This Is A Rivalry

Dodges vs. Padres. What an incredible series.

Jim Rome
April 19, 2021 - 9:15 am
Mookie Betts

USA Today


I hate to say I told you so, but I bleeping told you so. I told you on Friday that Hell Weekend, aka the Dodgers-Padres three-game series, was going to be awesome. And then it was. In fact, it was better than that.  Per usual, nothing ever lives up to the hype.  Nothing.   Except that.  That smashed it.

BECAUSE It had everything: extra innings, DUGOUTS EMPTYING..., QUOTE , “bull-bleep swings,” guys jawing at each other, an incredible game-winning catch, and two teams that really don’t like each other. I’ve told you before and I will tell you again RIGHT NOW: this isn’t A baseball rivalry, this is THEEE baseball rivalry.

Take all your other baseball rivalries and throw them out the window at this point, because this is the only one that matters.

I know Corey Seager worked really hard before the series to say this is just another series, but it’s not. Dodgers-Pirates is just another series. Dodgers-Padres is NOW a blood feud.

That was a three-game series in mid-April that felt like a seven games series in October. And it started on Friday night with a game that went 12 innings and included 17 pitchers. That game was so good it included moments like Fernando Tatis Jr. homering in his return game to break a tie

The Dodgers taking a one-run lead in the top of the ninth. And then Eric Hosmer coming to bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and hitting a game tying single.

And then both teams traded scoreless tenth and 11th innings, and then the Dodgers broke out huge in the 12th with Corey Seager leading off with a two-run homer. That’s right, I said a 2-run lead-off homer because of the extra innings rule.

And the breakout continued with two more runs from Zach McKinstry.

And to cap it off, David Price hitting a sac fly to Joe Musgrove in left to drive in a run in the 12th inning. Yes, that’s a real sentence that I just said.

The Dodgers won that 11-6. And while the game was a lot closer than the final score, you know the Dodgers were pumped to go in and rip the series opener like that.

And then things got even NICER on Saturday in the fourth when Clayton Kershaw appeared to have struck out Jurickson Profar to end the inning, but Profar was awarded first base on catcher’s interference when his swing hit the glove of Austin Barnes.

Kershaw WAS BENT, thinking Profar did it on purpose. And let Profar know about it, shouting “that’s a bullbleep swing.” And Profar, standing on first base, FIRED BACK, back “Shut the bleep up.”

Again, this is April. This isn’t the dead of summer when tempers are fraying, this is the start of the season and they are yelling obscenities back and forth... They couldn’t’ have been any more pissed. Which means I couldn’t have been any happier myself.

But Saturday wasn’t just about bullbleep swings and shutting the bleep up, it was about Kershaw drawing a walk off Yu Darvish to take the lead and it was about LA taking a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth and San Diego’s Tommy Pham coming to the plate with two on and two out. Roll it.

Markus Lynn Betts, if you need him. That is unreal. That is how you end a game. Walking off on a diving catch is awesome. And the stakes could not have been higher – if he misses that, the game is tied and maybe worse.

I’m not sure what was better – the reaction from Betts or the reaction from the Padres, because they were absolutely stunned. And they should be.

For all the talk about them getting bigger and stronger in the offseason, big brother just rolled in and gave them a serious wedgie in the first two games and chased it by dunking their domes in the toilet for good measure.

And then added some insult to injury after the second game when Kershaw said this rivalry, isn’t really a rivalry: “We don’t really care about rivalries or who we’re playing. We just try to win series here. That’s all that matters.”

In other words, we don’t even care enough about you to call you a rival. That’s awesome, too.

Look, I get what he’s saying. The Dodgers are the defending World Series champions. They have dominated the Padres and the entire division for nearly a decade. A few offseason moves aren’t going to change how the Dodgers look at the Padres. Not when they’ve owned the Padres for as long as they have. Not when they HAVE ripped off 8 straight division titles. And not when they’re the defending world champs.

Kershaw and the Dodgers have the right to decide who they’re going to call rivals and I love that they aren’t giving that label or that respect to the Padres. That makes it even better. They know the Padres think about them and are focused on them, and they’re making it clear that they don’t even think about the Padres at all.

That is awesome. But make no mistake, even though the Dodgers won’t say it, I’ll say it: this is a rivalry. And because it’s a rivalry, the Padres absolutely had to have yesterday’s game.

If you want it to be a rivalry, you cannot let your rival, your big brother, come into your place, break your faces, then break out their brooms: That cannot happen. Especially when LA was without Cody Bellinger.

You can’t let them turn that wedgie into an atomic wedgie, not if you have any self-respect or dignity.

And when LA took a 2-0 lead in the second, it looked like that was going to happen. Which is why it was crucial for Eric Hosmer to come through to tie the game in the seventh and then give San Diego the lead in the 8th.

The Padres needed that in the worst way. If you’ve spent all off-season building towards taking down the champs you can’t let them knock you the hell out . At home in a three-game series. So the Padres salvaged their pride and some dignity at the end.

And some belief that in the long run, they can get over. Because as Padres manager Jayce Tingler said afterwards: “We know, at some point, it’s going to turn. It’s going to flip.”

San Diego had to show up on Sunday. And they did. And they let everyone know that this is going to be a 19-round fight in the regular season and it better include more in the postseason. Because that more than lived up to the hype, it smashed it.

You see something like that and you just want to run it back. Give me more. And we’ve got it: a four-game series at Dodger Stadium starting on Thursday. Let’s do it. Rounds 4 through 7. Let’s do this: because despite what the Dodgers say, it’s not only a rivalry, it’s the best rivalry in baseball right now: and the more the Dodgers say it’s not, the more I know it is.  See you freaking Thursday.