Angels Pitcher Jeff Weaver and manager Mike Scioscia know all about the rivalry with Texas
I was having trouble sleeping the other night so I started thinking about the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry and, sure enough, that put me right out.
Seriously, that thing is so yesterday’s news. I mean, you might hear the delusional section of each side’s respective fan base proclaim otherwise but the fact remains that one is an aging cast of high paid “names” whose production doesn’t come anywhere near their salaries, while the other is an absolute mess on and off the field who will be lucky to finish at .500 this season.
I’m sorry but despite attempts by the media to try to force the Red Sox/Yankees down our throats for the sake of ratings, it simply isn’t there anymore. The truth is they’re not nearly as good as they were five to seven years ago, nor as interesting. Heck, they’re not even the best two teams in the American League East this year and frankly I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if both miss the playoffs.
If it’s a rivalry you want, then you need to turn your attention to the drama being played out in the American League West behind two-time defending AL champion Texas and the Los Angeles Angels, who owned the division prior to Texas’ emergence.
Texas has picked up right where they left off last regular season, winning five of their first six games, while the Angels are struggling early at 2-3.
Still, with everything that’s happened in the past 12 months, there’s no question these two teams are poised to go head to head with each other over the next several years for A.L. West supremacy.
That’s because as old and tired as the Red Sox/Yankees is, that’s how fresh and exciting the Angels/Rangers have become.
Who was the Red Sox’ big offseason acquisition? Manager Bobby Valentine. The Yankees? Hiroki Kuroda? Michael Pineda? Are you still awake?
Meanwhile, the Angels only added arguably the greatest player in the game in Albert Pujols while Texas got its rock star in Japanese sensation Yu Darvish. Separately, those two additions instantly turned both teams into national stories.
Plus, neither the Angels nor Rangers can presently claim dominance over the other, with Texas only recently obtaining powerhouse status so bragging rights are there for the taking. The Yankees, meanwhile, have owned the Red Sox, making it a rivalry only in the absolute loosest of terms.
There is also a lot of animosity between the Angels and Rangers that simply doesn’t exist presently in New York and Boston.
The Angels traded Mike Napoli prior to last season as part of the Vernon Wells debacle and Napoli ended up with Texas and turned into the second coming of Johnny Bench.
Angel fans still can’t get over that horrendous mistake of a deal, and the fact that Napoli is doing his damage for the rival Rangers only makes the bad blood between the two teams worse.
C.J. Wilson didn’t help matters any when the former Ranger, who signed with the Angels as a free agent this past offseason, tweeted Napoli’s cell phone number in some sort of misguided prank.
The owner of the Rangers, Nolan Ryan, is from Texas, yet is also arguably the greatest pitcher in Angel history. You think he doesn’t want to beat the pants off those guys? Needless to say, these two teams do not like each other.
The Red Sox on the other hand are too busy trying to dig themselves out of the rubble they buried themselves in last season to even try to muster any semblance of hostility toward the Yankees.
Their roster is in shambles, they have too much money tied up in players who aren’t helping them (Carl Crawford, John Lackey) and Josh Beckett looked horrible the other day. Their former GM, Theo Epstein, fled town for Chicago this past offseason and the rudderless team decided to put Valentine in charge.
Meanwhile, the Yankees look and play old. Brett Gardner will be 29 this fall and he is the youngest position player of the team’s active roster. Mariano Rivera was born the same year (1969) we put a man on the moon. A-Rod will be 37, Jeter 38 and these guys are all starting! Seriously, half the team can’t even remember Boston has a team, let alone feel any hatred towards them.
Another reason the Angels/Rangers is a better rivalry right now—there is less competition in their division than the Red Sox/Yankees’ division.
Yes, it’s only a week into the season but it appears the West is once again going to be a two-team race between… You guessed it, Texas and Los Angeles. With both teams expected to pound their lesser divisional opponents Oakland and Seattle, who wins the division might come down to the outcome of the 19 games the teams are scheduled to play against each other, making each one a more heated contest than usual.
A rivalry that has something to play for is much more exciting than one that doesn’t.
The bottom line is while Boston and New York are both big market teams, the Yankees, for whatever reason, are able to spend significantly more than the Red Sox, or any other team for that matter. There’s no fairness there and the results over the years bear that out.
The Angels and Rangers are in similar-sized markets, have or will soon have similar revenue streams and look to be evenly matched on the field. Both teams have a mix of veterans and young players, and both are strong offensively and on the mound.
All of these factors add up to a rivalry that will only grow in intensity as each team tries to deny the other the ultimate prize. And with a change to the playoff system, there’s a decent chance they might meet in the playoffs finally which will certainly cause the rivalry to explode.