Three more outs that sunny Saturday, then one more win the next day, and the San Francisco Giants would force the Dodgers to tie for the National League West championship.
In 1951, when bitter rivals called New York home, the Giants beat the Dodgers in a league championship playoff. In 1962, after the teams had migrated to California, the Giants won another playoff to the Dodgers.
On October 2, 2004, the Giants never got those three outs. Steve Finley threw a game-ending grand slam, driving Dodger Stadium into a delirium and sending new Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt dancing together on the field.
“In all of the history and the glory, the frustrations and the pain that these two teams have inflicted on each other, this had to be a killer,” Vin Scully said on air.
Fifteen days later, the New York Yankees needed three outs to sweep their archrivals, the Boston Red Sox, out of the American League Championship Series. The Yankees never secured those three outs. Dave Roberts’ stolen base saw the Red Sox return to the series and then to Boston’s first World Series championship in 86 years.
“Stephen King is a Red Sox fan,” Roberts said. “He was present at all those games. I don’t think I could have written a better novel. “
On Friday, as the Tampa Bay Rays threaten to escape the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East, the Dodgers and Giants face off in San Francisco. The Dodgers and Giants are tied for the top of the NL West, positioned for what might be the closest pennant race between the Dodgers and Giants since 2004.
Managers: Two of the 2004 Red Sox outfielders: Roberts for the Dodgers, Gabe Kapler for the Giants.
In the 21st century, the Yankees and Red Sox have been touted as the best rivalry in baseball. This weekend’s series kicks off a frenzied final month in which the Dodgers and Giants could claim that title.
“You could argue that we’re the two best teams in baseball, and we’ve been all year long,” Roberts said.
“I think the fans have been waiting for it – not just ‘I hate the Giants’ or ‘I hate the Dodgers,’ but now both teams are really playing for something in the same year.”
In the 2000s, the Yankees and Red Sox combined to win four World Series championships, with one of the teams representing the American League in the World Series the majority of the time. Teams ranked the top two in their division every year except two.
“We definitely felt the intensity,” Kapler said. “Fenway and the old Yankee Stadium moved in those games. The fans were extremely interested. The media were very interested. And I think the players were too.
“You saw that intensity in the way the games unfolded.”
In 2003, Yankees coach Don Zimmer, at the age of 72, charged at Pedro Martinez of Boston, who deflected a blow and pushed the old man to the ground. In 2004, Boston’s Jason Varitek shoved his glove in the face of the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, an incident so prominent in the rivalry that a Red Sox fan and a national political reporter hung a photo of him on their wall, where United United could see it regularly. on a cable news channel last year.
“Like most Americans,” former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said in a 2007 presidential debate, “we love our sports teams and we hate the Yankees.”
If familiarity breeds contempt, October amplifies it.
From 2002 to 2005, the NL West Division had a different winner each year. The Yankees won the AL East every year, and the Red Sox were second every year. In 2003 and 2004, the teams played seven-game thrillers in the ALCS.
Kapler said: “The intensity peaked in 2003 and 2004.”
The regional rivalry turned national, fired by the personalities of Martínez, Rodríguez, David Ortiz, Manny Ramírez, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, then sustained with the generous assistance of ESPN.
“I just think that if you look at the rivalry, and I have a short 20-year look, the Yankees and Red Sox consistently performed better,” Roberts said. “The stakes were higher in every game. If you look at the Dodgers and the Giants, one year one team has prospered and the other has not. “
From 2010-20, the Dodgers and Giants combined to win four World Series championships, but the first half of the decade belonged to the Giants and the second half to the Dodgers.
For the Dodgers and Giants, this is your chance to remind the East Coast that the phrase “historic rivalry” is not reserved exclusively for the Yankees and Red Sox. If the Dodgers and Giants prevail at the same time, it would be good for baseball.
And, if the team that finishes second in the NL West wins the wild card game, the Dodgers and Giants could meet for the first time in a postseason series, the event that launched the Yankees and Red Sox more. beyond prominence and into notoriety, beyond sports and pop culture.
If the Dodgers and Giants meet in October, it would be great for baseball.
“I’m surprised it didn’t happen, even in the short time that the wild card has been around,” Roberts said.
“I think baseball needs it.”