The Padres and Mariners start baseball’s version of a home-and-home series on Monday afternoon in Seattle. You may know it as the Vedder Cup.
Since my Mother-in-Law asked why I was so excited about the Vedder Cup and what the heck it was, it struck me that a lot of people don’t know the rich history of the event. So here’s a quick look at how this annual West Coast slugfest came to be.
When baseball finally came out of the Dark Ages and started Interleague Play in 1997 then-Commissioner Bud Selig declared a 15 pairs of “natural rivals.” Most of them make perfect sense. For example, the Dodgers and Angels, the Giants and A’s, the Mets and Yankees all have obvious geographic ties that make the yearly meeting a real rivalry.
Even some of the series that aren’t terribly close to one another like the Phillies and Red Sox are at least fought between two rabid East Coast sports towns with a history of disliking one another (the 76ers and Celtics have long been at each other’s throats, especially in the playoffs). But when the Padres and Mariners were put together as “natural rivals” we were left to wonder … what exactly do we have to rival about?
It could be seafood or craft beer but there’s really no way to ever fully determine which city offers better edibles. That’s open to interpretation. Therefore we needed a symbol. Something the two cities can lay claim to in equal measure. Obviously, the choice is Eddie Vedder.
The Pearl Jam front man went to high school in Encinitas at San Dieguito High School Academy and of course formed his famous band in Seattle. So while Vedder learned music in So-Cal he perfected in the Pacific Northwest. So far the Mariners lead the all-time series 47-43 so this is truly one of the most hotly-contested of all the “natural rivals.”
There is no physical Vedder Cup trophy like there is a Stanley Cup or a Davis Cup but darnit there should be! That way the winner would be able to hold aloft the prize like an axe or a bell or a jug, signifying by Divine Providence which extreme coastal town located farther apart than any other “natural rivals” is king of the baseball world!
THAT is why the Vedder Cup is so awesomely important and why the next four games might be the only chance for the Padres to actually win something of note this season. PLAY BALL!
(P.S. – Eddie Vedder is a Cubs fan but I’m sure he’s cool with this)