From the Oxford English Dictionary:
rival (noun): A person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for superiority in the same field of activity
Which team is the Indians' biggest rival?
Earlier this week, Will Leitch attempted to list every MLB team's top three rivals. He's been to every MLB city and stadium, so he's more qualified for such a task than most, but I think even he would admit he's not really expert enough to truly know which teams should be where. As Indians fans, we're better qualified to determine which team should top the Tribe's list.
Feel free to make an argument for someone I leave out, but there are so many options I see much of a case for.
Teams considered but ultimately left out:
Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins: Each of them are in the AL Central, but don't seem to have a serious rivalry with the Tribe. I was surprised to discover how much I disliked the Royals last October, but there haven't been enough seasons when the Indians and either of these teams were contending at the same time, and without a beanball war or tighter geography, it's hard to build a proper rivalry without some games that were huge for both teams.
Boston Red Sox: Whom the Indians have faced in multiple postseason series, including the 2007 ALCS, which I'd rather not speak of at this moment. I think Boston fans in general have a case as the most obnoxious, possibly because all four of their teams have won at least one title in recent years; that doesn't make the Red Sox a huge rival though.
The Cleveland Browns: In terms of the struggle for attention, no one is a bigger obstacle for the Indians than a football team that's averaged five wins a seasons over the last seven years. In the end I decided to limit the nominees to other baseball teams.
The teams I view as proper candidates:
Chicago White Sox: The 1990s remain the most vivid baseball era for many Tribe fans, and the biggest rival in those days was certainly the Pale Hose. For decades neither the Indians or White Sox won a championship, but the Tribe had more success overall, and seemed more "deserving" of getting over the hump. When Chicago beat out a very good Cleveland team in 2005, then had everything come together just right in the postseason and won the World Series, it stung.
Cincinnati Reds: As a non-Ohioan, the history here is somewhat beyond me. I didn't grow up viewing Cincinnati as a rival city, and I've never really cared about the Reds one way or another. I know there are plenty of Tribe fans who feel otherwise, and hold a healthy distain for the team from northern Kentucky.
Detroit Tigers: Detroit is the one other team in the AL Central that was also in the old AL East with the Indians, meaning they've spent the most time fighting for the same division title, and have played the most games against one another. Detroit is also very close to Cleveland geographically, and the rivalry between Ohio State and the University of Michigan has spilled over the create something of a state rivalry for many residents. Add to that Detroit having become the big spender in the Central, and the most successful team in recent years, and there's a lot to say in favor of the Tigers as the big rival.
New York Yankees: The Yankees could be probably be an option for every American League team, especially those that have been around since the beginning (a group which actually does not include the Yankees, who were created two years after the American League, after Baltimore's original team faltered). The Yankees were the only team standing between the Indians and the World Series a number of times in the 1950s, and were the AL team winning World Series during the Tribe's great run during the late 90s.
Geography and money, long history and intense recency... they all point me to the Tigers as the Indians' biggest rival. What do you think?