The always quotable Earl Weaver once said: “I think there should be bad blood between all [baseball] clubs.”
If true, Weaver would certainly love to be in the heart of the latest saga in the on-again, off-again rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and their kid brothers down south, the San Diego Padres. The blood between the two clubs is currently so bad that the medieval practice of using leaches to suck out the toxins is a viable option. It’s a rivalry with a growing dislike that at times has compared to some of the greatest rivalries we’ve seen: Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi; Mac vs. the PC; Lakers vs. Celtics. David vs. Goliath.
Perhaps that last analogy is the one that suits this current edition of the Dodgers-Padres rivalry, for it certainly feels as though the free-spending Dodgers and their quarter billion dollar lineup qualify as Goliaths in their own right and the Padres, with their Dollar Tree pitching staff and their lineup full of “hopefuls” are the scrappy David. It’s telling that the scouting reports for both teams couldn’t be any more different. For the Dodgers most would use the ‘if everything goes wrong’ caveat in describing how their season could unfold, for it is almost a foregone conclusion that the season will go well. For the Padres, the only optimism lies in the ‘if everything goes right’ line, and there are a LOT of ifs for that to happen this season.
However, when these two teams show up on the same diamond to square off, wins and losses, payroll discrepancies, and star power are tossed aside. This is one of those rivalries where the intensity is always there, records aside (I still remember going to a Padres-Dodgers tilt a few years back when both teams were mediocre at best and the stadium had playoff-level intensity). It may not be quite what the Dodgers-Giants rivalry has been in recent years, but that’s more attributed to the fact that the Pads haven’t held up their end of the bargain by winning.
So, when Carlos Quentin went all Jerome-Bettis-at-the-goal-line on Donald Zachary Greinke (thank you baseball-reference.com for sourcing this awesome name discovery) last week, it seemed inevitable. A rule of thumb is if the fans of both teams are fighting in between beers in the parking lot before the game, the players on the field probably feel much the same. A broken collarbone and an eight-week DL stint for Greinke and an eight game suspension for Quentin has sparked controversy and dialogue. Is it fair for one team to lose a core player for two months while the other team only misses the guy who hurt that player for a couple weeks? Let’s examine.