Tonight will be the first time in MLB history we see the Dodgers and Giants compete in the postseason. For such a storied rivalry, it’s crazy to think that in the year 2021, there’s still something new for these franchises to experience with one another. Sure, there are some discrepancies like the 1889 World Series which saw the New York Giants take down the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (later called the Dodgers), and the 1951 (Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”) and 1962 seasons that saw the Dodgers and Giants compete in a best-of-three series to determine the National League pennant winner after both teams finished those regular seasons tied. None of those instances really count though.
The first instance happened before the “modern era” of baseball started in 1901 (when the American League was established), and before the first World Series between the winners of the American and National Leagues took place in 1903. The second and third instances would count if those three-game sets were considered part of the playoffs. However, since they were tied at the end of the regular season, those series and their statistics are counted for in MLB’s regular season record books.
Therefore, if you just squint a little bit, tonight will be the first time in history the Dodgers and Giants face off in the playoffs, and that’s nuts. Not because these two teams have never competed, there are dozens of matchups in each league that have never happened in the postseason. What’s astonishing about the Giants and Dodgers lack of playoff moments is how these two teams have managed to maintain one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports, arguably the second-greatest rivalry in baseball (Yankees-Red Sox is still the best), without any postseason moments. How?
Is it just regular season shenanigans that have carried these teams’ hatred for one another, such as Bonds hitting home run number 73 off the Dodgers’ Dennis Springer in 2001? Or Madison Bumgarner’s feuds with both Yasiel Puig and Max Muncy? Is it because of the history of the two teams from nearly 50 years ago coupled with the fact that both teams moved West at nearly the same time? Is it just a product of the disdain SoCal and NorCal have for each other? Is it because of ugly fan moments such as the Bryan Stow incident?
As much as this might seem like a copout, it’s a combination of everything with an emphasis on regular season races such as 1982, 1993, 1997, and now 2021. It’s not like the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry where we’ve seen such iconic moments as Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, Boston’s epic 3-0 comeback in the 2004 ALCS, Pedro Martinez tossing Don Zimmer to the ground. All of these moments happened in the postseason within two years of one another. On the biggest stage MLB can offer for two American League teams, we saw epic moments between two franchises who hated one another. The Dodgers and Giants have never had something similar, and yet the hatred remains.
As someone who was born and raised in California, I’ve seen both sides of this rivalry. I’ve heard all the arguments for both sides. I’ve seen several people go nuts trying to defend one team or the other.
It’s beautiful, and I can’t wait to see this rivalry taken to the next level tonight.