There is nothing in sports quite like a rivalry.
A history of battles between two teams that make every game between them seem that much more important. Pride, integrity, and bragging rights become so much more important than where it will put you in the standings.
You'll witness a number of incredible games in any given season, but every game between rivals automatically becomes a classic.
In Wisconsin, we have our fair share of rivalries. Packers-Bears, Packers-Vikings, Brewers-Cubs, Wisconsin-Big Ten.
What do all these rivalries have in common? A bitter history between the two sides, aided by their geographical proximity. It's a key component to nearly every good rivalry.
Yet, as much as the MLB would like you believe it, the upcoming Brewers-Twins series is not a rivalry.
Let me just state, for the record, that I love interleague play. I also love the fact that the MLB makes sure to match up teams in similar areas on a year-to-year basis.
No matter what the schedule says, you will always see White Sox/Cubs, Yankees/Mets, Orioles/Nationals, Angels/Dogders, Giants/A's, and so on, every given year. As a fan, it's a great opportunity to see your home team play without having to travel too far.
There are many feelings of hatred between teams from Wisconsin and Minnesota, but the Brewers and Twins have never been one of them.
I've made the trip to the Metrodome for this series a few years ago, and besides the typical boneheaded fans of any team, the crowd was relatively friendly. I imagine a Miller Park crowd to be the same when the Twins come to town.
Unlike the other rivalries I've mentioned, I feel the Brewers and the Twins have a greater respect for one another. We used to play in the same division, but that was a generation ago.
In the time since, we've learned to appreciate the other for being a small-market team trying to compete, as our franchises aren't all that different (besides the Twins success in the World Series of course).
Think about it. We both hate a team from Chicago more than we can put into words. We've both been in the area for relatively the same amount of time (the Twins coming from the Washington Senators in the '60s, and the Brewers coming from the Seattle Pilots in 1970).
The Twins lost Santana because they couldn't afford him. The Brewers are likely to do the same with Sheets. The Brewers were never close to contraction, but that's because Bud Selig was our owner. We have both shared the wonder that is Paul Molitor.
As our teams embark on the first three of six games we'll play this year, you can bet there will be some tense times from the first pitch from the final out.
But, win or lose, we'll still have respect for the fans sitting next to us. After a Brewers-Cubs game, I'm out in the parking lot looking for someone to punch in the face.
After a Brewers-Twins game? You can bet we're looking for each other in the parking lot, but only to do some extra tailgating together, and perhaps share a beer.
That's why this isn't a rivalry.
Unless, of course, the Brewers lose.