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Top Sports Rivalries of All Time
Rivalries in sports are what define athletes and the spectators.
21. Cincinnati Reds vs Pittsburgh Pirates
Only two National League franchises won the World Series during the 1970 s the Pirates and the Reds. And since they often had to go through one another to get there, they were one of the greatest rivalries in modern history. The Western Division-winning Reds swept the Eastern Division-winning Pirates to win the pennant in 1970 and 1975 and also knocked them out of the NLCS in 1972. Not to be outdone, Willie Stargell and the We Are Fam-a-lee Pirates swept the Reds in October 1979 on their way to a second World Series win in nine years.
22. Harvard Crimson vs Yale Bulldogs
When a rivalry is known simply as The Game, it has to be special. They may be two of the most prestigious universities in the world academically, but they play great football as well
23. Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers
Dallas and San Francisco played several classics in the 1970 s and 1980 s consecutive NFC Championship meetings in 1970 and 1971, the Cowboys playoff comeback win in 1972 and The Catch a decade later come to mind. But it wasn t until the early 1990 s that the rivalry became truly historic. Three consecutive NFC title games from 1992-1994 pitted Dallas against San Francisco. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Jimmy Johnson topped NFL MVP Steve Young s 49ers 30-20 in one of the most brutal and thrilling contests of the decade. A year later, the Cowboys earned a repeat trip to the Super Bowl, again by besting the 49ers, 38-21. Young finally got by Dallas in 1994, first in the regular season (21-14 at Candlestick), then again in the NFC title game, 38-28.
24. New York Yankees vs Kansas City Royals
The Yankees returned to glory in the mid-to-late 1970 s largely at the expense of the Kansas City Royals. A solo home run by Chris Chambliss in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1976 ALCS sent the Yankees back to the World Series for the first time in over a decade. The Yankees took the next two pennants as well, defeating the Royals in the 1977 and 1978 ALCS. Kansas City fans finally saw their club get over the hump two years later. Thanks to two home runs from AL MVP George Brett, the Royals swept the Yankees in the 1980 ALCS to reach their first-ever World Series.
25. UCLA Bruins vs USC Trojans
The 1967 edition of this battle for LA was the most famous Heisman Trophy winner Gary Beban came up one point short against the next season s Heisman winner, USC s O.J. Simpson. But because more than a dozen Rose Bowl berths have been decided by the annual USC-UCLA showdown, it remains one of the most storied rivalries in football history. And since every year there are a handful of first-round picks in the NFL draft on both sides of the field, few rivalry games showcase as much talent. For the entire series, USC leads, 44
26. Detroit Pistons vs Chicago Bulls
The Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls had a rivalry for Eastern Conference superiority in the late 1980s and early 1990s and it was a truly epic one for multiple accounts. In the early years of the rivalry, the Bad Boys from Detroit had their way with the imposition of the Jordan Rules. Those rules were Detroit s philosophy designed by head coach Chuck Daly to make the other Bulls besides Michael Jordan take the most important shots of the game.
27. Stanford Cardinal vs California Bears
No national championships have been decided by the outcome of this one and only once have Rose Bowl implications hinged on the outcome. But because the game is so intense, both on the field and in the stands, it is one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports. The Stanford Band mishap in 1982 was clearly the most memorable and thrilling game in the series history (Don t forget John Elway leading the Cardinal to a go-ahead field goal in the final minutes). But there have been a handful of other classics, including the 1990 game, which also came down to a wacky finish only this time Stanford earned the win.
28. Argentina vs Brazil
Another footballing rivalry, but on an international scale. Argentina and Brazil are two of the powers of world football with some of the most talented players in the sport. If Brazil had Pele, Argentina had Diego Maradona. Today, Argentina has Lionel Messi while Brazil boasts Neymar. Statistically, there isn t much dividing these two sides. Head-to-head, each has won 36 games with the only real difference being four more goals scored by Argentina. In terms of major tournaments, Brazil has won more World and Confederations Cups but Argentina claims more Olympic and Copa America titles
29. Australia vs New Zealand
The rivalry between Australia and New Zealand is found everywhere, whether politics, entertainment or sport. On the field however, one aspect where the rivalry is fiercest is rugby. Head-to-head, the two have played nearly 140 league matches with Australia claiming a convincing 93 wins. In terms of union matches, there have been over 150 with 104 won by New Zealand. The two nations may be neighbors and partners but you wouldn t know it from the way the two sides and their fans go after each other. When Kiwis performed their Haka, the traditional war dance performed before matches, Australians responded with a doctored video where New Zealand players were all shown wearing purses while undertaking the dance. Pre-match tensions are so high that an under-20 match almost erupted into a fight when the Australians
30. New York Yankees vs Brooklyn Dodgers
The cross-country rivalry between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers has had plenty of great moments. They battled in 1963, 1977, 1978 and 1981. But that rivalry paled in comparison to the Dodgers-Yankees, version 1.0. They shared the same city for decades so that helped make their first World Series in 1941 exciting. But the great games that followed is why they are ranked so high on this list. From 1947-1956 they met an incredible six times, with the 47, 52, 55 and 56 series each needing the full seven games. Given that ultra-competitive, long-standing history and names like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese, there has never been a better World Series rivalry in sports history.
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