The first series of the season between the Padres and Dodgers, two of the best teams in baseball who are longtime division foes that don't really like each other but have a healthy respect for one another, doesn't need any more excitement.
IT'S GETTING MORE EXCITEMENT ANYWAY.
With San Diego County in the Orange Tier, Petco Park is able to increase capacity from 20% to 33%. That means a little more than 15,000 people will be allowed inside to watch a series that the entire baseball world will be paying close attention to.
The Padres and Dodgers are expected to put on one of the most heated division races of the last several decades so the ballpark was already going to be electric. The Friars are adding a little more fuel to the fans fire with a series of giveaways and special ceremonies.
"We're very excited for this weekend. Everything, I think, is coming together really well for us to celebrate our fans return and some of the accomplishments from last season, as well as a historic accomplishment from this season," says Erik Greupner, Padres C.E.O.
For the first time in more than a year there will be giveaways at Petco Park. On Friday, the team is handing out "Friar Sticks" to the first 12,000 people through the gates. Those are the inflatable cylinders made famous as "Thundersticks" by the 2002 World Series champion Angels. Fans bang them together and made a whole lot of noise.
"We thought it would be a great, fun way for our fans to support our team with decreased capacity, and also staying masks up. It allows them a great way to continue to show that audible support for the team," says Greupner.
Saturday night the popular Padres hoodies will be available for everyone in attendance and on Sunday fans will receive the annual Padres and Puppies calendar.
Every game will also feature a pregame ceremony, starting on Friday night when Grossmont High School alum Joe Musgrove will be honored for throwing the first no-hitter in Padres history. On Saturday, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. will be recognized for winning National League Silver Slugger awards and on Sunday, Trent Grisham gets center stage for winning the Gold Glove award.
Speaking of Tatis, after Thursday's 8-3 win over the Pirates that capped a 5-2 road trip, Padres manager Jayce Tingler said the superstar shortstop who's been out since early April with a shoulder injury took another light batting practice and the team is "optimistic" he'll be able to return to the lineup on Friday night.
As of the writing of this story the Padres are unsure if any single-game tickets will be made available to the general public, but with the max attendance closely mirroring the number of season ticket members they don't anticipate that being the case for a while longer.
"As I've said before, and the Governor has recently said, we hope that as we approach the middle of June we might be in a position to fully re-open Petco Park and have more access for all San Diegans that haven't been able to come to a game yet to be able to come down at an affordable price point and watch this team play," says Greupner.
Interestingly, the next time the Dodgers come to Petco Park is June 21-23. Here's hoping we all get to be there for that one, and every game afterwards.