Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Long It's Been: Vancouver Won the Stanley Cup

I first did this piece in June 2011, when the Canucks last reached the Finals. The relevant facts have been updated.

The Vancouver Canucks began play in the National Hockey League in the 1970-71 season. They have been a star-crossed team, known for their failures, and for their awful uniforms. They have been to the Stanley Cup Finals 3 times, and lost them all. They did not win a Cup while playing at the Pacific Coliseum from 1970 to 1995, and haven't won one playing home games at the Rogers Arena (formerly General Motors Place).

In 1982, they got blown away by the New York Islander dynasty. No shame in that. In 1994, they won Game 1 against the New York Rangers, at Madison Square Garden, then dropped 3 straight, before fighting back, winning Game 5 at The Garden and Game 6 at the Pacific Coliseum, but fell 1 goal short in Game 7 at The Garden. In 2011, the Boston Bruins cheated (Don't all New England teams?) by letting the ice melt just enough to slow them down in Game 6 at the TD Garden, before beating the Canucks at Rogers Arena in Game 7.

The Canucks won the President's Trophy for best regular-season record in 2011 and 2012, and have won 10 Division titles: 1975, 1992, 1993, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. But never the Cup.

The Pacific Coast Hockey League and the Western Hockey League had a team called the Vancouver Canucks, from 1945 (riding the post-World War II sports boom) until 1970 (when the NHL gave the city an expansion franchise, along with the Buffalo Sabres). They won 6 league titles: 1946 and 1948 in the PCHL, and 1958, 1960, 1969 and 1970 in the WHL. Gee, maybe they should have stayed in the high minors: They were doing so well.

Prior to that, Vancouver's top pro hockey team was the Vancouver Millionaires, founded by the brothers Frank and Lester Patrick – the same Lester Patrick who would build the Rangers into one of the NHL's early successes, winning 3 Stanley Cups in 6 trips to the Finals between 1928 and 1940.

In 1911, the Patricks spent $300,000 to build the 10,500-seat Denman Arena at Denman Street and West Georgia Street in Vancouver's West End. At the time, it was one of the world's largest arenas. They also built the Patrick Arena in Victoria, British Columbia's other large city and its Provincial capital. It was home to the Victoria Cougars, who in 1925 would become the last team outside the NHL to win the Stanley Cup, the last team from British Columbia to do so, and the last team from Western Canada (west of Toronto, anyway) to win it until the 1984 Edmonton Oilers.

Denman Street Arena (1911-1936)

The Millionaires won the Cup in 1915, the first team west of Winnipeg ever to do it. But they, and the Cougars, folded with their league, the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, in 1926, making the Rangers, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings and the now-defunct Montreal Maroons and Pittsburgh Pirates (named for the baseball team) possible. Their arena burned down in 1936.

The Millionaires, whose colors were maroon and white and played with a large block V on their sweaters (Canada still calls them that, even though they've long since become jerseys), won the PCHA title 6 times: 1915, 1918, 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1924. But only the 1st time, against the National Hockey Association champion Ottawa Senators (not the current team with that name), did they win the Cup. They lost to the Toronto team now known as the Maple Leafs in 1918 and 1922, to the Senators in 1921 and 1923, and to the Montreal Canadiens in 1924.

Hockey rosters were smaller in those days. Goaltender: Hugh "Bull" Lehman. Defensemen: Frank Patrick (also head coach and team president, Lester no longer involved), Silas "Si" Griffis (team captain), Lloyd Cook, Ken Mallen and Jim Seaborn; wingers, Frank Nighbor and Barney Stanley; centers, Fred "Cyclone" Taylor, Duncan “Mickey” MacKay, and Johnny Matz. Both Patricks, Lehman, Griffis, Nighbor, Stanley, Taylor and MacKay are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame – 8 guys on 1 team, which is pretty strong by the standards of any era.

On October 1, 2010, the Canucks' parent company acquired the Millionaires' trademark. So far, this overdue embrace of the city's hockey history hasn't led them to the Cup. Here's a recent photo of Canucks players wearing the Millionaires-style uniform, so you can get a better idea of what it looked like.

There's droughts, and then there's droughts. The Rangers had to wait 54 years to win a Cup (1940-1994). The Bruins, 39 years (1972-2011). The Washington Capitals, 41 years and counting (founded in 1974 and never won one). The Los Angeles Kings, 45 years (founded in 1967, won their 1st in 2012). The Buffalo Sabres, 45 years and counting (founded in 1970 and never won one.) The Chicago Blackhawks, 49 years (1961-2010). The Toronto Maple Leafs, 48 years and counting (1967-present). The St. Louis Blues, the same (founded in 1967 and never won one). Ottawa's drought goes back to the old Senators, 88 years and (1927-present). Winnipeg has the longest drought of all, going back to the Victorias, 113 years and counting (1902-present).

Vancouver's only Stanley Cup on March 26, 1915, at Denman Arena, when the Millionaires beat the Ottawa Senators by a whopping score of 12-3, completing a 3-game sweep.

That was on March 26, 1915 -- 100 years ago today. How long has that been?


Had you been around back then, you would have had to be in the building to find out what happened as it was happening. There was no Internet, because there were no computers. There was no television. There was radio transmission, but not radio broadcasting the way that there would be from 1920 onward.

There were no photocopies, credit cards or automatic teller machines. Air conditioning was hardly known. Very few people had telephones. In spite of the fiction of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, no one had yet launched a rocket toward space.

Of course, had you been around back then, especially if you were in the home country of the victorious team (and also that of the losing team), you stood a pretty good chance of being drafted to fight in World War I – not for your own country, Canada, so much, as for the British Empire, to which Canada was still, essentially, a client nation. Today, Queen Elizabeth II is Canada's head of state – officially, she is "Queen of Canada" – but this is largely a ceremonial post. Her grandfather, King George V, was commander-in-chief, and Prime Minister Robert Borden (now on Canada's $100 bill) answered to him.

There was no National Hockey League. There was the NHA in the East and the PCHA in the West. The PCHA had teams in Seattle and Portland; other than that, professional hockey in the U.S. was minimal. The Portland Rosebuds (seriously, because Portland is the Rose City, a team in this tough sport was called the Rosebuds – wonder if they found the game to be rough sledding?) would win the PCHA title in 1916, becoming the 1st non-Canadian team to play in the Stanley Cup Finals, and lose it to the Canadiens.

But the next year, the Seattle Metropolitans would beat the Canadiens to become the 1st team to take the Cup outside Canada. The only team that existed then and still does now is the Canadiens. There is now a team called the Ottawa Senators, but the one that was around then, which became a charter member of the NHL (along with the Canadiens and the Leafs), moved in 1934 to become the St. Louis Eagles, and went out of business in 1935.

There was basketball, but no professional basketball. There was professional football, but no National Football League, and the governing body of Canadian football was the Canada Rugby Union, not the Canadian Football League. There were 3 major leagues in baseball: The American League Champion Boston Red Sox beat the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, with Woodrow Wilson becoming the first President of the United States to attend a Series game in office; and the Federal League Pennant was won by the Chicago Whales. When the Feds folded, the Whales' ballpark would be bought by the Chicago Cubs; by 1926, it would be known as Wrigley Field.

The idea of flying an airplane anywhere was risky; that of flying one across the Atlantic Ocean was lunacy. Charles Lindbergh was in junior high school. The automobile was becoming more affordable, and thus more popular, but most cars were still open rather than enclosed. Only now were the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts (specifically, New York and San Francisco) linked by telephone wires. Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison were both still alive, and would be for several years to come.

Aside from the Millionaires' players, hockey's greatest stars were Edouard "Newsy" Lalonde, Didier "Cannonball" Pitre, Jacques "Jack" Laviolette and Georges "the Chicoutimi Cucumber" Vezina (for whom the NHL's goaltending award would be named) of the Canadiens; Jack Darragh and Clint Benedict of the Senators; "Phantom Joe" Malone of the Quebec Bulldogs; and Harry "Hap" Holmes and Frank Foyston of the Toronto Blueshirts (not the forerunners of the Leafs) and soon of the Seattle Metros. As you can see, the biggest stars were mostly French-Canadians and Irish-Canadians.

There were quite a few baseball players of French and Irish descent, too. Indeed, most of the baseball players of French descent, such as 3,000 Hit Club member Napoleon Lajoie, were actually of French-Canadian descent.

The top player in pro football, such as it then was, was Jim Thorpe of the Canton Bulldogs, the 1912 Olympic decathlon champion. And the top baseball players were Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson. Babe Ruth was a rookie pitcher for the Red Sox, and, despite some success in the regular season that was about to begin, did not pitch in the World Series.

The Heavyweight Champion of the World was Jack Johnson, but that wouldn't last much longer, as, finally allowed to defend his title in Havana, Cuba, the 1st black heavyweight champ, then a fugitive from U.S. justice, would be knocked out in the 26th round, under a brutally hot sun, by Jess Willard on April 5, 1915. Did Johnson take a dive? Maybe: Even at age 37, he was probably a better fighter than the enormous but pedestrian Willard, who ended up defending his title just once, in 1916, before getting slaughtered by Jack Dempsey in 1919.

None of these sports stars would live to see 1977; Vezina, Darragh, Pitre and Holmes wouldn't live to see 1942; Vezina and Darragh wouldn't even live to see 1925, such was medicine at the time. There were no antibiotics. This, alone, helped to keep the average human life expectancy at around 50. Also, artificial organs were not yet possible. Transplantation of organs was not possible. 

The English Football League was won by Everton, the blue club in Liverpool. The FA Cup was won by Sheffield United, the red club in Sheffield; due to wartime travel restrictions in London, the game was played at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground, even though the other team, Chelsea, was a London club.

This would be the last season of English soccer before the end of the war, and when the game resumed, Liverpool and Manchester United were punished for fixing a match at the end of the 1915 League season. This led to the sports-administration equivalent of a plea-bargain: In exchange for the support of London club Arsenal against a rougher penalty, those clubs would support Arsenal's admission to the League's Division One – at the expense of the team that finished last in the last League season of 1915, which just so happened to be Arsenal's arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.

(And now you know the story behind Spurs fans' claim of how Arsenal "cheated" to get into the first division: They didn't. And Spurs were not yet in North London, or in London at all: The city's boundaries would be redrawn in 1965, and that's how "the Middlesex club" got into the city.)

The Mayor of Vancouver was Louis D. Taylor, who served on and off 7 times from 1910 to 1934, despite having been convicted of fraud in Chicago; he died in 1946. The Premier of British Columbia (equivalent to the Governor of a State) was Richard Bridge, who would be dead little more than 2 years later. The current Mayor is Gregor Robertson, and the current Premier is Christy Clark.

The Mayor of New York was John Purroy Mitchel, the Governor of New York was Charles S. Whitman (no relation to the 1966 University of Texas sniper), and the Governor of New Jersey was James F. Fielder. None of these men would live to see 1955.

Former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft were still alive. So were the widows of James Garfield and Grover Cleveland. Warren Harding had just been sworn in as U.S. Senator from Ohio. Calvin Coolidge was a State Senator in Massachusetts. Herbert Hoover was running food-relief efforts to Europe as it was stricken by World War I. Franklin Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, a position his cousin Theodore had once held. Harry Truman was farming in Missouri. Dwight D. Eisenhower was about to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Lyndon Johnson was in elementary school; Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan hadn't yet started school. John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, both George Bushes, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were not yet born.

The Motion Picture Directors Association, forerunner of the Screen Directors' Guild, was founded in 1915. The films they made were all silent. Audrey Munson, a sculptor's model, became the first woman to appear nude in a mainstream film, Inspiration. (No print of this film survives, but a few photos of her so unclothed do – and, how can I put this politely, she was a good choice.)

Broncho Billy Anderson, Harold Lloyd, Theda Bara (the first actress to be called a "vamp" and the performer with a higher percentage of lost films than any other actor with a Hollywood star on the Walk of Fame), the as-yet-unmarried Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, and a young Charlie Chaplin were the biggest film stars of the time.

D.W. Griffith premiered his film The Birth of a Nation, with its pro-South and pro-Ku Klux Klan propaganda; Griffith gave President Wilson a private screening in the White House, and Wilson said, "It is like writing history with lightning," (true, I suppose) and, "It is all so terribly true" (the hell it was).

Indeed, the American Civil War had only been over for 50 years, and there were still living veterans of the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and the Texas War of Independence (1836) – which included the Battle of the Alamo, which Griffith made into the film Martyrs of the Alamo. I wonder if he knew that the Texans were slaveholders? Maybe he did, and still didn't think the victorious Mexicans were the good guys.

J.R.R. Tolkein was about to graduate from Exeter College, Oxford. C.S. Lewis was studying at Lurgan College, in County Omagh in what is now Northern Ireland. F. Scott Fitzgerald was at Princeton University, and James Thurber was at The... Ohio State University.

Ernest Hemingway was 15 years old, Margaret Mitchell was 14, John Steinbeck was 13, Theodor Seuss Geisel was 11, Ian Fleming and Richard Wright were 6. The day Vancouver won the Stanley Cup was the 4th birthday of Thomas Lanier Williams III, later to be known as Tennessee Williams. Albert Camus and William S. Burroughs were babies. Arthur Miller would have been conceived at around this time. The births of Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, George R.R. Martin and J.K. Rowling were well into the future.

Edgar Rice Burroughs had published Tarzan of the Apes just 3 years earlier. He preceded every superhero, none of whom had been created; indeed, Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had been born only the preceding year, and Batman creator Bob Kane was born later in the year. Laurel & Hardy had not yet met. Nor had Abbott & Costello. The Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges had not yet begun their acts. No one had yet heard of Zorro, Hercule Poirot, Our Gang (a.k.a. the Little Rascals), Charlie Chan, the Hardy Boys, Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon.

Inflation has been such that what $1.00 would buy then, $23.85 would buy now. Or, more to the point of the country in question, in Canadian dollars, $1.00 then would buy $20.80 now.

There was a World's Fair in 1915, the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, and it marked that city's coming-out party as a completion of its comeback from its 1906 earthquake and resultant devastating fire. This expo introduced the mainland U.S. to the ukulele. Popular songs of 1915 included "I Love a Piano" by Irving Berlin, "M-O-T-H-E-R" by Howard Johnson (not the hotelier, or the 1980s Mets 3d baseman), "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" by Alma Gluck, and the World War I-themed songs "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" by John McCormack, "Pack Up Your Troubles" by George Asaf, and "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" by Alfred Bryan.

There were no credit cards or automatic teller machines. Most North American homes did not yet have air conditioning. Artificial organs were not yet possible. Transplantation of organs was not possible. The distribution of antibiotics was not possible: If you got any kind of infection, you could easily die. There was no polio vaccine. Insulin was not yet used to treat diabetes. There was no birth control pill, but there was no Viagra, either. In spite of the fiction of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, no one had yet launched a rocket toward space.

In early 1915, the Ottoman Empire began the Armenian Genocide, leading to the deaths of 1.5 million people. The Battle of Gallipoli is a triumph for the Ottomans and a disaster for Britain. Germany sank the British cruiseliner RMS Lusitania, with the excuse that it was carrying munitions meant for Britain; 1,198 people, including 128 Americans and almost 100 children, died. It almost got the U.S. into the war, but President Wilson was not yet ready to take that step. Canadian physician-solider-poet John McCrae wrote "In Flanders Fields," not only presaging his own combat death but making the poppy synonymous with war veterans. 

In events unrelated to sports or World War I, construction began in the Lincoln Memorial. An Irish-born New York cook named Mary Mallon was quarantined for having infected people with typhoid; "Typhoid Mary,"and quarantined, she would remain for the rest of her life, until 1938. George Claude patented the neon discharge tube, making neon advertising possible.

The steamer Eastland sank in the Chicago River, killing 844 people; one listed as killed was a University of Illinois student and football player named George Halas -- incorrectly, as it turned out, because he'd missed his connection to the boat, and he went on to found the National Football League and the Chicago Bears, and lived on until 1983.

Early in 1915, Frank James (Wild West bank robber and Jesse's brother), and Rupert Brooke (another soldier-poet, though he died from disease rather than a combat wound), and Ross Barnes (early pro baseball star) died. Samuel Mostel (Zero Mostel) and Eleanora Fagan (Billie Holiday) and McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters) were born. So were Orson Welles, Anthony Quinn, and Harry Morgan. And soccer legend Sir Stanley Matthews.

March 26, 1915. A hockey team from Vancouver won the Stanley Cup. This has not happened since. Is it about to happen again? The Canucks are currently 2nd in the Pacific Division, and are almost certainly going to make the Playoffs, so anything can happen. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My 2015 Baseball Predictions

With less than 2 weeks to go before Opening Day, here are my predictions for the 2015 Major League Baseball season:

First, the home team. The New York Yankees.

If everybody stays healthy, or mostly healthy, throughout the season, the Yankees have as much talent as anyone in baseball, and are a serious title contender.

If everybody stays healthy. And if my grandmother had wheels, she'd have been a wagon.

A healthy Masahiro Tanaka means the Yankees are a Playoff-caliber team. A healthy and effective CC Sabathia means the Yankees are a World Series-caliber team. If neither of those guys can deliver, the Yankees are in deep trouble.

The X Factor -- or, should I say the A-Factor -- is Alex Rodriguez. If he can be what he was even in 2013 before he was suspended, it will help. But he is a question mark with injuries, and even if he stays healthy, he turns 40 in July.

One thing the Yankees don't have to worry about is Dellin Betances. He should have no problem succeeding Mariano Rivera as the closer (with last year's interregnum with ol' What's His Name, now with the Chicago White Sox).

It usually takes 93 or more wins to win the American League Eastern Division. And no team in the Division looks like an obvious pick: The Boston Red Sox have shaky starting pitching, the Baltimore Orioles don't have staying power, the Tampa Bay Rays were already falling apart before their rat of a manager Joe Maddon jumped off the sinking ship, and the Toronto Blue Jays are a joke.

So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that...


Maybe, in my case, it's not guts, but no one else has the guts to say it.

Yankees: 93-69, 1st in the AL East.


Now, on to The Other Team. The New York Mets.

Met fans -- and even some Yankee Fans -- are saying the Mets will have a better record than the Yankees this season, and will challenge for the Playoffs.

In the words of the great New York sportscaster Warner Wolf, "Come on, give me a break!" The Mets are the Mets. They never have enough pitching. Matt Harvey is back? That's nice, can he win all the games he should win this year and all the games that Zach Wheeler would have won this year, too? Can he pitch a complete game every 5th day? Because the Mets' bullpen, as it usually does, stinks.

The Mets don't have good defense. They don't have much of an attack. You can say that David Wright, in the wake of Derek Jeter's retirement, is now the face of New York baseball. Well, then, that face needs a lot of makeup, because, while A-Rod disappears in October, Wright disappears in September. Usually, it hasn't mattered; in 2007 and 2008, it sure did -- and it's not as though he has a winner's experience. That may be all that Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia have left (or maybe not), but they do have it; Wright does not. And it's not like they have the money to buy a big name at the trading deadline.

And then there's the National League Eastern Division. It might be the most competitive in baseball. The Washington Nationals are loaded. The Atlanta Braves have young talent with postseason experience. The Miami Marlins are good enough for a Playoff run. True, the once-dominant Philadelphia Phillies are now in rebuilding mode -- but so are the Mets.

In 2013, the Mets were 74-88. Last year, they improved to 79-83. Another 5-game improvement would be 84-78. But how are they going to improve without Wheeler?

Mets: 79-83, 4th in the NL East.


Postseason Teams:

American League Wild-Card Play-In: Kansas City Royals over Baltimore Orioles.

National League Wild-Card Play-In: San Francisco Giants over Atlanta Braves.

American League Division Series: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over New York Yankees in 4; Detroit Tigers over Kansas City Royals in 4. The Royals may not be a flash in the pan, but neither were they the best team in the AL last season. As for the Yankees, 2009 proved that the Angels no longer have their number; but the Angels just look too talented for them, or for any team in the East.

National League Division Series: Washington Nationals over San Francisco Giants in 4; St. Louis Cardinals over Los Angeles Dodgers in 3. The Curse of Donnie Baseball strikes again.

American League Championship Series: Detroit over Anaheim in 5.

National League Championship Series: St. Louis over Washington in 7. The Nats still have the air of a team that will find a way to lose a postseason series; the Cards of a team that will find a way to win.

World Series: Detroit over St. Louis in 6. The Tigers haven't won the World Series in 31 years, having lost the Series in 2006 and 2012 with a combined total of 1 win. They have the all-around talent to put an end to that.


It's been a while since I did a countdown, so here goes:

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 1, tomorrow afternoon, 3:00 our time (8:00 local) away to Denmark in Copenhagen. We will also be playing Panama and arch-rival Mexico at home and Switzerland and World Cup holders Germany away, in preparation for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which we will host. 

Days until the Devils play again: 2, on Thursday night, away to the Washington Capitals. After last night's loss at home to the Los Angeles Kings, the chance at the Playoffs is all but gone.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 4, this Saturday night, away to the Columbus Crew. This past Sunday, the Red Bulls played their home opener, defeating arch-rival D.C. United. Or, as the club's Twitter feed put it, following the retirement of Thierry Henry and the completion of the contract of Tim Cahill, "No Thierry, no Tim, no problem."

Days until Opening Day, when the Yankees play again, and Alex Rodriguez is eligible to play for the Yankees again: 6, on Monday afternoon, April 6.

Days until Arsenal play again: 11, a week from this Saturday, 7:45 in the morning our time, home to Liverpool. Arsenal are now out of the Champions League, but have advanced to the Semifinal of the FA Cup. They are in 2nd place in the Premier League, and have an outside shot at 1st.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 11, a week from this Saturday night, away to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. There will be no more games against the New York Islanders or the Philadelphia Flyers until the next season starts in October.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 17, on Friday, April 10, at 7:00 PM, at the new Yankee Stadium.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 18, on Saturday night, April 11, against D.C. United at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington. The next game against the Philadelphia Union will be on Sunday afternoon, May 24, at PPL Park in Chester. As for the first derby against New York City FC, see the next answer.

Days until the New York Islanders' last regular-season game at the Nassau Coliseum: 121, on Saturday night, April 11, at 7:00 PM, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They will make the Playoffs.

Days until the 1st-ever meeting between the Red Bulls and New York City FC: 47, on Sunday night, May 10, at Red Bull Arena. Under 7 weeks.

Days until the 1st-ever meeting between the Red Bulls and New York City FC at Yankee Stadium: 96, on Sunday night, June 28. A little over 3 months.

Days until the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup begins on U.S. soil: 105, on Tuesday night, July 7.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: Unknown. The next Premier League season starts on Saturday, August 15, but derbies are not usually scheduled for the opening week. So, at least 144 days.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 161, on Saturday afternoon, September 5, home to Norfolk State. A little over 5 months.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown, as the schedule has not been released yet. Probably, it will be on the 2nd Friday in September, which, in 2015, will be on the foreboding date of September 11. That's 171 days. Under 6 months.

Days until the Islanders' first home game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn: Unknown, but an NHL regular season usually begins on the 1st Friday in October, which would be October 2, 2015. That's 192 days. That's a little over 6 months. Or, to put it another way, "192 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 
248, on Thursday morning, November 26, at 10:00 AM, at EB. A little over 8 months.

Days until the Copa América Centenario begins on U.S. soil: 438, on June 3, 2016. A little under a year and a half. The tournament will be between teams from the North American, Central American and Caribbean region (CONCACAF) and South America (CONMEBOL, which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary). Although it's a member of CONCACAF rather than CONMEBOL, the U.S. is the host nation, and thus qualifies automatically, as it does for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Days until Euro 2016 begins in France: 445, on Friday, June 10.

Days until the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 501, on Friday, August 5, 2016. A little over 16 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez's Yankee contract runs out: Officially, at the end of the 2017 season. Game 7 of that year's World Series could turn out to be on Halloween, so, for the sake of this entry, let's say October 31, 2017, which would be 
1,317 -- about 2 1/2 years. Of course, the Yankees could release him before then, but I don't think the House of Steinbrenner wants to take the financial hit from buying him out.

Days until the next World Cup begins in Russia: 1,537, on Friday June 8, 2018. A little over 3 years.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

New York's Top 25 City Rivalries

A little over 3 years ago, on February 7, 2012, I posted New York's rivalry relationships with various sports cities.

Today, with the New York Red Bulls playing D.C. United, I decided to revisit it. The Red Bulls are the only Tri-State Area team whose biggest rivalry is with a Washington team. The Red Bulls won, 2-0, and the "D.C. Scum" fans are now slinking their way back down I-95, or the Amtrak Northeast Corridor.

When you take out a team's rivalry with another team in the same sport in the Area, it works out like this:

Boston/New England: Yankees vs. Red Sox, Jets vs. Patriots, Knicks vs. Celtics, Rangers vs. Bruins, New York City F.C. vs. Revolution.

Philadelphia: Mets vs. Phillies, Giants vs. Eagles, Nets vs. 76ers (beause of the Julius Erving situation), Islanders vs. Flyers, Devils vs. Flyers.

Washington: Red Bulls vs. D.C. United.

Today, I heard from a New England Revolution fan from Rhode Island that, despite the New York/New England nastiness in other sports, and with a berth in the MLS Cup Final on the line, Revs fans were treated well at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey last fall; but that was not the case with NYCFC's recent home debut, a game against the Revs, whom they'd oviously never played before. Maybe it was the spirit of Yanks vs. Sox, having seeped into the corridors of the new Yankee Stadium, and remaining, hovering over the neighborhood from when the Yanks played across 161st Street at the old Stadium. Or maybe "Man City NYC" fans are just pricks, thinking their connection to defending Premier League Champions Manchester City and their looser association with the Yankees makes them entitled to win. (Little tip: It doesn't).


As I did 3 years ago, 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. Where there's a matchup between the Red Bulls (not yet NYCFC) and a local MLS team, I'll include that.

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. But neither the Giants nor the Jets care much about the Buccaneers, or vice versa. Nor do the Lightning have a contentious relationship with any of our local hockey teams. Cosmos vs. Rowdies wasn't much of a rivalry in the Seventies and Eighties, and a Rowdies revival didn't last long enough to get much rivalry momentum with the Red Bulls.

Each city's local media playing it up? Hardly. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Not even close, not even an infamous home plate collision in spring training 2008 that, as Bull Durham's Nuke LaLoosh would say, announced the Rays' presence with authority.

24. New York vs. Phoenix. All 4 sports? Check -- but not, as yet, MLS. 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. Bbut 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, not even any event of the '01 Series.

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 1st visit to Shea Stadium was a Mets-Padres game, but it wasn't especially memorable.) The Jets and Chargers were both 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 -- or hurt, depending on how you look at it.

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 the home team 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. Minnesota United is considered a favorite for future MLS expansion, but no announcement has been made yet.

Each city's local media playing it up? Not really: Minnesotans would rather beat Wisconsin teams like the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Bucks, or the University of Wisconsin. 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 both original AFL teams. Joe Namath's last postseason game was a 1969 loss to the Chiefs. Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City (formerly the Kansas City Wizards) has had some good games, but it's not really a rivalry.

There has been something of the bizarre in that history: 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. 

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 in 1998, and I defy anyone in either city to remember a Knicks-Sonics game. The old Cosmos vs. the old Sounders was usually a good matchup, but the Red Bulls vs. the new Sounders hasn't meant much.

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. But neither the Giants nor the Jets had much feeling toward the Oilers, and don't now vs. the Texans. Red Bulls vs. Dynamo doesn't mean much.

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, except for a few months: The NBA's Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968, after the Blues' 1st season of play.

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. Milwaukee -- which includes Green Bay. All 4 sports? No: Milwaukee has never had an NHL or even a WHA team. No MLS team, either.

History: Check: The Giants and Packers have played each other in 6 NFL or NFC Championship Games, and played again in the Playoffs as recently as January 2012. 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: Wisconsin teams would rather beat teams from Illinois or Minnesota. 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.
16. 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. And the Rapids make it 5 sports.

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 in 1976, and the Rockies opening Coors Field against the Mets in 1995. Each city's local media playing it up? Not really. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? No.

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 has sometimes been a good AL East matchup. Rangers (and to a much lesser degree Devils) vs. Maple Leafs in the Playoffs. 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. Toronto F.C. hasn't bothered the Red Bulls much, nor did the NASL's Blizzard or Metros mean much to the old Cosmos.

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. Nor do they have an MLS 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 many memorable games with either the Jets or the Giants. An exception is the 2010 (actually, January 2011) AFC Championship Game, where the Jets didn't show up in the 1st half, and a 2nd-half comeback was too little, too late.

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 recently lost an NHL team for the 2nd time in 31 years. They are scheduled to debut in MLS in 2017.

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. No MLS team, either: As with Cleveland, Cincinnati has to tilt toward the Columbus Crew.

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 2 Playoff games, with the Jets winning both.

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. Both teams have made the Playoffs a few times since, but no close calls for a World Series since '76.

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 become one someday, 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. Nor do they have an MLS team, although there was briefly a rumor that D.C. United would move there.

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, '97 and 2012, 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? Yes, plus MLS. But there's rivalry, and then there's rivalry. Red Bulls vs. D.C. United is intense, but that's it for this "rivalry." 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. The San Jose Earthquakes make it 5, although the Red Bulls haven't had much of a rivalry.

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, since 1962, they could 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. F.C. Dallas makes it 5, but they haven't had memorable tussles with the Red Bulls.

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. 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.  As yet, there is no MLS team in Detroit.

History? Check: The Yanks and Tigers have been playing each other since 1903 (including the 2006, '12 and '13 Playoffs -- the Tigers winning all 3), 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 not boxing, but 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). Devils-Wings '95 lasted 4 games, and both teams moved on, and have no special feeling against each other.

6. 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. Also, no MLS: Cleveland native Drew Carey bought into the Seattle Sounders because the Cleveland area had no suitable stadium -- the old Municipal Stadium was scheduled to be demolished to make way for the new Browns stadium, and they didn't want to use the Indians' ballpark -- and he figured, if he had to go as far as Columbus, he might as well find the best available flying-distance opportunity.

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; 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 (back on now) have been shows, but haven't been consequential.

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 (literally) 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.

5. 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). It will be 5 not long from now: The Miami Fusion didn't last long in MLS, but David Beckham's expansion team begins play in 2017.

History? Not really: The Dolphins only started in 1966, while the the oldest of the other 3 teams, the Heat, is only 27 years old. Each city's local media playing it up? No: New York vs. Miami in sports matters much more to Miami than to New York. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Yes: Pat Riley leaving his post as head coach of the Knicks, to become head coach and general manager of the Heat, in 1995 -- informing the Knicks via fax! This sparked a nasty series of events that culminated in a 1997 Playoff brawl, in which new Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy almost got trampled. It is well ahead of Dan Marino's fake spike and LeBron James spurning New York (and Cleveland, and Chicago) for Miami, although those are also worth mentioning.

4. 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. While it's been a quiet matchup, Red Bulls vs. Fire makes it 5 -- and in the NASL, Cosmos vs. Sting was a good one.

History? Check: The Yankees and White Sox have been playing for 112 seasons, 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, and had a notable Playoff game in early 1986. 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.

3. 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. The Union have built up a nice little derby with the Red Bulls, making it 5 sports.

History? Check: The Phils short-circuiting a promised Mets dynasty in 2007 and '08, Chuck Bednarik vs. Frank Gifford in 1960, "the Miracle of the Meadowlands" in 1978, Wilt Chamberlain dropping 100 on the Knicks in 1962, the Nets having to sell Julius Erving just to get into the NBA in 1976, all those Rangers-Flyers fights in the Seventies and Eighties, Bobby Nystrom (and Leon Stickle, if you ask Flyer fans) beating the Flyers in 1980, Claude Lemieux vs. Ron Hextall in 1995, Scott Stevens vs. Eric Lindros, 2000. Each city's local media playing it up? Check. A particularly nasty, rivalry-causing moment? Check, plus.

2. New York vs. Los Angeles -- which includes Anaheim. All 4 sports? Not anymore: 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. The L.A. Galaxy make it 5: The 1st game in MLS history was Gals vs. MetroStars at the Rose Bowl in 1996 -- and it ended very badly for the team that became the Red Bulls in 2005.

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, before realignment made that possible only in the Stanley Cup Finals. That's now happened in 2012 against the Devils and 2014 against the Rangers, with the Kings diving, slashing and whining their way to winning both. 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.

You knew this had to be Number 1:

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. The Revolution vs. the Red Bulls makes it 5.

History? Check: All that Yanks-Sox history, the 1912 World Series (Giants vs. Red Sox), the 1986 World Series (Mets vs. Red Sox), Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, Belichick vs. Rex Ryan, 2 Giants-Patriots Super Bowls, Red Holzman's Knicks vs. Tom Heinsohn's Celtics in the Seventies, numerous Stanley Cup Playoff series running the gamut from Ching Johnson vs. Eddie Shore in 1929 to Isles vs. the Lunch Pail Athletic Club in the early Eighties, to "Have another doughnut" in 1988.

Each city's local media playing it up? Check: The metro areas' newspapers, particularly the tabloid -- the Daily News and the Post here, the Herald there -- seem to take particular joy in sticking it to each other. 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. Already, before they've faced each other on the pitch, there is significant online banter between fans of the Red Bulls and NYCFC, with fans of the new Cosmos (the CosFauxs) trying to worm their way in from their Hofstra hidey-hole. Who knows, maybe someday, Knicks vs. Nets will mean something.