Yes, the very same Dodgers that swung for the fences with their payroll only to watch the Giants form a DYNASTY. Los Angeles, the city in which I reside, is a bit of a baseball conundrum. Dodger network is only available on Time Warner, and most Dodger fans have DirecTV. MLB.tv doesn't allow subscribers to view the game online due to regional restrictions, so most of us are left with either radio, a trip to the local pub, or highlights. It's a damn shame for such a storied rivalry.
Anyway, I'm surrounded by Dodger fans here, and I was rather candid that they had a good shot at sweeping the Giants in San Francisco this week. Naturally, the opposite happened, so good-natured gloating has been the soup du jour these past few days.
No, the Giants didn't dominate their rivals. They won with timely hits, clutch pitching and defense, and a little luck. And while standings mean nothing yet, 3.0 GB looks better than 6.0 GB.
Beating the Dodgers feels good for a lot of reasons. Sure, there's the history of the rivalry and the division to consider. But more than anything, it's the fact that the Dodgers tried to win a title by outspending everybody only to watch us win three, and it feels good to rub that in their faces. But now they've finally wised up and tried to field a team with top flight prospects they smartly retained, core stars, and good free agent pick ups. It reeks of the Giant Way, only with a hell of a lot more money and self-importance.
You see, the Dodgers have future All-Stars in young studs Joc Pederson and Cory Seager. They have an elite rotation. They have superstar veterans like Adrian Gonzalez, wily veterans like Jimmie Rollins, and international stars like Yasiel Puig. And they have an endless amount of money to spend to fill whatever needs should arise. In short, they are the ideal model for a franchise - minus the championships, of course - which makes the Giants' recent run all the more amazing. Dodger fans can't wrap their head around it. They can't comprehend how they did everything possible to put together a winner only to watch an inferior team (on paper) blow past them en route to what is verging on Team of the Decade accolades. And everyone is just waiting for the other shoe to drop - the moment when the Dodgers turn into late 90's Yankees and start making mince meat out of the entire league.
That may still happen. Then again, 162 games make for a long season, and the Cardinals should make the playoffs again. Puig quipped that the Cards are the Dodgers' true rivals since St. Louis has ended LA's season continuously, disregarding the fact that the Giants were winning titles along the way.
I suppose it's only fitting that the first series between the two teams featured a sweep at the hands of the Giants to remind the Dodgers who their principal rivals, and the defending champions, are... again. And perhaps the Giants have the Dodgers to thank for it. After all, the Giants were hitting well below .150 with runners in scoring position, and the pitching - while better than expected - was shaky at best. Defensively, they were careless to an alarming degree, and it was becoming fair to wonder if the Giants' season was ending before it ever got started.
Then came the Dodgers, and the Giants woke up and remembered who they were. The pitching stepped up, The batters got hits when they needed them. The defense shined. And the Giants thrilled a loyal fan base who had suffered long enough during this bleak opening stretch by rewarding them with two walk-off wins agains their storied rivals.
The Giants were never going to be as bad as they were before, and they likely won't be as good as they seem now, so it really will be a season of guessing all the way until September, barring any surprises. But this Dynasty was defined by starting pitching, and the Giants received steady work from their rotation in this series. There are still questions about all 5 (6?) members, but a sweep is a sweep.
And really, despite the still lingering euphoria of winning a third title in five years, it still feels grand to stick it to the Dodgers 3 games to none.
Especially when you live behind enemy lines.
- Brandon Hicks, Mike Morse, Melky Cabrera, and... Justin Maxwell? Yep, Maxwell is the latest unheralded Giant to give the team the shot in the arm they need to get going at the beginning of the season. No one knows how long Maxwell will keep asserting himself into the lineup, or whether he'll even be on the team in August. But for now, it's a charming story so let's all enjoy it while it lasts. Two walk-offs at home against the Dodgers? That's a career right there.
- Crawford and Panik (Crawnik?) better be doing this at AT&T Park for years to come. What a treat to watch the glove work in action.
- Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, and Madison Bumgarner. Quality starts can lead to wins after all.
- The bullpen gave a few scares, but they closed it down when it mattered.
- The Giants swept the Dodgers. Let's not rain on this parade (although Casey McGehee is certainly not helping his cause, even if Bochy will give him literally a few more weeks of rope to get it right)
- I'll be attending a game here in LA, where I suppose I should brace myself for a sweep. I'll probably even proclaim it's likely.
It worked the first time, didn't it?