San Francisco Giants-LA Dodgers: Baseball's Most Storied Rivalry is Back

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IAugust 6, 2009

With the San Francisco Giants literally chasing the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West Crown, it is important to note how long it has been since both teams were in playoff contention. The last time both franchises were a top the division at this point in the season or later, was back in 2004.

Baseball has had to wait five full seasons before its most storied rivalry was reborn. And thanks to Dodger third baseman Casey Blake's immature mockery of Giants closer Brian Wilson, there may be a little extra emotion when the bums arrive to AT&T Park on Monday.

The Giants and Dodgers haven't gone head-to-head since May 10 when the Giants took two-out-of-three in Los Angeles. In the final game of the series, Casey Blake hit a game tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and then proceeded to imitate Brian Wilson's patented save gesture in the Dodger dugout.

Wilson, and the rest of the Giants didn't make a big deal out of it a the time, but don't think for a second that they have forgotten what Blake did.

Whether or not anything comes to fruition in terms of revenge or dugouts clearing is anybody's guess but the last time the Giants and Dodgers had a legitimate on field scuffle was back in that 2004 season.

Former Giant Michael Tucker got heated up when former Dodger closer Eric Gagne came in high and tight with a pitch. Not only that, but Tucker also shoved Dodgers pitcher Jeff Weaver out of his way when Weaver didn't stop his momentum from going into the baseline after stepping on the first-base bag.

But now it is 2009, and the attention seeking Michael Tucker is gone but Jeff Weaver is still around, so who knows what may happen! However, all kidding aside, the upcoming Giants/Dodgers series is going to be one of the great stories for baseball.

Assuming the Giants continue their stellar play at home, the Giants will most likely be no less than 5.5 games back of the first-place Dodgers when the rivalry is renewed on Monday. Hopefully, the east coast bias that is ESPN fully covers this series because this rivalry is arguably greater than that of Yankees/Red Sox.

Unfortunately for Giants and Dodgers fans, both teams haven't been this good in a long time and fans around the league have been enamored with "the Sox and the Yanks."

However, the general baseball fan base may not realize that the Giants-Dodgers rivalry dates back further than the Yankees and Red Sox. The first true rivalry on the east coast was that of the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Names like Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Mel Ott, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda all come to mind when you think of the history in the Giants/Dodgers rivalry.

Plus, you can add in the "shot heard around the world," when Bobby Thompson's home run clinched the 1951 pennant for the Giants and it is clear that not a single rivalry is more storied and cherished than that of Dodgers-Giants.

In fact, despite the fact that the Yankees have 26 World Series titles, many people aren't aware that the San Francisco Giants lay claim to the most hall of famers of any team in baseball. The names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Reggie Jackson are not enough to overcome the Giants for most hall of famers.

In fact, the earliest season in which a Yankee hall-of-famer played for the bronx bombers was in 1903. Meanwhile, 14 different Giants hall of famers played in games prior to 1903, including 11 who played during the 19th century. Not only that but five of the 11 played for the organization back in the team's inaugural year of 1883.

Along with holding claim to the most hall-of-famers, the Giants organization has won more games than any other team in baseball and their rivalry with the Dodgers has been on going since both teams were established in the New York area back in 1883.

Meanwhile, the reason the Yankees don't have any hall of famers who played in the 19th century is because neither them nor the Boston Red Sox were established until 1901.

Therefore, neither Yankees or Red Sox fans can lay claim to the oldest and most storied rivalry in baseball. And in spite of the fact both American League franchises have been in the playoff hunt for eight straight seasons, the Giants/Dodgers rivalry still reigns supreme.

Not only is the rivalry the most storied, but it is prime to extend it's superiority over the Yanks/Sox. With the current group of youngsters on both the Giants and Dodgers, it is certainley no fluke that the teams sit one-two atop the division.

Young studs such as Tim Lincecum, Chad Billingsly, Matt Cain, Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Kemp, Jonathan Sanchez, James Loney, Nate Schierholtz, Russell Martin, Brian Wilson, Jonathan Broxton, Madison Bumgarner, Ivan DeJesus Jr, and Buster Posey make the future of this rivalry incredibly bright.

With both teams already in playoff contention despite the core of both clubs being incredibly young, it is safe to say that baseball's best rivalry is back and will be in full force for years to come.


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