on the trip; "I want to go there and see the country, go over there and see Sydney. I'd love to go there on vacation."
But traveling on a fourteen-hour flight, cramming in two baseball games, and flying back is simply just an obligation. "I don't really want to go pitch there," he said "but that's what we're signed up to do so we're going to have to get ready to do it."
The "we have to go, might as well not complain" attitude seems to be the sentiment going around concerning the series in Australia.
The whole trip throws off the timing and rituals of Spring Training. The Dodgers are in camp a full week before some teams are supposed to report, and will be playing games two days before anyone else.
They will leave Arizona March 16, ending Spring Training over a week in advance of the rest of the league. In the time it takes for them to travel to Australia and play the two games against the Diamondbacks, other teams will play between eight or nine more exhibitions.
The Dodgers likely Game Two starter, Zach Greinke, said that they will be leaving right, "about the time in spring you start to feel good. I'm guessing I won't be throwing eight innings over in Australia. I guess it's possible, but it will probably be more of a 90-pitch type thing."
Sounds like they are plucking them out of training right as they are in the swing of things, and just messing with their groove.
It will have a mental toll on the players as well because it takes the players out of the exhibition setting, puts them into these games that matter for the regular season, and then brings them back for more exhibition games.
After the Aussie series, the Dodgers travel back to Los Angeles and play the annual three-game exhibition "freeway series" versus the Angels. Their first official game on U.S. soil will be March 30th against the San Diego Padres.
Fans may have thought the series was a cool idea, until the TV schedule was released. Anybody wanting to watch the Dodgers opening games live will have to tune in at 1AM Pacific time, as well as subscribe to SportsNet LA.