Major League Baseball has some of the most intense rivalries of any sport in the United States. Many of these feuds date back more than a century to the early days of the sport, when the league’s scheduling format made it so that every game was a bitter grudge match.
The American League and the National League were each composed of just one division with eight teams apiece, and they didn’t play one another until the World Series, making each regular season game a hotbed for division rivalries. MLB also didn’t adopt a playoff format like we have today until the late 1960s. Until then, the best regular season team from each league automatically won the pennant and made it to the World Series once the season finished.
September became a de facto playoff as teams climbed over one another in a dog pile to be that lucky team. Some rivalries were more heated than others, like the famous clashes between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, and the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs.
Those remain heated to this day, with league expansion and a century’s worth of changes: the Yankees and the Red Sox, and the Cardinals and Cubs, in particular, have been chosen by MLB to showcase the best of the sport overseas in the London Series. The Yankees/Red Sox exhibition took place in 2019, with the following year set to debut the Cardinals and Cubs across the pond.
Because of travel restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 Pandemic, that series couldn’t take place until this weekend. With the Cubs (at or around +350) and the Cardinals (at or around +600) both in the hunt to win their division, that series could mark a critical turning point for the club that wins it. Make sure to check out PayPal betting sites if you want to bet on these rivalry games (or anything else), with great odds and great promotions to help you win big.
Here’s a look at these rivalries and how they’ve helped shape the sport’s trajectory.
First and foremost are the Yankees and the Red Sox, notorious because of a trade ahead of the 1920 season that sent famed slugger Babe Ruth to the Bronx. This kickstarted the Yankees dynasty as we know it today and sent Boston into an eight-decade tailspin without a championship, named the Curse of the Bambino after Ruth himself. Already natural rivals, the trade (and how it affected both teams moving forward) added an extra dash of salt to the rivalry, one of the fiercest in any sport. When the Red Sox finally overcame their World Series drought in 2004, they did so after coming back from a 3-0 series deficit in the American League Championship Series against none other than the Yankees, a perfect example of how the clubs’ destinies intertwine.
Separated by less than 300 miles along Interstate 55, bitterness has always defined the Cardinals and Cubs rivalry. The two westernmost ball clubs until the 1960s, Chicago and St. Louis, vied for control of the Great Plains with far-reaching radio networks that built them massive canvases (and made them natural competitors). Like Boston, Chicago went through a 108-year championship drought between 1908 and 2016.
Which team has won the most championships?
St. Louis, meanwhile, amassed 11 World Series championships, the most in the National League, while Chicago looked up as a helpless little brother. The city of Chicago retained its place as one of the largest cities in the United States, the heartbeat of the Midwest. At the same time, decades of migration and redlining sent the city of St. Louis into a decline. The contrasting extremes define this bitter rivalry.
The Dodgers and Yankees once played in Brooklyn and Manhattan, respectively, and moved out west to their current homes simultaneously, battling for control of the Pacific Coast in much the same way that Chicago and St. Louis did the Great Plains.
The concurrent move meant that they’d always be mentioned in the same breath, their familiarity breeding contempt. The Giants have eight World Series championships to the Dodgers’ seven, which creates an intense trash-talking matchup between players and fans as one competes to catch up with or surpass the other. and their position in massive media markets means they’re always willing to shell out the big bucks for top players, making the rivalry a super team-building arms race.