The Cleveland Indians lack a major rivalry due to the incredibly long MLB season and several other factors unique to baseball.
Plenty of Cleveland Indians fans are also Ohio State football fans.
“The Game” is taking place as I write this and it got me thinking how such rivalries are unique to football. The only MLB equivalent is Yankees/Red Sox, but the amount of games played between the two every year diminishes the intensity in the regular season.
The same goes for the Indians against the rest of the American League Central. Any sustained bad blood between the likes of the Detroit Tigers or Kansas City Royals is now lost due to some intense rebuilds in both cases.
The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins don’t scream rivalry either. It would take tight division races several years in a row, and a few controversial or intense games, for Indians fans to pack the house to boo any Central foe on a consistent basis.
Baseball rivalries gain momentum with consistent postseason meetings. I can admit to hating the Chicago Cubs in 2016. But it would have taken another World Series meeting between the two teams in 2017 for any talk of a true rivalry to begin. The actual result was a one-off series that will go down in baseball lore.
Several postseason series against the same team could help build some sort of rivalry. Teams like the Houston Astros and New York Yankees come to mind right away. But if there isn’t a postseason series every year the hate begins to fade as there is turnover among the top teams in the league.
So as opposed to a true rivalry, I would say baseball allows for selective bad blood. The Astros openly (allegedly) cheating will have a lot of Indians fans hating that team during any future matchup.
Fans dislike the Yankees simply because they are the Yankees.
As for the rest of the division, perhaps some more competition from the Twins and the White Sox will create a more competitive atmosphere during the regular season. That would be a nice shift after a few regular seasons that seemed to lack meaning and motivation.
Do you think the Indians have a true rival?