Forbes magazine ranked the baseball rivalries the other day, and you may be surprised at which one is not number one:
Absurd as it seems, Yankees-Red Sox tickets are no longer difficult to come by. Not long ago, scalpers charged the Bronx faithful epic markups for the benefit of a seat in the stadium. Now, if you log on to the Yankees' Web site or walk up to the ticket window, you can get seats in almost any section. Another rivalry fallen into decline.
Of course, Yankee Stadium's slender crowds are mostly to do with stratospheric ticket prices amid a global recession ($95 for the cheapest field-level seat; they go up to $2,600). Even so, the famed East Coast fight only ranks second on our list of baseball's most intense rivalries.
The top distinction belongs to the bi-coastal San Francisco Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers feud, which began as an inter-borough sauce back when the Giants played in Uptown Manhattan and the Dodgers in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
It doesn't seem all that absurd to me. Forbes attempts some sort of numerical breakdown to rank these things, but I'd buy the Dodgers and Giants as bigger rivals even in terms of broad historical vibe.
The Giants and Dodgers shared a city and a league for the better part of a century, fighting over fans and press and glory and all of that. Heightening things was the fact that the Giants were the NL's premiere team for the first half of the 20th Century, with the Dodgers ultimately wrestling that title away from them. While the teams moving to California certainly galled their New York fanbase, the part of that fanbase that didn't abandon them were probably doubly miffed that the Giants and Dodgers each needed one another in order to make West Coast baseball work. It's the same dynamic that makes siblings fight, and it certainly leads to a particular kind of nastiness that other rivalries don't have.
As for the Yankees and Red Sox? For all of the hype it gets today and the hatred it inspires in the fanbase, it's a rivalry -- as we've come to understand the term -- that is of a far more recent vintage than most realize. Remember the famous Don Zimmer quote: "Don't worry, we've been beating these guys for 86 years." The Red Sox have always been a better team than their pre-2004 sad-sack reputation suggested, but in terms of how they matched up against the Yankees when it mattered, they really weren't on the radar until very recently.