By Keith Antigiovanni
After years of baseball fans outside the northeast U.S. being "forced-fed" the same old 4 hour long Yankees-Red Sox games it looks as if the "west" is in the process of developing its' own version with the Rangers- Angels rivalry.
What proof is there that this is now a premiere American League rivalry? Check out the slate of national games this weekend. On friday night The MLB Network showed the Rangers/Angels, FOX saturday game is showing Rangers/Angels and ESPN will show the Rangers/Angels as its' sunday night game.
Texas has been to two consecutive World Series while the LA of Anaheim won the World Series 10 years ago and won the AL West five out of six years between 2004 and 2009. Prior to the 2000's the Rangers dominated the division with 3 out of 4 AL West titles in the late 1990's.
The Rangers-Angels does not have the history of the Yankees-Red Sox nor the close proximity of the two cities. Arlington/Anaheim doesnt exactly have a "marquee" ring to it but both teams represent huge media markets (Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles) and both markets have numerous other professional and collegiate teams which means high ratings for the TV guys.
Historically both teams joined the AL as twin expansion clubs and the majors first expansion teams in 1961, the Rangers as the Washington Senators and Angels as the Los Angeles Angels. The Senators moved to Dallas/Fort Worth in 1972 and became the Rangers. Prior to expansion both markets were very successful "minor league" markets going back to the early 1900's.
Dallas and Fort Worth were separate teams and were part of the Texas League while the original Angels were in Pacific Coast League territory. Dallas and Fort Worth dominated the Texas League between 1902 and 1958 with Dallas winning 11 pennants and Fort Worth with 14 pennants. Both clubs won numerous playoff titles and Dixie Series (the World Series of the South between the champions of the Texas League and Southern Association).
Meanwhile on the west coast the Angels were dominating the PCL with 14 pennants in 55 years (1903-1957) but were forcerd to move before 1958 when Walter O'Malley moved his Brooklyn Dodgers to the Southland.
In 1972 when the Rangers started they also joined the AL West and have been division rivals with the Angels ever since but until recently there were very few defining moments in this rivalry and there has still yet to be any.
Despite its' relative newness the Rangers/Angels rivalry is a definite breath of a fresh air for baseball fans all over the country.