Josh Hamilton: How His Signing Impacts the Budding Angels vs. Dodgers Rivalry

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Josh Hamilton: How His Signing Impacts the Budding Angels vs. Dodgers Rivalry
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The ever-increasing rivalry between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers took a significant leap forward Thursday with the free-agent signing of Josh Hamilton.

The Angels signed Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal, according to several sources (including Jerry Crasnick of ESPN). This move comes on the heels of a move by the Dodgers on Monday to lock up former Angels ace Zack Greinke to six-year, $147 million deal.

The Hamilton and Greinke deals are the latest of a string of salvos fired off by the L.A. Basin rivals. A day prior to the Greinke signing, the Dodgers signed Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu to a six-year, $36 million deal.   

During the past season, the Dodgers opened up their checkbooks and initiated trades for Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett. Those moves have pushed the Dodgers payroll to over $200 million for the 2013 season.

The Angels, not to be outclassed or outspent, have been on a spending spree of late, as well.

The Hamilton deal follows a 2011-12 offseason in which the Angels signed Albert Pujois to a 10-year, $250 million contract and C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million deal. Up until Thursday, it seemed that the Angels were satisfied with making smaller moves, such as the signing of Joe Blanton to a two-year, $15 million deal.   

Then came the Hamilton deal.

The Hamilton signing is just another shot fired in what seems to be an ever-increasing battle of wills between the Dodgers’ Guggenheim Baseball Management group and Angels' owner Arte Moreno.

On the field, the Angels have the advantage in the rivalry, as they lead the all-time interleague “Freeway Series” against the Dodgers with a 54-38 record. It will be interesting to see what role Hamilton plays in this rivalry as it continues to grow.        

In a historical sense, the battle for L.A. baseball supremacy has always been, mostly, one-sided. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn after the conclusion of the 1957 season. The move was precipitated by the fact that Dodgers' owner Walter O’Malley was unable to secure a new stadium in Brooklyn to replace the dilapidated Ebbets Field.

The Angels came into the league in 1961 as an expansion team and shared Dodger Stadium (1962-65) until their current home, Angel Stadium, was built in Anaheim in 1965.

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From 1961-2001, the rivalry was dominated by the Dodgers, as they captured eight NL pennants and four World Championships. During that span, the Angels toiled for the most part in mediocrity—with the exception of three appearances in the ALCS in 1979, 1982 and 1986.   

This all changed in the 2000’s when the Angels won their first World Championship (in 2002). and the team was sold from the Autry family to Moreno.

During the same time, the Dodgers went through a tumultuous period under the ownership of Frank McCourt, who purchased the team from the Fox Entertainment Group in 2004. A widely-publicized divorce, followed by Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, led to an agreement between McCourt and the MLB to let the team be put up for sale.  

The Guggenheim Baseball Management group purchased the club from McCourt earlier this year for a record $2 billion and has been wheeling and dealing ever since.

The real question now is what will happen next in the Dodgers-Angels rivalry?

It’s safe to say that the pendulum has been trending in the Dodgers favor of late—until the Hamilton move on Thursday. Now, it looks as if the Angels have once-again stolen the spotlight from their rivals to the north.

One thing is for sure; the Hamilton signing is good for Los Angeles baseball fans—regardless of their allegiance.

You can expect the Dodgers to react to this latest move for Los Angeles supremacy. In what way the Dodgers react to the Hamilton signing is yet to be seen.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

What do you think? Does the Hamilton signing give the Angels a leg up on their rivalry with the Dodgers?

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