Since their NLCS battle last year, there has been talk over whether or not the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies constitute a true rivalry.
There are those who think they do not because they play in separate divisions, but I do not believe geography should be the determining factor of what makes a rivalry, particularly one without historical standing. No, new rivalries are formed out of tense competition and what at least appears to be a genuine dislike of the other side. And the Giants and Phillies have certainly got that.
Last year, the Giants defied expectations, battling out a tough victory over the hyped Phillies to reach the World Series, beating vaunted pitching stars Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt all along the way.
The two teams boast quite possibly the two best pitching staffs in the majors, though Phillies manager Charlie Manuel may not agree, apparently unimpressed with Giants starters Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
Manuel’s dissing of a back-to-back Cy Young Award winner/last year’s playoff MVP and a man who allowed no earned runs in last year’s postseason was not the only swipe taking at the Giants by a member of the Phillies’ coaching staff.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee was among those in the Philly set who attacked Giants manager Bruce Bochy for using Halladay and Cliff Lee in this year’s All-Star Game. Instead of appreciating him using their rotation’s biggest stars to help the NL to victory, Dubee et al took it as an underhanded conspiratorial move against the Phillies. Quite frankly, I don’t know what it says about them if they really think the likes of Halladay and Lee can’t handle an exhibition inning or two.
San Francisco took the first series between the two teams this year, winning two of three in Philadelphia.
Now, the Phillies have come in to AT&T Park to take the first three of a four-game set.
In the second game, the tension boiled over.
With Philadelphia leading 8-2 in the sixth, Shane Victorino was hit just above the waist by a Ramon Ramirez fastball.
Victorino took a step towards the mound, prompting catcher Eli Whiteside and home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski to rush in front of him. This did nothing to diffuse the situation.
The next thing you knew, Whiteside was tackling an onrushing Placido Polanco and players were streaming out of both dugouts and bullpens.
It was more shoving and trying to stand one’s ground than a real all out brawl. By the time it was over, Ramirez, Whiteside and Victorino had all been ejected from the game.
Manuel offered up this ridiculous explanation for Victorino’s actions.
“[Ramirez] hit Vic and then came off the mound at him. Vic almost has to go, unless he wants his teammates to call him chicken,” Manuel said. “That’s the way baseball works. I’ve been playing for almost 50 years. He pretty much called him out.”
Maybe “that’s the way baseball worked” 50 years ago, but things have changed. Bean balls and retaliation have not yet gone completely out of style, but they are not a part of the game today the way they once were.
Watch it all unfold by clicking here.
The Giants’ most hated rival is, of course, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yet, this year when everyone from both teams was gathered on the San Francisco field, it was not to fight but to join together to promote peace and tolerance and to discourage violence.