Richardson and Giants set for ‘instant playoff classic’

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

No matter whether you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants, first base coach Antoan Richardson said he’s hoping the Bahamian public will throw their support behind his Giants in one half of the National League Divisional Series.

The 37-year-old Richardson and his Giants will face the Dodgers in the first game of their best-of-five series tonight at Gracie Park in San Francisco in what is considered to be one of the most competitive and longest standing rivalries in American baseball.

But despite the storied history, this will be the first time that the Giants and the Dodgers will face off against each other in the postseason and Richardson said he’s just delighted to be a part of it.

“Honestly, this is exciting. This is why you play the game. This is what you envisioned as a young child being in this type of environment,” Richardson said.

Richardson and the Giants clinched their berth into the National League divisional series after winning the western conference title and home field advantage with a 107-55 win-loss record.

The Dodgers, who posted the second best mark of 106-56, had to go through the wild-card game on Wednesday, beating the St Louis Cardinals 3-1 at Dodger Stadium on a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning by utility player Chris Taylor.

Although he was drafted by San Francisco in the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft with the 35th round, Richardson never got the opportunity to play in the postseason in his career as the sixth of seven Bahamians to play in MLB.

Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm, just completing his second season with the Miami Marlins, is the last Bahamian to make it to the big leagues. He followed Richardson and joined the list that consisted of Andre Rodgers, Tony Curry, Ed Armbrister, Wenty Ford and Wilfred Culmer.

For Richardson, who officially retired in 2017 after returning to the minor league to play with his eighth organisation in the Dodgers’ system, there’s no better feeling than to make it to the postseason, even if it’s as a first base coach with the Giants under manager Gabe Kapler.

“I know the rivalry is real. This is my first time being a part of this rivalry and seeing it live,” said Richardson, who would have played in the Major League with the Atlanta Braves in 2011 and the New York Yankees in 2014. “It’s a pretty exciting rivalry and I think it’s good for baseball.”

From a historical perspective, the Dodgers and Giants have the most National League pennants with Los Angeles securing 24, one more than San Francisco.

While the Dodgers have won the National League West title 19 times compared to the Giants’ nine since the beginning of the Divisional Era in 1969, Los Angeles has more total wins, head-to-head wins, and World Series titles with an 8–7 edge over San Francisco in their franchise history.

“I think this rivalry is good for baseball, it’s good for the Dodgers and Giants fans and so I’m just really looking forward to being a part of it this year and trying to find a way to win this series,” Richardson said.

As a young boy growing up, Richardson said he heard more about the East Coast showdown in the past between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox match-ups, but now that he’s in the West Coast, he’s finding out just how big the Dodgers-Giants rivalry has been.

“This is just as big as New York and Boston in my opinion,” Richardson said. “It’s just that it’s on the West Coast where there is a group of people who are really engulfed in this one. So it’s really a big rivalry.”

Like their head-to-head match-ups this season, Richardson said they anticipate that every game in the series will be electric.

“We have a sold out crowd and it’s loud from pitch to the last pitch,” he pointed out. “I think the fans are really excited. They are really excited to be back in the playoffs.

“As a team, we’re cherishing this moment. We’re not taking it for granted. You don’t get an opportunity like this all the time, so we are really cherishing it and hoping that we can go out there and play Giants baseball.”

Having been drafted by San Francisco and now on the first base line as a coach, Richardson said he still can’t believe what is happening with him in his career.

“When I think about my growing up, it just feels so surreal,” he pointed out. “Looking at where I came from, I’m just learning and trying to get better with every game we play each day. “But honestly, it’s so surreal because thinking about these things and how I got here is really cool and special.”

With the series all set to start tonight, Richardson made this request of the Bahamian baseball fans.

“I hope they are cheering for the Giants and the Bahamian,” he stressed. “But I just want to thank everyone for their love and support throughout the year and their continued support for the postseason.

“Hopefully we could win the world series and I can bring the trophy home and they can get to enjoy it with me.”