Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Devils and Islanders. The New York area has nine professional teams in four professional sports. (Eleven, if you count the Buffalo Bills and Sabres.) As a New Yorker (yes, it is where my birth certificate was issued), how am I supposed to root for three hockey teams, and two football, baseball and basketball (if I followed the NBA) teams? Given our plethora of options, we don’t just root for the home team, we root for our team. Personally, I bleed blue (Giants, Rangers, Yankees — and I would have to pick the Knicks, even though I’m not a big NBA fan).
While some of the rivalries are rather civil, like the Knicks and Nets, the rivalries between the Yankees and Mets (aka the Subway Series rivalry) and the Giants and Jets (they do share the same home stadium) can become much more heated — these rivalries even extend beyond the fans, into the players on the teams.
But even with the hometown rivalries, New Yorkers have greater rivals to the north — that’s right, up in Beantown. Since New York’s teams are not in the same divisions (the Yankees in the AL and Mets in the NL, the Giants in the NFL and the Jets in the AFL), we have bigger rivals in neighboring cities with our divisional rivals. AskMen.com rates the Yankee-Sox rivalry in the Top Five Sports Rivalries.
In 1918, the Red Sox won the World Series and in 1920, Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees — the Sox didn’t win another World Series until 2004. This “trade” became the root of the most intense, most publicized and longest-standing rivalries in the MLB. “1918” and “Yankees suck” chants are only the tip of the iceberg here — just check out YouTube and you will see the fights and brawls that have been caught on tape. Just think of the infamous time Pedro threw Zimmer to the ground. A word to the wise: if you are a Boston fan, don’t come to Yankee Stadium in Sox gear just for kicks.
Just as baseball rivalries exist in NY, so do football rivalries. Giants and Jets fans battle constantly for bragging rights — the rivalry is like that of a little kid trying to step into some rather big shoes (until this year, Jets home games were played at Giants Stadium). With only 16 regular season games, the two see most of their field time against each other in the pre-season — and this year brought along extra rivalry-fueled decisions, most of which were solved by the flip of a coin. Yet again, New York has a battle between the underdog and the well established team. And our underdog here has their divisional rival to the northeast as well, the New England Patriots.
Regardless of if it’s a New York-New York rivalry or a New York-Boston rivalry, it really all boils down to fans rooting for their home team. Whether it’s for bragging rights or a battle of the best city in the northeast, die-hard fans will always root for the home team (if you’re smart you root for the better, “all-American” team). At least with our intra-NY rivalries, the joking and teasing between fans tends to stay superficial and less people get harmed.
For a true, die-hard fan, who you root for defines who you are. It’s not just a game. It’s a lifestyle.