Spring Training Rivalry in the Desert and Down Under
One the of bigger moments in the National League West race during the 2013 Major League Baseball season was a brawl between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks that took place on June 11th at Dodger Stadium. The donnybrook broke out after (then) Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy plunked both Yasiel Puig and fellow pitcher Zack Greinke. The Dodgers took umbrage with one of their aces being hit on the pitching shoulder and punches were thrown, and ejections took place.
At the time, the Diamondbacks were leading the Dodgers by 7.5 games and seemed to be in control, although early, of the NL West. It proved to be a huge turning point for both teams, and when the Dodgers clinched the division after a victory on the Diamondbacks home field on September 19, 2013 in Phoenix, a group of LA players jumped the outfield fence and took a dip in Chase Field’s swimming pool, which is the only one of its kind in major league parks around the country. Rumors flew that the Dodgers also used the pool for their personal toilet, so an already simmering rivalry grew decidedly darker.
Flash forward to spring training 2014 where both the Diamondbacks and Dodgers do their warm ups in the Valley of the Sun. The two teams meet three times before they head to Australia to open the season against each other at the Sydney Cricket Grounds. Each team has been warned, of course, to be on their best behavior as they play the role of ambassadors for the American pastime down under. All baseball fans, though, know that at some point this season, these two teams are going to lock horns again. Considering how much Australians love their Australian Football League and Rugby, maybe the boys in Dodger Blue and the Dbacks in their Sedona Red should just get it out of the way right up front?
Either way, the Dodgers are stacked this year and backed by some of the deepest pockets in the game. With Matt Kemp poised to return from an injury-riddled 2013 season and arguably the best pitching staff in the game, Dodger fans have huge expectations for 2014. Nothing less than a World Series run will satiate the Dodgers title hungry fan base, while the Diamondbacks look to improve upon two straight .500 seasons. For the team from the desert, they are looking for a return to form for catcher Miguel Montero after a disastrous 2013, as well as the addition of slugging left fielder Mark Trumbo, who can protect Paul Goldschmidt quite a bit more than anyone Kirk Gibson had at his disposal last year.
Will fireworks and fists fly when these two team meet in 2014? You bet, or as the Aussie’s like to say, it’s fair dinkum.