Yes, Virginia, there are rivalries beyond Red Sox-Yankees

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Marc Normandin has a fun column up at Sports On Earth today, talking about the rivalries in baseball beyond Yankees-Red Sox. He hits the Cardinals-Reds, Dbacks-Dodgers, Rays-Red Sox and Nationals-Braves. Yours truly is quoted in the Nats-Braves section.

For what it’s worth, my view is that while Nats-Braves is a rivalry now, the Braves have never really had a sustained rival. Partially because the Braves have moved from city to city and then switched divisions in the mid-90s. Partially because there has never been a sustained head-to-head thing between them and other teams. They stunk pretty bad for a long time, then when they were good their challengers were always different. The Dodgers for a bit, the Giants for one awesome year, and aborted Expos thing that could’ve been amazing if the team hadn’t been dismantled. A more recent cycle of Mets-Phillies-Nats. Throw in the notion that, yes, there is some truth to how passionate Braves fans can be and you get a lot of rivalries of opportunity as opposed to rivalries that really run deep.

Anyway, a fun article. I’m sure everyone has their own notion of what a rivalry is and what teams they truly loathe.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.