Bull League rivalries
There are several Bull League rivalries that exist between teams, arising for various reasons. The main reasons are normally geographic proximity, regional or national pride, or playing histories and familiarity.
- 1 Lake League
- 2 Metropolitan League
- 3 Interleague
- 4 Historical
- 5 References
Boston Brawlers vs. Ohio Oxen
The Boston Brawlers and the Ohio Oxen have a rivalry that goes back to 1991, when the teams faced off in the LCCS, and Boston won, moving on to the Bull Cup. The next two times these teams met in the LLCS, in 2009 and 2016, Ohio took the series.
In 2009, Ohio had entered as a wild card, and won 3-2. In 2016, Ohio took the series 3-1, after having lost the series opener.
A selection of highlights between the two clubs include:
- June 28, 2017, Boston held Ohio to just 3-hits in a shutout win with Marshall Bennett on the mound for the Brawlers.
Boston Brawlers vs. Montreal Metros
The Brawlers have developed a long-standing Lake League East division rivalry with the Montreal Metros, who are the only other team that they have shared the division with for their entire history, both teams having been in the LL East since 1991.
Since 2018, when head-to-head records began being formally kept, the Brawlers have a 52-33 win-loss record (as of the end of 2021). They have met just one time in the LLCS, in 2011, when Boston entered as a wild card. Montreal won the series 3-2 and went on to take the Bull Cup that season. Montreal has 12 division titles compared to Boston's two.
Chicago Pit Bulls vs. Minneapolis Ravens
An inevitable rivalry between these two teams had been in the works since the Pit Bulls were joined by the Ravens in the LL West in 2018. The Pit Bulls had been playoff regulars in 2012, when they were shuffled into the LL West, but started a long decline that saw them out of postseason contention until they reemerged as a powerhouse in 2020, going all the way to the Bull Cup championships and winning. It was a worst-to-first transition, as the year before Chicago had finished 62-100, the worst team in the LL.
But 2019 was the year the Pit Bulls drafted phenom John Rambo first overall out of Arizona State, and made some other important roster moves under the steady guidance of GM Scott Davis. The Ravens, who had gone 100-62 in 2019, becoming the first Bull League team to hit 100 wins, still did not see the Pit Bulls as a threat a year later in 2020, as their division rivals finished 85-77, just one game over LL East's New York Dragons, and thus just squeezed into a second wild card slot that season. The Toronto Nomads pulled off an upset win over the Ravens, and so Minneapolis was unable to face their division rivals in the LLCS after Chicago downed the Boston Brawlers in the LL Elimination Round.
The Rivalry heated up in 2021, when the Pit Bulls displaced the Ravens as the top team in the division, smashing the LL team wins record that year with a 105-57 finish, and trouncing the 2nd place Ravens in the LLCS in a 4 game sweep, before taking their second Bull Cup championship in a row. The Ravens started 2022 strong, well ahead of Chicago in the first half, but by the All-Star break, the Pit Bulls had picked up steam and bumped the Ravens back to second again, thus crystallizing a divisional rivalry that is sure to entertain fans and foes alike for years.
Battle of Florida: St. Petersburg Admirals vs. Miami Storm
See article: Battle of Florida Series
Ever since the Anchorage Aces moved into the city of St. Petersburg, becoming the St. Petersburg Admirals, these two teams have had a classic state rivalry with both teams sharing both a division and a home state.
Perhaps not as famous as the Gators-Seminoles rivalry, this one certainly is getting there.
A June 1, 2020 brawl between the two teams in Miami led to suspensions for Admirals third baseman Israel Medina and Storm hurler Kyle Cahill. Cahill, after allowing back-to-back home runs, threw a pitch at Medina, who took exception to being targeted and charged the mound. Cahill had clearly instigated the brouhaha and once cooler heads prevailed, both players had been replaced.
Coast-to-Coast Series: California Tidals vs. Miami Storm
See article: Coast-to-Coast series
The California Tidals and the Miami Storm have had a long-standing rivalry as a result of previous playoff finals match-ups that reach back to the 2000 Bull Cup Championship Series, when Miami was known as the Kingston Battlements.
The Tidals were making their first playoff appearance since 1993, while the upstart Kingston Battlements were in their second Bull Cup finals, having lost to the Richmond Ravens just four years before. The series went the full five games and the Battlements edged the venerable Tidals 3-2 to take home their first (and so far only) Bull Cup. A dozen years later, the Battlements had been renamed to the Cannons, and the two clubs faced off again in the 2012 Bull Cup finals. This time, the Tidals delivered a 3-0 series sweep over Kingston, taking their first-ever Bull Cup.
Prior to the start of the 2018, Kingston relocated to Miami and adopted their current name, at the same time moving to the American Eagle League. The two clubs now face each other more frequently as inter-division rivals, which led to their rivalry being coined the Coast-to-Coast series as both teams occupy major cities on opposite coasts.
The intensity of the rivalry was renewed when the two clubs brawled not long after Opening Day, in a testy game in Miami on May 17, 2018. The Tidals had held a dominating 7-1 lead over the Miami Storm going into the bottom of the 6th. But, Miami cut the lead to just three runs with two home runs, first a two-run shot by Antonio Avila, and then a solo shot by catcher Lance van Klaveren. When Jose Gonzalez came up to bat, he was beaned by a pitch from Sjaak Mills. Taking exception Gonzalez charged the mound, leading to a bench-clearing melee. Both players were later given 4-game suspensions. The brawl sparked a rally by the Storm, who ended up with an 11-10 win.
California Tidals vs. Nevada Speeders
See article: Silver and gold series
The California Tidals have had a long-standing rivalry with the nearby Nevada Speeders going back to the 1993 playoffs, when the Tidals beat the Speeders in the AELCS and went on to win the Bull Cup. It was a come-from-behind series win, as the Speeders had been ahead 2-1 in the best-of-five series. In Game 4, the Tidals came back with a huge 14-2 win, forcing a Game 5. The Tidals edged the Speeders 4-3 to take the series.
The teams have since met two more times in the AELCS, with the Speeders sweeping the Tidals on both occasions, in 2001 and again in 2006. In 2001, Hall of Famer Carl Simms was frequently a huge factor in Nevada's wins, and took the MVP award (which was later named after him), while California's Paulo Tilano, who was also later inducted into the Hall of Fame, finished 2nd in MVP voting. It was a career season for the Tidals third baseman, and he never played as well again, retiring just four seasons later. Simms, meanwhile, went on to win two more MVP's for Nevada.
From 1995—2012, the Tidals and Speeders were in opposing divisions, but in the 2012 expansion, Nevada returned to the AEL West and the clubs now face each other numerous times throughout the season, keeping the rivalry alive.
Recently, the two clubs completed a major 7-player trade which sent the AEL's top first baseman, Jim Lahey, to Nevada. Sports media outlets in Los Angeles, where the Tidals are based, have generally panned the trade as bad for the Tidals, further firing up fans of both clubs.
Calgary Inferno vs. Minneapolis Ravens
The Inferno—Ravens rivalry goes back to when the teams were both in the American Eagle League. The Ravens, then based in Richmond, California, defeated the Inferno, then known as the Calgary Chinook, in the 1996 playoffs, and eventually winning their second straight Bull Cup. Calgary returned the favor with a sweep the following year.
The Ravens were able to win the AELCS three times, all years they did not face Calgary. Then they came up against the Inferno again in 2015, and were defeated 3-2. The following season the Ravens suffered the same fate, as the Inferno beat them 3-2 again.
Also adding to the rivalry between the two clubs was the acquisition of Angelo Rodriguez, who had played his 2014 with Calgary. The promising starter had a rough season there, and had a feisty disposition that resulted in an 8-game suspension for causing a bench-clearing brawl. He opted out of his remaining contract, becoming a free agent, then signed with the Seattle Salts, where he played for two years before signing as a free agent with the Ravens.
Battle Creek Attack vs. Detroit Motorheads (Battle of Michigan)
See article: Battle of Michigan
The Battle of Michigan was a rivalry between the Battle Creek Attack (which later became the Louisville Sluggers) and the Detroit Motorheads. As state rivals, the pride of being the top team in Michigan was often on the line whenever these two division rival clubs played.
The rivalry died down in intensity when Battle Creek relocated to Louisville for 2018. The team later relocated again, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Louisville Sluggers vs. Ohio Oxen (I-71 series)
See article: I-71 series
The I-71 series (named for the highway connecting the two teams' cities) was a rivalry that ran through 2018 after the Battle Creek Attack relocated out of Michigan, to Louisville, becoming the Louisville Sluggers. The move put the team just 99 miles away from the Ohio Oxen, which had also recently relocated (from Toledo to Cincinnati, Ohio). The teams were also in the same division, the LL West.
Louisville, and its former incarnation as Battle Creek, had been an underdog team since being formed in the 2012 expansion, with Ohio often dominating their season match-ups. With the close proximity of the teams, fans from both teams frequently traveled to follow their team on road games, leading to raucous cheers and jeers in the stands.
Another factor that added to the rivalry between the two teams was the fact that the Sluggers drafted Les Groves, a catcher who had previously played for the Bull Oceanic League's Newcastle Nuclears, a club that was managed by Ohio Oxen general manager Dylan Maccarone. Then, in a pre-season game between the two teams, top Sluggers first baseman Setsuo Kimura ruptured an Achilles tendon, and was to miss all of 2018 as a result.
Louisville once again relocated, this time to Milwaukee (and are now the Milwaukee Hops), and though the teams remain in the same division, and the grievances over Groves remains, the rivalry has effectively died down.
Montreal Metros vs. Rimouski Fighting Moose (Battle of Quebec)
See article: Battle of Quebec
The Battle of Quebec was a rivalry between the Montreal Metros and the Rimouski Fighting Moose, which began in the 2017 after the Moose relocated from Hamilton, where they were known as the Hamilton Crusaders, and lasted until the team moved out of Quebec, to become the Pittsburgh Iron Pigs, for the 2019 season.
- Tidals-Storm Clash Leads to Suspensions. BNN (website). http://bullleague.org/league-news/tidals-storm-clash-leads-to-suspensions/. 17 May 2018. Accessed: 4 July 2018.
- "California Makes Finals in Come-From-Behind Series". The Bull League Journal, #6 (16 June 1993): 2. http://bullleague.org/bull-league/archives/blj6-930616.pdf Accessed: 4 July 2018.
- Speeders and Tidals in Blockbuster Trade. BNN (website). http://bullleague.org/league-news/speeders-and-tidals-in-blockbuster-trade/. 27 June 2018. Accessed: 4 July 2018.
- Kimura Out for Year with Blown Achilles. BNN (website). http://bullleague.org/league-news/kimura-out-for-year-with-blown-achilles/. 20 April 2018. Accessed: 4 July 2018.