The leaves have started to change color. There is now a slight chill in the air. This can only mean one thing. It is the best time of the year to be a sports fan. Baseball is coming to a close, football is starting to take midseason form, basketball is getting ready to tip-off, and hockey is the infant stages of their season. What more can you ask for? Rivalries. Nothing will get the blood pumping more than hearing your team is playing the team you loathe. In this edition of The 7’s, will look at the Top 7 rivalries in sports today. There were some guidelines in coming up with this list. The rivalry still had to be active. In college sports the landscape change quite a bit. Teams have been moving conferences causing longstanding rivalries to end. (I.E. The Border War.) The next thing we had to consider is that the rivalry had to be from American sports and it had to be from college or the professional level. Let’s start this list with the rivalry coming in at number 7.
#7. The setting to start this historic rivalry started in 1959. The Western Conference champions were out of Minnesota. The Eastern Conference Champions hail from the city of Boston. This would be the first meeting between the Lakers and the Celtics for the World Championship. The Celtics were able to sweep the first meeting 4-0 and win the first of eight straight championships. The battles on the hardwood would happen 7 times over the span of 11 years ranging from 59-69 with the Celtics winning all 7. The rivalry would be renewed in the mid-80s and make it one of the most memorable battles in basketball history. The Celtics would be led by a one of the best shooters in the history of the NBA with Larry Bird. The Lakers were headed up by a point guard that gave the team a little Magic. The rivalry between Bird and Magic is what carried this feud over the top. The Celtics and Lakers would meet 3 times over 4 years. However, luck would change for the Lakers as they topped the Celtics two out of three. The rivalry was renewed in 2008 and 2010 when they met again for the championship. The Celtics claimed the prize in 08 and the Lakers took it in 2010. Boston holds more regular season and post season wins over the team from LA.
#6. When you think about making plans on Sundays during the fall, I am guessing your mind head to one place only. If it is Sunday, it is football day. Nothing says football more than watching two teams want to destroy each other and no two teams in the NFL say that better than the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. An underrated rivalry for many years, fans of both teams and players know if they see the opposite team colors, the blood begins to boil. It all started in 1960, the Chiefs were known at that time as the Texans and would play the Raiders for the first time. The Raiders were to come out on top with a score of 20-19 and the feud never looked back. Kansas City won it’s only Super Bowl in 1969 but had a hard road because the team that stood in their way was their rival, the Raiders. The Chiefs were an underdog and defeated the Raiders to make it to the big one. Oakland would finally capture its first title in 1976. Since then the Raiders have done something that Kansas City has not, wins an AFC Championship. That may leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Chiefs fans but the Chiefs hold the most wins in the rivalry. 56-51-2. One word describes this rivalry, Blood.
#5. The boys of summer! The men who go through the minor leagues to one day be called up to the major leagues. You want to play under the spotlight of a franchise that is loved by all. One of those historic franchises makes it home under the Arch in St. Louis. The other historic franchise makes it home where ivy is growing on the walls of the outfield in Chicago. If you can think of hatred in the NL, it has to be between the Cubs and Cardinals. The first meeting between these two clubs took place in the year 1885 and was in the World Series. The Cardinals, at that time were called the Browns, tied the first meeting with the Cubs, at that time called the White Stockings, with a score of 5-5 after 8 innings due to darkness. The Series ended 3-3-1. It has to be the only time a championship was not decided. The two teams would meet in 1886 with St. Louis winning 4 games to 2. The rivalry took both teams to new heights in the 90s with the home run chase between McGwire and Sosa. The Cardinals have won 18 pennants compared to the Cubs 16. The Cubs lead in the all-time meeting between these two teams with a record of 1,110-1,074-17. However one stat stands above all of them in this bitter rivalry. The Cubs have only won two World Series championships. The last time they won it all was in 1908. The Cardinals on the other hand has brought home 11 championships. The last one being in 2011.
#4. If Sundays are for the NFL, Saturdays are for watching college football. I feel that nothing can beat the feeling of watching an underdog upset a ranked team or watching two power schools play each other for nothing more than pride. This is what defines college football over the pros. The games are about pride. You’re representing a large mass of people who have gone to the school you are taking the field for. You want your school to the look the best. Losing is not an option. It is the biggest rivalry in college football. This not just another game, it is THE GAME. The Wolverines of Michigan and the Buckeyes of Ohio State, for one Saturday each season all the eyes of the country focus on these two teams. The first meeting between these schools took place on October 17, 1897 with the Wolverines winning by the score of 34-0. The greatest games in all of sports, the snow bowl, the ten years war, and then 2006 happened. Ohio State and Michigan were ranked number 1 and 2 respectively. Michigan scored 39 points and any other day that would have given the Wolverines the victory. However on this day, Troy Smith led the Buckeyes to score 42 points. I remember watching this game and couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. This may go down as one of the best games of all time if not the best game. Michigan may hold more victories over Ohio State but the two schools have the biggest history of college football combined.
#3. 2004 American League Championship Series. The Yankees were one game away from going to the World Series. The Boston Red Sox become the first team to ever be three games down to win a playoff series. In 2003, Red Sox fans could only mutter one thing, Aaron “Bleeping” Boone. If there is one rivalry that will stand the test of time in baseball it is the New York Yankees and The Boston Red Sox. The first meeting between these two teams would happen in 1901 in Baltimore, and history would never look back. In 1919, The Red Sox owner sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. If you ever wanted to know why, it was to produce a musical. The curse of the Bambino would become folklore in baseball and was not broken until the sox did the unthinkable in 2004. The names of players that have played in this rivalry are a who’s who of baseball past and present. Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Cy Young, Yogi Berra, Lou Gherig, those names are baseball royalty. Curt Schilling, Derek Jeter, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Mariano Rivera, and the list of players that have changed the way we look at baseball over the years could go on. This rivalry is always front and center of the baseball world and there is no argument as to why. The Yankees have the lead in the all-time series against the Red Sox with a record of 1,145–960-14.
#2. The NFL gives us fans’ season after season of big hits and great games. I think as a fan there are two places that would be special to take in a game on a Sunday afternoon. I have always wanted to head to the windy city and take in a game at the historic Solider Field. I think to sit in a seat and take in one of the oldest NFL franchises would be a special thing. Think about the days of the 85 defense, and Walter Payton. The other place I would love to take in a game is the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. This is why the Packers and Bears come at #2 on the list of rivalries. November 27, 1921 was the first meeting between the two, making this rivalry the longest running in the NFL. The Bears came out on top in the first meeting 20-0. These two teams have battled on the gridiron every year since but one due to an NFL lockout. The games are hard-hitting and there will never be a clear favorite going in. Each time these two take the field, the fans are getting a treat. Take NFC Championship game from 2011. The Packers won a game in enemy territory to make it to the Super Bowl. The Bears and Packers are two teams that are always in the hunt to win the NFC and this year is no different. The Bears lead the all-time rivalry but this one is really close, 92–88–6.
#1. A ten-mile distance along U.S. Highway 15-501, also known as tobacco road, is the location for the number one rivalry in all of sports. All thorough out the country great college basketball programs take center stage Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Michigan, Syracuse, Uconn, and a list of others. There are two programs that are always at the top of that list. The Duke Blue Devils and The North Carolina Tar Heels are the biggest rivalry in all of sports. You can’t talk college basketball without one or both of these schools coming up in conversation. The first meeting of these two schools took place on January 20th, 1920 with UNC beating Duke 36-25. However since that meeting, the two schools have traded wins back and forth. The rivalry reached its boiling point in the 1980s with two of the most winning coaches in history doing battle against each other. Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski epitomize what a college basketball coach should be. They took each of their teams to the National Title numerous times. The names that have gone through both of these programs that have had storied careers in basketball are too many names. The hatred between these schools started from day one and hasn’t stopped since. The two teams may have numerous awards and National Titles but have only met once in post season NCAA play with UNC coming out top in 1971. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series 132-104.
Share your opinion and let us know if we left off a rivalry or have them in the wrong order.