As a veteran of the feud since 1954, Tommy Lasorda's heartbeat still quickens when he talks about the Giants and the Dodgers. He recalled how his old Brooklyn teammate, Jackie Robinson, retired rather than accept a trade to the hated crosstown Giants. Lasorda reveled in recalling the earsplitting boos he had hear at Candlestick Park.
But the latest sinister chapter of this storied rivalry leaves him cold.
"It brings tears to my eyes," Lasorda said, his voice rising. "This is not what baseball is all about."
In one of the most violent episodes in a rivalry that dates to 1889, Giants fan Bryan Stow suffered a savage beating after an opening-day game at Dodger Stadium on March 31. The 42-year-old Santa Cruz paramedic was attacked by two unknown assailants and remains in a medically induced coma at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
As the search for Stow's attackers continues, the Giants are bracing for the next round: The Dodgers arrive Monday for a three-game series at AT&T Park, and the Giants have significantly bumped up the amount of security enforcement in and around the stadium.
Jorge Costa, the Giants' senior vice president in charge of ballpark operations, declined to say how many officers have been added. But Costa, who has been handling Giants security since 1989, said part of his job is to "assess the overall mood of the event." And passions are running high, even by the standards of one of the fiercest rivalries
Pleas for cooler heads
At the Giants' home opener Friday, a moment of reflection for Stow was followed by chants of "Beat L.A.!" The Giants were playing the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the aftermath of the Stow incident, Costa asked fans to keep cooler heads this week and urged them to alert security of brewing trouble. Fans can send anonymous messages by texting "80899" followed by "security" in the body of the text, with details about the area of concern.
"We have to look at this building as a little city of 42,000 people," Costa said. "Like any other successful community, residents play a role in keeping each other safe."
The need for such vigilance at a ballgame makes even a rivalry hard-liner such as Lasorda cringe. During an interview with the Mercury News on Sunday, the longtime manager pledged to make a personal donation of $5,000 to Stow and his family.
"I feel so sorry for that young man. I want to help the kid with his bills," he said. "Hey, there's nothing better than a good rivalry. But this? This is all because of some" -- he paused to search for the right words -- "rotten thugs."
"A couple of cowards," Orlando Cepeda called them moments before Sunday's game. The Giants Hall of Famer was part of several celebrated pennant races against Los Angeles during the 1960s, when Giants-Dodgers games were at a decadelong fever pitch.
"There have always been fistfights between fans," Cepeda said Sunday. "But this? No way."
In truth, the rivalry is checkered with violence and ugly confrontations -- on the field and off. Even the fan-on-fan violence has long-established roots. After the Giants beat the Dodgers on July 12, 1938, two fans took turns needling a Dodgers fan named Robert Joyce in a Brooklyn neighborhood bar.
"Why don't you get wise to yourself, Bob? Why don't you root for a real team?" a Giants fan chirped.
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