18 Jun 2013
Tonight, for the first time ever, the Dodgers are coming to play a regular season game against the Yankees. Think about that for a minute. Interleague play has been around since 1997 and the Dodgers have never been to Yankee Stadium in that timeframe. The Dodgers, a team originally from Brooklyn. A team that has played 11 World Series against the Yankees have never been scheduled to play in New York against the Yankees. How could MLB do that? And now we get the first matchup between these teams at the Stadium where a championship isn’t on the line and Donald Arthur Mattingly will be sitting in the dugout on the third base side wearing Dodger blue.
For Yankee fans my age and older, the Dodgers are a hated rival. I was 9 when Bob Lemon pinch hit for TJ in Game 6 and the bullpen imploded as the Yankees lost the World Series. I still remember crying over that. The 1981 World Series came only 3 years after the Yankees won back-to-back World Series against the Dodgers in 77 and 78. So, LA vs. NY happened three years out of five.
Older fans remember even more intense rivalry. Back in the 40′s and 50′s the Dodgers played about 15 miles away from each other. From 1941 to 1956, they met in the World Series seven times! And when you include the New York Giants you see that for eight-straight years (1949-1956) the World Series trophy never left New York City with all three locals winning at least one championship. It must have been a magical time to be a baseball fan in this city, in some ways I am jealous to have missed it. I wish I had seen guys like DiMaggio, Mantle, Robinson, Hodges, Snider and Yogi.
And tonight we will see Yankee fans cheer a guy wearing a Dodger uniform and we will be reminded of all the great names that have represented this rivalry. Just one question. Considering all the history, why on Earth did the Yankees choose Bubba Watson and Jason Kidd to throw out the first pitch tonight and tomorrow? How about Reggie and Gator?