Anyone who lives in the State of Texas will tell you that there is no love lost between the folks who live in the Dallas area and those who are from the areas around Houston. They will fight tooth and nail to tell you why the other is the worst place to live in the entire United States of America while proudly bragging about themselves. Each metroplex boasts professional sports teams, but for whatever reason, the two cities, despite their mutual disdain for one another, have never really had a strong sports rivalry. In fact, one could go so far as to say there is not a professional sports rivalry within state lines. Now, with the Houston Astros joining the Texas Rangers in the American League West this season, perhaps we could finally see that change.
Sure the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans both coexist within the state, but with the teams playing in different conferences, there isn’t much of a rivalry – at least not a mutual one. A vast majority of the residents of the state were born and raised to cheer for America’s Team, and despite the Texans’ recent success, the two teams don’t play each other enough for there to be much bad blood between them.
Then there are the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets. Again, not much of a rivalry. While both teams do play in the Western Conference, they are in different divisions. Additionally, the two teams have never been consistently good at the same time, so there haven’t been too many meaningful series amongst the two, and if fans are being honest, both teams take a backseat to the San Antonio Spurs, the team that draws the most love and hate among fans.
That leaves the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. Until now, the teams played in separate leagues and have rarely squared off in a series that mattered. Though the MLB tried to force a regional rivalry with the inception of the Lone Star Series in 2001, it didn’t seem to resonate with fans of either team. Much like the two cities’ NBA teams, neither team was good at the same time; as a result, no feelings of disdain ever grabbed hold of either fan base.
Now, however, the Astros’ move to the AL West may be just the thing to set the wheels of a bitter in-state rivalry in motion. Yes, the Rangers have been one of the best teams in baseball over the last few years while the Astros have been among the worst, but with the two ball clubs becoming divisional foes now, surely some bad blood will start surface. It may take a few years and perhaps a few major upsets, but I think in time, it will happen.
The two teams will first meet on Opening Day this season, which is always a big deal, and will take the field against one another 19 times throughout the year, including three times in the final week when postseason spots are often on the line.
If the Rangers can maintain their success over the next several seasons and the Astros can find a way to rebuild, the two cities could finally find even more reasons to hate one another.
In a state in which football is and always will be king, it will be great for the game of baseball, not to mention its fans, to have two hated rivals squaring off against each other several times throughout the the season inside state lines – all for the sake of state pride.