The 12 Best New Rivalries in Sports

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2013

The 12 Best New Rivalries in Sports

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    Although most every team claims to have at least one, there are some sports rivalries that are just way better than others.

    And after writing about the ones that could use a little jolt of energy a few months ago, I've decided to take a crack at some of the newer ones that us fans love to see and talk about.

    There will always be Ohio State-Michigan and Red Sox-Yankees, but let's take a look at the other sports rivalries that, although new, definitely don't lack intrigue.

12. Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    I admit that I really wanted to try and avoid putting these two boxing icons on here—basically because they've never actually fought each other before. Within boxing circles, it's probably the best rivalry going right now or at least the most anticipated.

    I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing when speaking about the state of the sport, but that's a conversation for another day.

    As it stands, until these two step into a ring together, they will continue to make headlines as the one fight that everyone wants to see.

11. Alabama vs. Texas A&M (College Football)

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    While there's plenty of history between these two college football teams—the most obvious being legendary coach Bear Bryant having led each at one point in his career—the past couple of seasons have seen this thing just blow up.

    Johnny Manziel led his Aggies to a win in Tuscaloosa last season. Then the Tide returned the favor with a win this past weekend. Let's all hope this thing is able to live up to its billing even as players change—with all of the alleged gimmicky stuff left out of the rivalry.

10. Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls

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    Is this really a rivalry yet?

    Some may think it's more media driven than anything, but I tend to disagree.

    With the Bulls being the one team that has regularly had the Heat's number since the Big Three were constructed in 2010—the season series is 7-4 in Chicago's favor—this thing is just waiting for a healthy Derrick Rose and a Bulls playoff series win for it to presumably be the best rivalry in the league.

    The two teams open the upcoming season against each other, which only adds more fuel to the fire—especially if you ask Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, who had some choice words before the two toss it up.

9. USA vs. Costa Rica (Soccer)

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    Sure, Mexico-USA has been the bigger of the two rivals over the past 20-plus years, but in the most recent World Cup qualifying matches, these two have been the cream of the crop—especially with Mexico struggling.

    From the controversial snow game in Denver earlier this year that sparked debate and even warranted an appeal from the Ticos, to the heated atmosphere and events of the USA's trip to Costa Rica a few weeks ago, which ended in a loss, the two sides really can't stand one another.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Yes, the Ravens and Steelers is a much more heated rivalry than this, but there's a reason why ESPN wanted this game to be the Monday Night Football game in Week 2—because the rivalry between these two teams has grown tremendously.

    Thanks to the Bengals solidifying themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the AFC North, reaching the playoffs in three of the past four seasons—but failing to beat Pittsburgh in all but one of their past six regular season games in the same time span—it should be interesting to watch if the team on the rise (Bengals) can overtake the blue bloods and class of the division (Steelers).

7. Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings

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    Even a semi-interested NHL fan, like me, knows that the Canucks-Kings rivalry is one of the best that the league has to offer right now.

    More than just a few hard-fought games and playoff series, these two teams have split their two postseason series in the past four years. The players themselves don't even try to hide their disdain for their opponents.

    With the rivalry becoming more and more crucial for each team's respective fanbase—as evidenced by the trolling seen on Twitter during 2012's postseason—I'm sure this thing will only continue to get better as they share the ice with one another.

6. Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers

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    If there's one rivalry that has really gotten a spark of energy in the past three years, it's the Niners-Packers; and most certainly, the league probably loves it.

    Two of the most storied franchises in NFL history, these teams have opened the past two seasons against each other. They saw each other an additional time in last year's playoffs, in which 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a coming out party.

    With heated words between the players both before and after their 2013 Week 1 matchup—during which Kaep again torched the Packers defense—it became obvious that this rivalry is one that fans can look forward to getting even better until Green Bay manages to slow the vaunted San Fran offense.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Now don't get me wrong, this rivalry hasn't been fiercer than the Dodgers-Giants recently, coming nowhere close to knocking that all-time one aside.

    But at the same time, don't fool yourself into thinking that this one isn't becoming hotter and hotter each season.

    With a few fights between them and a war of words from opposing players, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have shown that they love being a thorn in the other one's side.

    And with the Dodgers celebrating in the center field pool after clinching the NL West, it was even more apparent. 

4. Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Well would you look at that? The Pittsburgh Pirates actually make my list for having a great rivalry, proving that they've earned their respect.

    As both teams compete for both the NL Central crown, each with aspirations of winning a World Series title, the Pirates-Cardinals are becoming must-see TV.

    Don't believe me? At one point in the middle of the summer, both teams were featured on national television two different times in separate series.

    There haven't been any real altercations or bickering back and forth (yet), but since neither can seem to shake the other to grab a hold of the division, games between both will be tightly played.

3. Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

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    I may have mentioned how the Heat's rivalry with the Bulls has developed over the past couple of years with one exception—the lack of a healthy Derrick Rose. But the one with the Pacers is fresh and perhaps even more intriguing.

    Meeting in the past two playoffs, the Heat have been pushed to the brink by Indiana, finding themselves trailing in the playoff series last year. This year's Eastern Conference Finals required a seventh game to determine the winner.

    Both teams are gritty defensively and boast All-Stars, so it'll be interesting to see how the rivalry is renewed this upcoming season.


2. Manchester United vs. Manchester City

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    Yeah, this rivalry seems to have been around since dirt, but it has really picked up some serious steam in the past couple of years.

    After Manchester City defeated Manchester United to capture the Premier League title in 2012, United returned the favor earlier this season. There's plenty of hate and recent history between the two clubs.

    Oh yeah, and don't forget that they share the same city, meaning fans aren't shy about throwing a few fisticuffs to defend their allegiance.

1. Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

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    This thing has everything a sports fan wants when looking for the best current rivalry in football.

    It has history—as the teams have been NFC West opponents for many years.

    It has shorelines—with the two head coaches disliking one another from their days with different teams on the collegiate level.

    And it has tons of trash talk—with some even being the Seahawks' Richard Sherman tossing rocks at his former college coach and current Niners head man, Jim Harbaugh.

    With Seattle exposing the Niners on national TV in Week 2, I'm sure San Fran can't wait to see the Hawks stop squawking when they visit the Bay Area in Week 14.

    I just hope the fans keep talking crap about one another until then.