“Love is the most important thing in the world. But baseball is pretty good too.”
The 2019 Major League Baseball season is over for me. It “officially” ended on the evening of October 9th when the Washington Nationals eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers in game 5 of the National League Division Series. The season didn’t end in the 10th inning of that game because I’m a Dodgers fan. It ended, thanks to Howie Kendrick’s grand slam, because I’m a San Francisco Giants fan.
It was ingrained in me as a young man that we Giants fans have two jobs. Number one is cheer for the orange and black. Number two, or more accurately number 1A, is root as hard as you can against the Dodgers. My wife has scolded me on numerous occasions that that attitude is an undersirable one. “You should never root against any one, or any team”, she says. Bless her heart. Any self respecting SF Giants fan knows that the Bums that travelled west from Brooklyn are more than deserving of our hopes for their failure.
It hasn’t been all that easy. I was born in 1955 and became a lifelong Giants fan on May 28, 1957. That was the day that MLB owners approved the move for both The New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. But there were conditions. Both teams had to move or neither team could. The Giants committed first, hosting a farewell party at a game on September 29. The Dodgers followed suit nine days later. The rivalry came west with the teams. We had just moved to Reno and San Francisco was the closest city with an MLB team.
Before the move (their’s and ours) The Giants had won 4 World Championships and the Dodgers owned one. That changed when the Brooklyn Bums became the LA Bums. They won the World Series in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, and 1988. And we suffered through them all. Then a strange thing happened, LA stopped winning. Don’t get me wrong, they won plenty of games, division titles, and National League pennants but the World Series well ran dry after Kirk Gibson dipped into it for his “I can’t believe what I just saw” home run at Dodger Stadium. It wasn’t all good news for us Giants fans either. Between 1988 and 2002 we reached the World Series twice as many times as the Dodgers (2-0) but lost both. One in spectacular fashion as the Oakland A’s swept the Giants four games to none in 1989 in a series that included an earthquake. The other was in heartbreaking fashion as our boys, with the greatest home run hitter of all time Barry Bonds, lost both game 6 and game 7 in Anaheim to the “rally monkey” Angels. Then 2010 happened.
That year, then two years later, and two more years after that Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Crawford and dozens more became heroes. Legends even as improbably our san Francisco Giants won three world championships in 5 years! And the official World Series trophy tally became NY/SF 7 and Brooklyn/LA 6. So there! As I’ve already stated the Dodgers are good at winning games and division titles. In fact they’ve won seven of those in a row compiling a won loss record of 671- 464. But to me, and no doubt to them, the only numbers in recent history that matter are 3-0 (as in RINGS BABY! And while the faces of San Francisco Giants success have been thoise of Timmy, and MadBum, and Buster, and others the lone face of Los Angeles’s delicious defeats has been Clayton Kershaw. He’s one of the game’s best regular season pitchers, a multiple Cy Young Award winner and the ace of their staff. But he just can’t get it done when it matters and he came through (as far as we were concerned) again Wednesday night.
The night the 2019 baseball season ended for him and me.