There was a time before “3 in 5” when rooting for the Giants was all about rooting for “just good enough” most of the time with BEAT LA moments peppered in — the thing about Dodgers series, though, were that they were mostly all we had on a consistent basis. The Giants have historically been one of baseball’s most successful teams, but over the past 30 or so years, that historic level of success has never really appeared.
Being competitive? Sure. Interesting at time? Maybe. So “3 in 5” was a spurt, perhaps more of an outlier — and, if true, more of an outlier than it ought to be, given the team’s resources and the fan interest — but it didn’t take away from the one constant that’s remained: the Dodgers get no quarter. The Dodgers must lose. The Dodgers loss is a Giants fan’s gain.
That’s just the way it is. It’s the way it ought to be.
But let’s admit that winning a bunch of championships this decade has satisfied a bit of that hunger that was always 10-15% of those BEAT LA chants. We’re a bit more content and pleased the Dodgers haven’t been able to match that level of success. That’s schadenfreude but, like, non-urgent schadenfreude. Joy from other’s misfortunes really feels heightened when you have less going for you.
Now the Giants have nothing going for them and the Dodgers are supposed to be the richest, most perfectest team to have ever existed. They are built to last. They should be up for their fourth consecutive World Series. Instead, they have to play out the string, plunge their uniforms into the fog, and debase themselves by playing a Giants team that presently features the worst offense in the entire history of its franchise.
The 1982 wasn’t much better than the 2018 squad. Their team OPS was just .703 (2018’s is .671), although close to league average (98 OPS+; 2018’s is 85). They did go 20-7 in September, making the final weekend critical, but the Dodgers eliminated them from playoff contention by taking the first two games of the series. The Giants just had to win one to return the favor.
You know they did — you might not know or remember that the crowd was pumped up. These are your baseball “ancestors”. You might have even been in that crowd! If you’re going to the game tonight or any game this weekend (tickets available through StubHub, of course) and you’re going because you want to see the Giants knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs — okay, 50% that and 50% saying goodbye to Pence and the rest of the team — you need to know that this is the legacy you have to live up to: you must be like the roar of the 1982 crowd.
Thanks to modern technology, reliving the past is very easy. Here’s the entire 1982 game:
If this embed works, then I’ve conveniently set you up for the final two outs of the game. Otherwise, jump to 2:53:28 to start at Ron Roenicke’s at bat (there’s already one out). First, you won’t believe the strike one call Greg Minton got. Second, you can hear the BEAT LA chants start up and build to a frenzy quickly and feel Vin Scully start broadcasting on his heels and really capturing that impending sense of doom for the Dodgers.
Joe Morgan’s three-run home run actually happens in the bottom of the seventh inning, starting at the 2:26:05 point in the video. There is pain and catharsis, joy and disbelief. The crowd became a single entity, feeding off of the individual happiness and the team-wide pain of the Dodgers.
This was a transformative moment for a lot of Giants fans who’d grown up during the SF era’s first really long stretch of nothingness / doldrums. This was the root of the pettiness that sustained the franchise for 27 years after that until the team finally won a World Series of its own.
I could argue that one of the other tremendous moments of unbridled joy in San Francisco history before any World Series were won happened in Game 2 of the 2000 NLDS, when J.T. Snow hit the game-tying 3-run home run off of eventual Giants closer Armando Benitez; but that game ended with an extra innings loss. This game where Joe Morgan hit a home run to knock the Dodgers out of the postseason had the Dodgers getting knocked out of the postseason.
We don’t know how long the Giants will hibernate from a competition standpoint, but if they can pull off a miracle this weekend, it can be the fourth trophy of the decade.