In my opinion the following ten are the “Top Ten Rivalries” in all of sports. As I have mentioned earlier I am from the Midwest. I tried to main objective in my analysis, but there are a lot of Midwest rivalries on the list, but that is only because I think they are the best and have a lot of history behind them. If you have any thoughts or would like some other rivalries to be added leave comment. I have two honorable mention rivalries that didn’t make my personal “Top Ten”: the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Washington Redskins. Enjoy the list and offer feedback.
10. Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox: Since the Invention of interleague play these two “cross-town” rivals have been able to duke it out tear after year. There have been 74 regular season games between the two of them with the White Sox owning the overall record 39-35, with a current four game win streak. Every time they get together you can expect fireworks, especially if home runs are being hit at U.S. Cellular field. You can expect Ozzie Guillen to throw profanities the Cubs way and you can expect the Cubs to fire right back. The Michael Barrett / A.J. Pierznski showdown was memorable.
9. Dodgers vs. Giants: I purposefully left out the city names of these two historic franchises. They have been battling against each other on the east coast since the late 1800’s and have now moved their rivalry to the west coast. The two teams have a combined 11 World Series titles. The Dodgers owning six and the Giants owning five. Yet they have failed to win since 1958, which is when they moved to California. Between the two of them there have been over 2,000 meetings. The Giants owning the series 1,080-1068- 12. I can only imagine these two historic teams moving their rivalry to the Midwest as the Indianapolis Dodgers vs. the Louisville Giants when the state of California inevitably goes too far into the “red”.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. USC Trojans: You can expect these games to always be exciting and to go down to the wire. Last year, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen had three plays from the goal line to punch the ball in the end zone and force overtime. A few years ago was the memorable “Reggie Bush push” getting USC’s quarterback Matt Lienart into the end zone for the game winning points. There have been 81 games between the two. Notre Dame has the edge right now with the series at 43-33-5, but you need to go back to 2001 to see the last time the Fighting Irish hoisted the “Jeweled Shillelagh”, which is the trophy for the rivalry game. Each school has produced 7 Heisman trophy winners and 11 national championships.
7. Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals: These two teams are close in distance too each other and close in the overall series. Interstate 55 and a five-hour drive separate these two bitter rivals. The two teams began their bout with each other in 1885. The two have over 2,000 meetings, but only 8 post-season meetings. The 1998 memorable home run chase between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire will always be tarnished by steroids, but it was exciting at the time and re-ignited fan interest in baseball. The Chicago Cubs own the regular season series going 1,082-1,038-17. The Cardinals own the post-season series going 6-2. No matter how terrible or great these two teams are at the time, when they meet you can expect on “hell” of a ball game.
T6. Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons/ Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings: I should revise this to Chicago vs. Detroit. In every sport these two cities hate each other. Personally, being from Chicago I wouldn’t be too upset if Detroit was wiped off the map (I do like Ford cars though). Historically, Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas would battle it out. Other great players in this rivalry include, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars, Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups, Bill Laimbeer and more. You could always expect this matchup to be the Eastern Conference finals for a long time or at least a great post-season battle. The Blackhawks vs. the Red Wings have been rivals since 1926“Original Six” days to the present. The two teams have played each other in the most regular season games than any other two teams in NHL history.
5. Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers: This rivalry is probably regarded as the greatest NFL rivalry. The two teams have played 179 regular season and post-season games against each other since the rivalry began in 1921. The two have combined for 21 NFL championships, which includes four Super Bowls. The Chicago Bears own the all-time series with a record of 91-82-6. I can’t begin to mention the notable names in this rivalry, but if you are a fan of sports you know the magnitude and stature of these two historic teams. Both teams combine to have 48 members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
4. Duke Blue Devils vs. North Carolina Tar Heels: These two teams are separated by less than twenty miles. Every year the games are exciting and close. The “Cameron Crazies” pack Cameron Indoor and the same can be said for Tar Heel fans. The two teams first met in 1920. The Tar Heels own the series 130-99.
3. New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: These two teams hate each other. Year after year they try to see who can spend to most money to get the best team. In recent years the two franchises have even gone outside the United States to recruit their talent. The Yankees spending a fortune on getting Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras and the Red Sox buying Japanese superstar Daisuke Matsusaka. Until the 2000s the Yankees dominated in World Series victories but with two Red Sox World Series wins in the last ten years and a seemingly reverse of their historic World Series drought these two teams battle it out for the AL East crown every year. Back in 2004, the rivalry heated up with the Red Sox coming back from a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Yankees in 7 games to win the pennant and go on to win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-game sweep.
2. Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers: These two teams have played each other 14 times for the NBA Championship. This is probably the greatest NBA matchup. Every other rivalry is historic because of the amount of regular season matchups between the two, but these two franchises have played for championships. Great player matchups and hall-of-famers have competed for the two teams. Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Bill Walton, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlin, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the list continues. I don’t see a let up or an end to this rivalry any time soon.
T1. Ohio State Buckeyes v Michigan Wolverines and Oxford vs. Cambridge: It seems like whenever these two teams get together it is a battle. Up until very recently, the winner of this game would probably end up going to the Rose Bowl game. Historically the meeting as simply been referred to as the “Game”. The first meting between the two was in 1897. The game ends the regular season for both teams. In 2000, ESPN ranked the rivalry as the greatest North American rivalry. Tied for first is simply known as “the Boat Race”. I couldn’t put it at first by itself, but as an ex-collegiate rower (University of San Diego) I have been introduced to this great rivalry. The two Universities first raced each other in 1829 and has been an annual race since 1856. A quarter of a million people watch this race live on the banks of the river. An estimated 20 million viewers watch the race on television, some estimates as high as 120 million viewers, making it the number one viewed event in the world. The race is known as a “head race”. The course is in an “S” shape and goes for 4 miles. The blood, sweat, tears and endurance put into winning this race is matched by none other.