San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies Better Than Red Sox vs. Yankees?

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San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies Better Than Red Sox vs. Yankees?
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Over the past decade, it has been widely accepted that the greatest rivalry in baseball is between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

Especially between 2002 and 2004, these two teams met in the postseason regularly and fans of the game were all acutely aware of the Yankee dominance over the Sox until the miracle season of 2004, in which Boston finally broke the "Curse of the Bambino."

But has a new match-up been born in the National League that could "rival" the perennial clash between Boston and New York?

As the defending world champion San Francisco Giants get ready to host the Philadelphia Phillies, opening a four-game series at AT&T Park Thursday night, that's a legitimate question.

After all, the Giants-Phillies match-up has generated a huge amount of buzz since the two clubs met last October in the NLCS. The Giants defeated Philadelphia in six games to advance to the World Series.

That series featured a bench-clearing incident incited by Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez plunking Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.

The series also pitted a David against a Goliath, with the Phillies being heavily favored to win and earn their third straight National League Pennant and the Giants generally not picked to even be in the playoffs to begin with.

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
The benches clear in Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS.

Much has been made of the apparent frustration Philadelphia felt when the Giants took home the flag and eventually the World Series trophy.

Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel has made no bones about the fact that he feels the strength of the Giants' attack—their pitching—isn't "great" and that his team should beat them.

Add to these elements two fan bases on opposite sides of the country that vehemently defend their beloved club and you've got yourself the making of Red Sox-Yankees, but better.

We're no longer talking about a rivalry between two neighboring East Coast cities. We're now talking about a rivalry between two teams on opposite coasts, separated by 3,000 miles and an entire country of baseball.

If we were talking countries, we would probably make comparisons to the Cold War, with two superpowers jockeying for position, separated by a huge gap in geography, but comparable in sheer strength.

Time for Something New

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Skippers Bruce Bochy and Charlie Manuel

The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, while great, is old.

It's time for something new.

While the Giants and Phillies have each had their own intra-division rivalries, with San Francisco having a long-standing and historic rivalry with the Dodgers and Philadelphia having a rivalry with the immensely talented, but perennial Wild-Card hopeful Atlanta Braves, these rivalries just don't have the spice and drama that exists between the best-in-the-west and the best-in-the-east.

The Giants' rivalry with the Dodgers has become anything but in recent years, especially in 2011 as the Dodgers have fallen on hard times, playing on the field while the franchise ownership suffers a bitter divorce, attempted takeover by MLB and a bankruptcy filing.

When one team is not competitive and causes you to (secretly, of course) feel sorry for it, there's no rivalry.

With the Phillies and Braves, both teams are certainly competitive, but the Phillies have such a huge lead on Atlanta in the NL East, that it hardly generates the excitement, plot line and postseason atmosphere that the San Francisco-Philadelphia match-up creates.

Which is the better rivalry?

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"It was a fluke" vs. "We own you"

Fans of the Giants and Phillies have had a great debate, on Bleacher Report and surely in other forums, about what actually happened in last year's National League Championship Series.

While some Phillies fans argue that the Giants got lucky, and that what happened was the result of the "tendency to allow for flukishness" that accompanies a playoff series, Giants fans are quick to counter with statistics showing that the Phillies just can't hit Giants pitching, yielding the results of last October.

This debate is perhaps the greatest fuel to the fire that is Giants vs. Phillies and it will surely carry over into the 2011 postseason.

Series Preview: By the Numbers

Some key stats and numbers going into the four game series between the Giants and Phillies in San Francisco this weekend:

- In their last series in Philadelphia, the Giants took two of three games, with Giants pitching not allowing a single earned run over the final two contests.

- Chase Utley and Ryan Howard combined to go 1-for-16 over the final two games of that series.

- Since their last meeting, the Phillies have gone 6-0 and the Giants have gone 1-5.

- The Phillies will have Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt on the mound in the upcoming series with San Francisco. Neither pitched against the Giants last week in Philadelphia.

- The Phillies and Giants both have a new look this time around, as Philadelphia acquired Hunter Pence and the Giants now have Carlos Beltran (who played in the final game against the Phillies in last week's series) and Orlando Cabrera following the July 31 MLB trade deadline.

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