Dodgers v. Padres

Reputation v. Respect.

Jim Rome
September 15, 2020 - 12:34 pm
Clayton Kershaw

USA Today

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If you ever been to a music festival then you know multiple bands will play at the same time on different stages. The headliners get the big real estate. And the artists who were printed in smaller font on the flyer are somewhere off to the side playing to a smaller crowd.

But—if you ever been to a music festival—then you know the smaller bands off to the side sometimes put on the better show. And there’s an argument that the Dodgers and Padres put on the better show last night while the NFL double-header played back-to-back on the Main Stage.

And if you haven’t been paying attention to baseball then maybe you didn’t know that last night an unstoppable force met an immovable object. The unstoppable force is the red hot Slam Diego Padres who welcomed the immovable object and 7-time defending NL West champion LA Dodgers to Petco Park last night.

Slam Diego was riding an MLB-best 7-game heater, and the Dodgers were protecting a two-and-a-half game lead in the division with Clayton Kershaw on the bump.

And Kersh has been nothing short of vintage this year. The velocity might be down, but it doesn’t matter. Because this dude has been spinning his Uncle Chuck and slide-piece to the tune of a sub-2 ERA, five wins, and a career-best WHIP.  

And for five innings last night—he mowed through the National League’s second-best line-up.

But Padres righty Dinelson Lamet matched him the entire way. And halfway through the game, we were watching an old-school pitcher’s duel that Kersh was just barely getting the better of.

And then things went from somewhat cordial to extremely chippy with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the 6th. The game was 1-0 Dodgers until Padres centerfielder Trent Grisham finally got to Kershaw and tied it up with a moonshot.

Big homerun in the biggest Padres game in years. But the dude styled it like he just walked off the World Series in extra innings. A long stare, a half-turn, a Joey Batista-esque bat flip, and some serious chirping as Grisham very clearly mother-effed the Dodgers’ dugout on his way around the bases.

And if you don’t believe me—check the tape. You don’t have to be a lip-reading expert to know that he hit the Boys in the Blue with a massive m.f. Bomb.

You know where I come out. I’m all about new school flair. And I hate the code as much as the code hates fun. But there’s something to be said about showing up a guy like Kershaw, in that situation, when you’re Trent Grisham. And he’s Clayton Kershaw. And Dave Roberts said exactly that after the game. 

Whether you agree or disagree with stunting on a classy future Hall of Famer who will go down as one of the best pitchers ever—is up to you. Just know the Dodgers hated it. And the Padres absolutely loved it.

And while the Dodgers couldn’t convert their hate into anything the rest of the way—the Padres used that moment as fuel and exploded for six more runs against the LA bully and ran away with the game in the late innings—7 to 2.

So where does that leave us?

Right now, the Padres are an unthinkable 32-17 and just a game and half back of the Dodgers—who, as I mentioned earlier, are the 7-time NL West defending champs. But it’s crystal clear the Swingin’ Friars don’t give a damn about that right now. Because they aren’t scared of anyone or anything.

Dodgers broadcaster Orel Hershiser put it perfectly yesterday when he said, “The Padres are playing for respect. The Dodgers are playing for reputation.”

And that couldn’t be any more well said. Everyone knows the NL West goes through LA. But the Padres are just a game and a half out from changing that for the first time in almost a decade.

This is the first Padres eight-game winning streak in eight seasons. And the first time Kershaw dropped a decision to San Diego in seven years.

And not only did the Padres get over last night—they literally m-effed the Dodgers while doing so. And there’s no doubt that will carry into tonight’s game two.

Here’s how important these next two games are: At best, the Padres can finish the series with a half-game lead in the division. And at worst—they’ll be 3 and a half back.  That’s a massive difference when you consider there’s only 8 games after that and none of them are head-to-head with the Dodgers.

So controlling their own destiny for the NL West title is hanging in the balance for the Padres. And the Dodgers. 

But regardless of what happens—we all just saw the birth of brand new rivalry last night. A rivalry we’ve been waiting on for 51 years.

Dodgers v. Padres. LA v. San Diego. Reputation v. Respect.

Hell yeah let’s play two more.