Dodgers-Giants rivalry is a showdown between the two Californias

San Francisco's Wilmer Flores reacts to being called out on strikes.
Wilmer Flores of the Giants and Dodgers catcher Will Smith react to the final strike being called that ended Game 5 of their playoff series.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Did anyone notice what a great day it was yesterday?

It was Friday, which always helps, and the sun was shining, which it often is in beautiful Southern California. Outside it was a balmy 88 degrees with very little humidity, a cool breeze fluttering through the fan palms on my street.

Oh, and the night before, the Los Angeles Dodgers eliminated the San Francisco Giants at home at Oracle Park in one of the best baseball games I’ve ever seen.

Did I mention what an incredible sunset we had?

The sun sets behind the stands at Oracle Park during the third inning.)
The sun sets behind the stands at Oracle Park during the third inning of Game 5 of the 2021 National League Division Series.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Pardon the victory lap. As a Dodgers fan, I’ve always struggled to be a good sport when it comes to San Francisco. I typically reserve my goodwill for other MLB teams — teams that deserve it (the cheating Astros are also excluded).

In sports, rivalries are measured by factors like the strength of the teams, how evenly matched and for how long, and how many championships they have between them. The Giants and Dodgers have a rich and colorful sports rivalry featuring bats thrown at heads, balls to groins and an impressive bounty of World Series trophies.

But what’s between Los Angeles and San Francisco is something much deeper and more mean-spirited than that. Dodgers -versus-Giants is bigger than baseball or any sport.

It is the most visible part of an ideological fault line that runs through politics, food, culture, dress, music and contrasting ways of life. Simply put, it’s about which place is better — Northern California or Southern California.

San Francisco Giants fans watch warm ups before game five of the 2021 National League Division Series.
Giants fans get ready for Game 5 in San Francisco.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It’s why S.F. fans chant “Beat L.A.” and why L.A. fans launch fireworks after a Giants’ loss. It’s Northern California nature versus Southern California weather, Mac Dre versus Eazy E, San Jose Chinese food versus San Gabriel Chinese food, and Mission Burritos versus L.A. tacos. It’s San Francisco sophistication versus the effortless chill of Los Angeles and tech wealth versus Hollywood luxury.


Dodgers-Giants games are simply the venue where we get to work out our aggression about all the other things we’re fighting about.

Learning to really and truly hate the Giants is a rite of passage for Dodgers fans. I discovered my outsized and irrational hatred of the Giants during the summer of 2014, shortly after I began following the Dodgers.

Then-Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and then-Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig had a series of confrontations over jogging after hitting a home run, bat-flipping and stare-downs. I was disgusted to see Bumgarner’s childlike tantrums on the mound accepted without comment while Puig’s relatively innocuous celebrations were seen as real violations. It was pretty clear to me who the bigger idiot was.

When the Giants won the World Series that year, I suddenly cared less about the Dodgers winning and more about the Giants losing as often and as painfully as possible.

I think a big reason why this rivalry has such sharp teeth is because both regions, though opposites in many ways, are intricately connected.

Though I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 16 years, most of my friends and family are scattered throughout the Bay Area.

Consequently, I’ve been engaged in several long-term, half-joking but half-serious tugs of war over who should move where and which place is better.

Maybe you lived in NorCal during college or regularly visit relatives there. Maybe you’re a Giants fan who married into a Dodgers family, or vice versa. Familiarity breeds contempt, but no one argues with each other like family.

I’ve spent a lot of time in both regions, and I think they’re both worth celebrating. When people chant, “Beat L.A.,” I have mixed feelings, because I can’t help but feel like those people don’t know Los Angeles.

To the sports world, this is the city of superficial front-running fans of championship teams with all the financial advantages and no heart. The hostility of “Beat L.A.” focuses on the most tired, stereotypical aspects of Los Angeles.

But that’s not the city that I know, and it’s definitely not the part of the city where the Dodgers’ most loyal fan base hails.

We might arrive late, but have you seen the traffic at Chavez Ravine?

We may leave early from the game, but that’s because a lot of us drove 100-plus miles round trip to come see the Dodgers on a weeknight.

Sure, our teams may have some of the most expensive rosters in history, but we also win championships at a historic rate.

So let them chant “Beat L.A.” as much as they want.

For the next year, we have the perfect comeback.

“You tried!”