The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks won’t only square off in Australia for their opening series, but the two teams will also face off in the first spring training game next week. These NL West teams have a strengthened rivalry after a huge brawl ensued between the two last June. After the incident, eight suspensions and 12 fines were handed out.
The brawl was step one in the so-called rivalry as the Dodgers infamously jumped in the Chase Field pool after clinching the NL West title to the chagrin of several Diamondbacks players and executives. According to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson has a different perspective on the competitive nature between these teams:
This is something, I think, that has been picked up a little bit by some of the media. It’s actually overblown, I believe. Over the course of my career, that’s not the only time I’ve been on the field. It’s part of the game. They did what they had to do. I understand why they did it. If you go back and look at the history, how it evolved into that, it’s very easy to see.
It’s clear that the media has a huge influence on the way fans perceive rivalries. Saxon would also add that manager Don Mattingly shared similar feelings with Gibson:
I’ve seen that with the Boston-New York rivalry. It gets built up by the media. It only kind of flares up when it happens on the field. It’s a good rivalry. They’ve got good clubs, they play hard. I know we’re not going to back off or back away from anybody.”
Although both managers tried to downplay the unrest between the two teams, one can’t deny the two teams don’t like each other. Whether it was DBacks GM Kevin Towers wanting his pitchers to throw inside to Dodger hitters ,DBacks owner Ken Kendrick saying about the Dodgers, “we owe those guys” or Gibson taking a shot at catcher A.J. Ellis, there’s unfinished business on the field.
After their series in Australia, the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks will meet 14 more times during the regular season. As Mattingly said jokingly earlier in the off-season, it’ll be the “Rumble Down Under”.
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