With start of season come new beginnings

    The beginning of April is a great time of the year for sports fans. We have the NBA winding down, the NCAA tournament heating up and for a day, fans of teams like the Padres can say, “”We’re just a game back.””

    The beginning of the baseball season is filled with optimism and hope. For a while, I can hope that the Yankees go down, teams like the Twins become dominant and that my favorite team can live up to my elevated expectations for once.

    We can hope for things like what happened to the Angels last year; Pirates fans can say, “”If the Angels did it, so can we!””

    For me, there is definitely a moment every year when I get goosebumps at the sight of a major league game. Actually, this year it was in the pregame. That’s the most fun part if you’re a baseball fan, watching teams warm up, take batting practice, marvel at how far they can hit the ball and the way they can make long toss look routine.

    As I stepped through the tunnel and laid eyes on the field and its pregame goings on for the first time, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I inhaled a combination of the smell of a hot dog and something burning. Good old Qualcomm.

    I opened my eyes. A major league field is immaculate, in better shape than a golf course and even mowed with the precision of a putting green. There is something totally different about being at a game in person as opposed to watching it on TV, something I’ll always be awed by.

    I went to take my seat in the right field bleachers. It’s a different vantage point to watch a game from, and you always have the chance of catching a home run ball. A friend of mine got us four front row seats and for once, we didn’t get kicked out when the Padres usher came by and checked our tickets.

    On the same field, three days later, was another sign of hope in Dodgers pitcher Darren Dreifort. After signing a huge contract a few years ago, Dreifort hadn’t pitched since 2001 after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow for the second time. The beginning of this season brought along with it the hope of a new beginning for his career. He was the fourth starter in the rotation and lost the game, but he didn’t pitch badly. The point is that he pitched.

    Being at a major league baseball game also brings thoughts of my dad. Dodger Stadium took more then three hours to drive to from my hometown, and so going to a game with just him and my brother or the rest of my family was definitely more then just going to a game.

    It was a day where we’d leave at 7 or 8 a.m. on a Sunday, get to the parking lot gate at Chavez Ravine and wait for an hour for the gate to open. Once we got inside, watching the players come into the stadium and watching batting practice were some of the best times we’d have.

    Today is my dad’s birthday and I can’t decide where I’d rather be with him today. We could have gone to the Final Four in New Orleans. We could have gone and watched the Lakers at Staples Center last night or tomorrow night. But it seems fitting that the Dodgers’ home opener is today. There’s no place I’d rather be this afternoon than at Dodger Stadium. Happy birthday, Dad.

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