The greatest teams in sports do not have one rival; everybody is their rival. Notre Dame's rivals are not merely USC and Michigan, but the rest of college football. The Trojans' annual battles with UCLA and the Irish are just two "Big Games," since each Pacific-10 team thinks its game with Troy as important as the Apple Cup or Oregon's "Civil War." In basketball, the Bruins are the gold standard by which all other teams measure success.
The Celtics and Lakers; Packers, Cowboys and Raiders; all great dynasties stand as giants to be knocked down. In the National League, no single team stands out above all others, as the Yankees, who until recently were not so much rivals of Boston but the British Empire to Boston's IRA, always have in the junior circuit.
In Brooklyn and in Los Angeles, the Dodgers have long skirmished with the rest of the National League and the West Division. Among opponents other than the Giants, the Reds, the Cardinals and the Padres have been particularly fierce rivals. The Cincinnati connection heated up in the late 1930s, when Larry MacPhail came over from the Reds to take over as general manager of the Dodgers. Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer no-hit Brooklyn in the first night game ever, at Ebbets Field in 1938. In 1940 Cincinnati won the pennant, and the following year it was Brooklyn. The rivalry re-heated in the 1970s, when the Big Red Machine of Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan dominated baseball at the expense of Los Angeles (Cincy: N.L. pennant winners in 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976). When Cincinnati did not win, it was because Los Angeles met the challenge in 1974, 1977 and 1978.
Vin Scully has over the years marveled at how, no matter how many times the Cardinals and Dodgers played each other, their record always hovers around .500. The rivalry hit its peak in the 1940s, when Stan Musial's Redbirds seemingly battled Brooklyn every season for the pennant. In the 1940s St. Louis won four times (1942, 1943, 1944, 1946), Brooklyn three times (1941, 1947, 1949). Between 1941 and 1956, when the Dodgers captured nine pennants, they also engaged in close pennant races with the Boston Braves (1948), Philadelphia (1950), and the Giants (1951). The Phillies were play-off rivals in 1977, 1978 and 1983. Pittsburgh played Los Angeles in the 1974 Division Series.
The Chicago Cubs cannot compare to the Dodgers' success, but the two teams have always seemed to compete against each other equally. From the days of "Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance," to Gabby Hartnett, then Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa, the Cubs have produced great stars. In Los Angeles, the arrival of the Cubs and the New York Mets always seems to draw inordinate numbers of Chicago and New York transplants to Dodger Stadium, where the rooting interests can get heated and rowdy.
The rivalry with San Diego is uniquely Southern California in flavor, but as intense in its own way as any of the others. Ted Williams was the pride of San Diego, but the sleepy border town was minor league all the way. In the 1980s, San Diego players started the practice of "high-fiving" each other when they homered or scored against L.A. This caused much consternation with Tom Lasorda's Dodgers. When Steve Garvey was let go and led San Diego to the 1984 pennant, the Padres were no longer second class citizens. When the Rams left after the 1994 season, it left the Chargers as the only pro football team in Southern California, causing many Los Angelenos to root for them and increasing San Diego's imprimatur as a sports town that was most decidedly no longer minor league.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism