As of late, it is hard to consider the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees rivals due to the one-sided nature of the competition between the two franchises. However, these two teams have been linked for well over a century and have played each other for that long as well. Many of the most iconic names in the sport have passed through both cities. The Baltimore fan base desperately needs a pick-me-up in the near future as the Yankees and Boston Red Sox have dominated the American League East for the past 25 years. It will be interesting to see what Baltimore can do to try and interrupt that dominance and place themselves among baseball’s best.
History of Yankees vs. Orioles Rivalry
The Baltimore Orioles share more than just a current division with the New York Yankees. The Orioles are one of the American League’s original eight from the early 1900s, but like Baltimore’s beloved Colts bolting for Indianapolis, these Orioles left and moved to New York and changed their name to the Highlanders.
In 1903, the Highlanders changed their name to the New York Yankees, but the connections do not end there. The player probably most synonymous with Yankees baseball, Babe Ruth, was born in Baltimore. He played ball in Baltimore during the early 1900s and World War I, and the local newspapers were flush with his accolades during that time period. The Bambino’s eventual tenure in New York marked the start of an impressive reign of Yankees greatness that continues to this day.
Since Babe Ruth went to the Bronx, the Yankees have won 27 Major League Baseball championships. However, there have been times when Baltimore has challenged their supremacy in the American League. Brooks Robinson and his version of the Baltimore Orioles gave the Yankees runs for their money in the 1960s, but the long and storied rivalry did not cease with the 1960’s Orioles runs.
Nearly 80 years after Babe Ruth left Baltimore and eventually joined the New York Yankees, “The Iron Man” Cal Ripken Jr. passed “The Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig for the most consecutive games played in Major League Baseball history. Later, Yankees icon Derek Jeter returned the favor on the Orioles in the record books in 2012 when he passed Ripken to move into 13th place on the all-time hits list.
Many baseball historians and knowledgeable members of each fan base consider 1998 the end of the “competitive rivalry” between the two teams. A specific fight seems to be the turning point. A May 1998 brawl between New York and Baltimore occurred after Baltimore closer Armando Benitez hit a Yankees player near the end of a meaningless and decided game. This ’98 fight was considered the last gasp of a declining franchise and was subsequently followed by thirteen straight losing seasons in Baltimore.
Since then, the Orioles have had trouble filling the once-proud Camden Yards, while the Yankees have gone on to win four more World Series titles. The Orioles have shown signs of life recently in sporadic stretches, but Camden Yards is rarely filled will orange and black when the Yankees come to town. The Orioles’ fan base is infrequently able to drown out the Yankees’ chants when the Bombers visit.
Orioles fans desperately do not want this rivalry to die, as it is currently in the process of fizzling out. Just a modicum of success for the Orioles will bring this rivalry back into the fire. As one Orioles fan puts it: “[T]here is just so much history here. Jeffrey Maier. Alan Mills dukes out Darryl Strawberry. Earl Weaver against Billy Martin. Games at Yankee Stadium featuring late-inning heartbreak for O’s fans. Games at Camden Yards that sounded like they were at Yankee Stadium. Yeah, plenty of reason for O’s fans to want to beat the Yankees.”
The current state of the rivalry is a very modest one. It is hard for there to be tension, bad blood, or even a cross word between the fan bases when it has been so one-sided as of late. A decade or more of bad executive decisions have put the Orioles where they currently sit. When you sit in a division with the wealthy, market rich Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, you simply have to get more of your decisions right.
Head to Head Comparison of Yankees vs. Orioles
The New York Yankees lead the all-time series over the Orioles by a count of 1301-888. The Bronx Bombers have outscored the Orioles by just over 2,000 runs in all contests combined. Baltimore has fared slightly better at home, winning 482 of those games while winning just 406 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are 7-3 against Baltimore in the playoffs, with the most recent head to head postseason battle coming in 2012 when the Yankees dispatched the Orioles in the Division Series.
Yankees vs. Orioles Rivalry Outlook
As discussed earlier, the Orioles have suffered through roster turnover, manager turnover, and bad personnel decisions for the last 20-25 years. Due to this, they have not had time to form any stable progress towards consistently challenging the Yankees or Red Sox for the American League East. When playing these powerhouses consistently, each roster decision becomes increasingly important because your margin of error is so small. As of late, the Orioles have significantly crossed that margin.
The Yankees have a good core moving forward and should challenge for a playoff spot in the foreseeable future. If something goes wrong, they have the ability to buy their way into a playoff spot, if needed. This is why Orioles fans detest the Evil Empire. Both are old, proud franchises, so if the O’s can put together a stretch where they dare threaten the norm of the AL East, this rivalry will be back. Orioles fans are still impatiently waiting for that day.