Tales of a Giants Fan at Dodger Stadium

The toughest place to be a Giants fan is in Los Angeles. No one joins in when you start the "Beat LA" chant in the third inning of an interleague match-up with the Devil Rays. No knows the Odyssean travels of Damon Minor. No one cringes at the name William VanLandingham. But worst of all, is every time there's a critical at bat or an impending threat on the bases, some yahoo in the bleachers starts up the wave and blocks your view of Master Jedi Felipe Alou. But it's not all bad.

I hate to admit it, but Chavez Ravine is a beautiful place to watch a ball game. It doesn't have McCovey Cove in the background, or the giant Anaheim-esque glove poking its head out of the left-field stands, but there are pleasant looking hills on the horizon, Vin Scully's poetry can be heard in the concession lines, and even the Farmer John Dodger Dogs taste good and are reasonably priced (for those of us who can't afford the $10 tri-tip sandwiches with golden mayonnaise and 20" chrome buns at SBC). There are only two problems with Dodger Stadium: 1) Every time I go there I have to see the blue and white of Dodger uniforms and 2) Dodger fans. This is not to say that, as Giants fans, we don't have our fair share of idiots. I was watching game four of the Dodger series and some bonehead in a taxi cab-yellow ‘look at my love handles' shirt was yapping away on his cell phone and waving every time the camera cut back to the batter. I can only imagine the reaction of the person on the other end of the line: "Well, George, you've proved it. You've got premium seats at a game where the Giants are trying to put a mid-season stamp on the division, and you're waving at the camera like everyone is tuning in to watch you scarf down buckets full of garlic fries. You are the world's biggest donkey wrangler."

Or the dude sipping red wine three rows in front of me last summer, with a navy blue polo shirt that reads "immaculatewiener.com" across his breast. You know, the guy who won the company ticket lottery who keeps elbowing his embarrassed co-worker in the chest and saying, "I heard this guy is pretty good," every time Barry steps to the plate.

But at Dodger Stadium, and especially in the bleacher seats, the enmity displayed by Michael Tucker for all arms Dodger, oozes into the stands as if someone tried to squeeze Livan Hernandez and Sidney Ponson between two pieces of sourdough.

"The most intense games of my career, even more than World Series games, were with the Giants," Wes Parker, former Dodger first baseman and Wizard of the Realm of Glove, told me during a baseball themed dinner I attended during my senior year of college. Though the Yankees, Red Sox, and east coast sports marketing suits would have us believe differently, there are few rivalries that match the intensity of Bobby's Shot Heard Round the World, or Juan Marichal taking a bat to Roseboro, or Barry's pirouette, Lo Duca's catch, or Dusty soaking Solomon Torres in teriyaki marinade, and then throwing him straight into the glistening, salivating jaws of FrankenDodger in '93. These are some of the moments on the field that bring fame and notoriety to the rivalry that no one wearing a Devil Ray uniform will ever know. But for every on-field moment, there are hundreds of sub moments, etched in the personal stone tablets of fan antiquity, that make the competition just as fierce in the stands.

When the Giants arrive at Dodger stadium, there is no past or future; there is only the eternal blinding present of hatred. I've been there. I know. It's tough to display the glorious orange and black amid the unreasonable and contentious tides of the Dodger Stadium bleachers. These are fans who cheered the heroics of Brian Jordan, while chanting, without any sense of irony, "Barry Sucks" for 27 innings during a three game series in '02. At my first Dodger- Giant game, my friend, the infamous Dodger Derek (who has reached near notoriety among Dodger fans for both diving head first from the bleachers to catch a Lo Duca bomb, and wearing a dress with ‘Bonds' etched across the shoulders during a Giants series), stood up next to me, turned around to the bleachers, yelled, "Hey, everyone, this guy is a Giants fan!," and then laughed as I was pelted with rudimentary insults and handfuls of peanut shells.

At another game, to which I wore a neutral Cubs hat and celebrated every Giant hit and run with a quiet, but forceful fist pump, I saw a high school kid get pelted in the back of the head with a Cracker Jack box when the Giants rallied from two down in the top of the ninth to win the game by a run. And this wasn't one of those regular sized Cracker Jack boxes they sold at games back in the days when most people only needed one seat; this was as big as a cereal box and had a low-altitude biplane as the secret prize. The kid hadn't even said anything or celebrated when the Giants put up the go-ahead run. His Giants jersey looked like the top to an old pair of pajamas. But when he turned around to see where the box had come from, he was greeted by the slings and arrows of outrageous Dodger fans.

It wasn't even a year ago that this hostility reached new levels as a Dodger fan shot and killed a Giants fan outside of Dodger stadium after the Giants clinched the division. So, for those of you who live in LA or are just making the trip down for the series, be aware that the rivalry does not exist only between the foul lines, but up into the stands and out into the parking lot as well, like gray storm clouds riding Harleys around and spitting on everyone. There are other ways to show your support for the G-men without engaging in the verbal or physical imbroglios of the 45,000 plus Dodger fans who take no solace in the glories of Gibson and Hershiser in '88, and who still feel the need to squirt lemon juice at the infected bite marks of the rally monkey. Feel free to write Brian Johnson's name across you bare chest and run up and down the aisles slapping yourself in the buttocks with a rubber chicken. Bring out a pair of plastic coated safety scissors and demand loudly and repeatedly that Jeff Weaver cut his golden locks and try and weave himself a W. Order just a plain Dog at the concession stand and write SF Giants in relish and ketchup across the top, or, if you are slightly more daring, order the Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields was a Great Trade Fries, and celebrate with your friends as Deivi "King of the Wild Frontier" Cruz, Cody Ransom, and Ray Durham, unlikely heroes of the 4-game broom, display their meddlesome scrappiness once again.



Tony Pennay saw Kelly Downs shut out the Pirates 4-0 in his first visit to Candlestick Park, and has been a die hard Giants fan ever since. He is currently married to a beautiful Dodgers fan and is trying to coerce his newborn daughter into rooting for Barry before she can walk. Email him at bartleby1@yahoo.com.

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