He did it in a pretty spectacular fashion as well, throwing a complete game shutout while only allowing four hits. Yet, merely going the distance wasn’t enough for Clayton Kershaw. With his team still tied in the bottom of the eighth, Kershaw became the first pitcher since 1953 to throw a complete game shutout and hit a home run on Opening Day. He also became the first Dodgers’ pitcher to hit an Opening Day homer at Dodger stadium since Don Drysdale. Not to mention it was the first homer of his career.
Now, all of this is incredible and made me happy beyond belief, but none of these amazing feats of Clayton Kershaw and his Dodgers are what were so special about the Dodgers’ home opener. The special part was the overwhelming symbolism of the Dodgers’ victory.
Dodgers fans have found a reinvigorated sense of enthusiasm and hope for 2013. There’s a new ownership in town, and with them they’ve brought a new excitement. They want to prove to the fan base that this is the Dodgers’ time. They’ve upgraded the stadium to the tune of more than 100 million dollars in renovations, rallied the support of the Los Angeles community, won over past Dodgers greats who’ve distanced themselves from the organization and announced themselves to the Baseball world by overhauling the lineup in the offseason. They even brought the greatest left-handed pitcher in Dodgers history, Sandy Koufax, back into the fold and had him throw out the ceremonial first-pitch. New owners, new season, new(ish) stadium, new Dodgers.
It was only fitting that the Dodgers opened up their season against their historic rivals, the Giants. The Dodgers and Giants’ rivalry is one of the most storied in all of sports. The fact that the Giants have won two rings in three years and have the reigning NL MVP Buster Posey on their team elevates things to a whole new level. We’ve been left in the dust and the Giants have basked in sunlight of immortality.
It has been a bitter pill for Dodgers fans to swallow this past year; but this isn’t last year. This is a new season full of new hope and expectations. For Kershaw to pitch the way he did and shutdown the Giants on opening day in front of a sellout crowd leading the brand new Dodgers to victory, is historical. It’s symbolic. The fact that he accomplished this in the same game that Sandy Koufax threw out the first pitch is legendary. He created a rallying point for the Dodgers to spring from. There was magic in the air on that Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Not only did Kershaw shut down the Giants’ offense, he dealt a blow to their pitching by hitting a go-ahead home run. He also struck out Buster Posey with runners in scoring position to end an inning. This wasn’t just a win, Dodgers fans. This was a statement.
It’s a “Whole New Blue.”