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Braves, Mets among top Marlins' rivals

Anybody within the National League East could be a rival. But where do the Rays fit in?

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs and White Sox. The Yankees and Red Sox. Those are distinct rivalries that have in some way influenced the game over a notable period of time. Miami does not have as lengthy of a history, but according to Sports on Earth, Miami's top three rivals are the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and Tampa Bay Rays.

Atlanta Braves

It is easy to say the Marlins, or any team for that matter, are rivals with teams within their division. But the Braves have played the Marlins notably tough over the past few seasons, and as a result, made the list as the club's biggest rival.

Both the Braves and Marlins have consistently played in close games, however when Miami sent Dan Uggla to Atlanta in exchange for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn, the "rivalry" arguably got more intense. The Braves seemingly find a way to remain competitive even when analysts and insiders count them out, and that very well could happen again in 2015.

Miami is expected to improve after adding Mat Latos, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Dan Haren, Michael Morse, and Ichiro Suzuki this offseason. And even though they are somewhat rebuilding, the Braves will likely remain in the hunt for at least the first half of the season.

The Marlins are not among Atlanta's top three rivals. But close and competitive games, in addition to solid years from Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and solid young pitchers got the Braves a spot on Miami's list.

New York Mets

David Wright is still one of the best players in the league, but over the last few seasons he has been joined by Giancarlo Stanton. Both the Marlins and Mets have had difficulty remaining relevant in the second half over the past few seasons, but that could change this year.

Both clubs have newer managers, with Mike Redmond getting the nod for the Marlins and Terry Collins for the Mets. Both Miami and New York have key starting pitchers that are returning from Tommy John surgery. And both teams were trying to improve their respective offenses this offseason.

It is not Mets/Yankees, but the Marlins and Mets have played memorable games over the last few years. Maybe it is just the New York touch, or the number of New York natives living in Florida. Regardless, both teams should compete with Washington in 2015, making the matchup even more significant.

Sports on Earth does not have Miami among the Mets' top three rivals. But the Marlins very well could be number four.

Tampa Bay Rays

Miami has fared rather well in interleague play, and the Citrus Series usually proves to be entertaining. Evan Longoria and Stanton have made the headlines, but the Marlins and Rays are similar in that neither squad has a large payroll but still puts together a competitive roster.

While the Marlins are expected to improve in 2015, the Rays may suffer from the loss of Joe Maddon. But ultimately, the Rays/Marlins matchups usually prove to be intriguing.

Miami is listed as the Rays' third biggest rival. It must be a Florida thing.

Honorable Mention: Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee did not make the list, and probably would be closer to the bottom than the top. But after the Stanton incident in September, could Marlins/Brewers become a rivalry?