On March 22, the 2014 season of Major League Baseball (MLB) will officially commence at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia. The Los Angeles Dodgers will play against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a two-game series which will start on Saturday evening and end on Sunday afternoon. Before the regular season kicks off on Saturday, two exhibition games will take place, with the Australian team playing the Dodgers on Thursday and the Diamondbacks on Friday, as reported by The Associated Press' Dennis Passa.
Below are the top five things you have to know about the MLB season-opening in Australia:
Australia hosts the game after a century
Australia first hosted an MLB exhibition game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants in 1914. It was played at the same stadium, as reported by the Newyorker.com. According to the Newyorker.com, MLB's trip to the land down under in 1914 was part of the world tour organised by White Sox's owner Charles Comiskey. It started in Cincinnati before it continued in Japan, China, Australia, British Ceylon, Egypt, Italy, France, and Great Britain.
The Associated Press wrote that the stadium will have an outfield fence that measures eight-foot tall which will be 328 feet down the foul lines and 400 feet directly towards the center field. Over 35,000 feet of grass were removed for the time being to give way for the construction of the clay field, which was reportedly imported from the U.S. TMZ has the time-lapse video of the dramatic transformation of the huge round field into a diamond baseball pitch here.
Clayton Kershaw and Wade Miley will be the starting pitchers for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, respectively. Before Kershaw and the rest of his teammates left for Australia, he has been trying to keep himself awake as late as possible to prep himself for major time-zone adjustments, but he didn't seem to be really troubled at all adjusting because he was spotted doing some sightseeing in Australia with his wife and even posed with a baby kangaroo. Wiley, on the other hand, was chosen as the starter after his teammate Patrick Corbin sustained an injury. Corbin had to remain in the U.S. to obtain a second opinion and to find out whether or not he had to undergo surgery.
Aussie pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith will play against for the Diamondbacks against fellow Australians in the exhibition game on Friday
It will be a question of loyalty for the 31-year-old Aussie pitcher. Ryan plays for the Diamondbacks. He will be competing against Team Australian on Friday. He said that when he started playing baseball, it was not really a big thing for Australia and being able to play for the MLB and at the same time bring it to his hometown is truly special for him.
Australia to host another game in 2018
The opening of the 2014 season hasn't officially started yet, but MLB is reportedly already thinking of having another series back in Australia in 2018.
The Dodgers and the Diamondbacks arrived down under on March 18.