With its long history, baseball has produced rivalries with far more years of feuding than anything offered in other professional sports in the United States.
Some of these rivalries have lasted so long, your grandfather probably was involved in them. Heck, maybe even your great-grandfather.
In most cases, rivalries spring up for one of two reasons and sometimes both: regional proximity and being in the same division. Those two ingredients can lead to a potent rivalry mixture, giving fans a little extra interest in games between the two clubs.
In the case of late-season or playoff games, it’s a lot of extra interest.
Best Baseball Rivalries
So which ones are the best? We looked at the best baseball rivalries that have the two ingredients mentioned above. While quite a few exists (Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, for example), these three stand out.
Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros
Let’s start with the newest rivalry first.
These two teams didn’t much care for each other before 2013, when Major League Baseball – in a genius move – put them together in the same division, the American League West.
The Rangers have owned this series in recent years. In fact, their domination of the Astros in 2016 – they went 15-4 against their cross-state rivals – arguably led to the up-and-coming Astros getting kept out of the playoffs and the Rangers getting in. The Astros have turned that around in the early going of 2017.
What people outside of Texas may not realize is that there is a city rivalry that lies beneath the baseball one. Both cities compete against the other to be the best in Texas. Both cities have fans that disdain the sports teams from the other city (just ask someone in Houston about the Dallas Cowboys).
It’s fierce. It’s fun. And it’s set to last a long, long time – like the next two rivalries listed below.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
Think about this: the Dodgers and Giants have been playing each other in the same league since 1890. Told you this might involve your great-grandfather – especially if he lived in New York City, where the two teams started play as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants before moving to California in the 1950s.
The two teams have played each other more than 2,400 times. The two teams have finished in the top two spots of their division a dozen times since 1951, meaning they have played many meaningful games late in the season. There’s a long history of one team spoiling the other’s playoff chances.
They’ve also played in some of baseball’s most famous games. In 1951, the two clubs tied after the whole season and had to play a three-game playoff. The Giants won on a famous home run by Bobby Thompson off Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca – otherwise known as the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World.”
The two even played in the 1889 game that was precursor to the World Series (back when Brooklyn was called the Bridegrooms). The Giants won – giving them bragging rights for a century, now.
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
This is probably the fiercest rivalry in all of sports, particularly as both teams have been good for sustained periods for the past, well, 100 years.
The two teams play in the same division – the American League East – and have faced each other well over 2,000 times. The feud between the two dates back at least to the Jan. 3, 1920 trade of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees, where he went on to become one of the most legendary players of all time in any sport.
This began a period later known as the “Curse of the Bambino,” which lasted from 1920 to 2003. In that time span, the Yankees won 26 World Championships and the Red Sox won zero. Prior to the trade, the Red Sox had been a dominant team, winning five of the first 15 World Series.
The Red Sox have again held the upper hand in recent years, beating the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series after coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the series – something no other team in the history of baseball has ever done.
The Red Sox have won three World Series this century, and the Yankees have won one.
Those are the three best baseball rivalries right now in baseball – in our opinion. Certainly, fans in Chicago and St. Louis might differ.