illustration by rich cando /

Why The Mariners vs. Padres Has Become The Most Intriguing Inter-League Series

The Seattle Mariners took three out of four games from their bitter rival — the San Diego Padres during their 2016 inter-league showdown. What? Mariners-Padres inter-league rivals? Well, sort of…

When Commissioner Bud Selig announced in 1997 that Major League Baseball would launch an inter-league series within the regular season schedule, he declared there would be 15 natural rivals, primarily based on geographical proximity. These inter-league rivalries currently are:

Yankees vs. Mets

White Sox vs. Cubs

Indians vs. Reds

Angels vs. Dodgers

Red Sox vs. Phillies

Orioles vs. Nationals

Rays vs. Marlins

Royals vs. Cardinals

A’s vs. Giants

Rangers vs. Astros (no longer inter-league)

Twins vs. Brewers

Mariners vs. Padres

Which one is unlike the rest? With 1,255 miles separating the two cities, the Mariners vs. Padres made little to no sense as to why it’s an inter-league pairing, let alone rivalry. The only connection between the two, other than holding corners of the west coast and being two of most beautiful cities in the country, is that they both utilize the Peoria Sports Complex located in Peoria, Arizona, for Spring Training. Both teams have leased to hold Spring Training there through 2034.

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The Mariners and Padres had never played in a previous World Series (still true) nor has there been a Seattle vs. San Diego championship in any other pro sport. Sure there have been some great Seahawks vs. Chargers games, but there is no significant battle between the two cities that has ever warranted the word rivalry to be tattooed upon them.

Finding humor in what appeared to be a fabricated and forced rivalry, the series is now well-known as the Vedder Cup, named after Pearl Jam frontman, Eddie Vedder. The official term the “Vedder Cup” was technically created by San Diego native Geoffrey Hancock, who is both a longtime Padres and Pearl Jam fan. Hancock, who blogs under Leftcoastbias, caught the attention of Fox Sports San Diego and the term caught on like wildfire.

What’s the logic behind the Vedder connection? Well, Vedder lived in San Diego for much of his youth before moving up to Seattle to join Pearl Jam. He’s called Seattle home since 1991, yet has been very partial to certain San Diego landmarks that had an impact on his upbringing such as various surfing beaches and San Dieguito High School. Vedder even wrote the song “Long Road” upon hearing about the death of a teacher who had a profound influence on him, named Clayton E. Liggett. Vedder was instrumental in getting a theater named after Liggett in Encinitas.

by jeremy nash/fine art america

The Padres won the very first Vedder Cup game on July 2, 1997, by a score of 8–5. Ricky Henderson hit the 71st leadoff home run of his career in a game that also featured, Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman, Ken Caminiti, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez. There have been some classic Vedder Cup games over the past twenty years. On June 16, 2001, John Olerud of the Mariners, hit for the cycle, and On June 20, 2003, Rondell White hit a walk-off grand slam in San Diego.

This year we saw a home and home series which started on Monday and Tuesday in Seattle, before both teams would head south to play Wednesday and Thursday in San Diego. During the final game, the Mariners came back from being down 12–2 to win the series finale by the score of 16–13.

Though there is no physical Vedder Cup trophy, it’s become the storied tag to the series, adding another unique element that no other inter-league series has. There is an official Vedder Cup Twitter handle, it’s a term listed in the Urban Dictionary and is a tongue-in-cheek series reference used broadly in the world of sports.

by jeremy nash

The funniest part about it all? Though, he’s a legitimate supporter of baseball in general, Vedder is diehard Chicago Cubs fan.

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