Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Top 10 New York Rivalry Cities

So how does the New York vs. Boston -- really, New York Tri-State Area vs. New England -- sports rivalry compare with some other municipal rivalries?

I'll be looking at only those cities that have teams in at least 3 out of the 4 major league sports, or 2 if those 2 are MLB and the NFL.

25. New York vs. Tampa Bay. All 4 sports? No: The NBA has never gone to Tampa Bay, and the Orlando Magic's new Amway Arena is 85 miles from downtown Tampa and 107 miles from the Rays' Tropicana Field. History? Not much, unless you count the recent AL East contests between the Yanks and Rays. Each city's local media playing it up? Hardly. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Not even close.

24. New York vs. Phoenix. All 4 sports? Check. History? Check: The Yankees had that highly emotional 2001 World Series with the Diamondbacks, and the Mets played the D-backs in the 1999 Playoffs; but Giants-Cardinals, Knicks-Suns and Coyotes vs. any of the 3 NYTSA NHL teams hasn't been much. Each city's local media playing it up? No. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No.

23. New York vs. San Diego. All 4 sports? No: They had a team in the World Hockey Association from 1974 to '77, but never in the NHL, and the Clippers moved up Interstate 5 to Los Angeles in 1984 (possibly the dumbest sports franchise move ever). History? Not much: The Padres played the Yankees in the 1998 World Series, but I challenge any Padres fan and any Met fan to mention a memorable game between the teams. (Actually, my first visit to Shea Stadium was a Mets-Padres game, but I don't remember much about it.) The Jets and Chargers were original AFL teams, but by the time the Jets got good in the late Sixties, the Chargers were on their way down; a couple of postseason matchups hasn't helped.

Each city's local media playing it up? Not by a longshot. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? There was the Iceball Incident at Giants Stadium right before Christmas 1995, but since it was the Giants, not the Jets, and the only way the Giants could play the Chargers in the postseason is in the Super Bowl, there was no way the incident could start a rivalry.

22. New York vs. Minneapolis. All 4 sports? Check: Yankees vs. Twins, Giants vs. Vikings, Knicks and Nets vs. Timberwolves, and the Minnesota Wild against our 3 teams. History? Check: The Yanks and Twins have played each other in 4 Playoff series, all since 2003; the Giants and Vikings have had some Playoff games, including the 2000 NFC Championship Game that ended 41-0 to the G-Men; and the Knicks lost 2 NBA Finals in the early Fifties to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles in 1960. Each city's local media playing it up? Not really. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Not that I can recall.

21. New York vs. Kansas City. All 4 sports? No: K.C. hasn't had an NBA team since 1985, and only had an NHL team from 1974 to '76, before the Scouts moved to Denver to become the original Colorado Rockies, and then moved to New Jersey in 1982 to become the Devils. History? Distant: The Yankees and Royals played each other in 4 Playoff series, and the Jets and Chiefs were original AFL teams -- Joe Namath's last postseason game was a 1969 loss to the Chiefs. There has been something of the bizarre: The Yanks-Royals Pine Tar Game of 1983, and Bernard King's horrible knee injury at Kemper Arena in 1985, in one of the Kansas City Kings' last games before moving to Sacramento. Check: Yankees vs. Red Sox, Jets (and to a much lesser degree Giants) vs. Patriots, Knicks vs. Celtics, Rangers (and to a lesser degree Devils) vs. Bruins. History? Check.

Each city's local media playing it up? Not on our side, and it's been so long since their side had a chance that I can't really be sure. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Not exactly: The Yanks-Royals matchups of 1976, '77, '78 and '80 had plenty of them, but that's over 30 years ago, and Jets-Chiefs hasn't been a real rivalry in over 40 years.

20. New York vs. Seattle. All 4 sports? No: Seattle lost the NBA's SuperSonics recently, and hasn't had a major league hockey team since 1924. History? Not much, the Yanks and Mariners have had 3 Playoff series, all memorable, but Jets-Seahawks hasn't been much (except for a phantom touchdown given to Vinny Testaverde), and I defy anyone in either city to remember a Knicks-Sonics game. Each city's local media playing it up? No. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No, as wild as that 1995 Yanks-M's Playoff series was, it wasn't angry.

19. New York vs. Houston. All 4 sports? No: No NHL team, and they lost their WHA team in 1978. History? Some: The Mets and Astros had an epic NLCS in 1986, and the Knicks had a surreal NBA Finals with the Rockets in 1994. Each city's local media playing it up? No. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No: Even that '86 NLCS, while intense, wasn't acrimonious.

18. New York vs. St. Louis. All 4 sports? No: The NBA's Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968. History? Check: The Yankees have played the Cardinals in 5 World Series (although none since 1964, despite several close calls since 1985), and the Mets and Cards had a brief rivalry in the Seventies that got nasty in 1985 and '87 and revived again in the 2006 NLCS. But the geographic structure of the Stanley Cup Playoffs means a matchup between the Blues and a NYTSA team can only happen in the Finals, and while the Giants and the Rams had the Flipper Anderson Game in the 1989 NFC Divisional Playoffs, that was when the Rams were still in Los Angeles.

Each city's local media playing it up? No. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Maybe there's a 100-year-old Yankee Fan who remembers the 1926 and '28 World Series and the 1922 Pennant race with the St. Louis Browns (who became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954), who could tell us, but I doubt it.

17. New York vs. Denver. All 4 sports? Check: Mets vs. Colorado Rockies, Jets vs. Broncos, Knicks and Nets vs. Nuggets, and the Colorado Avalanche have played the Devils, if not yet the Rangers or Islanders, in a memorable matchup. History? Check, the Devils losing the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals to the Avs, the Jets leading the Broncos at halftime of the 1998 AFC Championship Game before losing, the Nets and Nugs playing the last ABA Finals, and the Rockies opening Coors Field against the Mets. Each city's local media playing it up? Not really. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No.

16. New York vs. Milwaukee -- which includes Green Bay. All 4 sports? No: Milwaukee has never had an NHL or even a World Hockey Association team. History: Check: The Giants and Packers have played each other in 6 NFL or NFC Championship Games, and played again in the Playoffs that just ended. The Yankees played the Braves in the 1957 and '58 World Series, the Yanks and Brewers played in the strike-forced 1981 AL East Division Series, the Mets and Brewers had that run for the Wild Card in 2008, and the Knicks and Bucks had some memorable games in the early Seventies. Each city's local media playing it up? Not really. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Not that I can think of, although some of those Giants-Packers title games were rough, made rougher by the weather.

15. New York vs. Toronto. All 4 sports? No: While Canada does have its own professional football league, its teams do not play NFL teams. History: Check: Yankees vs. Blue Jays, Rangers (and to a much lesser degree Devils) vs. Maple Leafs; and while Knicks vs. Raptors hasn't been much, it's worth nothing that the first game in NBA history, on November 1, 1946, was between the Knicks and the Toronto Huskies at Maple Leaf Gardens -- the Knicks won, and the Huskies folded after that first season.

Each city's local media playing it up? Only if it's hockey. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? The Leafs have never had such a moment against a NYTSA team, and while Jays fans still hate the Yankees and cite the Dave Winfield seagull incident of 1983 and the Alex Rodriguez "Ha!" incident of 2007, the fact that the Jays have mostly been crap since the 1994 strike has rendered this rivalry mostly dormant.

14. New York vs. Pittsburgh. All 4 sports? No, except for the very beginning of the NBA and briefly in the ABA, Pittsburgh has never had a major league basketball team. History: Some: The Pirates had pretty good rivalries with the baseball Giants early in the 20th Century and with the Mets in the early Seventies and again in the early Nineties, and have faced the Yankees in 2 World Series; and the Penguins have faced all 3 area hockey teams in the Playoffs; but the Steelers haven't had very memorable games with either the Jets or the Giants.

Each city's local media playing it up? No. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No, although if the Pirates had been able to keep it going after Bill Mazeroski's home run won the 1960 World Series, maybe that would have been one.

13. New York vs. Atlanta. All 4 sports? No: Both the Yankees and the Mets have had big moments against the Braves, but neither the Giants nor the Jets care about the Falcons, neither the Knicks nor the Nets care about the Hawks, and Atlanta just lost an NHL team for the 2nd time in 31 years. History? Hardly any outside of 1996 to 2001 baseball. Each city's local media playing it up? See the previous answer. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No, mainly because Mets-Braves was already nasty, and Yanks-Braves had already happened once, before John Rocker started flapping his gums about the Mets, and about New York in general.

12. New York vs. Cincinnati. All 4 sports? No: Cincy only briefly had a team in the World Hockey Association, never the NHL, and has been without an NBA team since 1972. History: The Mets and Reds had a rough-and-tumble (literally) NLCS in 1973, and the Yanks and Reds have faced each other in 3 World Series, but the Jets and Bengals have only faced each other in 1 Playoff game.

Each city's local media playing it up? No. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Yes: Pete Rose sliding hard into Bud Harrelson in Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS, and then trying to beat him up. Met fans have hated Rose ever since. There was also a play in the 1961 World Series where the Reds' Frank Robinson slid hard into 2nd base and knocked down Bobby Richardson, and the Yanks didn't like that, but the Yanks won the Series in 5 games, and they didn't face each other again for 15 years. That was in 1976, and the Reds swept the Yanks. In the final game, Thurman Munson collected a hit in his 6th straight Series at-bat to tie a record, but Johnny Bench homered to put the game away, and Reds manager Sparky Anderson said, "Don't ever embarrass anybody by comparing them to Johnny Bench." Thurman really bristled at that, but the Reds, despite having some good seasons since, have only won 1 Pennant since, and it was in a year (1990) when the Yankees were awful.

11. New York vs. Baltimore -- which does not include Washington, or vice versa. All 4 sports? No: While Yankees-Orioles has been a good matchup at times, and Ravens-Jets might be, it's been a long time since the Colts had those epoch-defining title games against the Giants (12/28/1958) and the Jets (1/12/1969), the Bullets moved to the Washington area in 1973 and Baltimore has never returned to the NBA, and except for a brief spell in the WHA the Harbor City has never had a major league hockey team. History? The Colts beat the Giants in the 1958 and 1959 NFL Championship Games, and the Jets beat them in Super Bowl III; while the Yankees and Orioles had Pennant races involving each other (sometimes another team) in 1960, '74, '75, '76, '77, '80, '96 and '97, including '96 when they faced each other in the ALCS.

Each city's local media playing it up? No: Baltimore cares about this a whole lot more than New York does. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Not really, although Oriole fans hated the Yankees long before the Jeffrey Maier Game.

10. New York vs. Washington. All 4 sports? Not really: While Yankees vs. Senators was a good one in the Twenties and Thirties, Mets vs. Nationals hasn't taken off yet. Giants vs. Redskins has produced some good games, but neither team considers the other a major rival. Knicks vs. Bullets/Wizards was a lot better when the Bullets were in Baltimore; since the 1973 move, it's been a rare season when both teams were good at the same time. And while all 3 hockey teams have had Playoff series against the Capitals, never has it been particularly intense. History? Not much. Each city's local media playing it up? No. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No.

9. New York vs. San Francisco -- which includes Oakland and San Jose. All 4 sports? Check: Yankees vs. Athletics, Mets vs. Giants, Giants vs. 49ers, Jets vs. Raiders, Knicks vs. Warriors, and NYTSA hockey vs. Sharks. History? Check: Baseball Playoffs in both leagues, football Playoffs in both the NFL/NFC and the AFL/AFC, and a Knicks-Warriors rivalry that goes back to when the Warriors were in Philadelphia (although they can only play in the NBA Playoffs in the Finals, which has never happened).

Each city's local media playing it up? Not much, although when the Mets played the baseball Giants there were the inevitable references to the Giants having once been in New York. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Not really, although the Jets and Raiders, from the 1968 season (Heidi Bowl and AFL Championship Game) through the Eighties, used to hate each other, but the Raiders have been mostly down in the dumps the last 10 years or so.

8. New York vs. Dallas. All 4 sports? Check: Yankees vs. Texas Rangers, Giants vs. Cowboys, Knicks vs. Mavericks, and Dallas has the NHL's Stars. History? Some: The Giants and Cowboys have had some great games, the Yanks and baseball Rangers have had 4 Playoff series, and the Devils and Stars faced off in a 6-game Stanley Cup Finals that felt like 9 games. Each city's local media playing it up? Not really. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No, it's more like the Cowboys pounding the Giants all through the Seventies and early Eighties that did it, although Derian "Hatchetman" Hatcher's blindside elbow on Petr Sykora in Game 6 of the 2000 Finals didn't help.

7. New York vs. Miami. All 4 sports? Check: The Mets and Marlins are in the same division, and the Yanks and Marlins have played each other in a World Series; the Jets and Dolphins are in the same division, the Knicks and Heat have had acrimonious Playoff contests, and while the Florida Panthers (based in Sunrise, 15 miles from downtown Fort Lauderdale and 33 miles from downtown Miami) haven't had much postseason luck, they have played both the Rangers and the Devils in the Playoffs (winning a grand total of 1 game against them).

History? Not really: The Dolphins only started in 1966, while the other 3 teams are still less than 25 years old. Each city's local media it up? No, this matters more to Miami than to New York. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No, not even Dan Marino's fake spike or LeBron James spurning New York (and Cleveland, and Chicago) for Miami.

6. New York vs. Detroit. All 4 sports? Check: Yankees vs. Tigers, Giants (and to a much lesser degree Jets) vs. Lions, Knicks vs. Pistons, Rangers (and to a lesser degree Devils) vs. Red Wings. History? Check: The Yanks and Tigers have been playing each other since 1903 (including the 2006 and 2011 Playoffs), the Rangers and Wings since 1926 (including the 1937 and 1950 Finals, plus the Devils and Wings in 1995), the Giants and Lions since 1934 (including the 1935 NFL Championship Game), and the Knicks and Pistons since 1958.

Each city's local media playing it up? Somewhat. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? There really hasn't been one, although in 1959 one of the famous fights at Madison Square Garden involved Wings' legend Gordie Howe performing plastic surgery on Ranger goon Lou Fontinato's face, using his knuckles as a scalpel, but the teams haven't faced each other in the Playoffs since (and since 1983 can only face each other in the Finals).

5. New York vs. Cleveland. All 4 sports? No: The NHL only spent the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons in Cleveland, but there is Yankees vs. Indians, Giants and Jets vs. Browns, and Knicks vs. Cavaliers. History: Check: Indians fans consider the Yankees, not the much-closer Tigers or White Sox, to be their big rivals; the Giants and Browns battled each other (and the Eagles) for NFL East supremacy in the Fifties and Sixties, and the Jets had a memorable Playoff loss to the Browns in the 1986 season that ended the dream of a Giants-Jets Super Bowl; and the Knicks had some good games with the Cavs in the early Nineties before injuries broke the Cavs up -- since then, the Knicks vs. LeBron James games weren't all that big a deal.

Each city's local media playing it up? Check. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Two ugly, if unintentional, ones between the Yankees and Indians, both of which hurt the Tribe: 1920, Carl Mays beans Ray Chapman, who dies as a result; 1957, Gil McDougald hits a line drive right back at Herb Score, who pitches again but is never the same. But both of those are so long ago that they really don't figure into the Yanks-Indians rivalry. The Indians held "Hate the Yankees Hanky Night" in 1977, but it was really in the 1997 and '98 Playoffs that it got restarted, partly thanks to Jaret Wright (who later pitched for the Yanks) talking big and brushing back, and then there was the Bug Game in the 2007 Playoffs.

4. New York vs. Philadelphia. All 4 sports? Check: Mets vs. Phillies (and formerly Yankees vs. Athletics), Giants vs. Eagles, Knicks (and to a much lesser degree Nets) vs. 76ers, and all 3 hockey teams have had nasty matchups with the Flyers.

History? Check: The Phils short-circuiting a promised Mets dynasty, Chuck Bednarik vs. Frank Giffird, "the Miracle of the Meadowlands," Wilt Chamberlain dropping 100 on the Knicks, the Nets having to sell Julius Erving just to get into the NBA, all those Rangers-Flyers fights in the Seventies and Eighties, Bobby Nystrom (and Leon Stickle, if you ask Flyer fans) beating the Flyers, Claude Lemieux vs. Ron Hextall, Scott Stevens vs. Eric Lindros. Each city's local media playing it up? Check. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Check, and then some.

3. New York vs. Chicago. All 4 sports? Check: Yankees vs. White Sox, Mets vs. Cubs, Giants vs. Bears, Knicks vs. Bulls, and Blackhawks vs. our 3 teams. History? Check: The Yankees and White Sox have been playing for 110 years, the Yanks and Cubs played 2 World Series against each other in the Thirties, the baseball Giants and the Cubs had a truly noxious hatred for each other in the early 20th Century, and the Mets and Cubs (or at least their fans) have hated each other since 1969. The Giants and Bears played each other in 5 NFL Championship Games. Knicks vs. Bulls was THE NBA Eastern Conference matchup in the Nineties. The Blackhawks have less of a connection, but there was a 1971 Playoff series that featured Pete Stemkowski's triple-overtime goal giving the Rangers a win in Game 6, before the Hawks won Game 7; and the Devils had to win at Chicago on the last day of the 1988 regular season to make the Playoffs, which they did on John MacLean's overtime goal. Each city's local media playing it up? Check: The words "Second City" will be used by both sides, by New York to piss Chicago off, and by Chicago to suggest that, like Avis used to do with Hertz, being Number 2 means you try harder. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Take your pick: The Fred Merkle Game between the Giants and Cubs in 1908, the Mark Koenig "Squeeze the Eagle" incident that led to Babe Ruth's called shot in the '32 World Series, the Giants changing their footwear to get better traction on the frozen Polo Grounds field in the 1934 NFL Championship Game (a.k.a. the Sneaker Game), the Yankees using sparklers to counter Bill Veeck's fireworks-shooting "exploding scoreboard" in 1960, the Mets-Cubs "Black Cat Game" symbolizing the Cubs' "September Swoon" and the Mets' "Miracle" in 1969, any number of moments in the Knicks-Bulls games of the Nineties.

2. New York vs. Los Angeles -- which includes Anaheim. All 4 sports? No: In January 1995 L.A. went from having 2 NFL teams to having none. But there is still Yankees vs. Angels and Mets vs. Dodgers, Knicks vs. Lakers, and our 3 hockey teams vs. their 2. History? Check: The Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, and that, coupled with the New York Giants baseball team's move to San Francisco, resulted in the expansion of the National League and the creation of the Mets. The Mets and Dodgers have played each other in 2 Playoff series, while the Yanks and Dodgers have played each other in 4 World Series after the move (but none in the last 30 years). The Giants had some Playoff games with the Rams when they were in L.A. (both in their Coliseum and Anaheim eras, including the Flipper Anderson Game), and the Jets played the L.A. edition of Duh Raiduhs in the postseason. The Knicks and Lakers played each other in the 1970, '72 and '73 NBA Finals. The Kings played the Rangers in 2 postseason series and the Islanders in 1, and the Anaheim Ducks (then "the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim") played the Devils in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. Each city's local media playing it up? You bet, especially since there are still people who remember the 1957 O'Malley backstab. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? See the previous answer.

1. New York vs. Boston. All 4 sports? Check: Yankees vs. Red Sox, Jets (and to a much lesser degree Giants) vs. Patriots, Knicks vs. Celtics, Rangers (and to a lesser degree Devils) vs. Bruins. History? Check: All that Yanks-Sox history, the 1912 and 1986 World Series, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, Belichick vs. Rex Ryan, 2 Giants-Patriots Super Bowls, Red Holzman's Knicks vs. Tom Heinsohn's Celtics, numerous Stanley Cup Playoff series running the gamut from Ching Johnson vs. Eddie Shore in 1929 to Isles vs. Lunch Pail Athletic Club in the early '80s to "Have another doughnut" in 1988. Each city's local media playing it up? Check. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Check, and then some.

Actually, the greatest rivalry of all is... the New York Tri-State Area against itself. Yankees vs. baseball Giants. Yankees vs. Dodgers. Yankees vs. Mets. Rangers vs. Islanders. Rangers vs. Devils. And, every once in a while, Giants vs. Jets. Who knows, maybe someday, Knicks vs. Nets will mean something.

2 comments:

capt paul said...

Mike,

Slight correction--the Jets have played the Bengals twice in the playoffs, both times in the first round with the Jets winning--don't know which one you forgot or overlooked but the first ocurred following the 1982 season, and the second happened just a couple of years ago for the 2009 season (a week after the Jets beat the Bengals in the last game of the regular season to clinch a berth...)

Uncle Mike said...

I remembered the 2009 one. In 1982, I was not exactly enamored of the Jets and tried to put that game out of my mind.