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Plaschke: The ‘Adorable Little Padres?’ Dodger fans should know there is plenty to hate

There is one significant problem with this feisty, frothing, fearsome rivalry between the Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

It’s not a rivalry.

A rivalry requires dueling emotions from two teams, two fan bases, two cities … and this involves only one.

The Padres fans deplore the Dodgers. The Dodgers fans shrug.

The Padres fans see the Dodgers and immediately break into passionate boos. The Dodgers fans see the Padres and immediately think, hey, we should plan our next weekend trip to Del Mar!

San Diego thinks Los Angeles is evil. Los Angeles thinks San Diego is cute.

The Padres are rivals with the Dodgers like a hiker is a rival with a mountain. The Padres stare at them and scorn them and annually try to scale them while the Dodgers barely know they’re there.

“They’re the dragon up the freeway that we’re trying to slay,” Padres owner Peter Seidler said to ESPN this summer.

The Dodgers’ collective response was something along the lines of, huh?

I’ve had the strange fortune to cover both teams as a beat reporter in both cities, and the culture clash is clear.

If folks in San Diego view Los Angeles as this giant mythical reptile that is casting a 130-mile shadow, folks in Los Angeles view San Diego as a quaint little lizard that harmlessly darts around the porch.

That was part of the reason the Chargers were so unwelcome when they moved to Los Angeles five years ago. Angelenos were like, how could the NFL do that to sweet little San Diego?

The disparity in perception has bled to the diamond. In the Padres’ clubhouse, each series against the Dodgers is the biggest of the season. In the Dodgers’ clubhouse, each series against the Padres is just three more games.

The Dodgers have much bigger battles to wage. The Dodgers need all their energy for their real rivals. All together now. Giants Suck!

Certainly, the Dodgers and Padres have had heated moments on the field, particularly early last season with dramatics from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Trevor Bauer, but remember how that saga ended? It always seems to end this way. The Padres disintegrated and the Dodgers won the last six games against them in September.

The domination has continued this year with the Dodgers winning 14 of 19 games. The domination has continued throughout history with the Dodgers owning a 511-415 edge against them in the regular season. The domination has been even present in the playoffs, with the Dodgers sweeping the Padres in three games in their only postseason meeting.

All of which brings this story to this week’s National League Division Series and turns this column into a challenge.

Dodgers fans, somehow, some way, you’ve got to work up some loud dislike for a Padres team that could steal your season. Dodgers fans, you need to come up with a reason to cheer angry, cheer scared, cheer intensely enough to match the noise and inspiration that surely will be emanating from two hours south.

As crazy as it sounds, as tough as it may be, for the next six days Dodgers fans will have to learn to hate the adorable little Padres as much as they hate the Giants.

Here are some helpful hints how.

San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado and shortstop Ha-Seong Kim (7) celebrate with catcher Austin Nola (26) and left fielder Jurickson Profar (10) after the Padres defeated the New York Mets in Game 3 of a National League wild-card playoff series Sunday in New York.

(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Their big dog was the Dodgers’ biggest dog

Keep booing Manny Machado. He’s become the most reviled visiting player at Dodger Stadium, and he’s earned every jeer. I watched him refuse to hustle for the Dodgers during the 2018 postseason. There is no cheering in the press box, but I booed the hell out of him.

Their ace was the Dodgers joker

Yu Darvish was certainly cheated by the Houston Astros, but that doesn’t fully explain how he cheated fans in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Folks around here seem to have forgiven, but how can they forget?

Wet Behind The Ears?

Joe Musgrove, one of the Padres starters, was given a literal earful by probing umpires Sunday in the sixth inning of the wild-card elimination game against the New York Mets. The umps were acting on suspicions from Mets manager Buck Showalter that a sticky substance was increasing Musgrove’s spin rate.

No substance was found, and Musgrove continued pitching his way to victory, but one can bet that he’ll be thinking about it this week. So, too, will the Dodgers.

The San Diego Fraudre

Tatis is serving a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, so you won’t see him, but one can still imagine him jolting the Dodgers while juiced, and doesn’t that just boil your blood?

Petco, Schmetco

On Friday night the Padres will be hosting their first playoff game in 16 years, and the national television broadcast will certainly wax poetic about the wonders of Petco Park.

Just remember, nearly every time the Dodgers have visited, Dodgers fans have owned the joint.

Sour Blakes

Before Blake Snell pitched for the Padres, he pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series. He was infamously pulled by manager Kevin Cash with one out in the sixth inning despite leading 1-0 and having given up just two hits in 73 pitches. The Dodgers quickly scored two against reliever Nick Anderson and eventually won the game and the series.

“I was lost … I was like, ‘We really just handed them the World Series,’ ” Snell later told the Ringer.

Handed it to them, did ya?

Copycats

The Padres are owned by the nephew of the great former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley. Their director of player personnel is former Dodgers executive Logan White. One special assistant is former beloved Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis. Another special assistant is historic Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo. And a special advisor is former Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park.

Get your own front office!

They dissed Doc

In winter 2015, Dave Roberts was hoping to be elevated from the Padres coaching staff to the vacant position of manager. The Padres wouldn’t even interview him. The rest is Dodgers history.

Just Shush

The Padres have made a lot of lavish acquisitions in recent years and bragged about the lasting impact of every one of them.

They traded for Darvish and now they’re for real! They signed Machado and look out now! They gave Tatis $340 million because they mean business! They traded for Juan Soto and now they’re a contender!

If you listen to them, they’ve always been on the verge of greatness, but they’ve never really arrived, and the fantastical tales of their journey are growing as tiresome as that Friday night traffic on the 5 South.

So, yeah, good luck in this series, little brother.

And, boo.

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