In the game of baseball today we have a precarious situation. We have four teams that, within their own division, battle for dominance in the state in which they reside. I am, of course, speaking about the state of California. In the late 1800’s the United States had an area west of the Mississippi River that was so raw and untamed that nobody dared to go out there. It was lawless and if you did dare to venture out there, you would have had a high chance of getting beaten within an inch of your life and robbed of all the dignity that you went out there with. It was called the Wild, Wild West, because that’s exactly what it was; wild. We have a modern day baseball version of that in the state of California. We will call it, The Wild, Wild West: Baseball Edition.
It is no question that there is a division rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but another Bay Area versus L.A battle has begun: the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Oakland Athletics are currently sitting at the top of the baseball world with the best record in the major leagues, but right behind them is their Southern California divisional competitors, the Angels. The A’s entered this season as back-to-back AL Western Division champions, hoping to get another shot at the playoffs this year. About 400 miles south of Oakland, the Angels are trying to salvage their reputation after failing to perform up to expectations. Those expectations were set at the moon following the signings of Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, and Josh Hamilton over the last few years. While the A’s are securing first place in the AL West, the Angels are hoping to hold on to a Wild Card spot if they can’t beat out the Athletics. But, how will this upcoming rivalry change as baseball moves closer to October?
Oakland has taken the division title for the last two years, but they failed to move forward in the playoffs. Let’s be honest, the A’s are at the top of their game right now. Josh Donaldson is swinging a heavy bat with over 70 RBI’s this season, while the A’s pitching staff is stellar. Saying the A’s are a consistent team would be an understatement; in fact, the A’s are currently leading Major League Baseball with over 500 runs scored this season, the lowest team ERA, and the second lowest team WHIP. Adding Jon Lester to their already phenomenal rotation will only strengthen their team and have their batting opponents shaking their boots. At the rate they are going, it looks like the World Series is going to be at O.co this year. That is, however, dependent on the Angels attempt to stop Oakland from taking the division title.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are hoping to close the gap on the A’s two and a half game lead in the AL West and bring a World Series back to Anaheim for the first time since 2002. To combat the A’s phenomenal offense, the Angels hold 475 RBI’s of their own, but their pitching staff is not quite as stellar. It doesn’t help that the Angels are were facing the AL Central division leader the Detroit Tigers, while the Athletics got to face the worst team in baseball, the Texas Rangers. Albert Pujols and Mike Trout will have to team up and battle for a Wild Card spot if they hope to see the playoffs.
In the infamous NL West rivalry, the San Francisco Giants dropped their 9 game lead over the Dodgers and have currently fallen behind their Southern California rivals by three games. Last weekend’s pivotal series between the two could be an early determinate for the final standings in the NL West. Starting Friday, the offensively struggling Giants faced Zack Greinke, where the Los Angeles Dodgers scored 8 runs to the Giants lonely 1 run. As if they couldn’t stop the bleeding, San Francisco had to continue on to face the LA ace Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu. While the Dodgers faced the Giants in San Francisco, the Giants home turf wasn’t an issue as Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig blasted three triples Friday night. The Dodgers easily swept the Giants, but they will still have to worry about the Giants gaining momentum and building towards a dominant second half. This rivalry will have fans biting their nails throughout the season, as the two teams will face off in two more series, including one in the last week of regular season baseball.
If the races in the Western divisions continue this closely throughout the second half of the season, California will have to prepare itself for an inter-state baseball war heading into October.