Hatred at its purest | SierraSun.com
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Hatred at its purest

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

The mere thought of the Los Angeles Dodgers sends a shot of repugnance throughout my psyche.

Dodgers fans understand. They despise the San Francisco Giants just as much. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it always will be.

But it seems as though the Giants-Dodgers rivalry gets snubbed by the East Coast-controlled media, which claims their Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees rivalry stands alone as baseball’s best.

Not true.

Granted, the Red Sox pulled off the unfathomable feat of beating out the Yankees for the American League pennant last season ” and tension between the two prosperous clubs could have been sliced with a knife. But one year of triumph does not erase a century of Yankee domination.

The World Series appearance marked the fifth for the Red Sox, and the win was the first. The Yankees have made 38 appearances, and have won 26 times. Although the dislike is strong on both sides, the words “jealousy” and “supremacy” more accurately describe the match-up than “rivalry.”

The Giants and Dodgers have both made 18 World Series appearances. The Dodgers have won six times, the Giants five. Neither was there last year, though, and the Dodgers have not been there since 1988.

Although the rivalry has drifted from the spotlight, it has not been quelled. It’s still among the best in all of sports, and is at least equal to that of the Red Sox and Yankees ” if not, better. It’s “hatred in its purest form,” as John Crowley of the San Francisco Examiner once described it.

The bitter past between the two teams best illustrates the balance of detest.

The Giants-Dodgers rivalry dates back to 1889, when the Brooklyn Dodgers ” actually called the Bridegrooms then ” and New York Giants met in the World Series (the Dodgers were in the American Association).

The Red Sox and Yankees go way back, too. But it can be said that the rivalry began 15 years later, in 1904, during a tight pennant race between the two in which the Red Sox edged the Yankees in the last game of the season to go on to the World Series.

Then there was the “Curse of the Bambino,” which came about when the Sox traded a youthful Babe Ruth. However absurd the curse may seem, it appeared to be in full effect until finally broken last season.

The rich history behind the Giants-Dodgers rivalry is second to none, and the clubs have matched up better over the years. Neither has ever dominated the other for an extended period of time, like, say, 100 years. The two clubs even moved to California together in 1958, keeping the rivalry intact while bringing Major League Baseball to the West Coast.

Bostonians and New Yorkers are always geared for a quarrel when it comes to talking about their baseball teams, but go to SBC Park or Dodger Stadium and a fight between opposing fans is likely. And that’s on the West Coast, where folks are supposed to be chill.

During a 1992 Giants-Dodgers game I attended, Darryl Strawberry crushed a home run into the upper deck of Candlestick Park, giving the Dodgers the lead. A Dodgers fan a few rows behind us sprung to his feet and began cheering ecstatically, rotating 360 degrees to flaunt his glee to the silenced crowd.

A nearby Giants fan took notice of the taunts and told the guy to sit down and shut his mouth ” or something like that.

Words were exchanged and the two met in the aisle for a scuffle. A stadium employee rushed to the scene, escorted the Dodgers fan to the parking lot and allowed the Giants fan to return to his seat.

The crowd applauded. Justice was served.

Sure, the same type of event is just as likely to happen at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, but those New Englanders ” and I’ve been to New York ” are naturally combative. There’s likely to be a fight anywhere, anytime, for any reason back there.

Fights between beer-guzzling fans is one thing; brawls among players is another. And both sets of rivaling clubs have had more than a few on-field scraps. But never has a fight been more brutal than the 1965 altercation that began with Giants pitcher Juan Marichal and Dodgers catcher John Roseboro.

Marichal, in a duel with Sandy Koufax, knocked down Ron Fairly and Maury Wills with brush-back pitches. When Marichal stepped to the plate, Roseboro buzzed his ear on the toss back to Koufax. After a second buzz, Marichal turned and clobbered Roseboro in the head with his bat, opening a gash in the catcher’s skull and igniting a brawl that lasted 14 minutes.

Fights in baseball are common occurrences, though. What really fuels a rivalry is being knocked out of post season contention by an archenemy. How often do the Red Sox prevent the Yankees from going to the playoffs? In 1948 they did, and that was the last time.

The Giants and Dodgers on the other hand have done it to each other on numerous occasions. The foes are often pitted against each other for the final series of the regular season, thus setting up an opportunity to spoil one another’s playoff aspirations.

The most famous spoiler came in 1951 when Bobby Thompson hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning ” “the shot heard ’round the world” ” to swipe the pennant from the Dodgers.

Just last year those Dodgers dogs prevented the Giants from going to playoffs by beating them in the penultimate series of the season.

Similar showdowns have fittingly ended seasons while thwarting one or the other’s playoff hopes in 1959, ’62, ’65, ’66, ’71, ’82, ’91, ’93, ’97, 2000 and 2001.

But the Red Sox did send the Yankees packing last year from the American League Championship Series, and earned the right as the best team money could buy.

So, maybe now that the curse has been snapped, the match-up won’t be so lopsided. Then the rivalry can be compared to that of the Giants and Dodgers.

Sylas Wright is the Sierra Sun sports editor. Reach him at swright@sierrasun.com


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