Real Rivals?

April 12, 2011

What makes a good MLB rivalry? This weekend I watched the Yankees invade the Fens against the Red Sox. I also caught the Brewers vs the Cubs. Are these rivalries?

I consulted Andrew’s dictionary. “Rival” is one who tries to equal or do better than another: The two girls were rivals for the same class office. “Rivalries” are efforts to obtain something another person wants; competition:“There is rivalry among business firms for trade.” (Note: Interesting examples. I have seen adult corporate-types behaving like school girls)

But consider the Toronto Blue Jays series in Seattle with the Mariners. Yes, they are both going to try to do better than the other. They are going to try to obtain what the other has. But Toronto and Seattle are not baseball rivals.

Good rivalries have the following characteristics:

1. a history, a longitudinal measure; 

2. there is real competition, both clubs have a chance to win; 

3. the clubs play frequently; 

4. some thing should be at stake;

5. there is a geographic variable; and 

6. there are specific events and personalities.

The Yankees and Red Sox are rivals: a long history; frequent play; regional competition; specific players and moments. But for decades it one-sided.

The Dodgers and Giants may have the best rivalry. It has all of the elements of the Yanks and Sox, but more often there was something at stake.  

Are the Cubs rivals for either the Cardinals and Brewers? The Cubs and Cards have a real rivalry. They have a long history, face each other frequently, and have a fantastic regional component. But the Cubs haven’t been to hold up their half of the relationship.

The Brewers and Cubs? Well, I enjoyed the competition between frequent adversaries in one region. It was fun.

But I’m not sure about the rivalry.

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