The east coast has the Yankees and the Red Sox, but on the west side, it’s all about the Dodgers and Giants. The teams have been at the forefront of every major trend in baseball history. Throughout the days of John McGraw’s dominant New York Giants, Jackie Robinson’s bold and heroic stand against the color barrier, and baseball’s expansion across the United States, the two teams have battled intensely for regional and national dominance for more than 100 years.
With that storied history in mind, here are five things you need to know about the rivals.
1) The overall record of the teams is extremely close, with the Giants maintaining a slight lead.
The Giants have won 1195 games against the Dodgers, while the Dodgers have won 1170 (as of June 27th). The teams have tied 17 times. Not only is that a more extensive rivalry than New York-Boston, but it is also much less lopsided: New York leads that series 1145-960.
Update, 9/11/2014: The current record stands at 1,208–1,180–17, Giants.
2) The Giants took the lead in World Series victories in 2012.
Since 1988, the Dodgers held a narrow lead in World Series victories with 6, compared to the Giants’ 5 (all of them from their days in New York). That changed in 2010, when the Giants won their first west coast title. With their victory over the Tigers in 2012, they pulled ahead of the Dodgers, 7-6. The teams are ranked 5th and 6th in this category, with the Yankees, Cardinals, Athletics, and Red Sox on top. In yet another measure of how even the two rivals are, the teams are both historically terrible in World Series games: The Giants have fell in 13 World Series appearances, and the Dodgers have lost 12.
3) The Giants have beaten the Dodgers in the World Series…sort of.
It may sound crazy, but it’s true: in 1889, the Brooklyn Baseball Club, ancestor of the Dodgers, won the championship of a league known as the American Association (not to be confused with the American League, which did not yet exist). The New York Giants had won the National League championship, so the two clubs played each other in an informal playoff that was known as the “World’s Championship Series” or “World’s Series” for short. The Giants won the nine-game contest when they became the first team to win six games, making this a best-of-eleven series. The following season, in a unique twist, the Brooklyn club joined the National League and won the pennant. Today, Major League Baseball does not recognize these pre-1903 World Series contests.
4) The Giants and Dodgers love to mess with each other late in the season.
Of course the most famous instance of this is the Shot Heard Round the World, a walk off home run to seal the Giants’ epic comeback for the NL title in 1951. But both the Giants and the Dodgers have a long history of directly spoiling each others’ postseason runs. The most recent and dramatic example came in 2004, when Dodger Steve Finley hit a walk-off grand slam to seal an NL West division title. This left the Giants at the mercy of the Houston Astros, who knocked them out of wildcard contention the following day with a win.
5) Dodgers-Giants games are very popular events.
As every fan knows, these games routinely sell out, even with inflated ticket prices. In 1991, the final LA vs. SF series at Candlestick Park drew 150,000 fans, or almost 9% of the total attendance that year (1.7 million). At Dodger Stadium, which has the largest capacity of any baseball-only stadium in the world at 56,000, sellouts are comparatively rare during the regular season. However, you can bet that most of those sellouts are games against the Giants. At AT&T Park, sellouts are common (over 200 regular season games in a row and counting, the longest active streak in baseball).
Therefore, if you’re planning on seeing the Dodgers and Giants play July 5-7 in SF, be sure you get your tickets early.
Additionally, if you’re driving, you may want to reserve parking with GottaPark to be sure you have a spot for your car: You don’t want to miss one second of a game between these teams!