Jets vs. Sharks. Capulets vs. Montagues. Spartans vs. Persians. Warriors vs. Riffs. Batman vs. The Joker. Burgundy vs. Mantooth. These are but a handful of legendary feuds we have witnessed in history and mythology over the centuries. Two sides that just plain don't like each other. Now, thanks to ESPN The Magazine, we know of another clash to add to these fabled conflicts: Edgar Renteria vs. Orlando Cabrera.
"I won't accept dealing with him. I think he's disrespected so many baseball people in Colombia who have been working to improve the sport. And that's not something I can accept, even with an apology from him."
And you thought the Detroit Tigers-Chicago White Sox rivalry was already interesting (albeit rather one-sided lately). Geography and different leagues have kept Renteria and Cabrera apart for 10 years, but now they're not only some 280 miles away from each other, they're in the same division, opposed face-to-face for 18 games a season. What is the central point of their conflict? It's mostly over business and rival baseball academies that each player has tried to establish in their home country. But it's also much more complicated than that.
Jorge Arangure, Jr. (whose work as the Orioles' beat writer for the Washington Post I often enjoyed) found himself a story of class warfare, of paranoia and mistrust that develops over years in particular environments, of a culture whose etiquette we might not understand in the United States. In my opinion, Cabrera comes off as the more sympathetic figure in the feature, as someone who's grown up with a perhaps justifiable chip on his shoulder. But that might be a result of Cabrera giving more access to Arangure. Besides, I should let you make your own judgments after reading what's a pretty fascinating story.