If you are like me, you are beyond tired of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry (and you are also allergic to most pollens, watch a lot of Storage Wars and hate pickles). Over the past few years, the national TV networks have beaten us over the head with the New York-Boston rivalry at every given opportunity.
This year has a chance to be different though. The Yankees are as excellent as expected, but the Red Sox are stuck hovering around the .500-mark and reportedly too busy feuding within their own clubhouse to have any time and energy left to feud with the Bronx Bombers. It is a golden opportunity for a new MLB rivalry to get its foot in the door and capture the hearts and minds of the baseball loving public... and then get overexposed over the next decade to the point that everybody groans about how much coverage it gets on SportsCenter.
We need something new. We need something compelling. We need something competitive. Most importantly, we need something with staying power.
After Boston and New York dominating coverage for so long, it might be time to give a National League rivalry a chance to take the spotlight for awhile. What better place to start than right in the nation's capital with Bryce Harper, arguably the brightest young star in all of baseball. What's more compelling than that? The only problem is finding the Nationals a proper rival to square off against. The Phillies have dominated the NL East for years, but it looks like their time is coming to an end, which is too bad because there is some bad blood there. The Braves and Marlins definitely look like they have a shot at contending for the next few seasons, but both have their shortcomings and neither has pre-existing hatred with the Nats. Nope, sorry, the NL East looks like it just isn't quite ready for primetime.
But, you know what? If we are really going to shift the paradigm, why not shift it all the way and remove the much-maligned East Coast bias from the equation. There is a ready-made rivalry ripe for the overexposing between the San Francisco Giants and the resurgent Dodgers. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of bad blood between the teams and their respective fan bases (arguably too much as we saw with the unfortunate Stow incident). The Dodgers are suddenly back to being contenders and in a position to stay that way now that they have new ownership. They've got big name stars in Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw that make them a must-see team. The Giants don't have quite the same level of star power, but they are not far removed from winning the World Series and the core of their club is plenty young enough for them to fight for NL West supremacy for a long time.
There is one small problem, the whole West Coast thing. If you thought West Coasters complained about East Coast bias, just wait until you hear East Coasters gripe about the West. Not so much that the West Coast is getting too much attention, but rather that all these potentially marquee games are going to be starting at 10 PM Eastern Time. I've lived in both coasts in my life and I can tell you first-hand, that late start is a BIG deterrent.
Surely there is a way we can please residents of all time zones, no? Turns out there is, but we'll have to return to the AL to make it happen (sorry, anti-DH-ites). We can have our West Coast and eat it too by focusing on the "other" Los Angeles team, the Angels. After their big off-season spending spree, people are saying they are the new Yankees anyway, so why not make it official? They've got the big budget to stay relevant for the next decade. Albert Pujols is an established megastar and Mike Trout is quickly ascending to the same level. Heck, they've even got the A-Rod-like douchey guy that everyone loves to hate in C.J. Wilson. It almost makes too much sense to involve them.
What really seals the deal though is that their rival is the Texas Rangers. They might play in the AL West, but their home games are played in the Central time zone, meaning friendly game start times for TV viewers for fans living east of the continental divide. Oh, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the Rangers have their own superstar in Josh Hamilton and their own wunderkind in Yu Darvish. Mix in a long history of verbal sparring and even a few incidents of physical sparring between the two clubs and you've got yourself the big MLB rivalry for a new generation.
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