Poll: Is Dodgers vs Padres a Legitimate Rivalry?
The Dodgers and Padres face off at Dodger Stadium South tonight for the first match up of the 2023 season. A lot has changed since these two clubs faced off last October in the NLDS. The Dodgers lost some key pieces like All-Stars Trea Turner, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger. The Padres meanwhile, went out and signed former All-Stars like Xander Bogaerts, Michael Wacha, Nelson Cruz, and perhaps most importantly, have Fernando Tatis Jr back after missing the 2022 season due to injury and later suspension.
San Diego also spent big to ensure that it won’t be losing talent any time soon, inking Manny Machado and Yu Darvish to long-term extensions keeping them Friars for the rest of their careers.
Still, as we head into game one of 13 in 2023, the Dodgers have been the better team where it counts — the stats (LA +42 run differential vs – 3 for SD) and the standings (LA 19-13, 1st place in NLW, SD 17-15, 3rd place in NLW). But, as fans learned last October, regular season wins are nice, but they don’t mean everything.
Not even 111 of them.
Over the last few years, the idea or the question of is this a rivalry now? gets thrown around a lot. Back in 2020, the Padres were up and coming and, perhaps, a little too try hard. And I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. It was a club that was new to winning ballgames together.
Dodgers fans can remember that feeling from the 2014-2015 teams.
In 2021, the Padres took a step back amid injuries and underperformance. But in 2022, they found something. Sure, the Dodgers beat them in the regular season… handily. The Dodgers won 14 of 19 contests and outscored the Pads 109-47.
Despite those numbers, there were some good games in there. Then, in October, San Diego made its statement.
So, Is Dodgers Padres a Legitimate Rivalry Now?
Well, if you ask Dodgers fans right now, they still say no. 54% of the still running poll say no.
That, strangely enough, is higher than it was when the Padres just downed the Dodgers in the NLDS. And, as fun as it is to say it isn’t a rivalry, it is, by definition “a rivalry” and it just might be the best one in baseball right now.
As I said on Twitter, that honestly says as much about how good these Dodgers vs Padres games have been over the last few years and couple of postseasons as it does about how not good the rest of baseball rivalries feel as a whole right now. It’s not the same as it was 10 or 15 years ago. Yankees v Red Sox is a legacy rivalry, but that edge isn’t there right now. Same with Dodgers vs Giants. The Giants are the franchise’s biggest rival, but even when the two clubs were going toe to toe with one another in 2021, it wasn’t that spicy.
There was no Barry Bonds vs Eric Gagne moment. There was no Yasiel Puig vs Madison Bumgarner. No John Roseboro vs Juan Marichal (thank god).
Not that a rivalry needs bench clearing moments.
It was tense in 2021 but the added adrenaline wasn’t the same that you’re probably feeling as the we head into this series in San Diego.
I know I’ve already upset 99% of people reading this, and that’s fine — now we have a rivalry! But the fact that EVERYONE gets so up in arms about the Dodgers and the Padres playing baseball against one another is what should tell you it’s a rivalry.
So, enjoy it. Get angry. Get loud. But keep it civil.
And Dodgers in 5.