For some time I’ve been debating how to categorize and present the top rivalries in Major League Baseball. I’ve contemplated rankings, countdowns and the like in an effort to stoke some traffic on this blog. If I were a more savvy blogger, I’d probably start tying these posts to whenever the teams start their next series.
But this blog is for fun, and I’m going to start with one of the rivalries I know best, the Giants and Dodgers. As a kid I remember seeing photos of the famous incident depicted here of some guy named Koufax trying to stop SF’s Juan Marichal from murdering LA’s Johnny Roseboro.
Rivalries can spring up any time, but the great ones go back decades: year after year of fights and slights, of crushing one another and spoiling pennant bids. The Giants and the Dodgers qualify unequivocally. They were rivals when they were separated by the East River in New York City, and the rivalry continued unabated when the teams moved west to California in 1958.
The teams are emblematic of the cities they represent. The Giants inhabit the quirky, wind-chilled City by the Bay. The Dodgers bask in the glamorous sun of the City of Angels. Each team is shaped by its hometown, with the Angelenos getting the Hollywood (or Mannywood) treatment. The NorCal team is lovingly and perhaps comically revered for the swirling winds of Candlestick Park, where legend recalls Stu Miller being famously blown off the mound during the 1961 All-Star Game.
I became personally introduced to the Giants-Dodgers rivalry upon moving to San Francisco in 1993, one of the years in which the Dodgers spoiled the Giants’ playoff hopes in the last game of the year. While the Dodgers generally have had the upper hand during the California decades, at least as far as playoff and World Series appearances, the Giants have had their moments.
When Barry Bonds was at his bloated best, he drew the jeers of the relentless Dodgers fans. I can recall listening to a faux-puzzled Giants broadcaster Jon Miller remarking on how the LA crowd was making fun of Bonds’ socks.
They were chanting, of course, “Barry sucks.”