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Major League Baseball rivalries

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Major League Baseball rivalries

In the "Original 16" era (1901–60), there were eight teams in each league and teams in each league played each other 22 times a season. With the second American League incarnation of the Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers) and Los Angeles Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) entering play as expansion teams in 1961, MLB increased the total number of games American League teams played to 162, which meant teams would play each other 18 times a season. The National League did not implement this until the following year when the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s (now the Houston Astros) entered play.


In 1969, with the San Diego Padres, Seattle Pilots, Kansas City Royals, and Montreal Expos entering play as expansion teams, MLB split both leagues into two divisions with six teams each. Teams played a total of 90 intra-divisional games, playing teams within the division 18 times each and 72 inter-divisional games, playing each team in the other division 12 times. However, in 1977, the addition of the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays reduced the number of intra-divisional games American League teams played to 78, as each team would play each team within the division 13 times. However, they still played each team in the other division 12 times, but the total number of inter-divisional games increased to 84. The National League did not institute this until 1993, when the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies entered play.

In 1994, MLB split each league into three divisions, but kept the 1993 format in scheduling. In 1997, with the MLB adopting interleague play, the schedules were changed. The schedule for interleague play comprised 84 three-game series, namely six series (18 games) for each of fourteen AL teams and as many as six for each of 16 NL teams.

MLB changed its scheduling format in 2001, further intensifying division matchups throughout the league. The new "unbalanced schedule" allowed for additional games in each season between divisional rivals, replacing additional series with teams outside the division. Due to the change, division rivals now played each other 17 or more times each season. The scheduling drew criticism both when it was enacted and after the fact, with some analysts even positing that the unbalanced schedule hurt intra-divisional play.

With the Astros moving to the American League West in 2013, MLB changed its scheduling formula as a result of each division having five teams. Teams play a total of 76 intra-divisional games, playing teams within the division 19 times each, and six or seven games against other teams in their leagues and 20 interleague games. The move of the Astros led to interleague play throughout the season. The number of interleague games against natural rivals was reduced from six to four.

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

The Red Sox–Yankees rivalry is one of the oldest, most famous and fiercest rivalries in American sports. For more than 100 years, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have been intense rivals.

The rivalry is often a heated subject of conversation in the Northeastern United States. Since the inception of the wild card team and an added Division Series, the AL East rivals have squared off in the American League Championship Series three times, with the Yankees winning in 1999 and 2003 and the Sox winning in 2004. In addition, the teams have twice met in the last regular-season series of a season to decide the league title, in 1904 (when the Red Sox won) and 1949 (when the Yankees won).

The teams also finished tied for first in 1978, when the Yankees won a high-profile one-game playoff for the division title. The 1978 division race is memorable for the Red Sox having held a 14-game lead over the Yankees more than halfway through the season. Similarly, the 2004 ALCS is famous for the Yankees leading 3–0 and ultimately losing a best-of-7 series. The Red Sox comeback is the only time in baseball history to date that a team has come back from a 3–0 deficit to win a series.

The rivalry is often termed the "greatest rivalry in all of sports." Games between the two teams often generate a great deal of interest and get extensive media coverage, including being broadcast on national television. In the stands it is very common for Yankees fans and Red Sox fans to taunt each other and more than occasionally get into fistfights, so security at both Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park is heavy when either team comes to town.

Lone Star Series: Texas Rangers vs Houston Astros

The Lone Star Series (also, Silver Boot Series) is a Major League Baseball rivalry featuring Texas' two major league franchises, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. It is an outgrowth of the "natural rivalry" established by MLB as part of interleague play as the Rangers are a member of the American League and the Astros were a member of the National League until 2012.

During interleague play, the winner of the 6-game series was awarded the Silver Boot. A 30-inch (760 mm) tall display of a size-15 cowboy boot cast in silver, complete with a custom, handmade spur. If the series was split (3-to-3), the winner was the club which scored the most runs over the course of the series.

In 2013, the Astros joined the American League West with the Rangers and changed their rivalry from an interleague to an intra-division rivalry, the Astros played their first game in the American League against the Rangers on Sunday Night Baseball that season. In 2015, both teams made the playoffs and were in a tight division race during most of the season.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Texas Rangers

The Rangers and Angels rivalry has been said to develop over a domination in the division between the two teams, and also in recent years more animosity between the two teams due to the amount of former players from each team playing for the division rival. Angels players such as Mike Napoli, Darren Oliver, Vladimir Guerrero, and Texas player C. J. Wilson are all acquisitions the two division rivals made of former rival players. In 2012 C. J. Wilson played a joke on former teammate Mike Napoli in tweeting his phone number, causing Napoli to exchange words with Wilson. The feuds go back to Angels Adam Kennedy and Rangers Gerald Laird arguing leading to punches being thrown multiple times causing small fights between the teams in the past.

The two teams each had a perfect game against each other, including Mike Witt in 1984 at Arlington Stadium and Kenny Rogers in 1994 at The Ballpark in Arlington.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Boston Red Sox

The most significant Angels rivalry is with the Red Sox; one that has developed with many strange events, heated matchups in both regular season and the playoffs that regularly included fights, late inning rallies, and bad relations. The Red Sox and Angels rivalry dates back to Angels franchise founder Gene Autry making a bet with former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey that Autry's new expansion team would win more games than Yawkey's Red Sox. In 1964 Angels pitcher Bob Lee suffered a season-ending injury of a broken hand after trying to punch a Red Sox fan, which ultimately cost him an ERA title. In 1965 the first of many fights between the two clubs occurred when pitchers Dean Chance and Dave Morehead hit batters which caused a small 50-man free for all on the field that resulted in the bullpen fence at Dodger Stadium being broken down and the riot squad being called. On August 17, 1967, Red Sox all-star outfielder Tony Conigliaro was beaned in the eye by a fastball, resulting in vision problems that caused him to miss the final month and a half of that Red Sox pennant winning season as well as the entire next season, and ultimately led to his early retirement.

The most famous Angels playoff collapse was versus the Red Sox in the 1986 American League Championship Series (ALCS). The Angels were leading the Red Sox 3 games to 1 in the series and leading by three runs with two out in the ninth inning of Game 5 and had two strikes on the batter when pitcher Donnie Moore gave up a 3-run home run to Dave Henderson, and the Red Sox went on to win that game. The Red Sox then won the next two games to win the series; however, the Red Sox followed that series with their own disappointing World Series loss to the New York Mets. The Red Sox swept the Angels in the 2004 and 2007 American League Division Series (ALDS); in both those years the Red Sox would go on to win the World Series. The Red Sox also beat the Angels in the 2008 ALDS, 3 games to 1. The Angels swept the Red Sox in the 2009 ALDS.

Texas Rangers vs Toronto Blue Jays

The newest rivalry on the major league scene, the Rangers-Blue Jays feud started in the seventh inning of Game 5 in the 2015 ALDS. With the score tied 2-2, two outs, and Rougned Odor on third base, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin accidentally hit the bat of Rangers outfielder Shin Soo Choo on his throw back to the mound, and Odor came around to score on the error. After a lengthy review process, the umpires determined that Odor should be allowed to score, infuriating the Toronto crowd; Choo would strike out on the next pitch to end the inning. In the bottom half, with Martin leading off, he hit a ground ball that was bobbled by Elvis Andrus and reached base. The next batter, Kevin Pillar, hit a grounder to Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland who's low throw could not be handled by Andrus, leading to another error and two men on, nobody out, with Ryan Goins coming to the plate. Goins bunted the ball to the third base side, where it was fielded by Adrian Beltre, who threw to Andrus covering third base. Andrus again kicked the ball, his second error of the inning, to load the bases, with still nobody out. After Ben Revere hit a weak grounder which Texas cut down the run at the plate to get the first out, Sam Dyson came on to pitch with the bases still loaded, but one out. Jays third baseman and 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson hit a flare to the right side, and Odor misplayed the ball, leading to the tying run crossing the plate. However, on the same play, he was able to recover in time to throw to second base for the second out, bringing up slugging Jays outfielder Jose Bautista with runners on the corners and two outs. On a 1-1 count, Bautista smoked a line drive home run to left field to put Toronto ahead 6-3, and did a dramatic bat flip to celebrate. The Rangers took offense to Bautista's actions, and the benches cleared. The same score would hold the rest of the game, sending the Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series, and the Rangers back home.

The following season, on May 15, 2016, the two teams met again for the final time of the regular season, at Globe Life Park in Arlington, home of the Rangers. In the top of the eighth inning, with the Blue Jays batting but the Rangers leading 7-6, pitcher Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista with a pitch. Two batters later, Justin Smoak was at bat for Toronto. With one out, and Bautista on first, Smoak hit a ground ball to Beltre at third base, who relayed to Odor at second, and then to Moreland at first to complete the inning ending double play. However, on that play, Bautista took a hard slide into Odor at second, which Odor took exception to. After some pushing and shoving, Odor punched Bautista in the face with a right hook, and the benches cleared. For their roles in the altercation, Odor was suspended eight games; Bautista one. Following the Blue Jays defeat of the Baltimore Orioles in the 2016 American League Wild Card Game, the Rangers and Blue Jays met once again in the 2016 American League Division Series where once again, the Blue Jays defeated the Rangers in a sweep 3 games to 0.

Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets

The Braves–Mets rivalry was at its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as both teams competed for postseason berths and, most notably, met in the 1999 NLCS.

New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies

The Mets–Phillies rivalry of Major League Baseball had been among the "hottest" in the National League, particularly in the mid to late 2000s. The two National League East divisional rivals competed heavily in playoff, division, and wild card races, and the geographic proximity of the fanbases intensified their matchups.

Aside from several brawls in the 1980s, the rivalry remained relatively low-key before the 2006 season, as the teams had seldom been competitive at the same time.

I-94 Series: Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers–Cubs rivalry (also known as the I-94 rivalry due to two ballparks being 83.3 miles from each other off Interstate 94) refers to games between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs.

Battle of Route 66: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals–Cubs rivalry refers to games between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. The Cubs lead the series 1,091–1,044 through 2010, while the Cardinals lead in National League pennants with 19 against 17 for the Cubs. However, the Cardinals have a clear edge when it comes to World Series successes, having won 11 championships, while the Cubs have only won 3. Cardinals-Cubs games see numerous visiting fans in either St. Louis' Busch Stadium or Chicago's Wrigley Field. When the National League split into two, and then three divisions, the Cardinals and Cubs remained together. They had 3 pennant races in 1930, 1935, and 1945. The two teams met in the World Series of the nineteenth century when the Cardinals, then known as the Browns, were part of the American Association. The teams tied in 1885 and St. Louis won in 1886. St. Louis, however, has officially vacated their history from the AA. The modern first post season meeting between the two teams was the 2015 NLDS, which the Cubs won 3 games to 1.The Cubs later won in 2016 to the Cleveland Indians with the Indians 3 down in games because of a close 7th and final game.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants

The Dodgers–Giants rivalry began in the late 19th century when both clubs were based in New York City, with the Dodgers playing in Brooklyn and the Giants playing at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan. After the 1957 season, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley decided to move the team to Los Angeles for financial reasons, among others. Along the way, he managed to convince Giants owner Horace Stoneham (who was considering moving his team to Minnesota) to preserve the rivalry by bringing his team to California as well. New York baseball fans were stunned and heartbroken by the move. Given that the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have long been competitors in economic, cultural, and political arenas, the new venue in California became fertile ground for its transplantation.

Each team's ability to have endured for over a century while leaping across an entire continent, as well as the rivalry's growth from a cross-city to a cross-state engagement, have led to the rivalry being considered one of the greatest in sports history.

Unlike many other historic baseball match-ups in which one team remains dominant for most of their history, the Dodgers–Giants rivalry has exhibited a persistent balance in the respective successes of the two teams. While the Giants have more wins, National League pennants and World Series titles in franchise history, the Dodgers have won the National League West twelve times compared to the Giants' eight. The 2014 World Series was the Giants' third championship since moving to California, while the Dodgers' last title came in the 1988 World Series.

Early discussions about interleague play

Interleague or interconference matchups have long been the norm in other professional sports leagues such as the National Football League. Regular season interleague play was discussed for baseball's major leagues as early as the 1930s. In December 1956, Major League owners considered a proposal by Cleveland general manager and minority-owner Hank Greenberg to implement limited interleague play beginning in 1958.

Under Greenberg's proposal, each team would continue to play 154-games in the season, 126 of which would be within the league, and 28 against the eight clubs. The interleague games would all be played during a period immediately following the All-Star Game. Notably, under Greenberg's proposal, all results would count in regular season game standings and league statistics. While this proposal was not adopted, the current system shares many elements. Bill Veeck predicted in 1963 that Major League Baseball would someday have Interleague play. The concept did not take hold until the 1990s (at least in part as an effort to renew the public's interest in MLB following the 1994 players' strike).

First Interleague games

MLB's first regular season interleague game took place on June 12, 1997, when the Texas Rangers hosted the San Francisco Giants at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. There were four interleague games on the schedule that night, but the other three were played on the West Coast, so the Giants–Rangers matchup started a few hours earlier than the others. Texas' Darren Oliver threw the game's first pitch and San Francisco outfielder Glenallen Hill was the first designated hitter used in a regular-season game by a National League team. San Francisco's Stan Javier hit the first home run in interleague play, and the Giants won the game 4–3.

For the first five seasons of Interleague Play, each division played against the same division from the other league (NL East vs. AL East, NL Central vs. AL Central and NL West vs. AL West), typically scheduled to alternate between home and away in consecutive years. However, in 2002, a new format to Interleague Play was instituted where teams play Interleague games against various divisions. Matchups which had been of particular interest prior to this format—mainly geographic rivals—were preserved. This is expected to be the continuing format of the interleague schedule. Corresponding divisions however, were skipped once when this rotation began, but were put back in the rotation in 2006.

From 2002–12, all interleague games were played prior to the All-Star Game. Most games were played in June, though May games have been scheduled since 2005. Among the 224 interleague pairs of teams, 11 played six games every year, which were scheduled in two three-game series "home and home", or one at each home ballpark. Five of these matches feature two teams in the same city or in neighboring cities, where they wholly or partly share territorial rights. Six are regional matches at greater distance, four of which are in the same state.

Beltway Series: Baltimore Orioles vs. Washington Nationals

Known as the Beltway Series (after Washington's I-495 and Baltimore's I-695), the two teams first met in 2006 one year after the Nationals' relocation from Montreal to Washington. Much of this rivalry is dominated by off-the field issues. Baltimore owner Peter Angelos publicly opposed relocating the Expos to Washington, which he believed was a part of his territorial rights after the departure of the second incarnation of the Washington Senators in 1971. There are also controversies surrounding the value of the Nationals' television rights and their coverage on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Crosstown Classic: Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs

The White Sox-Cubs rivalry (also known as the BP Crosstown Cup, Crosstown Classic, The Windy City Showdown, Red Line Series, City Series, Crosstown Series, Crosstown Cup or Crosstown Showdown) refers to the rivalry between two Major League Baseball teams that play their home games in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Cubs of the NL play their home games at Wrigley Field located on the city's North side, while the Chicago White Sox of the AL play their home games at Guaranteed Rate Field on the city's South side. The terms "North Siders" and "South Siders" are synonymous with the respective teams and their fans, setting up an enduring rivalry. The Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line runs north-south through Chicago's neighborhoods, stopping at Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field.

Notably this rivalry actually predates the Interleague Play Era, with the only postseason meeting occurring in the 1906 World Series. It was the first World Series between teams from the same city. The White Sox won the series 4 games to 2, over the highly favored Cubs who had won a record 116 games during the regular season. The rivalry continued through of exhibition games, culminating in the Crosstown Classic from 1985–1995, in which the White Sox were undefeated at 10–0–2. The White Sox currently lead the regular season series 49–44. There have been eight series sweeps since interleague play began: five by the Cubs in 1998, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2013, and three by the White Sox in 1999, 2008 and 2012.

Battle of Ohio: Cincinnati Reds vs. Cleveland Indians

The battle of Ohio is between the Cincinnati Reds of the National League, and the Cleveland Indians of the American League. Both teams cities are about 250 miles away and is straight from each other by I-71. Currently the Indians are ahead of the Reds by 1 with an all time rivalry record 45–44.Their last meeting was on August 7, 2014 with a Reds win. The next time they will meet is on May 5, 2015 in Cleveland.

Show-Me Series: Kansas City Royals vs. St. Louis Cardinals

The rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League and Kansas City Royals of the American League is a Major League Baseball series sometimes known as the I-70 Series or the Show-Me Series. This rivalry is so called because the two cities are located in the state of Missouri, whose nickname is the "Show Me State", and both cities are located along Interstate 70. They played each other for the first time in the 1985 World Series, which the Royals won in seven games. Owing to their geographical proximity, the teams face each other every regular season in interleague play.

This prominent rivalry began with Royals' successes in the early '80's and fueled by the Royals' victory over the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series. The series is still a source of contention among fans, notably the controversial call in the bottom of the ninth of game 6 in which Jorge Orta was called safe on a play that replays later showed him out. A Royals rally let them tie and later win the game and then later the series.

Freeway Series: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The term Freeway Series refers to a series of baseball games played between Major League Baseball's Angels of Anaheim of the American League and Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League. The series takes its name from the massive freeway system in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, the home of both teams; one could travel from one team's stadium to the other simply by traveling along Interstate 5. The Freeway series is extremely popular in Los Angeles and normally sells out their games due to the close proximity of both teams and their fans.

Subway Series: New York Mets vs. New York Yankees

The Mets–Yankees rivalry is the latest incarnation of the Subway Series, the competition between New York City's Major League Baseball teams, the AL Yankees and NL Mets. Until Interleague play started, the two teams had only met in exhibition games. Since the inception of interleague play the teams have met in every season since 1997 and faced off in the 2000 World Series.

Bay Bridge Series: Oakland Athletics vs. San Francisco Giants

The Bay Bridge Series is the name of the games played between—and rivalry of—the Oakland Athletics of the AL and San Francisco Giants of the NL. The series takes its name from the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge which links the cities of Oakland and San Francisco. Although competitive, the regional rivalry between the A's and Giants is considered a friendly one with mostly mutual companionship between the fans, as opposed to Cubs–White Sox, or Mets–Yankees games where animosity runs high. While many fans have a very strong dislike for the other team, some others actually like both. Bay Area baseball fans tend to disagree with each other on this topic.

The series is also occasionally referred to as the "BART Series" for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system that links Oakland to San Francisco. However, the name "BART Series" has never been popular beyond a small selection of history books and national broadcasters and has fallen out of favor. Bay Area locals almost exclusively refer to the rivalry as the "Bay Bridge Series".

Originally, the term described a series of exhibition games played between the two clubs after the conclusion of spring training, immediately prior to the start of the regular season. It was first used to refer to the 1989 World Series in which the Athletics won their most recent championship and the first time both teams had met since they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, it also refers to games played between the teams during the regular season since the commencement of interleague play in 1997. Through August 2015, the A's have won 53 games, and the Giants have won 50.

Cincinnati Reds vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers–Reds rivalry was one of the most intense during the 1970s and '80s. They often competed for the NL West division title. From 1970–90, they had eleven 1–v2 finishes in the standings, with seven of them being within 5½ games or fewer. Both teams also played in numerous championships during this span, combining to win 10 NL Pennants and 5 World Series titles from 1970–1990. Reds manager Sparky Anderson once said, "I don't think there's a rivalry like ours in either league. The Giants are supposed to be the Dodgers' natural rivals, but I don't think the feeling is there anymore. It's not there the way it is with us and the Dodgers." The rivalry ended when division realignment moved the Reds to the NL Central. However, they did face one another in the 1995 NLDS.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees

The Dodgers–Yankees rivalry is one of the most well-known rivalries in Major League Baseball. The two teams have met 11 times in the World Series, more times than any other pair of teams from the American and National Leagues. The initial significance was embodied in the two teams' proximity in New York City, when the Dodgers initially played in Brooklyn. After the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, the rivalry retained its significance as the two teams represented the dominant cities on each coast of the United States, and since the 1980s, the two largest cities in the United States.

New York Yankees vs. San Francisco Giants

The rivalry between the New York Giants and New York Yankees was intense as both teams not only inhabited New York City but also, for a time, the same ballpark. During that era the opportunities for them to meet could only have been in a World Series. Both teams kicked off the first Subway Series between the NL and AL in 1921.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

The rivalry between the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates was considered by some to be one of the best rivalries in the NL. The rivalry started when the Pittsburgh Pirates entered play in 1887, four years after the Phillies.

The Phillies and Pirates remained together after the National League split into two divisions in 1969. During the period of two-division play (1969–1993), the two National League East division rivals won the two highest numbers of division championships, the Pirates 9, the Phillies 6; together, the two teams' 15 championships accounted for more than half of the 25 NL East championships during that span.

However, after the Pirates moved to the National League Central in 1994, the rivalry ended. The teams have since faced each other only in two series per year and the rivalry has effectively died in the years since the Pirates moved out of the NL East.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Oakland Athletics

The rivalry between the Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics, also known as the Philadelphia City Series was at its most intense from 1883-1955, when the Oakland Athletics played in Philadelphia. The rivalry was significant not only because both teams played in Philadelphia, but because of the strong competition between the National and American Leagues. The competition between the leagues was so strong that the A's and Phillies did not play at all from 1901–02 because of legal warring between the two parties. Related to growing tensions between the rival leagues, superstar Nap Lajoie had played for several years on the Phillies, but was displeased with the salary cap of $2,400 placed by the National League. When the American League was formed in 1901 and the A's joined it, Lajoie was offered a contract by Frank Hough of the Athletics on behalf of A's manager Connie Mack. When asked by a reporter what motivated him to leave, he responded "[Frank] Hough offered me $24,000 ($682,656 in current dollar terms) for four years. You can bet I signed in a hurry!" As a result, the Phillies filed a lawsuit to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court banning Lajoie from playing for any professional team. However, the decree only applied to teams in Pennsylvania, so Lajoie signed with the Cleveland Bronchos. When the decree expired, the Phillies chose not to file it again, and Lajoie left Cleveland to sign with the A's.

When the National League and American League merged in 1903, the rivalry became more friendly. Games between the two teams were played in many different stadiums throughout Philadelphia as older ones fell into disrepair and newer ones were built. Stadiums included Shibe Park, Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia Park, as well as others. The final City Series game was played in 1954. In 1955, the Athletics moved to Kansas City after another dismal season in Philadelphia. The rivalry continued in spring training games until the Athletics moved to their permanent spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona. The rivalry has effectively died since then.


Major League Baseball rivalries Wikipedia

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