Just because baseball isn’t a contact sport doesn’t mean that baseball teams can’t form rivalries as heated as sports with more physical contact. It doesn’t matter how close you might be to your competitor on the field, the MLB has some of the most heated rivalries, on the field and in the stands.
The big time rivalries in the MLB are so big that even non fans know about them and they’ve become classics over the years. When a rivalry forms in the MLB, they do it right.
Of every MLB rivalry, there are five that stand out among the rest. These rivalries have unparalleled intensity and enemy heights.
The New York Yankees and New York Mets
The Yankees and the Mets have been rivals for as long as the two have existed. Their games would soon to be known as the Subway Series and every inhabitant of New York has a team already in their head when they ask who your baseball team is. This rivalry continues the battle of New York through major league sports.
The Yankees and the Mets were the last territorial enemies after the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants left the city and suddenly all eyes, and fans, were divided among the two teams. Prior to inter-league play, the two rivals would only meet in exhibition games, which would come to be known as ‘Subway Series’ games.
The teams met officially for the first time in 1997 and the rest is history. The teams battled for New York dominance, the classic Yankees versus the young Mets. These teams have faced off in World Series battles, big playoff-like match-ups and even shared Shea Stadium for a season in 1975.
The Yankees take the cake on the success front with 27 World Series titles since 1901, compared to the Mets’ two World Series titles since 1962. The Mets have had less time to notch as many successes, but that won’t bring them down. These two teams battle it out harder every time they face each other on the field.
This rivalry is certainly alive, through the players and the fans. If you’re ever in New York, you might want to be careful which team you favor, since there’s no telling which fan stands in front of you. For as long as the Battle of New York continues, these two teams and their fans won’t be letting anything go.
The Chicago Cubs and St.Louis Cardinals
The Chicago Cubs and the St.Louis Cardinals have found themselves being enemies from the moment the teams met for the first time, in the Cardinal’s inaugural season, in 1982. The rivalry would later become known as the Route 66 or Downstate Illinois Rivalry.
These rivals don’t take their rivalry lightly and neither do their fans. The teams have alternated success stories and often do their best to outweigh the success of the other team. This rivalry is compared to that of the Yankees and Red Sox, who have a rivalry that infiltrates both cities and every city in between.
Fans will travel the 300 miles to see their team play their fiercest rival and no one would dare miss a moment of the game. In fact, the crowd gets so rowdy during these match-ups that there was a fight in 1928 between the Cubs’ Hack Wilson and a rowdy Cardinals fan in the stands.
The Cardinals have an edge in the competition with 11 World Series victories to the Cubs’ three and 19 NL Pennants to the Cubs’ 17. Regardless, the Cubs aren’t going to let the Cardinals think their they’re the better team, especially now after the Cubs’ most recent 2016 World Series victory. The competition is ready to begin all over again.
Cardinals’ third baseman Matt Carpenter has voiced his approval of the rivalry, saying:”A good, healthy rivalry is good not only for baseball, but it’s great for St. Louis. It’s great for Chicago. It’s great for our division. The fact that they’re continually improving is motivation enough that we want to go after them and show them that this is our division to lose.”
This rivalry is strong and as the competition grows, the rivalry grows stronger. Players and fans alike find this rivalry to be one of the most bitter and lasting rivalries in the MLB.
The Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets
Welcome to the ‘Battle of the Broads.’ The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets rivalry began not too long after the Mets joined the league in 1962. This rivalry might seem quiet at times but has seen it’s fair share of tension and on-field brawls, which makes this rivalry known as one of the MLB’s fiercest enemies.
The Phillies were finding a lot of success in the Mets’ first few seasons in the league and New York looked on with envy. From here, the Mets and their fans would do their best to get an edge over the other teams, including the Phillies who wouldn’t let the Mets live down the occurrence of their pitcher Jim Bunning’s perfect game against them in ’64.
The Mets turned things around though and with the help of their then star pitcher Tug McGraw, the team would go on to win the World Series over the Orioles in 1969, thus being coined the ‘Miracle Mets.’ McGraw though would later be traded to the Phillies in 1974, where he would become a solid member of the bullpen and grow a hatred for his former team. Thus, the rivalry took full flight.
The rivalry would see several big brawls in the 80’s, including a final brawl in 1989 where Philly Roger McDowell and Met Gregg Jeffries started a huge team brawl. This fight wouldn’t be the last, in fact, another one of the rivalry’s biggest fights would come the following year between Doc Gooden and Darren Daulton.
These two teams have a lot of bad blood and they won’t be forgetting about it any time soon. And fans can certainly expect to see more on-field brawls in the future.
The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalries is one of the greatest rivalries in sports. This rivalry has seen everything from high competition, team ill wills and rowdy behavior on the field and among the fans.
The rivalry dates all the way back to 1919 when the Red Sox, in a state of financial trouble, sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000. This would later be known as Boston’s “Curse of the Bambino,” since the team’s success began declining after losing Ruth to New York.
The Yankees and the Red Sox have met in the AL Championship three times, with New York leaving twice as winners. Between the “Boston Massacre” and the hostility that followed every time the other came to town, the Yankees and the Red Sox take the cake on serious rivalries.
Every game felt like a playoff game and these teams didn’t play soft. Any game that these two teams played outside their rivalry seemed like exhibition games compared to the heat that ensued a Yankees-Red Sox match-up.
In fact, players would later reveal the hostility they faced during away games from fans in the stands. Beer showers and flying popcorn were things that some of these players faced when stepping into enemy territory.
And it didn’t end there. Fans would argue and fight on the daily and sometimes the police found themselves involved. Back in 2010, during the final series of the season, a Yankees fan was arrested for stabbing a Red Sox fan when the argument got too heated.
I think it is safe to say that the Yankees and Red Sox take their rivalries to new heights, on and off the field.
The L.A. Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants
The L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco Giants rivalry has outmatched every rivalry in terms of intensity and longevity. This heated rivalry began in the teams’ original homes in New York but followed them when the headed West to California and only grew in intensity. This rivalry is known to many as one of the greatest baseball rivalries.
Dodgers and Giants fans root for two things, the success of their team and the failure of their rival. Sometimes their rival’s loss could make up for a disappointing performance from their old team. Fans have even been arrested for murder of those who were fans of opposing teams, which takes the fan hostility to an entirely new level.
The Giants take a slightly more successful advantage over the Dodgers with eight World Series titles and 23 NL pennants compared to the Dodgers’ six World Series titles and 21 pennants. The fact that these teams rank so closely and have a balancing act of alternating success only provokes this rivalry to keep growing.
This rivalry doesn’t just linger in the stands and the players have gotten in on the heated rivalry on many occasions. In fact, one of the biggest brawls in MLB history happened between these two teams, on August 22, 1965, when players ran onto the field yielding bats in a brawl that brought an incredible amount of chaos and blood.
Furthermore, when traded to the Giants in 1956 by the Dodgers, Jackie Robinson opted for retirement rather than reporting to his former team’s rival. Despite being 38 years old at the time, Robinson’s teammate Tommy Lasorda revealed that Robinson had grown to hate the rival too much to play for them. This same incident happened again in 1972 when then-Giant Willie Mays refused to sign with the Dodgers and was then traded to the New York Mets.
This rivalry has seen everything from heated match-ups and brawls to player tension and fan attacks. It would be hard to find another rivalry who has a fanbase driven to murder. This rivalry isn’t a joke and it will only continue to grow as these two teams continue to chase success.