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Biggest Rivalries in Baseball

Figure 1 Major League Baseball enjoys some intense rivalries

There is something special about your favorite sports team playing its bitter rival. Years of tradition are on the line every time the game comes around and current form is forgotten as the players – and fans – get over-excited about the chance to claim the bragging rights. Until the next scheduled fixture, of course.

Baseball is a sport full of tradition and history and the sheer number of divisional games, in particular, means that the teams have plenty of chances every single season to renew rivalries. The 2024 baseball season is in full swing now and there have already been some noticeable meetings this year.

There are some rivalries that have been going on since before many of us were born, so we have definitely included them here. But with the increased number of interleague games in recent years, new rivalries have emerged. Teams that never used to be postseason regulars are making the playoffs and sparking intense new rivalries of their own. That’s why we have also profiled some newer pairs of warring teams that are keeping the grand tradition of baseball rivalry alive and well.

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

Possibly the biggest rivalry in American sports, let alone just in baseball, the Yankees and Red Sox have developed a bitter hatred for each other for well over a century now and it doesn’t look like anything will change anytime soon. Even when one of these grand old teams is not doing well, the rivalry is always spicy.

With thousands of games played between the two teams, this is one rivalry that has enjoyed a number of flashpoints over time. Babe Ruth moving from the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1919 is one that even started a curse that was only lifted when the Red Sox finally won another World Series in 2004. And, of course, they beat the Yankees on the way to that victory.

Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox

Due to the fact that most cities in the US only have one major league team per sport, there are not the same kinds of local rivalries that you might find in world soccer. But there are exceptions to that rule and one city rivalry that is never lower than at boiling point is with the Cubs and White Sox in Chicago.

Because these baseball teams play in different leagues, let alone divisions, the meetings are not as common but city pride comes out in the Windy City and where you live in Chicago usually dictates which side of the divide you fall. These two even met in a World Series before the interleague era, so the divisions run deep.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres

There is a rivalry between the Dodgers and the Angels, as well as one with the Giants. But we mention the I-5 rivalry, as it is a perfect example of one that has really grown in recent years and already has become quite intense. The two cities are pretty close together for a start – and play in the same division.

The Padres have not traditionally been much competition for the Dodgers, but that has changed recently and turned this rivalry up a few notches. The fact that San Diego has an unfortunate history of losing its pro sports teams to Los Angeles just increases the animosity between the two sets of fans.

New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves

We will get onto the battle for New York in a moment. But there is another team that Mets fans love to hate – and the players have not remained outside the bitterness over the decades either. Both competing in the NL East helps and the rivalry first really got going in the 1990s.

With the Mets and Braves routinely challenging for the divisional title 20 to 30 years ago, every game was heated. The Mets fell away a little to dampen things down somewhat but the 2022 season reignited the feud and it looks like it will be around for a while yet. Some postseason meetings now would really set this one alight.

Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers

This feels like a rivalry that is beginning to bubble up quite nicely. Separated by the leagues for a long time, the Astros and Rangers now both compete in the AL West and that brings the two organizations together on a much more regular basis, increasing the chance of some bad blood.

Houston seems to have a particular knack for getting on the wrong side of just about anyone – just ask Yankees, Mariners, and Dodgers fans about that. But this Lone Star Rivalry is now just as heated thanks to a number of incidents in the last few years. The fact that the Rangers are now almost at the same level as the Astros makes things even more interesting.

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Figure 2 The Dodgers have a few rivalries of their own

New York Yankees vs. New York Mets

Every other team likes to get one over the Yankees but it is the other team in New York that really delights in beating the biggest name in world sports. The Mets are the upstart team that has only been around since the 1960s and has always lived in the shadow of their crosstown rivals.

Yankees fans may feel as though the Mets aren’t worthy of such rivalry but there is a growing bitterness to the relationship and now that the Bronx Bombers are not as dominant, the Subway Series is always eagerly anticipated. The 2000 World Series between the two is probably the biggest example of the rivalry.

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