For much of my lifetime (I turn 30 in a couple weeks), the best rivalries in baseball have been considered Cubs-Cardinals or Yankees-Red Sox. But the Padres and Dodgers claimed that throne for themselves this weekend in an unforgettable weekend of battling it out at Petco Park.
These two teams will hook horns 19 times this year – 16 more following this past weekend – with the next coming on Thursday in Los Angeles. Tempers have already flared and you get bet there will be more theatrics this weekend at Dodger Stadium.
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What will these two clubs do for an encore? They’ll have their hands full topping their first bout, which included a 12-inning marathon, a game-saving catch by Mookie Betts and a late surge from the Padres in the finale to at least salvage one contest.
"“It certainly has created a rivalry,” Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer told MLB.com. “I don’t know if I could have said that my first couple years here, but there certainly is a rivalry now. … It’s just the start of it. It’s going to be fun all year getting to play those guys, and if we get to where we want to go, we understand it’s going to go through them. We welcome the challenge.”"
As exciting and hyped as the Padres are early this season, this series still has a David-versus-Goliath feel to it, which only makes it more exciting for fans across the country. Los Angeles carries the best record in baseball and, as reigning World Series champions, have their eyes on defending their title come October.
Padres hope to play the role of underdog to perfection this year
Even Padres ace Yu Darvish knows they’re trying to take down a behemoth in the Dodgers, telling reporters this weekend that Los Angeles is the best team in the league right now.
Fangraphs has the NL West unsurprisingly pegged as a two-team race. Either LA or San Diego will wear the crown at year’s end. Of course, no team other than the Dodgers have ruled in this division since 2012 – an impressive run of nearly a full decade. But the Padres are hoping they can turn their roughly one-in-five chance of dethroning their rival into a Cinderella story by year’s end.
The only way they can do that? Come out on top in the future head-to-head battles. These games mean too much in the standings to think you’re winning the West without having the upper hand here. As for me? I’m ready for round two – and I think the Padres are going to take it to the Dodgers on their home turf.