With the advent of interleague play, fans were treated to AL-NL crosstown rivalries playing out annually during the regular season. Even so, spring training rivalry games are still a big deal, and this year sees the usual number of fascinating matchups.
Traditionally, spring training was the only place to see crosstown rivalry games between American League and National League teams. But when interleague play launched in 1997, those New York City and Chicago crosstown matches lost a little luster. Still, rivalry games are still major events in spring training, with larger crowds and more interest from Florida and Arizona fans who won’t make the trek to Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field to see their favorite teams and dreaded opponents take the field.
Here are the major MLB rivalries and how they are playing out in spring training 2019.
Cubs-White Sox The Cubs are the biggest draw in the Cactus League, no matter the venue. And a Cubs-White Sox game is always an occasion, no matter the venue. The two teams play on opposite sides of the Valley, but you can expect big crowds both at Sloan Park and Camelback Ranch-Glendale. The White Sox visit Sloan Park on March 3, on a weekend that sees the Milwaukee Brewers in town as well; the Cubs head to Camelback Ranch-Glendale on March 15.
Dodgers-Angels This is another rivalry series destined to be a good draw, no matter the records of the teams. The rivalry should be brought into sharp focus in 2019, with the Dodgers coming off a World Series appearance and the Angels shifting direction with the addition of Brad Ausmus as manager. Traditionally, both teams take these matches seriously, and there might be a little extra incentive for the Angels to make some headlines back home. Definitely plan ahead, as the Angels head to Camelback Ranch-Glendale during the first weekend of spring-training games on Feb. 24; the Dodgers return the favor the following week with a visit to Tempe Diablo Stadium on March 7. If you miss both, there’s always the annual Freeway Series. On March 24 the teams square off at Dodger Stadium; the teams then play two Angel Stadium games on March 25 and on March 26.
Giants-Athletics The Bay Area rivalry will appear in a truncated version in 2019, as the Oakland Athletics are ending spring training early to head to Tokyo to open the regular series against Seattle. So plan ahead, but’s possible to see both Giants-Athletics games in a four-day stretch. The Giants host the Athletics at Scottsdale Stadium on March 7, while the A’s host the Giants on March 10 at Hohokam Stadium. If you miss out on the Arizona action, you can catch the two teams squaring off in the Bay Area immediately before the launch of the regular season in the United States. The Athletics host the Giants at the Oakland Coliseum on March 24; the Giants host the Athletics at AT&T Park on March 25 and on March 26.
Tampa Bay-Miami It’s a little surprising there’s not more of a rivalry between MLB’s two Florida franchises. But there are hardcore fans for both clubs who will follow their faves across the state. In this case, only one game will take place between the pair, when the Rays host the Marlins on Feb. 25 at Charlotte Sports Park.
There’s one more huge rivalry to address: Red Sox-Yankees. Yes, the American League East rivals get plenty of attention during the regular season, as games between the two play out on plenty of national broadcasts. Despite the exposure, spring-training games between the pair usually sell out quickly. The Red Sox kick off the Grapefruit League schedule on Feb. 26 when the Yankees visit JetBlue Park in Fort Myers; the Yankees host the Red Sox on March 15 when Boston visits Steinbrenner Field.
Alas, one traditional rivalry was not included on the Grapefruit League schedule: the Yankees and the Mets will not face each other in spring training 2019.