Are there any Long-Term Rivalries Developing Around the League?

There are many sports on Earth, which therefore means that there are many differences between them. For instance, baseball is played with a baseball (how original) while hockey is played with a puck (a bit more creative). But there is one similarity that every sport has and is a positive no matter what the circumstances.

Rivalries.

They come in all sizes — there are location-based ones such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA, the New York Mets and New York Yankees in the MLB, the New York Jets and New York Giants in the NFL. And so on, and so forth. These are based off of proximity to one another. The Mets and the Yankees are in two different leagues and face each other just a few times a year. But because of fans in that region have to choose a team to love, it’s a rivalry.

Then there are the ones that stretch league-wide such as the Lakers and the Boston Celtics in the NBA, the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins in the NHL, the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in the MLB and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens in the NFL. These are based on pure hatred of one another, mostly fueled by consistent meetings in the playoffs, or even the Finals as is the case with the Celtics and Lakers.

But no matter what kind of rivalry it is, it’s a rivalry. Rivalries will sell the most tickets, at the highest price I should add, and be the most viewed and most anticipated matchups of the season.

Currently, the MLB doesn’t really have a huge, marquee rivalry. That used to be where the Red Sox and Yankees stepped in, but due to having not met in the playoffs since 2004, it feels as though the rivalry has cooled off.

Despite not having that marquee, FOX Saturday Baseball, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball-type game, there are some brewing, and they’re being felt around the league.

National League: New York Mets and Washington Nationals 

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Mets are alone in first place this late in the season for the first time since September of 2008, so therefore it’s been awhile since anyone has said it. With the Mets in first place, they have finally leap-frogged everyone’s preseason World Series favorite. The Nationals on paper have a better team, and should be well ahead of the Mets for first place, but have yet to break away from the rest of the NL East due mostly to injuries. Because of this, a three game sweep at the hands of the Mets, and another loss last night, the Nationals find themselves looking up at the Amazins.

With both the Mets and Nationals having less wins than the teams in first and second in both the NL Central and NL West, only one team as of now would represent the NL East in the postseason.

The question then becomes which team?

The Mets are clearly hot, but the Nationals are finally getting healthy, and could run away with the division. They just haven’t yet. Whatever either team does should make for a bitter rivalry between these two teams.

But good news: it won’t be for just this year. Both teams look outstanding for the future. The Mets have arguably the best future starting rotation in all of baseball and a solid offense as well with Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson. Yoenis Cespedes will not, and can not be resigned by the Mets for next year (unless the Mets complete a deal with Cespedes before the end of the World Series, they must release him, and cannot make another offer to him until after Mat 15). The Nationals have a pretty good starting rotation too, with players such as Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Their offense, headlined by Bryce Harper, is also projected to be hot in the future.

This is a rivalry that is already heating up for the future.

National League: Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants 

This is a rivalry that has been consistently brewing for years, and is probably the closest thing to the utter disdain the Yanks and the Sox had for each other.

Since 1901, the Dodgers and Giants have played more head-to-head games than any two teams in the MLB. The Giants only have 24 more wins than the Dodgers do in these meetings, so they’ve always been nearly equal.

As of late, these two have met in the postseason and the Giants have had the Dodgers’ number. Since 2010, the Giants have three World Series, while the Dodgers haven’t won one since 1988.

With the Dodgers having by far the highest payroll in the league, the pressure is as high as it can be to win a World Series. As of late, they haven’t been great in the postseason and haven’t been to the Fall Classic since 1988. One of the biggest teams that knows how to get in the way of the Dodgers from getting back there is the Giants. The Giants are arguably the best playoff team in the league since the 90’s Yankees, and don’t look to be stopping any time soon.

The Dodgers are great every year, and desperately need to win now despite their playoff struggles.

The Rivalry can only escalate from there. Clayton Kershaw vs. Madison Bumgarner is as “must-see baseball” as it gets.

National League: St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates 

These two teams are putting the pieces together to a feud that could last a long time.

The Cardinals are proving every year that they can get better and better, as they sit atop the league with 67 wins. The team behind them in the NL Central, the Pirates, has 60 wins. If the Pirates were in the NL or AL East, they’d be in first. If they were in the NL or AL West, they’d be tied for first. But unfortunately, they’re stuck behind the unstoppable Cardinals.

But, one of the only teams that has a shot, at least in the future, of stopping the Mighty Red-Birds is the Pirates.

The Cardinals are up there with the Giants as a great postseason team, despite losing to them in the NLCS just last year.

The Cardinals always seem to find a way to be unbelievable at the current time, and in the future. The Pirates look set for the future with their great, young pitching staff and offense.

The Buccos haven’t won a World Series since 1979 and until 2013, hadn’t played October baseball since 1992.

The Pirates are hungry to win and the Cardinals seem to always continue to win.

Oh, what a rivalry it should be.

Worth Noting: 

No American League teams were in here due to the fact that there aren’t that many hot rivalries right now in the Junior Circuit. The Yankees and Red Sox will always be the greatest rivalry in baseball, but not right now when one team’s hot and the other’s not. When they meet in the playoffs again, they’ll be back at number one on this list.

The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels seem to have something going right now, but the AL West seems to always have a new rivalry. One year it’s the Texas Rangers and Angels, the next it’s the Oakland Athletics and Angels and now the ‘Stros and the Angels. If this rivalry lasts past next year, I’ll make sure to do a whole new list with them on it.

One Response

  1. Calvin

    The Mets were in first place by themselves on June 4th…just two months ago. But good job checking your stats and giving us 2008.

    Reply

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