Is Justin Verlander mocking the Texas Ranger?

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander is well-acquainted with the intense rivalry involving the Texas Rangers, and he foresees a competitive battle in the upcoming games.

The existing rivalry between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers certainly doesn’t require any additional fuel.

However, Justin Verlander added fuel to the fire with a mistake in the name of a city.

Verlander, recently traded back to the Astros from the New York Mets, seems to have momentarily misplaced the location of the Rangers’ home field. Despite his familiarity – having previously spent five years with Houston and boasting an impressive 19-season tenure in the majors – this apparent slip of his tongue while discussing the Astros’ performance seems rather calculated.

“I was in another league again, so I wasn’t watching as intently, although I keep up with my friends,” Verlander said to “But obviously injuries have been difficult, and it just shows how talented the team is to be able to run with Dallas, who’s been really good.”

It’s a common misconception to often refer to all Metroplex teams as being from “Dallas,” even if, for instance, the Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys play their respective games in Arlington.

Using “Dallas” in that context is somewhat understandable, albeit still inaccurate. However, no one identifies the MLB team as the “Dallas Rangers.” Hence, Verlander’s use of this term sounds unusual at best and perhaps implies a subtle jab at the franchise at worst.

It is unclear how that statement could be seen as a putdown. The absence of your in-state rival’s name is the only hint of an insult.

Rangers’ General Manager Chris Young recently dubbed the reigning champion Houston as the “team to beat” in the American League West. Last week, Texas pitcher Max Scherzer, also acquired from the Mets, touched upon his involvement in the Silver Boot rivalry, sharing the stage with Verlander.

As of Sunday, the Astros trailed Dallas, oops, Texas, by 2.5 games in the division standings. Verlander, who suffered a loss in his recent Houston reunion start on Saturday, anticipates a fierce competition as they approach the final stretch.

“You can look at it two ways,” he said, “it’s nice to run away the division sometimes, but it’s also sometimes nice to have a little fire heading into the playoffs and have to fight for it. And I think it’s pretty clear this year we’re going to have to fight for it.”