On Friday night, the Dodgers clinched the National League West for the fifth straight season. They amassed on the mound, excited, but not overwhelmed, as they had been there before and before and they plan to be there again and again. During the game, one of their great young players, someone who is the envy of the league, set an NL record for rookie home runs. The home crowd got to stand and cheer as their closer calmly struck out the side, all looking, to win a division crown that has been theirs since June.
On Friday night, Pablo Sandoval hit a home run, and Giants fans got to wonder if he could be the next Conor Gillaspie.
Hey, dream big, that’s my motto.
It’s so perfectly 2017 that even when the Dodgers screw up, it hurts the Giants. The Dodgers should have clinched this game a long time ago. They were supposed to threaten the 2001 Mariners. They were the new 1998 Yankees. Except they couldn’t stop losing, which was really funny. They had their longest losing streak since moving to Los Angeles, which meant they couldn’t clinch the division.
Then they played the Giants and won a series.
Then they kept losing, and it was still funny. They lost a series against the Phillies, who are probably playing Tommy Joseph at second base by now, I have no idea. The important part is that the Dodgers were losing again, and it was still funny.
Then they played the Giants, and they’re probably going to win this series, too.
The Giants are the Washington Generals in this relationship, then. As Cody Bellinger is twirling balls around his fingertips, the Giants are shocked, befuddled, and desperately waiting for the buzzer to sound. If you think this purple prose is bad, you should see what I would have written if they didn’t sweep the Rockies.
Sorry, it’s a natural reflex. The Dodgers clinched the division against the Giants for the third time in four years, and that disgusts me. My only remedy is to move the goalposts a little bit and note that they’ve really clinched the division against the Giants for the third time in five years. Three times in five years! You clinched the division against the Giants three times in five years! That’s adorable. Really, really adorable. You sure got us. [tousles hair]
At the same time, it still sucks, and a nostalgia smoothie isn’t going to change that. There’s still a severed toe in the nostalgia smoothie. Someone get the manager. This isn’t right.
As for the game, you’re never going to believe it, but Jeff Samardzija gave up a home run at the wrong time. I actually checked his home run log (29 now!) to see if he was giving up a disproportionate amount of three-run homers. He was not. He’s given up as many runs with his home runs as linear weights suggests he should. He’s just giving up a whole bunch.
Would we notice if the Giants could score more than two runs? Probably not. Someone pitching like Samardzija on the Astros would be a delight. Hey, another 6-4 win! As is, he’s a homer-prone pitcher on a homer-averse team, which is a poisonous cocktail.
I was so hopeful for a little bit. Gorkys Hernandez was playing small ball, and it was working. He bunted, swiped a base, and got a great read on Buster Posey’s single up the middle. It was the only good thing the Giants did until Sandoval hit a bet-you-wish-this-was-in-a-one-run-game special, but for a minute it seemed like the best way to poke the Dodgers in the nose again.
Instead, they celebrated on the mound, as they do. As the Giants haven’t done for a few years. As the Dodgers tend to do when they’re playing the Giants. It’s gross, but maybe the Giants should play better? Still workshopping that idea.
Here’s a fun fact: The last time the Giants clinched something against the Dodgers was 1962, when they stormed back and won the pennant. Since then, they’ve won eight division titles. None of them were clinched against the Dodgers. Six of those division crowns were clinched against the Padres, which, let’s admit it, is funny to both Giants and Dodgers fans alike. But it never happens against the Dodgers. The Giants haven’t had their Steve Finley moment.
It’s coming. That’s all I can offer. It’s coming. The Dodgers had championships in the ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘80s while the Giants played in a concrete latrine, and the only solace was the idea that it was coming. And then it got here, and it was fun. One of these days, the Giants will get their rub-it-in moment against their blood rivals, and then they’ll get it again and again.
Until then, the Dodgers won the National League West in front of the Giants, which is something they do just about every year. If the Giants don’t like it, they can play better.