On April 15, 1958, West Coast baseball was born in the Major Leagues. The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants had left New York and settled in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively. For the last 58 years, one of the great baseball rivalries has become the greatest sports rivalry on the West Coast.
On April 15, 2016, reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw took on three time World Series champion Madison Bumgarner. This was already their second time facing one another this season. Neither pitcher got a decision in the first matchup, with the Dodgers winning 3-2 at AT&T Park. Bumgarner homered off of Kershaw in the first meeting. It was the second time Bumgarner has done that against the three time Cy Young winner. The second matchup also ended with the same result as Kershaw outpitched Bumgarner for the second time this season.
This rivalry has always been one of the best in sports. From the days in New York to the nearly six decades in California, these two teams have constantly been battling for supremacy in the National League. In the 1,024 games the Giants and Dodgers have played since 1958, the Dodgers hold the slight edge at 522-502 for just a .510 winning percentage. That is also over 200 games more than they’ve played versus any other team in baseball in that time. The Dodgers also hold the edge in World Series at 5-3.
The Giants recent success is what has taken the rivalry to another level. With the World Series won by the Giants in 2010, 2012, and 2014, the Giants have made this rivalry even more competitive. Overall, the Giants lead the World Series count 8-6 with their wins in New York. The Dodgers only won one World Series in Brooklyn in 1955. The Giants also hold the overall lead in wins in the regular season when you go back to the beginning of the rivalry in 1884. The Giants also hold the National League record with 23 NL pennants and 20 World Series appearances.
However, on the birthday of the West Coast rivalry, it is important to note that for the first fifty years in California, the Dodgers took control. It is only because of the last six years in San Francisco that the rivalry truly has become great once again. No contest of this sort is great unless both organizations are strong.
For years, the Giants had Hall of Fame players but no post-season success. In 1962, they were one out away from a World Series, but lost and didn’t make it back to the Series until 1989. They got there once again in 2002, but lost again. The Dodgers, who won in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988, had established clearly that they were the better team.
Now that the Giants franchise has turned around and success has come with it, the 2016 season has a great chance to be another great year for the rivalry. If Bumgarner and Kershaw have anything to say about it, it will be great for many more years to come.
As we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day to honor one of the bravest baseball players our game has ever known, don’t forget that April 15th is also the birthday of the Giants in San Francisco and the Dodgers in Los Angeles.