Pitchers’ duel opens 2013, sets stage for epic, season-long Dodgers-Giants rivalry

With opening day having just passed and the coming of spring, it’s time to start talking baseball. To kick off opening day, rivalry games were nationally televised, with many good examples like  the Red Sox-Yankees. But what may have been the best rivalry in baseball was found in the Dodgers and Giants.

Both teams pitted their Cy Young Award winning pitchers against one another, Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers and Matt Cain for the Giants, in what was a pitchers’ duel for the majority of the game. Then in a thrilling fashion, Clayton Kershaw hit his first career home run to end the scoreless tie with a bang, and a four-run eighth inning ensued, and eventually a shutout win for the Dodgers.

When these two teams meet, something exciting is bound to happen, especially when almost every game played between the two results in a sellout crowd. Like many past seasons, this upcoming season should be filled with many great games full of suspense and thrilling play for this competitive and storied rivalry.

But what is great about this rivalry is that unlike the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, the Dodgers-Giants rivalry has not been one sided. Both teams have had almost equal amounts of success against one another, with the Giants having a better record than the Dodgers 58 times, and the Dodgers 52 times. The Giants and Dodgers have finished 1-2 in standings a whopping 11 times since 1951, which further provides support for a balanced and competitive back and forth rivalry.

The Giants have made the trip to the World Series 20 times with eight wins, and two being in San Francisco, while the Dodgers have been 18 times with six wins and five being in Los Angeles.. So it is fairly evenly matched, while the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has until recently been a lopsided affair. The Yankees have finished in front of the Red Sox 77 times with 27 titles, while the Red Sox have finished ahead 33 times with two titles.

The Dodgers-Giants rivalry is the best in baseball at the moment, and possibly the best of all time in baseball. The rivalry has passed the test of time, surviving for more than a hundred years, and more importantly the test of location, by relocating the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and the Giants from Manhattan to San Francisco in 1958. Now instead of being an inner-city rivalry, this rivalry represents a regional North and South rivalry in the state of California, involving the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and anywhere in between.

What is even more exciting is the fact that the Giants have recently won their second World Series in the past three years and the Dodgers now have the power to buy out the competition with the deeply lined pockets of a new ownership group. Both are contenders right now as well as in the near future, with the Dodgers having the highest payroll in the Majors and the Giants returning all but three players from their World Series-winning squad.

Interestingly, the Giants have experienced success with home-grown talent and by building up their farm system to move novice players upward in the ranks. This is historically what the Dodgers have always done but with a bad previous ownership, the Dodgers have been in uncharted land in having to spend to make up for their lack of farm system depth. The Dodgers have always spent like a small-market team, even though they are in the second biggest market in the US. So while the farm system begins to replenish itself with the help of increased scouting and information, the Dodgers will continue to spend. Once the right balance is reached in a few years, the Dodgers will be even more intimidating to face than they are now with eight all stars on the roster.

Adding more excitement to this rivalry is that the Giants’ MVP catcher, Buster Posey, has recently signed a new deal ensuring that he will be around in San Francisco for years to come along with Giants ace Matt Cain. Down in LA the same can be said for MVP caliber center-fielder Matt Kemp, who is signed until 2019, and Clayton Kershaw who is expected to sign a contract that will guarantee his status as the Dodgers ace until 2020.

So with young elite talent guaranteed to be around until the end of the decade, this rivalry will surely be one that will be filled with drama, suspense and hopefully a few more World Series visits on the part of both teams, and nothing would be better than seeing a Dodgers-Giants postseason matchup. There have not been many postseason matchups between these two great teams, because most of the time one or the other has eliminated the other in the playoff chase heading into October. We can always dream though.

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