Los Angeles Dodgers beat Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 in MLB season opening in Sydney

Vin Scully has been calling the Los Angeles Dodgers before they were called the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over a career spanning 65 years, the fabled American sportscaster has been the voice of the best part of 10,000 Dodgers games. A legend whose celebrity outstrips that of those he commentates on.

There is not much America's version of Richie Benaud has not seen. But he ain’t seen an opening day quite like this.

"I love the ballpark," Scully said from his broadcast box high in the Sydney Cricket Ground just before the first pitch on Saturday night. "I can’t believe this was not a baseball field, they’ve done such a great job.

"As a baseball person, the first thing I noticed was a great deal of foul ground. That will help the pitchers in that area and it will also be against the fielders if there is a wild throw. The players will take advantage of that and run the extra bases. Otherwise it's perfect. It's just beautiful."

Australia has waited 100 years for this. It appeared we would have to wait a little bit longer when showers threatened to rain on the parade. But play on the SCG, a ground a quarter of a century older than iconic Fenway Park or Wrigley Field, went ahead as scheduled.

There are 162 matches in a Major League season but often a playoff appearance can be determined by as little as a result or two. Particularly when you can pinch a win off one of your divisional rivals. In Los Angeles and Arizona, you have two of the fiercest.

The Dodgers are the glamour boys, the moneyed men. Their owner Magic Johnson could not fit a trip Down Under into his busy schedule. Perhaps unfairly, they have been portrayed as being indifferent to the great Australian experiment.

Local fans could more readily identify with the Diamondbacks. Theirs is the story of a franchise in the middle of the desert that has become more than just a team to their community. They have guts. They have heart. They have America’s first baseman.

Having been flogged by Australia’s national team, they are also the underdogs. Their job is to cut down the tall poppies.

The most valuable arm in the history of the game - that belonging to Clayton Kershaw - was being evaluated by a capacity crowd of 38,266. He pitched the best part of seven innings and two of the five hits he conceded were to the Dodgers' own marquee man, Paul Goldschmidt. One of them eventually resulted in America's first baseman getting to the home plate. But that was as good as it got for the Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers fared better with bat in hand. Scott Van Slyke will be the answer to trivia questions about the first home run on Australian soil after belting one into the Brewongle Stand. It brought up their third run, an advantage that proved insurmountable. Dodgers win 3-1.

The first pitch had not been thrown and already there were questions as to what this meant in the greater context of things. There have been suggestions the NBA and NFL may well follow suit in their own attempts to impose their will on the world.

"They will watch this," Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said. "What is there not to be encouraged by? This is marvellous.

"Sometimes - and I know there was a little bit of criticism from people in the media and so forth - but what they don’t understand is these are all building blocks. You have to be careful to do it in the right way.

"So why is this important? It’s important because there is a standing-room-only crowd tonight, there’s a standing-room-only crowd tomorrow. You can’t find a more dramatic manifestation of how successful we've been. If the other leagues are watching, they'll have plenty to see."

Would this be a one-off? Will you be back?

"It won’t be another 100 years, I can assure you," Selig said. "Yes, I am very confident we will be."

The last word should go to Scully. At the age of 86, these may well be the last games he calls here. But he hopes the legacy will live on much longer. "I would love to see more fellas play it and more Australians make it to the big leagues," he said. "One of the reasons we're here is to spread the brand, encourage the young players about the big leagues. Hopefully, down through the years it will pay off."

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