This one is tribal.
This one is personal.
This one is for the ‘BELCH ON WELCH’ crowd.
The Giants and the Dodgers meeting in October —in their first official postseason meeting, as 1951 and 1962 were regular-season tiebreakers — means many things to many people, but to us Giants fans, it means generations of Dodger hatred is coming to a frothy, emotional boil, leaving one big question:
Can my ticker handle it?
This may be it, sports fans. This may be the final Jock Blog. The sight of the black and orange vs the blue in October may eventually cause my vitals to overload and shut down.
(Random guy leaving Giants game) “You know that morning guy on KNBR?”
(Random guy next to him) “Paulie Mac? Frank Dill?”
(Random guy) “No, I think his name is Murray or something. Anyway, he croaked out by McCovey Cove. Couldn’t take it.”
(Random guy) “Bummer. Hey, want to get a beer?”
I’m joking. I think.
And while I have you, is ‘hatred’ too strong a word? I know some people don’t like it. We should preach love. It’s all you need, and it’s the answer — the Beatles told us that, and so did England Dan and John Ford Coley. I am using it in sports terms only, to be clear. Hating sports teams is fun. Hating human beings is not. So after the game, let’s all grab a brew.
Now, back to my overloaded ticker and the ‘BELCH ON WELCH’ crowd.
Paulie Mac, my trusted morning partner, tells the story of an April 1979 game at Candlestick Park with his Dad. Giants-Dodgers. Friday night. The Dodgers, of course, were defending NL champs. The Giants hadn’t been to a World Series since 1962, which to young Paulie Mac might as well have been the Pleistocene Epoch.
In that game, Paulie Mac tells of certain memories: the bright lights of a Friday night. A loud Candlestick crowd of 39,906. The Giants won when Willie McCovey singled home Jack Clark in the bottom of the 9th, 3-2. Paulie says he thinks a beer went flying over his head in celebration. He also remembers gazing out at the left field bleachers and seeing a giant bedsheet sign, taunting the Dodger starting pitcher, Bob Welch: BELCH ON WELCH, it read.
That’s who this series is for.
You may be 16 or 26 or 36 or 46 or 56 or 66 or 76 or 86, but at one point in your Giants fandom, you wanted to make that bedsheet sign, or some form of it.
Maybe it would taunt Don Drysdale or Ron Cey or Pedro Guerrero or Mike Marshall or Andre Ethier or *Yasiel Puig* or Justin Turner. Because they were Dodgers, and they wanted to beat your Giants.
And let’s face it, there have been too many Dodgers in our baseball lives. As amazing/incredible/unforgettable as the Bochy-Lincecum-Bumgarner-Posey of three titles in five years was from 2010-14, the baseball glory was mostly blue for too many years.
107 over 106 in the NL West this year was historically great, but for too many stretches (sub-.500 terms like 1974-77; 1983-85; 2005-08; and even 2017-2020) the Giants dawdled while the Dodgers went to the Fall Classic in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. That’ll form scar tissue, sports fans. So will the years 1972-1986, when the Giants never went to the playoffs, and the Dodgers went six times.
Yes, we had Joe Morgan in 1982 and we had the Humm Baby save us and we had Sabean build great teams and we had Bochy calling Don Mattingly on two mound visits. We’ve gotten our horsehide pound of flesh.
But so have they.
And that brings us to Friday night. The Giants can hurt the Dodgers, ruin their legacy, damage their dreams. The Dodgers actually think they are defending World Series champs from a 60-game season. That’s like saying the NBA’s Vegas Summer League champs are on the same level as the Curry-Klay championship teams. The LA Times wondered if this 2021 Dodgers team is the best in baseball history.
Breaking: Not if they get knocked out in the first round, they’re not.
I was at T&B Sports in San Rafael the other day talking with my guy Anthony about the Giants-Dodgers pennant race, and a woman asked us: “Why do you guys hate the Dodgers? I mean, there must be a good reason?”
Out of respect, neither one of us gave a foul-mouthed response. We could have said it was because the Giants and Dodgers have been fighting for the same NL West turf since 1969, and the same NL flag since 1888 on both coasts of America. We could have said it was because sports are fun because of their tribal nature, and point to college football rivalries. We could have said it was because of cultural pride and disparities between Northern and Southern California. We could have said that we all just want to metaphorically BELCH ON WELCH.
In the end, we were polite, but the best answer would have been to paraphrase Louis Armstrong, who was once asked to define jazz: “If you gotta ask,” Satchmo said, “you’ll never know.”
I just hope my ticker can survive this.