At one time that answer was pretty clear-cut: the Yankees. But does that still hold true? Also what makes a matchup a rivalry anyway?
That definition is the eye of the beholder. But here is my take ranking the Orioles’ rivals:
1. Orioles vs. Yankees: There is just so much history here. Jeffrey Maier. Alan Mills dukes out Darryl Strawberry. Earl Weaver against Billy Martin. Games at Yankee Stadium featuring late-inning heartbreak for O’s fans. Games at Camden Yards that sounded like they were at Yankee Stadium. Yeah, plenty of reason for O’s fans to want to beat the Yankees.
2. Orioles vs. Red Sox: This one has a lot of history in that the two teams have played each other plenty of times, but it seemed less of a heated rivalry than O’s-Yankees until recent years. O’s fans took great pride in the Curse of the Andino. Some O’s fans have said in recent years they deem Red Sox fans as the most obnoxious to venture into Camden Yards, unseating the Yankees faithful.
3. Orioles vs. Blue Jays: This rivalry sure picked up steam in recent years. Jose Bautista against Darren O’Day. Bautista against Adam Jones. Bautista against everyone, it seems. Fans who go back a few years are still mad that then Toronto manager Cito Gaston didn’t pitch Mike Mussina in the 1993 All-Star Game - and not just any game, one at Camden Yards. Years later, it seems impossible that happened, or, better said, didn’t happen.
4. Orioles vs. Rays: For years, there was not much to get worked up about here. Both clubs were near the American League East cellar. Even as they both got better, not too much of a rivalry developed. It is more like a friendly rivalry or one of respect. It seems many O’s fans have always admired how Tampa Bay could do more with less (in the dollars department). The Rays showed that the little guy could compete with big spenders like New York and Boston. But we’ll make this one No. 4 based on the importance of division games.
5. Orioles vs. Nationals: This is a rivalry that seems mostly media-driven. But the teams do share the mid-Atlantic region, a TV network and, in certain respects, compete for some of the same fans and fan dollars. It seems like a friendly rivalry also and the teams do only meet twice a year.
How do you rank the Orioles’ rivalries and what makes a team a rival?