Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA!
Posted on August 2, 2010
Russell Martin #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers walks off the field after striking out to end the game in the top of the 9th inning as Eli Whiteside #22 and Guillermo Mota #59 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate in the background after the game at AT&T Park on July 31, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
The Major League Baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Anyone who follows their favorite team on a daily basis goes through so many highs and lows during the season that their entire day hinges on whether or not their ball club won or lost. I am a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan who first really started following the orange and black during their exciting 1973 season when I was an eight-year-old kid growing up in Fremont, California. I had a horrible temper when I was young and used to break some of my mom’s ceramics in the garage every time Randy Moffitt blew a save. I also learned early on about the the Giants rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers that dated back to their days in New York.
During my childhood the Dodgers were the better team and always seemed to beat up on my Giants. All nine regular season games from Dodger Stadium were televised on KTVU channel 2 in the Bay Area, and every telecast was a major event, since only 20 games were shown on TV over the entire season. I would get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach while watching and listening to KTVU sports director Gary Park call the play by play from Chavez Ravine. Sure, I was not the world’s biggest Park fan, but I was more afraid of the fact that my team would lose. Every game. Just hearing the baritone voice of famed Dodger public address announcer John Ramsey in the background of the telecast say, “Now batting for the Dodgers, Steve Garvey, first base” would make me sick. Garvey would usually hit a lined shot to the fence in right center field, knocking in two runs, causing the TV camera in center field to shake and the speakers on our Zenith color television to reverberate with the sound of the Dodger Stadium organ playing a scary tune that meant death to my Giants.
Over the years I remember so many great moments from the rivalry. My first big memory is the 1973 Labor Day grand slam in the bottom of the 9th inning that Bobby Bonds hit at Candlestick Park to beat the Dodgers on NBC’s Monday Night Baseball. The win kept the Giants in the NL West race. Pitcher John Montefusco’s big league debut in September of 1974 at Dodger Stadium was a moment I will never forget watching on TV with my dad. The Count came in to relieve Ron Bryant in the bottom of the first inning and promptly went the rest of the way, hurling 9 innings and giving up only one run, while striking out seven. He also added a two-run home run for good measure. A star was born. At least in my eyes.
I was on hand at The Stick on May 28, 1978 when Mike Ivie hit his famous grand slam on Jacket Day. I was also at the park a few years later when hated Dodger Reggie Smith went into the stands near the Dodgers third base dugout to beat up a fan on a raucous Friday night. Things always seem better when you were a kid, but this past weekend I had the chance to photograph a few games between the Dodgers and Giants that brought back some great memories, and created some new ones.
A month ago I wrote about the Dodgers taking over AT&T Park. They swept the Giants just a month ago in San Francisco, but since then the Giants have been playing some really good baseball. Throughout the 2010 season there have been some tense moments between these two teams involving beanings, ejections, and suspensions. Many of these bad feeling spilled over to Saturday’s game when I was shooting the afternoon game. The Giants had won on Friday night, and the Giants looked to be in big trouble on Saturday as Dodgers hurler Chad Billingsley was busy mowing down the Giants and plunking several of their hitters. I was ready for an old-school brawl! Just when it looked like the Giants were dead in the water slugger Pat Burrell stepped up to the plate and sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy when he smoked a line shot over the left field fence in the bottom of the 8th inning for a two-run homer that gave the Giants a thrilling 2-1 win (see above).I did not end up with a great picture of the blast. I was a little late on getting the entire ball in the frame, and the celebration at home plate sucked from my angle, but I really didn’t care.
The Giants came into Sunday night’s 5:09 ESPN-mandated first pitch looking to sweep the Dodgers out of town and send them reeling. Of course I was thrilled to be able to shoot in the great late-afternoon light. The fog stayed away. I tried to maximize the quickly-shrinking sun-splashed infield by moving around every inning or so. I started outside first base, then moved behind the plate. After that I went inside third base and finally ended up outside third base to get a few frames of Giants started Matt Cain before the shadow engulfed him (see above). Once the sun was gone I hit the road and listened to the scary finish in my car during my long drive back to Pleasanton as the Giants held on for a 2-0 win, sweeping the Dodgers out of town and sending them 8 games out of first place, 6 1/2 games behind the Giants.
There are two months left in the season and the Giants are hanging around with a 61-45 record. They are in second place in the division and leading in the wild card. All I can ask is for their games to be meaningful in September, but now I am starting to get greedy. I want more. After this weekend I think they might be able to deliver. It will be a bumpy ride, but it should be fun.