Whether you bleed orange and black, or Dodger blue, it’s fun to rib your buddy about the game, the standings, or in my case, make a friendly lunch wager on each series. My best wager to date involved the loser of the season match-ups having to put the other team bumper sticker on their car, and the winner got to buy the sticker. I searched the web for days for the largest Giants sticker I could buy.
Unfortunately in recent years there has been a rise in violence at games. On opening day in 2011, Giants fan Bryan Stow was attacked and beaten inside Dodger Stadium, to the extent of him suffering brain damage and losing much of his motor skills. On Sept. 19, 2003, Dodger fan Pete Marron shot and killed Giants fan Marc Antenorcruz, in the second known murder due to the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. The incident brought national attention to the storied “Rivalry games.” The following week the two teams met on the field as a show of solidarity and pleaded for peace between their fans.
I was taught to respect the player, but “hate” the team. How can you not respect such Dodger greats as MLB Man of the Year Clayton Kershaw, a marvel at his craft and one of the game’s best examples for young fans, or Tommy Lasorda, who I believe would have been the game’s greatest commissioner. Our own Dusty Baker wore the blue and led the Dodgers in many a win during his playing days against the Giants.
The list goes on and on, but in the end it’s about respect. Just as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is teaching All-Star Yasiel Puig to respect the game, (and I’m worried at the thought of how good he may become), we must respect one another. Sure, we can have our fun, but in the end, it’s only a game. And we can still keep the rivalry going strong while respecting one another and appreciating our passion for the game.
I recently attended my first game in 30 years at Chavez Ravine. I took my oldest son, who I might add also bleeds orange and black, and he had the opportunity to interview Giants players about the storied rivalry and what it meant to them.
“Growing up a Giants fan, it was somewhat surreal for me to put on the uniform and play my first game against the Dodgers,” said shortstop Brandon Crawford. “I keep thinking of all the guys that played before me and all the games I had watched growing up, and I'll never forget how nervous and excited I was. But by the second inning, it was just a game, and I had to put it out of my head and focus.”
“It’s definitely a different feel,” outfielder Hunter Pence said. “You want to get up for a game but sometimes its a struggle to get there and you don’t come out focused as you should until later in the game. There’s no problem getting up for these games, you’re ready the minute you show up to the park.”
As of late, I am pleased to say things have been roses and trophies for the Giants, at least every other year. With World Series wins in 2010, 2012, and 2014 - and this being an even year, let’s say the Vegas odds are stacked in their favor. So yes, they have fulfilled one of my requests, three times, and I will pass away a happy man.
Baseball is “just a game” to some, but to others, they’re the only games that matter. If you’re having a down season, a series win against the Dodger blue can make the hurt go away. Better yet, a chance to play spoiler in the closing weeks of the season can make your season, even if your team’s on vacation once October comes around.
So go have fun with that Rivalry. Milk it for all you can. What better way to spend an afternoon with your son or daughter watching Mad Bum duel against Kershaw, or Puig and Pence patrolling the outfield. And while you’re at it, share some of the facts with them that have made this one of, if not the greatest, rivalries in baseball.
Click the following link for part one of this story about baseball’s greatest rivalry: http://www.sierrastar.com/2016/06/22/79524/giants-dodgers-baseballs-greatest.html .