March 2, 2024

The Arizona Diamondbacks have not played a postseason home game in six years. When the playoffs finally return to Chase Field on Wednesday, with the home team one victory from eliminating the Dodgers, the ballpark will be rocking.

With Dodgers fans, probably.

The San Diego Padres were not about to put up with Dodgers fans last October, at least to the extent they could control it. Fans could see the Padres play a postseason game at Petco Park for the first time in 16 years, and the Padres wanted to maximize the home-field advantage.

When the Padres put tickets on sale, they enforced this restriction: If you lived in Los Angeles County, or anywhere else beyond San Diego County and a selected group of nearby areas, you could not buy a ticket.

You could call that policy brilliant, or you could call it embarrassing, but you have to admit it worked.

“What San Diego did last year, to kind of X the Dodger fans out because of zip code,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “I’ve never seen Petco Park that loud.”

The Diamondbacks could have imposed a similar restriction. They did not, team president Derrick Hall said.

“We always draw Dodger fans,” Hall said. “We have a lot of [Dodgers] fans in the Valley, and a lot will travel over.

“I think it’s going to be a fun atmosphere. But we always know that. It’s about what we can do from a game operations standpoint to try and battle some of that volume.”

The Dodgers are a reliable draw for a team that by itself is not a reliable draw. The Dodgers had five crowds of fewer than 40,000 this season; the Diamondbacks had five crowds of more than 40,000.

The Dodgers have led the major leagues in attendance for a decade running. Among the 30 major league teams, the Diamondbacks — playing in the fifth-largest city in the United States — have not finished in the top half of attendance since 2008.

When the Dodgers played at Chase Field this season, the average crowd was 27% larger than when they did not.

Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw celebrates in the pool with teammates after winning the division in Arizona on Sept. 19, 2013.

Clayton Kershaw, left, and teammates celebrated in the pool at Chase Field on Sept. 19, 2013, after the Dodgers clinched the National League West.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“It’s so much fun,” Hall said. “They’re great supporters of the Dodgers.”

The Dodgers have noticed. At their 2020 fan festival, outfielder Joc Pederson told the crowd “there’s more Dodger fans than Arizona fans” when the teams play in Phoenix.

“When we don’t play the Diamondbacks,” Pederson said, “I don’t know how many people go to the games.”

“Not many,” chimed in outfielder A.J. Pollock, who joined the Dodgers after seven seasons in Arizona.

In L.A., we chuckled for a moment and went on with our lives. In Phoenix, oh, the headlines! The controversy! The … well, the truth.

Just ask Dodgers outfielder David Peralta, who played nine seasons in Arizona.

“Every time the Dodgers would come in there to play against us, it was blue,” Peralta said. “We got excited because the stadium was packed, but it was all Dodgers fans.”

The Arizona Republic dutifully reported this series would feature the Diamondbacks against “the hated Dodgers.” That’s cute, but it most certainly is not reciprocal.

The San Francisco Giants? Mutual hate. The Padres? They’re trying to stir up mutual hate.

The Diamondbacks? They’re the team that plays home games in a giant airplane hangar decorated with foul poles.

Peralta said he had little doubt how the Dodgers would feel Wednesday at Chase Field.

“We’re going to feel,” he said, “like we’re going to play at home.”

This sounds absurd: Home-field advantage for the visiting team, in a playoff game. Do the Dodgers truly believe they might have a home-field advantage Wednesday?

“If there’s a chance,” Roberts said, “Arizona is the place.”

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