For the past several years Major League Baseball has worked hard to advance the interest in baseball around the globe. This includes kicking off the regular season with games in Mexico and Japan. This coming season the league will extend their outreach with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks kicking off the 2014 regular season in Sydney, Australia.
The decision to start the season in Australia has found quite a bit of support but also a significant amount of opposition from the two teams fan bases. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will be loyal to the MLB cause and probably won’t complain too much, but traveling over 7000 miles to kick off the regular season could have obvious impact on the club’s ability to acclimate upon their return, due to the obvious jet lag. Like in years past MLB will give the clubs adequate time to recover before they set off to play the bulk of their regular season schedule. The two clubs will leave spring training early and then play a two game weekend series in Sydney, March 22-23. The Dodgers will then have a full week off to recover prior to heading down to San Diego to kick off the domestic portion of their schedule on March 31. The early game will give the Dodgers a slightly shorter Spring Training as in years past. The good thing for Dodgers fans is that both games in Australia will be Diamondback home games, giving Los Angeles the full 81 game schedule at Dodger Stadium for the upcoming season. It will also protect the Dodgers traditional home opener, which will take place Friday, April 4th versus their longtime rival San Francisco Giants.
Australia has long been and up and coming market for baseball talent with many current and former players from down under including former Dodgers Craig Shipley, Jeff Williams and Trent Oeltjen. Australian fans will get the opportunity to see what is quickly becoming one of the hottest rivalries in all of baseball. Although the Diamondbacks finished a distant second to the Dodgers last season the rivalry was amped up with a bench clearing brawl this past June. A massive fight ensued after Dodgers ace Zack Grienke was hit by a pitch. The two teams continued their war or words all season with several Diamondback players taking umbrage with the playing style of Yasiel Puig. The distaste between the two teams was amped up even more when the Dodgers clinched the divisional title in Phoenix and proceeded to celebrate in the pool Arizona has behind the right field fence. Beyond the dislike the clubs have for each other is the fact that they’ll be competing for the division title again this season and the two opening games in Australia can help set the tone of the coming regular season. The Dodgers will likely start with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke on the mound, giving Aussie fans a glimpse of perhaps the best one-two rotation combination in baseball. If Los Angeles can sweep the two games down under they’ll have two road victories versus Arizona and an instant leg up in the division.
The Dodgers open the 2014 MLB Season at Dodger Stadium on April 4th against the SF Giants! You can purchase Dodgers Opening Day Tickets Now.