For much of their existence, the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox were defined by their inability to win titles. That's changed now. The Curse of the Bambino died 13 years and three World Series trophies ago. The Lovable Losers? The Cubs old moniker doesn't befit a reigning champion.
This weekend, two of the world's most popular franchises will meet on the diamond, with the Cubs trekking to Boston. They'll bring the trophy with them, displaying it alongside Boston's 2004 trophy at a special "curse-breaking" display at a charity event on Saturday night. Theo Epstein was the common thread for both franchises' titles, so naturally, he'll host.
Yes, it's officially blockbuster season.
There's something special about those uniforms and logos sharing a field, made more special by its rarity. Red Sox-Yankees is one thing, but it's another when two proud, popular franchises that never meet take the field. We see it across college sports and the NFL, too. Sometimes, the game feels a little bigger when big names who are stranger get together once in awhile.
Who are we talking about? Glad you asked. Let's take a look.
Giants vs. Yankees
All-time series: Yankees lead, 28-23-1
Most recent meeting: July 24, 2016 (Yankees won, 5-2)
What you should know: From 1921-37, the two franchises played five Subway Series, plus one more in 1951. The Yankees won four. The Giants won two. Seven years later in 1958, the team moved to San Francisco. They met in the World Series again in 1962, but there was no subway system connecting the Bronx and the Bay Area. Both teams had to take flights and New York won the title in seven games. They haven't met in the playoffs since, but the Yankees have a 5-4 lead in the all-time Interleague series. They won't meet this season.
Dodgers vs. Yankees
All-time series: Yankees lead, 49-29
Most recent meeting: Sept. 14, 2016 (Dodgers won, 2-0)
What you should know: The Dodgers' cross-country move eliminated the possibility of a future Subway Series, just like the Giants. But from 1941-56, it happened seven times before the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958. The Yanks won six of them, and it took seven games to decide four of them. The Dodgers won their first cross-country series in 1963, but New York won consecutive titles in 1977-78 against its former rival. L.A. won the 1981 series 4-2, and the two teams haven't met in the World Series since. They're not slated to meet in Interleague Play this year.
Red Sox vs. Dodgers
All-time series: Red Sox lead, 6-5
Most recent meeting: Aug. 7, 2016 (Dodgers won, 8-5)
What you should know: It's been 101 years since these two proud franchises played their only World Series against one another. The Dodgers were the Brooklyn Robins back then! Boston won the series 4-1, but the Dodgers are 4-2 all-time against the Sox in interleague play. Back in 2008, the Dodgers hosted the Red Sox at the Coliseum to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their move to LA and beat Boston 7-1 in front of a record crowd of 115,300.
Red Sox vs. Cardinals
All-time series: Tied, 18-18
Most recent meeting: Aug 7, 2014 (St. Louis won, 5-2)
What you should know: It wasn't a classic World Series in terms of drama, but Boston's 4-0 sweep gave the franchise its first title since 1918, and it's won two since. The Cardinals denied Boston a title in 1946 and 1967 before the famous series in 2004 that Boston qualified for after rallying from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. The Red Sox beat the Cardinals again in six games in 2013. The two franchises will meet in Interleague Play next month.
Cowboys vs. Patriots
All-time series: Cowboys lead, 7-5
Most recent meeting: Oct. 11, 2015 (Patriots won, 30-6)
What you should know: The two teams looked headed for a possible crash course in this year's Super Bowl, but the Cowboys fell at home to the Packers in the divisional round. Dallas won the first seven meetings between these two dynasties, but the Patriots have predictably swept the last five meetings, all after 1999.
Packers vs. Steelers
All-time series: Packers lead, 19-15
Most recent meeting: Dec. 22, 2013 (Steelers won, 38-30)
What you should know: Aaron Rodgers won his lone Super Bowl in 2011 against the Steelers, the only time the two franchises with a combined six titles ever met in the game. Twenty of their 34 meetings came before the Super Bowl Era. Since then, the Steelers have won nine games to Green Bay's five. In today's NFL, seeing Ben Roethlisberger and Rodgers face off again would provide the game another classic Super Bowl.
Steelers vs. Cowboys
All-time series: Dallas leads, 17-15
Most recent meeting: November 13, 2016 (Dallas won, 35-30)
What you should know: Pittsburgh's six Super Bowl trophies are the most in the NFL, but Dallas is right behind them with five. They've met to decide the champion three times, with the Steelers winning four-point games in 1976 and 1979 and the Cowboys taking the title in 1996. A future meeting would be must see, giving the Steelers a chance to have two more titles than anyone and an opportunity for the Cowboys to ascend to the top.
Lakers vs. Celtics
All-time series: Boston leads, 200-159
Most recent meeting: March 3, 2017 (Boston won, 115-95)
What you should know: When you have an entire video game built around your two franchises meeting in the NBA Finals, you know it's a special rivalry. These two meet twice every year, but it's always special when they show up on opposite sides of the bracket and face off in the Finals. It's happened multiple times in three different eras. They met seven times from 1959-69, with the Celtics winning each time. The Lakers won two of three matchups in the finals from 1984-87, and the two split a pair of titles in the 2008 and 2010 Finals. We included them on this list because another round seems far away at the moment, but with both franchises rejuvenated (Boston retooling faster than L.A.), there's always hope for another showcase showdown.
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs
All-time series: Montreal leads, 397-314-88-8
Most recent meeting: Feb. 25, 2017 (Canadiens won, 3-2)
What you should know: It used to be the hottest rivalry in Canada, but anytime they meet, there's lots of history. They've met in the Stanley Cup Final five times, but after the NHL realigned in 1998, they moved into the same division and haven't played in a playoff series since. When they do, it'll be a special one that carries plenty of history, conjuring up memories of a different era in Canada and the NHL. Neither the Leafs nor the Habs made it out of the first round of the playoffs this year, but look out for the future: These historic franchises are on the rise again.
Alabama vs. Michigan
All-time series: Tied, 2-2
Most recent meeting: Sept. 1, 2012 (Alabama won, 41-14)
What you should know: Alabama is college football's leader in national titles. Michigan leads every other program in wins. Now, Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh give both programs two of the most established, respected coaches in the game. Saban might be the game's best to ever do it. There are no future games scheduled right now, but don't be surprised if these two programs face off in a playoff game in the next couple seasons. Two of America's biggest (and most polar opposite) fan bases in the same stadium with a national title on the line would be electric. Saban's Tide toyed with an overmatched Wolverines team in the 2012 season opener at Cowboys Stadium, and none of their meetings thus far have featured legendary coaching showdowns. Mike DuBose split a pair of bowl games with Lloyd Carr in 1997 and 2000 and Bo Schembechler beat Bill Curry in the Hall of Fame Bowl back in 1988.
Texas vs. USC
All-time series: USC leads, 4-1
Most recent meeting: Jan. 4, 2006 (Texas won, 41-38)
What you should know: Texas saved its only win in the series for the ideal scenario. The Longhorns won their last national title in the final seconds of the 2006 Rose Bowl. Vince Young's scramble was a classic college football moment to cap an all-time great game. Before that, the two programs hadn't met since USC swept a home-and-home in 1966 and 1967. It did the same in 1956-57. Both programs have struggled to regain their footing after Pete Carroll's departure and Mack Brown's decline late in his tenure, but being the flagship programs in California and Texas mean both should be back up before long.
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame
All-time series: Ohio State leads, 4-2
Most recent meeting: Jan. 1, 2016 (Ohio State won, 44-28)
What you should know: Just 250 miles separate the two midwestern blue bloods, but they've met only six times. Two have been in the Fiesta Bowl, including the last meeting between Brian Kelly and Urban Meyer in 2016. Their most famed meeting came all the way back in 1935 in one of many games touted as the "Game of the Century." Both teams were undefeated and Notre Dame erased a 13-0 halftime lead for an 18-13 win.
North Carolina vs. UCLA
All-time series: North Carolina leads, 8-3
Most recent meeting: Dec. 15, 2015 (North Carolina won, 89-76)
What you should know: UCLA leads all programs with 11 national titles, but UNC is third, with six. The two programs are on opposite coasts, left to mostly admire one another from afar. They've only met in the NCAA Tournament twice, but one (1968) was for the national title. UCLA won that game, 78-55, saving one of its three wins in the series for the game on the biggest stage. That gave the Bruins the second in an eventual run of seven national titles. UCLA hasn't won one since, 1995, though. The Tar Heels have three since then, capped by this year's title win.
Duke vs. Kentucky
All-time series: Kentucky leads, 12-9
Most recent meeting: Nov. 17, 2015 (Kentucky won, 74-63)
What you should know: Christian Laettner provided one of the most memorable moments in NCAA Tournament history back in 1992. It's hard to see any game in this rivalry topping that game -- a 104-103 overtime win for the Blue Devils. Duke has won seven of the last nine meetings between the two, but they haven't met in the NCAA Tournament since 1998, when Duke eliminated the Wildcats with an 86-84 win. Duke has bought into the one-and-done strategy of success, so the two programs are more alike than dissimilar, but a matchup between John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski would do a lot for college hoops.
Realignment is a way of life in college sports, and often, that means rivalries pay the price. Here are some of the best rivalries in college sports that died during various realignment moves:
• Texas vs. Texas A&M: The most heated rivalry in football-crazed Texas was played every year from 1915 until 2011, when Texas A&M left for the SEC.
• Oklahoma vs Nebraska: Throughout the '70s and '80s, the two power programs showed up to Thanksgiving weekend with a pair of top 10 teams on a near-annual basis. It almost always decided the Big 8 and had national title implications often, too. When the league invited four Texas teams to form the Big 12, they stopped meeting each year, and in 2010, Nebraska left for the Big Ten. They haven't played since but are slated to meet again 2021 to commemorate the 1971 Game of the Century.
• Missouri vs. Kansas: The Border War is pure hatred, but when Missouri left for the SEC in 2011, the rivalry ended in football and basketball and has no end in sight to the cold war between the two.
• Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia: The Backyard Brawl runs hot year round, and just like the Border War, carries over into nearly every sport since only 80 miles separate the two campuses. West Virginia's move from the Big East to the Big 12 in 2011 and Pitt's move to the ACC has made continuing the rivalry difficult.
• Michigan-Notre Dame: This series became an annual game in 1978, but Notre Dame's scheduling agreement with the ACC aided its decision to cease the rivalry in 2014. Michigan coach Brady Hoke publicly said the Irish were "chickening out." The series will be brought back for a home-and-home in 2018-19.
• Pitt-Penn State: In the '70s and '80s, this in-state rivalry was one of college football's biggest and best games of the year. Joe Paterno was at his peak. Johnny Majors and Jackie Sherrill ushered in the most successful era of Pitt football ever. But Penn State joining the Big Ten was the beginning of the end for the rivalry, which ended in 2000 before being resumed for a four-game series that started last year.
• Georgetown-Syracuse: The Big East's signature basketball rivalry ended when the Orange left for the ACC in 2012.
• Duke-Maryland: The Terrapins and Blue Devils had a penchant for trading gut shots during the regular season and ACC Tournament, but that's over now. Maryland left for the Big Ten in 2014.