Many comments have been made concerning the Astros not having a rival in baseball and that it will be nice to be able to start one with Texas once the move to the AL is complete. Concerning the lack of a rival; long time Astros fans would more than likely respectfully disagree. In the 70's and 80's when the Astros were in the NL West; the rivalry between the Astros and Dodgers was as heated a rivalry as most in baseball at the time. Obviously there were some that were stronger; but that was purely based on the length of time the two teams had been around. It would be unfair to compare any rivalry to the Red Sox and Yankees (or the Yankees and Red Sox...whichever you prefer). Those two teams have been around as long as any team in baseball and one Mr. George Herman Ruth had a little bit to do with that rivalry. But you can make a comparison to many others. When Tommy Lasorda would bring his fat "butt" into the Astrodome; there was a genuine hatred for him and for anything that had to do with Dodger blue. There were also very few Dodgers fans in attendance (of course you could also say until 1980 there were very few "people" in attendance). It was very unfortunate when the Astros moved to the Central division because of the many heated games we were treated to during that 24 year time frame.
The move to the Central division was not a healthy move concerning rivalries; but fans thought it would be. The ties to the Cardinals ran deep; too deep. There were many Cardinal fans here because of the number of years the Houston Buffs were their minor league team. There were many (and still are) Cubs fans at those games. WGN hurt the Astros. I myself remember coming home after school and turning on Harry Carey to hear him mess up names. But all the time I was doing that, I was getting closer to the Cubs, gaining knowledge of the team. You must remember that those were the years (Early 80’s) that preceded the creation of Home Sports Entertainment (1983 - Later to be Prime Sports and finally Fox Sports) where we could watch Astros home games. From this exposure; the Cubs gained a huge foothold in Houston. When the Astros joined the NL Central; their soon to be "rivals" had huge fan bases already here. That makes it difficult to cultivate a rivalry when half the fans at the games are for the other team. You would be hard pressed to find many Yankees fans at Fenway and harder pressed to find a Red Sox fan (breathing) at "The House that Ruth laid the foundation to build". The Chance the Astros had to cultivate a rivalry with the Cardinals went away after the 2005 season when Drayton; instead of building on that teams success, began tearing the team apart in preparation to sell it. (Yes, I do believe it’s been that long in making.)
The new "rivalry" which could spawn from the move to the AL is expected to be with the Rangers. The question is; will it become anything more than just another series? There are so many Rangers fans here in Houston because of their recent success and the "Fair weathered" nature of fans in this city….I question if it will become anything at all. There is a chance but it is in the hands of Jim Crane. If he quickly does whatever it takes to make us the second best team in the AL West; and it will only happen if we are a close second. If we can start pushing the Rangers early; then and only then can a rivalry begin to emerge. If we stay the current course and we are only pushing the Royals for "basement supremacy" for the next two or three years and the Rangers continue to improve; the Rangers fan base in Houston will only rival the current Cubs fan base and it will take many years for a rivalry to happen…if it ever does.
If you cannot beat another team……you cannot call it a rivalry.