Tim Lincecum leads the Giants' pitching staff
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have had a fierce rivalry dating all the way back to their time in New York. The Giants and Dodgers moved from New York City and Brooklyn respectively, in 1958.
For a rivalry to remain heated, one of two things typically has to happen. First and foremost is competitiveness on the field. The second issue is that players or a manager from one of the two teams act in such a way as to rile up the opposition.
Although the Dodgers will always be a rival and geographically that makes sense, the fact that they're struggling on and off the field has made them more of an after thought.
Let's take a closer look at four clubs that the current Giants dislike, even more than the Dodgers.
Troy Tulowitzki leads the Rockies
Over the past several seasons, the Colorado Rockies have been a front runner for the division title and have stood in the way of the Giants. 2011 has seen the Rockies flounder and this rivalry has lost a little bit of its venom.
Nevertheless, three Rockies have made it tough on the Giants and are thoroughly disliked by them.
Troy Tulowitzki plays hard and is a very tough hitter. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had MVP caliber numbers in 2010, although the award was won by Joey Votto. Seth Smith, another Colorado outfielder has been a thorn in the side of the Giants.
Jack McKeon is on his second stint as Marlins' manager
The Florida Marlins and Scott Cousins are hated by the Giants based on one play. When Scott Cousins barrelled into Giants' star catcher Buster Posey, he became public enemy number one in San Francisco. Posey was severely injured and will not be back until 2012.
The play has been watched and reviewed thousands of times. Posey tried to give Cousins a lane to slide around him, but the throw led Posey back towards the path of Cousins. The throw actually had Cousins beat, so he felt that the only way to score was to run over Posey and dislodge the ball.
Unfortunately, Posey missed the throw, but Cousins was already bearing down on Posey. When he was hit, Posey's ankle bent backwards and sideways and was ripped apart.
Although Cousins had a lane to slide around Posey, he felt he had to run over him to score. Based on the rules of baseball as they stand now, it was a legal play by Cousins.
In addition to the Posey - Cousins fiasco, there have been other issues between these two teams.
Florida starting pitcher Chris Volstad threw inside on his counterpart Ryan Vogelsong three times, finally hitting him. Vogelsong slammed his bat down and glared at Volstad. He also took a step or two towards him but did not charge the mound.
Although the Giants did not retaliate in this game, there may be trouble when these two teams meet again, in 2012.
Florida manager, the 80 year old Jack McKeon, also was very disrespectful to Vogelsong, by talking about his name as "Vogel or Volkswagon or whatever."
McKeon was also sharply critical of manager Bruce Bochy's all-star selections. Bochy chose Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain & Brian Wilson for the NL squad. McKeon openly questioned the judgement of Bochy, especially with the additions of Vogelsong, Lincecum and Sandoval.
Prince Fielder leads the Brewers to the top of the NL Central
Fielder has awesome power and is a threat to hit the ball out of the park any time he comes to the plate. One particular incident immediately created this rivalry.
Fielder hit a big home run against the Giants and as he got to home plate, his teammates gathered round and circled him. Fielder acted like a bowling ball and all the players simultaneously fell to the ground, as if a strike was thrown at the bowling alley.
This premeditated event was very disrespectful to the Giants. Fielder was later hit by Barry Zito in a spring training game. He laughed it off, basically telling the Giants that it didn't even hurt.
Fielder has been hit by Tim Lincecum and also brushed back many times. He takes offense to this and glares at Lincecum whenever the pitcher tries to throw inside to him.
In addition to Fielder, center fielder Nyjer Morgan has added spice to the rivalry. Morgan, and his alter ego Tony Plush, have incited the fans in San Francisco. While in the outfield, Morgan has yelled at Giants' fans and made several hostile gestures towards them.
Morgan has almost instigated a riot all by himself and had an entire sellout crowd at AT&T Park yelling at him. The funny thing is that Morgan is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, but he took great pleasure in inciting the fans.
Shane Victorino tries to get to Ryan Vogelsong after he is hit
Competition has a way of bringing out the best and worst in players. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies last year in the NLCS, on their way to their first World Series victory since 1954.
The Phillies and many in the baseball world figured they were destined for the World Series, until they were over matched by the Giants' stellar pitching and some timely hitting, primarily from NLCS MVP, Cody Ross.
The Phillies and Giants have had several physical and verbal altercations this season already. The Giants do not feel that the Phillies respect them and Philadelphia believes the Giants took something last year that was rightfully theirs.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was critical of Bruce Bochy's all-star selections and also questioned his use of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in that game.
Bochy pitched both Halladay and Lee, but not his stars Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. I give this argument very little credence as Halladay and Lee had better numbers than Lincecum and Cain and therefore, deserved to pitch.
Manuel also has not given the Giants pitching any respect, instead saying that his hitters and their approach was the problem.
Three additional incidents have added fuel to this rivalry. In last years NLCS Jonathan Sanchez hit Chase Utley, who flipped the ball back to Sanchez. Sanchez took offense and the two got into a shouting match, as the benches emptied.
Reliever Jeremy Affeldt came in and shut down the rally and the Giants went on to win a crucial playoff game.
This year, we have seen Jimmy Rollins steal a base with the Phillies leading the Giants 8-2 in the 6th inning. This violated is one of those unwritten baseball rules about showing up your opponent.
That led Ramon Ramirez to hit batter Shane Victorino with the very next pitch. He headed towards the mound but was cut off by the umpire. Victorino made contact with the umpire several times and was ultimately suspended.
Giants' catcher Eli Whiteside wrestled Placido Polanco to the ground after Polanco came running towards him. Meanwhile, Victorino got away from those trying to restrain him and rushed back into the fray. Punches were thrown and it was an ugly situation.
Noted Philadelphia radio personality Tony Bruno tweeted a racial slur about Ramirez being an illegal alien. He took it off right away, but the damage was done. The ironic thing is that Bruno was a regular on the Giants' flagship station KNBR radio. His segment at KNBR was immediately discontinued.
If these two meet in the playoffs, we can expect an extremely hard fought, exciting series. Neither team will back down and Philadelphia will be trying to avenge their NLCS defeat to the Giants in 2010.
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the deepest and best rivalries in baseball. Second in intensity only to the Yankees - Red Sox rivalry, this is historically one of the longest and most contentious ever.
The two teams were fierce combatants back from their days in New York. The rivalry intensified in 1965 when Giant pitcher Juan Marichal hit Dodger catcher John Roseboro in the head with his bat. Marichal felt that Roseboro purposely buzzed his ear when he threw the ball back to the pitcher.
The Giants and Dodgers have had memorable games and the rivalry continues today, although the intensity has lagged, especially since Tommy Lasorda has stepped down as the Dodger manager. Lasorda was a great foil for the Giants fans and he enjoyed egging them on.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers have fallen on hard times, as their team has not been in contention the past couple of years. The rivalry is always at it's best when both teams are playing well and fighting for the division title.
The financial problems of owner Frank McCourt his impending divorce from wife Jamie have caused the Dodgers to file for bankruptcy protection. Major League Baseball took over the operation of the team earlier this year.
These issues have caused the intensity of the rivalry to ebb, although once the two teams are back in the hunt together, it will surely heat back up.