Predicting the Best MLB Rivalries for 2013

Doug MeadCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2012

Predicting the Best MLB Rivalries for 2013

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    Rivalries in MLB are as old as the sport itself.

    Rivalries exist in every sport, and oftentimes provide many of the great highlights of the year.

    In college football, Ohio State-Michigan, Army-Navy, Alabama-Auburn and Harvard-Yale are just a few examples of the greatest rivalries in the sport.

    The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have had a long-standing rivalry dating back six decades in the NBA.

    The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins are almost always sure to produce a thrilling night on the ice each time they play.

    Here are the best rivalries to watch out for in Major League Baseball in 2013.

New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Some of the most memorable plays in MLB history have occurred when the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers played each other—but only in World Series action.

    Now, through the magic of new regular-season interleague scheduling, the two teams can begin to renew that great rivalry.

    The Dodgers travel to Yankee Stadium for games on June 18-19. It marks the first time the Dodgers have ever played a regular-season game in the Bronx.

    The Yankees travel to Dodger Stadium for games on July 30-31.

    The two teams have met each other 11 times in World Series play. Mickey Owens' dropped third strike in 1941, Sandy Amoros' game-saving catch in 1955 and Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956 are just some of the memories created by this historic rivalry.

    Now, a regular-season rivalry can finally begin.

Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals

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    The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals have met each other a total of 2,306 times in their storied rivalry.

    The Cubs actually hold a slight advantage with a record of 1,173-1,114 over the years. The Cubs took advantage of the rivalry early in the 20th century. The Cardinals have chipped away at the lead in more recent times.

    The two teams meet 19 times in 2013. While the Cubs are still in rebuild mode, it is nonetheless a rivalry that thrills fans on both sides.

Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox

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    The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox only meet four times on consecutive dates in late May next season.

    However, it is a rivalry that's become known as the Crosstown Classic has certainly provided plenty of thrills since interleague play began in 1997.

    The rivalry took a vicious turn in 2006 when catchers Michael Barrett and A.J. Pierzynski engaged in fisticuffs. Barrett delivered a powerful punch to Pierzynksi's jaw, earning him a 10-game suspension.

Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers

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    The Chicago White Sox led the American League Central Division for much of the 2012 season. However, the Detroit Tigers crept up and took it away.

    The White Sox didn't help matters much by losing 12 of 18 games to the Tigers, either.

    These two original American League franchises have matched up against each other 2,056 times, with the Tigers holding a slight edge, 1,034-1,007.

    They will match up another 19 teams next season with the White Sox looking for revenge and looking to bite into the Tigers' overall series lead.

Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs

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    This is a series that has always fascinated me, and for various reasons.

    The two teams are only separated by roughly 85 miles, so the regional factor is certainly in play.

    While the two teams never met before 1997, they have been in the same division since 1998. With the close proximity of the two, it's commonplace to see Cubs fans invading Miller Park and vice versa.

    In addition, Miller Brewing and Coors merged in 2007. Miller had long been headquartered in Milwaukee. However, after the merger, the new headquarter moved to—of all places—Chicago.

    If I were a Brewers fan, I would certainly be holding a grudge.

Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants

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    Since interleague play began in 1997, the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants have engaged in what is now known as the Bay Bridge Series.

    While largely a friendly rivalry, the matchup has taken on new meaning now with the A's proposed move to San Jose being blocked by the Giants.

    The Giants hold the territorial rights to the Bay area, and MLB commissioner Bud Selig is still reviewing the proposed move.

    If the Giants are successful in fighting the proposed move, this rivalry could turn from friendly to ugly in a hurry.

Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels

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    Commonly known as the Freeway Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels will battle on the field this coming season with renewed vigor.

    The two teams have spent lavishly in the past year-plus. The Angels landed both Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in back-to-back seasons. The Dodgers added three $20 million-plus players (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Zack Greinke) and doubled their payroll in recent months.

    The two teams will get a chance to match dollar for dollar on the diamond six times in the month of June.

Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels

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    How do you think the Texas Rangers are feeling about the Los Angeles Angels right about now?

    Last December, the Angels signed starting pitcher C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million contract, stealing him away from the Rangers.

    This December, it was deja vu all over again. The Angels signed former Ranger Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract. This time, general manager Jon Daniels was angered that Hamilton never circled back to him with the offer presented to him by the Angels.

    This rivalry definitely takes on a new flair starting this season. The Angels travel to Rangers Ballpark on April 5. Imagine the reception Hamilton will get on his first trip back.

    It is gonna get ugly.

Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees

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    The Boston Red Sox hate the New York Yankees.

    Well, at least the fans do.

    This storied rivalry has seen the two teams meet each other 2,118 times with the Yankees holding a decided edge, 1,145-959.

    The rivalry has seen quieter teams in recent years. But that has happened before as well, usually ending the prolonged silence with a celebrated fight.

    One just never knows when these two teams face each other.

San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers

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    For well over 100 years on two different coasts, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have enjoyed a rivalry that is unmatched in Major League Baseball.

    The two teams have engaged each other 2,373 times with the Giants holding a slight advantage, 1,190-1,166.

    The famous Shot Heard 'Round the World, the John Roseboro bat incident and a bevy of other incidents have kept this rivalry heated for over a century.

    The Dodgers watched last year as the Giants captured the NL West Divison title despite the Dodgers adding a tremendous amount of payroll in July and August.

    The Dodgers added even more this offseason and will likely set a record for the highest single-season payroll in MLB history.

    The Giants countered by simply returning last year's stars and largely keeping their team intact.

    Without a doubt this rivalry will have renewed interest in 2013.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.