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This is the most meaningful September Giants-Dodgers series in a decade


Jason O. Watson

The Giants have played 86 games against the Dodgers since the start of the 2010 season. That's 86 times you had that feeling in your stomach. You know, that feeling, the feeling in your stomach that's somewhere between an 8-year-old opening a birthday present and the slow decay of gas station sushi. There might be a human head in that 8-year-old's box, you know.

What do you think the Giants' record is in those 86 games? Remember, Clayton Kershaw started 85 of them, if memory serves. I'll give you a moment to think. Maybe play some music in the background for you. There. `

47-39. They've won more than they've lost. They haven't lost a season series against the Dodgers since Brad Penny was in the Giants rotation and Ryan Garko was playing first. You're nervous and jittery right now, and for good reason. But it's not a nervous and jittery that's coming from overwhelmingly unpleasant experiences, like a test subject grabbing the electric cookie one too many times. It's a nervous and jittery that comes with the spectrum of possibilities. You could be really, really dejected by the end of Sunday, you know.

You could also be really, really happy. Welcome to the reason you follow this stupid sport.

It's strange to think of just how rare this is, this meaningful September series against the Dodgers. It's not like either team has had an extended stretch of cellar-dwelling -- other than a couple down years, both of them have been mostly fine, often at the same time. And yet when they get to September, one of the two teams has meandered off somewhere. In reverse-chronological order:

2013: Giants bad. Bad Giants!
2012: Dodgers 4½ back by first Sept. series, eight back by second
2011: Giants five back with nine games to go
2010: Dodgers 10½ back
2009: Giants 6½ back
2008: Giants awful
2007: Ugh, stupid Giants
2006: Barf
2005: Miss u Barry
2004: I don't even know if these two teams played that year
2003: Giants up 13 games!
2002: Both teams tied for wild card before both series
2001: Both teams still in contention before first series (Giants 2½ behind AZ; Dodgers 4½)
2000: Giants up nine games

This is the first time since 2004 that the Giants have played a truly meaningful series against the Dodgers in September. And before you pass out, please make note of just how much fun you're having.

Take a gander at the '70s, that barren Maysless stretch of Astroturf horrors. The decade started off okay, with a little give and take, but once the players from the Dodgers' 1968 draft developed, the Giants went the other direction. For most of the '70s, the Giants were a garden hose on fire, and everyone watching them were extra sad because the garden hose was what they needed to put the fire out. From 1977 through 1979, the Giants were 15-39 against the Dodgers. Imagine that. This explains why the Joe Morgan home run was such a big moment in franchise history, just three years later.

Stupid Dodgers.

Anyway, the point: We're probably here, in the beginning or middle of another Golden Era of Giants-Dodgers rivalry relations. The '60s were rotten with these things. The '70s were just rotten. The '80s had both teams bouncing around, but rarely on the same page, and the '90s had Brian Johnson but little else as far as direct, late-season competition. The '00s you see up there.

This should be the time, then. The Rockies are one of the most miserable franchises in professional sports right now, and it's hard to see the Diamondbacks and Padres becoming immediately relevant.  This is probably a late-season matchup that will happen a couple times over the next few years, but we already know that it's happening in 2014. Every year, when the schedules are released, our eyes dart straight to September to see when the Dodgers series is, and we wonder just what it would be like if the two teams were in an honest-to-goodness pennant race at the time.

Here you go. It feels like this. Kershaw on Sunday, everyone. Kershaw on Sunday.

The Giants will either be five games out, three games out, one game out, or one game ahead at the end of this series. Before it starts, though, try not to think of that. Just think of how damned lucky we are to be in a position to watch this in the first place. A late-season, meaningful Giants-Dodgers matchup comes around like a comet. We should feel lucky.

Unless they lose, because then screw that series.

Win, you idiots. Win.