Stakes are often higher in unison with emotions and personal investment. Throughout history, the opportunity to own the bragging rights over an adversary has been a burning desire for rival sports teams. Major League Baseball presents some of the longest-standing rivalries to date.
Whether the game is for a major championship or not, a heated rivalry is the most crucial game of the season for most sports fans/teams. These sports rivalries are derived through identity while involving psychology, sociology, and politics.
Let’s take a closer look at one of the most notable rivalries in American sports, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Dodgers and Yankees Rivalry
While its origins present a strange build-up to initial dislike for one another, they’re still two of the most divided teams in the MLB today due to their heated rivalry throughout the decades.
This particular “beef” is strange because the MLB has two separate leagues, and each team is allocated away from the other. The Dodgers have long stood in the National League, whereas the Yankees are in the American League.
Being housed in separate leagues meant one thing, these teams were never going to play each other regularly.
So, with that said, how did one of baseball’s most heated rivalries come to fruition and remain relevant for over 60 years?
The Bronx vs. Brooklyn
The initial rivalry was generated through a classic turf war, as the MLB matched and moved teams around to appease a New York market.
During the start of the 20th century, the American League was just an idea. The National League had been the baseball staple, and the newly established AL division was nothing more than a base plan.
Baseball’s popularity in New York was evident, so expansion for the American League was needed, and the Big Apple was the perfect destination. The problem was that two of baseball’s most prominent franchises (the New York Giants & the Brooklyn Dodgers) were already well established.
Without a second thought, the Baltimore Orioles were moved to New York to represent the AL division and were renamed the New York Highlanders. A name change (the Yankees) and a location jump (Harlem River, Bronx) is when the Yankees captured their first World Series from the Giants in 1923.
Tension had steadily grown over the years as three of MLB’s most successful teams were all located in New York City.
Dodgers vs. Yankees: the first official game
Despite their paths remaining distant during the 1920s, both teams were fully aware of each other’s presence. The Dodgers weren’t optimistic about having another rival on their home turf.
It was the 1941 World Series when these two teams first met. The Yankees had led the series, and you could visibly see the tension between players battling each other during the games. Both teams made some undesirable moves, but in the end, the Yankees won.
6 Years: “Wait Till Next Year”
While they struggled to become synonymous with winning the World Series, Dodgers fans didn’t take themselves too seriously when creating the chant “wait till next year,” a reference or perhaps, a belief that one day they would win a meeting with the Yankees.
It was six years until the rivalry continued from the 41′ defeat, but in the 1947 World Series, the Dodgers weren’t far from snatching the title. It came down to a game 7, but unfortunately for Dodger supporters, the Yankees were too much.
This success breaded a string of success for the Yankees, who captured multiple World Series between 1949 and 1953, most of which came against the Dodgers. And with each loss, the Dodgers would chance “wait till next year”.
And then, the unthinkable. In 1955, the wait was over, and the Dodgers won the World Series versus the Yankees. Fans quickly edited their chant to “this is next year”.
The 2022 World Series odds favor the Dodgers at +300, and the Yankees are in the third position with odds of +500. Caesars sports betting for New York punters have their beloved Yankees falling behind the Dodgers and the Astros in the probability of winning this year’s World Series. But can you imagine the scenes of underground bettors placing their wagers in 1955 with 3/1 odds on a Dodgers success? I can’t. I believe the odds for the 1955 World Series would have been close to 10/1 for the Dodgers to win, as it seems this accomplishment was becoming so unlikely.
Gambling and sports betting, in general, have changed a lot, but the Yankee’s cockiness of owning the series lead over the Dodgers hasn’t. The Dodgers celebrations did, however, soon come to an end.
Naturally, Dodger’s bragging rights didn’t surpass the twelve-month mark, as the Yankees returned in 1956 to take their title back.
Leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles
Many speculated how or if the rivalry would last when the Dodgers announced their departure from New York City. In 1958 the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and picked up two elite pitchers – Don’t Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. Additionally, they replaced their aging starters with Maury Wills and Tommy Davis.
The move paid dividends, as the newly reformed Dodgers team collected the 1963 World Series and their first four-game sweep of the Yankees since moving to Los Angeles.
Even when the Dodgers packed up and left for the Golden State, their rivalry with the Yankees couldn’t be ignored. No two franchises in the history of the MLB have faced each other in World Series games as many times as the Yankees and the Dodgers – 11 times.
Having captured the World Series 27 times, there’s no denying the Yankees are the more successful of the two. They defeated the Dodgers in 8 of those finals, but this doesn’t discredit the accolades of the Dodgers, who’ve won seven World Series, and 3 of those came against the Yankees.
It’s been forty years since this World Series rivalry has been contested. Still, the baseball world remains patient and hopeful that this legendary conflict will be reignited when another Dodgers vs. Yankees World Series is reborn.