HOUSTON — Former Astros player Lance Berkman was greeted with boos from fans who once cheered him. And Texas neighbors — separated by about 250 miles — begin a new relationship as division foes and eventual rivals.
Singer Lyle Lovett was born in Houston and is a life-long Astros fan. He san the National Anthem on opening night, and looks forward to seeing a lot more of that team from Arlington.
"The Rangers are such a great ballclub," Lovett said. "It'll just be really fun to be able to see that kind of competition right here at home."
Other fans, like Rob Thornborrow, welcome the impending sports conflict. He wears his sports allegiance on his sleeve — literally. His left arm and shoulder tattooed with the Astros logo.
Thornborrow says he doesn't like North Texans anyway. "No, people from Dallas are just jealous because our Texans are better than the Cowboys right now," he said.
Now that's the kind of talk that builds rivalries. But you need on-field success, too.
In their combined 103 seasons in the big leagues, the Astros and Rangers have made just three World Series trips, winning zero titles. Both teams need to contend at the same time to jump start the rivalry.
"Nothing drives sports like hate," explained radio personality Randy Galloway. "Sports hate is the ultimate, and it could happen here."
The Rangers' opening series against the Astros reprsent the first three of 19 games they'll play this season. So perhaps the familiarity can breed some contempt and add to the sports hate.
And there's one other scenario in particular that could accelerate the building of this rivalry.
"What if the Rangers are fighting for a pennant spot in September this year and the Astros are out of it and they knock them out?" asked MLB.com columnist Richard Justice.
The knockout scenario is interesting, as was this Lance Berkman quip before opening night: "If Bud goes out there and hits the first three guys in the head, that might kick-start the rivalry."
Yeah, that would've worked.
In the meantime, though, we'll be waiting.