|It’s The Battle of NY here at DOINOW.com!
Living in New York during my 32 years on this planet, I have noticed there are two major types of allegiances. Usually, the majority of fans either lead to Yankees/Giants/Rangers or Mets/Jets/Islanders. Sure, there are Yankee/Jets/Islander fans out there, and I’m sure there are Mets/Giants/Ranger fans out there as well. But for the most part, if you poll most fans, it’s usually Yankees/Giants/Rangers or Mets/Jets/Islanders.
The reason why many allegiances fall this way is perhaps based on the home base. The NY Giants played at Yankee Stadium from 1956-1973. The NY Jets played at Shea Stadium from 1964-1983. Former Brooklyn Dodger and NY Baseball Giant fans either followed their teams out west or adopted the NY Mets. The 1969 season featured both the Mets and the Jets winning championships and many fans jumped on those bandwagons.
The NY Islanders didn’t come into existence until 1972 and really focused on not being a NY team, but being a “Long Island” team. The Mets & Jets, playing only 20 minutes away from Long Island, were easy franchises for Long Islanders to attend home games. Older fans tended to favor the Yankees, Giants and Rangers because they were around first. Fandom was usually passed down generation-to-generation, and if you were close to your grandfather, you may have tended to go the Yankees/Giants/Ranger route.
In today’s world, front-running is prevalent as ever. It was only 10 years ago that Bulls fans became Lakers fans. 4 years ago, those Laker fans became Heat fans. Today, they are wearing Cav jerseys. Here in NY is no different. The Yankees, Giants and Rangers have been more successful in recent years than their counterparts. The Mets/Jets/Islander fan has suffered nothing but depression and frustration in recent times.
Myself, I have gone down the Yankee/Giant/Rangers path. My grandfather was a diehard Yankee & Ranger fan and passed that on to me. Hockey was always big in my house and I remember Ranger games being on TV more than anything else. Rooting for the Islanders would be blasphemy.
Growing up, football wasn’t as big, as we watched both the Giants and Jets games. However, I knew I hated the Jets. Ever since I can remember, I hated the Jets. I don’t know why, but my first football memory was hating the Jets. I’m glad that happened to me, for whatever reason, because I feel bad for all my Jet fan friends who suffer with that miserable franchise. I know I was too young to really remember the Giants first two Superbowls. (I was born in 1982.) However, I do remember waking up on the couch just in time to see Scott Norwood’s wide right kick! Luckily, I knew as I got more into sports, that I was going to root for Big Blue. For some reason, probably because he was a big drinker and I saw his college games, I was really into Kerry Collins, and when he joined the Giants, I was hooked on the Giants for life.
Before moving on, I know I’m omitting the Knicks and the Nets. Growing up, playing basketball was very popular, not so much as rooting for a team in my house. Rangers and Yankees were the end all, be all for me. However, I do remember watching more NBC and TNT games than Knicks games. I remember being a big fan of Ahmad Rashad and Summer Sanders as they hosted “Inside Stuff.” I was also around for Jordan’s prime, so Michael Jordan and the Bulls would be on TV everyday through Chicago’s WGN (available through Cablevision at that time) or being the game of the day.
Just like how I hated the Jets, I knew I hated Patrick Ewing. Remember, I am 12 years old in 1994. I witnessed the greatest teams and player ever to play at that point in Michael Jordan. Who didn’t want to be like Mike? What cemented my hatred for Ewing even more, was that Messier and Ewing both guaranteed championships. We all know how that turned out.
Today, I’m more into following the NBA than being a diehard fan of any team. I am fanatic and obsessed with the Yankees/Giants/Rangers. I’ll watch the Knicks if nothing else is on. I rather watch the TNT game and follow the league, especially since the Knicks play a crappy brand of basketball and have played a crappy brand of basketball for a long time.
For as long as I have lived, the Knicks vs Nets rivalry has never even came to close to the intensity of the other three rivalries in NY. I don’t even think the Nets are even one of the Knicks top 3 rivals, as the Pacers, Heat and Bulls have been bigger rivals. The Nets moving to Brooklyn two seasons ago helps bring some heat to the fire, but with both teams being blah, it is no where as intense as the other rivalries in NY sports. The Knicks vs Nets games haven’t produced iconic moments or trash talking like Ranger/Islanders, Mets/Yankees and even though they only play each other once every four seasons, Jets/Giants.
For the purpose of this column, we are going to look at the Yankees vs Mets, Giants vs Jets and Rangers vs Islander rivalries, and what they all have in common. When comparing franchises, I’m looking at one thing only, the most important thing – winning championships.
Everyone has their stories on why they root for whoever they root for. Every story is special for everybody. However, it is no denying that in NY, the Yankees/Giants/Rangers have been more successful than the Mets/Jets/Islanders. What do all these rivalries have in common? What is the one thing you can look at and say why one team has fared better than the other? Bottom line, if you had to find just one reason to say why one team was better than the other, what is it?
The answer: OWNERSHIP.
Let’s take a look at it, sport-by-sport: