MLB | Jul 14, 2023

Ranking the 10 Biggest Baseball Rivalries of All Time

By Harry Bazley

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For a league that's over 100 years old, it's no surprise that we've seen our fair share of rivalries in the MLB.

As a result, Major League Baseball has produced some of the biggest brawls in sports history. But the question remains, what rivalries stand out among the rest?

Well, today we'll be answering that question, by ranking the top 10 baseball rivalries of all time.

10. New York Yankees vs Los Angeles Dodgers

The rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers has existed since the 1940s and 1950s, when they played each other multiple times in the World Series. They met a total of 11 times in the championship, leading some fans to find their matchups repetitive.

However, after 1981, the intensity of the rivalry diminished, and both teams struggled to regain their competitive spirit. The Dodgers faced setbacks and poor trades, gradually losing their prominence, while the Yankees remained a dominant force. Nevertheless, the longstanding rivalry between these two teams remains strong for some long-time fans.

9. Detroit Tigers vs Chicago White Sox

If you keep up with any major league in the US, you'll know that Chicago and Detroit don't get along and to make things worse, the Tigers and White Sox are both in the American League Central division. So, as you may have guessed, the two clubs have a long history of feuds and even some brawls over the last century of baseball.

This rivalry has seen great players on both sides over the years, including Carlton Fisk, Miguel Cabrera, Jack Morris, Mark Buehrle, Justin Verlander, and Frank Thomas.

The most memorable moment was "Disco Demolition Night" in 1979 when the White Sox organised a promotion where disco albums were destroyed between a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. Chaos erupted when frustrated fans stormed the field, leading to arrests and the White Sox forfeiting the second game.

8. Milwaukee Brewers vs Chicago Cubs

From a century-long rivalry to a fairly new feud, the Brewers and Cubs haven't been rivals for too long, but it is yet another one born out of geographical competition.

The closeness of both home fields - Wrigley Field (Cubs) and American Family Field (Brewers) - has led to a tense dynamic between their fans. Cubs supporters often attend Brewers games, while the Brewers try to limit their entry to the field. One strategy they used is offering presale tickets exclusively for those with a credit card linked to a Wisconsin ZIP Code in an attempt to divide the state's supporters. This rivalry began in the early 2000s and has produced some memorable moments like a shocking 11-inning game in April 2017 and another in June 2018.

7. New York Mets vs New York Yankees

Now, this one should come as no surprise. Cramming two major MLB teams into one highly populated city is bound to lead to a strong divide between fans.

The two teams were at the forefront of inter-league play, a concept introduced by MLB in the late 1990s. But their rivalry dates back even further than that.

From 1963 to 1983, they competed annually in the "Mayor's Trophy" exhibition game, a face-off between the two New York teams. As inter-league play began, their rivalry grew stronger, peaking in the 2000 World Series Title race. The Yankees ultimately emerged as champions after a competitive series where no game was won by more than two runs.

The feud in the Big Apple is still going strong to this day.

6. Cincinnati Reds vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Both originating from Midwestern cities, the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates have a longstanding rivalry driven by large and passionate fanbases.

These two MLB teams, established back in the 1880s, have both experienced ups and downs over the years. In the 1960s and 1970s, they competed for National League titles, followed by a slump in the 1980s. Both cities saw a resurgence in the 1990s but faced setbacks in the 2000s. This rollercoaster ride has intensified the rivalry, with each city considering the other as a fierce competitor at every stage of their campaigns over the years.

A memorable moment from their rivalry occurred in 1990 when the Reds' Glenn Braggs made an incredible catch over the fence, denying the Pirates' Carmelo Martinez a potential home run.

5. New York Mets vs Philadelphia Phillies

The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies surprisingly have a bigger rivalry than the Mets- and Yankees. But as they hail from neighbouring states and prominent cities, they naturally became competitive enemies.

Their rivalry has produced many memorable moments over the years. Both teams compete for division titles in the same division and in 2007, the Phillies made a thrilling comeback against the Mets, overcoming a multi-game deficit to win the National League East Division in a series against the Washington Nationals.

The departure of Billy Wagner, a former Phillies player who later joined the Mets with a $45 million contract, only added to the rivalry. Wagner's criticism of the Phillies after he left, made him one of their most hated former players.

The Mets-Phillies rivalry even made its way into pop culture, and was eventually referenced in the popular sitcom "Seinfeld" in 1992.

4. St. Louis Cardinals vs Chicago Cubs

Despite the intense rivalry between the two Chicago teams, the Cubs find an even fiercer foe in the St. Louis Cardinals. With St. Louis sitting right on the border of Illinois, some fans in the state have ended up siding with the Cardinals over their hometown Cubs.

Throughout the years, the rivalry has been defined by a few memorable showdowns. Notable clashes include heated brawls during the 1960s and 1970s, featuring iconic figures like Fergie Jenkins of the Cubs and Bob Gibson of the Cardinals.

One infamous incident etched in the rivalry's history is the memorable fight between the Cardinals' Al Hrabosky and the Cubs' Bill Madlock in September 1974.

3. Chicago Cubs vs Chicago White Sox

The Cubs and the White Sox, both from Chicago, have one of the biggest rivalries in baseball, dividing the Windy City into two camps. As they belong to different divisions, they also have the potential to face each other in the World Series, which has only driven competition.

This intense dynamic has led to many memorable moments, including a notable brawl in 2006 when Cubs catcher Michael Barrett punched White Sox player A.J. Pierzynski.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Francisco Giants

The Dodgers-Giants rivalry is one of the oldest in Major League Baseball. It dates back to 1889 when they faced off in the World Series. Both teams moved from New York to California in 1958, but their rivalry remained strong.

Over the years, they have had memorable moments and notable players. In 2004, the Dodgers were leading the division with two games left to play when they faced a 3-0 deficit in the ninth inning. However, they staged a remarkable comeback, including a walk-off grand slam by Steve Finley, to win the game and the National League West Division Title.

1. New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox undeniably boast the biggest MLB rivalry of all time. This historic feud traces its origins back to 1919 when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, facing financial troubles, controversially sold their star player Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000. The transaction drew widespread criticism from Red Sox fans and sparked what would become known as the infamous "Curse of the Bambino." This curse was believed to have cursed the Red Sox, leading to an 86-year championship drought, while the Yankees thrived, securing 27 World Series titles and attracting numerous legendary players.

Despite the Red Sox making multiple appearances in the championship game after 1919, it took until 2004 for them to finally shatter the long and exasperating curse by clinching another World Series victory. Nevertheless, even with the curse in the past, the Red Sox and Yankees remain bitter archenemies.

And that wraps up the biggest baseball rivalries of all time! Did we miss any of your favourite feuds off our list?

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