Dodgers apologize to Diamondbacks for stadium lights blunders during season opener
The Dodgers left Dodger Stadium on Thursday night happy with a sound victory to open the season. The Arizona Diamondbacks left disappointed and annoyed — and not just with the result.
After the game, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo voiced frustration with two ill-timed light displays during the home team's 8-2 win.
“I wasn’t too pleased about that,” Lovullo said. “It’s the first game for everybody. Hopefully they figure it out."
In turn, the Dodgers apologized Friday for what happened. Lovullo was satisfied with the apology. He said the Diamondbacks were moving on.
"The light situation, we're going to put it behind us," Lovullo said. "The Dodgers, in a very professional way, came over and apologized to us. I thought some of the comments yesterday — I had a list of texts this long this morning — might have been a little tone deaf. But I think the Dodgers did a great job of trumping that and apologizing. So, we're good."
Thursday was the first time Dodger Stadium hosted a game that mattered with their new LED lights. It was the second time since the franchise changed the lights since the stadium opened in 1962; the Dodgers replaced the original lights in 2007.
The organization heralded the change as energy efficient and an upgrade that would enhance the fan experience. They’re brighter. They pop with full color. They can turn on and off instantly.
“You can watch baseball and go to a nightclub,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said at FanFest in January. “It’s great. Every night here is fun, but this year is going to be more fun than ever.”
The Dodgers, looking to exploit the technology, came equipped Thursday with several light shows throughout the night. Two of them irked Arizona.
The first blunder happened in the fifth inning, when Will Smith poked an RBI single to right field. The lights then dimmed and flickered while Jake McCarthy fielded the ball and threw it back into the infield.
“Is that like scheduled? Is that a thing that they’re doing?” said Zac Gallen, who was on the mound for Arizona during the play. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen that before. I was kind of shocked. I mean, it doesn’t seem like it would be something that MLB’s going to allow. I did notice that."
The second mistake came during the eighth inning as Diamondbacks reliever Carlos Vargas warmed up on the mound before his major league debut. Arizona catcher Gabriel Moreno had trouble seeing the pitches so home plate umpire Marvin Hudson immediately signaled to have someone turn the lights on.
On Friday, Kasten said the mistakes were "purely human error." He said Major League Baseball did not get involved in the situation.
"I think we're gonna learn what we have before we can really spend time doing more creative things," Kasten said. "But we said that ahead of time. It's gonna take a couple of weeks for us to figure out what we can do, what it does, what works for these fans and stuff like that. Pretty straightforward."
Kasten noted other teams around the majors installed LED lights at their ballparks, including three clubs this season. How they're utilized, however, varies. The Dodgers were aggressive Thursday. It proved to be a learning lesson on one of the most important nights on the baseball calendar.
"I talked to others that are doing it for next year," Kasten said. "And have other teams have growing pains? Yeah, that's what happens when you're doing new things."
Staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.