I often think about what it would have been like to get home from work on October 2, 2004, and have the Giants/ Dodgers game waiting for me on DVR. I didn't have a DVR back then, and I also worked with a Giants fan who wouldn't have been able to shut up about the score, so it wasn't a possibility. But for some reason, I have this image of me watching the Steve Finley game alone, at night, well after it happened. It haunts me.
Instead, I heard about it secondhand a couple of minutes after it happened. That took some of the sting away. I read the play-by-play account shortly after, and I had to imagine the pain of the Cody Ransom error. The frustration at Dustin Hermanson walking Robin Ventura to bring the tying run to the plate. The sense of dread when Wayne Franklin came into the game. I didn't go through it at the time. That's probably why I've forced myself to invent this weird scenario with me watching the game unfold like I was opening a neatly wrapped package filled with live and bitey mosquitos.
That was the last time there was a Giants/Dodgers series. Like a Giants/Dodgers series. A head-on collision between two rivals. The kind of thing that spawns one-name descriptions of how things ended up. Joe Morgan. Brian Johnson. Steve Finley.
Man, it just had to be Steve Finley, slut of the NL West, didn't it?
Maybe this isn't quite right -- that there was a series in 2009 or 2010 that might have qualified. Heck, the Giants were just four games back during the Dodgers series earlier this season. But the other seasons didn't have a close race between just the Giants and Dodgers. There were other teams messing around in there. And earlier this year, we didn't have any idea what the Giants were really like. Angel Pagan was still a dud. Brett Pill was playing, and Aubrey Huff was the first left-handed bat off the bench. It didn't feel like a contending team in the same way it does now.
So I'll stand my proclamation that this is a Giants/Dodgers series, and it's the first one for a while. The kind that makes your stomach feel like you had six Irish coffees on an empty stomach. Say, that's exactly how mine feels like right now! What a coincidence. It's a different feeling from Giants/Dodgers series in the recent past. This is how it should be, of course. The Giants should always be playing the Dodgers in a series where one team can catch up to the other one in first place.
I sure as hell wasn't expecting it, though. I thought the Dodgers were going to be awful this year. Had 'em pegged for last place. Figured that James Loney was going to continue being dreadful, that Dee Gordon and Juan Uribe were going to tank, Juan Rivera was going to clomp and flail, and that Chad Billingsley was going be maddeningly inconsistent. And that's exactly what happened. But Chris Capuano has been one of the best starters in baseball, A.J. Ellis is a catching Joe Morgan, and they even have Bobby Abreu doing that Pat Burrell thing for them, albeit with fewer penicillin shots.
They're scuffling a bit, though. They've lost five of their last six, and they're 6-9 since sweeping Philadelphia on the road. Like that makes you feel better. I mean, it does in a general sense, but it shouldn't make you feel better about this series. Momentum is as good as the next Barry Zito pitch to the backstop. I'm thrilled that the Dodgers aren't doing well lately. But this series still scares the absolute hell out of me.
And that's kind of the point, isn't it? There was a naive time when I thought watching baseball was supposed to be fun. All fun and games, as the saying goes. All silly grabass and chuckles, as the Melville quote goes. Just something to keep you occupied. A hobby or an interest to help you have fun. Good ol' baseball.
Except this isn't fun. The anticipation is killing me. And because I'm a sad little man, of course I'm thinking more about Steve Finley than Brian Johnson right now. I go into a dark spot before every Giants/Dodgers series.
I've come to the conclusion that Giants/Dodgers series can only be fun in retrospect. One of my favorite games of all-time was the Barry Bonds 500th-homer game. But that's with the benefit of hindsight. While it was going on, in the ninth inning, with Gary Sheffield up as the possible go-ahead run, I'm pretty sure I would have pushed an eject button. A big red button that would have shot me through the cockpit of baseball fandom, where I'd land in the dewey meadow of stamp collecting or some crap.
So I'm not looking forward to this. Ask me in a few days if I was looking forward to this. If I say "Yeah, of course I was!" that'll be because I'm a liar. But it will also be because good things will have happened.
I've determined that I'd like good things to happen.
Hitter to watch
Hey! Juan Uribe is playing again. That gives us an excuse to drag out all of our old Juan Uribe pictures and GIFs.
I like that one because it's like Uribe's such a force of nature he's shaking the camera with his footsteps. Or maybe Broxton was backing up. Either way, it's poetry.
Pitcher to watch
Dammit, seriously, Kershaw again? Can't the Giants miss him just once? So annoying.
I guess he's the guy to watch. Or don't. Hell, I don't care. Just don't understand what was so wrong with Billy Rowell.
Antacids. No idea why I take this stuff seriously. It's a game, dammit. A silly game. And yet, here we are, taking this stuff really, really seriously. Giants and Dodgers. Whoooooop.