Though their importance has been lessened with the launch of interleague games, rivalry games still play a big role in spring training, attracting big crowds and plenty of interest. Here are the games to put on your calendar.
Now that teams like the New York Yankees and New York Mets face each other multiple times in the season thanks to interleague play, you’d think rivalry games would matter less in spring training. But, honestly, we find them to be important dates on the calendar. Attendance for a Dodgers-Giants or Red Sox-Yankees game will be higher than normal as well, making it essential that you plan well in advance to attend these matches.
(Speaking of the Yankees/Mets: the two teams will not face each other this spring, alas. Training at opposite ends of the state has its drawbacks.)
Here are the rivalry games that will draw large crowds and, in most cases, sell out.
New York Yankees / Boston Red Sox. These games are the highlights on both team’s calendars. Though regular-season matches featuring these two seem to pop up on too many national broadcasts, spring-training games featuring the pair still draw well. The Yankees will visit the Red Sox at JetBlue Park on Feb. 29; the Red Sox will visit the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on March 3.
Baltimore Orioles / Washington Nationals. Another fierce rivalry in spring training, though distance prevents large numbers of teams making the drive to and from Sarasota and West Palm Beach. The Orioles will visit the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 3; the Nationals will visit the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on March 17.
Pittsburgh Pirates / Philadelphia Phillies. Though the teams regularly play in the regular season, there’s always passion for an all-Pennsylvania game in spring training. The Pirates will visit the Phillies at Spectrum Field on Feb. 23, on March 4 and on March 15; the Phillies will visit the Pirates at LECOM Park on Feb. 25 and on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.
Los Angeles Dodgers / San Francisco Giants. Yes, this rivalry definitely plays out in spring training. The Giants will visit the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch-Giants on March 4; the Dodgers will visit the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium on March 6.
San Francisco Giants / Oakland Athletics. Bay Area matchups draw well, and often sell out. The Giants will visit the Athletics at Hohokam Stadium on Feb. 23; the Athletics will visit the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium on March 19. In addition, the two teams will play their annual exhibitions in the Bay Area before the start of the regular season: March 23 at the Oakland Coliseum and March 24 at Oracle Park.
Chicago Cubs / Chicago White Sox. Another crosstown rivalry that inspires a lot of passion in fans, no matter how well either team is doing. The White Sox will visit the Cubs at Sloan Park on March 6; the Cubs will visit the White Sox at Camelback Ranch-Glendale on March 13.