The 2018 Fall Classic is a disappointment to Yankee fans for several reasons, but one of the chief drawbacks is the competitors that made it there. The Boston Red Sox are by far the last team anyone that roots for the Bombers wants to see with a chance to claim the title, but there’s the additional sting of having the Los Angeles Dodgers matched up against them.
The Yankees-Dodgers rivalry lost a lot of its animosity when the former Brooklyn franchise moved out to Los Angeles prior to the 1958 season, but while the two shared the spotlight in New York it was undeniably among the greatest sports rivalries ever. The two teams met in seven World Series, with the Yankees prevailing in six of the contests, and this predated the existence of the LCS. These two teams were consistently the best in baseball, and created fine lines for fandoms in the city.
Even though the rivalry has died down between the franchises, many members of the older generations of Yankees fans still remember, and actively root against the Dodgers. The Red Sox obviously occupy the first and foremost animosity in the fandom today, but watching the Dodgers win could be seen as a poor consolation prize.
Compare this scenario to the matchup over 30 years ago in 1986, when the New York Mets faced off against the Red Sox for the title. The Mets are an interesting case to be made as far as rivals go. Unlike the Dodgers or the New York Giants before they too moved to California, the Mets have always been the little brother franchise to the Yankees. If you were to ask a Mets fan who they hated the most, their response could likely be the Yankees, but the same definitely isn’t true for a Yankee fan.
Still, sports fandom is a “what have you done for me lately” crowd, and having a team in your city win a championship more recently than you could quickly become a sour point. The Yankees almost experienced this in 2015, when the Mets last made the Fall Classic, and Mets fans have relished their opportunity to remind the Yankees that they’ve been to the biggest stage more recently, even though they didn’t win it.
All of this is to set up the ultimate questions for a team on the outside looking in: which matchup is worse to deal with—Red Sox vs. Mets or Red Sox vs. Dodgers? Does the more historic and hated rival winning irk you, or would the team beneath your pedestal climbing closer prove to be more irritating?
Obviously, we know the result from one of these World Series matchups already. The 1986 Mets did in fact hold off the Sox, and this Dodgers team has yet to do so. Perhaps the miracle of the Mets surviving in Game Six, and the Curse not ending decades earlier, lends a positive spin to the Mets’ title. If the Dodgers find themselves down in the Series, but turn it around on a similarly miraculous play (Bill Buckner’s error), perhaps that would eliminate the sourness and provide some appreciation to the situation. Similarly, regardless of this year’s result, if the Mets and Sox were to somehow meet in October in 2019 perhaps that would only further amplify things.
After all of this speculation, I don’t really have an answer for the question I originally posed. Let us know in the comments if you think Red Sox vs. Mets or Red Sox vs. Dodgers is the worst World Series matchup and why!