Los Angeles Dodgers open season today with optimistic new manager Don Mattingly

File photo: Dodger Stadium July 7, 2010 - The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-0.
File photo: Dodger Stadium July 7, 2010 - The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-0. Aaron Stroot/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

The Los Angeles Dodgers are scheduled to open their season today at Dodger Stadium with new manager Don Mattingly confident that the still unresolved divorce of owner Frank McCourt won't effect the team.

"They don't throw it, they don't hit it, they don't pitch it," Mattingly said this week, referring to McCourt and his former wife Jamie. "We had a meeting after the season was over. There's been no talk about it. We don't make decisions based on that."

Last year's trial over the validity of the couple's martial property agreement included revelations of how they used the team to finance their opulent lifestyle and sparked fears Frank McCourt will either not have, or not spend the money necessary to again make the Dodgers championship contenders.

The Dodgers have gone 22 seasons without winning a National League pennant, the longest streak in their 121-season history.

Mattingly said all the Dodgers' off-season personnel moves "have been all baseball decisions."

"They were trying to make us the best club possible," Mattingly said.

A Los Angeles judge ruled in December that the 2004 marital property agreement between the McCourts, in which Frank McCourt claimed sole ownership of the Dodgers, was invalid.

The McCourts met on March 2 to renew settlement talks and attorneys on both sides have declined to comment, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mattingly was named as the ninth manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the 27th in the history of the franchise Sept. 17, succeeding Joe Torre, who retired after three seasons with the team.

Mattingly had been the team's hitting coach from midway through the 2008 season through 2010. He was the New York Yankees hitting coach from 2004-2006 and their bench coach in 2007.

Mattingly takes over a team that finished fourth in the five-team National League West in 2010 with an 80-82 record, the Dodgers first losing record since 2005.

Despite last year's record, Mattingly said he believes "we have a good club," because of the strength of its starting pitching.

The Dodgers re-signed Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda and signed Jon Garland during the off-season. Combined with returning starters Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers rotation had a cumulative earned run average of 3.39 and opponents' batting average of .234 in 2010, which would have led the major leagues.

"Every time we send a guy out there, we have a chance to win," Mattingly said.

Kershaw will be the starter in today's game against the World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Tim Lincecum, the National League leader in strikeouts each of the past three seasons will start for the Giants.

Kershaw announced on Wednesday that he and his wife Ellen will donated $100 for each of his strikeouts during the season to Arise Africa, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping end poverty in the continent through health care, education, business and discipleship.

The Dodgers Dream Foundation, the team's charitable arm, will also make a financial commitment to Arise Africa.

Kershaw and his wife have set a goal of raising $70,000 to start an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia that will be called Hope's Home, named for an 11- year-old orphan who is HIV positive whom the Kershaws befriended on their trip to Zambia during the off-season.

Kershaw is encouraging fans to join the cause by visiting the website kershawschallenge.com.

The Dodgers will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1981 World Series championship throughout their season-opening four-game series against the Giants, including having Fernando Valenzuela and several other members of the team throw today's ceremonial first pitch.

Another member of the 1981 team, Bill Russell, will sign autographs in Autograph Alley.

The team will also have several promotions during the season tied to the 1981 title-winning team.

Opera star Placido Domingo is scheduled to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Before the national anthem, a moment of silence will be observed for the people killed in the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Pregame ceremonies will also include approximately 136 members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, Coast Guard, Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Fire Department will unfurl a giant flag on the field.

A B-2 bomber will fly over Dodger Stadium at the end of the national anthem.

Broadway star Davis Gaines is scheduled to sing "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.

The Dodgers will honor their first Veteran of the Game today, as they will at every home game this season.

The first honoree is Army 2nd Lt. Steven Hole, who earned the distinction by winning the home run hitting contest at the military batting practice the team hosted on Veterans Day. Hole played football at West Point and is a third-year medical student at USC.

The Dodgers will wear a patch in memory of Hall of Fame outfielder Duke Snider throughout the season. The patch will feature Snider's uniform No. 4.

Snider, who played for the Dodgers from 1947-62, is the franchise's career leader in home runs and runs batted in. He died Feb. 27 at the age of 84.

The team will host a celebration of his life Aug. 9, which will include the first 50,000 fans in attendance receiving a bobblehead featuring his likeness.

The Dodgers had been scheduled to play their season opener Friday, with the customary 1:10 p.m. starting time. However, the game was moved to today at 5 p.m. at the request of ESPN to bolster its Opening Day coverage.

Dodgers encouraging fans to car pool, arrive early for Opening Day

The Los Angeles Dodgers are encouraging fans to car pool or take public transportation to Dodger Stadium and arrive early for today's Opening Day game against the World Series champion San Francisco Giants to avoid congestion.

Opening Day draws more cars than usual for a sold-out game, as more fans than usual drive alone, coming from their offices to Dodger Stadium.

The Dodger Express Bus again will run from Union Station to Dodger Stadium for every game this season. The fare is free for ticket holders.

The express will operate from the Patsaouras Bus Plaza adjacent to the east portal of Union Station and continue to Dodger Stadium via Sunset Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Avenue.

Passengers will be dropped off and picked up in the Dodgers parking lot behind left-center field.

The auto gates will open at 1 p.m. and the stadium gates at 1:30 p.m. for the game scheduled to begin slightly after 5 p.m.

Doyer Dogs top new food choices at Dodger Stadium

Several additions have been made to the food and beverage choices at Dodger Stadium for this season, most prominently the "Doyer Dog."

The Doyer Dog is a grilled all-beef hot dog served with chili, nacho cheese, chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. It will be served at Camacho's stands throughout the stadium. The name was inspired by the Spanish-language version of the team's name.

The initial report of the Doyer Dog prompted some comments, generally positive, on the social networking site Twitter, including the question is it bacon-wrapped. It is not.

Other changes to the food and beverage choices at Dodger Stadium are the expansion of the menu at the Healthy Plate Carts to include an arugula salad with toasted walnuts, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds and balsamic vinaigrette dressing and a "Farmer's Market" Greek salad.

The Stadium Club and Dugout Club will feature such new beverages as "The All-Star," made with Absolut vodka and Dekuyper Sour Apple Pucker, "Charge," made with Absolut vodka with a Sobe Full Throttle energy drink; and "Go Blue!" made with Absolut vodka; lemonade and a splash of Dekuyper luscious blueberry blast schnapps.

Turkey burgers on whole wheat buns will be sold on the field, loge and reserve levels.

The Dodgertown Deli replaces the Canter's Delicatessen that had been on the Field Level since 2008.

Its menu includes a hot pastrami sandwich served on a French roll with pickle chips; a roast beef sandwich made with sliced over-roasted top sirloin on a French roll; and a barbecue roast beef sandwich made with sliced top sirloin on a hamburger bun.

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