Nothing can ensure good baseball on a given day, not a flyover by F-16 jet fighters, a pregame concert by a budding country music star or the first pitch being thrown out by a popular former Dodger -- in this case, Steve Sax (and, no, he didn't throw the ball over the catcher's head).
The Dodgers had plenty of pomp but little pop in their home opener, a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Monday in front of 56,000, which equaled last season's opener as the largest regular-season crowd ever at Dodger Stadium.
Fans might have been entertained before the first pitch, but the only excitement the Dodgers provided came in the ninth inning when they loaded the bases with none out against closer Brian Fuentes. One run came of it, and the four-game winning streak forged on the road was over.
Not that the Dodgers are particularly concerned. In fact, the prevailing emotion in the clubhouse was relief.
The shoulder injury that forced right fielder Matt Kemp from the game in the fourth inning turned out to be a bruise. And the hamstring injury that forced starting pitcher Jason Schmidt out of the game in the fifth was merely a cramp.
Schmidt (1-1) struck out six and walked none but recorded only 12 outs and gave up three earned runs before clutching his right hamstring after covering first base on a groundball fumbled by first baseman Nomar Garciaparra.
"I was just dehydrated," Schmidt said. "I can sweat eating ice cream, so I have to make sure and drink enough water. It was one of those days with a lot going on before the game, and I took it for granted. This was a reminder that I have to stay on top of things."
Schmidt's velocity again was down -- his first two pitches were 81- and 82-mph fastballs that the scoreboard operator called changeups.
"Obviously the radar gun was not popping like it usually does, but he still has life on his fastball," said Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins, who homered in the first inning. "He got me to chase one up in the zone. Not many guys really barreled up his fastball."
Schmidt's velocity increased to the upper 80s in the fourth inning, yet he gave up two runs, the key hit a triple by Jeff Baker that had Kemp bouncing off the wall and gripping his shoulder in pain.
"At first I thought it was worse than it was," Kemp said. "When I was walking off the field I thought I was done for a while. I was in a lot of pain."
He was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for X-rays, which were negative, allowing him to make light of his plight. He probably won't play today but shouldn't be out long.
"I got hops like Jordan," he said. "I jumped too high and hit the wall the wrong way."
Most of the Dodgers' swings were like Michael Jordan's too. The best hit in 6 2/3 innings against soft-throwing left-hander Jeff Francis was a third-inning home run by Schmidt, who proved he can hit an 81-mph fastball as well as throw one.
Certainly it was unlikely: Schmidt has a career batting average of .105, and the home run was his seventh in 586 at-bats and the first by a Dodgers pitcher in three seasons.
About the only other highlight for the Dodgers was the strong relief pitching of Mark Hendrickson, who tossed three scoreless innings for the second time this season and could become an intriguing option for the rotation if Brett Tomko falters as the fifth starter.
Tonight Tomko will pitch for the first time since spring training. Manager Grady Little said, "We're not asking a lot, only four or five innings."
That could tax the bullpen because of Schmidt's short outing. Hendrickson won't be available and the other left-hander, Joe Beimel, could be iffy after pitching the last 1 1/3 innings against the Rockies.
As for the other kind of relief -- the feeling the Dodgers had upon learning that Schmidt and Kemp will be OK -- it was enough consolation on a day the spectacle outshined the ballgame.