New York Yankees Aaron Judge
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Following a season upended by a global pandemic, a New York Yankees-Los Angeles Dodgers World Series would be a dream scenario for 2021.

Josh Benjamin

The World Series is over, and we need to have an honest conversation about it.

Exciting as the Los Angeles Dodgers winning their first title in 32 years is, the 2020 Fall Classic wasn’t particularly special. No disrespect to the Tampa Bay Rays, but they were the hottest team in a shortened season. On paper, the Dodgers were always the superior ballclub even with manager Dave Roberts’ numerous playoff blunders.

Suddenly, it’s not that much of a surprise that the 2020 World Series was the least-watched in history.

And though MLB isn’t exactly facing a ratings crisis, there’s no doubt Commissioner Rob Manfred would prefer much higher numbers next year. Ideally, the 2021 World Series will feature a more intriguing matchup, maybe with some more history attached. Not to ask for too much, but the rekindling of a good rivalry would be nice as well.

Well, what about the Rays’ American League East division rival, the New York Yankees? They employ the talent, overall personality, and a long history of dueling with the Dodgers. The potential matchups are too good to miss, especially in a championship setting.

In fact, I’ll go a step further: A Yankees-Dodgers World Series in 2021 is not just great for baseball. It’s practically destiny.

The rivalry

Before we dive into the X’s and O’s of the matchup, we need to look back on both of these teams’ long histories. The Yankees have met the Dodgers 11 times in the World Series, emerging victorious in eight of them.

These matchups have not been devoid of historic moments: Jackie Robinson stealing home to Yogi Berra’s astonishment in 1955; Reggie Jackson‘s three-homer game in 1977; the Dodgers pulling off an upset in 1981; the Yankees coming back from a 2-0 deficit in 1978 to win the series.

Speaking of the 1981 World Series, 2021 is the 40th anniversary of it. That year, New York took a quick 2-0 lead before the Dodgers rallied to win the following four. This sets up not just a quadrennial (don’t ask how I found this word) of a significant World Series, but a revenge storyline.

And we all know hell hath no fury like a fiery and motivated Yankees team.

The bats

Let’s start with the offense. The Yankees lineup speaks for itself with Aaron Judge and former MVP Giancarlo Stanton as the big power bats. First baseman Luke Voit also held his own in 2020 when he led the majors in home runs, and smart money says his power won’t disappear. If reigning American League batting champ DJ LeMahieu additionally re-signs with the Yankees in free agency, the lineup is all the better.

The Dodgers aren’t quite as stacked as New York but are no slouches by any stretch. Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts are two former MVPs. Max Muncy and Corey Seager can change games with one swing. Prospect Gavin Lux should be a regular lineup fixture by next year.

But let’s focus on Betts in this case. Prior to 2020, he was a star in Boston for over five years and easily one of the top players in baseball. He knows the Yankees well and has hit .280 against them for his career. A Yankees-Dodgers World Series in 2021 lets he and his old rival face off, if I may quote Hamilton, for “One Last Time.”

There’s just as much drama on the Yankees’ side. Judge and Stanton both grew up in California, with the latter playing high school ball in nearby Sherman Oaks. Now, however, they’ve traded in their Pacific-adjacent surfboards for the New York City subway.

The arms

The pitching matchups are just as intriguing. The Yankees have yet another California boy in ace Gerrit Cole. Not only did he grow up in Orange County, but the Dodgers pursued him in free agency last offseason.

Even though Cole is a Yankee, think of the Dodgers pitching staff now. Chances are he would start Game 1 of the World Series against Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw, who won both starts and posted a 2.31 ERA in this year’s Fall Classic. Any wrestling fans reading this know this is the pitching equivalent of Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25, so the game would be like pitching chess.

It only gets more interesting from there. Walker Buehler posted a 1.28 ERA in the postseason and is establishing himself as a playoff legend. If the Yankees re-sign Masahiro Tanaka, this could be a fine youth-veteran matchup. The same goes for dueling lefties in Julio Urías and Jordan Montgomery. And what about youngsters Dustin May and Deivi Garcia going up against one another?

The Yankees don’t have much dynamic pitching compared to the Dodgers, but still offer storylines aplenty.

Final thoughts

Any baseball fan would very much enjoy a Yankees-Dodgers World Series. The talent on either side is existent, as fans witnessed in a short three-game series between the two at Dodger Stadium in 2019.

Furthermore, fans will remember the Yankees winning two of those meetings quite handily. Los Angeles’ victory was a 2-1 grind, and New York nearly pulled off the comeback in the ninth. Otherwise, the Yankees outscored the Dodgers 16-5 in the series and even defeated Kershaw.

Except, the postseason just carries a different intensity to it, especially the World Series. Establishing momentum is crucial, so even a Game 1 or 2 could possess a Game 7 feel. What if, in Game 1, both lineups have a field day and neither Kershaw nor Cole lasts past the third inning? That’s suddenly a whole different game, not to mention series.

But most important of all, the Dodgers would be the defending champions. The team would have a new gritty energy on the field, especially against the rival Yankees.

A lot can occur between now and next October, but we all know MLB needs a significant win after the strange 2020 season.

It’s a long way off, but a Yankees-Dodgers World Series would provide just that.

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