Dodgers vs. Padres

Big Bro vs. Little Bro. Let's do this!

Jim Rome
April 16, 2021 - 9:15 am
Fernando Tatis Jr.

USA Today

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It’s here. It’s finally here. 

Those are words I almost never say about a regular season MLB game. But this time, I’m saying it. And I’m saying it on April 16th. 

It’s here. It is finally here.

The opening round of Dodgers v. Padres. And I couldn’t be more pumped. I can’t remember the last time I was this fired up for an April series ever. And having it on the weekend is the absolute best. 

But this is different. Because this is a rivalry. And it has the potential to be the start of a great rivalry for years to come.

This is the rivalry of 2021 and the future. You want to come at me with Red Sox-Yankees, I’m going to say that’s played out. Great rivalry, sure, but everyone is pretty sick of it by now. That was your dad’s rivalry. Cubs-Cardinals? Sure, SOLID rivalry. Same with Cubs-Brewers. 

But this is different. This is big brother and little brother. Big brother has been KICKING little brother’s ASS for years, but little brother has been hitting the gym, loading up on creatine, and got bigger and stronger. 

Big brother sweeps little brother in the postseason last year and wins the World Series. Little brother goes out and adds two big-time arms to the rotation, and signs their star to a massive contract.

And now the rivalry is officially on. Do you remember what happened in the postseason? There was this incredible moment from Game 2. 

LA had a one run lead and two outs. San Diego had a man on base. Brusdar Graterol comes out of the pen to face Fernando Tatis Jr. And this happens.

That moment had everything. Fernando Tatis Jr hits a BOMB, Cody Bellinger makes an incredible play, Brusdar Graterol gets fired up and fires his hat towards the moon, and Manny Machado starts barking at him.

That was pure electricity all around. And now you’re telling me that we get to run that back 19 times in the regular season. And hopefully a bunch more in the postseason? Hell yes. 

Big brother has what little brother wants, and big brother is not looking to give it up without a fight. But we all remember the time little brother rises up and kick’s big brother’s ass for the first time.

As Justin Turner said back in spring training, “we’re gonna get 19 World Series games this year.”  EXTREMELY WELL SAID, RED.

So let’s introduce the fighters… 

In the blue corner, with a record of 11 and 2, including six straight wins, the reigning World Series champions, with BLING  on their fingers, please welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

And in the brown corner, hailing from the Gaslamp District, they enter tonight with a record of 9 and 5, also known as the Friars and Slam Diego, please welcome the San Diego Padres.

Given how last year went and how the postseason went, this would be a great series no matter what, but it’s even better now, for multiple reasons. First off, you have the fact that the Dodgers have their rotation lined up perfectly. 

You’ve got Walker Buehler going tonight, Clayton Kershaw tomorrow, and Trevor Bauer on Sunday. Is that any good? Is that a three-man stretch that I could interest you in?

And it’s not like the Padres are throwing out a bunch of ham and eggers in response. They’ve got Ryan Weathers and his 1.50 ERA going tonight. And then Yu Darvish tomorrow and they’ve got Blake Snell for the finale. Not bad at all. In fact, that’s great. 

Because they brought in Darvish and Snell exactly for a series like this. The one in the April and ones that they’d want to play in October as well. 

You’ve got Yu Darvish, the former Dodger, pitching against the Dodgers. Darvish and Kershaw were buddies back in 2017, but he said he hasn’t heard from Kershaw since he arrived in San Diego.

And he knows why: "The Padres and the Dodgers being rival teams -- that's the reason."

You’ve got Blake Snell, who had the Dodgers under wraps in the elimination game of the World Series, until he got eliminated. 

You’ve got Trevor Bauer going up against Manny Machado and that’s a matchup Machado has dominated with a batting average of nearly 600 in 17 at-bats, including 4 home runs. 

How much does Machado frustrate Bauer? Nine months ago a video was posted to YouTube with the title “Manny Machado OWNS Trevor Bauer’s fastball!” That video was 18 minutes long. And that video was posted by Trevor Bauer. And he admits that Manny “has my number.”

And then you’ve got Mookie Betts, who ate up Blake Snell so much in the AL East that Snell thanked the Red Sox when they traded him to LA.

And this matchup still gets better, because Fernando Tatis Jr took batting practice yesterday and by all accounts, everything looked good. Which is great. Because it means that he could be in the lineup tonight. And that would be awesome.

Any day you have Fernando Tatis Jr in the lineup is a good day. And when that day is the opener of a series against the Dodgers, and on the night when the Padres are giving away “Friar Sticks,” it’s even better. 

What are the stakes? For an April series, they could not be bigger. There is definitely no such thing as a must-win series in April, but the Padres have to show up this weekend. They can’t let the Dodgers steamroll through them, because LA’s tail lights will only get further away from them in the standings. You can’t get swept and be 5 ½ games back before April is even finished.  

If the Padres win this series, it’s a big-time statement. Especially given that they’re coming back from the East Coast and just getting Tatis back from injury. And if they sweep the series, and do it against LA’s big three, that’s an even bigger statement.

But if LA goes into San Diego and wins the series, that’s a statement as well. Statement being – big brother is still bigger and better. And if they get a sweep, look out. If that happens, you’ll be hearing Randy Newman bumping up and down the 5 at deafening levels on Sunday afternoon.