Friday, February 3, 2012

Rating the New York vs. New England Rivalries

12. New York Liberty vs. Connecticut Sun. There has never been a WNBA team in Boston. Most of you won't consider the WNBA to be "major league." The Sun are named after the casino where their arena is located, Mohegan Sun, in Uncasville, 132 miles from Times Square and 106 miles from Downtown Crossing in Boston. The other big Connecticut casino, Foxwoods, is 10 miles away.

I once saw a poster at Port Authority Bus Terminal advertising Foxwoods as "closer to New York than Atlantic City." This is true, but they're also closer to Boston than to New York.

11. New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox. It's happened in Interleague Play since the 1986 World Series, but who cares? Sox fans hate the Mets because they're a New York team -- not because of 1986.

10. New Jersey Nets vs. Boston Celtics. They've only played each other in the Playoffs twice, in 2002 and '03, although the '02 matchup was memorable due to the Celtics' enormous Game 3 comeback -- and then the Nets buried it by winning the next 3 and sweeping the Celtics the next season.

I don't know how the Nets' move to Brooklyn is going to affect things, but I suspect a New York vs. Boston matchup might carry a little more weight than a New Jersey vs. Boston matchup.

9. New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution. Most of you won't consider Major League Soccer to be "major league." And of those of you who do, you might consider D.C. United or the Philadelphia Union to be a bigger rival to the Red Bulls than the Revs.

But the Revs have cheated to beat the Red Bulls before. (I've been there. I've seen it.) The sooner the Empire Supporters Club, the Garden State Supporters, the Kearny Army and Hans Backe's Viking Army realize that New England, not Washington or Philly, is a New York/New Jersey team's real rivals, the better.

8. New York Islanders vs. Boston Bruins. From 1975 to 1988, both teams were really good. But they've only met in 2 Playoff series, in 1980 and '83, with the Isles winning both. Until the Isles get good again, this will be a minor matchup.

7. New York Giants vs. New England Patriots. In spite of this being the 2nd Super Bowl between the teams, it's not a real rivalry without the New York vs. New England matchup. Face it, if the exact same Giant roster was on, say, the Green Bay Packers, or if the exact same Patriot roster was on the Kansas City Chiefs, it would be just another matchup.

6. Rutgers University vs. University of Connecticut. This is a pretty good rivalry in football, a very good one in women's basketball, not yet a good one in men's basketball.

There really isn't another Tri-State Area school with a significant football team, and only St. John's in basketball -- contrast that with New England, which has Boston College, the University of Massachusetts and Providence College. But there's no real animosity in any of those potential matchups.

5. New Jersey Devils vs. Boston Bruins. They've faced each other in 4 Playoff series, starting in the 1988 Wales Conference Finals, the series that had Devils coach Jim Schoenfeld yelling at referee Don Koharski, who'd made several questionable calls in the Bruins' favor, "You fat pig! Have another doughnut!" The Devils haven't lost a postseason series to the Bruins since.

4. New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics. The only 2 charter members of the NBA still in their original cities, and while they haven't faced each other in the postseason in 22 years, they've had some memorable battles.

This includes 1973. That season, the Celtics tied the record of 69 wins in a season, set by the Los Angeles Lakers the year before, but the Knicks beat the Celtics in a Game 7, the first time the Celtics ever lost a Game 7 (or any clinching game) on the famed parquet floor of the old Boston Garden. The Knicks went on to win the title -- their 2nd, and, for the moment, their last; the Celtics then won 2 of the next 3, and have won an additional 4 since, for a total of 17.

In the NBA, the Boston edge over New York is proportionally a lot bigger than New York's edge in baseball.

3. New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins. Two of the NHL's "Original Six" teams, they've been beating each other's brains out (not always a time-consuming task) since 1926, and they've faced each other in 9 postseason series -- but none since 1973, a big Ranger upset over the Big Bad Bruins. Until the realignment of the NHL in 1982, a Stanley Cup Finals matchup between these teams was possible, and it happened in 1929 and 1972, the Bruins winning both.

However, for the moment, this one has little more than history -- but the Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup Champions (for the first time since that '73 Playoff series), and the Rangers are riding high, so another big Playoff matchup is possible in April or May of this year.

2. New York Jets vs. New England Patriots. Bill Parcells. Bill Belichick. Curtis Martin. Bryan Cox. And, if you go back far enough, Babe Parilli. And that's just the names who have been on both sides of this rivalry.

Take the massive egos of Belichick and Rex Ryan, and the trash talk between the teams, and add the NY-NE aspect, and note that they're in the same Division (unlike the Bruins and the 3 Tri-State Area teams), and you've got a rather nasty rivalry.

1. New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox. The Hundred Year War. The greatest rivalry in North American sports. Probably the one thing the two sets of fans agree on.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Overall from a Boston perspective I'm on board with your rankings.

Mets - I'm not saying there aren't folks that dislike a NY team by default (no different than the many NY area people with Boston on auto-hate), but you may be surprised at how many there are that don't hate the Mets (or only hate because of '86).

Nets - The whole Boston/NY thing will be over-hyped by ESPN and I expect most of us to be annoyed by it.

Giants - agreed, not really a rivalry and always interesting because they were as close as you had to a local team pre-1960. Long before me, but there's still plenty of older folk with fond memories, many who still consider themselves fans and will be rooting for them on Sunday.

Knicks - Don't forget, they met in the first round last year.

Cheers to a good game Sunday (to say good luck would be disingenuous). Win or lose, we're all starting the countdown to Opening Day on Monday.

Have a good weekend!