For years, the Red Sox and Yankees were universally considered the best rivalry in baseball. That’s changed recently though; what matchup has taken the crown as the best rivalry in baseball?
One thing that makes sports great is the rivalries that get even the casual fans to watch. Sometimes these rivalries are based by location, other times it is mutual success or similar team-building mechanics. Of course, being in the same division doesn’t hurt as teams play 18 times a year. How does that saying go, familiarity breeds contempt? Teams always seem to play their best when they are playing against the one team they can’t stand to lose to. While rivalries usually serve to help get the fans excited, it really gets raised to the next level when the players buy in also. Not all rivalries have to involve hating each other but it certainly helps.
5. Dodgers – Angels
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (or whatever they are calling themselves these days) have put themselves in place to be a great rivalry. They have both spent a lot of money building championship-caliber teams and are usually favorites to win their respective division. Each team has a young superstar to help build their team around as both Mike Trout of the Angels and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers are coming off of MVP seasons. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if these two teams meet up in the World Series over the next couple of years. They are trying to get their fans into it, as they are turning to social media to vote for a face of Los Angeles to find out if their “MVP is Red or Blue”. The Angels and the Dodgers will face off in a preseason series and then twice during the regular season.
Perhaps the biggest inter-league rivalry is between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. These two play in the biggest media outlet in the world and both teams are constantly fighting for the tabloid headlines. This rivalry reached its peak in 2000 when they met in the World Series and things got a little heated between Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza. The Yankees came out on top, which certainly hurt the pride of the Mets fans. The two clubs constantly take jabs at one another about which team is for “real New Yorkers” with the most recent being Curtis Granderson who went from the Mets to the Yankees following the 2013 season. Yankees fans don’t like losing, but if there are two teams they can’t stand to lose to it is the Mets and the Boston Red Sox.
3. Giants – Dodgers
The San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers have a history that begins in New York and followed them to California. This began when the Giants were playing in Manhattan and the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. Lately, these two teams have been fighting for control over the NL West and while Los Angeles usually wins the division, San Francisco is the one getting the last laugh. Both of these teams have a young left-handed pitcher that should keep these two going for a couple of years. Like the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, this one has unfortunately ended in violence between fans over the past five years, including one death. What this rivalry is missing is playing in big games, as they haven’t faced each other in the playoffs since 1889.
2. Red Sox – Yankees
The one rivalry that baseball fans usually turn to is the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. These two teams have a rich history, filled with fights and intrigue. It started with the trade of Babe Ruth that started a curse that lasted 86 years. During this time, New York won 26 World Series titles while Boston kept on losing in improbable fashion. This rivalry escalated to a whole new level because of their fans, as there have been three violent outbreaks over the past ten years resulting in multiple arrests and unfortunately two deaths. There have been a number of great fights between these two teams, and nobody will forget the 2004 ALCS, where Boston became the first baseball team to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win. Lately though, the teams don’t seem to have that same passion, as Boston has won three championships to New York’s one. Baseball has to hope these teams rebound and meet in the playoffs soon.
1. Cardinals – Giants
The best baseball in the MLB right now would have to be the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants. This rivalry mainly has to do with the recent success of the two teams. The Giants and the Cardinals have faced off two of the past three NLCS matchups. One of these teams has represented the National League in each of the past five World Series, and have won four. Both of these teams can be seen as role models for building a successful organization as they do a lot of it with their own players that they develop, with the occasional higher-priced acquisition. While these two teams don’t hate each other as much as some of the other rivalries, give it a little time. St. Louis has come up short against the Giants a couple of times and they are looking to finally get by them.
There were a couple of honorable mentions, but they aren’t quite at the level baseball would like. Boston and Tampa Bay have had a good rivalry, but it will suffer with Tampa losing both Manager Joe Maddon and pitcher David Price, both of whom hate the Red Sox. The Astros and Rangers are getting better-acclimated since the Astros’ switch to the American League. Lately, it seems as though the Dodgers and the Padres have been sharing some bad blood as they’ve been fighting over the past couple season including one that broke Dodgers’ pitcher Zack Greinke’s collarbone.