Rivalries That Rock the Sporting Scene

4 Jun

What, with all the Brady bashing going on these days, it’s gotten this sport fan to thinking: Why all the hostility?

Because America won’t abide a cheater? That’s cute.

First, think of the on-going PED plague and no small number of ‘fans’ who shrug shoulders in apathy. Couple that with recent of rash of MLB pitchers (Smith / Matusz) who’ve suddenly become SPF conscious as they grease their deliveries. Then, add in the opposing, yes, opposing, players & managers (Girardi) who barely bat an eye, and it’s safe to write, cheatin’ ain’t too high up on most folks list of derelictions in 2015.

.........Favre.thumb.M.Morbeck.10.24.10

People weren’t exactly sprouting pitchforks and filling the streets in days following the 2000 Presidential ballot when State of Florida and its electoral votes suddenly flipped from Al Gore to Gov. Jeb Bush’s brother, George W. and what should’ve been a fairly simple re-calculation of castings that turned chaotic, only to have the highly dubious result validated by our skittish Supreme Court (Bush v Gore).

And next time you hop in the automobile, fail to conform with posted speed limit and choose to not ease up on the gas pedal, make sure you turn yourself over to the local authorities lickety-split. Fine.

Okay, so forget about some silly notion that America puts premium on integrity.

Maybe you are one of those that has a moral compass with a directional functionality (there’s a few), disdain Flop NBA and have decided to vest your faith in the Wells Report and NFL’s draconian response.

But if you bank your belief that Brady et al (Deflategate: Tom‘s appeal hearing with Cmsr Goodell is set for 6.23) did “circumvent” NFL rules on ball-mgmt based on the highly speculative Wells (“hunch-a-bunch-a-Fritos® corn chips”) Report (51% std), well, then you can’t possibly be a fan of due process.

Same old story: if it’s your process, ‘long live the Constitution, Magna Carta, yada yada!’, but if it’s the other guy’s right to fundamental fairness, no biggie, right?

........Brady.wc.cca.mongomez93.thmb

So if it’s not integrity or a strong case of culpability against the Pats that’s driven the demagoguery on Deflategate, that leaves one plausible explanation: prejudice.

That would include NFL haters or arsonists, always fueling football fires, i.e., non-sporting types (anti-Redskinites, anti-Rice bandwagoneers, etc.) & grudge-holders (Bounty-gate, etc.), and Patriots’ rivals.

Rivalry fires the furnace. Celebrity’s big, but like “glory, is fleeting (Patton ‘70).”

Rivalry has substance. It’s what collegiate Presidents & Trustees simply refuse to concede in their dinero-driven game of Conference musical chairs.

Players and coaches will come & go, but teams and their familiar foes will, by & large, always be there with it’s raucous rivalry evident in times of feast or famine.

But while these long-running regional rivalries may constitute the bread & butter of sport, they do have their downside.

Besides the knucklehead fan contingent that are regulars at rivalry meets, piling on a rival who’s feeling the heat (Patriots) is another bad by-product.

.......Ryan.10.23.11.wc.M.O'Leary.thmb

You won’t hear new Bills (former Jets) coach Rex Ryan mouthing about Deflategate.

Rex tends to play the clown but is a savvy customer who knows full well the high caliber of competition he’s been facing in New England during his NFL coaching tenure.

The same sensible tack can’t be said for former intra-division rivals in Jim Kelly (“He (Tom) didn’t need to do it (Tell us something we didn’t know, Jimbo (See; 2H v Indy & SB49 (SEA))”) and Don ‘Get Me Some Ginkgo Biloba’ Shula (“we didn’t deflate”).

With that in mind then, listed herein are what can be called sports best rivalries.

It’s not an all-inclusive listing.

History won’t by itself qualify a rivalry here, nor intra-City / Division versions (CWS v CHC). And the Patriots adversaries, while possibly helping to fuel their media frustrations, have just not had the opponency-value worthy of mention. None of New England’s AFC opponents has been able to keep up with NFL’s premiere team of the past 20 years. Colts did for a time (Peyton) and then Pitt settled for mediocrity with Tomlin treading water (See; Babcock DET >>TOR).

Michigan v The Ohio State (NCAAF)

I put “The” in as pure mockery. An institution as valuable as OSU need not preen.

.......JimHarbaugh.12.30.14.wc.E.Upchurch.thmb

Aside from that silliness, this college football rivalry is USA’s best, hands down. Sorry Auburn – Alabama, USC – UCLA, Texas – Oklahoma, Yale – Harvard, this is the big one. It’s been suffering a bit of late but Jim Harbaugh’s return to his alma mater will restore it’s relevancy right quick. “Urban Renewal” Meyer has done a tremendous job in the State of his, and Jimbo’s birth, and Harbaugh’s likely to do the same.

Duke v North Carolina, Louisville v Kentucky (NCAABK)

Great traditions at these standard-bearer college b-ball programs but the current coaches are, as in the OSU – UM football version, what make ‘em all rock n‘ roll.

Pitino (UL) v Calipari (UK), Krzyzewski (DU) v Williams (UNC). Now, UCLA’s gotta’ get back in gear to rekindle a rivalry out West it had going with Arizona.

NHL – NBA

I got nothing here.

In hockey, the originals will always be terrific rivals. But when one is up these days (DET ‘97-09, NYR ’94 or MON ‘93), the other is down (TOR), and then vice versa (CHI ‘10 & ‘13, BOS ‘11). Rangers / Bruins, Blackhawks / Red Wings might be on the verge of a rebirth but time’ll tell.

As for the Association, a truly sad state of affairs when a shoe battle between rival reps (Curry (U-A) v James (Nike)), who rode the EZ-Pass® highway to reach the promised land, becomes media’s focal point of a Final.

MLB (Cubs v Cards; Yankees v Red Sox and Dodgers v Giants)

The sabrmetric (anal-ytics) surge in MLB has altered baseball in some not-all-too-pleasing ways these past few decades (A‘s fans are still scratching their heads about their measured & minor dividends), but thankfully, it has not killed-off the rivalries that are still aflame in America’s national pastime.

The most marketed, though, not necessarily MLB’s best rivalry, Yanks v Red Sox, may in fact pre-date Ban Johnson’s formation of the American (Chicago 1901) in form of other leagues and different monikers, and is going stronger than ever.

.......Rizzo.wc.ben.grey.8.1.12.thmb

With Giants & Dodgers taking Horace Greeley‘s advice to “go West” in late 50s (St.Louis Browns (Orioles) move East (BAL)), they transplanted their monumental opponency into California soil. There have been lulls but the fun & frolic ((?) See; Marichal v Roseboro (’63)) has returned. Reigning champion San Francisco is head & shoulders above the Dodgers in recent World Series wins (3 in 5y), but Los Angeles’ owners seem committed to finding former glory and the contests are heating up again.

And that’s all great stuff, but the biggest rivalry, not by book of east coast biased Disney-ESPN (CT), of course, is the oldest in professional baseball and all of major American sport: Cubs v Cardinals.

These two clubs, in one form or another, have been at loggerheads since Albert Spalding, Cap Anson (White Stockings) and his National Leaguers (also birthed in Windy City (1876)) took on St. Louis owner Chris Von Der Ahe’s Browns club (AA) for the informal championship of professional baseball clubs in the 1880s.

While Redbirds have gotten best of the Bruins in the World Series tally, something like, 10 to 2, the head-to-heads never lack for fire and the fandom come out in droves.

NFL (Vikings v Packers)

It’s not the bare cupboard that is NBA’s short stock of riveting rivalries, but pickins is pretty slim these days, even in the high-falutin’ NFL.

Cowboys v Redskins, Chiefs v Raiders and Packers v Bears still take place but have lost their zip, largely because one franchise just can get back the magic.

Falcons v Saints have dominated NFC South and look to rekindle the fire in 2015 after some years on the canvas. Other grudge matches thrive for a time but seem predicated more on cult of personality than teams, i.e., NE v NYJ (Rex to BUF), Seahawks v 49ers (JH to UM) and KC / SD v Denver (gutsy but aged Peyton).

Giants and Eagles, Cardinals and Seahawks and any pairing of Steelers (Ben’s good), Bengals or Ravens can all be donnybrooks, but one rivalry seems to retain it’s intensity, no matter the team’s present W-L states: Minnesota v Green Bay.

.........Peterson.1.28.12.wc.Arvee5.0.thm

This one won’t sound too imposing to fans outside the Upper Midwest. Packers have been a formidable force since Wolf, Holmgren, Favre & White worked a rebirth in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, while the Vikings seem the ultimate snake-bitten franchise.

I don’t know if it’s the common cultural and historical threads that run through these two old Northwest Territory terrains, making ‘similars distract,’ or the fact that one’s championship pedigree has, traditionally (pre-Rodgers), had little or no effect in the usually competitive nature of their frothy head-to-heads, but the rivalry still rocks.

And it should get rockier as All-Pro Adrian Peterson has returned to Vikings fold (OTAs) after a brief stand-off following his tumultuous 2014-15 that involved criminal charges involving a child discipline matter and League suspension.

Apparently seeking a trade that didn’t come as Mr. Jones seems would rather miss out on another Super Bowl (20y) than take chance that he might get “fuzzy end of the lollipop” this time (See; MIN ‘89 (Walker)), ‘All-Day’ and his agent have nonetheless changed the narrative from criminality back to football as the future in Land of 10,000 Lakes looks brightest it’s been since Brett Favre hit the Minneapolis tarmac back in ‘09.

While today’s opposing players are so cordial on the field you’ve gotta’ believe they‘re holding inter-team family bar-be-cues the Friday nights preceding Sunday‘s action, the fans share no such cutesy comradery. Look no further than the switch-a-roos (Favre MIN; Boggs & Damon NYY, etc.) to understand it’s all business for most these dudes.

The mutual dislike between GB and MIN faithful runs so deep it’s safe to say, at times, a loss by their hated rival sings sweeter than hearing news of their own team’s victory. That’s major malice.

And that’s Packer-backers v Purple People, NFL’s biggest rivalry going.

......macroeconomc.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2.5.11.thb

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: B.Favre, wc.cca, 11.15.09, MN-NG, Det; Favre, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, 10.24.10; T.Brady, wc.cca, mongomez93; R.Ryan, wc.cca, M.O’Leary, 10.23.11; Jim.Harbaugh, wc, 12.30.14, E.Upchurch; A.Rizzo, wc, bengrey, 8.1.12; Peterson, Adrian, wc, 1.28.12, Arvee5.0; macroeconomics, wc.cca, lamcasinoroyal, 2.5.11.
Posted: 6.4.15 @ 3:37pm; edit 11:56 EST

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: