Giants/Dodgers series preview

Kevork Djansezian

This should have been the series, man. This should have been the series.

The 2014 schedule was just released. The first thing I did was scan September to see what the Giants were up against. It's habit. There's a Dodgers series. Maybe that'll be the series, man. Maybe that'll be the series. That's what I thought about this series when the schedule was released last year.

Re-read this series preview from last year if you're made of time. The Giants had just lost Melky Cabrera, and the Dodgers wouldn't become Norman Van Peegold for another week. The series meant something. Everything, really. And the Giants went into Los Angeles down by a half-game and swept the Dodgers. Bumgarner, Lincecum, Cain all won their games. Series like that are why you watch sports.

Here we are, then. This should have been the spiritual successor to that series. The Giants should be going into Los Angeles looking for something. They should be looking for wins in a taut divisional race. They should be looking for revenge or to humiliate. At the very least, they should be looking to be the spoiler. Joe Morgan, Joe Morgan, Joe Morgan, and Salomon Torres was a myth that everyone made up, like Keyser Soze.

Instead, here's the to-do list:

  • Don't get swept
  • Don't look like jackasses
  • Don't be the team that has to sit there and watch the Dodgers celebrate
  • Don't get hurt
  • Get Nick Noonan some at-bats or whatever look I don't know

Next year. September of next year, man. That'll be the series. Bronson Arroyo vs. Masahiro Tanaka will be a fantastic match-up. Ryan Ludwick will be coming off the DL, and he'll provide some needed power, alright. That's gonna be the series. This year, what, the Giants can hurt the Dodgers' chances at home-field advantage? Wheeeeeeee.

Except, here's something to remember: Dodgers series aren't a part of the normal ecosystem. They exist beyond team success and failure in any given year. Good seasons, bad seasons, miserable seasons, whatever. You don't need a reason to get silly and fired up for a Dodgers series. There doesn't need to be a reason to watch and root. There doesn't need to be a division on the line. There doesn't need to be a playoff chance to spoil.

Mike-marshall_medium

There just need to be a bunch of horrible people in blue uniforms. I mean, look at Orel Hershiser in that clip. That kind of sidekicky "yeah, c'mon fellas, we showed 'em good, right, boss, we showed 'em, right?" look is straight out of a '50s movie. His collar is even flipped. HIS COLLAR IS EVEN FLIPPED.

In conclusion, man, I can't stand Orel Hershiser. Or the Dodgers. But that's what makes these things so great. Remember the Sam and Ralph cartoons from Looney Tunes? I'm not going to suggest the Giants/Dodgers rivalry is like that, because it's not. If they tried to clock in at the same time, Yasiel Puig would bite Hunter Pence, who would reflexively sting Puig in the neck.

No, Sam and Ralph exchanging pleasantries is like the Giants cruising along with Padres Diamondbacks Padres Rockies Diamondbacks Padres Rockies-related meaningless for a couple months. It's part of the routine. It's done because it has to be done, and it's pleasant enough. But once you clock in with a Dodgers series, that's when the ACME products start exploding. It doesn't matter what's happened in the weeks, months, or years before.

Okay, it matters a little. That stuff can certainly add to the story or excitement of a given Dodgers series. Let's not pretend that this series means as much as the one in Los Angeles last August. But a close race isn't necessary to make it an important series. Since the '70s, it's almost been the default that one of the teams is up, and one of them is down. Since 1970, here are the years where the Giants and Dodgers have been in direct competition for a playoff spot late in the season:

1971
1978
1982
1990
1994
1997
2000
2001
2002
2004
2012

The default has been, "Say, this season sure has been a turd, but at least we can beat those guys" for both teams for the last 40 years. That's the foundation of the Giants/Dodgers rivalry in recent decades. The seasons like 2012 are the memorable parts of the rivalry, but they're also the rare ones.

So remember:

  • Don't get swept
  • Don't look like jackasses
  • Don't be the team that has to sit there and watch the Dodgers celebrate
  • Don't get hurt
  • Get Nick Noonan some at-bats or whatever look I don't know
  • Beat LA
  • Beat LA
  • Beat LA

Pretty much. Don't screw this up like everything else this year, you goofballs.

Hitter to watch
The last time the Giants saw the Dodgers, it was Puigmania all over the place. He was hitting .400, with homers in every other at-bat. It was gross. Compelling. But gross.

Since then: .297/.385/.480 with eight home runs in 202 at-bats. That's more reasonable. But check out that on-base percentage. That's a Skynet-is-self-aware level of ruh-roh. I was having a lot of fun comparing Puig to Jeff Francoeur, but then the Giants actually got the real Jeff Francoeur and Puig started laying off pitches in the dirt. Lesson learned.

Pitcher to watch
Ricky Nolasco is a right-handed Clayton Kershaw now, I guess, and he's a free agent, so the Giants just might do something pretty stupid in the offseason. I'd almost rather the Giants rough up Nolasco than Kershaw, just for that reason.

Prediction
The Giants don't win the NL West this year

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