5 of the fiercest rivalries in the MLB

May 27, 2016

Ask any sports fan in the world, and they’ll all tell you the same thing; that rivalries are one of the most important aspects of the game. They add excitement to a competition, they unite complete strangers in their hatred for the opposite side and they give you a feeling of pride and accomplishment if your team manages to win in the end. This is why every sport in the world has historic rivalries that fans, pundits and commentators can’t help but talk about each time two rivals meet.  

Soccer has countless rivalries around the world, both local and international, with the infamous El-Classico in Spain perhaps the most prominent league rivalry to date, pitting FC Barcelona against the capital side Real Madrid. In international competitions however, there can be none greater than the enmity shared between the national teams of Brazil and Argentina. In basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers have been locking horns with the Boston Celtics for years. Australia and England have been going at it in Rugby for many years while the NHL has been dominated by the rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And so the story goes. Every major sport in the world can boast its own unique rivalry and baseball is no different. Being one of the oldest established sports leagues in the country, the MLB has experienced some amazing matchups over the years and here we will highlight the top five in history.

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

The New York Yankees were created back in 1901 as the Baltimore Orioles and have since gone on to become one of the most successful franchises in the league. They have managed to win the highest number of East Division titles with eighteen, as well as the highest number of AL Pennants with forty to date. They have also won a record amount of World Series titles as well, twenty seven, with the last one coming in 2009.

The Boston Red Sox were also formed in the same year as their rivals and were initially known as the Americans. They made an excellent start to life in the MLB and were the most dominant side in the league for its first few years. However, after winning five World Series titles between 1903 and 1918, they went over eighty five years before they could add to this tally in 2004. All in all they have won eight World Series championships, thirteen AL Pennants and seven division titles.  

The first time these two great sides met was back in April of 1903, in a game that the Red Sox eventually won. This trend continued for the first few years, before the ‘Curse of the Bambino” struck, and they embarked on the longest championship drought in history. The curse is a reference to Babe Ruth, considered to be the greatest baseball player of all time, who was sold to the Yankees in 1919. His sale coincided with the start of a period of dominance by the Yanks, as well as a downfall for the Red Sox. To date the two sides have met each other over twenty one hundred times, with the Yankees leading the series with eleven hundred and sixty one wins compared to Boston’s nine hundred and sixty two.

San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The San Francisco Giants were created in 1883 as the New York Gothams and have since become one of the most successful sides in baseball, having won more games than any other team in the MLB today. They have however reached their best form in recent years and managed to win three World Series titles between 2010 and 2014. In total, they have won eight World Series titles, twenty three NL Pennants and eight division titles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were formed in the same year as their rivals and were also initially based in New York. They were called the ‘Brooklyn Atlantics’ at the time. Over the years they have had some amazing players, having featured the highest number of Rookie of the year winners in history, who have led them to six World Series titles to date. They have also won twenty two pennants and fourteen division titles.

The first encounter between these two sides came over a hundred years ago, in 1890, in a game that the Dodgers managed to win. However over the next few years it became apparent that no matter what their form in the league, these two teams were quite evenly matched when playing against one another, which has in turn led to some amazingly intense games. Incidents like Dodgers player Reggie Smith jumping into the crowd and beating up a Giants fan or the huge brawl between Johnny Roseboro and Juan Marichal in 1965 are just some of the few examples of the hate shared for each other by both sides.

To date, the Dodgers have faced the Giants just over two thousand and four hundred times, with the former holding a lead in the series with a very small margin of just thirty games. However the Giants have managed to win the season series in three of the last four years and could soon catch up to their eternal rivals.   

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs

The St. Louis Cardinals are among the oldest franchises in the MLB, and were created in 1882 as the Brown Stockings. They have since gone on to do great things in the league and have managed to win eleven World Series titles to date, the highest among teams from the National League. They have additionally won the second highest number of NL Pennants with nineteen to date, along with four AA Pennants and thirteen division titles.  

The Chicago Cubs were formed just a few years prior to their fierce rivals, in 1876 and were initially known as the White Stockings. They have won two World Series titles, a feat they accomplished in back to back seasons in 1907 and 1908. However they have failed to add to their tally ever since, making it the longest championship drought in all of the Major professional sports leagues in North America. On the other hand, they have managed to win sixteen NL Pennants and five division titles.  

The first time the Cubs faced off against the Cardinals was over a hundred and twenty years ago in 1892. The Cubs managed to come out on top in this encounter, and kept up the heat over the next few years, as they kept winning the yearly series. However around the twenties the tide began to change as the Cardinals built up a strong squad roster. Since then the Cardinals have won more World Series, pennants and division titles. They have also had more MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winners. However, in the twenty three hundred and sixty plus games they have played to date, the Cubs hold the overall advantage, having won just over fifty more games that their rivals, with a win-loss percentage of fifty one percent.  

Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets

The Philadelphia Phillies have been through a roller coaster of a ride ever since their inception back in 1883. At that time, they were known as the Quakers and it took them some time before they became a competitive side. Because they have been in the league for so long, they have unwittingly recorded the highest number of losses in history however despite these setbacks they have also enjoyed quite a lot of success. They have won two World Series titles, seven NL Pennants and eleven division titles.

The New York Mets were formed a full seventy nine years after their division rivals, in 1962 and were among the first expansion franchises in the MLB. They were created due to the relocation of traditional New York baseball teams, the Dodgers and the Giants to the West Coast. Unlike most expansion sides, they got off to a relatively strong start, winning their first World Series title within eight years of their formation. Since then they have managed to add another one to their collection, along with five NL Pennants and six division titles.   

Over the years, several players from both sides have regularly traded barbs with each other, with Tug McGraw and Jimmy Rollins the most prominent offenders. This discord can be traced all the way back to when the Phillies first squared off against their division rivals. It was the Mets’ inaugural season in the league and the team from Philadelphia managed to win the game, going on to dominate their yearly series over the next few years as well. However the Mets finally bounced back in 1969 to win their first series and since that time these two sides have faced each other over nine hundred and thirty times, with the Phillies having won just fifty more games than their rivals.

Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs

The Chicago White Sox were created in 1900 as the White Stockings, after overcoming great opposition from their cross town rivals the Cubs. Their name itself was also once used by their rivals, and became a source for contention between the two sides. The White Sox made a strong start to life in the big leagues and it took them only six years to win their first World Series title in 1906. They won this title by beating the Cubs four games to two, further incensing the opposition players and fans. The Sox have since won two more World Series, as well as six AL Pennants and five division titles.

Even though the teams have been in competition for a very long time, they did not play another official game till the 1997 season. This was the first time the two sides met in a regular season interleague game and it was the Cubs who emerged winners in the end. Since then they have met each other just over a hundred times, with the White Sox holding a six game lead over their opponents. On the other hand the Cubs have won more pennants, hold a better overall win percentage and have recorded more appearances in the playoffs and the World Series.

The two sides are so evenly matched, that they have even shared similar records for championship droughts. The Cubs have gone over a hundred years without having won a World Series, while the White Sox had to wait eighty eight after their World Series title win in 1917 to win the title again in 2005.

These are 5 of the fiercest rivalries that baseball fans have got to enjoy over the years. Some noteworthy additions are the Cubs versus the Milwaukee Brewers, the Atlanta Braves versus the Mets, the cross town rivalry between New York’s Mets and the Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays versus the Red Sox, the Texas Rangers versus Houston Astros and many more. With so many thrilling rivalries to look forward to in the upcoming season, it’s no wonder that baseball supporters are yet again waiting to see what is in store for them when the latest campaign kicks off.


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