COMMENTARY | The rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants is one of the best in baseball. These two teams started doing battle over 120 years ago when they were both based in New York, and their cross-country migration to California did nothing to dispel the bitterness between each other.
How intense is the rivalry? Since their first meeting back on April 18, 1883, the Giants have won 1,192 games to the Dodgers' 1,167. Of course, the Giants have had the upper hand lately, forcing Dodgers fans to watch in disgust as they won two of the last three World Series. If anything, San Francisco's recent success has only fueled Dodgers fans' hatred of the Giants.
Let's take a look at some of the other reasons why fans of the Boys in Blue despise their Northern California rivals:
Shot Heard 'Round the World
Every Dodgers fan has probably heard it a thousand times, and it never sounds good: "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" This was the famous call by broadcaster Russ Hodges when Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants clubbed a game-winning home run against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the final game of the 1951 season.
If there's one player who epitomized Dodger blue, it was Jackie Robinson. The man who famously broke baseball's color barrier spent his entire career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It's not surprising, then, that when Robinson was traded to the Giants in 1956, he chose to retire from the game rather than play for his hated rivals.
The Swamp Fox
This was the nickname applied to San Francisco Giants manager Alvin Dark during the 1962 season. To counteract Los Angeles Dodgers speedster Maury Wills in the important final series of the season, Dark instructed the Candlestick Park grounds crew to heavily water down the basepaths before the game. Despite the swampy conditions on the infield, Wills was still able to swipe his record-setting 104th base of the year that weekend.
Marichal vs. Roseboro
The most notorious incident in the history of the rivalry occurred in 1965 when Giants pitcher Juan Marichal hit Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro -- not with chin music, but with his bat while at the plate.
Earlier in the game, Marichal had beaned two Dodgers with pitches. Although Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax had no intention of direct retaliation when Marichal stepped into the batter's box, his battery mate, Roseboro, decided to continuously toss the ball back to Koufax dangerously close to Marichal's head -- even clipping his ear with one of the return throws. That's what caused Marichal to whack the Dodgers' catcher, and a nasty brawl ensued. Roseboro, bleeding, had to be helped off the field.
The baseball rivalry has always gone hand in hand with the provincial rivalry of California. People in Southern California usually find Northern California less appealing and vice versa. Angelinos argue that their weather can't be beat and often stereotype the San Francisco citizenry as ultra-liberal hippies, while people from the Bay Area tend to look down upon the City of Angels as a superficial wasteland that steals resources. It's no wonder that the Dodgers-Giants saga fits perfectly into this geographical clash.
End of "Fernandomania"
The Dodgers knew they had something special when 20-year-old Fernando Valenzuela won his first eight big-league decisions en route to leading Los Angeles to the 1981 World Series title. After becoming the first pitcher to win Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same season, Valenzuela went on to have a successful 10-year run with the Blue Crew. Leave it up to the Giants to spoil the party, when they swept Los Angeles in the final week of the 1990 season to put an end to the Dodgers' pennant hopes. Valenzuela would never pitch another game for Los Angeles.
The "Brian Johnson Game"
Who remembers Brian Johnson? Anyone? The former catcher played for six different teams during his brief big-league tenure, compiling a measly .248 batting average to go along with 49 home runs from 1994-2001. Of course, the one home run that everyone remembers came against the Dodgers when Johnson was a member of the Giants. With two weeks left in the 1997 season, his walkoff shot in the bottom of 12th inning moved San Francisco into a tie with Los Angeles atop the National League West. The Giants went on to win the division, and the game would be remembered among Giants fans as the "Brian Johnson Game." Who?
It goes without saying that there has been no other player hated more by Dodgers fans. Not only did Bonds break the controversial single-season home run record against Los Angeles in 2001, but he also hit more bombs at Dodger Stadium than at any other road venue over the course of his career. Now that's adding insult to injury.
"You've got to have some kind of serious talent to have 53,000 people saying you suck, and I'm proud of that." Quotes like that sure didn't help Bonds' case in the eyes of Dodgers fans, and neither did this nor this.
After watching Uribe help the Giants win the 2010 World Series, the Dodgers thought they could use the veteran leadership and signed him to a three-year contract worth $21 million. Let's just say he probably compiled more hits in the 2010 postseason than he has in the last two years with the Dodgers combined. OK, this might a slight exaggeration. But the fact of the matter is that Uribe has no business being on a major-league roster. Dodgers fans claim that he left his heart -- and his ability to hit a baseball -- in San Francisco.
Numbers Don't Lie
As much as it pains Dodgers fans to hear it, the important numbers say that the Giants are now a more successful franchise. By making it to the World Series last fall, San Francisco has appeared in 19 Fall Classics -- one more than the Dodgers. And by sweeping that series, the Giants again one-upped the Dodgers in total championships, 7-6. The truth hurts in Los Angeles, but it also gives the Dodgers faithful all the more reason to hate that orange and black team from the north.
Nick Ostiller was born and raised in Los Angeles and currently lives in Santa Clara. He is a sports reporter at The Santa Clara and contributes content for Sidelines. He has also worked for Outlook Newspapers.
Follow him on Twitter @nicko229.
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