Let’s talk about teams who hate each other. They exist in every sport. The tension often goes back years, though some is more recent. There are a lot of them, but I can think of three awesome ones off the top of my head.
The OG. The ultimate. The first thing that pops into people’s heads when they think “baseball rivalry.” It started in 1919 when the Sox traded the legendary Babe Ruth (above) to the Yankees. The Sox then went almost a century without a World Series win. The curse broke in 2004 when the Sox swept the Cardinals to win the championship, but that wasn’t the most exciting part of the postseason at all. The Yanks had a 3-0 lead in the ALCS, but the Sox stunned their rivals by winning the next four games to take the AL pennant. Like I’ve said before, that’s what drew my attention to baseball and made me a fan.
The NL Central is an intense division, though I’m definitely speaking from experience there. The Reds aren’t the powerhouse team they used to be, so the bad blood between them and the Cardinals hasn’t been strong in recent years. But I have Cards fan friends who still passionately hate former Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, who was traded to the Royals and then to the Giants in 2015. During a brawl in 2011, Cueto kicked Cardinals’ backup catcher Jason LaRue in the head and gave him a career-ending concussion. I don’t blame Cards fans at all for holding that against Cueto.
Reds manager Dusty Baker and former Cards manager Tony LaRussa apparently have their own little rivalry. Other teams previously under Baker’s management beat LaRussa’s Cards in the playoffs or in the run-up to the playoffs.
Now this is a recent one. These two teams aren’t in the same division, but they recently faced off in two consecutive AL Division Series, and the Jays won twice (only to lose in the ALCS). In between those two ALDS appearances, the teams had a benches-clearing brawl in May 2016. It started when the Jays’ Jose Bautista slid at Rangers’ second baseman Rougned Odor’s legs, and Odor punched Bautista.
That’s the most memorable moment of the rivalry so far, but the hard feelings started in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS. Bautista broke a tie with a three-run homer and gave the Rangers a sassy bat flip that didn’t sit well with them. I know a few Rangers fans, and they’ve been salty at Joey Bats ever since.
This rivalry is intense for sure, but because it’s so new, who’s to say how long it will last?