Well, what do we have here? I see the two biggest rivals in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, are playing each other in the National League Division Series. This should be interesting. I just hope everyone comes out alive from Dodger Stadium and Oracle Park.
I saw at least one commentator who said this was the first time the Dodgers and Giants have met in the post-season. That’s not entirely true. While this is the first time they’ve met since the modern divisional playoff system was established in 1969, this is not the first time they’ve met in the post-season.
The first time they met was in 1951, when they were still the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. After being 13 games behind at the start of September, the Giants went on a tear and ended the regular season in a tie for first place. A three-game playoff was set to determine the National League pennant.
You probably know how that one ended. With the Dodgers ahead, 4-2, and two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the ninth at the Polo Grounds in New York, Bobby Thomson hit a three-run shot into the seats to win the game, 5-4, and give the Giants the pennant. It remains perhaps the most famous walk-off home run in baseball history.
Giants’ radio announcer Russ Hodges practically went crazy on the air, yelling, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”
It was the man doing the television play-by-play for the Giants, Ernie Harwell, who dubbed Thomson’s home run “The Shot Heard Round the World.”
A similar story happened in 1962. Now located on the West Coast, the Dodgers and Giants fought it out all season for the lead in the National League. Like 1951, they ended the regular season in a tie. For the second time in 11 years, they would face each other in a three-game playoff.
It wasn’t as dramatic as it was in 1951, but the Giants beat the Dodgers, 2 games to 1, to win the pennant. It would the Giants’ last National League title until 1989.
In both cases, the Giants went on to lose the World Series to the New York Yankees. D--- Yankees! On both occasions, the World Series seemed almost anti-climactic.
So, the Dodgers have some catching up to do with the post-season record against the Giants. Will the third time be a charmer? We’ll have to wait and see.
I do know the Giants have had a lot more success since they moved to their new ballpark (which is on its third or fourth name) from old Candleshtick Farce, . . . er, Candlestick Park. That place was known as the coldest and most windy ballpark in baseball.
Ozzie Smith said after his first games at Candlestick that the ballpark showed him what a great player Willie Mays really was.
I understand the problem with the Washington Nationals’ ballpark is all the waves of hot air that come over the place. Maybe they should’ve placed it further from the Capitol Building.
With the off-season, it will be interesting to see the moves the Arizona Diamondbacks will be making to try and improve on that dismal record of 52-110. Improving on that record shouldn’t be that difficult. I’d almost settle for not losing 100 games again.
I’m waiting to see what major moves they make. Then again, given their record in recent years, I may find myself tearing out what remains of my hair.
The post-season has begun, and it will be followed by the off-season. There may not be any games being played after the World Series, but some of the most interesting things in baseball will happen during this time.
Let’s see how it all turns out.