- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Confrontation lies at the essence of baseball. Batter versus pitcher, American League versus National League, nachos versus peanuts. Competitive tension is good for the game and the box office. Baseball expects to sell more tickets this year than for any other season in its history, and in great part it can thank the simultaneous strength of its oldest and most rabid team rivalries in the Northeast ( Red Sox-- Yankees), the Midwest (Cardinals-Cubs) and the West (Dodgers-Giants).
1�- RED SOX VERSUS YANKEES Who's your granddaddy? This one's the crotchety old grandpa of them all. The fans don't like each other, the players don't like each other--this spring Trot Nixon called out Alex Rodriguez as a "clown"--and the owners don't like each other. They've met 52 times over the past two seasons, including two seven-game ALCS epics. ( Boston holds a 27-25 lead.) Anybody up for 26 more this year?
2 - BARRY BONDS VERSUS THE WORLD The media are out to get him. The feds are out to get him. The alleged mistress is out to get him. Now he's out with a knee injury. Oh, well. There's always Sanford and Son reruns.
3 - STEROIDS VERSUS THE RECORD BOOK Now that so many players have made asterisks of themselves, do you believe what you just saw?
6 - STAT GEEKS VERSUS SCOUTS Baseball's holy war. Can pasty number crunchers who worship statistical analysis and leathery-necked, tobacco-spitting scouts just get along? Uh, no.
7 - LOS ANGELES ( Angels) VERSUS LOS ANGELES ( Dodgers) Angels owner Arte Moreno wants L.A.'s name, fans and TV market. The Dodgers, who haven't won a playoff series since Peter Ueberroth was commissioner, are ripe for the picking.
8 - PEDRO MARTINEZ VERSUS JORGE POSADA With the Red Sox, Martinez infamously yelled at the Yankees catcher in the '03 ALCS while pointing at his head. Posada and the Yankees took the gesture to mean Martinez was going to hit the catcher in the head with a pitch. Posada won't like Martinez any more now that the pitcher is a Met.