Diamond Wars: A Look at the MLB’s Best & Oldest Rivalries

Baseball has always been a sport rich in tradition and history, and one of the most fascinating aspects of the game is the intense rivalries that have developed over the years. From the Yankees and Red Sox to the Dodgers and Giants, these heated matchups have captivated fans and created some of the most memorable moments in baseball history.

With several rule changes going into the 2023 season, like the removal of the infield shift and a pitch clock to speed things up, fans have a reinvigorated passion for Major League Baseball. As excitement ramps up, we’ve highlighted some of the most heated MLB rivalries that fans should take note of.

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Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees–Red Sox rivalry is undoubtedly one of the biggest and oldest in baseball, and arguably one of the most heated in American sports overall. A rivalry that dates back to 1901, with more than 2,300 games played between the two clubs, the history of hatred between these two clubs runs deep. The rivalry has two signature inflection points: when hall-of-fame legend Babe Ruth was sold from the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1919 — which marked the beginning of a historically long drought of success for Boston that was dubbed the “Curse of the Bambino”— and the end of that drought in 2004, when Boston made a historic come-from-behind victory in the ALCS. They came back from a three-game deficit to beat the Yankees and win their first World Series in more than 80 years.

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New York Mets vs. New York Yankees

The crosstown, interleague rivalry in America’s biggest media market is known as the Subway Series. The Yankees and Mets are two of the biggest superpowers in Major League Baseball, constantly acquiring the biggest stars of the league (like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor, and Pete Alonso). This rivalry is best known for the 2000 World Series, which became a World Subway Series. The Yankees bested the Mets in five games powered by Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera.

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Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs

The battle for bragging rights in Chicago between the Cubs and the White Sox has many names: The Crosstown Classic, The Windy City Showdown and the City Series, just to name a few. The Cubs and White Sox played for the first time in October 1906, and the White Sox won 2-1. The two teams also met that year in the 1906 World Series, the only postseason matchup, where the White Sox won in six games. Despite the historical nature of this series, as of 2023, the two teams have only played 138 times in 118 years.

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Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres

Frequently known as the I-5 rivalry due to San Diego and Los Angeles being accessible by Interstate 5, the divisional rivalry between the Dodgers and Padres has picked up steam significantly in the last few years. Both teams have acquired superstar free agents since 2000 — like Juan Soto, Fernando Tatís Jr. and Mookie Betts — making their clubs among the biggest contenders to not only win their division, but the World Series. Entering 2023, the two clubs have met nearly 100 times, with the Dodgers holding a slight edge in winning percentage over the Padres (.550). The Dodgers and Padres have also met twice in postseason history, both since 2020. The Dodgers won the 2020 NL Divisional Series in a three-game sweep and the Padres returned the favor two years later, winning in four games.

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Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers

The Lone Star Series between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers is an in-state rivalry that was also known as the Silver Boot Series. While the Astros were once members of the NL, making this an interleague rivalry that featured six games a season between the Rangers, Houston is also now a member of the American League, so the two teams play 19 games a season. Entering the 2023 season, the Rangers narrowly hold the all-time edge in the head-to-head matchups, winning 130 games and losing 123. Since 2020, the Astros have largely dominated the series, winning 14 out of 19 games in both 2021 and 2022.

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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals

The rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals is among the most bitter and contested in all of Major League Baseball. Since 1892, these two teams have played nearly 2,500 times, and are only separated by about 50 games in head-to-head wins. Known as the Route 66 rivalry and the I-55 rivalry, the Cardinals and Cubs play one another 19 times a season, with the better team usually winning the NL Central division.

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Los Angeles Angels vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Freeway Series between the Angels and Dodgers of Los Angeles is an interleague rivalry that features six games a year between the two clubs. While they have a different approach to spending and acquiring stars, the Dodgers and Angels feature some of the biggest stars in baseball, such as Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw, and Freddie Freeman. Entering 2023, the Angels and Dodgers have only played 140 times, with the Angels holding a 73 to 67 edge in head-to-head victories. But the Dodgers have recently dominated the series, winning 16 out of 19 games since 2020.

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New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros

While the rivalry between the Yankees and the Astros does not have a catchy name or a deep-rooted history, the animosity between the two clubs still stands. The Astros are the defending World Series champions in the MLB, and have won three American League Pennants between 2019 and 2022, beating the Yankees along the way in 2019 and 2022 in the ALCS. Controversy ensued after allegations of cheating landed at Houston’s front door, most notably when shortstop José Altuve hit a series-ending walk-off home run off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.

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San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The inter-divisional rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco, the two dominant MLB franchises in California, is regarded as one of the longest-standing rivalries in American baseball. Entering the 2023 season, there have been 2,559 games played between the two franchises, with the Giants winning 1,274 to the Dodgers’ 1,263 (and 17 ties). Despite this, there has only been one postseason series between the two clubs, the 2021 NL Division Series, where the Dodgers won 3-2. Since 2020, the Dodgers have captured momentum, winning 33 out of 53 games against the Giants.

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Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs

Another bitter rivalry within the NL Central is between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs. Known casually as the I-94 Rivalry because the two teams’ ballparks are only 83 miles from one another off Interstate 94, the Cubs and Brewers have played 417 times between 1997 and 2022. The Brewers hold a one-game edge in the head-to-head (209–208) and the two teams have never met in the postseason. In 2021, Major League Baseball named the I-94 Rivalry in Baseball’s 5 Best Rivalries.

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More MLB Rivalries

American LeagueNational LeagueInterleague
Boston Red Sox vs. New York YankeesChicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee BrewersBaltimore Orioles vs. Washington Nationals
Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay RaysChicago Cubs vs. St. Louis CardinalsLos Angeles Angels vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Chicago White Sox vs. Milwaukee TwinsLos Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco GiantsNew York Mets vs. New York Yankees
Houston Astros vs. Texas RangersNew York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland GuardiansAtlanta Braves vs. New York Mets
New York Yankees vs. Houston AstrosLos Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres

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