Ah, yes, this again. Have the San Diego Padres infiltrated the mainstream media to try and push this narrative in their favor? Because it really feels like it ... but it's still not working. And as long as Los Angeles Dodgers fans don't bend, it'll never become a reality.
On Sunday Night Baseball, Mookie Betts was mic'ed up during ESPN's broadcast, and as he was running off the field in between innings, he was asked what the bigger rivalry was: Yankees vs Red Sox or Dodgers vs Padres.
Excuse us? Not "Dodgers vs Giants or Dodgers vs Padres," which was the discussion from last season? We're trying to jump the line and surpass baseball's most heated and historic rivalry between the two AL East clubs?
True Dodgers fans will tell you that Dodgers-Pads isn't even the biggest rivalry in the division. Betts was previously asked about Dodgers-Giants vs Yankees-Red Sox and still gave the nod to the latter because, well, he's been through both and has lived to tell the tale. Fans are constantly arguing about the inter-division tensions, and still believe the spat with San Francisco runs far deeper, regardless of the teams' contention status. Are the Pads a rival? Absolutely. Do they now get the top spot because they've been "relevant" for the better part of the last three seasons? No.
Betts didn't take the bait from the ESPN crew, and it'll hopefully keep Padres fans quiet for the time being.
Mookie Betts answers ESPN's question about Dodgers-Padres rivalry
"New York and Boston is more hostile." There's your answer without a hard yes or no. Betts knows how to handle questions like these like a pro.
The fact he was willing to go more in-depth about Padres fans' taunting tactics should probably indicate that this rivalry has ways to go before it can match the high-intensity Yankees-Sox tilts, which almost always open up old wounds every time the two teams meet. In merely comparing histories, the Sox had an 86-year championship drought the Yankees worked to sustain, and then Boston destroyed New York's identity after the 2004 ALCS, a thorough demolition that has lasted until present day.
That's why the postgame analysis after Yankees-Sox isn't focused on players "eating corn the long way" or a Clayton Kershaw crying meme.
The Padres have made the playoffs twice since the start of 2007, and one appearance came during the shortened 2020 season. They have just three seasons in which they notched winning records over that span, too. LA and San Diego have met only twice in the playoffs, and both meetings came over the last three years.
This is certainly a budding rivalry and one that's catching the attention of all baseball fans, but that doesn't mean it's achieved historic, household notoriety after 1.3 seasons of competitive baseball. Betts has been around long enough to know that, which is why he's not breathing life into a conversation that's getting years ahead of itself.