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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rivalries

The older I've gotten, the more I have realized that sports rivalries are more for the fans and inhabitants of the cities, than for the athletes themselves. Really, they are perceived rivalries. Sure, you occasionally get a Yankees-Red Sox brawl, and might hear a lot of trash talking from players before a Vikings-Packers game, but I have come to believe that about 90 percent of a rivalry is simply posturing and good marketing (remember how packed the Dome used to be for the Twins-Brewers Border Battles?). And there's nothing wrong with that, it's just a fact of professional sports: we, the fans, care much more about the rivalry than do most of the actual players.

Then I read this article on ESPN today, "Jesse Crain Yet to Hear from Ex-Mate" (http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/story?id=6154804), and it made me feel good. On the one hand, it detailed that Justin Morneau works out in the offseason with White Sox player Mark Teahen, but that seems to be pretty common between players, based on offseason training programs and location. But it was interesting to hear that Morneau has yet to "congratulate" Jesse Crain on his lucrative contract.

Perhaps Morneau is the exception to what I believe are perceived, fan-driven rivalries. I really like to think that Morneau would have called had Crain signed out of the AL Central, but that the idea of any Twins player signing with our division rival got under Morneau's skin. The White Sox made some good moves during the offseason, and let us not forget that they won 88 games in 2010, not a bad total. The division race in 2011 looks like it's going to be a lot closer than last year, and I, for one, can't wait for the first time Crain has to face the heart of the Twins' lineup.

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