We’re one week removed from the newly-crowned best rivalry in baseball: the reigning World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers and the young and hungry San Diego Padres.

And we already miss it.

The Dodgers took 2 out 3 the first series and the Padres took 3 of 4 in the second. It had everything from bat-flipping, sign-stealing, dugout chirping, and even social media meme creating, only further stirring up the pot of drama between the most-intriguing matchup between the division rivals.

Unfortunately, we won’t get to see these teams go at it again until late June. So, to tide us over until then, let’s go over some of the other pivotal rivalries shaping the league until then (only here’s the catch: none of them are team vs. team).

Cubs’ Shoulders vs Baseballs

Photo: Tim Stebbins / nbcchicago.com

It’s time to start worrying about the health of the Cubs’ shoulders as this rivalry is blazing. Anthony Rizzo crowds the plate so hard with his stance that he’s by far the active leader in hit by pitches at 155 and has led the league in three out of the last five seasons. Willson Contreras led the league last season, and currently leads the National League. In fact, he got hit so much by the Brewers alone that even when they weren’t throwing at him intentionally at first, Contreras THOUGHT they were, and the interdivision beef began with the benches clearing. For the sake of their teams’ health and the ramifications that could come with a brawl, lean off the plate a bit, fellas.

Manny Machado vs EVERYONE

Manny Machado has become widely-regarded as a villainous face in baseball. Boston hates him for when he raked against them in Baltimore, and at one point he slid into the leg of Dustin Pedroia, and of course they got their revenge during his stint as a Dodger when they beat him in the World Series. The Brewers hate him for trucking Jesus Aguilar intentionally in the NLCS. The Dodgers hate him because when he didn’t run out a ground ball for them in that same NLCS, he claimed he wasn’t a “Johnny Hustle” and that running hard wasn’t his cup of tea, then he left and signed with a division rival.

All of these make sense because there is a history.

But earlier this season, in a series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, the Ranger fans booed him with a level of intensity as if he had clubbed the statue of Nolan Ryan outside the stadium with a bat pregame. Machado has done pretty much nothing to the Rangers and they still hate him, so I’m convinced everyone but the team he plays for will yell symphonies of jeers at every away game.

 It’s Manny, the man who got paid $300 million to have fun playing baseball in San Diego, against everybody.

Seattle Mariners vs Capitalizing on Hot Starts

For a while to open this year, the Mariners looked hot even without their reigning AL Rookie of the Year, Kyle Lewis, in the lineup. They started out 12-7 with an impressive win over the Dodgers and went 4-1-2 in all of their series. However, year after year, the Mariners feel like a team that gets off to a good start to the year despite low expectations, only to fall back on their face. In 2019, they started off 13-2. They would finish last at 68-94. In 2018, they started off 17-11, 2nd in the division at the time. They would finish third in the division at 89-73.

No matter how optimistic the Mariners get to begin the year, they’re somehow always irrelevant when it counts and dumping their veteran stars to just retool and focus on the next year. For a team with by far the longest postseason drought at 19 years, something’s gotta give in Seattle. They finally have a roster that’s getting filled out with promising youth as their prospects make the big leagues. Let’s not talk about the playoffs before we talk about being competitive past the All-Star Break first.

Cleveland Indians vs Superstars on Their Own Team

Trevor Bauer. Corey Kluber. Mike Clevinger. Carlos Carrasco. Francisco Lindor. All of these guys were Cleveland Indians within the last 5 years. All of them have been traded even with the Indians consistently winning. Yes, they are still winning, yes, they are still producing young talent that is much cheaper than the contracts they would have had to give out to those guys they traded, but can you imagine how good the Indians, the 4th-richest ownership group, would be if they had just opened up their pocket books a little bit to put together a possible rotation of Bauer, Kluber, Clevinger, Carrasco, and Shane Bieber with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez in the lineup? It’s as if they say “challenge accepted” when winning becomes too easy and dump any superstar who is playing well. Maybe someday they’ll extend someone to a big deal in free agency, but the way it’s looked the last decade, let’s just say no one should be faithful in buying a Cleveland Shane Bieber or Jose Ramirez jersey that will last a long time.

New York Yankees vs the IL

The New York Yankees have the finest of facilities, travel accommodations, and organizational care according to retired pitcher, CC Sabathia. You would think this would translate into the medical staff, yet somehow the entire team ends up never being together at full-strength. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are built like demigods, Judge at 6’7 282 lbs and Stanton at 6’6 245; Judge has missed 139 games in his first 5 years and is still plagued with the bug this year, and Stanton only had 59 at bats in 2019 and played 23 total games in 2020. Luis Severino hasn’t pitched since the end of 2018. Luke Voit, the mountain man who led the league in homers last year, still hasn’t played a game this year. The list goes on and on over the last 5 seasons, which goes to show how deep of a roster they are each season as they still manage to contend in the AL East, but the Yankees haven’t ever had this team fully-healthy and should use some of Steinbrenner’s cash to invest in wizards with healing potions to join their medical staff if they ever plan on it.

Jacob DeGrom vs the New York Mets

Jacob DeGrom is a pitcher on the New York Mets. 

The New York Mets are also his greatest opponent.

The 2-time Cy Young Award-winner might be one of the greatest pitchers of this generation, a sure-fire hall of famer, but it has become comical how many times he’s taken a loss or a no-decision because the Mets actively try to not score during his starts. Since 2018, he has an ERA of 2.06 with 649 strikeouts in 61 quality starts. The Mets’ record in the games he started? 36-42. He’s had 31 losses blown by the bullpen, and the lineup only averages 4.1 runs per 9 innings during his starts. He’s 32 and only has 72 wins. It’s criminal. When DeGrom starts, the question that goes through baseball viewers’ brains isn’t, “I wonder if he’s going to have a good outing today,” but rather, “I wonder if the Mets will do enough for him to get the win today.” It’s DeGrom against his own team. Every game.

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