Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who Holds The Biggest Rivalry In Baseball?

As we head in to inter-league play this time of year, I always think about those crazy rivalries that we normally wouldn't see in Major League Baseball. Yankees/Mets, Cardinals/Royals, A's/Giants, Dodgers/Angels, and my favorite: White Sox/Cubs. But overall, who has the best rivalry in the country?

We're all too familiar with the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. The teams have hated each other to cataclysmic proportions. Well, that, and not to mention ESPN airs EVERY matchup. Kinda ridiculous, considering there are... how many other teams out there?! But hey, I guess you have to air whatever people want to watch. Any who, the amount of altercations between the two teams is insurmountable.
You also can't forget about that curse. You know. The one that involves that 'Great Bambino' guy. Man, I bet the 'Sox wish they could have that one back. No matter where the teams are in the standings though, you can rest assure that each series means a ton to these fans. And I believe the Sox are undefeated against the Bronx Bombers so far this year. Ouch.

I never even knew how big the rivalry was until I moved to Los Angeles, but Giants and Dodgers fans HATE each other. There is no easy way to put it. And it goes all the way back to the days when the teams were in Brooklyn and New York. Ya....THAT far. In fact, it is historically the longest standing rivalry in baseball. The two teams first met May 19, 1883.

The Giants are #1 in all-time wins, while the Dodgers are #3 in all-time wins (1,063 and 1,046). And take a look at the list of guys that worked for both teams:
Not sure if you've heard of those guys. But kinddddddd of a big deal. Big names playing for both teams always infuses an already huge rivalry.
And of course we can't forget players like Barry Bonds and NOW Manny Ramirez who have changed the landscape over the past decade for California baseball. Head to Dodger Stadium or AT&T Park and you're sure to hear woe's regarding each of these guys.

And finally, last but certainly not least, the last two rivalries both involve Da' Cubbies. Let's start with the cross town matchup between the White Sox and Cubs. This is why I love inter-league play.

Since both teams have traditionally been horrible, this is a matchup we definitely would never see if left up to the MLB playoff gods. The teams are an even 33-33 (as of today). The north side/south side rivalry is definitely something that Chicago baseball fans are always fighting over. Even though the White Sox defeated the Cubs in the two teams' only World Series matchup in 6 games; way back in 1906.

And speaking of players having altercations to cataclysmic proportions, here is a snippet of what happened in 2006. Definitely still a recent memory to Chicago fans...
"On Saturday, May 20, 2006, the Cubs and White Sox added a new chapter to the intense rivalry: a brawl broke out. In the bottom of the second inning, Brian Anderson of the White Sox hit a sacrifice fly, attempting to score catcher A.J. Pierzynski. A play at the plate then occurred, with Pierzynski colliding with Cub catcher Michael Barrett, knocking him over and jarring the ball loose. After slapping home plate in celebration, Pierzynski began to walk away, but Barrett blocked his path and punched him in the jaw. This set off fighting between the two teams. Barrett drew a 10 game suspension and Anderson got a five game suspension of his own. The fracas took nearly fifteen minutes to resolve and to decide who would get ejected, and who would stay in the game. When play finally resumed, outfielder Scott Podsednik promptly got on base, loading the bases up, and second baseman Tadahito Iguchi cleared them with a grand-slam home run to send the White Sox to an eventual 7–0 win."

But we also can't forget what it's like for the 'I-55' series between those 'loveable losers' in da' Cubs and the St.Louis Cardinals. Read the sign above and it says it all. The Cubs' two most hated teams win back-to-back WS titles in 2006 and 2007. COULD it get any worse for the Cubbies? Oh wait, maybe. It's called having the best record in baseball and choking in the first round of the playoffs! (Sorry, I'm really trying to be non-bias. Cardinal/White Sox fan you're talking to here)

I'm from central Illinois where the whole state is split; half Cubs fans, half Cardinals fans (and a White Sox fan here and there) And let me tell you first hand, there is never enough talk about the two teams. Although rare in recent memory, things get pretty nasty in the area when the Cardinals start losing and the Cubs actually start winning. In his book Three Nights in August, Buzz Bissinger compared this rivalry to another famous pair: "The Red Sox and Yankees is a tabloid-filled soap opera about money and ego and sound bites. But the Cubs and Cardinals are about... geography and territorial rights." [Wikipedia]

Many players have played for both teams, including Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, who holds several single season hitting records for both clubs. Notably, Hall of Famer Lou Brock was traded from the Cubs to the Cards early in his career for pitcher Ernie Broglio. This is widely considered one of the most one-sided trades in baseball history. Other Hall of Famers who played/managed with both clubs include Grover Cleveland Alexander, Clark Griffith, Burleigh Grimes, Bruce Sutter, Roger Bresnahan, Dizzy Dean, Dennis Eckersley, Rabbit Maranville, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Leo Durocher. [Wikipedia]

Many also may not realize that the late and great Harry Caray got his start with Jack Buck in St.Louis broadcasting games. We can't forget the home run chase of '98 when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa slugged it out for the elusive record of 61 homers. And finally BOTH teams have 9 players in the Hall of Fame.

It's really hard to put into perspective if you haven't witnessed any of these rivalries in person. And each rivalry is different in many ways. You can be sure that my FAVORITE rivalry is between the Cardinals and Cubs. But which is yours?

Who do you consider to have the best rivalry in baseball?

Let me know!


  1. Favorite = Dodgers vs Giants...
    But that's only because I'm a Dodger fan m'self ;)

  2. Hey Josh, Congrats on the success of "The Apple Tree"... but for your 'Fix', you've got some typos to fix: "Anywho, the amount of altercations between the two teams is insermountable." Check this and the rest of your article in Word with spell-check turned on!

  3. Ya, I wrote it pretty fast. Thanks anonymous!