Responding To A Rival

(via iStockPhoto)

Rivalries in sports are heated. It effects players and fans alike. The only thing worse that your teams biggest rival beating your favorite team, is when your rival does something you want for yourself. So put yourself in the shoes of the General Manager of your favorite sports team. Your biggest rival just signed a marquee name free agent. How do you react? How do you assure your fan base that you are ready to compete with your biggest rival?

In 2003, the (then) Anaheim Angels were purchased by Arte Moreno. Moreno immediately lowered the price of beer at Angel Stadium (then known as Edison International Field). He followed that by signing a few big free agents in Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar, and Jose Guillen. Then, he landed the big kahuna. Vladimir Guerrero, the prize of the 2003-2004 off-season, signed a 5-year, $70-million deal that would place him in Anaheim.

But just a few weeks, if not days, before Guerrero signed with the Angels, baseball insiders all had predicted that he was extremely close to signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The LA club, which is located a mere 31.5 miles north of the Anaheim headquarters of the Angels, was in the middle of a ownership transfer. A deal was on the table and agreed on. All that was needed was a signature. Guerrero became concerned with the new ownership, the Angels swooped in and, as they say, the rest is history. In his six seasons in Anaheim, Guerrero won the Most Valuable Player award once and the Angels went to the playoffs five times. In the same amount of time, the Dodgers experienced various amounts of postseason success, but also suffered a winning percentage of .438, one of the worst the 128 year old franchise has ever seen.

The Angels jumped on the opportunity that their rivals faltered on. The response was loud and heard throughout all of major league baseball.

After the 2004 World Series victory of the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees traded for future Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson.

After the 2012 New York Giants Super Bowl victory, the New York Jets traded for the extremely popular Tim Tebow.

These transactions, signing and trading players, are almost forced upon the teams by their fans. If a rival team does well, the fans want something to be done to counteract their success. If a rival is struggling, the fans want to step on the gas and widen the gap between the two. Are the transactions athletically based to try and make the team better? Of course. Are the transactions based around marketing, public relations, and appeasing a fan base? Absolutely.

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