Freeway Series: Dodgers & Angels Are Heating Up

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Freeway Series: Dodgers & Angels Are Heating Up
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

This weekend will see a renewal of a rivalry in Anaheim, as the first place Dodgers (by eight-and-a-half games as of this writing) take on the surging Angels.

It's been a bit one-sided this year, as the Angels took two-of-three at Dodger Stadium in May.

In fact, the Angels have always played their Chavez Ravine neighbors tough. I remember going to a Dodger-Angel game two years ago today where the Angels walloped the Dodgers 10-4, and it wasn't even that close.

I think it's the fact that for over 40 years the Angels have been generally seen as a stepchild to the all-powerful Dodger empire; the proverbial "other team in town".

It was the Dodgers that had the tradition, the history, and the championships; while Gene Autry's Halos were merely an expansion team that had some good players and a couple of division titles, but just couldn't get over the hump.

They even rented Dodger Stadium for their home games from 1962 until they moved down the street from Disneyland in 1966.

It wasn't until this decade that the red-capped Anaheim players began to outperform the Dodger blue, with a world championship in 2002 (finally!), and taking the lead in the inter-league series.

That's why I think the Angels, though they wouldn't admit it, play with extra motivation when they face the Dodgers...sort of like the way a little brother competes against his older sibling in one-on-one basketball. He wants to show that he's not the little runt, and that he can hold his own.

As for this series, I think it could go either way.

The Angels have been playing extremely well in the past week, beating the Giants in San Francisco the last two games, yesterday by an 9-1 score.

Torii Hunter has been having the year of his life so far–if he is not voted in as the starting center fielder for the American League in the All-Star game, then nothing makes sense in the world.

And the Dodgers? Though they have started to feel the absence of Manny Ramirez at the plate, they've continued to hang in there, as they have baseball's best record and have not lost more than two games in a row. Matt Kemp and Casey Blake have particularly stepped up as of late.

It will probably come down to which team executes and pitches better.

Either way, this weekend promises to be very interesting.

 

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