The Giants swept the dog-ass Dodgers in a three-game series this week and didn't allow a run. In the 123-year history of the Giants franchise, this had never happened before. Back in 1954—when they were still the New York Giants— they did it to the Philadelphia Phillies, and twice since moving to the Bay Area they've managed to throw three consecutive shutouts (just not all against the same team). But doing it against the arch-rival Dodgers is the sweetest of all, and I'm a happy guy.
My Dad was a Cardinal fan and we'd sometimes sneak out to the car (the radio in which had superior reception than the box sets or transistors we had in the house) on summer nights and listen to KMOX broadcast the Cardinal games. It was with my father that I learned to tell the likely progression of the game based on the timbre in the announcer's voice (upbeat if the Cards were ahead and more sober if behind; it was probably a laugher if the announcer was telling stories rather than describing the action on the field; dead air signaled a pivotal late-inning moment in the game).
Not surprisingly, most of my early childhood experiences at the ballpark were watching the Cardinals play at Wrigley Field (though I can recall a particularly gripping pitching duel between Billy Pierce of the White Sox against Whitey Ford of the Yankees at Comiskey Park, the outcome of which hinged on a spectacular sliding catch in center by Jim Landis—but I digress).
Indoctrinated as a baseball fan early in life, somehow I never bonded with the Cubs, and avoided hitching my wagon to the Cardinals' caravan either. For some perverse reason that remains obscure I established an early, tentative preference for the Cincinnati Reds and rooted for them right up until Horace Stoneham moved his Giants from the Polo Grounds to City by the Bay in 1958. I was only eight at the time, but I switched allegiance to the Giants on the spot and haven't looked back. Always and forever, I'll be a Giants fan. (Lest you think this is an anti-home town thing, I root unabashedly for the Bears in football and the Bulls in basketball.)
Mind you this has not been a particularly sagacious move (are leaps of the heart ever?). Until 2010, the San Francisco Giants had only made it to the World Series three times (1962, 1989, and 2002) and lost them all. It wasn't until the miracle of Buster Posey that the Giants caught lightning in a bottle and brought it all home two years ago in five games against the Rangers.
If there is any rivalry in professional sports that can equal that of the Cubs & Cardinals, it's the Giants and the Dodgers. (Note: since reading Dan Jenkins' sports classic Semi-Tough in the early '70s, I invariably refer to the the Los Angeles National League baseball club as the "dog-ass Dodgers." You have to understand that if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Giants fan, as I am, then you are automatically a Dodger hater. Your second favorite team is whomever the Dodgers are playing.)
Thus, there is no greater joy than the Giants coming into the three-game set against the dog-ass Dodgers three games behind them for the top spot in the NL West standings and then hosing them three straight to pull into a tie for the division lead. It's even better that the Dodgers are having a good year (stomping on the downtrodden isn't near as fun).
As an ameliorating factor, the Dodgers' best player, Matt Kemp, is on the disabled list and didn't play in the series. Going the other way, the Giants have had solid pitching for the last handful of years, and you might think that this great once-in-a-lifetime performance featured the confluence of their best three pitchers lining up perfectly in their five-man rotation to face the Dodgers. Not so. Deliciously, the Giants' two most reliable pitchers, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, didn't pitch against the Dodgers. Whoa! The Giants achieved this singular string of goose eggs with a rotation of Zito, Vogelsong, and Lincecum. And while Timmy Lincecum is a bona fide major talent (he's won two Cy Young Awards, after all) he hadn't won a game in two months. So nobody saw this coming.