Dodgers and Padres Rivalry Is Just Warming Up

SAN DIEGO – There’s still no red, white, and blue flag hanging anywhere in April, but you could have fooled San Diego’s most enthusiastic baseball fans over the weekend. They flocked into the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park, clad in brown and mustard, only limited by their imaginations.

Baseball’s most anticipated rivalry of 2021 – the dominant, bluish Los Angeles Dodgers and the class-climbing San Diego Padres – started with a 12-inning bang on Friday. Continued with a thriller on Saturday that culminated in a diving, fully extended, game-saving catch of the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts in midfield; and played through the touching eighth run of the Padres to avoid a sweep on Sunday.

The clubs are moving north to Dodger Stadium for four more games from Thursday. If the remaining 16 games go like the weekend, it’ll be kind of fun.

“We’re going to get 19 World Series games this year,” said Dodgers star Justin Turner enthusiastically this spring. The tight San Diego weekend games made him look prophetic.

“They definitely feel like postseason games, that kind of atmosphere,” said Eric Hosmer, the Padres’ first baseman who led Kansas City to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015 (and the 2015 title). His RBI single on Sunday put San Diego in the lead with a 5-2 win.

“I think it’s no secret that the entire baseball world was included in this series,” he said.

The weekend was full of Cy Young Award winners (Clayton Kershaw, Blake Snell, Trevor Bauer and David Price) and near misses (Yu Darvish finished second in NL last summer and second in AL 2013). In last summer’s NLMVP vote (Betts, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr.), the AL Most Valuable Player Award 2018 (Betts) winner and the second, third and fourth place winners were in the spotlight. Another MVP winner (Cody Bellinger, NL 2019) missed the series because he is on the list of injured.

The Dodgers have won eight straight NL West titles and are strong favorites to add a ninth this year. The Padres, now in their 53rd season, have won a total of five division titles – and zero since 2006 brisk three week period Over the winter, the Padres closed the gap so much that the Dodgers scored a hit shortly afterwards Three-year contract for $ 102 million with farmer.

“Obviously we noticed,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers ‘president for baseball operations, of the Padres’ rise.

Not that Los Angeles wants to keep talking about it. Manager Dave Roberts downplayed the hype on Friday. “It’s going to be a fun series, a fun game,” he said. “I’m not going to make too much of a game or a series.”

Then came 12 innings and nearly five hours of drama in the series’ first game. Hosmer knocked Machado with two punches and two outs in the ninth to drive the game into additional innings. The benches were cleared in the 10th inning when Jorge Mateo and Dennis Santana had words after the Dodgers pitcher pitched Mateo.

It was a night that began with a pregame ceremony in honor of the local child Musgrove who had thrown the first no-hitter in Padre’s history a week ago. Then Musgrove ended up in a beautiful example of the unpredictability of baseball on left field after Padres manager Jayce Tingler blown his pitchers to the point where he had to bring infielder Jake Cronenworth up the hill.

Of course, Cronenworth knocked out Betts in his first Major League pitching appearance.

Price, who ran a prey fly run in the 12th, had the unusual combination of a win, four strokes and an RBI. The last Dodgers player to have such a line in an extra inning game was Nap Rucker on July 9th. 1915 according to Stats LLC

After that, Roberts raved about being reluctant to make too much of a game or series.

“It was like a playoff game,” said Roberts. “The crowd was great. I’m just emotionally spent. “

Of course, Roberts couldn’t be blamed for initially hesitating to legitimize this as a real rivalry. While the Dodgers and Padres have produced a lot of entertainment over the years, little of it has to do with actual title hunts. Born as an expansion franchise to the Netherlands in 1969, the Padres finished in just 15 seasons north of 500. These southern California neighbors only fought twice in half a century until the last day of the season.

“We came to San Diego with a little chip on our shoulders when it came to Los Angeles,” said Larry Lucchino, who was the Padres’ executive director and president from 1995 to 2001 and who played a key role in the construction of Petco Park. “The reason was because the Dodgers angered the presence of the padres, even their very existence.”

He added of San Diego, “They considered it additional territory to their territory.”

Little did the Dodgers seem to know the Padres existed until 1982 Dodgers pitcher Tom Niedenfuer pitched Joe Lefebvre in the head and Kurt Bevacqua, a key reserve for San Diego, accused Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda of ordering him as “fatter.” small Italian”.

Lasorda answered with one true spray map of explosivesBevacqua couldn’t hit water if he fell off a boat, and he’d happily send a limo to drive the infielder into the park to make sure his weak bat was in line.

“I found the audio of this whole thing really funny,” said Bevacqua, who two years later would make the first World Series home run in Padres history.

“The whole thing was, in 1982 we weren’t that good,” said Bevacqua. “We started getting a little better in ’83 and here comes Garv.”

Garv as in Steve Garvey, the Dodgers star the Padres poached prior to the 1983 season. Its legendary home run brought the team to its first World Series in 1984.

Moments of baseball superiority in San Diego were fleeting. But along with the Garvey poaching, the Padres have mastered the art of trolling the Dodgers.

In 1999, they greeted Kevin Brown, their 1998 World Series team ace, with a Wall Street-themed playlist after spurning San Diego to become the first $ 100 million baseball man in Los Angeles .

The Padres took teasing to a new level in 2000 when the Dodgers’ new general manager Kevin Malone declared there was “a new sheriff in town.” The Padres responded with the cover of their media guide with then-owner John Moores, Lucchino, General Manager Kevin Towers and Manager Bruce Bochy in western gear posing in front of a “prison” in an Arizona theme park.

The padres have not been able to hold the Dodgers down or even scare them off since then. When Los Angeles defeated San Diego in a divisional series in October, the Padres made their first post-season appearance since 2006.

“I think it’s a little early to call it rivalry,” said Charley Steiner, a Dodgers radio station. “A budding rivalry could be a little more specific.”

The pieces are certainly in place. The Dodgers hold the game’s top payroll at $ 237 million, while the Padres rank eighth with a franchise record of $ 180 million. Of seven stratospheric $ 300 million contracts in play, three of those players were on the field that weekend: Betts (12 years, $ 365 million), Machado (10 years, $ 300 million), and Tatis Jr. (14 years, $ 340 million), two of which play pretty shockingly for the Padres.

“That last point matters,” said Lucchino, the man who called the Yankees the evil empire after becoming president and chief executive officer of the Red Sox in 2001.

In many ways, this arms race is reminiscent of the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox in the 2000s: the Yankees had won four World Series titles in five years. The Red Sox, who hadn’t won one since 1918, knew they had to build a team that could beat the Yankees. While the Dodgers’ title last year was the first since 1988, they have played in three of the last four World Series.

“Now let’s see what the padres can do over a longer period of time,” said Steiner.

After the wild 11-6 marathon on Friday, Kershaw and Darvish had an exciting old-fashioned pitcher duel in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win on Saturday. That brought the Dodgers to 13-2, the best 15-game start for a defending World Series champion. The Padres deserved at least a few smiles when they won on Sunday.

The Dodgers are now 96-47 against the 2013 Padres. And this LA team reminds Steiner of his previous radio stop.

“As with the Yankees, the team’s courage is essentially the same,” Steiner said. “You had Jeter, Bernie, Posada, Mariano, they have been the courage of this team for so long. Now, the Dodgers essentially have the guts of a team that has played 60 games over 500 in their last 162 games. It’s basically the same team with some valuable additions. San Diego adds, trying to figure out how good it can be. “

Now San Diego will try to do what Lasorda once said Bevacqua couldn’t.

One of the original Dodgers haters in San Diego, Bevacqua, who has never owned a boat, giggled and offered a goodbye shot: “The boats that I fell or jumped out of have hit the water every time . “

Follow Scott Miller on Twitter: @ScottMillerBBL

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