The Giants of San Francisco have completed their second series of 2018 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. So far, the teams are tied at 3 wins a piece against each other (Game 4 was postponed due to rain and will be made up later this month). The Dodgers, coming off a disappointing World Series loss to the Astros, seem to be underperforming as the spring flowers continue their bloom, while the Giants (bolstered by off season additions such as Andrew McCutchen) seem to be a scrappy underdog, doomed to play second fiddle in a likely competitive division. But the Giants have started to make some early noise in the NL west. As of this blog post, they are 1.5 games ahead of Los Angeles at 6-6. (The Dodgers are at 4-7, 4th place in the NL West). Although both teams are chasing the early viper of the Diamondbacks, it is important to remember the stakes at play for these two teams.
The two teams first met May 3rd in 1890 in the Washington Park portion of Brooklyn. At the time, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, and were still called the Bridegrooms. Their rivals, still called the Giants (albeit from New York) had begun playing ball a few years prior, and in 1890 the Dodgers switched from the American Association to the National league, where the two teams began to clash for the fan base of the New York area. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, these two teams continued to badger each other as they fought for the National League Pennant, with the Giants winning pennants (since the rivalry began) in 1904, 1905, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1951, and 1954 for a total of 14 pennants. The Dodgers won the National League between 1890 and 1957 in 1890, 1899, 1900, 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, and1956; also totaling 14 pennants.
After the 1957 season, however, the two teams packed their bags and moved west, becoming the first MLB teams on the west side of the Mississippi River with the Giants settling to San Francisco and the Dodgers heading further south to Los Angeles. While there, the two teams continued to battle for the NL Pennant, with either team winning in 59, 62, 63, 65, 66, 74, 77, 78, 81, 88, 89, 02, 10, 12, 14,and 17 (with the Dodgers taking 10 titles and the Giants taking 6).
Overall the Giants have 8 World Series championships (5 from New York, 3 from SF) while the Dodgers have 6 (1 from Brooklyn and 5 from LA). The two teams have met 2464 times. Over the course of that rivalry, the Giants are up 1240-1211 (with 17 ties) in the regular season. That is a very close margin between the two teams. Another great and often cited baseball rivalry is that between the Red Sox and the Yankees. By comparison, those two teams have met 2214 times, and the Yankees are up 1195-1005 (with 14 ties). That makes the comparable even-ness of the rivalry .503% (for the Giants over the Dodgers) vs. .539% (for the Yankees over the Red Sox). This makes for a much more compelling overall rivalry.
While this year, many eyes will be focused on the American League East to see what is shaping up in what is sure to be a barn burner, I will be looking out west to see how the true “oldest rivalry in baseball” shakes out for another year of fine drama.