The Dodgers and Giants will conclude their three-game series in San Francisco on Sunday night – you can even watch on TV via ESPN! – and maybe you think this has become an awfully polite rivalry.
In its heyday, the rivalry was the fiercest in baseball, so much so that it filtered down through their minor-league teams. Players on one team were taught early to despise the other.
Though the past couple of seasons the Diamondbacks have made some rivalry noise with the Dodgers, it's been muted this season as they’ve fallen 12½ games back. However, there are signs it is reaching down into the systems.
Their two triple-A teams had an epic brawl Saturday night, one that caused 10 ejections.
At the center of it all was Erisbel Arruebarrena, the Cuban shortstop the Dodgers signed in the off-season for $25 million. Arruebarrena had irritated the Reno Aces on Friday night after he hit his first homer of the season for the Albuquerque Isotopes (he began the year at double-A) and then broke out a home-run trot that may have set records for leisureliness. He made slow-mo look slow.
The Aces took notice but the shortstop was removed from the game Friday before there could be any retribution. But when he came to the plate Saturday, Reno pitcher Mike Bolsinger threw one inside at him with the first pitch. It missed, however. Benches emptied, but order was restored, if briefly.
Later in the at-bat Arruebarrena was called out on strikes. As he stood in the box to question the call, Reno catcher Blake Lalli appeared to take a step inside as he threw the ball back, brushing Arruebarrena.
They did the nose-to-nose routine, Arruebarrena shoved Lalli and was immediately ejected. Reno’s Mike Jacobs came charging in from first base, Arruebarrena threw his helmet at him and major chaos ensued.
The field was overrun with players and coaches. Arruebarrena went into quick retreat, backpedaling wide around the batter’s box until he was tackled and taken to the ground by several unhappy Aces. No doubt the Isotopes were less than thrilled with Arruebarrena too – he was playing in just his 22nd game for Albuquerque – but they backed him up.
Punches were thrown from scrums all over the field. Players were thrown into the net behind home plate and pummeled in the first row of seats. The melee broke up once and then resumed.
It should be noted that this was the first game back for infielder Alex Guerrero since he had half his ear bitten off.
When the umpires finally huddled and started issuing the rest of the ejections, nine players were tossed. And the umps no doubt missed a few. Reno Manager Phil Nevin, unhappy with his players ejected, argued one time too much and too loudly and was ejected too. It was the temperamental Nevin’s seventh ejection of the year.
The Dodgers and Diamondback, of course, had their own nasty brawl last season.
Maybe Dodgers-Giants is slipping in the rivalry business.