Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season represents the renewal of hope, the start of (hopefully) warmer weather, and optimism around each franchise.
It also brings the return of one of baseball’s greatest rivalries: The Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants.
The last time we saw the Giants play the Dodgers was the 2021 National League Division Series. The Dodgers won 3-2. Giants fans haven’t forgotten the check–swing controversy at the end of Game 5.
Seeds of a never-ending feud
Both the Giants and Dodgers franchises started in New York City. They hated each other back then. The Giants franchise began in 1883 (they were the Gothams at first) and the Brooklyn Dodgers a year later (they were first called the Atlantics).
Brooklyn settled into Ebbets Field and got tagged as the Dodgers in 1896. The name referred to the “trolley dodgers,” harkening to the mass transportation system in Brooklyn.
A trolley dodger was someone who couldn’t afford the fare, so think blue-collar, working-class folks. Those were Dodger fans. Meanwhile, the Giants were ensconced in Manhattan at the Polo Grounds in front of wealthy, white–collar fans.
Just like that, a feud was born.
The big move
The tale of the Dodgers’ and Giants’ move to the West Coast has been told so many times it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not. Basically, both teams probably wanted new ballparks. They also didn’t want to leave each other.
In an unprecedented move for sports franchises, the Giants and Dodgers moved west together after the 1957 season. The Giants seized Candlestick Park. The Dodgers played a few years at the LA Memorial Coliseum before settling in at Chavez Ravine.
Can you imagine two professional franchises doing that today?
Historic numbers and hatred
The reason why the Dodgers and Giants rivalry is one of the best is because of one undeniable fact: Both teams have almost always been good.
The Dodgers (24) and Giants (23) have more National League pennants than any other team. They’re also the two winningest franchises in MLB history (however, the Yankees do have a higher winning percentage).
The two teams have played 2,540 times. The Giants lead the series by 22 games. They have been playing for over 140 years, and it’s still close.
Blood on the basepaths
Giants and Dodgers don’t get along. They never have.
Dodgers great and baseball legend Jackie Robinson retired rather than signing to play with the Giants. Willie Mays had a chance to play for the Dodgers at the end of his career. He said he’d rather quit and ended up joining the New York Mets instead.
One of the worst incidents in baseball history was in 1965. The Giants had star pitcher Juan Marichal and back then, no one was afraid to throw inside. After trading a few close shaves on batters, Marichal came up to bat, facing Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax.
Koufax didn’t like to throw inside. After delivering to Marichal, Dodgers catcher John Roseboro fired the return throw inches away from Marichal’s ear.
Marichal responded by clocking Roseboro with his bat two times over his head.
A 14-minute brawl resulted. Marichal was suspended for eight games. Roseboro filed a lawsuit that was settled out of court. Years later, the two men made up, and Marichal was a pallbearer for Roseboro in 2002.
The rivalry’s greatest moments
There are Dodger-Giant baseball games that rank among the most famous in sports history.
Ever heard of “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World?” Bobby Thomson‘s walk-off home run in the deciding game of a playoff series against the Dodgers gave the Giants the 1951 pennant.
The two teams also met in a three-game tiebreaker to settle the 1962 pennant. After splitting the first two games, the Giants scored four runs in the ninth to win Game 3.
Who did Barry Bonds hit his record-breaking 71st home run off of in 2001? Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park. He finished with 73.
The next chapter
The Giants won the NL West last year by a game over the Dodgers, and have superstars in Mike Yastrzemski and former Dodger Joc Pederson. The Dodgers just keep spending and spending. They have Walker Buehler leading the rotation. The lineup includes Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts.
The Dodgers are the big favorite to win the World Series, at +500 at BetMGM Sportsbook in California. But for the Dodgers to win anything, they will have to get through the Giants. That’s what rivalries are all about.