The San Francisco Giants just completed a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and by this time next week the two teams will be in the middle of another dance. Such is the life in MLB, where divisional foes face off with great regularity.
While the Giants and Dodgers aren’t presently rivals in the competitive sense - Los Angeles is already a cool 17.5 games ahead of San Francisco in the standings, and it’s only June 11 - they’re very much rivals in the traditional sense. In the sense that your heart beats a little faster watching them play. In the sense that you sleep a little better when the Giants beat the Dodgers than when they beat the Marlins. In the sense that the ballpark - be it Oracle Park or Dodger Stadium - has a little more verve.
I live in Los Angeles. One of the things that excited me about moving here was the potential to be caught in the cross-hairs of a rivalry. I looked forward to publicly donning my orange and black garb while passers by hissed or threw negative comments of Madison Bumgarner’s redassery in my direction. I had “1988” queued up on my tongue every time I left my apartment with a hat on.
For the most part, I’ve been pretty disappointed. Perhaps it’s the sprawling nature of the city, but LA doesn’t seem to have the hardcore sports vibe of some metropolises. You wouldn’t really know who their team is without prior knowledge. Truth be told, I get far more Bay Area transplants complimenting my Giants attire than Angelenos sneering at it. In the six years I’ve lived here, only one person has lectured my partner on why they should be ashamed to associate with a person of my immoral nature.
But when the Giants and Dodgers line up to play a few lovely games of baseball, I always rock a few extra pieces of Giants clothing, and it usually elicits a response or two. Usually from Trader Joe’s cashiers, for whatever reason. Friendly bunch, they are.
Many of these dialogues follow the same conversational pattern. It’s almost like an episode of Friends - you know exactly how it’s going to go, the details might just vary a little bit.
Here’s a basic script of the interaction:
Dodgers fan: So you’re a Giants fan, huh?
Dodgers fan: Hey that’s cool. Not your year though.
Me: Ha, no. No. They’re nothing like the Dodgers. I’d sure like to have some of those wins.
Dodgers fan: Yeah, but the wins don’t come when they matter. You guys know how to win in October. The Dodgers suck, man.
Me, internally: Yeah, but
Dodgers fan: Bruce Bochy, man. He’s amazing. I wish we had someone who knew how to win playoff games like that.
Me, internally: Yeah, but
Dodgers fan: And Bumgarner! I mean I hate him, but he actually plays well in important games.
Me, internally: Yeah,but
Me: Well, maybe this year. You’ve got a helluva team.
And then I leave.
This conversation has happened to me countless times. Me, trusty Giants fan, enduring three years of the worst baseball in the league, pining for the daily routine of regularly scheduled wins. Them, loyal Dodgers fan, 100-win seasons in their pockets, yearning for some World Series success, win totals be damned.
It’s good baseball perspective. The (outfield) grass is always greener.